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Ski Boots Help [college student in NJ]

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
(Duplicate thread to the one in "ask the boot guys" because I didn't realize that not everyone can reply. So I posted here as well)

Hey, I'm new to the forum and the technical world of skiing so please bear with me.

I'm a 24 female currently in college in NJ and I've recently gotten back into skiing this past season. I've been skiing since I was about 4 growing up in Europe but stopped when we moved to the US at 14. I skied a few times with rentals till now. I finally decided to get back into it as I missed it a lot and ended up skiing at Windham in NY this past winter. To my surprise it came back really fast and I was skiing pretty well after a few hours on blues and some black diamonds. I decided I want to keep doing this from now on and started investing in ski gear and now I have everything except boots. I've been told that out of the skis/poles/boots/bindings, the boots are probably what are the most important because they have to fit and be comfortable and durable. I bought all my gear at Pelican Sports (had great discounts after season) and went back a few days ago to buy boots but they had none in my size...so now I'm searching all over the internet but I'm a bit overwhelmed with all the brands and prices. I have no idea what I should get and if it's even safe to buy online. I'm trying to buy something off season because obviously it'll be cheaper and I'm a poor student lol. I'm also wondering if it's worth waiting more and if prices will drop even more the closer it gets to next season.

Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated!

Female
24.5 (sized at Pelican Sports)
Medium Wide
Intermediate/Advanced
All Mountain (I'd like to get more into terrain park stuff, I tried a few smaller jumps/rails last season and it was fun)
Price range: < $350 (based on off season lower prices)
post #2 of 34
Just PM'd you. Ignore anything Pelican told you. Find a real boot fitter. As to sizing, stand on some paper. Put the paper and your heel against the wall, mark the longest toe on the paper, then measure it in mm's. Is it 245? If not, what is it?
post #3 of 34
post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply sibhusky. I tried the paper thing just now and I get almost exactly 24.5cm...I mean as accurately as I can measure at home with paper and a ruler lol. I'm not sure why mm because 24.5 mm is not even 3 cm which is less than an inch. So I assume you meant cm.

 

I also read the links you posted and will have to do an actual boot fitting soon!

post #5 of 34
245 mm = 24.5 cm No mistake. Was looking for more exact measurement. Was your foot more or less than 24.5?
post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 

Ah, I didn't see the decimal point! It was a mm less but when they checked in the Pelican store I saw it and read it myself that it was 24.5. He also checked for width and all he said was medium width to wide, which makes sense from my experience with shoes. Anytime I've rented boots (and I assume they're pretty average to fit most customers) they were decently comfortable. Only issues I ever ran into was them being tight and pressing on my ankle bone leaving a mark after the day and hurting a bit. I totally understand that I'll have to try it on in person and see what fits best. What I'm really wondering is if there's a difference in brands, what's recommended for its quality/durability, a recommended time to buy them (now or wait more into the fall), and how expensive/what type to go for in my skill level. 

post #7 of 34

You might check this thread, and PM Bluesbrothers49. He has a low post count, but apparently sold his demo boots on this forum last year. Sounds like he should be knowledgeable enough to guide you through the fit process, and may possibly have a good return policy if the boots don't work out. His original offerings look solid and he had at least one pair in 24.5 (Sibhusky's caveats above noted) in his original post.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/128340/annual-sample-demo-lange-boots-sell-off#post_1748904

 

Edit: The endorsement from Finndog should negate the low post count :D 


Edited by cosmoliu - 7/24/14 at 1:16pm
post #8 of 34
Just remember that "comfortable" in the store is a no-no. They should be uniformly TIGHT in the store, with no particular pain areas other than maybe some extra pressure at the toe. As the liner compacts, your heel will be able to settle further back in the heel pocket and the pressure on your toe should be relieved. If you can walk around without pain, but can't wait to get them off because your foot is suffocating, the fit might be right. There should be no heel lift, and certainly no slip side to side. The lining will compact over the next six to twelve days. Remember they can stretch a boot, but they can't shrink it.
post #9 of 34
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply cosmoliu, I'll definitely check it out. And I'll remember that, sibhusky, thanks :)

post #10 of 34

My feet measure more than 26.5cm long.  My boots are size 25.5.  The reality inside the boot is a bit complicated.

