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Finding Ski Boots that Fit: They Don't Make it Easy

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
There is something wrong with the way ski boots are marketed. For people who live anywhere but in a ski town, even if "home" is a major metro area where nearly everything else can be found, finding the right ski boots is a challenge, for even the most determined skiers. Every town has its skis shops, but most ski shops carry little or no stock of high end, high performance boots. I can understand that--they are expensive, and there is limited demand. If your foot size falls at the short or long ends of the spectrum, there is even less chance you will find something to try on "off the rack." So one must ask the local shop to special order the boot or boots of interest.

Here is where it gets sticky. Some manufacturers are willing to send a special boot to a shop for a customer to try on; but others are not. And some ski shops won't even make the effort to order a boot for you unless you commit to buying the boot, or a boot, from them. Even if you find a willing manufacturer and willing shop owner, you still end up trying on one boot at a time. The only sane way to shop for ski boots--ie, by comparing them in real time; trying on two or even three different makes of boot, and/or two different sizes within one make--is impossible, unless you live in a ski town. Its a wonder anyone is able to find boots that really fit. And a wonder also that makers of high end boots are able to sell enough to make it worthwhile. Its hard to conceive of a worse way to market ski boots. There has to be a better way.... but I'll be dam*ed if I know what it is.
post #2 of 28
Hi JW, Welcome Back!!
Moving this over to ski gear to help you get your answers.
post #3 of 28
Align yourself with a ski shop that has a good selection and the brands that you like or are interested in.
My shop was the now defunct Princeton Ski in Roslyn, NY, hundreds of miles away from any respectable ski resort. My family and I bought plenty of stuff there; my popinlaw-to-be is the type of guy who befriends everyone and by the time he leaves a place he knows everyone and everyone knows him.
So naturally the store manager knew us well. As such, the manager was always willing to go and get us anything and everything we wanted....all it took was a few days and like magic there it was for us to peruse no need to buy unless we wanted it. That’s all it takes.
post #4 of 28
We are fortunate in our area to have many good ski shops that carry upper end boots and we even have access to sales people that know about fitting. Lots of people from your area will plan to buy boots while on vacation at the resorts, where bootfitters tend to be. This can come at a premium cost, but it may be the best option. Buying at the hill means you can use the boot and get adjustments as you go. If you are working with an alignment specialist (kind of an elite bootfitter category), probably the only place you can get their services is near the resorts.

Its frustrating because most people don't have any idea that whatever is in stock at Dicks or the Sports Authority is not particularly high-end, and they wiil probably get fit with something too big. My guess would be this is how 97% of skiers get their boots.

Anyway, it may well be best to go where the boots and specialists are, but once you know the basics of what kind and size of boots work for you, it may be possible to buy online if there is a fit guarantee, and then fine-tune the fit later. I was surprised how many people attending the Aspen ESA bought boots and did fitting during the camp.
post #5 of 28
I agree with you, but don't give up yet. I highly recommend checking out http://www.bootfitters.com/, if you haven't already.

There may be something in your general area. I found an awesome bootfitter in the DC area (Brian at Pro Fit ski and Skate)...it's a small shop but they have a great selection and I must have tried on 6 different boots (my feet are weird) over the course of 1-2 hours before finding a good pair of high end boots (that still had to be custom-fitted).

Needless to say, DC is no resort town, but I couldn't imagine a better experience.

So, it's not impossible, you just may need to drive a little further.
post #6 of 28
JW, you have at least one resource enviously close to you: cantman on this board.
post #7 of 28
I actually agree with JW. Despite the fact that I live in a major metropolitan area with 3 ski areas with in a couple hours and countless shops. The selection of high end boots is pretty low. Which is fine because I hate paying retail.

My advice, go to a bootfitter get his recommendation. bargain hunt. Go back to bootfitter, get them fit. Go ski.
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
I have a call in to Billy 'cantman.'

I agree that for people in my position, it may be necessary to spend time while in Stowe, Jackson, or SLC trying on boots rather than skiing. I do window shop a little at the end of the ski day, and also stick my feet into boots occasionally. But doing the serious shopping and fitting takes time, and for some strange reason, when I am in those blessed ski towns, actually skiing always strikes me as a better use of that time ; ).

THIS is the time to buy boots. there are more boots in stock to choose from, and no snow on the ground to distract one's attention.

