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Self Boot Fitting

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  • Self Boot Fitting

    Although it is always recommended that you go to a professional to be boot fitted, we are tempted to buy online because of price or because that is the only option for those of us who do not live near a major ski area.

    I found the following guide on the web that is the only one that provides details as to what to look for when shell fitting (in Step 3). Most only talk about checking the shell length relative to your foot, where as this guide also provides rules of thumb on the forefoot, ankle bone and instep clearances to the shell that one should be checking when being boot fitted by a pro or doing it yourself.


    Step 1 - Initial Discussion
    This is very important. Your boot fitter needs to know as much about your skiing history and ambitions as possible. Be prepared to give detailed answers to questions about your ability. “I’m an Intermediate” doesn’t give us enough information about how you ski. Think about your preferred terrain, the speed you ski at, and the type of turns. Above all, be honest! Tell your fitter about your past experiences with ski boots, especially any recurring problems. Discuss what type of fit would be best for you. If you expect ski boots to fit like a slipper or trainer you will be disappointed! Finally, have in mind a realistic price bracket for your ability. This should allow for the addition of a supportive footbed. They will be recommended to you, as good footbeds are an essential part of a well-fitted boot.

    Step 2 - Foot and Stance Analysis
    We need to see your feet to assess their shape and match it to a boot. Your fitter will need to get hands on with your bare feet, and nice clean tootsies are better for everyone. What’s more, if your toenails are trimmed short you will achieve a better fit. While inspecting your feet, we will point out any areas that may cause problems. An assessment of your alignment and foot-stability enables the correct footbed solution to be recommended for your needs. Finally, you are measured. This is a guide, a starting point and is nothing to do with your shoe size. Don’t be surprised if it comes up smaller than you were expecting!

    Step 3 - The Shell Check
    Ski boots are comprised of 2 basic components: the innerboot, for comfort and control; and the shell, for transmission, performance and fit. The shell governs how a boot fits, so a shell-check is needed with every boot you try – this will ensure it’s the correct size, shape, and volume for your foot. We check 4 points: length, ankle width, forefoot width, and instep height. With your foot in the shell only and your big toe lightly touching the end, there should be approximately 10 – 20mm space behind your heel. We use about 10mm for a performance fit, and up to 20mm is our recreational fit. We do not recommend more than 20mm as this would lead to a loose-fitting boot after just a little skiing. The rest of the check is done with the foot positioned centrally in the shell, a guide would be 3 to 5mm space at each side of the forefoot, 5-10mm at each ankle bone, and 10mm above the instep, allows enough room to replace the innerboot and maintain a close and snug fit without over-tightening the buckles.

    Step 4 - Trying On
    To achieve a good fit you need quality thin ski socks with a proper heel and strategic padding. Please don’t arrive at the store armed with 10 year old, thick, baggy tube socks with penguins on. Ski boots feel tight and a bit short at first, don’t panic, this is normal. The innerboot is designed to fit in length and volume, initially with no excess space. Fasten the buckles round the leg first, this will pull the foot back. A few ankle-flexes will push the heel further into the heel pocket producing a little more toe room. Keep the boots on for at least 15 minutes. During this time your body heat will soften the innerboot foam, allowing it to compress a little, creating more volume around your foot. You should always be aware that your toes are at the end of the boot, and that it’s a close and snug fit – as if someone has hold of your feet with both hands. There should be very little or no movement at the heel and ankle when replicating skiing movements, like flexing and rolling your feet. Remember that ski boots will increase in volume by about 15% with use, so don’t oversize. Don’t over-tighten the buckles; they are there to close the boot, not to hold your foot still. If you have issues with the fit, or it just doesn’t feel right, try a different boot in the same size. Remember that a well made custom-molded footbed will support and stabilize your feet in the correct alignment, dramatically improving the fit. You should be trying 2 or 3 models of boot only. Don’t attempt to try every boot on display, you will only confuse yourself. Ski boots are not sold on shoe size, colour or what a friend says is good. Talk to your boot-fitter and listen to their advice.

    Step 5 - Boot Customisation
    We cannot emphasize enough the importance of a well-made custom footbed to a successful boot fitting. In most cases it is the key to a successful fitting. Heat-moldable innerboots are standard with all our ski boots, and should be done to ensure an accurate fit. Molding starts the bedding-in process. You need to ski for about 15 hours to bed a boot in properly. Ski boots are designed to be adapted. This can take the form of shell stretching; internal shell grinding; and cutting, stretching and removing foam padding from innerboots. These options are available to customise the boot to your individual foot shape.

    Step 6 - At Home
    Wear your new boots and footbeds as much as possible before you go skiing. Wear them at home first, standing – not sitting. Once you have got more used to the fit, go and ski in them at your local dry slope or indoor snow slope. Sensations like tingling, numbness or some hot spots are to be expected to start with. If they don’t ease with use, take the boots into a store for some alterations. Even if you have a more painful problem, please don’t panic, in most cases it only takes a small change to fix it.

    There is one thing you must remember, to have time – on the day of the fitting you should allow at least 11/2 hours in the shop. It is advisable to purchase your boots well in advance of going away.

    Osprey, Sherpa, Custom Coda 120WT, Custom DS110, Condor (Green), Spliff

    Custom Twist Out duck foot bindings, Bombers (custom duck foot base plate and 3 pads), releasable S810ti on custom duck foot riser

    Nordica N3 NXT ski boots (best so far)

    Wife: 104 SII & 100 Blunt XL with S810ti bindings on custom "adjustable duck foot" risers

    Loaners: 125LE, 105 EMP, 101 KTP, 100 Blunt XL, 98 Slapdash, 88 Blunts

  • #2
    Thanks for the advice!! These are great tips. Now I don't feel so weirded out by my fitting experience! :P

    SBOL Team III Rider

       Revel8 2010 Revolt "Bullseye" 105cm
       Revel8 2009 Rumspringa "MaryJane" 103cm
       Revel8 2009 Tansho 90cm (BriGirl's)
       Spruce 2011 Pro Jr Risers & Head Release Bindings
       Spruce 2010 Pro Lite Risers & Roxy Release Bindings (BriGirl's)
       Salomon 2009 Mission x4 boots
       Sims T22 Omen helmet


    • #3
      Thank you!


      • #4
        We need some updated Tips for Softboots now.