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Never bought ski boots before... what do I need to know?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm 20 years old, 5'10, 160 lbs, intermediate to advanced skier probably (can do most runs, like doing bumps, going through the trees, and going through the park every now and then). I bought Volkl Bridges in the spring and now I'm looking for some boots. From what everyone has said, boots are the most important piece of equipment you can get, so I'd like to get as much advice and info as possible.


I'm currently in Nova Scotia and I'll be heading to Newfoundland just before Christmas. I don't really know of any good places to go for boots. There are box stores like Sportchek and Source for Sports, which would have a lot of decent boots at decent prices, but would they be able to do fitting as well? The only time I could go to a dedicated ski shop would be just before Christmas, and I'm thinking the prices will be through the roof. Does anyone have any advice or similar experiences in this matter?


Also, is there any particular type or brand of boot I should be looking for, or are they all pretty similar? My budget is around $300-400 CAD, and I'm probably only going to get out around 5-8 days this season, so top of the line isn't really necessary. Obviously comfort is important, and I really don't want to spend a lot of money on something that I won't like, so any info or advice is greatly appreciated.



post #2 of 18

Where did you get the boots you are using now?

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

I either rent or if possible use my dads. He got his in Calgary I believe.

post #4 of 18

Forget about brands and go to a good ski shop with a good boot fitter and keep trying on brands of boots as well as different models within the same brand (within your budget) until you find a good fit.  Not too tight, Not too loose, you know, just right and then buy that pair.  A good boot fitter once he looks at your feet will be able to help eliminate certain models that he knows won't work making the selection process easier.


You are correct that a good boot that fits well will do far more for your skiing than any new pair of skis will.


Rick G

post #5 of 18

you should avoid sport chek at all costs. The employees in those stores are untrained and will let you walk out the door with boots that are way too big.Wait till you get to a dedicated store.  You need a good bootfitter that guarantees their fit. Your budget is close to getting a decent boot, but you should really try invest about $100 more to get into a boot that will cater to your needs. You will regret cheaping out. As far as prices being too high at christmas that is a fallacy. If you are at a shop with good bootfitters you will find their boots will always remain around retail price as they will provide free follow up service. you can help yourself by doing some more research into if the people you are dealing with know what they are talking about.

your bootfit should go somewhat similar to this.


Hope this helps.

Fitting boots can get very technical but it will change your skiing if you get it right.

good luck

post #6 of 18

What Rickg said. Maybe someone on this forum can reocmmend a fitter in Newoundland.


Aside from the fact that a properly fitted boot feels nothing like a well fitting shoe, most people don't have "out of the box" feet; ski boots are designed for the liners and/or shells to be tweaked a little. It's amazing how wrong the right boot in the proper size can feel when you first try them on. That's where the fitter earns his keep.


post #7 of 18

^^^^ He's right. Also keep in mind that at your budget range, it's going to be tough to find decent 2011 boots. Look for sales on last year's models as soon as you can. Even if you only ski a week a year, don't bother to venture into beginner/low intermediate boots with plush liners and little lateral support. If it's too street shoes comfy in the store, it'll be sloppy on the slopes. 


Yes, I know it's tempting to buy online, but without really being familiar with which model of which brand works with your feet, you could be paying a lot of return postage. And even if you get lucky about basic shape, you'll still need to dial it in at a real boot fitter. Who will charge non- store buyers for the job, thereby erasing most of the savings online.

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I'd like a boot fitter, but it's finding one that's going to be a problem. I was never planning on buying online. I was hoping to get something soon so I could possibly catch a good deal, but the middle of December might be the only time I could get to a ski shop. The only other options are box store type places. Hmmm...

post #9 of 18



I hear the skiing in Newfoundland is remarkable. Are you moving to the Corner Brook area? There may be some ski specific stores there with bootfitters but you'll have to google it. You're right that Sport Chek doesn't guarantee the fit of their boots. You could go into the store and try on some boots and if you find a pair you like, don't buy them in store but go online to their online store. With the online store you can return the boots within 30-60 days I believe (confirm this), but you have to pay for return shipping. That way you're still being loyal to the brand by shopping there...and then in December pay a fitting fee with a bootfitter in NL.


If the bootfitter says these boots aren't good for you, then just pay shipping to return them...just make sure you time it properly so you still can return them in time. Then either get a pair of new boots from your NL bootfitter (which may cost more money but be well worth it if the bootfitter is good at what he does) or if it is too pricey, just rent some boots for the 6-8 times you'll ski this season and save up some money for the end of season sales at your NL bootfitter.


post #10 of 18

If your dad lives in Calgary, go visit him and get boots there.

post #11 of 18

Boots are a journey. They take about (my experience), 10 days to get really dialed in, then about 40 days when they're great, then you feel the liners packing out, so, the moral of the story is to spend the time and money to get your boots right, as they can (and should) be with you for quite a while.


That being said, what they said^^^^^ is correct. Find a way to get it right. Spend the time and money. Read the "Bootfitters" section in here.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

NL skiing is fantastic! I wont be moving to Corner Brook but I will be passing though there around mid December, which is when I could visit the ski shop, but I'd only be able to stay for a few hours. After that I'll be in St. John's which is 8 hours away frown.gif I may just have to experiment with Sportchek, or rent this season, like you said.


My Dad doesn't live in Calgary. If I had any reasonably cheap way to get there I definitely would.


post #13 of 18

OK, with apologies to the many real bootfitters out there for the violence I'm about to do a complex process, I'd say you have three choices. 1) Buy last season/sale boots at a big box store, then have a reputable fitter work on them in December. That may be a touch cheaper than 2) buying them in December for more $, getting fitted at the same place for free. Hard to say.