Anyways, the point of this rant was simply to encourage folks in the biz to think about their marketing plan a bit more. The present system does not work well, imo.
post #9 of 28
Unfortunately there just aren't enough qualified people to go around. Selling boots is a time intensive thing and takes some skill. Since most retailers operate on the idea of using the lowest paid help and overhead, and serving the maximum number of customers in an hour, that is what most people experience.

From your other thread, you asked about short-lasted liners. if you can get a good shell fit, try on the liner before you put it back in the boot. If it squeezed your foot or feels too short, the problem is the liner, not the shell. I lived in pain for 3-years with a short liner before I figured it out. Most people feel that short liner and insist they need a bigger boot. That of course ends up being a mistake.
post #10 of 28
Even when I lived in Denver and Silverthorne, I couldn't get boots to fit properly. Even having my boots blown and stretched twice didn't help. They hurt. I ended up ordering boots from DaleBoot. http://www.daleboot.com/root.html

They have been wonderful.
post #11 of 28

Panacea - Foam

Perhaps it's not a solution for everyone, but it worked for me.

After wrestling with every form of boot torture, a long line of boot fitting gurus, and frustrating lack of performance, I finally sprang for foam liners (Comfortable - Surefoot does 'em).

Provided you have a reasonable fit in the shell, and your foamer is good (a bit of an art), the result is 100%.

Since I've had this done, I haven't a moment of pain or sloppy foot movement. They fit better than a glove.

It's the only thing that's worked for me in 35 years.
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato View Post
Perhaps it's not a solution for everyone, but it worked for me.

After wrestling with every form of boot torture, a long line of boot fitting gurus, and frustrating lack of performance, I finally sprang for foam liners (Comfortable - Surefoot does 'em).

Provided you have a reasonable fit in the shell, and your foamer is good (a bit of an art), the result is 100%.

Since I've had this done, I haven't a moment of pain or sloppy foot movement. They fit better than a glove.

It's the only thing that's worked for me in 35 years.
I really want to get this done but i'm told i don't have enough room in the boot to for the foam.
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post
I really want to get this done but i'm told i don't have enough room in the boot to for the foam.
Phil: I've been told that any shell that fits will do. You may not need new boots for foaming - suitable used ones may be fine.

The foam is rock-solid (but a perfect, comfortable fit). Hence, even old, soft boots can become high-performance thoroughbreds.

Perhaps you can can find a used shell, for cheap, that'll serve the need?

Surefoot, of course, wants to sell you the complete package. But, if you can find a shell that works, there's no need to buy new boots. With new boots, you're also paying for the expensive stock liner that gets cast aside.
post #14 of 28
Speaking of that, last I checked www.levelninesports.com had some left over Head WC boots as well as complete foaming kits for 1/10 of the original prices.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato View Post
Phil: I've been told that any shell that fits will do. You may not need new boots for foaming - suitable used ones may be fine.
I have a *cough*performance*cough* fit and I have been told that the foamed liners are decent amount thicker than the stock ones in my boots.


If this is not true, i would be very happy. Anybody?
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post
Speaking of that, last I checked www.levelninesports.com had some left over Head WC boots as well as complete foaming kits for 1/10 of the original prices.
That's a great deal - if you can foam (or have a bud who can).

The guy who foamed my boots moved like a juggler, non-stop during the process - pushing here, wiggling my foot there.

There's 6 tubes on each liner, and the timing of each tube must be pefect, or the foam will cure badly, creating lumps or air pockets.

The guy had a stop watch and moved quickly.

I don't mind throwing Intuition heat-moldable liners into the oven. But foam is waaay outta my league.
post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post
I have a *cough*performance*cough* fit and I have been told that the foamed liners are decent amount thicker than the stock ones in my boots.


If this is not true, i would be very happy. Anybody?
My foamed liners are thicker than the stock ones.
post #18 of 28
Phil, you ever looked into lace-up Zip Fit liners? Might be a good solution for you and should work with a performance / race fit. Pretty reasonable and you can choose to work with a fitter on that project or not.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post
I have a *cough*performance*cough* fit and I have been told that the foamed liners are decent amount thicker than the stock ones in my boots.