post #11 of 34
Yeah, my feet measure 25.5, boots are 25.0.
post #12 of 34

 Welcome back to skiing and welcome to Epic.  Boot fitting is a very personal thing and your feet are different than anyone elses' (sic).  DO NOT BUY BOOTS through the internet or mail order.  You will not find boots that fit you that way.  Spend the time and yes money and go to a good bootfitter.   The above posts are all right on with one exception.  You must try on and wear your new boots and do so at a shop that knows some thing about boot fitting.  The norm in most non-informed places is to sell you boots that are too big for you (therefore comfortable in the shop) but they will not work on the slopes. Do some research here first and find a good shop in the early Fall and then buy some boots.

post #13 of 34

Stop shopping for boots and start shopping for a boot fitter.  Don't compromise on boots; get boots that fit with no slop and don't hurt your feet.  Expect to spend a couple more hundred than your previous budget.  Expect to go back to the bootfitter after skiing in your boots for fine adjustments (shell punches, moving buckles, work on liners, etc.).  If you divide the cost by the number of days skiing and compare to the other expenses per day it's well worth it.


Edited by Ghost - 7/24/14 at 6:23pm
post #14 of 34
GO TO A PROFESSIONAL BOOT FITTER.

Go to a bootfitter. This cannot be stressed enough. Boots are the single most important piece of equipment you can have. Some boots are ideal for people with wide feet, some for people with narrow feet. Some boots are soft and ideal for beginners, some are stiff and only for expert skiers who jump off cliffs and ski race courses at 90mph. It's worth it to spend the money on good boots. They're a very important investment. If you plan to start skiing park, you'll want good boots and you might have to spend a bit over $350, but do, it will be worth it. It's also very important to get the right size, and it's best to not trust anyone on that except a professional bootfitter. People who buy boots without going to a bootfitter oftentimes end up with boots 2 or 3 sizes too big, even if they try them on first and think they feel right. When you are actually skiing it will be a lot different than just wearing them for a minute in a ski shop.

For a list of professional bootfitters in your area, refer to this thread. Go to one of them, ask to try a few pairs that they most strongly recommend. If one feels a lot better than the rest, get that one, otherwise go with whatever one they advise. You should also get your boots heat moulded; any good bootfitter will do this for you (probably for free if you buy boots from them).

At some point you might also want custom footbeds, but those aren't necessary right away, just keep them in mind to add later when you have a spare $100 and have progressed as a skier.

When you get boots, take your skis to a shop to have the bindings adjusted. Even if the boots seem to fit, the forward pressure could be off, which is as dangerous as having the wrong DIN setting--it could prevent your skis from releasing in a crash which could result in broken legs. It won't be an issue if you take your skis and boots to a ski shop and have them adjust the bindings, and do it even if you think the bindings are already set right.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nap999 View Post

Ah, I didn't see the decimal point! It was a mm less but when they checked in the Pelican store I saw it and read it myself that it was 24.5. He also checked for width and all he said was medium width to wide, which makes sense from my experience with shoes. Anytime I've rented boots (and I assume they're pretty average to fit most customers) they were decently comfortable. Only issues I ever ran into was them being tight and pressing on my ankle bone leaving a mark after the day and hurting a bit. I totally understand that I'll have to try it on in person and see what fits best. What I'm really wondering is if there's a difference in brands, what's recommended for its quality/durability, a recommended time to buy them (now or wait more into the fall), and how expensive/what type to go for in my skill level.
When you had the issues with rental boots, did you have pants tucked into your boots? You should never have any type of pants (except long underwear) tucked into your boots, they will make your ankles sore. Otherwise it could just be the fact that you were wearing low quality rental boots.

Difference in brands is pretty subjective. Some brands cater to wider or narrower feet, some brands cater to racers while others cater to freeskiers. A good bootfitter will know what boots to have you try. I personally like Salomons a lot, but while they might be perfect for you, they might not work well for you, it varies from person to person.

