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Newbie- Should I buy boots or just hire (14 days)?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 


My husband and I are going on a 2 week holiday to Whistler in the very near future.


We're planning on hiring skis and poles, but tossing up on whether we should buy boots or just hire them.


I love the snow, but I'm a pretty much a newbie to skiing (i've done a little snowboarding and cross-country skiing here in Australia, but never any real downhill skiing). My husband is considerably more experienced (he grew up going on ski holidays with his parents) but hasn't been to the snow in a number of years now and has only ever used hire equipment.


We don't plan on this trip being a once off- we plan to go skiing somewhere for about a fortnight once a year.


I thought buying would definitely be the way to go for comfort... but I've been reading a whole lot of ski boot horror stories and I'm starting to rethink it...
From what I understand about buying boots, it's important to buy the boots at the slopes and have them properly fitted by a professional- so if we were to buy it would definitely be at the slopes, and from what I've read Fanatyko seems pretty highly regarded (although I'm open to other suggestions).
But will I be able to buy boots that I can use the next day, i.e. for a full day 'Supergroup' lesson, without too many dramas? And then be comfortable enough in them to get the most out of the following 2 weeks of skiing? And then use them comfortably for a few weeks again in a year or so time?
Is it unrealistic??? Should I just hire?
Ignore the cost of hiring vs buying- We are just after what will give us the most comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Any thought's would be appreciated.
Please be kind- remember I'm an absolute newbie!






post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 

Sorry for the newbie mistake- if there's a mod around, could you please move my thread to the Training Forum/Beginner Zone? Or delete it/ Cheers.

post #3 of 19

Welcome to Epic and skiing in general.  Rental boots are usually not very good boots and I have never seen any place that carries them in varying widths to accommodate people with both medium and narrow feet.  What they usually have is medium width boots which doesn't work very well for people, like me and quite possibly you, who have narrow feet.  And rental shops never take the time to do a shell fit to make sure the boot is at least the right length.  They might measure your foot but most often just ask your street shoe size, hand you a pair of boots and unless you complain about how they fit those are your boots.  Having your own boots that actually fit your feet will, in the long run, be more comfortable and warmer.


So I would recommend buying your own boots, but only if you get them from a reputable boot fitter.  It isn't necessary that you purchase them at a ski area, but that is often where you find the boot fitters.  There should be one near Whistler.  Go to the "Ask the Boot Guys" forum and read the Wikis about fitting and check the list of fitters for one in Whistler.  If there isn't one listed, ask for a recommendation as the list only contains the names of fitters who are active on EpicSki.


Unless your feet are really odd or you want custom footbeds, you should be able to go to a fitter in the morning and be skiing by the afternoon.


Have fun.

post #4 of 19

By all means, if you can afford it buy your own boots.  You will have more fun, learn more, ski better, and be much more comfortable.


You'll run across a statement on the site here.  "You date skis, you marry boots."  Rent the skis so you can try out all different types.  Buy boots so they will fit your feet and keep you happy.


And, welcome to EpicSki.  It is always nice to have new people join the party.




post #5 of 19

About 25 years ago, my brother asked, out of the blue, if I would like to join him for a week of skiing. I had previously never even thought about trying the sport, but it sounded like a fun way to spend some time with him. I bought a pair of boots the very night after one day in rental boots. One of the best decisions I have ever made. It is true that you marry your boots: in those 25 years I have only owned 4 pairs of boots, the most recent pair bought just last year.

post #6 of 19
They're not inexpensive, but if cost is not an object, by all means buy boots. Yes, with a good fitter's guidance in the purchase and a good fitter's help getting fit and setup, you will certainly be able to ski them right away. And yes, buy them at the resort, so you can come back in as the need arises for fine-tuning and optimal setup. (Can anyone recommend the right fitter and shop for Beks near Whistler?)

Welcome to EpicSki, Beks. Happy Holidays and have a great time skiing with your husband.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #7 of 19

Buy boots.....take lessons!

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for all your help so far. I've decided to go ahead and buy boots as soon as I get to Whistler.

We leave on our flight to Vancouver tomorrow night- we've got 3 nights, including New Years Eve in Vancouver, then 14 nights in Whistler. I'm really starting to get excited now!
post #9 of 19

Try to find out who the best boot footer is in Whistler

post #10 of 19

Hijacking because I'm not sure if it's worth starting a new thread and OP's question seems to be answered.


From what I can gather, used boots are bad?  I'm fine with renting skis, but I'm kinda squicked out by rental boots after using them my first time skiing (I KNOW it was not MY feet that made my socks stink so badly!!)...figure with used boots, they might not be so gross and I could always get my own brand-new liners, right?


