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Boot fit issue. I know it's critical, but how critical?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi all.

I'm a low-intermediate skier, until this year I've been using rentals.

A few months ago I was went to a store to pick boots for the first time, and I guess the guy who took my measurements made a mistake, and fit me as a size 9(US), which corresponds to a Mondo of 27. That's my street shoe size (though I should probably be much less than that because I like having "wiggle room" for my toes at the end of my running shoes). I didn't end up buying then (they didn't have what I wanted in stock), and eventually I came across a great deal online on last year's Salomon Performa 6, which I ended up ordering in size 27.

I stopped by at the store today to look at skis again, and decided to have myself measured for boots again just in case. This time I came at much lower, prompting the guy to suggest size 26. I tried on a Dalbello 26.5 and some Salomon freeride at 26. Both fit fairly snuggly. However, I was still able to lift my heel a little, and I was still able to wiggle my toes into a curl.

Now, I know that boot fit is critical, but I'm not sure at my level how critical it is. I can try returning the 27s I bought (thought I would have to ship them which is costly), I can try returning and getting 26 instead (they dont have 26.5), or I can just stuck with them and maybe find if I can put something at the end to improve the squeeze.

Until now I've been using rentals for street size 10US (not sure why, probably because when I started out I didn't know how to get into a boot properly), so even a 27 (for 9US is a step in the right direction).

So how much problem is it really? (beyond the boot fit mantra). Am I risking myself? (that's my main issue, rather than performance. If I risk breaking something, I'm better off spending extra money). I have to say that I don't find the Salomon's particularly comfortable (they press on different location) but that could be something about the model. I have not tried Salomons before.
post #2 of 18
You aren't "risking" anything in a safety sense by skiing in a boot that is slightly larger than optimum. There is a risk if the boot is WAY too big*, bindings release due to shock, a boot that is really big allows movement which dampens shock in a twisting fall which prevents release of the ski and can cause an injury. It sounds like your 27mp boot is a little large, the 'risk' here is that the boot WILL pack out, it will get bigger than it feels now. After a few days skiing the boot will get at least a half size bigger, maybe a full size in that model. You need to understand that the fit is going to change and the boot will get roomier, you need to anticipate this when trying boots on and plan for it. It's not really important how the boot fits on the sales floor...it's how it will fit when you go skiing in it for a season or five.

* (parents often by boots that are way too big for kids, like 4 sizes, in the misguided hope of saving money by allowing growth room. What they get is a boot that never fits instead of a boot that fits for a while. This puts the child at risk of injury, makes learning harder and doesn't accomplish the goal of extending the useable life of the boot.)
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info.
So should I try and see if I can replace with a size 26? I'm worried that this may be too small.

I've tried wearing them around the house to see how they feel. I'm getting weird sensations in my legs, but I'm not sure if that's not from actually being "on the slopes" with them.
post #4 of 18
if they are too big sitting at home they are going to be 2 sizes to big (at least) after 10 days on them.

I would return them (if you can) and get the size that fits the most snug without being painfull.

Every boot I have ever had increased at least two sizes after about 10 days of use. I am a street size 8. I have size 6.5 boots. Yes there were eye popping tight when new, but two days in there were perfect.

You really do want a boot that is snug and tight, your skiing and enjoyment will be worth all the greif to get the right boot.

Think of it this way, is the shipping going to be less than one day on the mountain? wouldn't you rather have a great boot for all your days on the hill, rather than have a boot you are not happy with all the days on the hill. $50 is a small price to pay don't you think?
post #5 of 18
Marmot speaks the truth. If you are a street size 9, you need to be fitted in a mondo 25-26 depending on the boot fitter and your desired level of performance. 26 and 26.5 is the same shell size, a half way decent boot fitter can make up for that in the foot bed. I they can't, buy somewhere else.
post #6 of 18
Bigger boots result in a softer flex, which held me back (developement) for years. Safety wise though, there is no risk in a boot that is a little loose.
post #7 of 18
Another key point that nobody has mentioned thus far...You cant make a boot smaller, but you can make it bigger...It's always better to get a boot that's a little too small than too big!

With a new boot, the fit should be snug to the point of slight discomfort, but not painfull, and w/out any hotspots/preasure points (although most can be fixed easily)...Should feel like a firm handshake.

You should also take the liner out of the boot and insert your foot...With your toes touching the front of the boot you should have about 1-2 fingers room between your heel and the back of the boot (1 being a performance oriented fit and 2 being more comfort biased). At this point you should also feel for any hotspots between your foot and the shell.

Also check to see how your ankles, and lower legs, fit...Ankle bones shouldn't be touching one side more than the other. If they do, you'll probably need a footbed as well.
post #8 of 18
You have no idea how much poorly fitting boots reduce your skiing ability until you get boots that fit you just right.

