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Really no way to chart ski boots fit?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have read several people complaining
about ski boots reviews. And I am adding
my voice to theirs.
Many a time I had to disagree with magazines'
reviews as far as fitting is concerned.
One says "boot X provides a medium fit",
another says "boot Y has a low instep", and so
on... But what is the population they use to
compare the fit, the instep, and so on?

I would like to hear other opinions on this issue.
My ideas are the following:

1. if someone's feet have special problems (past
fractures, etc...) they are in a way unique and
they are out of the picture, or at least to some

2. Width. Width alone is not enough for it would
not take into account different sizes of skiers.
However. if we measure the maximum width, W, and
the lenght of the foot, L, the ratio W/L should
tell us something. I tried this experiment with
some friends of mine and found that W/L < .35 is
low-medium, .35-.4 is medium, > .4 is high. This
relative to the kind of boots we were able to fit

3. Volume,Instep. Again, we need to compare skiers
in different sizes. Somebody suggested to measure
the "circumference" by using a tape around the back
of the heel and the top of the foot. Let's call this
length, R. Then a ratio of R/L should give us a
comparison. I found that average would mean something
around 1.2-1.25, high 1.4 or more... Of course, a larger
sample for each boot model would definitely help to
chart this measure with more accuracy.

4. Ankle... This I have not found a real way to
chart it, other than measuring it alone.

5. Calves. Some as in 4. I tried again a ratio of
the circumference of calves, C, to lenght of foot,
C/L. And it is workable. For example, I could tell
you that somebody with my measures will never fit
in any top Atomic boot. My feet fit fine, but I cannot
close the upper buckles, not even moving the buckles
to their limit. However, there were not so good results
as with 2. and 3.

I would like to hear the opinion/comments of other skiers.
Magazines do not seem to be going to do anything to improve
their charts and their samples are so small to be statistically
insignificant and trust me on that, I have a Ph.D. in this


post #2 of 14
Hi M...
You are right...magazines have no clue! its Marketing at its finest...
also testers have too many foot variables to possibly come to any real
product comparison....

I said it before...and always....a boot is a basic rigid hunk of pu plastic....feet are a matrix of rigid and flexible structures...no feet are the same...feet are constantly changing with age....flexible footwear is basically slowly killing people....

People over analize ski boots...its basic...molds are expensive...it has not been $$$ wise possible to make molds that meet all foot structures...you simply find a close fit .... build in a propper foundation that interfaces you and boot,,,(most key item) ...put the foundation in the shell...open it up...move the walls (heat gun/press) to allow propper foot centering (this is done in max 2 -4 moves)...know the rigidity needed to meet the limitations of flexibility....propper canting when needed (understand most people use canting to correct their mistakes ...(footbed wise) drives me crazy.... Canting is simple...people make it so complicated!...you have to understrand the foot...if someone talks canting before footbed....walk out of the store!

anyways ...ski dont read....the reviews are out of mind!
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your reply AngelFood.
The topic does not seem to interest too many people.
And I think it is a pity for I really feel that something
could be done. Maybe you are right, marketing-wise it would
not be a good move on the manufacturers' side to try to be
more specific about the fits of their boots. That is way
I think that it is up to us, skiers, to get it done. It is
clear that ski magazines will not try too hard. Some do more
than others, yet the results are not satisfactory.
Other people make a living out of fitting boots and
probably do not care too much either, but I still think that
custom made foot beds would be required.. it is just to try
to get into the right shell or to avoid hopes to fit
in certain brands. Some feet and some boots will never "agree".
Anyways, thank you for your opinion.


post #4 of 14
In the 80's "someone" put out a computerized "foot/to boot" fitting service that they sold to boot retailers. These must have been put next to the torture racks used to inject "Lange Flow"

The idea was that by scanning the customers foot and comparing the dimensional data to the "data files" for all the subscribing boot manufacturers, the best matchup could be made.

I think the program failed for lack of support by the boot makers. Unless the "service" evaluated every boot shell and liner every year, the fit selection would be incomplete.

