Originally Posted by JonD999
i find it a little annoying (not quite disturbing) that whenever anyone wants to talk about boots, someone has to say you can't talk about boots, that you can only go to a qualified bootfitter and listen/do to whatever they say.
I know -- it's kind of like Fight Club -- the first rule of boots is you can't talk about boots .
While most everyone will ultimately need to visit a qualified fitter (sometimes more than one, since different shops carry different stock) to get the best boot for their needs, I'm with you that this doesn't mean you don't want to get as much beta as possible before finding such a person. Indeed, the more you know about boots beforehand (a) the more likely you are to be able to identify a qualified fitter and (b) the easier you make the fitter's job. Any good fitter will tell you that he or she most enjoys working with an informed consumer.
@LeoNZ : In addition to what you've already been told (fit is essential, flex numbers aren't standardized between manufacturers, and you can soften a boot but not stiffen it), I'll add the following:
1) Flex numbers aren't even standardized within a manufacturer. A brand's 130 "expert" boot is likely softer than their 130 production race boot.
2) Same for shell widths.
3) As a general guideline, if the boot fits well, the two buckles over the lower shell should not need to be fastened any more than just barely finger-tight. And that's after the liner breaks in! The only one you should need to crank is the lower cuff buckle.
4) Consider replacing the stock velcro strap with a Booster Strap. You can try out a Booster Strap in the shop before it's attached permanently, to see if you like what it does to the flex. And, in combination with the top buckle, you can adjust flex by how tightly you pull the Booster Strap or velcro strap (tighter=stiffer). Since one leg will typically be stronger than the other, the boot's flex will feel softer on that side; you should use the strap and top buckle to equalize any flex imbalance.
5) Shell fit guidelines are just that -- guidelines. E.g., you've probably read that, for a performance fit, you don't want more than 15 mm behind the heel during a shell fit. But that applies only to the typical low-to-moderate instep foot. If you've got a high instep and/or a high ratio of foot length behind ankle:foot length in front of to ankle, that goes out the window. E.g., I've got 25 mm behind my heel in a shell fit, yet have no extra room in my boots (I don't fasten the buckle over my instep), except in front of my toes, even though I'm using a thin race-stock liner.
6) Stiffer boots are more precise (which I find very pleasing), but they are harder to get in and out of. If you get a stiffer boot, you may want to also get a heated boot bag to make your life easier (though this is probably not necessary for the kind of flexes you're considering).
7) Get an appropriate custom orthotic made before you start comparing the fit of different boots, and use that when trying them on.
8) In addition to the right fit and the right flex, the boot needs to have the right geometry for you. That includes obvious things like forward lean, bootboard zeppa (ramp angle) (this is typically adjustable) and, if needed, adjustable cuff canting, but can also involve more subtle attributes. Just as an example: If the heel pocket is too deep relative to your foot shape, you could end up effectively overflexing even a stiff boot, because when you move forward your heel will slide back, pitching you over the front.
9) Most skiers don't bother with this, but as you get further along in your skiing career, and perhaps decide you want to get more serious and really optimize boot performance, you need to get the boot aligned (lateral canting and fore-aft shimming, if needed). This is because all ski boots are effectively orthotic devices and, as with any other orthotic device, they need to be adjusted for you; it would only be by the merest chance that the alignment of the ski boots you bought happened to match your own. And while there are many people who can do a good job fitting, alignment is another matter. How do you tell if a shop is truly serious about alignment? For me, the best indicator is that, as an SOP, they'll ask you to send them post-alignment on-snow video so that they can check and, if needed, further dial in their work by having you experiment by adding temporary shims and sending them new video.
Edited by chemist - 5/4/16 at 2:32pm