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Buying boots: what does that boot flex mean? [a Beginner Zone thread]

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Buying ski equipment for the first time is exciting, but can be confusing because there are so many options.  Also because what seem like standards are not really standard across brands.  Just as slope ratings (green, blue, black) are only guidelines relative to a specific ski area, boot flex is a guideline within a brand.  (A black run in a small southeast or midwest ski area can be more like a blue run somewhere in the Rockies or northeast.)  A boot flex of 70 is softer than 100 for a given brand, but an intermediate buying boots for the first time should not use flex as the only criterion for picking a boot.

 

Check out this discussion of boot flex:

http://www.epicski.com/t/116370/boots-too-flexible-effect

 

Below is a link to a good short article about the basics of buying ski equipment for a beginner or anyone ready to move away from renting boots, skis, and poles for fun on the snow.  At the top is important advice: 

 

 

"The prevailing advice from ski instructors and shop sales persons is that beginners should rent before they buy, and that they should first invest in ski boots and purchase their first pair of skis later in the process."

 

http://www.epicski.com/a/ski-equipment-for-beginners

post #2 of 29
Thread Starter 

For those who haven't bought their first pair of ski boots . . . not too early to plan for late season sales.  Sales can start soon after mid-Feb.  But price is not as important as finding a quality shop and boot fitter.  Can start by looking at the EpicSki list:

http://www.epicski.com/a/boot-fitters-on-epicski

 

 

Note: remember this is a Beginner Zone thread.

post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Buying ski equipment for the first time is exciting, but can be confusing because there are so many options.  Also because what seem like standards are not really standard across brands.  Just as slope ratings (green, blue, black) are only guidelines relative to a specific ski area, boot flex is a guideline within a brand.  (A black run in a small southeast or midwest ski area can be more like a blue run somewhere in the Rockies or northeast.)  A boot flex of 70 is softer than 100 for a given brand, but an intermediate buying boots for the first time should not use flex as the only criterion for picking a boot.

 

Check out this discussion of boot flex:

http://www.epicski.com/t/116370/boots-too-flexible-effect

 

Below is a link to a good short article about the basics of buying ski equipment for a beginner or anyone ready to move away from renting boots, skis, and poles for fun on the snow.  At the top is important advice: 

 

 

"The prevailing advice from ski instructors and shop sales persons is that beginners should rent before they buy, and that they should first invest in ski boots and purchase their first pair of skis later in the process."

 

http://www.epicski.com/a/ski-equipment-for-beginners

 

Check out the video to understand better why buying ski boots is not as simple as finding a pair that feel "comfortable."  Even some ski shops do not have a professional "boot fitter" on staff.  If you need a recommendation, try starting a thread in Gear with your location in the thread title.  There are good boot fitters in some surprising places, like South Carolina.

 

 

 

The writer of this article is one of the professional boot fitters who is a member of EpicSki.

http://skicanadamag.com/2013/09/09/gear/the-right-fit

 

 

Note: remember this is a Beginner Zone thread before posting a reply

post #4 of 29

Boot flex is your suspension system.  A stiffer flex is more suitable to a more aggressive skilled skier whereas a softer flex is more suited to a novice.  Beginner boots also tend to be larger volume which make entry and exit easier, they tend to incorporate softer and thicker foam padding to make them more comfortable and appealing.  All of these characteristics are what beginners are looking for to make their experience favorable.  These softer flexing, cushy boots are also very forgiving to gross unskilled movements permitting the pilot to make large abrupt balancing movements without over influencing the skis reaction.  As we progress toward the expert skiing level our balancing movements become more acute and shorter periods of time pass before we detect and react or pro act to external forces, consequently we want boots that will respond quicker to our impulses.  Therefore higher performance boots begin to use stiffer materials, and shells become lower volume and fit closer to the foot using less foam of denser material to transmit impulse quicker to the skis.  Skiers also discover, through kind of a rights of passage, that they can down size to gain performance.  

 

In fact most beginner and intermediate skiers are grossly oversized for one reason or another, but primarily because they purchase their boots from boot sellers rather than boot fitters, looking for the bargain prices.  In fact this only retards their progress.  Boot sellers will put the customer into a boot size that matches their shoe size (mistake #1) then if the customer has any discomfort whatsoever the boot seller will get them in the next size larger until such time that the ignorant buyer says these feel good, and the ignorant salesman says "how would you like to pay, cash, check, or charge".  A boot "FITTER" who is skilled and knowledgeable will explain how a boot should fit and feel and that we do not size ski boots the way we choose shoe sizes.  It is actually desirable to have the toes touch the front of the liner when the foot is first inserted.

 

I don't believe in selling my customers beginner boots and don't even stock them as I feel they are a waste of money, preferring to put first time boot buyers into a sport level boot, fit properly.  This will accelerate their progress and improve their control and balance.  

 

I would encourage all first boot buyers to find a reputable boot fitter and trust them to select and fit the right boot for them.  This will ultimately save money and improve skiing enjoyment!!

post #5 of 29
I wish I read the above post a few years ago. Would have saved me big bucks. Instead I went through the "right of passage". My first pair was a 27.5, then a 25.5 and I'm now in a 24.5. Street shoe is an 8.

The money I paid for the last pair of boots and all the fitting I needed was less than the the other two boots. That's enough for a pair of skis!
post #6 of 29
I went to a respected ski shop in town but still got oversized boots. Make sure the bootfitter isn't some guy filling in.
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

I wish I read the above post a few years ago. Would have saved me big bucks. Instead I went through the "right of passage". My first pair was a 27.5, then a 25.5 and I'm now in a 24.5. Street shoe is an 8.

