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The Elusive Comfortable Boot or Where's the Harm in a Boot that Feels relatively Good?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
What are the problems I will run into if I buy the boot that feels relatively comfortable in the store? The boot is snug with light socks and toes just touching the front - toes pull back when getting into ski stance. No hot spots after 20 minutes buckeled. I can wiggle the toes which feels good and calf feels snug without any pressure spots. Very slight movement in the heel. When I move down one size (which I suspect is the correct size) the boot feels very uncomfortably tight. Once the larger boot packs out what issues will I be dealing with in a boot that is slightly over size.
I am just getting back to skiing after a 23 year break to raise kids. I am 53 years old and my skiing style will be conservative, slower speeds, goal to avoid injury at all costs, emphasis on balance and speed control, east coast resorts, all mountain, and enjoying the scenery, the people, and the ride.
How will the more comfortable (slightly over size) boot impact my skiing?
post #2 of 12
I just returned to skiing after a 35 yr break. I did not know that boot liners packed out and my salesman was not very helpful so I walked out of the store with a size too big. I did not encounter problems until I had skied about three or four days at which time my feet started cramping from spreading my toes to try to take up the extra volume inside the boot. I used mini-cell foam from my kayak kit to take up the extra space which is working for now but it was a major hassle and still is a stop gap solution until I can save up to visit a real bootfitter and buy a pair that fits me. Comfortable feet form the foundation of a fun day. If I would have done my research I would have taken the time to make sure I got it right the first time.

There is a list of reputable bootfitters on this site and there are bootfitters that visit these forums who might be able to give specific advice based on your description of the boots you are looking at. I am simply passing along my experience after being in a similar situation as yours then making the wrong choice.
post #3 of 12
Shell-fit the boot. Remove the liner, put your foot in with the toes touching the end, and you should have about 3/4" behind the heel. (Folks say two fingers worth of space, but who's fingers?)

The liners don't "pack out" as much as they stretch into a shell that is too big in the first place.

If you can find a boot that is narrower, maybe with a thinner liner, and have the shop heat and punch out the spots where your feet have bumps and lumps, you might end up with more control. A boot with no hot spots off the shelf suggests to me that the shell is too wide for you.
post #4 of 12
you foot will more more in the larger boot (heel lift, side to side slop, etc), that will be less control, and when you tighten the boots to get the control you might find less comfort as the shell is distorted to try to fit your foot.
post #5 of 12
Yeah, actually you'll lower your risk of accidents by a closer fitting, more responsive boot.

And as an older skier myself, I'd advise you to rethink the avoid-at-all-costs outlook. You're gonna fall. It's a contact sport. Trying to ski to avoid falling will get you tight when you need to be loose. Lessons and the control they bring are a better answer, conditioning won't hurt either.
post #6 of 12
^^what mntlion said. I'm less concerned about you injuring yourself and more concerned about you eventually having to crank the buckles too much - which would be painful and would utterly defeat the purpose of getting a 'comfort' fit.
post #7 of 12
Yeah, I did that two years ago. Bought a pair of boots that felt that way off the shelf. Two years later I was moving all over the place in them and had very little control and wrenched my ankle powder skiing. The next week I bought new boots, shell size is a full size smaller, with orthotics and custom liners. I can't believe how much more comfortable they are and how much better my skiing is in them. So, I'd second the shell fit and a good boot fitter.
post #8 of 12
All of the previous posters have already told you what I am going to tell you...
Get a good fitting boot, using a good knowledgeable bootfitter...
I did the exact thing you are doing...
I bought boots for my wife and myself from a store, without the proper knowledge or help...
We ended up getting very comfortable boots, ...
At first they were great, but after or 4 days on the mountain, they packed out and did not allow us to ski very well...
Fast forward to this year...
We purchased new boots using the knowledge gained from here, and a good bootfitter...
The new boots are head and shoulders above the old boots in performance...
We both have skied much, much better than last year...
We now go on ski runs that we avoided last year..
Both of us would not go back to the old boots at all...
I have needed one adjustment so far after 4 days on the mountain...
My wife is going to have hers adjusted this week...
They are not pillow comfort, but they are not painful or uncomfortable either...
They are a performance fit, we are trying to get the balance between comfort and performance to 50/50...
It makes a difference...big difference...
With these boots, i am skiing better than ever before...
post #9 of 12
I came across this thread while researching a new boot purchase...

The ones I have now felt good in the store. Even the first few days on the mtn they felt great. I remember sitting in the bar afterwards and someone commented that I still had my boots buckled. I figured these boots must fit so great that I don't even have the urge to take them off. This lasted for about a year, maybe 20 days out. So far this season, they have been pretty painful. I think they are so loose that I have to tighten the buckles too tight and it's putting pressure in all the wrong places. Now I'm in pain and looking for a new pair.

I did some fit checking with the empty shell last night and it's definitely the wrong size, way too much room heel to toe. And it's not like I bought them out of a catalog but ended up with a salesperson and not a "bootfitter".
post #10 of 12
I'll tell you one thing: once you get the correct fitting shell, nothing beats a heat fit liner. Life changing. I can do up my Flexons at 8am and not touch them again until 3pm.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all for the advice. I have decided to skip the self purchase and go see the local bootfitter. Thanks again for the expert advice!
post #12 of 12
Good call. I bought my dad a pair of Rossignol (Lange) R2004 plugs in size 8. He swore he couldn't possibly get into those boots (he thought he was a size 10). I sent him to Paul Richelson in Plymouth, NH with the boots and now he raves about them every time I talk to him. He's 68, skis Cannon, and loves the control and comfort that he gets from custom fit boots.
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