I didn't find the rental boots uncomfortable or problematic (I remember they were Nordicas), mind you (though I got some sore spots on my shins from the fronts pressing, but I assume that is more bad posture than anything; I have a tendency to lock my knees when just standing, so a bit hard for me to get used to moving around in something that pretty much forces me into a more bent-knee position).  Just...ew.  Who knows how many sweaty, possibly unhealthy feet have been in there without the boots being properly dried or liners cleaned.  Just thinking about it makes me want to go back and wash my socks six more times.


FWIW, I skate, and I imagine ski boots fit about the same as skates?  Snug but not too tight, foot shouldn't be able to move but toes should be able to move up and down (but not side to side)?  So I probably won't have a problem with buying too big.


Or is it possible to pay for a boot fitting and then look for used boots based on that?


It's just that I really don't have a couple hundred bucks to drop on boots of my own...and will not be skiing enough to make it worth an investment of that size...but I'm just not sure I can ever again stuff my feet into rental boots.

post #11 of 19

Kat, I'm not sure you understand what a boot fitting is all about.  The boot fitter helps you find a pair of boots that fit and then customizes the fit to your feet. 


Now a fitter might help you figure out the right sized boot and then customize a used boot to your foot.  I've never seen it done though.

post #12 of 19

Apparently I'm not getting the idea, no.  In figure skating, your skate fitter looks at your size, your feet (size, shape, etc.), how you walk, your skating level, etc. and then recommends a brand, model, and size of skate boot.  There is heat molding involved when your boots come in, yes, but most of what the fitter is there for is to tell you what type and size of boots you should be wearing; technically you could go in and get fitted and then buy your skates elsewhere (though you might need to come in if you wanted them heat molded).  But most of the work happens BEFORE the boots are even ordered.  I guess I had kind of assumed ski boot fitting was the same way.E


Either renting or buying used, the boots still won't be custom-fitted to my feet, so I'm not entirely sure what the difference is, except that with used boots I could at least get liners that suit me...  I'm EXTREMELY clueless about all of this.

post #13 of 19
Welcome to EpicSki, Kat12.

Fitting highest-level ice skates may not be that far from fitting ski boots, in some ways. It is only partially about how the boot (skate) actually fits--comfort, warmth, snugness and letting the toes move a little without being "loose," and such--right? The rest is about how it is set up. I assume that figure skaters are concerned about how the foot functions with the skate too. If you pronate or supinate excessively, do you not benefit from a custom-built orthotic footbed that helps correct for that? Is the blade attached to the skate boot in different locations or angles according to individual needs and preferences? Do different skaters specify different blade shapes? (I'm only guessing that the answer is yes, at least at the highest levels; I really do not know.)

In any case, these are the types of things that top ski boot fitters do. A ski boot is obviously quite rigid--often very rigid in the case of high-performance boots. Since it largely (not entirely) restricts foot and ankle movement, it is critical that it support the foot and ankle (and shin) in the optimal angles, so bootfitters carefully adjust the fore-aft and lateral angles of the cuff, as well as the entire boot. Since ankle angle affects how the foot functions, they also adjust the fore-aft and lateral angles of the ankle (and foot) inside the boot, with wedges, heel lifts, and such. The ability to control edge angle precisely and subtly is critical on skis, so boots are "canted" (tilted, either with wedges under the ski bindings or by grinding the boot soles at slight angles), to optimize edge control. And since the foot must actually be able to articulate slightly inside the boot--you don't want it to be a rigid cast--boot fitters may grind or stretch the boot in certain areas to allow proper movement.

So fitting for comfort, warmth, and snugness is only a start. Custom boot setup goes far beyond to optimize foot and leg function, stance, and posture. Good boot setup will strongly influence your enjoyment and ability to learn the sport. It's a big chunk of cash, but if you can possibly afford it, I encourage any skier to invest in a good pair of boots and a good bootfitter, even if you only ski a few days a year. They'll last a very long time if you take good care of them, so it may be a one-time-forever investment. (Most important: do not walk on hard or abrasive surfaces like asphalt without protecting your boot soles with things like "Cat-Tracks" or "Walk-EZ." It's like protecting your skate blades with guards when not on the ice.)

