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Why I hate bootfitters - Page 2

post #31 of 80
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by comprex View Post
One is reminded of sayings about babies and bathwater.

What you've been given is a diagnosis path for problems.

A. Suspect the footbed is off.
B. Suspect the liner was affected by the footbed when moulded.

One would be highly grateful for this.

I think Onc'Louie has a few years of ski instruction behind him. Maybe a bit more than that. Ok, maybe a bit more than that.
However, the reasoning behind these suggestions is simply the brand of product. No one (here or at GMOL has looked at my feet. There is no reason to suspect that anything is wrong with the fit other than the fact that I bought boots from Surefoot.
post #32 of 80
Great thread, Just to provide balance & be the advocate, I would like to re-post my report on GMOL from last year: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...arrettscv+GMOL

My 17 year old daughter and I were skiing Stratton last week when she commented that her left boot was super comfortable and her right boot was a real pain.

I told her we should go to the GMOL boot-fitters here at Stratton to see what they could do. I also wanted my to have my new Salomon Course’s analyzed and probably canted.

Is we arrived, I had visions of $250 modification costs and boots that were practically reengineered to our specific needs. I had always heard that the GMOL are the best boot-fitter’s; but that they were EXSPENCIVE.

Nick Blaylock completely analyzed my daughter feet, legs and stance while discussing her unique needs. The boots were checked for fit, and her Nordica Beast (110-120 flex) were a very good match for her foot shape and the right size. Her ankles were strong but very stiff with a limited range of motion. The boot sole was slightly twisted. He added a lift to the heels internally, giving her ankle a little more range of motion and planed the soles flat. He checked the ski lifter for delta. Nick said that that should do it.

As I went to the cash register I prepared myself for sticker shock. Nick spent a moment pricing the bill and said “$38.00 please” I almost fell over. We skied and she immediately looked better with improved balance and more aggressive turns on the steep & icy runs. I asked her how everything was, and she said “so much easier”.

I came back at four o’clock for my fitting with my new ’03 Salomon Course 130 flex. I usually need 1 or 2 degrees of canting, plus my stance and back have not been right ever since I broke my ankle 5 years ago. (the ankle is great, but not my stance)

After a lengthy analysis Nick said that the stance is not balanced and that the healed break was probably producing a longer leg on that side. He carefully checked the need for canting and said the twist in the boot sole needed to be uniformly flat but kept in place, since it was providing some canting benefit. He added a lifter to the boot on the healthy (but shorter) leg. Again I went to the cash register assuming the worst and again I paid a very fair price.

I like the philosophy at the GMOL. They provide a very complete analysis and only make a few key changes that provide a great return on investment.

We live in Chicago. My son will need new boots in 2007. We will buy at the GMOL, without hesitation.


post #33 of 80
Originally Posted by carvemeister View Post

You see what I mean!!
I was typing a cry for help just as you were actually helping me!

Sorry for that, disski. I'm snapped.
I can't take this weather anymore.

It is OK...

I wandered off shopping etc
post #34 of 80
carvemeister - the suporter bit.... birdcage stuff is David M in it
post #35 of 80
I love my boots. I loved my Flexons and I am very happy in my Krypton's. I guess I am one of the few fortunate people that fit in a boot out of the box.
post #36 of 80
so, my $.02 worth

some bootfitters are jerks, and some are nice (and some people too)

some products work for some people and don't work for others (footbeds, computer code, trucks)

If you find a person that can help you stick with them. (I've followed the same insurance person around thru 3 different offices)
post #37 of 80
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie View Post
Listen carefully and consider this a clinic. I have had nothing but problems from several Surefoot shops. It is rare that you get a truely custom footbed from them. The cost of the footbed is built into the price you paid for the boot, and it's around $ 200. Assuming you got the standard treatment from Surefoot the very first thing I would do is;

A. Right after you read this and finish your coffee this morning, throw the Surefoot Footbeds in the trash.

B. Go right back to GMOL and have them make you new ones, and if you/they discover your foot was in the wrong position in the liner when it was formed and it can't be adjusted replace those too.

The average season there being 125 work days (if you are full time) is a lot of time to spend on the hill with sore feet.
I beg to differ; I have very abnormal feet, and have experinced a lot of bad bootfitting over my 50+ years of skiing, but I've had nothing but good experiences at Surefoot. (I also had a second pair of footbeds made for my street shoes to successfully treat plantar faciatis.)