The money I paid for the last pair of boots and all the fitting I needed was less than the the other two boots. That's enough for a pair of skis!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by voghan View Post

I went to a respected ski shop in town but still got oversized boots. Make sure the bootfitter isn't some guy filling in.

For most, if not all, professional boot fitters, it's best to call ahead and make an appointment.  Plan to spend 2-3 hours.  Some of that time will be just standing around in a potential pair of boots to see how it feels.  Not for 5 minutes, more like 15-20 minutes.

post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

 

For most, if not all, professional boot fitters, it's best to call ahead and make an appointment.  Plan to spend 2-3 hours.  Some of that time will be just standing around in a potential pair of boots to see how it feels.  Not for 5 minutes, more like 15-20 minutes.

We were they for around an hour and he still put me in super wide boots that where too big.  The guy just insisted on placing me in those boots.  I'm already researching who I want to fit me in my next pair.  I just haven't decided if I want to have it done locally or next time I go out west.  

post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

I wish I read the above post a few years ago. Would have saved me big bucks. Instead I went through the "right of passage". My first pair was a 27.5, then a 25.5 and I'm now in a 24.5. Street shoe is an 8.

The money I paid for the last pair of boots and all the fitting I needed was less than the the other two boots. That's enough for a pair of skis!

That's how it often goes.  In fact, when I joined EpicSki, I was in a 26.5, now in a 23.5.   Amazing how we grow in the sport, eh? 

post #10 of 29
I can say both of the boots I've bought in the last ten years were the same size. Benefits of having a racing daughter in a ski town. You learn things. Too bad I didn't keep all my old boots over the years, though. I'm sure my first pair was way too big, but that was when they weren't really making boots for women.
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by voghan View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

 

For most, if not all, professional boot fitters, it's best to call ahead and make an appointment.  Plan to spend 2-3 hours.  Some of that time will be just standing around in a potential pair of boots to see how it feels.  Not for 5 minutes, more like 15-20 minutes.

We were they for around an hour and he still put me in super wide boots that where too big.  The guy just insisted on placing me in those boots.  I'm already researching who I want to fit me in my next pair.  I just haven't decided if I want to have it done locally or next time I go out west.  

What kind of measurements were taken before even picking out a boot to try?  Did the shop have the capability to make custom footbeds or custom liners?  Beginners do not need those but it's a good indication of the boot fitting experience available in the shop.

 

Does help to get a recommendation from someone about a boot fitter.  True for a local ski shop (could be a drive of 2-3 hours) or one near a destination ski resort.  A good boot fitter essentially guarantees their work for at least a year.  Meaning that tweaks are free.  Have also heard stories of a boot fitter simply starting over with a different boot once it was obvious that the original choice was not going to work out.

 

One of my ski buddies ended up buying new boots during a ski trip out west because his old (really old) boots finally cracked.  Afterwards he had tweaks done by a different boot fitter at a different destination ski resort because he was not likely to get back to the original shop any time soon.  Usually not that expensive, under $50.  He had custom liners added by a third place after a couple seasons, also near a destination ski resort.

post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

What kind of measurements were taken before even picking out a boot to try?  Did the shop have the capability to make custom footbeds or custom liners?  Beginners do not need those but it's a good indication of the boot fitting experience available in the shop.

 

Does help to get a recommendation from someone about a boot fitter.  True for a local ski shop (could be a drive of 2-3 hours) or one near a destination ski resort.  A good boot fitter essentially guarantees their work for at least a year.  Meaning that tweaks are free.  Have also heard stories of a boot fitter simply starting over with a different boot once it was obvious that the original choice was not going to work out.

 

One of my ski buddies ended up buying new boots during a ski trip out west because his old (really old) boots finally cracked.  Afterwards he had tweaks done by a different boot fitter at a different destination ski resort because he was not likely to get back to the original shop any time soon.  Usually not that expensive, under $50.  He had custom liners added by a third place after a couple seasons, also near a destination ski resort.

In the guy's defense, I'd only started skiing and had been out less than ten days so i think he decided to give me a comfort fit.  He didn't use a brannock device but had a different device to measure my foot that related to boot sizes.  Never measured my arch.  He did sell me an aftermarket footbed.  I've been in the shop since and they now have the ability to make custom footbeds.  I was in the shop this winter with my boots to see if they could make a canting change.  The guy that was there basically told me what I knew and the boot was too large and the boot didn't have the ability to change the canting.  Thankfully the boot was relatively cheap at $199 for an Atomic Live Fit 50.  I've gotten 40+ days on those boots over the past two seasons so I'm fine with buying new ones next year.  I sure as heck know a lot more about the boot fitting process from reading this website.  

post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by voghan View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

What kind of measurements were taken before even picking out a boot to try?  Did the shop have the capability to make custom footbeds or custom liners?  Beginners do not need those but it's a good indication of the boot fitting experience available in the shop.

 

Does help to get a recommendation from someone about a boot fitter.  True for a local ski shop (could be a drive of 2-3 hours) or one near a destination ski resort.  A good boot fitter essentially guarantees their work for at least a year.  Meaning that tweaks are free.  Have also heard stories of a boot fitter simply starting over with a different boot once it was obvious that the original choice was not going to work out.

