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What's the danger in "too much boot"?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
As I've said elsewhere, I'm in the middle of trying to learn about how to buy boots. Basically, I tried on a pair of Salomon Xwave 9 or 10 (don't know for sure which, because they were way beyond my intended budget, so I didn't pay close attention... I was just trying them on as a chance to try something in the smaller shell size), and LOVED them. Now, they were significantly more than I wanted to spend, mostly because they're "way more boot" than I probably need at this point (said the bootfitter when I asked...). I'm around 6', approx 215 lbs. I've been told that I ski "like a football player" (which wasn't a compliment), to give you an idea of how I'll interact with the boot.

I searched the archives for opinions/info on this issue, and found a good thread that was mostly about whether people needed to buy high-end skis, or if they'd be better served by a ski that actually suits their particulars more effectively. At some point, the issue of too much boot came up, and Philpug said:

Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
I think there are more people buying too much boot, than ski. And too much boot does even more damage than too much ski.
What sort of damage? Will it just frustrate me? Or will I actually learn bad technique/habits that will limit my progression?

In another thread, Max Capacity said (to someone like me asking about a particular boot):

Originally Posted by Max Capacity View Post
IMO you do not want to get to stiff of a boot or ski just yet. You need to have the proper tools to help you progress quickly to the next level.
And on ANOTHER thread (about whether more or less boot flex is desirable), Bob Barnes said:

Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado View Post
So--if you haven't figured it out yet, I am not a proponent of soft boots, in general. Yes, stiff boots take more learning to be able to handle. Yes, soft boots are more forgiving of the errors that we ALL make. But only stiff boots, combined with refined technique, offer the ultimate degree of control.
Through the quotes, I seem to take that "too much boot" often means "too stiff". Is that a fair interpretation, or is there more to it than that? I'm not talking about comparing a top of the line racing boot with an entry level rec boot, since obviously, there are going to be huge differences in design, etc. What is it that fundamentally changes about a higher-end boot in a line vs. the lower or middle boots? (Xwave 10 vs 9 vs 8, for instance) Is it just that I'm buying more capability than I need (and won't exploit the full ability of the boot), or is it more power than I can handle in a way that can hurt me (like putting too much powder into a shotgun shell, and having it blow out the gun barrel)?

My other biggest fear here was outlined by Utah49 (sarcastically):

I've been advised that if I find a good-fitting pair of boots, I should snatch them up. The Salomon Xwave 9 or 10 that I tried the other day were amazing. I'm just wondering if they're too much, and I if I should try to find the next step down (Xwave 8), even if it means buying online or trying to find them in person somewhere. It's particularly frustrating because the boots that I liked the most are being discontinued, so I can't really just wait until the fall to try the next step down, but I'd hate to find out that the replacement for the Xwaves doesn't fit as nicely.

Originally Posted by Utah49 View Post
None of you know what your talking about. The simple fact is you buy top end skis and plug boots because #1 you want to show the world you can afford them
#2 they look great in the lift line.
#3 If you own the best That must mean you are the best.
If people were concerned about performance they would take ski lessons. But it isn't cool to be seen with last years skis and 3 year old boot in a ski class.
I don't want to be "that guy". I'm definitely not trying to justify an invented need for expensive new flashy gear. In fact, if I could get what something that worked well for $100 with no brand names on it, and camouflage paint, I'd be happy, as long as it works. I don't want to be someone who seems to have more money than skill, you know?


PS - I promise that as I get more of this into my head, I'll become less longwinded!
post #2 of 18
Too much boot will hold you back. It will stop you progressing.

I was in a pair of boots that were too much for me. I got them free, so I wasn't complaining. But if you saw a video of me last year in them, compared to this year in the correct boots, there's miles of difference.
post #3 of 18
scootertig, WTFH is a great example, and I'm glad he jumped in on this right away. A boot that is a poor fit for you (whether your foot shape, your body morphology, your skill level, or your terrain and condition preferences) is likely to force you to compensate for the misfit and will probably develop poor habits. It's also very likely to hold you back in terms of developing as a skier.

I am one of those who will state this more strongly than most: find a specialist who understand all of the fitting elements I mentioned above and take their advice. If they don't understand one or more of them, find someone who does. The rarest seems to be the boot specialist who understand the marriage of body shape to boot (sometimes called "boot balancing").

