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Can duck feet coexist with performance boots?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi - I've been trying for, oh, say 20 years now to find a boot that offers strong performance for my duck shaped feet. (Before that, I just skied in boots a few sizes too large, and was fine, if a mediocre skier.)


Across the forefoot, I am 107 mm if you measure from either first metatarsal directly across or fifth directly across at aright angle to midline. If you drop two vertical lines that encompass both sides at once, a bit over 114 mm. (All measurements weighted.) A prescription orthotic doesn't make much difference, maybe 2 mm. Using a standard shoe store metal foot gizmo, I'm between a D and an E in front.


My heel, on the other hand, is 57 mm at its maximum breadth, weighted. That's about a B, according to people who measure me. 


Other vitals: Lighter male, 165 lbs, 80% of my skiing is in VT or NH, tend to spend as much time as I can in trees, do not seek bumps but they seem to find me. I typically like a 110 flex, give or take. Before my current Dalbello Fusion ID's (about 115 with the ID liner), I skied Sollie Falcon 10's for years. Agonizingly tight fit for a few months, then about right in back, if not in front, for a few months, then the ankle would pack out totally and bang bang bang. 


So all my life, I've had to either buy shoes that fit in front, or in back. But not both. And boots, well, I've finally just hit the wall this past weekend, after cramming my forefoot and toes into my 98 mm boot (that's been blown out, BTW, to about 102) and being, as usual, unable to move my toes except for a few mm of single unit (all toes as a single unit, too compressed to move individuals) up and down. After a few runs on a cold day (8 degrees) Sunday, I had to stop because I could no longer feel much ahead of midfoot. Toes were still hurting two hours later. And in the past, have suffered permanent cold damage from frostbite to those same perpetually mashed toes. Yet this boot, like all my other 98's, is only marginally snug enough across the ankle and heel, with an ID wrap at that. By mid-season (skied on them last year), the ankle will be loose, but the front, on a model touted for its "new, anatomically accurate fit," will still hurt.


This history encompasses two piece and three piece (I prefer the latter, because of my preferred terrain, but obviously not a lot of choice about models). I've trying going shorter or longer (typically have 11-14 mm shell gap, have tried as low as 5 mm and as high as 17). I've owned higher end models from Dalbello, Salomon, Technica, and Lange. The Langes were the only boots that fit my heels, but they brought tears at the front, despite extensive work on them. I've spent hundreds of hours in stores trying on literally every 110 and up model of every brand. 


I use Salomon Lab plugs for racing. Not comfy, but don't expect them to be; I can deal for a few hours at a time. A rec boot is a different story. As much as I love the sport, I'm coming to actively dread hitting the slopes because of my boots. 


So: A few questions. First, should I just give up trying for a 97-98 last and look for a 102? (I'm fundamentally confused about what the numbers even stand for, since most adult males do not have a forefoot that's 98 mm across. How can I even fit into a 102 if my foot is 107?) Obviously, I want a boot with decent performance, but it seems that people with wider feet are only allowed a couple of high end models, and even those assume that a wide foot is wide everywhere. Ducks need not apply. 


Second, if I do, can you recommend some specific models that might handle both my forefoot and my heel? Please keep in mind that this isn't just about width across the forefoot, it's about the toebox. My toes are not especially long, but they extend out from that wide forefoot, so a typically shaped box just mashes the big toe and the small into the three in the middle. I was told by a good fitter (and yep, I've been to some good fitters, at stores that win awards for their fitting) that the ratio of my heel to my forefoot is at or past the limit of how far plastic can stretch and stay put, assuming I go for a snug heel and then blast out the front of the boot. And that blasted out forefoot, at the metatarsals, still converges to this wee little oval end in front so boot can look like street shoes.


Third, yep, I've thought about Fischer Vacuums. But the threads have a few themes that keep popping up, one is the small toebox and one is how cold they are, and the other is the limits of the technology for narrow heels. So am I really a candidate, or is it another expensive failure in waiting? Should I be thinking Dodge, or one of those CAD jobs where I submit the data and they build to my specs? 