If this is not true, i would be very happy. Anybody?
I had foamed liners in a previous boot. The liner is as thick or as thin as it needs to be; it starts out empty and fills up with foam.
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
Phil, you ever looked into lace-up Zip Fit liners? Might be a good solution for you and should work with a performance / race fit. Pretty reasonable and you can choose to work with a fitter on that project or not.
Thinking about intuitions (comps) is there any reason to go zip fit instead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
I had foamed liners in a previous boot. The liner is as thick or as thin as it needs to be; it starts out empty and fills up with foam.
I was told by my fitter (who is very well respected and seems to be knowledgeable. He said there is NO room for a foam liner. Keep in mind I am in a very small shell for my size
post #21 of 28
Phil, as I understand it the Zip fits are much closer fit and use a flowable cork system. I bought the Intuition liners, and was not all that impressed by the idea that the flow system is supposed to be used in lieu of a footbed. Talking with Bud and other boot guys, I got the impression the Zip fits were a pretty high performance item in comparison. You might want to ask in the boot guys about zip fits and see what they say. I wouldn't mind hearing.

EDIT:

I came across this review that seems to disagree with what I said.: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=64525
When in doubt, go with first-hand experience.
post #22 of 28

New Salomon Custom Shell Boot

I think Salomon is trying to address this need. This year they are offering the Falcon with an option of a heat moldable custon fitted shell. " Instantly customizable shell for more precise on-snow transmission."

http://www.salomonsports.com/us/#/sk.../falcon-cs-pro
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZOG View Post
I think Salomon is trying to address this need. This year they are offering the Falcon with an option of a heat moldable custon fitted shell. " Instantly customizable shell for more precise on-snow transmission."

http://www.salomonsports.com/us/#/sk.../falcon-cs-pro

I moulded one of these just yesterday for an instructor who brought one in....mmmmm not really sure if it made a difference, what was wrong with punching the shell if it needed punching the good old fashioned way
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post
I have a *cough*performance*cough* fit and I have been told that the foamed liners are decent amount thicker than the stock ones in my boots.


If this is not true, i would be very happy. Anybody?
It may depend on the particular foam liner that is used.

I have Nordica Dobermanns with a Nordica foamed lace-up leather liner. The shell is actually smaller than my previous Langes, which had a stock liner and which were also professionally fitted. Some spots in the liner have almost no foam in them, and I seem to recall having to do something (don't ask me what, as I don't remember) to allow the foam to move past the tight spots to fill the entire liner correctly.

My ability to tolerate the fit is entirely dependent on my custom footbeds, which were deemed acceptable and transferred from my older boots. Without the footbeds, my foot becomes too wide and too long when weighted, and I cannot wear the boots for any length of time.

Back on the original topic, I too have found it difficult to find most high-end boots and get them fitted. Some of the better Langes seem to be available, but nobody has Dobermanns, which had been recommended to me by several people who I regarded as reliable sources of information (one being Jeff Bergeron, during a discussion at this site).

I went to Fernie twice because a boot fitting specialty shop there did have them. The first trip, I just determined a correct shell size and whether or not the last was suitable for my foot. The second trip, I spent four days getting the boots foamed, fitted, tested, ground, punched and aligned. The shop is located at the base, so each adjustment is followed by on-hill testing.

As others have pointed out, shops with good selections and fitters do exist in places besides right at the resorts, but they're certainly not everywhere, and you can't fit and test and adjust like you can at a resort.
post #25 of 28
I've gotta say I've never had any touble getting boots to fit. Then again I have the text book example of a normal foot. I just throw the footbeds in and it's fine. I think I used some foam around the heels when I used to ski Langes. I never even bothered to heat-mold the liners in the Tecnicas I use now.
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post
Align yourself with a ski shop that has a good selection and the brands that you like or are interested in.
My shop was the now defunct Princeton Ski in Roslyn, NY, hundreds of miles away from any respectable ski resort. My family and I bought plenty of stuff there; my popinlaw-to-be is the type of guy who befriends everyone and by the time he leaves a place he knows everyone and everyone knows him.
So naturally the store manager knew us well. As such, the manager was always willing to go and get us anything and everything we wanted....all it took was a few days and like magic there it was for us to peruse no need to buy unless we wanted it. That’s all it takes.
You let the jomoops at Princeton fit yours boots I am sorry but that is a little strange to me. Most of the sales folks in the store would not have known a slalom ski from a slalom gate.

I can't jive that statement with the rest of your postings. Very odd. (No offence intended)
post #27 of 28
Bill Purdue, was the manager there, good guy, in the business for a very long time, used to work at GMOL at Stratton. He knew his stuff, and he was the only guy we dealt with. Wish I knew where he went now...actually that reminds me I think my popinlaw has his cell. But my professional fitting of my plugs were by Cantman/Billy Kaplan. PS was not equipped for that type of work, and Bill P. acknowledged that.
post #28 of 28
That explains it. The rest of his staff was not as... ummm... skilled.
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