Ultimate Ski Boot Thread - Skiing Forum - Downhill , Cross Country Skiing Discussion Forum
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Old 11-19-2009, 12:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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To find the boots that are right for you, you need to understand a few of the key characteristics of ski boots. For starters, ski boots fall into five basic categories: Menís, Womenís, Kidís, Racing, and Freestyle. Compared to menís boots, womenís boots are softer, have a narrower last - the interior shape of a boot - and a shorter cuff, as womenís calves are generally located lower than menís. Therefore, the cuffs need to be lower to get the boot buckled. Racing boots are much stiffer than regular boots in order to hold firm at higher speeds. Meanwhile Freestyle boots tend to be softer, with a padded boot board to reduce the impact of landings.
There are three key factors in determining the proper boot: size, width, and flex or stiffness. Once these are determined, itís all about the features. These will be the things that can increase the performance of your boots.

Size
The purpose of a ski boot is to create as direct a connection from your knee to the ski without any unnecessary slippage or movement. If your boot is too loose, your skiing will suffer and you could hurt yourself. And if your boot is too tight, you are promising yourself plenty of painful days. Most people will choose a ski boot that is too big for them and this is because most people also wear their shoes a size too big. Do not pick a bigger boot assuming that it will be more comfortable, as this is one of the most common mistakes made in boot fitting. Often this is because when trying on the boot for the very first time it will feel too tight. However, over time the foam in the boot will compress leaving more room for your feet. When you try on the boot it should feel snug and slightly tight in order to determine proper fit.

Mondo Point Sizing
Ski manufacturers use a sizing system known as Mondo Point to size boots in a universal measuring system. Mondo Point is a European measurement for shoe sizes that is measured in centimeters. To determine US sizing from Mondo Point, simply add the first and second digits together, and then add the decimal point (you will need add 1 to you calculated result to convert a US menís size to a womenís). For example a boot that is sized as a Mondo Point 29.0 would be calculated as 2 + 9 + .0 = 11. Thus a Mondo Point 29.0 is a menís 11.
Once you reach a Mondo Point size 30 this calculation starts to fall apart unless you alter your formula by adding 9 to the result. For example, a Mondo Point 31.5 would need to be calculated as follows: (3 + 1 + .5) + 9 = 13.5. Without the addition of the 9, your calculation would end up as 4.5, which would definitely be too small for an individual looking for a 13.5.
A good fitting boot should be comfortably snug and not sloppy. You should be able to wiggle your toes but not have heel slippage or movement from side to side or forward to back.

Width
Manufacturers do a great job of creating different lines of boots to satisfy all different widths. As a general rule, the more advanced the boot, the narrower it will be, with some exceptions. This is because as a person becomes a better skier, they want a tighter boot, and will be willing to give up a bit of comfort for added control. Beginner-to-intermediate boots typically come in widths from 102Ė105mm; intermediate-to-advanced run 100Ė102mm; and expert/racing boots measure less than 100mm. This can vary depending on your foot.
Certain brands can accommodate wider feet just as others tend to be narrower. If you are a woman with a particularly wide foot, try out a menís boot, just be sure to compensate for the sizing differences.

Flexibility
The flexibility of a boot is referred to as the flex or stiffness. Flex is indicated by what is referred to as the flex rating. The concept behind a bootís flex is simple: the better skier you are, the stiffer the boot you will want. The key to skiing well is having a direct connection from your knee to the ski. With a more advanced ski, you need to drive it more to properly engage it. If you push your knee forward, and it flexes the boot instead, youíre losing a lot of power. In contrast, for beginner and intermediate skiers, a boot thatís too stiff will make it so that you cannot flex enough to initiate the ski in the first place.

Flex Ratings
When looking for boots, beginners should look for a rating of 60 or under. Intermediate skiers will feel comfortable in the 60Ė80 range, advanced skiers should seek out boots rated 80Ė100, and boots for experts are rated over 100. Racing boots are known for being super stiff. Junior race boots will be rated anywhere from 70Ė100, while senior race boots will go from 110 up to 150. Note that a boot rated 150 feels like itís carved from rock, and is suitable only for the most experienced racers.
You will also want to keep in mind these few exceptions. Heavier skiers should add a bit of stiffness, while lighter than average skiers can add some flexibility. If you have some knee problems, a more flexible boot will make skiing easier.

