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help deciding when/where to buy boots?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm a longtime lurker, but just finally joined to be able to learn even more...

I'm planning to buy boots this upcoming season for the first time. I don't have a lot of experience (less than 12 days in my life, and 4 of those came last year), and even then I'm lucky to get more than a few days each year. I spent a week in Vail/BC last year (thanks, Amex Rewards points!) and will be out there again this winter (keeping fingers crossed that Amex has the same rewards this year) around Presidents Day week. While in Vail last year, I took a lesson (actually, in the course of the day, we got shuttled between 4 different instructors, but that's another matter for another post... the last one of the day was really, really good).

When I asked her about buying skis, and how long I should wait before doing that, she said I would be much better off buying boots first, and waiting a while on the skis (a sentiment I see echoed here on this forum). After renting some very comfortable boots, and some not-so-comfortable boots, I can definitely understand the difference the fit can make. She also added that she would strongly recommend (since I live in metro DC, and don't ski regularly) buying boots from a shop near a resort, where I could try them out and get a chance to demo a few before buying, as opposed to buying them at home where I may not be able to play around as much.

My question is, since I'm not going to be out west until February, there's a good chance that the other skiing I do before then will be of the 1-2 days at a time variety, mostly at local Mid-Atlantic hills. Am I better off to wait until I get a good stretch of time (I'll be in CO for a week) where I can demo stuff before I buy, or can a good bootfitter reduce the need for that type of on-the-hill trial period?

Also, a bigger concern for me is that, even though I'm an upper beginner/lower intermediate (so I can hold my own, anyway), maybe I don't know enough about my skiing style/preferences/etc to make it worthwhile to buy boots or, or even to describe my skiing to a bootfitter well enough to make a good choice. Is that even a valid concern? At my skill level, would there be any appreciable difference between boots intended for different profiles, or is a boot just a boot?

Basically, I'm not sure if it's worth waiting until I get to CO to buy boots, or if I should go somewhere locally and buy now while the prices may be down, and get the best deal I can around here without the opportunity to test them out. Is it worth the wait until next February, because I'll get something that will be a better investment, or will I pay dearly (resort markups, etc) for something that I can get at a better price locally?

I should add, I'm in the middle of a job change to a new position that gives me a lot more flexibility for vacation, as well as more financial freedom. My girlfriend and I have decided to make a real point out of skiing as often as we can, as it's a great activity we can enjoy together (plus, she especially likes that she's better than me at it!). The goal for the 2007-08 winter is to get on the slopes at least 3-4 days per month for December and January, prior to heading out west again. I say this only because when I re-read this, I could see how someone would wonder why I'd even NEED skis or boots as little as I ski. Part of the career move was to free up time for things like this... Am I putting the cart before the horse by trying to get boots?

Sorry for the rambling, and thanks in advance for any guidance...


aaron
post #2 of 18
Aaron,

If you were to buy locally, where would that be?

Michael
post #3 of 18
IMHO if you can find a good bootfitter/retailer in your area who comes highly recommended then go a head and buy this summer if possible. That way you will have plenty of time to be fit with the best boot available for your feet and any adjustments that may need to be done can be done ahead of time. The only caveot is that your boot fitter may want you to use the boot a bit before final adjustments. I am just going to start my 5th season this year and am really glad that I had Bud do my boots a couple years ago. What a difference when a pro gets you set up properly.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by barrettscv View Post
If you were to buy locally, where would that be?
Well, that would probably be the next question.

I live right near these guys: http://www.ski-skate.com/ (Brian Deely)

But I read really good things about the guys at Ski Center in DC (Brian Eardley and Brian Beaumont).

http://www.skicenter.com/

I guess you have to be named Brian to work in the field, huh?

(I took those names from the "Master Bootfitter" thread here on EpicSki, but remember seeing something good about Ski Center somewhere else, too)


aaron
post #5 of 18
I would say sept/oct would be best. You might pay a bit more, but inventories will be at their best.
post #6 of 18
For most of my ski gear I'm a real mizer always looking for a great deal. I'm not that way when shopping for boots.

I always start the boot buying process around October when the shops have their full inventory in. It ends up being a long process since the lines & models I want to try are spread between three ski shops in Bozeman and a couple up in Big Sky. Because I try on so many boots & take up a bunch of shop personel time I don't feel bad about paying regular price which around here is usually 80% of the suggested price.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
I would say sept/oct would be best. You might pay a bit more, but inventories will be at their best.
Agree. While the best deals may be had at end-of-season sales, the bootfitter's selection is limited to what he's got in stock. This is a problem as early as February for small shops (where you'll often get the best service and knowledge) who cant afford to bring in large stocks.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the great advice so far... I think Pro-Fit is having some crazy blowout sale right now, so I might stop in to see if there's anything "perfect'. If not, I'll be back there in the fall.

Now, another related question: Given my ability level and my intent to improve, is it likely that I will outgrow my boots from a skill perspective before they're worn out, or will I be able to stay in the boots until they die?