You could buy them now or in the fall, in the fall there will probably be more selection but sales might be over. If you can find something you're happy with now go ahead and get some, but I personally would wait until November or so when all the new boots are in to have a larger selection.

Welcome to EpicSki.
post #15 of 34

@Sh4d0w, I like your comments, except for the part about long underwear.  I don't see the point of putting anything in the boots other than feet and thin ski socks.  Anything additional, while it might not cause a problem, isn't going to improve anything.  I'd suggest 3/4-length base layers, or, barring that, scissors.

post #16 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sh4d0w View Post

GO TO A PROFESSIONAL BOOT FITTER.

Go to a bootfitter. This cannot be stressed enough. Boots are the single most important piece of equipment you can have. Some boots are ideal for people with wide feet, some for people with narrow feet. Some boots are soft and ideal for beginners, some are stiff and only for expert skiers who jump off cliffs and ski race courses at 90mph. It's worth it to spend the money on good boots. They're a very important investment. If you plan to start skiing park, you'll want good boots and you might have to spend a bit over $350, but do, it will be worth it. It's also very important to get the right size, and it's best to not trust anyone on that except a professional bootfitter. People who buy boots without going to a bootfitter oftentimes end up with boots 2 or 3 sizes too big, even if they try them on first and think they feel right. When you are actually skiing it will be a lot different than just wearing them for a minute in a ski shop.

For a list of professional bootfitters in your area, refer to this thread. Go to one of them, ask to try a few pairs that they most strongly recommend. If one feels a lot better than the rest, get that one, otherwise go with whatever one they advise. You should also get your boots heat moulded; any good bootfitter will do this for you (probably for free if you buy boots from them).

At some point you might also want custom footbeds, but those aren't necessary right away, just keep them in mind to add later when you have a spare $100 and have progressed as a skier.

When you get boots, take your skis to a shop to have the bindings adjusted. Even if the boots seem to fit, the forward pressure could be off, which is as dangerous as having the wrong DIN setting--it could prevent your skis from releasing in a crash which could result in broken legs. It won't be an issue if you take your skis and boots to a ski shop and have them adjust the bindings, and do it even if you think the bindings are already set right.
When you had the issues with rental boots, did you have pants tucked into your boots? You should never have any type of pants (except long underwear) tucked into your boots, they will make your ankles sore. Otherwise it could just be the fact that you were wearing low quality rental boots.

Difference in brands is pretty subjective. Some brands cater to wider or narrower feet, some brands cater to racers while others cater to freeskiers. A good bootfitter will know what boots to have you try. I personally like Salomons a lot, but while they might be perfect for you, they might not work well for you, it varies from person to person.

You could buy them now or in the fall, in the fall there will probably be more selection but sales might be over. If you can find something you're happy with now go ahead and get some, but I personally would wait until November or so when all the new boots are in to have a larger selection.

Welcome to EpicSki.

Thank you for the reply, and everyone else too! I think next time I visit friends up north I will go to a boot fitter. I've read good things about Heino's (an hour from me) and will make an appointment before fall and see how that goes. I haven't been to a ski boot fitter since I was younger so I don't remember how it works exactly but I'm assuming they have some selection at this time of year for sizing and trying on? And I'll try to save up some more so that I can increase my budget. 

post #17 of 34
@Xela, you may be right, I don't even own long underwear. I just assumed they are thin enough to not cause much issue.

@nap999, the selection they have now, and whether or not they're even open now, will probably vary from place to place. The process is pretty simple. You go in, get your feet measured, answer a few questions (how good of a skier you are, the type of terrain you ski, etc), the bootfitter then picks a few pairs of boots to have you try on, you try them, pick your favorite, get them heat moulded, and that's it.
post #18 of 34
One observation: when someone has pain from their boot cuffs being too tight, it's a good indication that the boots are too big and that they're cranking down on the buckles to try to get them to fit.

So save up your pennies! It'll be the most important ski gear investment that you'll ever make.