Shell & Liner Fitting

Shell
Before trying a boot on, remove the liner from the shell by unbuckling the boot fully and pulling on the back cuff of the liner until it pops out. Then put your foot in the bootís shell and push your toes up until they touch the front of the boot. Next, look to see how much space is between your heel and the back of the boot. Youíre looking for 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch space, and even less if you are a racer or very high performance skier who likes a very tight fit. If you have more than that, you probably have a boot that is too large.

Liner
If you have conducted Shell fitting using the process outline above, slip on the liner while itís still out of the shell. If you have not removed the liner from the shell, do so and then slip it on your foot. Your toe should just feather the front of the liner. (This assumes that your foot has stopped growing; a little growing room for kids is fine.) Next look at how the liner is shaped compared to your foot. If any part of your foot is pushing hard or stretching out the sides of the liner you may have a boot that is too narrow. If the liner fits properly, put the boot back together. This can be a little tricky, but it helps if you put the boot shell on a hard surface. Insert one hand into the liner (making a fist), while using your other hand to spread the shell as you push down hard with the liner.

Determining Proper Fit

Putting Your Boots On
Once youíve found a boot, you need to try it on properly to make sure it fits. Open all the buckles and pull the tongue up slightly. Then spread the sides of the boot while you slide in your foot, you may need to wiggle the tongue to get your foot to feel right. Next, kick your heel down hard on the floor to properly seat your heel in the bootís heel pocket.
Next, start buckling up. You should start with the lower buckle on the upper cuff; this helps to lock your heel before tightening the other buckles. Next move to the lower buckles, but donít buckle them very hard. They should only require a small amount of pressure to buckle and unbuckle. If you have to buckle these hard to get a snug fit, you probably have the wrong size or model of boot. Buckling the lower buckles too tight will actually twist and contort the shell. The upper buckles are the ones that really hold your foot in place in the boot. You may need to go back and forth between the 2 upper buckles to get them snug. Lastly, put on the power strap at the top of the boot to hold the cuff onto your calf nice and snug.

Testing Your Boots
Once the boot is on and snuggly buckled, stand up. This is the part that confuses new skiers the most: your toes should be touching the front the boot. Lean slightly forward and bend your knees. Your toes should pull back from the front of the boot. Itís ok if they are still feathering the front but they should not be pushing hard. Many better quality boots have a neoprene toe that is made for the toes to be right up against the front of the liner.
While still leaning forward, bend your knees and push your shins hard against the front of the boot. Your heels should hold in the heel pocket of the boot without lifting. Note that youíre not trying to force your heels up, but testing if they come up when you flex the boot.
If everything is good so far, walk around in the boots for 10 minutes. This should help determine if the overall fit is right and that you donít have any severe pressure points. To really determine if the boots fits, wear them around the house for a couple hours just to be sure they fit. Remember that boots are made of plastic not leather so they donít really break in much. If the boots really hurt after wearing them around for a while, they are almost certainly too narrow. And if there are any pressure points squeezing down hard on areas like your heel, instep or arch, then the boot probably isnít for you as well.
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Old 11-19-2009, 03:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Upgrades

All ski boots can be improved upon with the right upgrades. With ski boots, the goal is to find the perfect fit for your foot and upgrades can be the best way to perfect a good ski boot. Many higher end boots come loaded with adjustable features designed to improve fit. Some of the most common features youíll find today are micro-adjustable buckles, lateral cuff adjustment, flex adjustment, ski/walk feature, high performance and heat moldable liners, dual Durometer shells and built-in boot heaters.

Micro-Adjustable Buckles
It isnít uncommon when buckling your ski boots that one notch on a buckle will leave your boot too loose, but the next notch leaves the fit too tight. Micro-adjustable Buckles are a wonderful upgrade that lets you spin the buckles to tighten/loosen them a smidgen at a time, allowing for a perfect fit between the notches.