Plus, even if you had the best match from the selection, There was no comfort guarantee. The price of the service then bought you nothing.

Another good idea that failed in the market.

I don't have an idea how to make it work except socialism.

post #5 of 14

Since the human foot is so individualized, the reviews can only lead you to boots that MIGHT fit. It is just too individualized to rate a great fit. How the boot performs portion of the reviews may be more useful, once you get over the "fit" hurdle first.

But remember, nothing else about a boot begins to matter if it doesn't fit.

That's why there are boot fitters.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
You may be right Wink, but in my opinion
you give up too easily.

Boot-fitters do have a role to play. But
no boot fitter in the world can put my
feet in certain boots. And that would be nice
to know ahead of time.

I could give you certain parameters for my
feet and tell you that if you exceed one of
those you will never fit properly on a Salomon
X-Wave 10, for example.

I could tell you that if you have my calves
you will never fit in Atomic top models, despite
your feet could fit like in a slipper inside the
same boots.

And, I could continue, by saying that with my width
you would never even go in a Nordica Doberman or
a Rossignol race-boot model.

The history of science is full of "it cannot be
done" 's which were systematically proved wrong.
And ski-boots need not be rocket science.

Sure feet are unique, but up to a certain point.
Whether one has a pimple and another does not is
irrelevant, if one has a deformed bone and one
has not, that could be material, but most skiers
are quite normal.

It is too bad that nobody sits down and measures
certain parameters of their feet and compare the
same with the same parameters from the feet of others.
Than you build a distribution and you collect people's
impression on the fit (good, bad, so and so) and you
chart the distribution with these impressions... for
most models.
Much better than what is currently in ski magazines.
Somebody else as time goes by may find better parameters,
better measurements.... That's how science goes on.

In any case,... I'll do what I can.


post #7 of 14

I am a "little" taken a back about your comment up me giving up, "too easily." Let me explain it this way. The foot has numerous bones. The relationship of those bones to each other is intricate, and when related to the overall volumn of the foot, this makes it very complex to quantify, because of all the possible measurment variables. For me, the trial and error process seems to be the best way of determining fit.

The boot fitter, and hopefully a very good bootfitter, will be your guide to getting you the best fit possible.

I would never ever buy a pair of ski boots without trying them on and getting help with the fit, since fit is everything.

That means I would never buy a pair on line, unless I knew how they fit, but I would still need to get them aligned and with foot beds.Taking the bootfitter out of the boot purchase process, for me is not an option.

Experince has taught me, that a good bootfitter can make life simpler and more comfortable. The ski mag evaluations only give me a starting point of what boot I might want to try on. If it don't fit, that's it, I immediately move on to something else.

As the softer boots emerge and become more of a factor, it may be possible that one day you won't need a boot fitter. You will use reviews to determine which boot is best for you, and order on line. I think we are a long way from that happening.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Did not mean to be offensive or anything like that.
Sorry if I gave that impression. I apologize for that.
However, you believe in two things I don't:

1. feet are unique. True, but most uniquenesses are
irrelevant. Tiny bony differences are immaterial.
Big ones are and those I said need to be valuated case
by case. But, thankfully, most of us have "normal" feet,
statistically speaking.

2. Bootfitters. Good ones are few and far between. Most
of the time they work in shops and they only have
certain brands available. For example, if I wanted to
get one of the new Head WC boots, I need to travel at
least 300 miles outside of where I live. Plus, we tend
to set our minds on models because we like the look, or
we like the performance evaluations we read on ski magazines,
or both. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about it
and knowing it ahead of time will save money and
disappointment. I would like to see any boot fitter
putting me inside an Atomic boot? Only God could put
me inside a Nordica Doberman, for basically I would have
to be "re-created". You could grind the boot to transparency
but still I would not fit in a Doberman model.

Then, that being said, you win I lose. Nobody out there
is going to try my approach. So boot fitters will have a
good market irrelevant of the fact they do not give you
the best product for your feet to start with... at least
as long as we will be getting snow. I insist that extensive
grinding of boots is not the right approach, but it is
my opinion.




post #9 of 14
Hi MauSki,

My bootfitter doesn't sell any boots, but he will examine your feet prior to you buying a boot and recommend which boots will fit the shape of your foot. You go try the boots on and buy them somewhere, bring them back and he'll tweak them in.