At any shop, a lot depends on the particular bootfitter you get involved with, combined with whether or not the bootfitting system and tools they use are suited to your particular foot and ankle configuration.
post #38 of 80
WOW what a wildly different group of experiences. Could it be the customer is the biggest variable? I have boots bought over the NET after doing a lot of research to narrow it down to the boot and sizes most likely to fit then ordering two sizes that I could wear around the house for hours before making sure the smaller shell was big enough.

I replaced the stock footbeds with some one year old footbeds from Surefoot in Whistler. The following year I had Greg at GMOL (in Vail) give the whole package a tuneup. He said the footbeds were fine but the soles of the boots were not flat so he double checked my alignment, fixed the soles and sent me on my way.

I've got maybe $500 invested in a pair of high performance boots that fit snugly but comfortably my 11.5-B foot. All is good. Maybe you've had too much input from experts? I wish you better luck next time.
post #39 of 80


Your mentioning of the amount of money you've spent on a liner.....is that supposed to be some sort of statement?, particularly in respect to the intelligence of your choice? If the particular shop doesn't rub you right, just go somewhere else....there are plenty of bootfitters around....Ditto mntlion's.
post #40 of 80
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
I love my boots. I loved my Flexons and I am very happy in my Krypton's. I guess I am one of the few fortunate people that fit in a boot out of the box.
Well, I think the whole bootfitting discussion is skewed by the fact that people who have problem feet pay a lot more attention to it.

If you just watch people walk as you go through your day, you can see that a large part of the population would need some adjustments, but you can also see that it is not everyone.
post #41 of 80
Some employees just have a bad day or have never been trained in customer service. That should not reflect on the other employees or the shop in general.

I prefer a store that includes all bootfitting except footbeds as part of the purchase. Be sure to use a store that has an exchange policy if the boots aren't right for you.

I've had expert bootfitters tell me that there are some models of boot that they can't give a good fit that improves their skiing to anybody, but the brand and the model are made to sell well. Of course, no bootfitter can do a good job making a boot smaller, but shops often sell boots too big just to sell a comfy boot.

Different shaped feet and legs require different boots. Different skiing styles require different boots. One x-world cup tour factory rep bootfitter told me that he's only seen one racer that was just right in boots out of the box. For recreational skiers, some are fine without boot work. Others need boots punched out because of lumps or bumps on their feet, some need footbeds, some need canting. If your foot structure is such that you need footbeds, they aren't optional for good skiing. If your leg structure is such that you need alignment (canting), that isn't optional for good skiing. People can adapt, but not perform to their best if they need boot work.

I like either Nordica or Head boots, but Heads are too loose in the heel for my feet. I've also heard good things about Salomon X-Wave boots for large volume feet and 4-buckle Dalbello boots, but not the Krypton Dalbellos for skiers that prefer to carve.

I've had both rigid and flexible custom footbeds for my pronating feet, both from expert, not store bootfitters. The rigid footbeds improved my skiing. The flexible footbeds improved my skiing more and were more comfortable.

post #42 of 80
Comment on Keelty's statement, FWIW. I have taught anatomy and have some fairly messed up knees that require orthotics made by a medical lab, not ski store versions.

He's right that small movements of our arch are important in balancing. He's dead wrong in his conclusion that therefore, you shouldn't use arch supports or orthotics in a ski boot. Why do I say this?

Because his initial premise is based on an antomically perfect foot, with a well-developed bone arch and the necessary soft bits to support it, uncovered and walking on a soft surface. In reality, partly from genetics and partly from the surfaces we tread on and the shoes we wear, a significant portion of the population does not have perfect, or even very functional, arches. Most typically, they have flattened arches that produce pronation of the foot and increased shear force at the ankle and knee. No amount of small balancing movements or boot cant adjustments will make up for that.

As a result, IMO, most skiers will benefit from a decent footbed that places the foot and ankle in correct anatomical relationship with an arch support. When shopping, think hard plastic arch curve, not cool-feeling foam pads, which compress to uselessness. More to Keelty's point, a properly fitted footbed and boot will still allow ample small muscle movements.

