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New Skier - What should I really spend on boots?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I have skied four times in my life and I plan on starting to ski 4-5 times a year, now that I finally live near a mountain. I have looked at a couple low-end Salomon's (Performa and Elios) along with some higher priced boots of a couple different brands. I found a Performa that fits me very well. I realize an inexpensive boot won't "perform" nearly as well as a better designed, more expensive boot, but what does that really mean to a recreational skier like myself? The experts in the boot fitter forum told me to invest $350.00-400.00 in boots at a professional boot fitter shop (which I don't have in Boise, ID). Those experts know a heluva lot, but they also don't take finances into consideration.

I am a college student and I really don't want to spend more than $200.00-250.00 on boots. I also don't want to make a poor investment decision. I am going to have to buy from a "big box" type store, so I will not be able to obtain the service of a pro boot fitter any way.

What would you guys do in my situation?


post #2 of 20
Tom, recognize that you'll be able to get a decent pair of boots for that price, but that you'll not be optimizing your skiing. At 4-5 times a year, that's probably just fine.

Check out the FAQ on this forum for ideas about how to shell fit boots. Find a boot that has a shell shaped approximately like your foot. Put the liner in and try to find one that doesn't hurt while you're in the store (but that is quite snug). Then, buy it.

If it's in that price range, it'll likely be just fine for you.
post #3 of 20
There's a pretty good shop in Boise- I forget the name, but it's on the road to Bogus and I think it's the only one. My advice, go see them, buy something of reasonable price, comfort and performance, get hooked on the sport, and upgrade in a year or two. And get Bogus's super bargain season pass.

P. S. In a year or two you can head over to Sun Valley and drop the big bux on a custom job.
post #4 of 20
Time or Money?

#1. Get a note pad.

#2. Allow a full afternoon to trying boots on at a few shops.

#3. For "contenders" wear the boots for awhile. Take notes.

#4. Go to the next shop and try on some more boots and try to get a spread of makers, Nordica, Lange, etc.

#5. Wear a light weight sock and make sure that when you select boots, that they are not a good fit when buckled on the last notch. You will want a good fit on those first few buckles to compensate as the liner compresses over time .... aka .... "packs out".

#6. Make sure the buckles have micro-adjusters .. fine tuning.

Your fit should be one that is very snug and does not allow heel lift, but it should not put your feet to sleep either.
post #5 of 20

$ Well Spent...

howdy, kidz,

not lookin' to start a r&r (rant & rave)...

once you're certain of your specifics as far as fit goes...shape of foot, arch, pronation, width, etc...

you $ will go the farthest on ebay or here...get a pair of off the shelf orthopedics like super feet...if you're an informed consumer & patient, you'll be able to get a very good pair o' boots for $150 or less.

be sure to get a boot you can grow into experience wise over the next couple o' seasons, till you can afford to spend more at a shop for an expert fitting after you've graduated & are pullin' down 100 g's per annum! (isn't that what liberal arts ba's are gettin' nowadays!)

harmonious holly daze & merry mazel tov,

bruce marks
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks a ton guys, your information is much appreciated. But, don't be afraid to keep going folks, if there is anything else to add or different opinions, please, keep them coming.

I am a sponge, make me grow!
post #7 of 20
bruce has been at the "egg nog" early ... do not buy boots off E-bay.

bruce may be starting up a "cyber stretch or grind" business but ... :

Oh, yeah .. make sure the shop will work with you to get the right fit. When you are engaged by the charming sales person in the big box store who probably doesn't freakin ski anyway ..... many shops will agree to an exchange .... and be sure to ask the question directly ... "you do free adjustments right?" and don't leave the smaller shops off your list .... many will work with you and even agree to take back boots.

When you take your "cyber purchase" into a shop if they need adjustment, like stretching, grinding out the shell for a "hot spot" or pressure point that develops ... or adding some material to limit "slop" .... don't expect them to fall all over trying you to help if you didn't buy the stuff there. Most shops are charging some hefty premiums just to mount bindings or do any work from walk-in's ... and I can't say I blame them. You pay one way, or pay the other.

Yuki does not, nor has he ever worked for a shop ....
post #8 of 20
If you tried on the Performas and they fit well, I would say that's an excellent boot option for beginner through intermediate skiers. Finding a boot that is comfortable and fits well is probably the biggest concern a beginner/intermediate should worry about. The Performas are decent boots for the money, and there are a range of models with various features. You could easily ski these boots until your skills start overlapping into the upper intermediate range. And the bonus, you can find previous year Performas for $150 or so, all over the place.

While I think bootfitting is a good idea for experts, especially if boot fit is holding them back or becoming an issue, I think someone in your situation can forgo that step for now. The important thing is to try the boots on before you buy and get the advice of someone you trust while trying the various boots on. When chosen carefully, off the shelf boots can provide an excellent fit. Good luck!
post #9 of 20
Well, I may get flamed for this, but....

If all you've got are big box stores, then do what Yuki says. Try on as much as you can stand and TAKE NOTES. Each manufacturer fits a slightly different foot-shape. Find the ones that are close to you. TAKE MORE NOTES. They should be "comfortable," which for ski boots means equally snug all over without any pinching/squeezing or excessive wiggle room, especially in the heel/ankle. You'll want them snugger than street shoes: think ice skates, not rental bowling shoes. When you think you've found something that works....walk out of that big box guilt-free.