 

One of my ski buddies ended up buying new boots during a ski trip out west because his old (really old) boots finally cracked.  Afterwards he had tweaks done by a different boot fitter at a different destination ski resort because he was not likely to get back to the original shop any time soon.  Usually not that expensive, under $50.  He had custom liners added by a third place after a couple seasons, also near a destination ski resort.

In the guy's defense, I'd only started skiing and had been out less than ten days so i think he decided to give me a comfort fit.  He didn't use a brannock device but had a different device to measure my foot that related to boot sizes.  Never measured my arch.  He did sell me an aftermarket footbed.  I've been in the shop since and they now have the ability to make custom footbeds.  I was in the shop this winter with my boots to see if they could make a canting change.  The guy that was there basically told me what I knew and the boot was too large and the boot didn't have the ability to change the canting.  Thankfully the boot was relatively cheap at $199 for an Atomic Live Fit 50.  I've gotten 40+ days on those boots over the past two seasons so I'm fine with buying new ones next year.  I sure as heck know a lot more about the boot fitting process from reading this website.  

Sounds like you are more than ready for the next pair of boots.  Any reason not to check out what can be found during late season sales?

 

My current boots are my second pair of 4-buckle boots, replacing a comfort style that made sense when I was an intermediate mostly skiing at little mountains with my daughter (ages 4-7).  Those were "new old stock" bought during early season near a ski area for about $250, only adding an aftermarket footbed.  I was more or less an advanced skier when buying boots the next time.  Also had learned more about boot fitting from online ski forums.  Went to a local shop in March (late season in the southeast) that could make custom footbeds.  Since those last 10-20 years, seemed like a good investment.  Definitely made a noticeable difference.  Waited until the stock liners packed out a bit before changing to Intuition liners.  The liners can be re-molded to new boots.  By then I was taking longer trips out west.  The second pair of boots with custom liners cost twice as much as the first.  I'm glad I waited until it was clear how much and where I would be skiing to make the change.

post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Sounds like you are more than ready for the next pair of boots.  Any reason not to check out what can be found during late season sales?

 

My current boots are my second pair of 4-buckle boots, replacing a comfort style that made sense when I was an intermediate mostly skiing at little mountains with my daughter (ages 4-7).  Those were "new old stock" bought during early season near a ski area for about $250, only adding an aftermarket footbed.  I was more or less an advanced skier when buying boots the next time.  Also had learned more about boot fitting from online ski forums.  Went to a local shop in March (late season in the southeast) that could make custom footbeds.  Since those last 10-20 years, seemed like a good investment.  Definitely made a noticeable difference.  Waited until the stock liners packed out a bit before changing to Intuition liners.  The liners can be re-molded to new boots.  By then I was taking longer trips out west.  The second pair of boots with custom liners cost twice as much as the first.  I'm glad I waited until it was clear how much and where I would be skiing to make the change.

My skiing this season is almost over.  I was thinking we would go to Big Sky after Christmas and buy boot there.  

post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by voghan View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Sounds like you are more than ready for the next pair of boots.  Any reason not to check out what can be found during late season sales?

 

My current boots are my second pair of 4-buckle boots, replacing a comfort style that made sense when I was an intermediate mostly skiing at little mountains with my daughter (ages 4-7).  Those were "new old stock" bought during early season near a ski area for about $250, only adding an aftermarket footbed.  I was more or less an advanced skier when buying boots the next time.  Also had learned more about boot fitting from online ski forums.  Went to a local shop in March (late season in the southeast) that could make custom footbeds.  Since those last 10-20 years, seemed like a good investment.  Definitely made a noticeable difference.  Waited until the stock liners packed out a bit before changing to Intuition liners.  The liners can be re-molded to new boots.  By then I was taking longer trips out west.  The second pair of boots with custom liners cost twice as much as the first.  I'm glad I waited until it was clear how much and where I would be skiing to make the change.

My skiing this season is almost over.  I was thinking we would go to Big Sky after Christmas and buy boot there.  

Makes sense.  You might start a thread asking for boot fitter recommendations now while folks are still paying attention to ski forums.  Between Big Sky and Bozeman, I would think you could find a good shop.

post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by voghan View Post
 

In the guy's defense, I'd only started skiing and had been out less than ten days so i think he decided to give me a comfort fit.  He didn't use a brannock device but had a different device to measure my foot that related to boot sizes.  Never measured my arch.  He did sell me an aftermarket footbed.  I've been in the shop since and they now have the ability to make custom footbeds.  I was in the shop this winter with my boots to see if they could make a canting change.  The guy that was there basically told me what I knew and the boot was too large and the boot didn't have the ability to change the canting.  Thankfully the boot was relatively cheap at $199 for an Atomic Live Fit 50.  I've gotten 40+ days on those boots over the past two seasons so I'm fine with buying new ones next year.  I sure as heck know a lot more about the boot fitting process from reading this website.  

Sounds like you are more than ready for the next pair of boots.  Any reason not to check out what can be found during late season sales?

 

My current boots are my second pair of 4-buckle boots, replacing a comfort style that made sense when I was an intermediate mostly skiing at little mountains with my daughter (ages 4-7).  Those were "new old stock" bought during early season near a ski area for about $250, only adding an aftermarket footbed.  I was more or less an advanced skier when buying boots the next time.  Also had learned more about boot fitting from online ski forums.  

Went to a local shop in March (late season in the southeast) that could make custom footbeds.

Since those last 10-20 years, seemed like a good investment.  Definitely made a noticeable difference.  

