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Dial in the Elusive Perfect Ski Boot Fit

Dial in the elusive perfect fit with Salomon’s S/Pro Alpha series

Good ski boots will make you forget you’re wearing them, but great boots will do that and help you drive your skis with precision. For that kind of greatness, you need a technologically advanced fit combined with high-performance design. And since no two feet are the same, a perfect fit almost always means a custom fit.

That’s why the team at Salomon worked alongside expert boot fitters to design a boot whose every major part—the shell, the liner, the tongue, and the spine—can be completely customized. Enter the brand-new Salomon S/Pro Alpha ski-boot line, which just might be the most customizable ski boots on the market. The unisex S/Pro Alpha 130 EL and women’s 110 W EL are hard-charging boots designed for all-mountain skiers looking for high performance in a powerful and lightweight package that fits like it was made just for them.

Here’s how it works.

The design

The S/Pro Alpha 130 EL is a unisex 130-flex boot (catering to the most advanced skiers looking for maximum stiffness) that comes in sizes 22.5 to 30.5—a range not historically seen in top-end ski boots and a huge step forward in accommodating small feet (a 22.5 is women’s size 5 street shoe). The 98-millimeter last—measured at the boot’s widest point—offers a precise fit that accommodates a narrow to normal foot, and a boot fitter can mold it to be up to 104 millimeters in the forefoot. Salomon designers knew that in order to give the S/Pro Alpha maximum customization, they’d need to innovate every part of the boot: shell, liner, last, tongue, and hardware.

“EL” stands for “Expert Line” and means the boot is packed with Salomon’s brand-new tech and its full suite of customization options. To dial in the fit, the tongue can be easily removed from the liner and all of the hardware on the boot (buckles, tooth plate, strap, oversize pivot) can come off. The women-specific model, the Alpha 110 W EL, has all the same features in 110 flex, a size run of 22 to 27.5, plus an adjustable upper cuff and a tulip-shaped liner to accommodate lower calves.

 

The perfect shell fit

Every ski boot has a shell, but not every ski boot has a fully heat moldable shell. With Custom Shell HD, the S/Pro Alpha’s shell material, a boot fitter can create a personalized fit quickly. “Hard-to-fit skiers have become easier to fit because the Custom Shell HD material holds its shape better than many other materials I’ve worked with. We can heat up the hard outer shell and inner liner to the exact shape of your foot,” says Randy Elles, a second-generation boot fitter at First Stop Board Barn in Killington, Vermont, with 20 years of experience. “When a boot fitter properly heats the shell, the boot can expand up to six millimeters without having to use any additional tools.” Elles says the shell material is the easiest outer shell material on the market to customize.

The feature that Chris McKearin, Salomon’s alpine commercial manager, is most excited about is the 3D Instep Shell. “The Alpha design team’s priority was to address the common pain point and hardest-to-address fit issue: the instep,” says McKearin. “The Alpha’s 3D Instep Shell facilitates less instep pain and better circulation in the foot.”

The 3D Instep Shell employs a combination of features to offer a better experience and fit. The shell’s thinner plastic, combined with an upper buckle placed at the forefoot at 45 degrees, makes the boot easier to put on and take off, which aids the boot-fitting process. The buckle positioning helps keep your heel in place to prevent forward motion. A good heel hold helps a skier maintain control and precision, which can improve performance. The strategic positioning of the second lower shell buckle puts less pressure on the top of the foot—an area that often suffers pinching or numbness.

The custom tongue and liner

Both the liner and the tongue are fully customizable on the Alphas. The My Custom Fit 4D Liner is heat moldable to your foot. The tongue of the boot can be adjusted by up to eight millimeters—a huge amount in ski-boot adjustments. This helps accommodate feet with high insteps. The tongue is removable and can be separated from the plastic so a boot fitter can drill down on every last detail.

And you can forget taking your boots off during lunch at the lodge because your feet need a break. Brit Barnes, who worked at Big Sky Resort for 20 years and is a longtime boot tester for Salomon, texted Joe Johnson (the alpine-marketing manager at Salomon) the first day he tested the boots: it was 10:30 P.M. at the local bar and he still had the boots on—he hadn’t needed to race home to take them off. The fit was that good.

It makes boot fitter Elles’s job—zeroing in on precision-fit details for each unique foot—much easier. “While boot fitting can be complicated for some skiers, the features found in the S/Pro Alpha set boot fitters up for a high success rate,” he says. “Did I mention these boots will make you feel like you have more control over any ski you try?”

With a great-fitting boot, you can shift your focus to what matters: skiing.


Born in Annecy, in the French Alps, in 1947, Salomon creates premium footwear, apparel, gear, and winter-sports equipment that are superior in function, radical in design, and obsessive in style. At the Annecy Design Center, engineers, designers, and athletes collaborate to write the future of sports by creating products that transform outside-sports experiences and enable a deeper connection with nature, allowing people to unleash the best versions of themselves so that they might positively impact the world.