I think there are too many variables to be able to chart them, and even if you did, most people wouldn't know more than a general idea of what they needed anyway. In addition to the width at various points, the height of the the arch and the instep are important, too, and I didn't have a clue how my arch and instep compared to 'normal'. The width of your foot also changes with the amount of support it gets.

A good bootfitter doesn't just make any boot fit any foot, he knows which boot to start with for a given foot.

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hello to you too MXP.

I see your points, yet I am sure that boot-fitting is
not so complicated as Nuclear Physics.
I only have one comment. If you say that a boot fitter
will know what boot brand and model is best for my feet,
do you mean that he is just doing guess-work or that he
has some criteria to follow? And if it follows some
criteria are these just voo-doo magics or something that
could be quantified? I am inclined to think it is the
second option that holds. Just the fact that somebody
can tell that a boot is better than another for my feet
(and it does not require Einstein to do that) leads me
to think that the process can be standardized and a
boot-fitter role limited to the fine tuning in the end.

Plus, I need somebody to lead me to buy the best possible
shell for my feet. I do not know a single shop in the world
that carries all brands of boots and all models of the sames.
So, how can somebody claim that a boot fitter can put me
in the best boot? Best with respect to what universe? The
universe of all ski boots? I do doubt that!

I was born and raised near Montebelluna, Italy, where most
ski boots are made. I have seen ski boots since I was old
enough to walk.. and I tell you that few parameters are
enough to put feet in the right shells. Boot fitting can
be limited to fine tuning and not "destroy" boots by grinding
all over the places to achieve a fit. Racers may do that, but
they are trying to undersize their boots as much as they can.
Recreational skiers at all levels, do not need that as
1/10th of a second is immaterial to them.

And more important, there are good boot-fitters and bad
boot-fitters. I have seen many more low quality works done
than I have seen good ones. And more than once, asking the
person complaining why he did not try a certain brand or
model I was answered they did not carry it and told him or
her that was not a very good boot. Needless to say they
did not have it where they went....

So, I appreciate all the comments I've got and they made
me think, but I am going to keep my first impressions.
Boot-fitting is overrated and sooner or late will go. Or
better it would be relegated where it belongs: fine tuning
of the best shell.


post #11 of 14
Originally posted by MauSki:
If you say that a boot fitter will know what boot brand and model is best for my feet, do you mean that he is just doing guess-work or that he has some criteria to follow? And if it follows some criteria are these just voo-doo magics or something that could be quantified? I am inclined to think it is the second option that holds. Just the fact that somebody can tell that a boot is better than another for my feet (and it does not require Einstein to do that) leads me to think that the process can be standardized and a boot-fitter role limited to the fine tuning in the end.
Hi MauSki,
I have done a bit of boot fitting in my time (for low end intermediates, so we're not talking custom liners, sometimes they wouldn't even listen when you suggested putting in superfeet). I wouldn't call myself a master bootfitter by any stretch of the imagination, but I do remember that as soon as someone took their shoe off, I could have a reasonable guess at which boot brand would fit them best, out of the brands that we stocked. At the lower end of the market, some people have Rossignol feet, many have Salomon, some Raichle and some Technica. That used to be the range we carried. Most of the customers would be OK in a Salomon boot, and given the marketing for them in the UK, many opted for them. For some, the Salomon was the best fit, and Rossis were probably our next biggest seller. Maybe that says a lot about feet in Ireland! (and I'm not just joking there, one of the signs of a true Celt is having a larger second toe than first, so if the toebox is too square, or tapered at certain angles, Celtic feet just won't be comfortable in them)
OK, I'll leave it at that, and hope that a pro will give you a good answer now!

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
That's more or less my point WeartheFox Hat.
All I would like to do is to transfer those clues to
some parameters that can also be used by ski magazines.