What Keelty is steamed about, I suspect, is the "orthotic" sold in boot stores. The term orthotic used to refer to a corrective footbed for badly alignment at the ankle, knee, or hip. They were/are the step before braces. Think very pigeon-toed children, or folks missing part of their knees or hips. The average skier who actually will benefit from a simple footpad with arch support does not need an orthotic. Real orthotics, moreover, require training to make, not to mention radiographs to calculate, and they're a lot more complicated than pressing your foot into a squishy mold and then baking a plastic positive. Ski shop "orthotics" are just dressed up footbeds with a higher profit margin...
post #43 of 80
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
What Keelty is steamed about, I suspect, is the "orthotic" sold in boot stores. The term orthotic used to refer to a corrective footbed for badly alignment at the ankle, knee, or hip. .
as far as i understood the term still does refer to that... hence bootfitters sell footbeds.... because they can't possibly sell orthotics...

my orthotics have a heap of correction (well at least the right one does)....
post #44 of 80
Here's my 2cents- First, no two boot fitters ever agree on anything. EVER.
People love Surefoot's custom foams, everyone I've talked to anyway. Surefoot has, since the beginning, had a 100% money back guarantee and will work with people until they are satisfied, no matter what. I know. I was a problem customer and they took care of me. (until I found Flexons and Thermoflex/Intuition liners- but not there) One of the problems they have is that they're a chain and need to find talented employees rather than being an indie boot doctor in business for himself. That said, they do minor fixes for me whenever for $20 or free on boots I got elsewhere.
I don't buy boots from them because they don't carry what I ski. I send people to their Deer Valley store because I know the guys.
I prefer Conformable footbeds over theirs, less arch. When I skied their footbed I had them shave the arch down a lot. This they happily did until I was satisfied. Bottom Line- would you have done better at Green Mountain? perhaps. Was Surefoot wrong? not if the boots are comfortable and you ski in them well. And you can always throw 'em back at them and say, these aren't right, let's start over- for free- and they will do it unless they've changed.
post #45 of 80
Anywhere "great" in North Conway area? I dont want to spend 10 bucks on a marginal footbed, but Id break the bank if its going to be worth it
Give Stan and Dan's a try - they do a lot of the race fitting in that area and are patient & reasonable.
post #46 of 80

+ for Basin Ski at Killington!

Originally Posted by ChrisBowers View Post
I've also had poor fittings from so called "experts" like the people at Basin in Killington.
That's funny. This is a subjective conversation as a whole and obviously depends on who you see! I was choosing between whatever $300 closeout models were available in '03 at Basin Ski in VT and the fitter worked with me to make sure that I got in the right boot, or he told me to look elsewhere for my pricerange.

I got great service, the fitter spent about an hour with me talking me through what I was feeling (my first big boot purchase), etc. etc. as I tried on each boot, shell, liner, and then whole. I'm still skiing on those Salomon Crossmax 9's and for my wide feet, relatively low weight, and aggressive style, they've been perfect without being too stiff.

When I started having strange pain, I went back to a good shop in L.A. (SkiHaus), and had one of the vets wait on me. SkiHaus is ridiculously overpriced, carries hilariously old gear, and the owners have to be pushing 80. But the tunes are great (expensive) and service good - I walked out with $20 Superfeet footbed (I'm an in-between candidate for orthotics and recently stopped wearing orthos in all of my shoes) and heel lifts added 3 months later when I was having calf issues. Problems solved.

Bootfitting is about COMFORT first. Regardless of attitude, reputation, or price, if you're not comfortable at the end of the day, I don't care where you bought your boots or how much you paid. I have a hard time believing that people spend the time they do when it appears that there should be concentration more on the inside and not the outside of the boot.

In the low markup ski industry, I don't see how anyone stays in business dosing out the treatment you received. I don't care if you drive a Porsche or a Pinto - if you like it and it works, go with it. Now if you legitimately shouldn't be driving one (it'll blow up if rear ended or it's too expensive for you), then I'm going to give you @#$. But this b.s. about bootfitters giving attitude purely based on aesthetic consideration or brand loyalty is unforgiveable. Sometimes, things don't work out - fitters can't see your feet inside the boot, but to malign the person who fitted you is ridiculous, unless your boots are obviously way to big or way too small. But if I fit a $250 Dalbello and it's comfortable, why should I buy a $600 brand that's heavily marketed and pay for their advertising? You're in there to get help, not to get hammered.
post #47 of 80
Originally Posted by barrettscv View Post

Nick Blaylock


He da man.
post #48 of 80
Who is David M?

I think that reference was to David MacPhail, boot researcher and inventor of the MacPod ski boot. I think I saw some of his research material archived at this site under a title like "Advanced Articles" or something.
post #49 of 80
David M is David MacPhail. Some of his work is available in the Supporters Area in the Premium Articles. Well worth a read! Lots of insights into how the feet actually work in boots (backed up by experimental evidence) and a forum within which to discuss them. Part of the evolving Supporter benefits...
post #50 of 80
It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. I've dealt with arch cramping for many years, my attempts to have bootfitters (i've had a few) fix this problem have always been disappointing (see my thread "arch cramping revisited" to see what I determined were/are the causes.)