Or should I just give it up, buy a nice roomy boot for low intermediates, and at least be able to spend a few hours out without wincing? Sad to have to choose, but at my age, hurting all the time should be reserved for stuff I can't control, like my knees...

post #2 of 15

Your foot is not so out of whack as you might think (as long as it's not like a 24-25 mondo or so) nevertheless, it is a fit that requires compromises. My own foot is about 284mm long (28 MP measured) and 104mm across the met heads. I have skied in a sz 9/27 Lange race boot for mebbso the last 20 years. This is a moderately wide foot in an ~~ 98mm shell and down one size. This is not a drop in fit by any means, but also not a week long project either. As my age and girth increase and the onset of senility approaches, I have decided to go with the 100mm Lange RS 130 wide this year. You could very possibly be in the same shell.


You won't get an out of the box fit with a reasonable level of performance from much of anything. With the 100mm Lange, you would have a good starting point with a good mid-rearfoot shape. Remember that a fitter can change the shape of the shell (esp. in the mid-front) pretty easily to accommodate your odd bits. Making the rearfoot tighter however, is not usually effective for the long haul so I'd advise against a higher volume boot. Among the 102 ish boots, the Lange (again) has the better rear-midfoot shaping by a long shot but it may not be necessary to go there. With good workmanship a 100 should fill the bill.



post #3 of 15
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Jim, thanks for the advice. I will take a hard look at the Lange's. Also, I've gotten a few PM's off this thread about Fischer Vacuum's. Do you think those might be appropriate here, or is it asking too much of the plastic and toebox?


mntlion, read the sticky, sort of knew the "98" wasn't constant, but helps to understand it's a ratio. So it's basically a 100 at my 27 shell, and a 100 last would be a 102. Maybe all I need is to move up to a 100 last if I can find a narrower heel. Besides Jim's idea of a Lange, any thoughts there? One fitter put me into some Heads, which were said to have a square toe box, but it didn't feel much less squashed on the inside, and the rear fit wasn't great. 

post #5 of 15

You don't mention your instep height (roof of your foot) so I'm assuming that's not an issue. The Head boots are all over the map as far as fits go (not a bad thing BTW) The 100mm Heads are pretty roomy while the 98's are exactly the opposite. I do not think that the 98mm Fischers will expand enough in front and I do not think that the 100's will come in enough in the mid-rear to give you the snugness that you are seeking. Another option off the Lange 100mm boots might be the Solly X-Max. It is ostensibly a 98 but it's a biggish 98 so that might fly as well especially if your roof height really (is...?) a problem.. The Solly 100's are huge.



post #6 of 15

I like the advice from Jim, but I think mostly it is important to remember you won't get a good fit out of the box and a good experienced fitter can make boots dramatically wider so can easily accommodate your narrower heel and wider foot in a boot designed for performance.  In your case I think the boot choice is not as important as the fitter choice.



post #7 of 15

what Lou said,

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Jim, don't have a precise measurement of height, but flat feet, pronate, have been told I have a low instep both top and bottom. 


Appreciate the fitter advice from mtlion and Lou. 


But then again, it's not like I'm working with college kids in a big box store. I've used fitters from several different shops slope-side that are known locally or regionally for their fitting, these shops have won national awards, they work with local race teams, the fitters have all the usual credentials, and so on. So...


The reason I posted is because, again, I really need to know if I'm just very unlucky with fitters, or am I in the wrong boots, and any solid fitter could help if I were in the right boots. Not as in a particular model, but as in wrong basic last width, or perhaps even wrong basic concept (Vis-a-vis my comment about little oval toe boxes, on another post here, the OP was informed that he should always be able to move his toes. That was a given. Well, I will repeat that I have never in a half century been able to move my toes individually inside my boots if I got a shell fit to inside of 20 mm. At 7-15 mm - and I've had nearly all within that range - the best I can do is flex the middle joint of the single locked toe unit up or down a few mm.) 