As you can tell more or less correctly right away what
kind of foot you have in front of you, so I think that
there is a reasonable way to convey that kind of impression
to suitable foot/leg parameters. At most we will have to
introduce some kind of parameter for the "Irish foot" as
you called it. I am pretty sure that it is easy to do.

Nothing against boot fitters. All my ski boots were fitted,
the last pair by Harald Harb and Diana Rogers using their
most advanced theory. I am just talking about the shells.

You raise another of my points. Certain boots sell more and
are easier to come by. For example if I wanted to wear brand
X because I like the descriptions in ski magazines what can
I do if nobody around here sells those boots. I need to travel
and find the boots in other cities. Now, wouldn't it be better
if I knew that I should not even try given that my feet will
never get into those very boots? In other words and I will leave
it there for good this time.. instead of medium volume, i want
numbers that I can take at home on my feet and make my own
decision. If a shop is nearby I will go there, if no shop that
sells those boots can be found near be, so let be it.


post #13 of 14
MauSki, this is an odd little thread you've started. It smells like a troll. But you seem somewhat sincere.

You can't chart precise fit, but you can have a working knowledge of comparatives and put that knowledge onto a chart.

I have an odd foot, very narrow in the heel, ankle and midfoot, and very wide at the big toe joint due to bad bunions on both feet. Also, I have thin lower legs. Fitting has always been an issue for me, but I've been lucky enough to learn a lot from Brian Eardley at Ski Center in Wash DC, where I worked for 8 seasons.

The last season I worked there was winter of '86-'87. At that time, the only boots that fit me were Lange and San Marco. The San Marcos fit only with some minor mods at the big toe joint. The Langes were perfect. Comparatively, Nordicas were too wide at the heel and too narrow at the big toe joint. Raichles were too short (vertically) at the arch, and just too narrow throughout. Salomons back then were lousy cable-and-plate-driven boots that had a very easily modified inner boot and shell, but their standard fit was too peculiar -- poked me in the wrong areas around my malleolas. Koflachs were too wide throughout and too tall in the arch.

Today, I've had the most success with my '00 model Salomon Course X-Scream boots, which fit very much like the Langes of '87. But Salomon's "Wave" series boots have too much volume in the ankle/heel/midfoot for me. Dolomites feel pretty good, too. Nordicas kill me with their short height in the arch and their too-narrow shells. Rossignols fit like the old Nordicas of '87. Head (formerly San Marco) I haven't yet tried.

If I worked now as a bootfitter, I guarantee that I'd have a chart -- at least in my brain, if not on paper -- that tracked the relative fit in the following areas:

toe box width
toe box height
midfoot width
arch/instep height
heel width
malleolar fit ("heel pocket snugness")
lower leg volume
upper leg volume

also, I'd note where on the scale of Low Volume to High Volume their fit tended toward.

then there's the issue of flex patterns, because they have strong effects on feel and fit.

If you want to talk to someone who could describe boot fit, I would suggest checking out the website for Footloose Sports. They have boot fit info there, and list their phone number too.
post #14 of 14
It is funny watching all the mold makers wack out the new Italian Tech....
In Montebelluna.... the Mold Makers are all related and work in all the factorys....Nothing like a couple of Grappas and a mold grind! Nothing like keeping the all the companys secrets in all the familys.....
Anyways the Italians sure can make a pretty boot!

Great discussion...your focus is good! but not in the right field....you will never get an accurate measurement until you know what exactly you are measuring.....the foot in motion....stationaty....all the variables of a ski and boot working against the flexible foot.....transverse arch displacement....the real foot....Dont ask old BRANOCK! old school my man.

I have personally customised over 10,000 feet....I have the measurements you are looking for....and I have measurements that you would never know existed.....

As for the replacement of the foot guru...the legends (in our own minds of course)....yes! it will happen...believe me, this is the first thing that the corporate wonders would love to do...There are multiple patents on mass customisation in your future...Yup a minimum wage ski bum....will be able to provide good boot fit!

And yes the measurments are what will bring this to life.....
good rap!
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