Oh, and welcome back to the sport, and welcome to epicski!
post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by nap999 View Post

Ah, I didn't see the decimal point! It was a mm less but when they checked in the Pelican store I saw it and read it myself that it was 24.5. He also checked for width and all he said was medium width to wide, which makes sense from my experience with shoes. Anytime I've rented boots (and I assume they're pretty average to fit most customers) they were decently comfortable. Only issues I ever ran into was them being tight and pressing on my ankle bone leaving a mark after the day and hurting a bit. I totally understand that I'll have to try it on in person and see what fits best. What I'm really wondering is if there's a difference in brands, what's recommended for its quality/durability, a recommended time to buy them (now or wait more into the fall), and how expensive/what type to go for in my skill level. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by litterbug View Post

One observation: when someone has pain from their boot cuffs being too tight, it's a good indication that the boots are too big and that they're cranking down on the buckles to try to get them to fit.

So save up your pennies! It'll be the most important ski gear investment that you'll ever make.

Oh, and welcome back to the sport, and welcome to epicski!

I would offer that there could be a difference between tight cuff causing pain and pain at the ankle bone (medial malleolus - bottom of the tibia on the inside). My daughter had severe pain there and it caused her to A frame and ski on her inside edges when she was young. When she was something like 11, I got her custom footbeds and fitted boots (she has severe flat feet) and the issue went away. The ankle bone pain was caused by her feet pronating and the custom footbed corrected it.

Doing the above corrected her A framing and had her on flat skis. Some people pad the area wear the pain is when what they really need is a proper footbed made for THEIR foot.

Don't pay attention too much to the size and don't freak out when the boot fitter brings out something that you think is way to small. I wear a size 8 men's shoe and my bare foot measures 26.4. My ski boots are a 24.5 or a 6.5. A good fitter can make boots bigger here and there but they can't make them smaller. They can also make them softer but not stiffer.

There is also a difference between uncomfortable and pain. They might be uncomfortable in the store but there shouldn't be pain. When I tried on boots we kept selecting down to what seemed the perfect fit and then the fitter said we should go down a size. He had me try it on and I felt like I was wearing shoes too small and circulation was being cut off. He had me focus on how the heel fit and width was and where the pressure was. I gave him my input, he made the adjustments and I have perfectly fitting boots!

I can wear them all day pain free but my feet are happy when I finally take them off.

Make sure you get a really good fitter and you take your time. Unfortunately this isn't the time to let your wallet make decisions. It isn't cheap and might not seem worth it until you realize that your friends are in the lodge with their boots off and your still skiing. Most importantly, you will ski better. The boots are your way of controlling your skis. The better the fit, the better control, the better you ski.

Have fun,

Ken
post #20 of 34
+1 on Heino. Many have posted about him here.
post #21 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post


I would offer that there could be a difference between tight cuff causing pain and pain at the ankle bone (medial malleolus - bottom of the tibia on the inside). My daughter had severe pain there and it caused her to A frame and ski on her inside edges when she was young. When she was something like 11, I got her custom footbeds and fitted boots (she has severe flat feet) and the issue went away. The ankle bone pain was caused by her feet pronating and the custom footbed corrected it.

Doing the above corrected her A framing and had her on flat skis. Some people pad the area wear the pain is when what they really need is a proper footbed made for THEIR foot.

Don't pay attention too much to the size and don't freak out when the boot fitter brings out something that you think is way to small. I wear a size 8 men's shoe and my bare foot measures 26.4. My ski boots are a 24.5 or a 6.5. A good fitter can make boots bigger here and there but they can't make them smaller. They can also make them softer but not stiffer.

There is also a difference between uncomfortable and pain. They might be uncomfortable in the store but there shouldn't be pain. When I tried on boots we kept selecting down to what seemed the perfect fit and then the fitter said we should go down a size. He had me try it on and I felt like I was wearing shoes too small and circulation was being cut off. He had me focus on how the heel fit and width was and where the pressure was. I gave him my input, he made the adjustments and I have perfectly fitting boots!

I can wear them all day pain free but my feet are happy when I finally take them off.

