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Why Not Boot Demos?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Being able to demo skis is the best way to ensure you'll enjoy your investment before shelling out several hundred dollars.

Why aren't boot demos readily available? Are they available anywhere? Seeing that ski boots are the most important piece of equipment, why aren't demo programs available? As most of know, what feels good in the shop may not on the hill. Couldn't we as skiers (and bootfitters, to a lesser extent) all profit from being able to try before we buy?
post #2 of 16
It wouldn't work well. For most people, a boot that would fit comfortably on the first day, out of the box, means a boot that will pack out and not fit correctly at all once it breaks in. They're not going to modify demo boots to customize them to your foot for a day - so you really are much better off to go to a good bootfitter and have them figure out what can best be modified to custom fit your foot.

I know last time I bought boots, the pair that was the LEAST comfortable out of the box ended up being the perfect fit after modification. An expert fitter will know the right questions to ask, and knows what modifications work well and what don't. Demoing boots wouldn't provide nearly the precise feedback you're looking for unless the manufacturer happened to use your foot for their mold.
post #3 of 16
Kenny's Double Diamond at Vail (Lionshead base) demos boots. They evidently stock one size of every boot they sell for demos, but you have to reserve so you can get what you want. The only problem with this that I see is that most people need at least a little bit (or, in my case, a lot) of custom work done on the boots to get them right. This is especially the case with plug boots, which I once saw described as having a vague resemblance to the shape of the human foot prior to the bootfitter working on them. Consulting with a good bootfitter prior to buying may be almost as good as a demo- a really skilled one can tell what will work for you after spending some time with you and examining your feet, legs, and stance.
post #4 of 16
Hey altagirl- great minds think alike. simultaneous postings, no less!
post #5 of 16
No offense to anyone who already posted, but it worked for me.

I just got back from a week at Alta. I needed some new boots, so after getting my feet examined at the Deep Powder House at Alta, I tried on several different boots, then decided on the Salomon X-wave 9.0. I demoed a pair for two days. I really liked the boots (they were not perfect without custom footbeds, but I could tell they fit my feet) so I bought them.

The shop then fit me with custom footbeds and did a few tweaks to my boots. They took the two demo days ($60) off the price of my new boots.

It was a great deal for me.

BTW, the skiing was epic (as usual)!!!
post #6 of 16
Both Kittredge and Footloose at Mammoth have demo boots of just about every boot they carry. I know Kittredge at least encourages you to demo before you buy.
post #7 of 16
Some of the shops in Colorado such as Christy's and Colorado Ski & Golf offer refunds or store credits on boots. I asked the guy at Christy's and he told me that it was more efficient for them to refund money than to demo boots. He said that he has found if he takes time with the customers to get them the right boot in the first place that it reduces the returns.
post #8 of 16
We do boot demos. Part of the draw is to put people out in a boot that has been skied and packed out so they can experience the difference and understand why we're trying to sell them a boot that they think is too tight.
post #9 of 16
Originally posted by L7:
We do boot demos. Part of the draw is to put people out in a boot that has been skied and packed out so they can experience the difference and understand why we're trying to sell them a boot that they think is too tight.
This does make sense if a customer doesn't understand new boot fit.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ha ha! So it does exist. Just wish it was a bit more universal like it was w/skis.
post #11 of 16
Originally posted by altagirl:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by L7:
We do boot demos. Part of the draw is to put people out in a boot that has been skied and packed out so they can experience the difference and understand why we're trying to sell them a boot that they think is too tight.
This does make sense if a customer doesn't understand new boot fit.</font>[/quote]The other learning tool is when they insist they need a bigger size we can put them out in that packed out boot and let them experience how bad it will be in a couple of weeks. Kind of fun really.
post #12 of 16
Every summer in Govey Camp there are lots of demo boots from most of the major manufacturers
post #13 of 16
To me, demoing high-end boots seems kind of silly- if I am interested in getting new boots, I ask my bootfitter what he thinks will work with my leg structure. I then purchase the right size for me ( a little less than 1 finger width behind the heel) and let him do his thing. So the narrow race boot wasn't very comfortable when I tried it on-after a little grinding and softening/straightening for my anatomy, along with a lift to compensate for leg length discrepancy-voila! It seems that almost any high-performance boot out there would work for me with modification-just as long as it isn't too soft or too wide, anything else can be changed to fit your foot, which will have to be done if you are serious about your alignment or you were born with perfect alignment and need no modification. I would ski like crap in any demo boot, simply because it hasn't been tweaked for me-too much forward lean would put me straight in the backseat (all boots seem to have too much forward lean these days, although Head's new RS and RS 100 (race-plug boot and race consumer boot) are much more upright next year (96mm width for those interested, compared to 97mm for the N97)).

Demoing mid-range/comfort style boots would be another story-we demo Head Edge series boots here (nice and wide) in our rental/demo fleet as part of a package, and as a result, the retail versions just fly off the shelves. They feel like a bedroom slipper. For that customer, comfort is everything, and they aren't likely to pay $50 an hour for bootfitting services by a pro. I agree with L7's assertion that demoing boots that have been tried on several times will give customers a good feel as to what the boot will feel like after 10 days. Unfortunately, most decent boots have heatfit/memory foam liners these days, so a demo boot will be more packed out (different feet skiing it) than the one a customer buys (after he/she gets 10 days on it). I feel kind of silly selling a customer a 104mm wide boot when she has narrow foot, but if she is after the comfort more than performance, who am I to tell her otherwise? Her idea of a nice day on the slopes is basking in the sun, spending time with family/friends, and being comfortable. That means comfortable boots and short skis. For those people, boot demos are invaluable. We will be expanding our line next year-it simply sells boots, especially to those people who never even thought of buying boots but were wowed by the comfort.
post #14 of 16
Westcat -Footloose is the one who says "try before you buy" in every add. At Kittredge we do demo most of the boots we carry, but Footloose does it a bit differently. They tend to sell the demo to the person who demos them, and put a new pair in demo. We use the same demos all season, and sell other ones. Really, I don't think that much of demoing. If you are demoing for a rough idea of fit and performance, great, but if you don't have a footbed, it will probably fit crappy anywhere. Many people end up demoing boots that are to big, because we can't convince them of the need to get footbeds, or they need custom work done that we won't do on a demo boot. I for one usually feel pretty confident about being able to get someone into the right boot without demoing.
post #15 of 16
One thing that may make someone want to demo boots is if you can't decide between two boots in the same line or with similiar lasts.

Last year my wife was shopping for new boots and couldn't decide between two different boots (different brands, but they both fit her foot well). Obviously, they will feel diferent on the slopes, so the shop let her demo each one. Even though they both fit pretty well, she was able to decide which one skied better for her. She never would have known that otherwise. The bootfitter said he could make either one work for her, but she feels the demoing really made a difference.

I'm not sure why anyone would be opposed to demoing if the shop offers it. You have nothing to lose. You still get custom fitting, plus a real slope test. They will probably even make your custom footbeds first, then put them in whatever boots you demo.
post #16 of 16
Heli, I was looking at the XT17 and I had no idea you even demoed boots and the guy said they recommended I demo before I buy so I put my footbeds in and had them fitted to my bindings, skied them for a day and they felt great except I thought I might need a little more toe room. I bought them a week or so later, heck maybe you even helped me, can't remember anyones names now it was in early Dec, but I talked to 2 or 3 different guys about them. Anyway next time i'm in town i'll stop in and say hi.
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