 

Waited until the stock liners packed out a bit before changing to Intuition liners.  The liners can be re-molded to new boots.  By then I was taking longer trips out west.  The second pair of boots with custom liners cost twice as much as the first.  I'm glad I waited until it was clear how much and where I would be skiing to make the change.

Well here's another thing that people take into account when you purchase boots. How many days do you ski per year. Liners pack out. Particularly the thicker liner boots which most beginner/intermediates will be in. If you're skiing 5-7 days per year, you can get 5 years before it's an issue.

Skiing 20 days/year is a whole different ball game. Not only does it indicate someone who does the sport more seriously and is likely to want more performance, you will notice a change in the boots the first year, or mid second year. By the end of the second year they're way too big.

 

Yes, there's plenty of advanced skiers who only ski a week a year for what ever reason. They should not go to a cushy fit.

 

Maybe @bud heishman will comment, but I've never seen anyone say their footbed is good for 20years. 10 is pushing it. Feet can change.

post #17 of 29

Agree with Tog!

 

ONce a skier feels the control of a properly sized boot, they likely will not settle for a larger boot shell ever again.  I have tried to go a shell size bigger believing that I don't ski as aggressively as I once did and consequently don't need snugger fit.....Wrong, couldn't do it.  Love the control of a tight fitting, stiff flexing ski boot as an extension of my body.  

 

snug, properly sized boots DO NOT need to hurt! but they may need more modifications to the shell and liner to fit well, which is why a skilled boot FITTER is key. 

post #18 of 29

chiming in a little late to the party here but i think one thing needs to be remembered, it doesn't matter if the skier is a beginner or an expert skier they still deserve good fitting boots,... now good for a beginner is not good for that expert but none the less over size boots with no support in them is not the way anyone should have to ski.... around 80% of the people who try skiing once never go again, the vast majority of these are due to the boots hurting or not being able to progress (normally due to lack of control because of oversize boots)

 

every year we see skiers of all levels who have been sold a boot 1,2 or even 3 sizes bigger than they need, this is because it is the most comfortable thing that they try on in the store, no attention to detail from the fitter and a lack of education for the skier... equally we see people each season who have been told  (by a boot SELLER)  that the boots we have put them in are too small, not one of them has physically been too small but they feel too small in some way and a friendly "expert" has told them nothing can be done.... please people understand that a good boot fitter can take a boot which may feel completely un-skiable and turn it into the most comfortable piece of footwear that you own

 

as a fitter most of my job is about client education and managing expectations, helping skiers to understand what happens when they ski in a boot too big and how a boot the correct size actually feels, and how it feels if you do not clip it up correctly 

 

so all in all the advice is simple

 

find a fitter in your area, work with them  and let them help you to get a properly fitted pair of boots

be honest about your skiing experience, your needs form the boot and your budget, if you are just looking and not going to buy tell the fitter right at the beginning of the conversation, good fitters are busy people and sorry to say cannot spend all day talking about what boot you might buy next season, so do the research on the kind of thing you need (not the brand or model) then go boot shopping when you are ready and serious about making the purchase.

shell checking, this is the internal look around for the fitter to see how much space is in the shell...if they don't do it lock your wallet and leave the store.

boots can be modified, they can be made taller, wider, longer, softer etc etc etc your feet did not come out a box, the boots did.

 

things to avoid...

 

big box stores

shopping when it is very busy, if your fitter doesn't work by appointment then go mid week at a quiet time

avoid the temptation of buying colours or prices (price is less of an issue) the right boot for you may not be the one which matches your outfit (buy a new jacket!!)

DO NOT go into a store, take all the advice and then go buy the boot on line for $25 less... IT WILL COST MORE IN THE LONG RUN  i have actually had someone do this to me and then come back complaining that the boot wasn't 100% perfect for them... well guess what, it may have been a model we suggested but we may not have had it in the size to try and if we had we may then have seen it was not the best thing, if the fitter doesn't sell it to you they cannot be responsible for it when it is not quite as good as it could be.  work on boots not purchased from a fitter is chargeable, we charge £30 per 1/2 hour for boot modification work on a boot we didn't sell, any work on a boot i sell is free.

 

whatever you end up doing in terms of getting boots, be patient and enjoy them

post #19 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CEM View Post
 

chiming in a little late to the party here but i think one thing needs to be remembered, it doesn't matter if the skier is a beginner or an expert skier they still deserve good fitting boots,... now good for a beginner is not good for that expert but none the less over size boots with no support in them is not the way anyone should have to ski.... around 80% of the people who try skiing once never go again, the vast majority of these are due to the boots hurting or not being able to progress (normally due to lack of control because of oversize boots)

 

every year we see skiers of all levels who have been sold a boot 1,2 or even 3 sizes bigger than they need, this is because it is the most comfortable thing that they try on in the store, no attention to detail from the fitter and a lack of education for the skier... equally we see people each season who have been told  (by a boot SELLER)  that the boots we have put them in are too small, not one of them has physically been too small but they feel too small in some way and a friendly "expert" has told them nothing can be done.... please people understand that a good boot fitter can take a boot which may feel completely un-skiable and turn it into the most comfortable piece of footwear that you own

 

as a fitter most of my job is about client education and managing expectations, helping skiers to understand what happens when they ski in a boot too big and how a boot the correct size actually feels, and how it feels if you do not clip it up correctly 

 

so all in all the advice is simple

 

* find a fitter in your area, work with them  and let them help you to get a properly fitted pair of boots

 

* be honest about your skiing experience, your needs form the boot and your budget, if you are just looking and not going to buy tell the fitter right at the beginning of the conversation, good fitters are busy people and sorry to say cannot spend all day talking about what boot you might buy next season, so do the research on the kind of thing you need (not the brand or model) then go boot shopping when you are ready and serious about making the purchase.