Are you looking for comfort, balance, stance, to get rid of pain? If you're clear in your needs you can get them met better, just saying "set me up right man" is like going to a doctor and saying "fix me" without really understanding what is bothering you.

FWIW Greg Hoffman of GMOL did my current beds and canting adjustment and I am very happy with it. He was very hesitant to criticize another boot fitter I discussed with him and very diplomatic in his description of the different philosophies and approaches he and this competitor in Vail had.
post #51 of 80
Originally Posted by SoCalSki View Post
However, the reasoning behind these suggestions is simply the brand of product. No one (here or at GMOL has looked at my feet. There is no reason to suspect that anything is wrong with the fit other than the fact that I bought boots from Surefoot.
There was really no reason for them to look at your feet. They already knew what the problem was and Mr. Crab sort of touches on it here too. Mr. Crab mentions "custom Foam footbeds".....Not the case. The machine gets you to the closest combination of footshapes their system contains and pumps out whatever is closest. Now, of course, your foot could happen to fit or be close enough for it to work, but it isn't what a full custom bed would provide (yet you still got hit for about $ 200)

I like beyond's post above....that pretty much hits it. For the record I ski in Down Unders that I build my own arch for (because I have arch issues/pronation). I use plastic under the footbed itself and moleskin layers attached to the top of the bed. That way I have the comfort and support.

I am of the opinion that top racers MAY need a cork or other solid footbed to react quickly or be able to feel EVERYTHING under them....for the rest of us...It's not required.

I needed a small area ground one time in a new boot. Surefoot refused to work on my boot unless I bought a Footbed from them. (there is a lump on the side of my foot from a construction accident)

In another case (another Surefoot location) someone I was with had "custom" fitting from them after getting a footbed. Her foot was deformed a bit (birth defect) and she was swimming in the heel pocket. (about 3/8" inch of space on one side of her heel)

I won't even mention the third time.

Sorry SoCal, can't swing the $ 600 to buy you another set of boots....I have a new pair sitting on the shelf allready for next season because I hope to have the foot surgery I need late this summer (besides I have to buy lunch for a bunch of people this Spring).

My fitting on the new boots will be done either by Jeff Burgeron or Greg Hoffman.
post #52 of 80
My current boots, which I can't bear to change, were chosen by me off the display. By the time the Bootfitter appeared, I was ready to buy them. Put my own orthotics in (2/3 length, hollow arches, totally unsuitable for siing but I coudln't ski without them).
The shop guy heated up the liners and I stood around in them until they set. Later I got them to blow out the big toe, 6th toe and bunion. And got a big neoprene pad that goes around the ankle bone. I initiated all the mods, and the boots are the best I've ever had.

Only stuffup was the shop guy insisted on making me some whizzbang foot beds. I used them for half a day, but my feet hurt, I had no balance, and then my achilles' started up so I threw them out. Useless.
post #53 of 80
I was gonna suggest - this whole fitting thing should be a kind of feedback situation.

Don't let anyone talk you into spending $10 or $100 or $1000 on something unless you're feeling comfortable with it.

I agree on the comment of finding a person you fit well with although usually a business will address a bad "salesman" fit if you complain. You're spending the beaucoup bucks - make em earn it and get someone you're comfortable with.
post #54 of 80
Um- Uncle Louie- I didn't quite say "Custom foam footbeds"- but that's a thought. It's a custom foam liner with footbeds. One of the problems with that is that if you have a custom foam job with a thick footbed, like Surefoots, and you don't like the footbed, it's hard to substitute a thinner bed, like the conformable, because the liner was formed around the thicker footbed. One of the things I had trouble with with Surefoot is the thick rubber footbed smooshed the bottom of my foot onto a rigid, unforgiving surface and caused "ascemic "foot pain, an all over nerve- burning cramp like what Mango talked about. Kealty referred to this. The solution was to grind down a lot of the bed, especially under the arch. Maybe this defeats the purpose, but who cares? I can use technique to compensate for tiny inefficiencies in gear, but nothing compensates for pain. Try skiing without putting weight on either foot because it hurts too much...
In the end, I've had conformables for the last decade (2 pairs now) and it's the right combination of support and comfort for me. They come flat and are heated to conform to your individual foot, then a stiff foam underlayer (not as hard as cork or rubber) is ground down to fit your foot exactly by bootfitter magic. Alta's Deep Pwder House in this case. Too bad Surefoot is wedded to their thick rubber slabs...
Surefoot has policies, like the footbeds, that don't work for everybody. And as a chain, they depend on skilled employees that aren't always uniform. I used to see the original owners around here a lot. Nice people, ambitious. There is a fine balance between exceptional service and profit. It helps to know who the people are that work at the shop you're dealing with. If the boots work, who cares? they are guaranteed, and everyone I've seen in the Surefoot Foams loves 'em. (which makes sense, because if they hated them, they probably wouldn't be wearing them...)

