The agony of de feet. What skier hasn’t had it?
Either your boots are too tight, and your dogs are barking all day. Or they’re too loose, and it feels like you’re skiing while wearing a pair of bedroom slippers.
In either case, it makes for a rough day on the hill.
This could all be eliminated by following one basic rule: Have a pro get you fitted for your next pair of boots.
And one such pro, John Darby, the manager of Granite Chief Ski and Mountain Shop in Truckee, California, has some guidelines to ensure that your boots, which are the most important piece of equipment in your ski locker, perform at their ultimate best.
You Gotta Shop Around
The first step is selecting the right boot-fitter.
“It’s very important to pick one based on his reputation,” Darby says. “Is it a skier who knows about ski boots the one going to do the fitting? I don’t think a snowboarder could do as good a job because he usually won’t know how a ski boot should feel on your foot.
“You should also pick a shop that is close to where you are going to ski. Not only do they have the tools, the experience and know-how to accommodate you, the shop will be able to get it worked out more easily if you need to tweak things.”
Measure for Measure
The next step is to trust your boot-fitter.
“A lot of skiers, if left alone in room full of boots, would gravitate toward boots that they deemed ‘comfort table’,” Darby says. “But those ‘comfortable’ boots tend to be too large. A good fitter should direct you toward boots that are super-snug, because they loosen up in a few days.
“Today’s boot liners will last you 150 days of skiing, but the first four days are critical because that’s the time they morph into you foot shape. Liner technology has entered the computer age, and a good fitter will be able to dial in the shape of your foot.
“Make sure he measures you foot to ensure proper shell size. Stance alignment, flex and forward lean are also considerations that go into proper boot fitting.”
The Sole of the Matter
Once you have found the boot that suits your needs and have been measured for a proper fit, it’s time to consider what goes inside the boot — besides your foot.
“It’s really important,” Darby says, “to have good arch support. A custom foot bed is the ultimate tool for comfort; and as a side benefit a custom foot bed — or even one off the rack — will improve your skiing performance.’’
The Bottom Line
There are a lot esoteric aspects that go into achieving the proper boot fit, and fitters like to throw around words like morphology and supination and pronation when discussing how best to get a proper fit. But the bottom line is that it takes some time and energy — a probably a few extra bucks — to get the right result.
“Boots are the number one piece of (ski) equipment,” Darby says. “Don’t skimp. And be legitimate about your ability. Shoot for the boot that will serve you best for what you do most on the mountain.
“Also, a proper fit will take about an hour or so. It’s not like trying on a pair of sneakers.”