Make sure you get a really good fitter and you take your time. Unfortunately this isn't the time to let your wallet make decisions. It isn't cheap and might not seem worth it until you realize that your friends are in the lodge with their boots off and your still skiing. Most importantly, you will ski better. The boots are your way of controlling your skis. The better the fit, the better control, the better you ski.

Have fun,

Ken

I agree with this except for one thing. When trying on boots, pain is not necessarily bad. When I got my current boots, I tried them on at a ski area and took a few test runs with them. There was a spot that they were so small that it was about as much pain as I have ever been in. Taking just a few runs was almost intolerable. However, the bootfitter encouraged me to get that size anyway, claiming that heat moulding would fix the issue. I trusted him. He put an adhesive foam pad on my foot in the spot where it was really sore to make the heat moulding extra effective in that area, and the heat moulding widened out the boots a few millimeters to accomodate my feet. After that, they were perfect.

If you are in pain when trying on boots, tell the bootfitter of course, but if it's just one area it can, in some cases, still be the best boot size and be fixed with heat moulding.
post #22 of 34

I'm not against buying online (I've bought several very inexpensively for very high performance and excellent fit) however, since you don't know and have to ask what is the best size and advice, DON'T.

 

Reasons

 

  • Think of that first buying experience for an excellent fitting boots from a great boot fitter as an education that you are paying for.
  • It makes a difference.
  • Improves your skiing.

 

It is worth the money.

 

Later when you understand that's a different matter and you won't be asking the question you are (unless you have hard to fit feet and then you just SOL).

post #23 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sh4d0w View Post

I agree with this except for one thing. When trying on boots, pain is not necessarily bad. When I got my current boots, I tried them on at a ski area and took a few test runs with them. There was a spot that they were so small that it was about as much pain as I have ever been in. Taking just a few runs was almost intolerable. However, the bootfitter encouraged me to get that size anyway, claiming that heat moulding would fix the issue. I trusted him. He put an adhesive foam pad on my foot in the spot where it was really sore to make the heat moulding extra effective in that area, and the heat moulding widened out the boots a few millimeters to accomodate my feet. After that, they were perfect.

If you are in pain when trying on boots, tell the bootfitter of course, but if it's just one area it can, in some cases, still be the best boot size and be fixed with heat moulding.

You are correct and that is my experience as well. I should have done a better job explaining that. Some of my "pain" issues were corrected with molding and I needed a punch to for my early stage bunion.

Except for being able to wiggle my toes some, there is no room in there. No gaps, no spaces and is why I can't wear a sock.

Ken
post #24 of 34

Bootfitter is the way to go.

 

I don't know where in NJ you are but the shops in north Jersey are full of hacks for the most part, believe me I have plenty of stories from working at Campgaw. If the consensus around here is that this Heino guy is good I would check it out. 

 

When I bought boots a couple years ago I compiled a list of all the reputable boot fitters I could find in the northeast but I can't seem to find it at the moment. If I do I shall post it here. 

post #25 of 34

I have experience at using Heino and they are definately your best option in NJ.  That being said, nothing compares to using a good boot fitter located at the mountain you are primarily skiing at. They are able to fine tune your fit throughout the day of skiing.

post #26 of 34

While you will definitely pay more from a fitter than if you buy on line, from a swap, etc, but buying from a fitter should entitle you to free adjustments--usually for a year. This basically mean punching or grinding painful spots and other minor adjustments. And often a guarantee that the boots will fit.  These things narrow the price difference.

Not all boots will need to be heat molded. Tends to be the upper end boots that do.

Like someone said you can make a boot a little bigger but not smaller. Also you can make a boot softer but not stiffer.