 

* shell checking, this is the internal look around for the fitter to see how much space is in the shell...if they don't do it lock your wallet and leave the store.

 

* boots can be modified, they can be made taller, wider, longer, softer etc etc etc your feet did not come out a box, the boots did.

 

things to avoid...

 

*big box stores

 

* shopping when it is very busy, if your fitter doesn't work by appointment then go mid week at a quiet time

avoid the temptation of buying colours or prices (price is less of an issue) the right boot for you may not be the one which matches your outfit (buy a new jacket!!)

 

* DO NOT go into a store, take all the advice and then go buy the boot on line for $25 less... IT WILL COST MORE IN THE LONG RUN  i have actually had someone do this to me and then come back complaining that the boot wasn't 100% perfect for them... well guess what, it may have been a model we suggested but we may not have had it in the size to try and if we had we may then have seen it was not the best thing, if the fitter doesn't sell it to you they cannot be responsible for it when it is not quite as good as it could be.  work on boots not purchased from a fitter is chargeable, we charge £30 per 1/2 hour for boot modification work on a boot we didn't sell, any work on a boot i sell is free.

 

whatever you end up doing in terms of getting boots, be patient and enjoy them

bump . . . for beginners or intermediates thinking of buying their first boots during early season sales.  CEM is a boot fitter in the UK who answers questions in Ask The Boot Guys as time permits.

 

For a first pair of boots, it's good to buy a new pair but do not need to buy the most current model year.  A good boot fitter can usually find "new old stock" from a previous model year that fit well but can be sold at a discounted price.

 

Please remember this thread is in the Beginner Zone when you reply

post #20 of 29
Thread Starter 

Slightly off-topic from this thread about boot flex for folks about to buy their first properly fitted ski boots, but useful to know that there is no difference between half-sizes.  Meaning Mondo 24.0 and 24.5 are really the same in terms of the shell and the stock liner.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/132903/is-there-no-difference-between-full-and-half-size-boots

 

That said, there are LOTS of differences between the shape of the inside of a ski boot between brands and models (length, width, how the cuff interacts with your lower leg).  See below for advice on buying boots from one of the boot fitters who posts in Ask the Boot Guys.

 

Quote:  Post #1

Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Buying ski equipment for the first time is exciting, but can be confusing because there are so many options.  Also because what seem like standards are not really standard across brands.  Just as slope ratings (green, blue, black) are only guidelines relative to a specific ski area, boot flex is a guideline within a brand.  (A black run in a small southeast or midwest ski area can be more like a blue run somewhere in the Rockies or northeast.)  A boot flex of 70 is softer than 100 for a given brand, but an intermediate buying boots for the first time should not use flex as the only criterion for picking a boot.

 

Check out this discussion of boot flex:

http://www.epicski.com/t/116370/boots-too-flexible-effect

 

Below is a link to a good short article about the basics of buying ski equipment for a beginner or anyone ready to move away from renting boots, skis, and poles for fun on the snow.  At the top is important advice: 

 

 

"The prevailing advice from ski instructors and shop sales persons is that beginners should rent before they buy, and that they should first invest in ski boots and purchase their first pair of skis later in the process."

 

http://www.epicski.com/a/ski-equipment-for-beginners

 

 

Quote: Info from a Moderator who is a Boot Fitter in the UK
Originally Posted by CEM View Post
 

chiming in a little late to the party here but i think one thing needs to be remembered, it doesn't matter if the skier is a beginner or an expert skier they still deserve good fitting boots,... now good for a beginner is not good for that expert but none the less over size boots with no support in them is not the way anyone should have to ski.... around 80% of the people who try skiing once never go again, the vast majority of these are due to the boots hurting or not being able to progress (normally due to lack of control because of oversize boots)

 

every year we see skiers of all levels who have been sold a boot 1,2 or even 3 sizes bigger than they need, this is because it is the most comfortable thing that they try on in the store, no attention to detail from the fitter and a lack of education for the skier... equally we see people each season who have been told  (by a boot SELLER)  that the boots we have put them in are too small, not one of them has physically been too small but they feel too small in some way and a friendly "expert" has told them nothing can be done.... please people understand that a good boot fitter can take a boot which may feel completely un-skiable and turn it into the most comfortable piece of footwear that you own

 

as a fitter most of my job is about client education and managing expectations, helping skiers to understand what happens when they ski in a boot too big and how a boot the correct size actually feels, and how it feels if you do not clip it up correctly 

 

so all in all the advice is simple

 

find a fitter in your area, work with them  and let them help you to get a properly fitted pair of boots

 

be honest about your skiing experience, your needs for the boot and your budget, if you are just looking and not going to buy tell the fitter right at the beginning of the conversation, good fitters are busy people and sorry to say cannot spend all day talking about what boot you might buy next season, so do the research on the kind of thing you need (not the brand or model) then go boot shopping when you are ready and serious about making the purchase.

 

shell checking, this is the internal look around for the fitter to see how much space is in the shell...if they don't do it, lock your wallet and leave the store.

 

boots can be modified, they can be made taller, wider, longer, softer etc etc etc, your feet did not come out a box, the boots did.

 

things to avoid...

