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Should a "good" bootfitter also know the boots on his/her wall?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have learned a lot in the last year about the importance of properly fitting boots and also the basic guidelines for determining a properly fitting boot. I had started doing some research on boots before my first visit to a ski shop last season. It was a slopeside shop that employed recommended bootfitters and also sold a few boots (there were about a dozen boots on their wall). My boots seemed sloppy and I wanted to find out if they could do anything to help the situation or if I would just need to buy some new boots.

 

The bootfitter on duty was already helping another customer when I came in, so I just sat down to wait for my turn. I was very impressed by how the guy was dealing with this particular fitting issue and it seemed to me like the fitter was very knowledgeable. When it was my turn he pulled out my liner and did a shell fit, pointing out that my boots were two sizes too big and that there wasn't much he could do. He then had me try on a boot two sizes smaller from the same brand as my boots and told me it was a very narrow, 95mm last. He was right about me needing a boot two sizes smaller (for length).

 

As I mentioned, I had already done some initial research and was familiar with the boot he had me try on. It was a Nordica Hot Rod 95, which I had already learned in my research was a 100mm-lasted boot with a 95 flex rating. I thought the fitter had simply stated something that had come out wrong, so I asked him to clarify on the 95-last statement. He said again that the "95" meant that it had a last of 95mm and was therefore a narrow boot. I didn't correct him, but I left shortly thereafter. The guy really seemed to know a lot about how to fit a person's boot, but he clearly was not educated about the boots on his wall.

 

So, to my headline question, should I expect that someone who knows how to fit boots also is very familiar with the details of the boots they are selling? If I am buying new boots, I want them to know the width of every boot they sell, how the flexes compare (and not just the stated flex rating), how a boot fits in the instep area, the heel, etc., and I want them to be able to help me find the best boot for my anatomical needs as well as my skiing ability and preferences. I don't just want someone who knows how to fit boots in the sense of making punches, grinds and other alterations, but also someone who knows how to "sell" boots. Should I expect this of the revered "bootfitter?"

post #2 of 9

There is much more to fitting boots than simply grinding and punching.  I constantly have skiers in the store that have seen other shops and had many punches done but the problem still was not resolved.  Often we are able to fix the problem.

 

So I'll say yes it is absolutely necessary they know what is on the wall.  It is also necessary they check width, ankle alignment and general foot space when doing the shell fit.  Only checking length isn't even half the job.

 

Lou

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

I would imagine that the main person responsible for buying boots in a shop has good knowledge of their wall, but do most shops educate their staff of bootfitters, too? To ask the question another way, can a "shop" be recommended as a place to buy boots from very knowledgeable staff or is there usually just a single individual at a shop who is truly qualified to get a person into the correct boot?

post #4 of 9

Hard to answer other than to say most shops don't have a good rep for boot fitting.

 

Lou

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou Rosenfeld View Post

Hard to answer other than to say most shops don't have a good rep for boot fitting.

 

Lou

This seems pretty unfortunate for the ski industry as a whole considering how important a good fitting boot is to an individual's enjoyment and appreciation of the sport.
 

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by TallSkinnyGuy View Post



This seems pretty unfortunate for the ski industry as a whole considering how important a good fitting boot is to an individual's enjoyment and appreciation of the sport.
 

It is unfortunate, but we need to put things in perspective. Out of the total number of people who ski in the US (just for argument sake) how many really give a shit that their boots fit correctly? Out them how many are actually willing to spend the money to get things right? Next, out of all the shops, how many are owned by someone who does not look just at "the numbers"? We have just culled about 95% of the market. Sure on a site like this, almost everyone "gets it" but we here are the lunatic fringe, the people to whom skiing is more than just a vacation. I would love nothing more than to have every one of my customers want boots that are fit correctly and be willing to pay for that service, but until that reality happens I will just continue to help the people I can, educate those willing to learn and accept that not everyone wants/needs my full blown services. To answer your original question, a resounding YES!, a true boot fitter will know his stock backwards and forwards and also know about boots he does not carry. IMO it is easy to learn this stuff, every manufacturer publishes tech manuals and if a fitter does not take the time to know this stuff, he is not taking his job very serious. It is not 100% needed to memorize the states for every boot out there, but one should know where to look for the answers and have that info at hand.
 

