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Boot Shopping

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Recently, there was a thread on whether forum members should nudge posters with respect to their boots. All too often, all that is said is “boots are the most important piece of equipment” and/or “go to a Bootfitter”. I’ve been the recipient of that advice before and it wasn’t really helpful. Well, it helped the bootfitterseller.

 

I believe the advice is well-meant. So let’s gather the information that will really help people re: boots. Maybe it will lead to useful forum articles.

 

I’m thinking of 3 separate threads:

  • Where to shop for boots
  • How to try boots on (aimed more at those who don’t have (or don’t know if they have) a top-notch bootfitter)
  • How to be a smart customer in the bootfitting process

 

Let's start with where to shop for boots.

 

And so it begins ….

post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

If a person asks for info on skis, they are hit with a whole list of questions:

  • Where do you ski
  • How long have you skied
  • How many days a year do you ski
  • Height, weight
  • What do you ski now
  • Etc

And recommendations spew forth.

 

What questions should factor into boot decisions?

  • Age?
  • How long he has skied?
  • How many days a year he skis?
  • Where he skis?
  • Where he is located?
  • Does he already have boots?

 

The general advice looks something like this:

  • Budget $300-400 for boots
  • Go to a bootfitter
  • Get a snug, snug fit
  • Plan to ski half-days for several days to break them in
  • Plan to make multiple trips to bootfitter for adjustments
  • (and often) get custom footbeds … another $100-300, it seems

 

That doesn’t take into account the various situations that real people face.  Three scenarios --

  1. Beginners - skied 3 or 4 times, intend to keep skiing, and want to avoid the rental lines or sharing footwear with others or whatever the motivation may be
  2. Non-beginners - doing some parallel skiing, maybe getting onto harder green or blue runs, getting their first pair of boots
  3. Casual skiers who have only a week or two to ski each year

 

If each of these people was a personal friend, what would you recommend he do and why?

  • Rent on mountain?
  • Lease for short-term or whole season?
  • Buy at a ski swap?
  • Buy at a sporting goods store?
  • Buy from a ski shop, fit by someone other than a master bootfitter?
  • Buy from and fit by master bootfitter?

 

[All of these bulleted lists ... apparently I've been doing too many PowerPoints at work!]

post #3 of 11

I have been involved in a few of the other Boot discusins so I might as well my $0.02 worth here as well.

 

I will start by stating that I do work p/t at a shop but am by no means a certified boot fitter.  But, I have been a die hard skier for over 40 years now and have gone through all of the beginner mistakes in regards to boots.  I feel I have a good handle on when a boot fits my foot and try to use that experience when I give advice whether in the store or to friends and family.

 

Yes boots are the most important piece of skiing equipment.  Why?  Because they are the transmission that sends your leg and body motions  to the ski.  You want a clean transmission of leg energy to your skis to achieve quick response.  So if your foot is moving around in your boot as you are trying to tell the skis what to do you are sending your message through a sloppy transmission making skiing smooth and precise virtually impossible.  Therefore you want a nice snug fit.  Not tight, but snug for most recreational skiers.  Lets keep pros and racers out of the discussion. 

 

Different boot styles will have different "lasts" to fit different foot shapes.  If you are working with a good boot fitter, he will look at your feet ask about your skiing with similar questions for buying skis in order to determine what boot will fit those needs while also fitting your feet.  If you are at a big box store and on your own, you need to try on a few different pairs and see what works but a fitter at an enthusiast shop is really the way to go.  When trying them on and standing upright and not flexing the boots, your big toe should be lightly brushing against the end of toe liner.  Then flex forward and your heal should be pulled back giving your toes plenty of room.  Also pull the liner out of the boots and then put your foot into the empty shell sliding your foot forward till your toes touch, then bend forward slightly so you can peak down the back at your heal.  You should have no more than a thumbs width of space, more than that, once the liner packs out, your foot will move too much in the boot. As boots do come in different widths, again with the liner out and foot in shell, move it side to side.  You should only have 1-2mm of space between the widesst part of your foot and either side of the shell.  Try to error on the smaller of 2 sizes as your liner will begin to pack out immediately and will grow 1/2 size by seasons end.  It is easier to make extra room in a tighter boot than to make a big sloppy boot fit better.

 

As for custom footbeds, I always reccomend them and have been using them for almst 20 years now.  They really do make a difference in all day support and comfort.  Just look at the flimsy footbeds that come out of even $700 boots and they are cheaper than what comes out of $100 running shoes.  Most shops offer a reduced price on custom footbeds at the time of boot purchase.  You should take advantage of that.

 

Well that is about all I got.  Hope it helps someone.

 

Rick G


Edited by rickg - 12/14/12 at 8:18am
post #4 of 11

When shopping for boots use fit sticks to judge shell size.  The whole 2,1.5,1 finger sizing dog & pony show is too nebulous.  These dowels are 5/8" (comfort fit) 3/8" (expert fit) and 1/8 (Whoa Cowboy...Race Fit!)

 

With the liner removed and the foot in the boot w/ no sock, use the sticks to judge the amount of volume behind the heel- like a feeler gauge.  This is an excellent place to start when looking at boots.  My fit dowels are indispensable part of bootfits.  Bring your own when trying on boots at different shops if they don't have their own.  I won't even put on a heel lift unless I show the customer where they fall in comparison to industry standards.

 

Bring your own clean socks.  Smartwool Ultralight or Bridgedale Microlight.  See thead : From a Slopeside Bootfitter: Brief Notes Concerning Sock Choice

 

Shown with another great tool: The Mighty Sharpie.