Also keep in mind that the average college student with cheap ill fitting boots will have more fun skiing than the average 50 year old internet billionaire with boots custom made for his feet. (3-D printed boots?) I've probably gotten myself banned from the forum now but whatever. (It's easy for us to tell you that price is no object. We're all internet billionaires here. But do get the best you can afford.)

post #27 of 34

I have had good luck at both Heino's and Ski Barn. The Ski Barn in Wayne is a few miles from Heino's (Pompton Plains). You could actually visit both in one trip to see if you prefer one or the other. They are both on Rt 23. Ski Barn also has a shop in Lawrenceville but I have not used this location.

post #28 of 34
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies guys! I will definitely go to a boot fitter. So far I've read really good things about Heino's online (also from this forum). I've also read reviews about Ski Barn (from this forum) and it was really bad. But good point, I totally forgot there's a ski barn in Lawrenceville (which is about 35min from me) so I will definitely stop by just to look around and see what they have to see. I know I probably wouldn't buy from them and I will go to Heino's for sure but since it's close I think it's worth a trip just for research's sake. 

post #29 of 34
Some of the guys at Pelican are good. Others not so much. Personally have found them the best in the area since Princeton went out of business.

For big shops Ski Barn is around but have never been impressed.

Summit Ski has some decent people but it's tiny.
post #30 of 34
Thread Starter 

Thought I'd share the updates:

 

Last weekend I stopped by Ski Barn in Lawrenceville (I was in the area) to check it out and was totally not impressed and probably wouldn't go back ever again. I was with my parents because we were doing something in the area when we stopped by. We walked in and looked around the ski/equipment area because the guy was helping someone with snowboard boots. He was basically done with his customer and packing up their purchase but somehow ended up chatting for 20 minutes (I was watching the time) without even acknowledging us standing in the small ski area waiting for him. Not a big deal, he was the only salesperson so I understand he wanted to finish up but I kind of expected a "Hi, I'll be with you in a bit" out of courtesy. Anyway when he was done he asked me how he can help and I told him I was looking for ski boots. First thing he asked was if I'm looking to purchase today or not. Then he told me to sit and he took out a brannock device (I hope I'm saying it right) and just told me to put my foot on it and he took a quick measurement. Once he measured he stood up and started walking towards their inventory and asked me what flex I want. I told him I wasn't sure but from what I researched for my skiing level I figured between 70-100. He looked for about 5 minutes and came back saying he had nothing in my size, and so I left. 

 

Now it could have just been me but he seemed to care more about me spending money than actually trying to find out what would be best for me.

 

Then I decided to make an appointment at Heino's and ended up going today. I have to say, now that I've been to an actual boot fitter.....I'll never return to Ski Barn. Not only were they more knowledgeable (I know that's an obvious difference) but much more friendly and I didn't feel like they just wanted money out of me. I had an appointment with the owner, Greg, and he was extremely nice and helpful. I had to sit down, put on socks before measuring my feet with the device and then he had a list of questions for me. He also made me flex a little and checked out my feet a little more closely. During this whole thing he was explaining to me the process and why he's asking the things he's asking and what he's looking for etc. He then brought out a boot and took out the inside of the boot (liner?) and had me put my foot in the shell so that my toes touch the front. He put a piece of wood behind my heel to check for room and if it's enough space. Then I got to try on the boot, flex in it a bit and see how it feels. I tried a couple of different boots for both feet. There was some pain issue on the top of my foot so he tried to adjust with insole to see if it helps. After some trying on, a pair of Lange boots felt nice. Very snug (almost suffocating my feet...) but not painful. Once that was decided on, he put them on this machine (sorry I don't know the technical names lol) to heat the boots up for about 16min. Once that was done I had to wear the boots for about 8min with another pair of socks over the ones I was wearing (buckled really tight) and walk around and flex and move around a bit for the boot to get adjusted. Once I survived that, I took the extra pair of socks on and let my feet regain circulation for a few minutes and then put the boots on again but this time buckling just enough. And they felt really great, still pretty tight but better than in the beginning. He then gave me homework to wear the boots at home 3 times, each time longer to make sure they're good for my feet. Overall I'm happy with them and excited to try them once winter comes, and I didn't end up spending a fortune either. He talked about custom insoles but because they're expensive and not a necessity for me right now, he told me I can hold off on those so instead I just got regular insoles for them that I used during fitting too (new pair of course). 

 

If tl;dr , I ended up buying Lange SX 90 W at Heino's with insoles for a little over $400.

 

And thanks everyone for the inputs and making sure I don't buy ski boots online :P 

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