So I'm wondering if I may have to sacrifice this concept that I need a 97-98 last, just right at the heel, if I want to have a boot that's gonna perform. Jim seems to think there are 100 mm lasts out there that are fine, and still have decent heels. Yes? What about a 102?


No, I don't expect house slippers. My pain tolerance is just fine. I've skied while my feet were literally bleeding from my toes being pressed together so hard the nails cut through the skin on the side, and punctured the skin of the toe next door. Soaks the socks pretty well. I've skied with no big toenails, that's from cold days and toes that can't move, and by March, I usually ski all afternoon every day with a sensation along the lateral margin of my feet, around the fifth metatarsal, like someone's holding a lighter on it. Takes several months after skiing is done for the sensitivity to get toward normal, although my doc says that I've now permanent damage now to the nerves. This from sharp bony protrusions off each 5th met that project both upward and downward; imagine a mickey mouse outline with smaller ears, on its side. So I have pronounced calluses under each 5th, even though I normally pronate. A season of boot pressure on these pretty much does a job. (Yep, various fitters have cut out the orthotic there when punches didn't work. Not enough.) And in bigger boots, where I give up any chance at edge control, I get enough bang at the ankles, as well as the mets, to create raw bruises. Toes are better, though...


Begin to see? Either I suck it up and just pay the price, or I let go of control. 


So Langes, and perhaps Sollies, and be sure and get a good fitter. Any other notions? Try snowboarding instead? 

post #9 of 15

The ice coast is where?



post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

I ski mostly at K-ton. 

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
OK bumping this for some specific advice about Lange RX's. They seem to have the most hope for my duck feet. But I'm in between lengths; the LV 27.5, which I understand to be a true 99 mm at that length, is a bit long (20-22 mm shell space) but pretty good for width. And toe box. The LV 26.5, which is size down from my usual 27.5, is I understand a true 97 mm. It's pretty snug in length, but doable, very pinched in width up front, little toe room, great at heel and ankle. So: I'm wondering if the answer is a non-LV 26.5, which as I calculate would be 100 mm wide. Or should I stick with the LV 26.5, which will take a lot of work in front and may not make it for my toes but is definitive at rear? Put another way, does the non-LV RX shell, which I'm told is identical to the RS wide, have any extra length compared to the same length in LV? (And cannot locate a normal vol 26.5, would have to order.) Sorry for all the hypotheticals, reflects fact few shops seem to carry RX's.
post #12 of 15

The RS-Wide is the same internally as the standard RX (100mm in a 26). There is no additional length but a bit more circumference in the toebox. There is a difference in the liners however in that the RS wide uses the firm RS liner while the RX uses a liner that is quite good but a little softer. Despite the two having the same flex ratings, the RS will be somewhat stiffer. The RS-Wide might be a good way to go in the 26.



post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks. Helpful info. I tried on the RS in 26.5, seemed tighter than the LV RX in same. Assume the liner. The wide RS or normal RX might be about right if the 100 mm doesn't add too much in the ankle. Jonathan in his Blister review of the XT's said that the liners were meant to be heat molded, ended up a lot different, shouldn't believe what they feel like initially. This is my experience with Intuitions, but didn't know Langes of any kind were meant to be heated. Do you do this at SH? Also, any info on whether next season's models are basically the same?

post #14 of 15

Any of the high end Langes will heat mold to at least some degree. They do not change dramatically in the way that an Intuition might do. Basically, heat molding any really good high end liner will take a little of the sharpness out of the original, out of the box feel but will not alter the fit in any major way. Typically, we do not heat mold the liners until the final selection is made because the nice warm, soft, liner can feel deceptively cushy. We also will generally want to make any necessary shell modifications before heat molding a boot liner.


No significant changes among next years models.



post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks Jim - About what I figured. 

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