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Boots-Calves not getting along

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Ok, I'm 31 and taking ski lessons for the first time in my life and I'm getting tired of A) only completing 2/3rds of each lesson before my feet go numb in my boots from the calf down and B) going back to the place where I rented my gear each week only to have them do something that seems like it will work but never seems to fix the problem.

The problem: I have low, thick calves and have had them all my life. The plastic boot cuffs hit them just about a third of the way up the calf and have left pretty good dent rings in my flesh in past weeks as they're cutting off all circulation to my feet. And, as soon as my feet/legs go numb, just moving them means I'm torquing my knees pretty severely. Ouch! :

The question: My instructors say that I have the ability to become a decent skier (translation: I'm not hopeless, only my boot situation is), so I'm now looking at buying a pair of boots. Has anyone else out there gone through a similar situation with the thickness/lowness of your calf? I'm looking for some brands/models to start with when I hit the stores.

post #2 of 10
i know of someone with the exact same problem. he finally had some boots custom made by strolz, austria. some old shell, manipulated alot and foam injection liner.

i have no details, but in the end he had a perfevt boot.

there is hope.

btw: see a bootfitter. not just some shop clerk who punches out a shell once in a while.

i think even cutting down the shell (cuff, that is) coudl be an option.
post #3 of 10
I had the exact same problem as you last year when I rented boots. You have to buy your own pair of boots and when you get to the bootfitter/store, make sure they understand that it's a huge problem. They'll probably:

- Pick a calf friendly boot
- Extend the top two buckles by an extra set of notches
- If warranted, they can put something in the heel of your boot... that basically moves you onto a slight slant like you're on slight high heels, but it moves your calf up so that it's not being clamped down on
- The spoiler on the back of most boots can be adjusted or taken off... that gives you a little more room

Ski Magazine says:

Large Calf
Poor Fit Symptoms

Frequent leg and foot cramps
Fatigue in the calf and thigh regions
Loose fit in heel caused by calf 's being elevated when the cuff is closed
Cold feet

Recommended Models
Alpina SRX Series/Dalbello SGS, NX 9.2, CRX Ultra/Dachstein Cruise 3/Dolomite Epix Series/Head Cyber Series/Lange L10, L8 and AC9/ Salomon Evolution Series/Tecnica Icon and Innotec Series

Of course, these recommendations have to match up with your forefoot too. If you have wide feet, some of those might not work and the same with narrow feet. Don't worry - there is hope = )
post #4 of 10

There are many women specific boots that take into account the anatomy of a woman's lower leg, such as you describe your calves. As stated above ask around, find the best bootfitters in your area and buy some boots. Women specific boots are generally not as tall as boots for men due to the very problem you're having. It is always a crap shoot with rental equipment, with boots anyway. Take a look at the Salomon Rush series, maybe the Rush 8 or 9. It is a more advanced boot than your current skill level but you will quickly catch up to it once you're skiing pain free.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

The rental shop's solutions thus far

Thanks for the list of models/manufacturers. There's a bootfitter in Stowe that I'm going to pay a visit to this week.

Here's what the rental folks have done - sometimes willingly, sometimes begrudingly - thus far...

1. Orthodotics
2. Extended the top two buckle fittings

And, after yesterday's lesson...

3. Shaved down back cuff of boot
4. Installed heel lifts in shell

I guess I'm somewhat lucky since my feet are an average fit - not narrow or wide. What really irks me is when clerks roll their eyes at my complaints. I've tried being nice, I've tried being not so nice.

I guess you actually have to experience this to know how painful, frustrating and, well, demoralizing it is. Not to sound whiny or anything, but my feet and legs always seem to go numb just as I'm really picking up on a skill and want to hone it. The numbness just makes everything sloppy at best and unmanagable at worst.
post #6 of 10
First, I would invest in your own pair of boots. If the boot has a spoiler, a bootfitter can remove it for some extra room. There have been some other very good suggestions posted above like women's boots (lower cuff) as long as they are not too soft in flex, heel lifts etc. The Fischer MX series has a cuff that can be easily adjusted to accommodate a larger calf, as well.

EDIT: Typos
post #7 of 10
There are many possible solutions. You need to see a good bootfitter. You may find that one certain boot has the right cuff size for you. If not then there are various fixes from use of a heel lift to get you up a bit (smaller calf lower down), to trimming off the top of the cuff, to having the boot fitter actually flair out the plastic at the top of the cuff. This is done with heat, steel cones and wedges. Not every boot fitter has the right equip. for this this but some do. Get to a good boot fitter, ideally before you ski again.
post #8 of 10
Seems a lot of boot makers don't want to admit how different a women's calf is from a men's. My Atomics are women's, but the cuff still gets my lower calf quite badly. I usually ski with the top buckle undone for this reason.

I had a learner family the other day, the girl was in agony even as the lesson started: her rental boots were the same model as her father's.
The rental people seem not to know the problem either.
post #9 of 10
Originally Posted by aireeca
Thanks for the list of models/manufacturers. There's a bootfitter in Stowe that I'm going to pay a visit to this week.
I hope you are going to see Benny at Inner Bootworks. He is the best in the area, and one of the best in the nation. Your problems are not unusual for women. I have similar problems, and it flat out stinks when you are in the kind of pain. He will get you set up the way you need to be. Do not go in with a list of boots you want to try, go in with a list of your problems and let HIM tell you what you need to try. Trust him and do not skimp on what you need to do/pay for the fit you need.

I won't go to anyone else, neither will my husband. Another person who seems to think Benny is tops: Jimmy Cochran. He was getting his boots fitted while we were getting our boots last year. If you are not familiar with the name, Jimmy just made the US Olympic Ski Team.

post #10 of 10


I had the exact same problem. Check out the Nordica Beast 10W. It has 2 top buckles that are moveable to a looser position (i.e., you can move them yourself with a screwdriver). These boots are really good for wide calves.

I also tried on a Salomon pair, but they did not feel as sturdy as the Nordica boots.

Also, check out Jeff Bergeron's bootfitting thread on Epic. He recommended several different models to me.

Good luck!
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