Here's more:

You need to remove the liner from the boot and put your bigger foot in the boot shell (if both your feet are exactly the same size, you're unusual). You want about 3/4" of space behind the heel when the toes touch the end.

Get the smallest boot you can, length and width, that you can wear without discomfort. Don't try to save money on boots...it's false economy...except to buy at the early season sales from an excellent local shop. You will need to have any tight spots heated and pressed out. If there are no tight spots, it's likely the boots are too big and will hinder your skiing. It is perfectly OK for your toes to lightly touch the end of the boots when you're skiing, and touch harder when you stand upright. Forget the label size...go by feel.

Ski boots that fit just right are the single most important piece of ski equipment. When I fly to skiing, I always hand-carry my boots on the plane. All the rest of my luggage and skis can get lost and I'll make do. If my boots got lost, I'd be stuck.
post #9 of 18
Every one seems to buy at least a size too big on their first boots. I still have my old technicas that I bought 5 years ago size 28. I am in technica size 26.5 now. I would send them back and get the best possible boot fit. After half a season your feet will be swimming in those 27s.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
I appreciate all the great advice from everyone.

I'm going to return the current boots (no matter how much that costs) and shoot for a lower size. The explanation about the size's affect on my ability to maintain posture was right on. I've been having problems with that since I started (especially when the ride gets bumpy) and I can't help thinking that using a size 28 was part of it

I tried looking online at various stores, and there hardly seems to be anything available below 26 for men (there is an occasional 25.5, but I don't really see 25s). I wasn't able to find any 25s at my local store. So, will the Salomon Performa 6 in size 26 be sufficiently tight or should I try for something at 25.5? I've seen a Performa 8 somewhere, for example, but that may be above my level.

Also, I bought my first pair of skis today, an Elan Flow 6.2. Can't wait to try them out.
post #11 of 18
you know what i am going to say..... get to a good fitter and have the job done properly, what you save on the boot cost by hunting around like this you will spend witha fitter getting then fixed if they are not quite right
post #12 of 18
There is so much more to boots than size eg forward lean forward flex
and canting. I went from a beginner rear entry boot to the next model down from a race boot and never had any regrets. If you lack the technical aptitude to adjust a boot best to go to a boot fitter who will
make all the adjustments for you. Good Luck. Heel lift can be reduced/
stopped by inserting a heel wedge.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
I understand about the boot fitting and its importance from a physics standp

I'm on a relatively tight budget, and already spent nearly 400$ on skis for the next couple of seasons (probably a bad idea). Bootwise, I'm looking for "slightly above rentals" that I can improve with. I mean, after all I am buying a Salomon Performa 6 which is so low-intermediate it's effectively beginner, and has a flex index of 65. I am mostly looking to improve this year to the level where at the end of the season I can hopefully buy a "real boot" and go through the whole procedure to look for it, and scrap/sell the old ones.

Only in my last few skiing outings I had gone beyond doing the bunny trails to doing blues and blacks on my local resort which has a pitiful drop, and my parallels are far from being paralell...
My goal this year is to be comfortable and consistent doing most of the trails .

I know a better fit will help me learn better, but wouldn't most of the difference come from having new non-unisex nongeneric boots in size 26 rather than 28? Or is it that extra custom fitting that'll make the difference?
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Guys, I understand that and why a perfect fit would be great.

But consider the specifics of the situation: I'm on a very tight budget, I'm going the next step from crappy unisex rentals, I only started doing blue and black trais in my last few sessoins (and that's PA trails, on a real mountain walking to your car would be more challenging), my turns are not parallel by any geometric definition. And after all, what I bought are "Performa 6" which have a flex of 65 and are probably as beginner as they are.

My goal for this year is to become comfortable enough on all trails so that I can assess my ability and where I want to progress, and buy an actual intermediate gear at the end of the year. I will probably scrap/sell these.

Wouldn't I get significant performance shift from using brand boots in 26 rather than generic unisex 28? Wouldn't the difference from a custom fit (that would probably cost a fortune in addition to buying new skis) be marginal compared to that?

Trust me, before I go for a real mountain I will go and get "real" boots. In my situation owning my own equipment is barely really economical anyway.
post #15 of 18

Just my 2 cents.

If you are on a tight budget and are just breaking into getting your own equipment I would say spend your money on good boots. You can always rent or try different skis, but if your boots are not working right none of the rest of your equipment is going to help you ski or feel better.

A "custom fit" should not cost a fortune. You don't have to buy an expensive boot to get a good fit. A good ski shop is selling you a good fit along with you boots, so you should be able to keep coming back for free until they get them to feel and work right. There are three levels of fitting: cutting, punching out, wedging and padding the liner and shell; getting a boot with a liner that can be heated and molded to your foot; and adding a custom footbed to any combination of the first two. The cost goes up with the moldable liner and again with the custom footbed.

