When I started skiing enough to buy my own equipment I was young and skiing was too expensive and all I knew was that if I bought my own boots they couldn't be worse than the rentals, and it would save me money in the long run. I skiied in those boots for years, and then I started a family. I didn't ski much for the next few years, but when the kids were old enough I took em to the mountains. But skiing with the kids most of the time I just stuck with my old equipment (when your skiing in a backwards wedge down a green run who really cares?). Anyway, my kids grew and got good, and I decided to finally replace my old 203 cm slalom skis. Got some nice new skis, wow, these are great! Newer equipment really is better! But I kept my old boots (money was still an issue). But now I was skiing more and skiing harder (my kids finally grew up) and my old boots just weren't cutting it anymore. AND, work is going really well, I got a nice big bonus and a raise, so money is not so much of an issue. So I'm in REI and they have these cool new boots and despite knowing that I should really go to the superb boot fitter right down the street to buy new boots, I decide to buy these ones kind of on impulse (I had read a little about them online, so it wasn't that I had no idea what I was getting). "Its REI" I think to myself, "I can always return them whenever I want".
So, now I have these new boots. I used them for the second half of the season last year (probably 10 days, maybe less). They are ok, but not really any better than the boots I had before (when they were new, that is... I mean they were old and very badly packed out). I know some of the problems I have had are probably just a question of breaking them in, but I also know that they probably aren't a perfect fit, and that if I keep them for next season I will probably be making some visits to the boot shop to fix some things.
So my first question is, assuming the shell is the right size ( I have done a shell fit... there is about half an inch at the back, maybe a little more) do I take these boots to a boot fitter and have them work on improving them (punch where needed, maybe get a custom foot bed, or even a fancy new liner, etc) or would I be better off just returning them and starting from scratch?
So of course, I know people are going to respond that I should just take them to my local fitter and ask him, but he has a lot of incentive to tell me to return these boots and start from scratch, in particular with this great pair of boots he has on sale this week. ;) Who can blame him, that is his business after all... I mean its hard for him to be objective on this question, don't you think?
The other reason I am asking here is because the boots I currently have are a bit unique... they are the Tecnica Phoenix with the "air pump" feature. I know some people say its just a gimmick, and its certainly not a panacea, but after half a season with it, I kind of like it. Of course, if I had a boot that actually was comfortable, I would like that a lot more, but I think the air pump is a nice feature and I'd be happy to keep it if its not doing any harm.
So the second question is: is there anything about the air pump system that makes it incompatible with any of the things a fitter is likely to want to do to improve my fit (e.g. foam injection liners, or custom foot beds, or whatever). does anyone have any experience with these that would help me?