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDoyal View Post



Out of the total number of people who ski in the US (just for argument sake) how many really give a shit that their boots fit correctly?
 

 

I think I know what you mean, but if you look at this question from a different perspective, the answer will be different. That is, if you took a poll of recreational skiers, including those that only ski a handful of days each year, and asked them "Do you care if your boots fit correctly?" you will hear nearly 100% of them answer "yes." If you then ask them if they believe their boots actually do fit them correctly, I bet a majority would still answer "yes." But then if you took their boots off and did a proper analysis that all good bootfitters do when selling a customer new boots, the common thought in this forum is that you would find most of these people to be in boots that are too large or otherwise not the best boots for them. However, they went to a sports shop (perhaps even a specialty ski shop) and purchased the boots from someone who told them they were the right boots for them.

 

My hypothesis is that most people do not know they are in boots that are not the best choice for them. I didn't know this until I did quite a bit of research on the topic last year and spent some time with various bootfitters. And frankly, the boot companies did not help with their sizing recommendations -- I wear an 11.5-12 size street shoe but am properly fitted in a ski boot that the manufacturer says is a size 10! Granted I "fit" a size 12 much better when I am trying the boots on in a shop like I would try on a regular shoe -- the size 10 would feel way too small and I know that I never wear a size 10. But yet, when I get properly fitted I'm in a size 10 ski boot (in the particular model I ultimately purchased recently). It seems the bad manufacturer sizing and the poor bootfitting knowledge at retail is putting the majority of recreational skiers in boots that will not maximize their enjoyment of the sport. I guess a key issue is how much difference properly fitted boots will make to a recreational skier -- which brings us back to the actual intent of your question. Indeed, a recreational skier may not care if they are in properly fitting boots if their skiing experience is not improved by a measurable amount due to the good boots. Anyone have a thought on how much difference it will make? For example, will a level-5 skier instantly be able to advance to a level 6 if they get in boots that are properly fitting?
 

post #8 of 9

 Tallskinnyguy, the width reference from the manufacturers is generally for a 26.5 size shell and is scaled up or down with the size run.  So a stated 100mm width on a particular model boot, could be around a 104 in a 28.5 size, or a 96 in a 24.5 size shell.

 

As Lou said this is only one parameter to consider when shell sizing and is one of the easiest to change (enlarge) if needed.

 

I believe as long as the majority of skiers shop for price because this is all they understand and leave the proper fit to chance, we will not see a change in the current trend.  Learning the importance of a good fit and proper alignment, as you have, is kinda a right of passage into the higher levels of skiing!

post #9 of 9


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JDoyal View Post



It is unfortunate, but we need to put things in perspective. Out of the total number of people who ski in the US (just for argument sake) how many really give a shit that their boots fit correctly? Out them how many are actually willing to spend the money to get things right? Next, out of all the shops, how many are owned by someone who does not look just at "the numbers"? We have just culled about 95% of the market. Sure on a site like this, almost everyone "gets it" but we here are the lunatic fringe, the people to whom skiing is more than just a vacation. I would love nothing more than to have every one of my customers want boots that are fit correctly and be willing to pay for that service, but until that reality happens I will just continue to help the people I can, educate those willing to learn and accept that not everyone wants/needs my full blown services. To answer your original question, a resounding YES!, a true boot fitter will know his stock backwards and forwards and also know about boots he does not carry. IMO it is easy to learn this stuff, every manufacturer publishes tech manuals and if a fitter does not take the time to know this stuff, he is not taking his job very serious. It is not 100% needed to memorize the states for every boot out there, but one should know where to look for the answers and have that info at hand.
 

Well said, many times in fact.  we both know the problem will continue though, it is the same all over the world.
 

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