Have you ever experienced returning from a ski trip in pain or having suffered an accident?
The problem could be that your ski boots are either too tight and they’re causing you pain or too loose and they’re a danger to your safety.
How should ski boots fit?
Your ski boots should form a connection from your knees to your skis without any movement or slippage. Your boots should therefore feel snug but comfortable.
There are some important ski boot tips to know about.
So, before you go shopping for ski boots, make sure you read this article on how to ensure the best fit to keep you comfortable and prevent issues.
Why Are Ski Boots So Important?
While you might pay attention to getting the best skis, you should also consider your ski boots.
These two items of gear are make or break on the slopes. Your ski boots have to fit your foot and style of skiing so that they can work with the skis to ensure that the energy you produce by flexing your ankles and knees while skiing will be transferred to the skis.
If you’re not wearing the right boots, you could be compromising your skiing ability or have a day of discomfort on the slopes.
The Three Important Parts Of A Ski Boot
When trying to find the best-fitting ski boots, it’s essential to know what to look for in the three most important parts of the boot.
- The liner. The boot liner should feel like a second sock that has a stiff back and tongue. Make sure it fits snugly on your foot and gives your toes a bit of wiggle room.
- The shell. Without the boot liner, the shell should accommodate your bare foot and allow for space that’s no more than two fingers. Test it out by putting your foot into the shell and standing up. Move your toes forward so that they touch the front of the shell and ensure that there’s no more than a two-finger space between the heel and back of the boot. This signals a comfortable fit.
- The upper cuff. When you put on the boot and buckle it up, you should feel like a hand is wrapped snugly around your foot and another pair of hands is holding your lower leg. See, snug but comfortable!
How should ski boots fit?
Based on the above, ski boots that fit you properly will have the following characteristics:
- Your foot has no space to move sideways, backwards, or forwards.
- Your ankle is aligned with the heel cup of the boot.
- Your heel is securely inside the heel pocket.
- Your foot, when strapped into the boots, feels snug but comfortable, without being cramped or squashed.
- You don’t feel any pressure points anywhere on your foot.
- You don’t have space between the top of the instep of your foot (the bony structure that’s on top of your foot) and the interior of the boot.
- Your boot cuff envelopes your calf and shin.
How To Measure Your Feet For Ski Boots
As you probably know with regular shoes, sometimes you need to go a bit larger or smaller than your usual size depending on the brand and shoe.
To prevent the problem of you needing to size up or down, your ski boots will be measured in what’s known as mondo sizes. This is basically the measurement of your foot in centimeters.
Generally, adult ski boot sizes will come in 22.5 to 32.5 centimeters, and all brands use the same sizing. Therefore, you need to measure your foot.
Place a piece of paper on the floor. It should be lined up against the wall.
Stand on the paper. Your heel should be against the wall. Now, the widest part of the inside of your foot should be lined up with the back edge of the paper.
With a pen or pencil, draw a mark where the end of your longest toe touches the paper.
Measure the length in centimeters to get the length of your foot.
You also have to measure your foot width. You’ll see on ski boots that they have a measurement of between 96mm and 105mm and this refers to the boot’s width. Smaller widths are ideal for narrow feet and larger widths accommodate wider feet.
To get the width measurement you need, take the paper you used previously to get your length and stand in the same position with the inside of the ball of your foot in line with the paper’s edge.
Make a mark on the widest part of the outside of your foot, which is below the pinky toe. Change the centimeters to millimeters and you’ve got your width!
Why is width important?
If your boot is too wide for your foot, your foot will move sideways when you’re making a turn and this will put pressure on the foot muscles. On the other hand, if your boot is too narrow for your feet, they will end up getting curled when you make a turn, which will be painful.
What About Ski Boot Flex?
When we talk about the flex of your ski boots we’re referring to how stiff the boot feels when you bend your ankle forward.
So, the flex is basically the amount of resistance in the boot. If you’re a beginner, a softer boot will be more forgiving and result in you putting in less effort when navigating terrain.
A softer boot is also useful for smaller skiers because you’ll require less leverage to flex the boot, therefore making it easier to move your skis. A stiffer boot, by comparison, is ideal for experienced and advanced skiers.
This is because it offers rebound so that when you make a high-impact turn or landing, the movements you need to do will require less energy from your legs and you’ll also get support when navigating difficult terrain.
You’ll see the flex ratings on the boot, usually in the boot model name, such as Lange RX 120 – the 120 is the flex rating. Here are the ratings for soft, medium, and stiff flexes:
- Soft flex is between 50 and 70 for women and 60 to 80 for men
- Medium flex is between 70 and 90 flex for women and 80 to 100 for men
- Stiff flex is between 90 and 100 for women and 110 and 125 for men.
A higher rating than the stiff rating signals a very stiff flex, which is ideal for people who are taller or heavier, and skiers who have an advanced or expert skill level. This is because it will give you greater responsiveness and precision.
Based on foot measurement and flex, here are some guidelines to consider when shopping for ski boots.
- If you’re a beginner or intermediate skier: you should choose a boot that’s closer to your indicated mondo size length or even a bit longer.
- If you’re an intermediate or advanced skier: you should choose a boot that’s close to the mondo size but has a stiffer flex. The width should offer a snug fit.
- If you’re an advanced or expert skier: you should choose a shell size that’s about half to a full size smaller than your indicated size, so try those on as they will give you greater responsiveness. And, of course, a stiff to very stiff flex is recommended.
What About The Footbed?
The footbed of your ski boot is a removable sole inside the boot liner.
The one you get with your boots is not a high-end or very supportive footbed, which is why you will have to get a custom-made one if you want greater comfort.
However, note that a footbed won’t be able to make up for an incorrect boot size but it could help you feel more comfortable if you want to wear a slightly smaller shell size because it will constrain the foot in the width and length.
Comfort aside, a footbed ensures a better transfer of energy from the knees to your skis.
Should you wear thin or thick socks with new ski boots?
Choose thin socks as new boots have padded liners to offer insulation and support, which will make them a bit tighter.
Therefore, thin socks will ensure you can have comfort and control.
What does “last width” mean?
This is a measurement of the space inside the boot and relates to the width of the boot at its widest point. It’s usually written in millimeters.
Having ski boots that fit will take your skiing to a higher level, while preventing days of pain after a bout on the mountain.
In this article, we’ve featured important sizing tips to follow when buying new boots, as well as looked at how to measure your foot to get the most comfortable fit.