The value of a good fitting boot cannot be overemphasized. If the steering sucks it doesnt't matter if you are driving a hot car. Your boots will probably last you through several pair of skis, so don't skimp on boots to buy more expensive skis. If it comes down to it I would buy good boots and used skis and bindings in order to get a good fitting and performing boot. It's your connection to everything that is going on.
post #16 of 18
... Safety wise though, there is no risk in a boot that is a little loose.

Maybe for most skiers most of the time a too loose boot won't cause problems, other than poor performance, but there is a chance you could stress some things in your feet badly with overly loose boots.

I know one skier that had ill-fitting too loose boots. It let to a severely inflamed peronial tendon, and then RSD, then about a year in a cast to get the thing calmed down. Sucked big time.
post #17 of 18
Originally Posted by uricmu View Post
My goal for this year is to become comfortable enough on all trails so that I can assess my ability and where I want to progress, and buy an actual intermediate gear at the end of the year. I will probably scrap/sell these.
Well, you've gotten some mixed advice in this thread. Some good and some well meaning but misinformed.

Your 'buy twice within 12 months' strategy will cost you much more in the long run.

Used boots don't hold much resale value, especially ones that have been skied all season and are selling in March/April/May. It's not easy to find a person with the same size and ability willing to buy and hold those boots all summer. Your potential customers will be looking at buying new from the same end of season sales you are counting on to get your next pair.

Don't believe the marketing hype about levels for boots. The best boot for you is the one that fits your foot the best. There's so little real performance difference between all these beginner->low advanced/aspiring expert boots, plus at your level you are not nuanced enough to notice these differences. The industry is primed to get you purchasing yearly throughout all these intermediary steps.

Your focus should be on getting an excellent fit, from a pro, at the level you would like to be at in 2-3 seasons (a good time frame to plan outgrow them). Since you plan to get better, there's no sense in buying something that matches your ability right now, or is only slightly more advanced.

I think everyone would agree you need to see a great bootfitter and there is a list on this site of recommended people to visit all over the country. Most pros do not charge extra for this service, but they stand by their work and reputation and will continue to dial in the fit until you are satisfied.

I love to shop online, but one thing that a serious skier knows is that it's rare to get a perfect fit without trying it on. You could try in a store and buy online, but you're really not saving in the long run. An online shop can't reach through the computer and service your boots.
post #18 of 18
Hey Uricmu - Welcome. There's enough good cross-cutting info here to make boots sound like rocket science. They aren't until you become an expert/racer. Few basic ideas for a skier at your level to take away:

1) Ever noticed the wonderful skiers wearing beat up boots with tape and decals? Good boots are a treasure, to be held on to. They improve your skiing FAR more than good skis. Good skis are cool for a few years until a cooler ski comes along. Also, boots hold up. They'll last you 3 to 5 times longer than skis. Or if you're from Jer's school of rock skiing, 5 to 10 times.

2) So if it comes to that, resell your $400 skis on eBay for $350, buy good boots that fit from a bricks and mortar store for $400, and a pair of two year old, lightly used skis on eBay for $100.

3) Choose a boot on the basis of fit, not brand or design. Every brand makes excellent intermediate-advanced boots. Last year's tend to be cheaper, and they don't change much from year to year. Many stores have last year's on sale right now.

4) As a rule of thumb, when you are standing upright in the store, relaxed, boot buckled, your toes should just touch the end. You should NOT be able to lift your heel or curl your toes. When you sink into a skiing position, your heel will be pulled back and down, and your toes will move back from the end a cm or so. Or another rule of thumb: With the liner out and your toes touching the ends, you should be able to get one smallish finger between your heel and the boot.

6) All boots, but especially those you'll be looking at, pack out. That means they increase in width and total volume by a half size to a full size after a few weeks of skiing. The length will be least affected. So if they're nice and comfy in the shop, you'll swim in them by spring. Just tightening the buckles won't get it done.

7) Many skiers benefit from an orthotic or arch support. This will effectively make your foot narrower, since it will spread less. If you need one, try it in the boot BEFORE you buy.

5) Not everyone requires major refitting, but most of us require some tweaks, usually because of pressure points of shell against bone. Try to ski a while before you tweak, to allow the liner to comform to your foot. Contrary to legend, wearing them under the desk or clumping around the flat screen, while fun, does not put the same forces on them as skiing, and will not allow the liner to comform appropriately to your foot.

5) Most stores that sell boots also provide decent fitting afterwards for FREE. Between the boot and the fitting, that should do it. You DO NOT need to go to a specialty boot shop and pay another $35-70 unless previous fittings have failed and your feet are killing you.

6) There are threads here about buying and fitting boots. They recommend stores/people. Do a search or look for stickies at the top of the page. The stickies are by pros who have forgotten more than most of us will ever know.

7) Chill. This isn't Global Terrorism or Avian Flu. If you have to start over, you'll have learned something and it'll be a great story in five years when you rip.
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