If a boot fits you in that way, a stiff boot may actually be a very good choice. If it doesn't, it's almost certainly not.
post #4 of 18
Too much boot will cause you to focus on flexing them while skiing rather than on your line (tgr answer) or on more important body positioning (epic answer). Eventually you'll give up on flexing the boots and you'll become a chronic backseat skier. Once that happens, its something you'll be fighting for the rest of your skiing days, no matter how soft your boots.

Unlike Bob, I LOVE softer boots (not to be confused with soft boots, the early 00's fad) for everyone but high level racers. I think everyone can benefit from having a boot that flexes naturally wthout "forcing it." The Nordica Speedmachine, Dalbello Krypton, and Salomon Falcon are excellent examples of softer boots with the precision fit necessary to give topnotch snow feel and control.
post #5 of 18
Well, if a boot that fits really well is too stiff for you, it can easily be softened to flex more easily. Once softened though, you really can't do much to stiffen it up again except to possibly rivet the cuff or buy a custom foam liner.
post #6 of 18
Having too much boot is just like having too much ski. It results in your equipment taking you for a ride, instead of the other way around. Based on what I have seen in the lift lines and on the hill this is a fairly common occurence, brought on by people trying to "buy a turn" by purchasing high end equipment that is beyond their abilities.

Stiff boots and stiff skis will not automaticaly make you a better skier, but they can immediately make you a worse one. Boots are the hardest thing to buy because you cannot demo them, but you seem to have a good mindset for the task.

I am 6'5 and 215 and skied the X-wave 9s for 5 years. They are a good solid boot, but not particlarly stiff. They are softer than the 10s and I believe they have the same flex as the 8s, with few a more adjustments being the only difference, so they should ski the same. If you like the fit and can get a good deal on someX-wave 9s or 8s I would recommend going for it.
post #7 of 18
IIRC, the difference between the 9 and 10 was an extra set of screws connecting the the upper and lower. A minute difference in a boot that shouldn't be particularly stiff by any means for somebody 215 lbs. Go by fit.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Voltron - The fit on the 10's was really, really good. It's just that I don't really know how to anticipate the way that they'll change when they're cold, etc. The fitter at Ski Center was fantastic at explaining things, but he did say that the flex element, to some degree, is a matter of taste and personal preference. As a first-time buyer, I don't know if I have a preference yet. He did say that given my size, etc, I would probably not have any trouble with the 10 (I was able to flex them without difficulty in the store).

It sounds like when it comes to buying, buying too small and too stiff is always better than buying too large or too soft, huh?

The real underlying question, I guess, I was "is there anything else that could be considered too much boot, other than the stiffness?"


post #9 of 18

Too small and too stiff will be too responsive, that sounds like a good thing...it isn't.
post #10 of 18
Alot of opinion about ski gear is a function of body type. What works for you probably wont work for someone half your size. As a fellow 200lber, I can tell you that boot is not too much for a guy your size. But for an intermediate skier, I would get a slightly softer boot. A softer boot won't really be much of a handicap and it will be better if you want to explore your options and learn to ski the whole mountain at an intermediate level. For example, if you are learning bumps a softer boots will be easier to ski on because it will flex more which is important in 3d terrain where range of motion in the ankle joint is important. It depends where you want to go with your skiing. You probabbly don't know that yet so it might be better to keep options open.
post #11 of 18
As a race coach, I see kids in boots that are too stiff all the time. What is most obvious is an inability to pressure the tips at the start of the turn, resulting in weight on the inside ski, often causing tips to diverge through the turn. Weight and technique tend to be the factors that affect choice of stiffness. For example, someone who knows how to really throw themselves forward at initiation may find that some softer boots do not provide adequate support against that forward motion and will find that they feel like they must counter that forward fall with muscular force. They will need a stiffer boot.

The bottom line is that you need a flex that is right for you. At your weight, if you are an intermediate to advanced skier, the X-Wave 9 should be fine. If you hit the snow and find that you can't get into your turns with ease, you have gone too stiff. At that point, it's not even a matter of learning the proper technique. You will not be able to until you get into something softer.

The good thing is that a lot can be done to soften a boot before you go and buy new ones.

