If the Boot Fits...

Visit a bootfitter this season to make every part of your skiing better.
Master bootfitter and SKI Tester Bob Gleason making someone's boots better.

Master bootfitter and SKI Tester Bob Gleason making someone's boots better.

Before embarking on a two-week road trip on British Columbia’s Powder Highway, my friend Cooper asked for my advice about two particular ski boots he had his eye on, mostly because he read our reviews and could likely get them for a discount online. My answer? Go to a bootfitter and ask which boot is best for you. Don’t get boots because of the price, get them as an investment in your skiing.

Boots are, unquestionably, your most important piece of equipment, and the cause of many skiers’ complaints. We cram our sensitive, oddly shaped feet into plastic shells that are uncomfortably snug to help with “energy transfer,” “edge-to-edge responsiveness,” and “bunions.” It’s no secret that many a skier’s favorite part of the day is the moment his or her foot comes out of a ski boot.

That being said, the last thing you should ever do is buy a boot online, jam your foot in, and go skiing. Spend some time with a bootfitter and you’ll find out that if you’re in a properly fit boot, the best part of the day is putting your ski boot on—and everything that happens afterwards, of course.

Ski boots are easier to fit than ever. Brands such as K2 and Salomon are making heat-moldable shells and liners that form around your foot when they cool. Others, including Nordica and Tecnica, have special plastics in the usual problem areas that are easy to punch to accommodate wide feet and bone spurs. Those with narrow feet and ankles have better-than-ever fit options, too. Head’s LiquidFit liner injects a type of wax into the liner, perfectly custom-fitting the boot to the shape of your lower leg and ankle. These advancements give consumers an advantage in the boot-fitting process, making it easier to get in and out of a shop with perfectly fit boots.

Read more: Gear Guide 2019 Trends Report

You can have basic liners molded for about $10 at most shops and have basic shell modifications done for about $25 a pop. Those with especially unique feet might have to pay a rate of $60 an hour for specific modifications. If nothing else, every skier should consider investing in a custom footbed. We really like the SOLE Performance Thin footbed , which is heat-moldable and made with 100-percent recycled cork.

After Cooper returned from B.C., I spent a day skiing with him. He was excited about his new Nordicas, a brand he was not even considering before his bootfitter recommend a pair to match his feet. Because he bought the boots from the fitter, the customizations were included and made his Canada trip even more enjoyable (the powder helped, too). His properly fit boots also made him happy to stay out on his local hill longer, improved his confidence, and, quite simply, helped him enjoy skiing more. If that’s not worth the price of a custom fitting, then we don’t know what is.

More Boot Fitting Advice

Demystifying the "Snug" Fit

5 Causes of Shin Bang

The Assurance of Fit: Surefoot


Xanthe Demas skiing

The Assurance of Fit

Surefoot’s custom approach to ski boot fitting is worth it.

Lexi Dowdall gets the goods at Alta, Utah.

Demystifying the 'Snug' Fit

Finding the perfect ski boot requires tapping into—and being able to articulate—feelings.

Because testers use their own skis for boot testing, the boot's effect on stance balance, and ski performance are easier to spot. Some boots are rigid and transmissive, making skis feel shorter and sharper. Other boots flex and twist easily, making skis feel less responsive and long. Stance angles are easy to register as some boots make for a tall, elongated stance and others a more bent-kneed position. A boot's side-to-side alignment has an obvious affect on edge angle. Here test director Mark Elling is about to check the new Dalbello Panterra 120's shock absorption. Turns out this landing was molar-rattling flat.Find out the best new boots on the market.

Face off: Three-Piece Ski Boots for Wide Feet

Two options for fat-footed folks looking for a super-smooth flex on the ski hill.

anatomy: boots

Anatomy of a Ski Boot

Whether you're in the market for new ski boots, or just want to get learned, we help you know your boot from liner to last.

Shin Bang

Five Causes of Shin Bang

The painful ski boot issue can have various causes, but they all boil down to one question: How well does your ski boot fit?

SKI Test Luke Larsen skiing at Taos

The Most Exciting New Ski Boots of 2021

SKI's top picks for those looking to upgrade their ski boots this season.