 

big box stores

 

shopping when it is very busy, if your fitter doesn't work by appointment then go mid week at a quiet time

 

avoid the temptation of buying colours or prices (price is less of an issue) the right boot for you may not be the one which matches your outfit (buy a new jacket!!)

 

DO NOT go into a store, take all the advice and then go buy the boot on line for $25 less... IT WILL COST MORE IN THE LONG RUN  i have actually had someone do this to me and then come back complaining that the boot wasn't 100% perfect for them... well guess what, it may have been a model we suggested but we may not have had it in the size to try and if we had we may then have seen it was not the best thing, if the fitter doesn't sell it to you they cannot be responsible for it when it is not quite as good as it could be.  work on boots not purchased from a fitter is chargeable, we charge £30 per 1/2 hour for boot modification work on a boot we didn't sell, any work on a boot i sell is free.

 

whatever you end up doing in terms of getting boots, be patient and enjoy them

 

Please remember this thread is in the Beginner Zone when you reply

post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 

bump . . . for beginners or intermediates thinking of buying their first boots during early season sales.

 

Useful reading about boots and boot fitting:

http://www.epicski.com/a/ski-boots-the-most-important-piece-of-gear-you-will-own

 

Please remember this thread is in the Beginner Zone when you reply

post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 

Not exactly about boot flex, but a 2016 thread with the title "Boot buying - do I need a custom fitting?" is well worth reading if you have never heard of what a "boot fitter" does to choose a ski boot for a client, and also to make adjustments at time of purchase and afterwards.  Understanding what is involved in buying a properly fitted pair of boots for an adult is far more important that the choice made for a first pair of skis.

 

Quote: Post #1
Originally Posted by forant View Post
 

I'm going to be getting new boots this year, and I'm honestly a bit confused about how to proceed.  I popped over to the place to get boots in my area and was told I should have a full fitting done, with punching/grinding/etc as needed as well as custom footbeds.  Is this absolutely necessary?  For full context, I'm a type 3 skier, at first glance the shop agreed I have no "major" foot issues.  My last pair of boots was acquired and used without any real fitting (and ended up causing quite a bit of discomfort over the course of each day skiing), and so I'm admittedly looking to get some boots that actually work well for me (and are not painful).

 

It feels like there must be a middle ground between a) getting a hours-long custom fitting, and b) ordering a pair of boots online and praying for the best.  Is custom boot fitting absolutely necessary?  If it's not, what can I do to help get a great fit while not breaking the bank on custom fitting?

 

If you read threads about buying boots, you are likely to find comments from people who made mistakes buying their first pair of boots because they didn't know what to expect.  To understand Post #43 below, click on the green arrow to go to the original thread and read Post #36.  I added the bold to the last lines.
 

Quote: Post #43

Originally Posted by checksix68 View Post
 

Yes, you're all correct.  Although my boots are extremely comfortable because of the vacuum form fitting, they don't necessarily transmit my movements correctly.  I can't blame the shop either.  The person assisting me was a young college guy just trying to do his job.  He wasn't a real boot fitter.  I didn't know they existed at the time.  They couldn't see inside the boot.  They set me up based on what I told them, and, at the time, I thought I was doing the right thing by leaving some additional space.  Unlike many on this forum, I didn't come from a skiing family where a base of knowledge already existed, and where many of the mistakes I have made could have been avoided had someone been around to advise me correctly.  Heck, I didn't even stumble across this forum until after I had started skiing again and had already purchased my equipment.

 

Like most of my posts, it's an opportunity to share my mistakes and successes with those who are just getting into the sport for the first time, and those who are getting back into the sport after a long hiatus, and perhaps I can help someone avoid the same pitfalls I've encountered, or share something that worked for me.  At this point I still have many unanswered questions of my own.  To coin some commonly used phrases from this forum... I'm somewhere between conscious incompetence and conscious competence.  People seem to keep asking the same questions over and over.  Although there may be 100 threads regarding the same matter, maybe they continue to ask questions because they didn't find the answer they were looking for as it pertains to their specific situation.  Maybe they don't know what to ask to begin with, or what terminology to use to conduct a useful search.  If there is a lesson to take from all of this, and knowing now what I didn't know then, go see a certified boot fitter.  At the very least, they will be able to tell you if you need custom fitting, or if you're one of the few who can get away with buying off the shelf.   :D

 

Please remember this thread is in the Beginner Zone when you reply

post #23 of 29
For those that do not live near an expert bootfitter, the Bootfitting Guide here at Epic helps to at least get a good fitting boot that will not hinder progression, but only if you read it before spending your money! I did not find Epic until after my first boot purchase and it was one size too big and too wide.

In addition to the Guide, I think several points made on various threads related to new boots and fit problems were very helpful to me for my current pair of boots. Unfortunately, they are not part of the guide, but I think they might be worthy additions. The wording below is certainly open to revision.

"Do your toes brush the front of your boots when standing straight up, but pull off comfortably when you lean forward into skiing stance and to flex the boot?" My current boots do, my old too large ones didn't.

"Can you lift or wiggle your heel in the boot heel pocket when you flex your boot?" My current boots don't, but my old ones did.