I think that what they've tried to do is bring custom bootfitting to the masses*, and they have strong opinions, like most bootfitters, and this rankles some of the owner/artisians that have been practicing the art a long time.

* as opposed to Joe general ski shop employee selling you whatever boot matches your jacket.
post #55 of 80
It depends on how easy it is for a given person to fit into an off-the-shelf boot. I know high-level skiers who pull a boot off the shelf and go skiing. I know at least one high-level race coach who skis in boots that are +2 sizes. For me, it's been very difficult to find a boot that really works, and I needed to find a "fitter" that knew how to marry my foot shape, size, stance, and legs to a boot that would work. I am fortunate to have found that guy in Jeff Bergeron. He is not the only fitter I've ever used, but he's the one of the only two I've visited who "gets it"...and the other one fit Terry and not me.

I've not visited many of the recommended bootfitters here, and know that there are others that know there stuff, but they are far rarer than they should be. And, frankly, I think that this is one reason so many people have bad experiences skiing. If it hadn't been for EpicSki, Bob Barnes, and Jeff Bergeron, it's very likely that I wouldn't be skiing any more... it was just too frustrating and painful.
post #56 of 80
GMOL is an honest shop and their employees have integrity. They are technically superior to most boot fitters, and I would listen to their advice. Maybe you did not like the way it was presented, that I can understance; however, notwithstanding the the perceived rudeness of one employee, GMOL is one of the best shops on the East Coast. gordo
post #57 of 80
Chuckle. I was reading the report about the bloke taking his daughter to GMOL. Sounded like she had limited dorsiflexion, and being female, they did the favourite bootfitter thing for women with any boot problem: put a heel lift in!!!
I suggest this to a lot of my guests with the standard female boot problems - try a bit of thick cardboard cut to the heel shape, or if they need a lot more, grab a heel cup/lift off the Dr Scholl stand.
post #58 of 80
Originally Posted by ant View Post
Chuckle. I was reading the report about the bloke taking his daughter to GMOL. Sounded like she had limited dorsiflexion, and being female, they did the favourite bootfitter thing for women with any boot problem: put a heel lift in!!!
I suggest this to a lot of my guests with the standard female boot problems - try a bit of thick cardboard cut to the heel shape, or if they need a lot more, grab a heel cup/lift off the Dr Scholl stand.
That was exactly the diagnosis. I think that's the first time I've been called a bloke .


post #59 of 80
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie View Post
I am of the opinion that top racers MAY need a cork or other solid footbed to react quickly or be able to feel EVERYTHING under them....for the rest of us...It's not required.
Most WC racers couldn't fit a pair of corks into their boots. They take up too much volume.

I know of some WC guys who don't run custom beds at all.
post #60 of 80
This is a fun thread, I'd like to play too...

Most WC racers DO NOT have structural defects. They are elite athletes because they have great genetics, the average skier should not compare themselves to them. I would never buy a running shoe based on what Michael Johnson wears, why would what Herman wears effect me? It doesn't.

I think I can add something to this conversation, the trend I've 'noticed' is that some people mention buying a left over boot from one shop and bringing it another shop, who then tell them they were 'sold' the wrong thing.

When talking to a customer I quickly (as would anyone) pick up on what is motivating the customer, PRICE or PERFORMANCE??

Two very different sales paths diverge from this point.

A. If the customer is price driven getting a 'good enough' fit at a great price is usually going to make everyone happy...unless another bootfitter checks my work and doesn't know WHY that boot was selected.

B. The performance customer is going to spend more time listening to advice and less time looking at sticker price...this guy gets a better fit, but possibly higher initial cost.

The problems occur when cusomer A wants the precise fit customer B got. An unfair expectation which often leads to "those guys hosed you..." responses from 'other shops'. Oh well.

The initial poster's experience was wrong, he wasn't asking for an evaluation of the service he recieved, that WAS unprofessional.
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