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...