With the Guide, shell fitting, and these questions in mind, I was better informed and able to discuss my fit with the local shop when I purchased my current pair of boots.
post #24 of 29
Here's my suggestion for anyone buying boots for the first time:

Make sure you have the right length boot. Which will always be at least one size smaller than what's on the conversion chart. From there, if your boot is too snug, there are a hundred different things a bootfitter can do to make your boots comfortable. If your boots are too loose, there is nothing a bootfitter can do to make your boot fit.
post #25 of 29
Thread Starter 

A great write-up about a first proper boot fitting by an intermediate who owned boots, but didn't realize how much difference working with an experienced boot fitter would make.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fosphenytoin View Post
 

I have been skiing for 5+ years, but found myself progressing at a snail's pace and 2 yrs ago, I started experiencing knee pain when skiing.  I posted few discussions on this site about these 2 issues: 1) fail to advance; 2) knee pain.  Some of you pointed out that it might due to I have a pair of ill-fitted boots.  I got a recommendation from @Rusty and made an appointment to see a boot fitter here in town.  (Thank you Rusty!)

 

I went today and thought I'd share w/ you about my experience: 

 

The boot fitter asked few questions about my purpose of boot fitting, examined my feet, used an instrument to look at my pressure points.  From the initial interaction, I felt this guy is experienced and know his stuff. He said I have plantar fasciitis (left foot) before I mentioned it.  

 

He pointed out that my boots are too big for my feet (which some of you did speculate this might be the reason) and my boots have no foot beds. He laid out his plan of approach and then spent the next hour to do the molding and customizing the foot beds.  He then had me to try on 1 boot w/ custom foot bed and 1 without.  I did notice a significant difference, 1 w/ foot bed felt snug but not tight, 1 without felt my foot is not quite in "contact" w/ the boot.  He made more tweaking and minor adjustments before finalizing everything.  


I am now convinced that booting fitting is important.  Having a good boot fitter? It is priceless!  Also, it costs way less than I expected (thought I would be spending a fortune on this). 

 

This shop is 1 hour away from where I live but it is definitely worth the time.  I also want to mention:  it is the first ski shop I know, that carries Asian fit helmets.  What a pleasant surprise.  They have both Giro and Smith brand for asian fit (AF).  I tried on the Giro AF today and it did fit better than the Giro I currently own.  They haven't rec'd the shipment for Smith AF yet, so I will go back and try on Smith before deciding on my helmet purchase.  I am just happy that I don't have to wait until I go to Vancouver or Japan to try on an asian fit helmet.  

 

Last but not least, I'd like to point 1 more reason why I like my boot fitter so much: he is the first person that I met, who has the same #1 dream ski destination as mine...... 

  

Usage tip: The green arrow in the Quote above is a "forward" link.  Hover over it until you get the pointing hand pointer, then click to go to the original post/thread.

post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 

Comments from an instructor about what can happen with boots are too big.  They may feel "comfortable" but in fact can lead to pain.  Snug boots require a bit of a break in period, but make a big difference in the long run.  The thread was started by NonNativeRado asking where to buy boots in Colorado.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NonNativeRado View Post
....

I've been lurking this forum for a year, and it seems the consensus is smaller, tighter boot, and a custom fitting from a local shop. Money is tight (I got laid off recently), so I have free time, a pass that's already paid for, but no boots and poles to go with my skis. 
....

 

Often uncomfortable boots are uncomfortable because the feet bang around inside that hard shell and get bruised where they slam into hard parts.  Or some part of the foot is rubbing against the boot and getting a blister.  If the boot was snug in the first place, there would be no banging around possible!  Same goes for rubbing; nothing should be moving around in there.  Snug boots = no slamming, no rubbing, no bruises, no blisters.  This is counter-intuitive, but true.  

 

Snug boots feel intolerable to those who have never worn them because they are unfamiliar.  They are stiff.  "Shoes" are not stiff.  Shoes are supposed to allow a person to bend the foot in all directions, but ski boots are not supposed to allow that kind of foot flexibility.  There's a reason the boots are stiff; the bending needs to happen in the ski, not in the foot.  "Snug" boots are unfamiliar, but they transfer your foot movements to the ski.  Snug boots feel unfamiliar, but they don't hurt.  

 

It can take a few hours on the snow to work yourself past the initial "intolerance" you'll feel the first time you have snug boots on.  The boots are going to feel odd, but odd is not bad.  You're doing something new when you get snug boots; consider it an adventure.  Getting used to feeling "enclosed" should be no issue as long as nothing is getting bruised or blistered in there, and that won't happen if the boots snugly fit.  

 

Gripping with the toes happens when the foot is sliding around inside a too-large boot.  That sideways slidey feeling inside the boot is awful.  It makes a skier feel insecure for a reason, and that's because the skier's control over those long sticks stuck to the boots is sloppy when the feet slide around.   Grippy toes help a little, but a gripping foot can cramp up if it has to grip for hours.  Snug boots don't let the foot slide around inside, thus no slippy-slidey-widey stuff will be going on in there, thus no gripping clutching toes, and no cramping.  Snug boots are good.

 

Ski boots are stiff, 3-dimensional objects whose hollow insides have height, width, and length.  They need to fit around a flexible 3-dimensional foot that has height, width, and length, and limit its flexibility to a certain extent so that the foot can control the ski.  To find a boot that fits a particular foot, the shell of the boot needs to be the right height, the right width, and the right length that matches the skier's foot's height, width, and length.  Brand is irrelevant, as irrelevant as color.  Manufacturers make boots in different shapes for this reason, but they can't make different boots that match every foot shape out there.  Tweaking the boot is what the bootfitter does to the boot after the right boot is selected.  You pay for that when you buy the boot; most new buyers don't know that and don't get any tweaks because they buy a too-big boot and there's not a whole lot the bootfitter can do with a too-big boot except fill some spaces with gooey inserts.  Layers and layers of duct tape can do that too, and if you get a too big boot you may end up resorting to home remedies of that sort.  