Bite the bullet. Invest in good, personalized boots. You won't regret it!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

PS--there are few things you can do that prepare you better for skiing than ice skating. Many movements and sensations are similar, and they are two of the only activities we do in which the direction your feet point matters. Balancing on feet that glide effortlessly, rather than gripping the planet, but that hold laterally when tipped, is the same. They're great cross-training sports!
post #14 of 19

Kat-- I can't add any advice on to Bob's that isn't superfluous. Just experience with figure skates. I have difficult to fit, narrow, pronating feet. I have semi-custom Jackson skates that took me almost a year to get set up right with footbeds and blade position. Always regretted not going full custom and really lost momentum in my skating learning curve as a result, and now I barely skate anymore. I skied in rental boots for short weekend trips for three years and hated it. If you are a good skater and you are used to the fit and feel of your own skates then you will despise skiing in boots that do not fit correctly. When I decided last spring that I loved to ski and wanted to get better the first thing I did was get my own boots and custom footbeds. They are still a work in progress but are a vast improvement over anything I could ever rent and are worth every penny. Plus it makes renting the other equipment wayyyy faster. There is also a price range in boots and footbed options like everything else. Just because they can be personalized it does not mean that they have to be expensive. 

post #15 of 19

The problem is that new boots are REALLY not in the budget.  At all.  I will probably be skiing maybe twice a year (lift tickets aren't much in the budget either, but I've found I like skiing a lot and I'd like to do it at least once in a while).  I haven't seen new boots that sell for less than $150-$200, except on sale (but again, if I need a custom fit, then I can't just buy whatever is on sale for really cheap anyway--that would be the advantage of getting fitted at a shop, and then being able to watch for whatever boots were recommended to me on sale).  I'd love to have the perfect pair of boots for my feet, but the money just isn't there.  So I guess I'll just stick with rentals for as little as I'll be going anyway, and just wash all my socks and stuff really well afterward.  I think there's one resort around here that I read won't rent skis independently of boots anyway; can't remember which it is but I guess having my own boots would be pointless if I went there anyway.  (Are boots/bindings universal, or do you pretty much have to match your boots to your bindings and might be out of luck if you have your own boots but rent skis and find they're not compatible?)


I do not wear custom figure skates.  Most people don't unless they have really weird feet and even those I know of that do often balk at the cost of custom boots and don't always buy them.  If I did on skates what I do on skis, I wouldn't need skates even as good as the low-level pair I own...I don't jump or spin or do complex turns and footwork on skis, after all.  If I did some hardcore skiing, that'd be one thing, but I don't and I never will!  I just want to go down hills relatively proficiently and not fall on my butt too much, and have fun...  Don't get me wrong guys, I appreciate the help a lot and I know it'd be great to have a really good pair of boots, but if I had that kind of money it'd probably go into my car, to be honest with you...

post #16 of 19
I hear you, Kat12, and I agree that it is probably better to rent boots and save your money than to buy cheap boots on a closeout sale. When the time comes and you're ready to buy, don't skimp on the boots. Any other gear, sure, but not boots. As EpicSki's Weems Westfeldt says in his upcoming, newly updated, fantastic little book, Brilliant Skiing, "You don’t ski. You operate your boots." (Perhaps we should call the sport "booting"!) They're that important. Weems also says, "The boot is an amazing piece of equipment; great at transmitting power to the ski while providing increasing comfort and warmth for the skier. Boots are also incredibly expensive, yet worth every dime."

What does that mean? Well, it really means, if you can't afford new boots, at least be sure to pick up a copy of Weems's book! Check it out here.



Yes, boots and bindings, if they were manufactured in the current millennium, conform to "DIN" standards. That means that you can mix and match current boots and bindings at will, if they are in good condition (and properly adjusted). The problem is that boot soles wear very quickly when mistreated--as when walking on pavement--and the DIN standard shape changes. Rental shops are sometimes paranoid about the legal consequences of adjusting their bindings to boots that may have been worn to non-standard shapes. I'm not really sure why they get so paranoid, because their own boots usually show a bit of wear too. But it's not uncommon. Just make sure your boots are in good condition (it's a performance thing, as well as a safety thing), and find the right shop.

Best regards,
post #17 of 19

Good luck with everything, Kat12. Would never advise anyone out of their budget comfort zone. Completely agree with Bob's philosophy and would completely agree that if that is your budget then you are right to rent and stay within your budget until it changes. If you get really serious and still have to stick to a budget, there are shops that do seasonal equipment leases which can be a really nice compromise and won't bankrupt you. I would have done that for my kids this year if I thought we were going to do a lot of local skiing. If you do get interested and you keep posting, you will be amazed at how much really useful advice you will get here. (And some less useful-- redface.gif..)

post #18 of 19

Thanks.  How does one find a bootfitter, anyway?  Do you just call ski shops and ask, or is that one of those things where they're going to insist "oh yeah, Bob here can totally fit boots, it's cool"?  Or is there a searchable list somewhere?

post #19 of 19
Kat12--start by checking out this list of EpicSki Bootfitters. If there's not one in your area, consider going to a resort where one of these bootfitters works. It's always best anyway to have your boots fitted where you can go out and ski them, then come back for an immediate tweak and then ski them again. Plus, you get a ski trip with it!

If you aren't fully convinced yet as to how much difference a great pair of customized boots can make, read this thread, especially post #6.

Best regards,
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