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Are bootmakers lost in the wilderness?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I couldn't help notice that of the 13 testers in Skiing magazine, 4 use Icon XT's, 1 uses a WC Ti N97, 1 uses a Rossi Race 1, and 1 uses a Salomon Pro Model. So a full 7 out of 13, or greater than 50% use an unusually 'narrow' boot. (http://www.skiingmag.com/skiing/gear...328644,00.html)

So why are narrow boots so hard to come by, and only available at the highest price point? Surely 50% of the testers cannot have feet that are much narrower than 'average'?

If a super-snug, tight fitting boot is an essential element of expert skiing, aren't the bootmakers doing themselves a grave disservice by not offering models at all price points? Aren't they almost guaranteeing poor technical progress among those who purchse over-sized boots, and thus endangering the robust health of their own industry?
post #2 of 9
100% of the testers, i'd be willing to bet, have all sorts of custom stuff done inside of their boots, too. The fact is that when you go into the shop and try on any stiff, super-tight boot, your foot is never comfortable. the boots aren't designed for walking around or even leaving buckled for extended periods of time. the boots are designed for performance, and nothing less. If a skier enters the shop and only finds boots so narrow that without all sorts of grinding, their feet will always hurt, they won't think "Ah hah! these boots will perform really well on the snow", they'll think "OUCH! Are there any boots that don't hurt!?". as much as tighter boots would help the vast majority of people when they're on the mountain, tighter boots certainly don't help the boot industry sell boots by the truckloads.
post #3 of 9
A boot does not need to hurt to offer a performance fit. However the majority of feet cannot simply slip into a boot and enjoy both painless comfort and top performance. With modification to the right boot both can almost always be achieved, the problem is convincing the buying public that this is possible. Even the easiest of modifications are very difficult to convince people of. Most people will sacrifice most of an excellent fit to ease pressure on one spot instead of buying into the bootfitters promise it can be fixed and will be the superior boot to the comfier one after a few outings. The manufacturers are torn between a small segment that realize what is possible to alter a boot to get the balance between the two and the vast majority of buyers who seem to think they need bed room slippers when they're in the shop. After the boots pack out and create a whole host of other problems these people still tend to believe it's because the boot is/was too tight. The dumb ones also seem to be willing to pay more. Very sad really.
post #4 of 9
Don't cheap out on your boots is the answer. If your on a budget, and who isn't when it comes to skiing, do the smart thing and put your biggest expenditure in your boots. Discount skis will come and go, same with bindings, you can always find end of season bargins and leftovers on skis and bindings. Your boots will last, if your not racing, many years. It's the one piece of equipment you need to have custom fit to you. So, belly up to the boot fitters bar, buy a good quality boot that you can grow into if your a beginner or intermitate. Have the boot fitter fit you for orthodics. The key here also is to find a good boot fitter, ask around, ask the ski patrol or your local area race team. A good boot fitter will not only work with you on the initial purchace, but also later, when the boot packs out, or you discover a hot spot, he/she will take care of it as part of the inital sale. Ok, by now your saying " ya ya, heard it before, I can tell when a boot fits, I don't need no professional boot fitter". Go ahead and make that mistake, many before have, the boot companies will gladly sell you another pair next year in your attempt to fit it your self so to speak. Also, ask your self, "do I want to most performance I can possibly get while I'm sking?" if answer is yes, you need the right boots, that fit your feet correctly. Still don't believe me? ask ski racers, ski insturctors, patrolers that have been in business a long time; they have all been this route and they don't just buy boots off the shelf.
post #5 of 9
An educated public is not going to be easy.

My 'boot story" has appeared on these pages, so I won't tell it all over. But.....

As said above, the savy boot buyer enters a relationship with the fitter. NOT THE BOOT MFG.!

Myself, I enjoy knowing I can expect continued "fit service" with my boots, even now in the third year.

EDIT: I couldn't even get my feet into my Head WC 103's before work began. Heel, and the ball of my foot were too wide. It has taken about 7 "fittings" to get right and I am happy about the whole process. (Now my liner is wearing thin :-(.

I am also amazed at seeing professional snow sports people, ski pros, and patrollers, try and buy ski boots without ever pulling the liners for a shell fit.

Comfort in the show room sells.

Customers must assume that the manufacturers are investing their technology dollars in producing "miracle foam liners" that will not pack out. WRONG!.

Failed expectations keep capitalism going I guess.


