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Q: I’ve had the same ski boots for years and my friends tell me it’s time to get new ones. I got these boots as hand-me-downs, so I’ve never actually bought a new pair for myself. After doing some research, I think I know what boots I want, but I’m not sure what size I should buy because my old boots felt a little big. Should I use the ski boot size chart on the manufacturer’s page? What’s the best way to determine my ski boot size? – Kristie in Bellingham, Wash.
To determine your ski boot size and get the best ski boot fit, go see a bootfitter. A professional will be able to take all kinds of foot measurements to find the right ski boot size for your foot and your style of skiing.
Professional Bootfitting Measurements
These are the most important measurements when considering ski boot size:
- Length of foot: A bootfitter will take your foot measurement in mondo point sizing, which is centimeter sizing. It’s what the Japanese use to size their shoes.
- Midfoot shape: Hopefully, the bootfitter will take the measurement of your foot in a seated position and in a standing position to look at the length of your foot and how your midfoot shape changes from seated to standing. Ideally, the fitter will take your seated measurements with your ankle flexed to a right-angle so that your foot is evenly weighted. The same goes for when you’re in a standing position.
- Width of foot: How wide is your foot—A, B, C, D, DD width?
- Instep height: If you’ve got a good bootfitter, they’ll also take your instep measurement. Instep measurements are taken from one corner of the heel to the other corner, crossing over the top part of the foot, which we call the instep. That measurement will help your bootfitter select what volume your boot needs to be.
Boots these days are made in low-, mid-, and high-volume. We look at the instep measurement as a ratio of the length versus instep. That measurement will help the bootfitter pick your boot volume. If you’re a more assertive or aggressive skier, the bootfitter will take the measurements from your seated position as your primary boot measurements. If you’re more of a beginner, intermediate, or timid skier, the bootfitter will use your standing position measurements, which pushes you into a slightly bigger boot size, allowing you to ski in a more upright versus aggressive stance.
After taking all of the above measurements, a professional bootfitter will be able to determine the best ski boot size for your foot, as well as your style of skiing.
If you’re not going to visit a bootfitter to help you find the right ski boot size, then the next best way to find your ski boot size is to measure your own foot versus going off your regular shoe size.
How to Measure Your Own Foot to Find Your Ski Boot Size
To measure your own foot, stand with your heel at the back of a tape measure on the 0-centimeter mark. Measure the length of your toes while standing. That measurement will be more accurate than trying to correlate your ski boot size with your regular shoe size.
Boot manufacturers do have size charts, so people can try to determine their ski boot size relative to their street shoe size. But that’s when we see people come into our shop because they’ve bought a ski boot that’s at least two sizes too big.
Try to avoid going off ski boot size charts completely. These size charts are never correct because often our street shoes fit far more relaxed than how a ski boot needs to fit. You’re much better off physically measuring the length of your foot with a tape measure.
Once you’ve measured the length of your foot in centimeters, look for a ski boot with the correlating ski boot size.
Ski boot manufacturer typically sell ski boots in mondo point sizing. Most ski boots only come in whole sizes, e.g. 24.5, 25.5., 26.5, 27.5, 28.5, etc. You’re going to fit within one of those whole centimeter fit-ranges.
If you’re a beginner and your foot measures 27 centimeters, opt for a 27.5 boot size. If you’re a more advanced skier and your foot measures 27 centimeters, you may want to go with a 26.5-size boot, which will offer a more performance-oriented fit.
Sam Tischendorf is one of the very few professional female ski bootfitters—or as she likes to say, professional feet ticklers—in the industry. She currently works at Bootdoctors in Telluride, Colo., is a member of the Masterfit University teaching team, and collaborates with Blizzard/Tecnica on the Women To Women gear project.