Its that time again when a lot of skiers out there will be looking at their toxic old ski boots, and finally come to the conclusion that this is the year to bite the bullet and invest in a brand spanking new pair that they hope will see them through as many trips and powder days as the last. This is an exciting prospect indeed, but one that can also be daunting and laced with the added fear that if you don’t get it right then the ensuing agony on the mountain will really effect your performance and enjoyment levels. Buying boots can be a confusing experience…there’s all the different shapes, sizes, flex patterns and added extras, but then there’s also trying to understand the confusing glossary of words that comes with all that technical garb!
Luckily though, we have enlisted the help of Surefoot, who with 25 years in the boot fitting business, and 25 stores worldwide is now the world’s biggest and best ski boot specialty store, priding themselves on using precise state-of-the-art technology to deliver the best fitting, best performing boots possible…in short we are stoked to have access to the expertise of Rory Atton & Matt Carlson (Surefoot UK and Surefoot USA respectively) and here is their lowdown on how to be fitted for boots that will be right for you:
First off, a well fitting ski boot will not only be more comfortable, it will make you ski better…FACT…and these are the main things to be aware of when choosing and being fitted for ski boots:
– The Last ‘Boot Shape’
– The Shell ‘Sizing It Up’
– The Flex ‘
– The Orthotic ‘
– Cuff Alignment
THE ‘LAST BOOT’ SHAPE – What model will work best for you?
The most important part of choosing a Ski Boot is getting one that matches your foot shape. Every brand has several ‘lines’ of boots, every line will have a different last shape and most lines of boots will then have several different flex’s to choose from.
You do not buy a boot based on color, a brand you like or because your friend has them and thinks they are great. Go and see a boot fitter and trust what they have to say. Remember, if they are confident in their work, they will back it up.
THE SHELL – Getting the correct size
When shell fitting, most ski boot stores will have your foot in the shell without the liner and have you slide your foot so your toes are lightly touching the front. The Boot fitter will then look to see how much room there is between your heel and the back of the boot, this on average will be around one to one and a half fingers depending on your level of skiing and what you are looking for in a ski boot.
When looking at the width of the boot the boot fitter will have you try and centre your foot in the shell and feel how much space you have either side of your forefoot, they may open the boot up and physically look inside and try and gauge the width either side of your foot.
There is however, a more accurate way. Surefoot use a state of the art digitiser, which produces accurate measurements of your foots length and width. Combine this with knowing the internal measurements of every ski boot model out there, you can be told exactly how much space each model will have and which models measurements work best for you.
THE FLEX – 100? 120? How to know what’s right.
The flex of the boot is very important, if you cannot flex your ski boot, you cannot flex your ski and if you cannot flex your ski, you will be making it much harder on yourself than you have to.
There are several things your boot fitter should be looking for when considering your boot flex: Your ankle flexion, the height of the cuff on your shin, your athletic ability, the flex of previous boots, your level of skiing, where on the mountain you ski, how often you ski, if you are taking lessons each trip, the type of skis you are skiing on, the list goes on… but for 99% of people the most important thing is to check you can actually flex the chosen boot. It is worth remembering if you are in a nice warm shop the boot will flex much easier than on the mountain where colder temperatures will stiffen the shell up.
THE ORTHOTIC –
Best Fit in Ski Boots
Whether you are enjoying a beautiful day with the family or you are doing jump turns above exposure, Orthotics are the first step in creating a proper fit inside your ski boots. The orthotics will hold your feet in the strongest position and as a result your ski day will be more enjoyable.
Many skiers are still under the old impression that ski boots have to be uncomfortable. Due to new technologies we are able to eliminate the discomforts of the past. Many of these issues were a result of the arch collapsing as the skier gets on the inside edge. Custom Ski Orthotics eliminate this movement by holding the foot in neutral which in turn supports all the muscles and ligaments of the foot. As a result the foot will stay centered in the middle of the boot keeping ankle bones and instep bones in the locations the boot manufactures designed them to be in.
The goal of the ski boot is to transfer energy from the body to the skis. Even the slightest empty space inside the ski boot takes away from how quickly the boot will make the ski turn. It is this wasted space that makes turns more difficult and as a result makes the feet and body tired. The ski orthotic will make sure there is no wasted space under the foot therefore allowing the ski to turn quicker and with more power. The result is better skiing with less effort.
Surefoot Orthotics provide the correct foundation to improve comfort, performance, and efficiency in all activities. We begin by taking a computerized scan of the bottom of your foot. While you are on the scanner, we rotate your ankle so that the foot is in sub talar neutral. This “neutral position” is the strongest skeletal stance that your foot can be in for athletic activities. This results is better alignment therefore improving support for your knees, hips, and back. Once the computer has mapped the foot in the neutral position, the scan is translated into a topographical map. We are then able to alter the scan to better match your activity and shoes. For example, we often have the computer reduce the arch support of a running orthotic while the ski orthotic is most often made with full support. Our computer driven miller then mills your custom orthotic out of a solid piece of EVA. While orthotics are advantageous for all sorts of activities, some of the most common uses are for skiing, running, golfing, biking, and simply general use.
CUFF ALIGNMENT – Get your Skis running flat.
Firstly, Cuff Alignment should not be confused with Canting. We will get to Canting later. Cuff Alignment is ensuring that the Upper Cuff of the boot matches your lower leg. Most boots worth considering will have the ability to adjust this. Cuff alignment is crucial in ensuring that when you think your skis are running flat, they are actually running flat.
Cuff Alignment can also solve an age old problem for some people, if your lower leg want’s to go in one direction and the cuff want’s to go in another, then matching the cuff to the leg can make a huge different in comfort and control.
Canting should only be adjusted after you have chosen the shell, the Orthotic has been made and the Upper Cuff has been aligned, in most cases you have also skied in the boots.
There are several ways to Cant a boot: Planing the sole, pre-canted replacement toes and heels or under binding canted shims. Whichever way you choose, you will immediately feel the difference.
So now that you can go and baffle your mates with all the technical jargon, why don’t you go and check out all the pimpest boots for 2010 which have been reviewed by Rory and Matt in our product section.
Relevant Links: www.surefoot.com