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Boot fitting expectations/etiquette

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've concluded that it is most definitely time for a new pair of boots. I face a bit of a dilemma, however. There is a shop at my main hill which is very well thought of, and which I planned to purchase my boots at. They did some alignment & adjustment work for me last season, and I was very impressed by their thouroughness. However, they have stopped carrying the boot manufacturer which I am pretty sure I want to get (tried several brands/pairs on late last season).

So here are my choices as I see them:

1) buy a pair of boots (not my preferred brand) at my preferred store, and have them do all the adjustments & alignments & sizing so it fits like a glove,

or

2) buy my preferred pair of boots elsewhere (at a local shop where I'm not entirely comfortable with their sizing skills), and bring them to my preferred store for all the custom work, and paying extra for it.

If I go the option 2 route, would you expect a bootfitter to be reluctant to work on brand new boots purchased elsewhere? If they'll do the work, what would you reasonably expect to pay for "average" adjustments (i.e. alignment, some grinding/punching out, etc., but no custom footbeds)?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
post #2 of 12

Boot Fitting

You still may want to at least give option 1 a try and see if any of the boot brands meet your needs. Besides, new models are coming out and you never know. If that doesn't work you can always go to option 2. Most good ski shops guarantee the fit, that's why their prices are generally a bit higher. I would think that if you went with option 2 that the shop would guarantee the fit and you would get the necessary work done at the shop you purchased them from.
post #3 of 12
The place that fitted my wife and I do not carry the boots we wanted. I am sure this happens alot especially if they do not have your size.

Most places will fit you with your bare foot inside just the shell and use a round stick or measuring device to see how much room is behind your heel. If that fails for some strange reason, most shops will take boots back that were fitted imporperly and exchange them for another pair. Ask about this before buying.

Does the shop at your hill fit you for free if you purchase the boots there? If they are not well known for bootwork and do not have fitting as a service I would look elswhere. I think I paid about $60-80 for a fitting without a footbed because I already had one. It may have been more money but I forget. Remember that the cost usually allows you to come back all season to tweak the boots until they are just right.

Good shops will have certified fitters that have done it for years. Of course that doesn't mean all certified people are equal.

Check out the list of bootfitters on this website.
post #4 of 12
There is no reason a bootfitter should be reluctant to work on the right boot for you bought elsewhere. Especially when you were sold on that boot in their shop initially. In fact they should be flattered that you would pay extra for their expertise.

Anytime a shop drops a boot line it is likely not a decision taken lightly. There are pluses but the minuses may be the loss of customers comitted to that boot and they will recognize that.

On the other hand they likely picked up a replacement hopefully with fit being a primary factor. You should give them a try to fit another boot to you because it may work out even better.

I'm not sure why you would be nervous about the second shop's ability to properly size you. I would assume that had already been dealt with the previous season at the first shop.
post #5 of 12
L7 - I think PerSwede was concerned about the customizing work of shop number 2, not sizing the boot.

PerSwede - Sometimes shops can and will special order a boot/item they do not normally carry; you might ask shop number 1 if they would do this. if not, I'd go with your option 1 above.
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PerSwede
So here are my choices as I see them:

1) buy a pair of boots (not my preferred brand) at my preferred store, and have them do all the adjustments & alignments & sizing so it fits like a glove,

or

2) buy my preferred pair of boots elsewhere (at a local shop where I'm not entirely comfortable with their sizing skills), and bring them to my preferred store for all the custom work, and paying extra for it.

If I go the option 2 route, would you expect a bootfitter to be reluctant to work on brand new boots purchased elsewhere? If they'll do the work, what would you reasonably expect to pay for "average" adjustments (i.e. alignment, some grinding/punching out, etc., but no custom footbeds)?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
A real good bootfitter won't care where you get the boots, only that the boots are the right size. FYI: Around here, punching is $25 per punch. Don't know about grinding fees -- that's normally done by the hour. Why don't you just ask the stores what they charge for such services?

Oh, and did store 1 say they'd "make it work for you" or "it fits just as well" as your preferred boot?. If they said they'd "make it work for you" I'd run. What are the two boot options - preferred and otherwise....
post #7 of 12
If your current shop does not carry the boot that you have already predetermined fits you the best (assuming all of the proper steps were taken to narrow it down to that boot with a good selection to choose from) as L7 said, Shops do not drop lines without good reason. There might be a better option for you now that they do not carry. DO NOT LET SOMEONE SELL YOU SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT FIT AND TRY TO FORCE IT TO FIT!!! Always spend the time looking into options. Many Ski shops do not actually carry a large selection of boots (even though they seem to fill there displays up quite a bit) There are too many options and too many different types of feet, they would rather stock up on items that don't come back(clothes and accessories) So... it is quite common in imo that many shops will sell you what they have and just tell you that they will make it work. For some people with VERY hard to fit feet have only this option and need to find a fitter that they trust and is convienient for them to visit for adjustments. I Personally have always been a big advocate of SUREFOOT (I see you are in westchester... they have a shop in nyc. 69th and 3rd) ALL they sell is boots... they dont deal with clothes, skis, etc. They unconditionally guarantee the fit of a boot purchased from them and have locations all over the world. They also do have a custom boot/liner/orthotic combo that is exclusive to them. As for the option of purchasing at one store and fitting at another, I never recommend that... There is no accountability for eiter shop. If you are having problems, the store that fits them for you might ultimatly tell you its the wring boot and to try to exchange it, and the store that sold it will say the other store did not fit it properly. Then you are back to square one. So... IMO stick to one place. Check out surefoot (If you are going to nyc, call ahead to find out if ray rice will be in. He is the northeast regional manager and the most skilled bootfitter I have ever met. he splits his time between the eastern stores) everyone here has made verygood points and I think that the bottom line is find something that fits YOUR foot no matter what brand it is. Thats my 2 cents for now... hope it helps
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by NE1
L7 - I think PerSwede was concerned about the customizing work of shop number 2, not sizing the boot.
Per Swede's second option listed is to go to another shop where he is not comfortable with their sizing skills for his preferred boots. I'm not sure why that was in there but that's why I mentioned the sizing should be irrelevant since it was done the previous year. He also mentions that he would bring them to his regular shop for the customizing work and pay extra which would suggest his faith in that shop's modifying skills is also irrelavant.
post #9 of 12
Interesting as this site is, it's rare for me to agree completely with practically every word of someone's post that's about as long as my own sometimes are. But this is one of those times; I think coppernyc and L7 are positively right on on just about every point.