I guess that's not really an answer, but none of us have seen you ski. Go to a good shop.
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
I went to Ski Center in DC, which seems to be regarded very highly (they're on the list of fitters here on EpicSki). The fitter we had (Tim) was very good at explaining everything and giving us insight to what could/couldn't be done with the boot, emphasizing the key elements of the fit, etc. Unfortunately, short of seeing me ski to identify problems caused by a particular boot, a lot of the final decision making seems to come down to a matter of preferences. That's the leap of faith element on this first go-round.

Like I said before, I don't know what my preference is, so I'm just trying to understand the implications of buying too "much" (taken to mean "too stiff", as I haven't seen anyone broaden the definition beyond that) a boot. I would think that buying something too soft would mean having to start over if I ended up needing something stiffer, but starting too stiff gives me room to improve, right?

I think at this point, I'll try to find somewhere to try on an Xwave 9, and see if it flexes as nicely for me as I think I'd like it to, whatever that means. The fit of the Xwave 10 was perfect, so it's really just a question of flex at this point. I was able to flex it very well (just about as far as I could flex the Beast 10) without too much effort, but I guess that would be more difficult in the cold.

Based on tromano's comments, I think erring on the side of soft (within reason) at this stage in my development won't kill me. The 9 will probably give me the room to soften enough if I need it, but won't be too soft out of the box.


post #13 of 18
Originally Posted by scootertig View Post
but starting too stiff gives me room to improve, right?
Not the best way to put it.

The stiffer the boot the more of your balance corrections get passed to the ski and the snow.

The question is whether you will be making (necessary, by definition) balance corrections that, when used to drive a stiff boot, will cause -undesired- ski behavior.

I was able to flex it very well (just about as far as I could flex the Beast 10) without too much effort, but I guess that would be more difficult in the cold.
It isn't just about the temperature.

Concrete is very predictable. It doesn't try to skitter out from under you if you have more pressure on the heel than on the toes, say.

Try flexing a ski boot while standing on a bean bag sometime. You might want to hold onto something.
post #14 of 18
In your first post you said "I ski like a football player". To me, Jed Peters comes to mind. He is anything but a finesse skier. He uses very stiff boots and still tends to mash them. He would be very unhappy in anything but the stiffest boots. As far as the Xwaves, they are stiff but for a big guy at 215 lbs, its not like you won't be able to flex them. These boots are a problem if you are reluctant to get into them to get the flex necessary to accommodate terrain and position changes. ssh is a relatively scrawny guy in some of the stiffest (but best fit) boots on the market. He has the skills to make that boot work of course. YMMV, but I would not be too concerned about you being in an Xwave 8, 9 or a stiff boot like the Nordica Hot Rod. Get the fit right, and IMO, the stiffness may be a good match for your style.
post #15 of 18
Originally Posted by scootertig View Post
but starting too stiff gives me room to improve, right?
Too soft is better than too stiff for the reasons stated in my 1st post.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by D(C) View Post
Too soft is better than too stiff for the reasons stated in my 1st post.
Sorry, writing "room to improve" was a bit unclear. I meant "room to make the boot softer, and improve the situation" not "room to improve my skiing". basically, it's easier to soften a boot than stiffen it...
post #17 of 18
If the boot is too stiff, you will not be able to flex them without putting a lot of force through the boot. You could want your body in a position consistent with a flexed boot while not wanting to put that much force through the boot. You will compensate by limiting your range of motion.

On the other hand at 215 lbs, I don't think you need to worry about an X-wave (8,9, or 10) being too stiff.

The other thing a higher-performance boot does for you is it transmits all your movements quickly and efficiently to the ski. If you make mistakes and little movements to regain balance etcetera, a beginners boot will just ignore these little bobbles, while the high-performance boot will cause you to catch edges, start turns, and otherwise be affected. The learning curve might be a little harder on you with a high performance boot. It's like the so called "sneeze factor" in a Mercedes. Sneeze while going 120 mph down the road and you won't end up in the weeds in your Mercedes (or you Chevrolet Caprice) because the steering slop will absorb the unintended steering wheel input; do it in an F1 (or Mustang GT) and you could be off the road).
post #18 of 18
SSH and I agree on most things so I'll agree with him here but will add a few things. Too stiff a boot will hold you back, but the interesting thing is that the Salomon boots you loved if I remember right are much lower volume than the boot you purchased. It indicates the boots you purchased were probably to big volume.

If the W10 is too much boot in terms of stiffness, then find a softer low volume boot Technica Race Pro 90 may work nicely, but it will be much more than you want to spend.

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