 

1000

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

My thoughts on boot shopping for a Beginner who has skied a few times and knows s/he wants to continue --

 

I would recommend buying or leasing in order to have a consistent pair of boots so that the skier can focus on learning to ski. I would recommend a comfort fit. Performance fit will not be comfortable. Focus will be on feet hurting and will limit the number of hours the person is out on the snow or may even turn them off from skiing altogether. Comfort fit means the boots will probably be too big pretty quickly and, having skied more because it was comfortable, the skier will be ready to advance to better boots, so I would recommend keeping the cost down.  In all cases, I would recommend the skier take EpicSki’s boot shopping guide (the one you’ll help develop!) with them. If a sales person’s advice is consistent with that of EpicSki, the skier will have more confidence in what they’re doing. If not, they may want to shop around a little.

 

Buy from and fit by master bootfitter? Not necessary and sometimes may be more difficult. First, master bootfitters are not at every location. They are in high demand when they are working and may not be as able to give the amount of time and attention that a beginner needs. They may require appointments. There are lots of other people in shops who can help a beginner - and might be really excited to do so.  [Exception: If a person has significant foot problems, a master bootfitter may be the only person who can help them ski comfortably. Those people are probably already familiar with paying a lot for shoes that fit.]

 

Of the places I would recommend the skier look, in order:

 

  1. Buy from a ski shop, fit by someone other than a master bootfitter -- Start the conversation by telling them you need to learn about boots. Ask them about their boots - what kind did they start with, how many pairs they‘ve had, etc. At this point, you’re shopping for the right person to help you, not for the right boot. That comes next. Ask if they have any older stock that’s marked down and is appropriate for a low intermediate skier. If you can get brand-new boots for the cost of a lease or of those in sporting goods stores, it’s a good deal because you can get help with fitting and adjustments from the shop. Other places don’t offer that.
  2. Lease for short-term or whole season -- You should be able to swap out boots during the season if you find them to be a little loose as you progress. The cost of the lease may be less than you’d lose by buying boots and then trying to sell them a year or two later.
  3. Buy at a ski swap -- Yes, but don‘t rely on the staff there to help you much. They may be able to identify beginner boots, but not be able to help with fit. Get there early and look at the shop’s New Old Stock (NOS) that may be marked way down.
  4. Buy at a sporting goods store -- Yes, but don‘t rely on the staff there to help you. [This is my least favorite option, in part, because I think it's good to get familiar with ski shops and the culture.]

 

Beyond that, custom footbeds?  If a person uses orthotics in other shoes or has specific problems, maybe they need custom footbeds from Day 1.  If not, Smartfeet may be sufficient.  And if they need or want custom footbeds, I would recommend they have them made only by a master bootfitter.

 

My only experience in this area is as a customer.  Where are the holes in my thinking?

post #6 of 11

 Where are the holes in my thinking?

 

That we need ANOTHER boot thread. There's a whole section dedicated to boots and fitting called "ask the boot guys" that has lots of stickys that cover everything about boots.

post #7 of 11

Beating_A_Dead_Horse_by_livius.gif

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by snofun3 View Post

 Where are the holes in my thinking?

 

That we need ANOTHER boot thread. There's a whole section dedicated to boots and fitting called "ask the boot guys" that has lots of stickys that cover everything about boots.

 

 

I agree completely -- this topic comes up way too much.  But I believe the root cause is that information people are looking for is either not complete enough or not accessible enough.  I started this thread hoping to pull the information together, maybe fill that gap and reduce the repetition.  Members such as you and mtcyclist actively dismissing it indicates it shouldn't be done.  I'm cool with that.

 

I've read a lot of information on this site.  I haven't found "everything about boots" that you're referring to.  Could you maybe PM me some links?  It's not the ones at the top of "Ask the Boot Guys" ... I've read all of those.  I'm really interested in reading the rest of the material and have somehow missed it.  Thanks. 

post #9 of 11

Using the s.e.a.r.c.h function and putting in "boots" yields:

 

 

Anybody can find what they need with little effort. Very magnanimous of you to try to start a "one stop shopping" thread on boots, but as the thousands of "where to go / stay in Utah" threads, with seemingly hundreds more every month show, you can lead a newbie to Gapic, but you can't make him search (after all, they're arriving on a Wednesday, and not a Tuesday rolleyes.gif).

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiing-in-Jackson View Post

When shopping for boots use fit sticks to judge shell size.  The whole 2,1.5,1 finger sizing dog & pony show is too nebulous.  These dowels are 5/8" (comfort fit) 3/8" (expert fit) and 1/8 (Whoa Cowboy...Race Fit!)

 

With the liner removed and the foot in the boot w/ no sock, use the sticks to judge the amount of volume behind the heel- like a feeler gauge.  This is an excellent place to start when looking at boots.  My fit dowels are indispensable part of bootfits.  Bring your own when trying on boots at different shops if they don't have their own.  I won't even put on a heel lift unless I show the customer where they fall in comparison to industry standards.

 

Bring your own clean socks.  Smartwool Ultralight or Bridgedale Microlight.  See thead : From a Slopeside Bootfitter: Brief Notes Concerning Sock Choice

 

Shown with another great tool: The Mighty Sharpie.

 

1000

This sticks make me wonder if boot fitters usually treat beginners and more advanced expert skiers different when fitting boots... like should I beginner also get a tight and stiff boot as would an expert skier more worried about performance?

post #11 of 11

I posted this in a thread "When gear holds you back" it was intended more towards skis, but applies equally to boots. Please read it.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/115522/when-gear-holds-you-back#post_1514822

 

With boots it's about comfort, fit, ability, responsiveness and application.  A balance must be met between all of these, depending on the criteria, some get sacrificed and some don't.  So Yes, they treat you different because you have different objectives.

 

Good example, for my wife its about comfort, period, she doesn't care about performance.  Me on the other hand, it's performance and as long as I don't cry like a baby at the end of the day because I can't walk, the boots fit perfect.

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