 

But manufacturers don't advertise the boots by their shape; they come up with other, more exciting factors to use to attract the buying public to their boots.  This is misleading.  Buy a boot for its snugness first.  The bootfitter will adjust it to your foot and to your skiing if that needs to be done, and usually those adjustments are included in the boot's price.  

 

A custom footbed might increase the comfort once you get past the snugness issue.  Many people find an aftermarket shaped footbed of some sort helpful, or even essential.  

Best of luck!

post #27 of 29

Thanks for sharing. YES, my boot fitter mentioned exactly the same thing said by @LiquidFeet!  My toes and feet did slide, I had to grip my toes and feet all the time.  Yes, my poor feet (& knees) did suffer, there were times my toenails had minor hemorrhage because too much gripping....  Now I feel sorry for my feet (& knees) and wish I could have known this before I made my 1st purchase.  

My shell was also 1 size bigger and it was too high because I have relatively short tibia.  But I did not get a chance to try out smaller shell as the shop did not carry my size. I have small feet and kids size boots won't work for me.  


Edited by fosphenytoin - 11/12/16 at 7:29pm
post #28 of 29
Thread Starter 

Great info from an experienced instructor about buying boots.  The advice was for a beginner who was a man 6'0", 200 lbs.  He was thinking that buying used boots was a good approach.  He had never bought skis or boots before.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 

In choosing a boot, the first thing you do not want to buy is a too-soft-flexing boot. At 220 lbs, you should NOT buy a 70-flex boot, nor an 80-flex boot.  Just say no.  You can buy a boot that's too stiff for you and have it softened.  You cannot buy a boot that's too soft for you and have it stiffened.

 

Next thing you need to know is what makes a good boot good.  A "good boot" is not good because of high-quality materials and design, despite what the marketers say (they have to say something, right?)  You can assume all boots made in the last 5 years are of high-quality materials and design as long as they are not made super-cheap in the first place (such as boots whose original manufacturer's suggested retail price is lower than $400).  Plastic wears out, however, and designs have improved, so if you are buying used, don't go back to the 90s please.

 

A good boot that is one that is good for you (given your personal anatomy).  It must fit your foot right. That's all there is to it. Your foot is not like anyone else's foot, nor is it likely that it matches any ski boot exactly.  So, it's not easy figuring out when a boot fits just by trying one on; this is especially difficult for new skiers.  For some skiers it takes years of boots-that-don't-fit to finally get to one that does, despite the best of intentions (ask me how I know).  We can figure out whether a street shoe fits all by ourselves, but a new skier can't do that with ski boots.  Thus the admonition to get thee to a bootfitter.  A boot fitter is not the same as a boot seller, by the way.  A boot fitter knows feet, anatomy, and how to make custom adjustments to those stiff awkward plastic-foot-buckets we call ski boots so that they really really fit the shape of any foot

 

Ski boots cost so much for a reason; they are a precision tool.  They transfer the small movements of your feet to the skis.  To do this, they must provide a "snug" fit.  "Snug" is actually a technical term; it doesn't mean what you think it means.  A boot fitter knows.  If you have air in your boots, your feet will wobble front-to-back, and/or side-to-side, and/or up-and-down.  All this foot movement means your skis are doing whatever they want, being pushed around by the snow, while you are taking a wobble-holiday with your steering wheels.  Because that's what your boots are, your steering wheels.  Do not buy yourself wobbly steering wheels.

 

So a foot has three dimensions, height, width, and length.  A ski boot has height (volume), width, and length.  All three of these dimensions should match between your feet and your boots, to create a "snug" fit and to get that steering wheel tightly in control of your skis.  A boot fitter will know when you have your feet in a snug-fitting boot.  This may be an easy match, but sometimes it involves some custom work done on the boot while you wait in the shop.  If your feet have any oddities in their shape (such as bunions, or knobby upward protuberances on the top, or a narrow heel with a wide forefoot, or a wide heel with a narrow forefoot, or flat arches, or very high arches), those oddities are an opportunity for the boot fitter to work magic to get the boot to fit.  The boot fitter can push the plastic out permanently to re-form the plastic shell, so you get that snug fit.  The boot fitter can also alter the soft inner liner so it complements your foot's anatomy.  But you need a boot that seems to fit too small for the boot fitter to be able to do this.  Does this sound complicated?  Well, yes, it can be.  And guess what?  When you buy the boot in a shop where your boot fitter works, even if you bought it on sale, you have already paid for this custom work (this has been the case in every ski shop I've ever been to, but not internet suppliers and not big box stores).  Get thee to a boot fitter.  

 

There are of course after-market upgrades you can put in those boots.  The first is a custom-made footbed.  It works wonders for many skiers.  You could do that next year, after buying a snug-fitting boot from a boot-fitter and having any necessary alterations made the first year.

 

Rent skis; get snug boots.  This bears repeating.  

 

Usage tip: The green arrow in the Quote above is a "forward" link.  Hover over it until you get the pointing hand pointer, then click to go to the original post/thread.

post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 

Here's some info about how to put on ski boots.  Definitely helps to know the proper sequence for buckling the buckles.

 

http://skiing.about.com/od/skiboots/a/How-To-Buckle-Ski-Boots-Boot-Buckling-Tips.htm

 

 

http://www.onthesnow.com/news/a/581665/ski-boot-101--how-to-buckle-your-ski-boots

 

 

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