Originally Posted by nsherman2006
Are there generally any boot fitters who will sell/work on used boots, or a good place to go find older models?(1)
I don't mean to be contrarian... But let's say my budget for a ski season is $1000. If I spend $600 on great boots, it doesn't leave much room for actual skiing.(2)
So I guess my next question is, do you think that if I go get fit for boots now, would I out-learn those boots shortly? Or could I get fit for a boot that will work well for me as both a beginner and intermediate?(3)
1. When you buy boots from a proper specialty shop, part of the premium is for the fit process. General fitting, assessment, moderate shell manipulation is included when you buy from a retailer. And that process STARTS WITH SELECTING THE CORRECT BOOTS. It may sound painful to hear this, but having skied exactly once in your lifetime, it is not likely that you even know how ski boots should fit, what boots are most likely to fit your feet and which models are most appropriate for your general performance envelope (beginner, northeast, small hills, aspirational). So, yes, you can pay a fitter to work on a set of boots after the fact, but the likelihood that a rank beginner will self-select an appropriate, well-fitting boot to start with is virtually nil. You will select boots that are 1-2 sizes too large, the wrong flex pattern and probably a suboptimal last/foot match.
2. Once you get boots dialed in, all of the other money is way better spent. Lift tickets are way more fun to utilize when your feet are well taken care of. Skiing is much more fun when you can control your skis. Lessons are much more effective when you have gear that allows you to do drills correctly and implement coaching with proper tactile feedback.
3. If you get a solid boot from a reputable shop, it should scale up into your intermediate years. Unless you are skiing 30+ days a season, that is going to be a while.
But, the best advice I could possibly give you is to STOP doing internet research now. I appreciate that you like to do it yourself, and you probably don't trust retailers (which is too bad because the good ones are awesome resources, focused on helping you choose suitable equipment to best enjoy your experience). But the real reason to step away from the screen and into the real world is that your research is leading you to incorrect conclusions (perhaps because you are just seeking confirmation of pre-existing biases for which you have no rational basis).
1. Ski length. You concluded that your 160cm rentals were too long and you want 150s. That is the exact wrong conclusion. Even as a beginner, in an all mountain ski you probably want something that is no shorter than 10-15cms below head height. For your height and weight, the sweet spot for this ski is probably around 170-175. If a ski feels too long and hard to manage (say a Blizzard Bonafide in 180 or an Enforcer in 185 - just to name a few community favorites), it is probably the wrong ski and not the wrong length (those would correct lengths, in those skis, for someone your size).
2. Junior skis. I can't think of any junior ski that is even remotely appropriate for a 6'0, 200# person. Junior skis are generally built for kids under 160cm tall (at the tall end) and lighter than 120lbs. Bigger than that, you move into women's skis and adult unisex models.
3. Identifying boot brands/models. Predetermining boot brands or models based on web copy or magazine reviews (or a chat board) is folly. The only thing in boots that matters is (a) fit and (b) appropriateness of the model to the mission. Even discussing flex ratings is silly - the ratings are not based on a unified, objective standard. The ratings aren't always consistent throughout even a line. The best you can do is use the ratings to situate the boot within model range (i.e., stiff, stiffer, stiffest) and then you compare similarly situated models among the manufacturers. You shouldn't have preconceived notions about boot models. Within a particular category all of the comparable boots work and are of similar quality. Boot "features" or performance attributes in marketing copy and reviews are mostly baloney. This is where DIY'ing is going to get expensive, painful and counter-productive.
4. Ski widths, models. You have identified a category of skis (all-mountain skis, ~90mm underfoot) that is a very popular and versatile category. And can be appropriate for applications both east and west. But given that the bulk of your skiing is going to be at smaller eastern hills (I am thinking Wachusett-like places), probably 100% groomers for the immediate future, I think something with a moderate flex pattern, 75mm to low 80s would hit the bull's-eye more squarely. But the truth is that you shouldn't even worry about getting skis dead right at this point. Just get something appropriate, used, on close out, etc. . . your problem is that you don't really know what might be appropriate, and perceived preferences are irrelevant until you've got at last 30 ski days under your belt (you don't have enough data or experience to reach a logical conclusion) - so buying closeout on advice from a good shop will be a better choice than used. But used skis in good condition can be a solid value play if you know what you are looking for.
Find a trusted shop, get boots sorted out and ski rental skis or whatever moderately priced, reasonably compliant ski you can find. As long as the ski is turned and the correct length, you will probably be OK. But most importantly, if you are at all serious about doing this correctly and efficiently, find a trusted shop to guide you and let someone with earned, validated expertise, who has actually met you in person, help you make the call. At least the first time.
Edited by LewyM - 1/11/17 at 9:27am