Boots: Frequently Asked Questions

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How should a properly fitting boot feel?

My feet are very narrow/wide/large; how can I find the right boot?

I am a woman with small feet; how do I get a boot small enough?

What can I do about cold feet?

How can I improve the fit of my existing boots?

My boots seem too big; should I wear two pairs of socks to compensate?

How tight should I buckle my boots? What are custom footbeds? Do I need them?

Do I need carving boots?

What are under-binding lifters used for?

I tried on a boot that felt too tight. The boot tech took out the liner and put my foot in the empty shell and told me it was the right size. I didn't buy it. Did I do the right thing? My new boots felt great in the shop, but now that I've skied them a couple of times, they seem too big. What happened?

I went to buy boots at a resort shop early one morning and the tech told me to ski a couple of runs and then come back so the fit would be more accurate. Was he just trying to get rid of me for a while?

I wear a size 13. Any suggestions?

I went to the ski shop and couldn't find any boots that felt comfortable. Is something wrong with my feet? With the shop?

My 6-year-old boots fit and ski well, but my boot tech told me to replace them before they break. They only have 120 days on them. Could anything really happen?

I've been skiing in a rear-entry boot? Should I change?

How should a properly fitting boot feel?

Boot fitting has four major components, and a good boot should meet all of them as closely as possible. Take your time, try on lots of different brands, and have a good boot fitter nearby.

Forefoot: The liner should feel snug against your forefoot without causing your toes to bunch or curl.

Instep: You should feel just enough pressure on top of the instep that your feet don't slide as you flex and move.

Heel: The heel should be cradled snugly so there's no lifting or side-to-side movement.

Calf: The boot cuff should be snug against the lower leg but still allow movement when you flex forward. Back to Top My feet are very narrow/wide/large; how can I find the right boot?
To evaluate the best fit, you should have a boot fitter determine the volume of your foot. Very narrow feet have a low volume, and E-EEE-width feet are high volume. Several manufacturers make boots to fit these categories, so be sure to go to a shop with a large selection. Back to Top I am a woman with small feet; how do I get a boot small enough?
Many brands now have specialty sizes for women, so a shop with a wide selection should be the answer to your dilemma. A good boot fitter can also add padding to customize the fit. Back to Top What can I do about cold feet?
Here are five tips to ensure warm, toasty toes:

Wear the right socks: Wool, polypropylene, and silk are materials that promote warmth by keeping away perspiration. Also, it's usually better to wear lighter-weight socks; too-thick socks can cut off circulation. <>Install electric boot heaters: A small heater can last up to seven hours.

Keep your boots buckled: Don't give snow a chance to get into your boots and melt.

Look for heat-reflective materials in boot liners.