If I can stay until they die, what's the life expectancy of a boot? How often should I plan to replace them (for reasons of loss of performance/function, not just for gear envy)? That may help me understand my budget a little better...


Thanks,

aaron
post #9 of 18
What is a better deal...paying $500.00 for boots that you can get 3 seasons out of...or bargain hunting and paying $200.00 three times for three seasons of hell playing with trying to get a good fit.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rio View Post
For most of my ski gear I'm a real mizer always looking for a great deal. I'm not that way when shopping for boots...Because I try on so many boots & take up a bunch of shop personel time I don't feel bad about paying regular price which around here is usually 80% of the suggested price.
Spot on Rio.

And…this is just the appetizer. Once finished you are now off to the main course; a tasty presentation your friendly boot fitter has prepared. Get out that plastic and tip well [after dinner cigar and scotch optional]
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
What is a better deal...paying $500.00 for boots that you can get 3 seasons out of...or bargain hunting and paying $200.00 three times for three seasons of hell playing with trying to get a good fit.
Phil, you're only getting 75ish days out of your Kryptons? I've been thinking of getting a pair but my Dalbello guy in Winter Park keeps telling me my Fusions should be good for another 500 days at least.

That's enough to squelch my gear envy:

To the OP... do you think your feet will be difficult to fit? Mine are and my experience is that I was really glad that I bought my boots in a ski town where I could go back for (free) adjustments as often as I wanted. This meant maybe ten times in the first week and a couple of times in the subsequent four or five years.
post #12 of 18
Another vote in :
Go to a reputable bootfitter.
Trust him when he'll want to cram your feet in 1 size-too-small boots. (That's the right size.)
Get the brand that fits
Don't be cheap.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
What is a better deal...paying $500.00 for boots that you can get 3 seasons out of...or bargain hunting and paying $200.00 three times for three seasons of hell playing with trying to get a good fit.
That's what I meant by "understanding my budget"... I'm always in favor of getting good value for my money, not necessarily in favor of just spending as little as possible. If a $500 pair of boots will last me for a few years, and will not be overbuying for what I'll need, I'll spend it. On the other hand, if I could get a perfectly suitable boot (wrt to fit, performance, etc) for half that, I'd be all over it. It will probably take a few years before I'm really able to even come close to skiing hard on the boot. This year and the next, my focus is going to be on taking some more lessons to get good strong fundamentals before I try to push things too far.

If it comes down to a choice between $250 boots every 2 years or $500 boots every 4, it's no question that I'd take the $500 boots since I know that they'll perform better AND last longer. OTOH, if it's $250 boots every 2 years or $500 every two years, then I'd need to see why I need the extra performance of the $500 boot...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpfreaq View Post
To the OP... do you think your feet will be difficult to fit? Mine are and my experience is that I was really glad that I bought my boots in a ski town where I could go back for (free) adjustments as often as I wanted. This meant maybe ten times in the first week and a couple of times in the subsequent four or five years.
I don't think they'll be too bad. They're a little narrow, but I know that my running shoes are neutral (I had my gait analyzed to find proper fit there), so I'm hoping that means that my ski boots won't have to be too dramatically reworked. Your point is actually what was prompting my question in the first place, since I don't think Leesburg (or DC, for that matter) are 'ski towns'. On the other hand, the shop in Leesburg is <5 miles from my house, so that's definitely convenient.

Like I said, I really do appreciate the feedback. I'm one who really likes to know why and how to make the best decision before I spend money on things...


aaron
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpfreaq View Post
Phil, you're only getting 75ish days out of your Kryptons? I've been thinking of getting a pair but my Dalbello guy in Winter Park keeps telling me my Fusions should be good for another 500 days at least.
LOL, no. I am just throwing an exaple out there. I am actually getting about half that before I upgrade to the new colors . Seriously, I could get easily 5-10 years out of a good fitting boot, I just choose not to
post #15 of 18
So, how many seasons do you think I can get out of my Storms, skiing around 50 days/yr?
With the ability to reheat and shape the liner, I think I could easily get 5 seasons out of them, but on the other hand, I kinda like the tootsie roll boots they have for the new season.
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
LOL, no. I am just throwing an exaple out there. I am actually getting about half that before I upgrade to the new colors . Seriously, I could get easily 5-10 years out of a good fitting boot, I just choose not to
Alright then, that's good to know. But geez, you really are a gear whore aren't you
post #17 of 18
Let me chime in with a thought. you will havea better selection early in season. that does not mean that you can't find an excellent deal on a great boot in the off season. The Key here is first finding a boot fitter you trust.
Labor day weekend seems to be a big weekend for ski shops to get rid of last years gear. You might want to start hitting shops this summer and seeing what they have. In reality your interviewing the fitters at these shops. Ask around here for some recommendations for a good boot fitter in your area. If you don't find a Boot that works for you on sale you just have to step up and buy a newer boot.
Now welcome to your newest and hopefully greatest addiction skiing and ski gear!
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Utah49 - thanks for the biggest vote of "go now and see how you do" I've seen yet... I did that, and I'm documenting my experience here: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?p=721077

So far, it's a mixed bag of results...


aaron
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