Since it goes without saying, let's skip the obligatory litany of how boots are much more technical and important than any other component of your ski equipment... blah...blahh....

I'm lucky to live where there are dozens of ski shops that carry everything on the market, and most of them are pretty competive with each other. But even in a ski town as big and active as SLC/Park City, although lots of people talk a strong game, in my opinion, there are, at best, maybe a half-dozen local industry pros here who are truly skilled boot techs/fitters. If you're fortunate, in the long run, finding and developing a rapport with one of these kind of people can save you untold time and travail, not to mention significant $$$...

I'm a tight boot fanatic and a "challenging fit" myself. Most of the years I've skied, I've been going to the Sport Loft, a small local boot specialty shop in Holladay, SLC. They're dedicated, patient, fantastic craftsmen with an esoteric sense of humor - I've had highly gratifying results from them. Their only drawback is the lack of a convenient on-the-hill location, which can become time consuming.

As far as a national store chain goes, in my opinion, the Surefoot is probably your best viable option of a known quantity. Generally, a business has to be very legimate for a long time in order to acquire the reputation that they have. I don't know much about the NYC area, but from lengthy discussions with those folks working their Park City, Keystone and Aspen stores, as well as listening to their conversations with customers, I've learned some valuable things. They seem experienced, knowledgeable, well equipped and always have time to give objective advice. They're big proponents of foam injection, which I've been absolutely sold on since 1992 - this is something that's tempermental; practically miraculous when done properly, but less than stellar otherwise.

Also, whereas most reputable boot shops will offer to "guarantee the fit", what happens when you're threatened with having a vacation severely inhibited, or even ruined by a boot problem, thousands of miles from home where you got the boots...? Another huge, huge advantage of going with Surefoot is that if you're elsewhere on a ski trip and have trouble, there are enough Surefoot shops that there's a good chance that you'll be reasonably close to another place where you can take the boots for some on-the-hill work.

Hope this helps some...

Smiles, Dave
post #10 of 12

re:...

Quote:
Originally Posted by PerSwede
I've concluded that it is most definitely time for a new pair of boots. I face a bit of a dilemma.....

1) buy a pair of boots (not my preferred brand) at my preferred store, and have them do all the adjustments & alignments & sizing so it fits like a glove...
#1 ALL THE TIME!....
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
My inclination is (and has been) to go route #1.

Just to be clear, my preferred shop is extremely reputable and is known as one of the best bootfitters in Southern Vermont. They just don't carry the boot brand or type I was hoping to buy (Technica, fwiw).

I had been trying several different boots on, trying to narrow my search. I was trying on a pair of the Icon Alu late late last season. They flexed more "naturally" than my current boots (Salomon). Not sure I can explain exactly what I mean, but they seemed to match the pivot point of my ankle better. However, they seemed a bit short in terms of length. The salesman assured me he could punch it out enough, but I got the distinct impression he was just trying to get rid of inventory (it was the last pair he had in stock in that size). He didn't have any in the next size up. He didn't do a shell fit or anything. So I didn't buy them.

I will probably end up with option 1 after all is said and done. The only lingering doubt I have is what boot I'll end up with. I've owned a pair of all the boot lines they carry at some point in the past, and have never been completely satisfied with any of them.

Although I appreciate the suggestion of Surefoot, I can't really justify schlepping into Manhattan several times for fittings. It would take me at least 2 hours each way (door to door).

Thanks for all your feedback. I'll let you know what happens.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdavidgibson
Also, whereas most reputable boot shops will offer to "guarantee the fit", what happens when you're threatened with having a vacation severely inhibited, or even ruined by a boot problem, thousands of miles from home where you got the boots...?
I've had pretty good luck with shops doing small adjustments for me on the mountain, regardless of where I bought the boot. I make it clear I'm willing to pay; sometimes its gratis sometimes its like $15 or so for a grind or punch. But there is no subsititute for working with one shop and one fitter. Its like seeing a doctor, you don't have to explain everything every time with all of the inevitable confusion that entails.
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