[ December 05, 2002, 11:05 AM: Message edited by: CalG ]
post #6 of 9
Just got XTs, and they fit great out of the box on my D-E width forefoot, narrow heel combo. I would not call it a narrow boot. However, I will not be skiing anything but a race plug boot for a long time (except AT), as nothing else skis like it. The XT is actually softer flexing forwards than the Icon XRL I started the season with. It's interesting how unlike any other Tecnica they are. (tecnilange?) A super basic boot, meant to be customized to the user. What an idea. This is they way boots should be made; no silly gadgets that make minimal changes, just basic, and ready for mods.
post #7 of 9
CalG, I have a question for you. I am also interested in
purchasing the Head WC M103 boots. Last year I tried to
put on a pair of Head TRfit. No way I could fit in there,
unless I would have used a size 30 boot rather than my
usual 28.5 -29.0. Is the WC M103 a little wider than the
TRfit? And, I assume you are like me, you could not have
known this boot because you tried it, given that you could
not even enter into it.
What made you go through the laborious and lenghty
process just to be able to wear these boots? Was it
just the look? Was there no other boot that
could have been fine with you? I do not like to grind the
boots too much. An expert may do the job, but take away
material here, take away material there, sooner or later
you end up weakening the shell. Is this really necessary
if one is a recreational skier?
This is not to criticize, I really would like to be able
to fit into the same boots you have. But, I wonder if it
is worth all this trouble and if the results are truly
excellent. It would make me very happy to know that there
is hope, even for a bison like me, to be able to wear
a Head boot like the WC M103.


post #8 of 9

Well it certainly was not the color! Though I do like the trim look of the Head boot.

Why this boot?

The shop I choose has a reputation, if not somewhat of an ego image as the "regions best boot fitting service". This is perhaps an inflation, as personel will change season to season. Especially in shops with larger than life images of themselves.

The shop carries a useful selection of boots, so I felt I was not limited to what was on hand. I had also visited another shop that is well recomended in my search as comparison. ( I had my foot beds produced at this shop)

The decision point was, as I was trying on different boots, (Atomic, Lange, Rossi, Technica) after having explained my progress through my previous boot buying and fitting. (Technica Explosion 8 in two different shell sizes. (too many trinkets)) the fitter asked if I was ready to commit to a purchase, as he was needing start alterations. I asked in return "what if we go through this complete process and the boot is still not right?". (pardon the run on sentence)

He replied, "We get another boot and start over". He was that sure of his abilities and the suitability of the boot.

I said "let's go" . It has been a lot of work, but I am happy with the results. Again, The relationship is with the fitter not the boot mfg.

These boots are HARD TO GET ON, but "fit like a glove" once I am in. I use "Gold Bond" powder to ease the task of getting my foot in. I adhere to a routine to get my foot settled in.

On cold days, I slip the boots off around 9:00 to get my feet warmed up, often changing the one pair of very thin socks I wear.

I dry my boots liners after every use.

I have the same foot beds I have had for the last 5-6 years.

I wear these boots all day Saturday and Sunday. 7:30 to 5 as a patroller.

I am not looking forward to doing this again, and pray the boots will hold up for another three years at least.

What made me do it? I was tired of the sloppy ankle feeling I got from my previous boots about 2:00 in the afternoon.

Not sure if this helps you, but it is the way I did it.

post #9 of 9
Thank you CalG. Your reply kind of helped me.
I guess I am in the same situation. I will have
to try. I know once you get in that boot, you
love it. Plus, it is true, the look is very pretty
which does not hurt. But how do my feet compare to
yours so that I can "estimate" whether I could be
as lucky as you were?

This brings me to a consideration about boots testing
in general.

I always wondered why it is not possible to give
a few parameters about feet that would help everybody
in deciding if that boot is going to work fine for them
without too much work.
My point of view is that there are 4 parameters that
are key to fit in a ski boot:

1. width of the feet... I find that the ratio width/lenght
is quite useful and allows people of different sizes to
compare to each other and I would measure width as the
largest segment of my feet from side to side;
2. instep..... I'd like to measure the circumference by
using a metric tape around my heel and the top of my feet,
just at the point where the foot attaches to the leg.
The ratio of this measurement, call it R, and the length
of the foot gives me an idea of the relative volume of
somebody's foot compared to another;
3. ankle size;
4. calves.
I have not found a good ratio for 3 and 4 to compare people
of different sizes, but these are easier to assess than
relative width and relative volume.

It would help if ski boots manufacturers could give some
parameters like these instead of just saying medium fit,
low fit, large fit and so on.

Then, one would also know how much work he or she is up to
by buying a certain brand and model. For example, I could
tell everybody that if they have my kind of feet and
legs (no special problems with bones) they will never feet
in Atomic boots. The feet would fit like in gloves in
most of the top models, but no way my calves can fit in
their boots.

I am always very perplexed by those tables in any kind of
skiing magazines that advertise for low, medium or high
volume... Sure Nordica Doberman boots are very low volume,
that anybody can see. If I were to ever fit in one of those,
give me 5 minutes and I would look like the Incredible Hulk
after the mutation. And some Technica are so wide that even
I cannot use them. But there is a lot of grey area models
out there.
It would be nice if instead of some qualitative judgments
ski magazines reported some parameters of their testers'
feet. I am sure there is something that could be done to
address these issues. Sure, somebody who has 6 toes, or
special bone problems, may be left out. But, the vast
majority of cases could very well be handled by trying a
little bit harder on the boot manufacturers and testers'
sides in giving some measurements like the one I proposed


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