I feel that I should share my new-found wisdom and show my respect for boot fitters everywhere.
My feet are probably as normal as they come, yet I have never had a ski boot properly fit...my heel has ALWAYS slipped and I have always sat back on my skis. Not anymore after visiting a proper boot fitter. Beyond the expertise a boot fitter can provide, the one-on-one attention you get, the lack of b.s., and the fact that you don't have a commission-hungry high school salesman pushing whatever inventory he has, you end up with the RIGHT ski boots and the highest performance at the end of the day.
6 years ago, I bought a pair of Salomon ski boots sized 27.5. The flex was 60 and I was just happy that the boots were $199 and matched my ski suit. I joined a ski club at university and in a draw, I won a pair of ski boots (specifics to be determined by the shop, just had to be a value of $500 or less (or I could pay anything above). I was shocked to be put into a pair of 26.0 boots, thinking how could I go so small?! Now, five years later in my 21st ski season, I decided to go see a boot fitter and see why anyone would bother.
Well, let's start with the fact that I left the shop spending HUNDREDS less than I expected to and with a size 24.5 boot. That's right, 3 FULL sizes smaller than I wore 6 years ago! Do yourselves a favour, please, and make sure that when buying new equipment, buy the right stuff. Just because a pair of skis is $1200 doesn't make it the right ski for you, and just because the colours match does NOT mean that you will be able to ski it well.
I went to Skis and Bikes, Missisauga, and saw Chris Van (if you're ANYWHERE near the Toronto Area, this place is the best around. Honestly, Sporting Life is all about commission, so the more expensive purchases are always pushed at you and you leave with equipment beyond your abilities (or for different purposes) and spend more than you wanted to). I didn't know this place existed until I was recommended to go there by a few members on EpicSki. THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!
So why am I so happy with S&B and specifically with Chris Van? I'll tell you my experience.
1) I e-mailed him in advance to book an appointment. I arrived right on time and Chris was waiting for me and his attention was 100% on me the ENTIRE time.
2) I was there for 2 hours making sure the boots were the right ones for me and that I left with a comfortable, properly sized boot.
3) I expected to pay $700+ on a pair of boots, and I left spending only $500.
I have now spent a day out skiing and WHAT A DIFFERENCE! My feet are connected to my skis, I have no pain, my feet stay warm, and I don't even bother undoing the buckles when going in for lunch!
Based on the difficulty fitting boots, nobody should buy without seeing a proper boot fitter. No, not every boot needs to be punched out in the toe, etc. but my heel has never been held down until I was put into a low volume boot and had the toebox widened to fit my feet. A simple adjustment and WOW, perfection. Yes, they're tight until packed out, but not uncomfortable and I can't find a single complaint!
I feel that I owe it to the ski community to explain why it's worth going to a boot fitter, so I hope I've helped even one person.
If you're in the Toronto Area, Kenmark Snowsports pushed my girlfriend into HUGE ski boots that were the most expensive they had, with a flex of 130 when she had never skied before, Sportinglife has the salesperson follow you around and leave with whatever they have in stock, and I won't even talk about Sport Chek or Sport Mart. I drove 40 minutes to Missisauga to go to Skis and Bikes, and I will go nowhere else.
Just my $0.02.