(Since you want to keep your budget in control and you don't live near enough to a good shop, we'll leave out the stuff about getting custom footbeds, upgrade liners or custom work done to the shell....These are always options for the future, though)

Then go to eBay or the used gear classifieds here. You'll get more boot for your money. Be disciplined about your budget, and about the boot you know that fits, and you'll be surprised what you can find.

Wherever you buy from , be sure to understand the return/exchange policy thoroughly. Once you get your boots home, wear them for a few hours while watching TV or something, so that you really warm the liners up, then go back to your notes and see if you still have the same impressions. Decent eBay sellers should accept a return for an unskied boot; brick-n-mortar shops (even big box ones) should have an exchange policy.

As skier219 says, you can get a really good boot off-the-shelf or eBay, if you're patient and figure out what you want first.

Good luck
post #10 of 20
Some ski shops are super pricey; other's are not, and some not necessarily so.

I decided to support a good ski shop in my area, when I bought boots for my son. They turned out to be no more expensive than the big-box store. Yes I could have gotten more expensive boots, but the shop did have a lot of options, including consignment sales.
post #11 of 20
The shop is Greenwood's Ski Haus. Go talk to them. It's a great shop and when I was last there, had good deals on recreational level equipment. What Yuki said was really good too. There's an REI in Boise, as a second choice- but you won't get the same level of expertise. Look around and you should be able to find something on sale, especially if you wait a couple weeks. See what the shops have before crap shooting e-bay. They'll make sure you get a boot that's appropriate and fits.

I had forgotten the name of Greenwood's so I did a search of Boise ski shops. I came up with Race Werks too- sounds high end and hard core, but their description says they carry recreational gear too. It's worth checking to see if they have something lying around that will work for you at a bargain price. You never know- if you score, they will do everything needed to make your boots fit perfectly. Ditto Greenwoods. That's what good shops do as part of the service. You don't get that in cyberland.

And really, get that dirt cheap season pass at Bogus.
post #12 of 20
Lots of Performa's on ebay for under $100.

http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?from=R40&_trksid=m37&satitle=salomon%2C +Performa&category0=

That would leave you $$ for some extras; orthodics, custom liner, fitting.
post #13 of 20
Lots of great advice here! The Performa is a good basic boot at reasonable cost. I used them for three seasons before moving on to Nordicas.

Here is my take on how to achieve "Boot Bliss":

1. Be prepared to devote some time to finding a comfortable boot.
2. Micro-adjust buckles are not just another excuse to charge more for a boot. They fine-tune the fit and compensate for some of the slop when the liners start to pack out. Get 'em.
3. Get an off-the-shelf footbed like Superfeet or Sole Heat Moldable. Figure out which one is best for you BEFORE shopping for boots. Take the footbeds with you and put them in the boots when trying them on. Worked wonders for me.
4. Get a good ski sock and wear it when shopping. Makes getting in and out of ski boots much easier, which is important when trying on boot-after-boot-after-boot. Above all, don't wear ordinary work or sport socks in your boots and don't double-up thinking "more socks equals more comfort". Doesn't work that way.
5. Unless you are 100% sure of which boot is right for you, avoid ebay.

Good luck and enjoy your skiing!
post #14 of 20
Spend as little as possible, get a ski that is designed for your level or slightly above it, and then spend your money on getting that boot fit to your feet. Your best bet might be to get a boot that is one or two years old. Technology is the same but the prices are hundreds less.
post #15 of 20
For the number of days you plan to ski, don't buy skis. They will be obsolete long before you wear them out. Buy decent boots that fit and rent demo quality skis. I find it hard to believe that there is no decent shop in Boise. Look around and try the suggestions given so far. The first upgrade you should consider is a footbed and a good ski sock. A lot of shops will discount the footbed with a boot purchace. Even a deeply discounted boot from last year or two seasons ago. One thing I would pay extra for in a boot is a thermo-moldable liner. I think you should be able to get into a really good boot for you with a footbed for $250-$350. Maybe less if you really work it.
post #16 of 20
Errata: get a ski that is designed should read: get a ski-boot that is designed.
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Does anyone happen to know if any of the lower end-to-intermediate models from the various boot companies are better quality for the money than others? Any models/companies I should stay away from?
post #18 of 20
Originally Posted by SkiMoran View Post
Does anyone happen to know if any of the lower end-to-intermediate models from the various boot companies are better quality for the money than others? Any models/companies I should stay away from?
The one that fits YOUR foot is the best one for YOU. Your foot doesn't know what brand label is on the outside. Do NOT be afraid of a NOS (New old stock) boot. The trick for you is to find a shop in your area that will help you buy a boot and not try and sell you one. Do not be afraid of a softer mid to upper end boot too, you might pay a few dollars more now, but will save you a boot purchase in a year or so.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (skier scale)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (you are HERE)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (Buy a boot that is design for HERE)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (If you buy a boot that is HERE, you are wasting half of your money)
post #19 of 20
I have slightly different sized feet and have found it helpful to shop late in the day/after work, as your feet are as big as they will be for the day. Don't do a hard day of boot trying on first thing sat. am. Fit will be best if done later in the day, especially if you are on the tight side in a model or two. My .02
post #20 of 20
Also you might want to try on boots with just a thin pair of liner socks or dress socks -- something thinner than what you'll eventually be skiing in. You'll feel what's going on inside better with a thin liner sock, and the boot liner will pack out after you wear it a little. I made the mistake of buying too big the first time around; second pair trying on with a liner sock, and doing a shell fit, was much more successful. In fact the first few times I skied them I wore just a thin liner sock (like they sell for hiking boots). Perfectly warm in very cold days, and then when the boot liners packed out I went back to a regular wool sock.
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