If 1), here's how: You have a rough idea of your foot shape, so go to a site like Skinet (can't believe I'm saying this), and look at the boot reviews. They'll usually mention whether the model is high or low volume, narrow or wide. As some very rough rules of thumb based on personal experience, if you have a narrow foot front to back, Langes work well. They're very responsive, maybe not the best bet for bumps. If you have a wider forefoot and narrower heel, Salomons are the call, and they have an unusually wide range of easy modifications to width across front half of the foot. Technicas also work for feet like these. If you have a normal to wider foot overall, more volume in back, Nordicas seem to work, and they have the broadest range of models/flexes. Rossis tend to be middle - low volume, not as extreme as Langes, not great for high insteps. Cannot speak to other brands, but plenty of good ones out there. Everyone has their favs, but it all gets down to fit. Which is your issue. 


If you buy at a big box store, mainly what you'll be after is basic flex (suggest 90-100 for you), proper length (finger behind heel when in thin socks or barefoot and just boot shell is a not too shabby rule if you don't have measuring tools), and basic geometry (basic volume relations such as larger rear vs larger front etc.) So make sure the shell is proper length, then put back in the liners, wear regular ski socks. Your toes should just brush the end of the toe box if you stand normally with the boot buckled. If you bend into skiing position, you should have enough room to move your toes just a bit. As you flex, your heel should remain down in the heel pocket. If you have to buckle down well past the mid range of the buckles to keep your heel down, you have the wrong boot. The top of your foot will pay for all that buckle pressure after a few runs. If you feel some pressure points along the sides, especially across the ball, that can be fixed in December. If the entire front half of the foot feels pinched, wrong boot. 


But main rule: DO NOT BUY A CUSHY FIT. GO SNUG. That doesn't mean be in pain, it just means everything other than the toebox should be right around the foot, not because of a thick mushy liner but because the shell is close. No slop. Especially in the ankle and heel. Boot liners will pack out, the softer and cushier the faster. Also, it's usually possible to stretch/grind boot shells, particularly in width. It isn't possible to make them smaller. OK, now walk around for a while, drop into skiing position again, see how the top of your midfoot feels. (The walking will accelerate any pressure point that you'd feel after hours of skiing.) 


If you possibly can swing it financially, don't do any of this beyond reading reviews. Wait until you can get to a reputable fitter. Above is just if you are serious about not having much cash, and can't wait for January sales. (Which are the 3rd, and best suggestion; rent until then.) Good luck. 



post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice! I suppose I can wait, considering it's possible the ski hills in Newfoundland might not even be open until mid January. Renting might be the way to go this season. Question: once bindings are mounted, what range of boot sizes can they usually fit? I have a feeling that once I do get my own boots, they will be slightly bigger than my dad's (which I may get to use at some point). I don't really want to get drilling an excess amount of holes in my skis (unless it's not a big deal).



post #15 of 18
Originally Posted by cgibs View Post

Thanks for the advice! I suppose I can wait, considering it's possible the ski hills in Newfoundland might not even be open until mid January. Renting might be the way to go this season. Question: once bindings are mounted, what range of boot sizes can they usually fit? I have a feeling that once I do get my own boots, they will be slightly bigger than my dad's (which I may get to use at some point). I don't really want to get drilling an excess amount of holes in my skis (unless it's not a big deal).




Your volkl brigdes are "flat" in the sense that the bindings are mounted the traditional way by drilling holes and inserting screws.  Many skis today have integrated binding systems and if you had that it would be no big deal.  But even with the flat mounting, it's not that big of a deal to re-drill, and a few extra holes are no problem assuming the shop is competent.  But you will be paying extra for another mounting ($50 to $70) and you're probably better off spending that money on boots in the first place.


So I'd recommend waiting to have the bindings mounted until you get your boots.  That said, you can usually adjust the binding by about 10mm, so it may not be necessary to re-drill.


Lots of good advice here about boots and fit.  They are the most important piece of gear, so choose wisely.


post #16 of 18

As long as your boot fitter is good- the less you know the better.

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

Ok, so I might be in a bad situation here. I ended up getting the Head Edge+ 9.5 at the shop in Newfoundland. After trying on several different boots, the Heads felt by far the best (they are very snug all around, but not uncomfortable, the others were far too narrow to the point where it hurt). Two of the employees agreed it would be a good for me, but they were not professional bootfitters (they don't exist here apparently). I tried to remember everything you guys told me, but I completely forgot about flex. Is 70 too soft for me? The boots my dad has that I used a lot last year had a flex of 65, and I didn't really notice anything wrong with them.


I'm not trying to make excuses for my inability to make use of your generous amounts of useful information, but this was really the only opportunity to shop for ski boots. Will they be fine for someone like me? 5'10, 160lbs, I'll probably get out a max of 5 times this year. I'm also going to be doing a lot more park/switch skiing when I go out. Is a softer flex advantageous in any way? The freakin shop is 8 hours away, so I don't know what I'll do if it turns out I screwed up. Advise, opinions? :/

post #18 of 18

I don't know about flex but it isn't going to make an inredible amount of difference.  If your boots fit your feet well - snug, room to move your toes, holds your heel down... you will be fine.  As other have said here, it's all about the fit, not the brand.  I've been managing to ski for several deades and have yet to use a boot fitter.  And when my boots begin to "pack out" I just adjust the buckles a bit and I'm good for another season or so.

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