Look for boots lined with fleece in the toe boxes. Back to Top How can I improve the fit of my existing boots?
Custom-made footbeds are the single biggest help. A boot fitter can also add plastic or foam. Back to Top My boots seem too big; should I wear two pairs of socks to compensate?
It's better to have the boot fitted properly. Wearing two pairs of socks will decrease sensitivity and comfort, but it's better than nothing. Back to Top How tight should I buckle my boots?
You'll definitely ski with greater stability and confidence when the boot contours snugly along your lower leg, but the cuff should wrap snugly with your buckle bails set somewhere near the beginning to middle of the ladders. (Remember, the liner materials will compress!) If you're near the end of the ladder, the buckles may deform the shell and change the boot's intended flex pattern. Back to Top What are custom footbeds? Do I need them?
Custom footbeds are constructed from some type of malleable material, usually cork or an EVA foam. A boot fitter uses heat to form the material to your foot, creating a bed that's flat on the bottom with the shape of your foot on the top. When placed inside the boot, these beds allow your foot to stay in its natural position, giving you a more solid connection to your boots for more control. Back to Top Do I need carving boots?
If carving is your game, you may enjoy a carving boot for your super-sidecut skis. However, many traditional boots will work just as well. More important than the type of boot you get is the fit of the boot. Back to Top What are under-binding lifters used for?
Lifters are any of a wide variety of products mounted between the binding and ski that raise the boot off the top of the ski. By raising the boot off the ski, lifters give skiers more leverage over the ski's edge and, thus, better edge bite. Raising the boot also moves the widest part of the boot farther from the snow. When a ski is tipped over far enough for the boot to hit the snow, the ski's edge will lift, and the ski will slide out. Lifters help prevent this by keeping the boot shell from touching the ground. Back to Top I tried on a boot that felt too tight. The boot tech took out the liner and put my foot in the empty shell and told me it was the right size. I didn't buy it. Did I do the right thing? ?
No, but your tech did. He knew that shell-fit is of paramount importance when buying a boot. Liners can easily be shimmed, trimmed or stretched, but shell work is best kept to a minimum. You can check shell-fit yourself. Slide your foot forward in the empty shell until your big toe touches the front. A finger to a finger-and-a-half of space between your heel and the shell will give you a good snug fit when the liner is reinserted, assuming no other parts of your foot are touching the shell. Back to Top My new boots felt great in the shop, but now that I've skied them a couple of times, they seem too big. What happened?
You made a common mistake-you oversized. Boots that are too big can be painful and, even worse, can cause injuries. In extreme cases, they have been responsible for ankle sprains and breaks. Oversized boots are detrimental to your skiing and will fatigue your muscles. You'll find yourself in the "backseat," clawing with your toes and straining your thigh muscles and hamstrings to maintain stability. A good-fitting boot will feel tight out of the box and may remain very snug during the first few days of skiing until the liner adjusts to your foot. Back to Top I went to buy boots at a resort shop early one morning and the tech told me to ski a couple of runs and then come back so the fit would be more accurate. Was he just trying to get rid of me for a while?
No, he was practicing good physiology. Your feet can swell by as much as a half-size during the day, so it's best to fit them later in the day. Back to Top I wear a size 13. Any suggestions?
Shop early. Same for you size 4s. Ski shops start getting their boot stock in September and they don't order many very-large or very-small sizes. And with manufacturers keeping lean inventories, reorders are often not possible. Back to Top I went to the ski shop and couldn't find any boots that felt comfortable. Is something wrong with my feet? With the shop?
Could be either, but probably neither. Shops generally carry four brands- a high- and low-volume line and two moderate-fitting lines-but sometimes, none of them will fit your feet just right. Keep looking. Try different brands, models and sizes and plan to visit a couple of shops. Back to Top My 6-year-old boots fit and ski well, but my boot tech told me to replace them before they break. They only have 120 days on them. Could anything really happen?
Yes. Boots that old should be replaced, especially if you ski at high-altitude resorts. It's not necessarily the hardware that conks out, but the plastic. It can become brittle from exposure to UV rays and can crack right on the hill. Start breaking in a new boot, and ease your old favorites into retirement. Back to Top I've been skiing in a rear-entry boot? Should I change?
Only if you want to ski better. Most rear-entry boots aren't strong enough laterally or stiff enough rearward to power newer skis. Back to Top . In extreme cases, they have been responsible for ankle sprains and breaks. Oversized boots are detrimental to your skiing and will fatigue your muscles. You'll find yourself in the "backseat," clawing with your toes and straining your thigh muscles and hamstrings to maintain stability. A good-fitting boot will feel tight out of the box and may remain very snug during the first few days of skiing until the liner adjusts to your foot. Back to Top I went to buy boots at a resort shop early one morning and the tech told me to ski a couple of runs and then come back so the fit would be more accurate. Was he just trying to get rid of me for a while?
No, he was practicing good physiology. Your feet can swell by as much as a half-size during the day, so it's best to fit them later in the day. Back to Top I wear a size 13. Any suggestions?
Shop early. Same for you size 4s. Ski shops start getting their boot stock in September and they don't order many very-large or very-small sizes. And with manufacturers keeping lean inventories, reorders are often not possible. Back to Top I went to the ski shop and couldn't find any boots that felt comfortable. Is something wrong with my feet? With the shop?
Could be either, but probably neither. Shops generally carry four brands- a high- and low-volume line and two moderate-fitting lines-but sometimes, none of them will fit your feet just right. Keep looking. Try different brands, models and sizes and plan to visit a couple of shops. Back to Top My 6-year-old boots fit and ski well, but my boot tech told me to replace them before they break. They only have 120 days on them. Could anything really happen?
Yes. Boots that old should be replaced, especially if you ski at high-altitude resorts. It's not necessarily the hardware that conks out, but the plastic. It can become brittle from exposure to UV rays and can crack right on the hill. Start breaking in a new boot, and ease your old favorites into retirement. Back to Top I've been skiing in a rear-entry boot? Should I change?
Only if you want to ski better. Most rear-entry boots aren't strong enough laterally or stiff enough rearward to power newer skis. Back to Top