Lateral Cuff Adjustment
Often mistakenly referred to as canting, most people arenít perfectly straight-legged, but are either slightly bowlegged or slightly knock-kneed. Bowlegged skiers end up riding on the outside edges of their skis, and knock-kneed skiers end up riding on the inside edges. Your skis should always be riding flat, and thatís where the lateral cuff adjustment comes into play. Simply loosen the lateral cuff adjustment on each boot and get into a natural stance on a flat surface. A friend can then tighten your boots using the lateral cuff adjustment to make them lie flat on the ground. After this is done, your boots will be locked into place.

Flex Adjustments
Flex adjustments will be either a screw or a lever that allows you make the boot flex harder or softer, depending on the type of conditions youíre skiing that day. Some flex adjustments can be changed on the fly, while others require you to remove a screw and reinsert it a different way. The latter can be set and forgotten, or can be changed in the lodge during times of rest throughout the day.

Ski/Walk Feature
The ski/walk feature is usually found in better beginner and intermediate level ski boots. It allows you to walk more comfortably in your ski boots by releasing the upper cuff with the turn of a knob. The released upper cuff can now move freely, creating added comfort while walking.

Liners
Manufacturers use many different technologies in todayís boot liners. The more you pay for a ski boot, the better the liner will be. Better liners may include features like heat moldable functionality, stiffeners, more contoured lasts (the accuracy of the shape), materials that make it easier to get the boots on and off, fur, neoprene toe boxes, and more space age materials for a tighter and more comfortable fit.

Dual Durometer Shells
Durometer is a measurement of how hard or soft a material is. A Dual Durometer shell has stiff material on the sides and upper cuff of the boot shell, but softer and more pliable materials that wrap over the foot. This allows a higher performance or stiffer boot to also be comfortable.
Built-in Boot Heaters
Some boot models are pre-wired for boot heaters. These are a great way to keep your feet toasty warm on cold days. If your boot selection does not include heaters, they can be easily added to any boot.

Footbeds
The footbed is the removable sole within the liner of your boot. Typically this footbed is pretty flimsy. Manufacturers donít include high-end footbeds, as they expect you to invest in a better fitting store bought footbed or get one custom made. If possible, go for the custom option. It will not only make your boots more comfortable, but will also lead to a more precise transfer of energy from your knees to your skis.

Custom Fit Boots
If all steps have been taken to ensure that a boot fits properly, but there is still some discomfort, custom boot fitting is the best choice. The most common reason for custom fitting is if there are pressure points or sloppy areas in the boot. Custom boot fitters can heat and stretch out shells and liners to eliminate pressure points, add foam to the boot to take volume out, insert heel hold devices, tweak the footboard, and plenty more. Most major resorts have ski shops that specialize in custom boot fitting. Typically you will want to do custom boot fitting at the hill itself because it is easier to feel a pressure point or other discomfort while skiing. After a few runs if you feel this discomfort, take the boot in to the shop at the hill to have it adjusted. You may need to bring in your boot a few times to get it just right.
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Old 11-19-2009, 03:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ski boot sizing chart for kids & adults.

Size Chart | Ski Boots ę Ski-O-Pedia
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Old 12-01-2009, 08:19 AM   #4 (permalink)
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With so many different styles of boots of the market today & such a wide range of price points, it can be a little overwhelming trying to select the perfect boot. Below is a video link that will help school you on various designs & features to keep in mind when shopping new boots.

YouTube - The differences between ski boots
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Old 12-01-2009, 08:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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10 steps to a perfect fit. (compliments of bootfitters)

Custom Boot Fit Tips
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Old 12-01-2009, 12:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Thanks for this information.. it was very useful for me!
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Old 11-03-2012, 08:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for this useful post mlchael4. After reading your post I was looking for some site that actually satisfies such criteria and I hit upon this site, Action Sports Equipment and Protective gear: Buy extreme sports gear. They have a brilliant collection of sporting accessories and kits.
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