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Ski boots- guide to the right choice and comfort

Our ski professionals staff has created a detailed guide to help users to choose the most performance products for techniques and style.

Boots are a very important part of the ski equipment and the right choice need commitment. Through boots the body says to the ski which are your intentions, so the right size enhance control and desired performances. Furthermore, due to the fact that the shell of the boots is made of hard plastic, different shapes of feet and boots cause adjustment problem. The aim is to find the appropriate size and shape, without compromising performances.

Let's see main features to keep in mind:

Our feet are unique and it doesn't exist the 'right' way to find the most comfortable boot. Size, shape, flexibility of the boots vary depending on many factors such as the ability level, ambition, weight and height, high frequency etc...Ski boots will never be as comfortable as normal shoes and you can't keep looking for that sensation. The internal foam will give you a squeeze sensation, however, after a pair of days this compression will diminuish.

The ski boots size

Ski boots are sized with a scale called Mondopoint. This measurement takes account of the length of the feet in centimeters and it's correctly took considering the maximum length. To find out the correct Mondopoint size, draw your foot shape on a cardboard. When doing this, keep the pen vertically against your foot so the that the outline will respect the correct size. Then, measure the distance between the heel and the longest finger (which isn't always the big toe) and then round off the measure to the nearest half centimeter. For example, the foot measures 26,3 cm, the Mondopoint size will be 26 ½.

Try the ski boot (and then use it) with a thin or very thin sock. Keep in mind that a thicker sock will not give you a warmer sensation as the plastic cover and the foam of the boot are very isolating, whereas the thickness of your sock could diminuish control and the skiing conduction. Usually advanced skier use very thin socks in order to have great control.

 Learner/Intermediate Skier

Generally, should use boots with a length near to the Mondopint size, even if it feels tight. Remember: the internal material will squeeze after a pair of days, giving more space to your feet.

Intermediate/Advanced Skier

They should consider size as for learners, choosing a more rigid bend. To this category we strongly suggest to verify  width, picking the one that offers perfect adherence.

Advanced/Expert Skier

Usually prefers smaller boots in respect to the Mondopoint size, which gives more precision and reactivity. The type of bend should be rigid or very rigid. In order to not sacrify comfort we suggest that you ask help to an expert that can shape the internal part through the "bootfitting" technique..

How to measure a new boot

If you feel a light pressure on the longest toes when the boot is closed it means that after a pair of time of using them, they will be the right boots.
If you feel it too short try to close the upper joint and flex your knee forward as much as you can: in this way your heel moves towards the bottom of the boot giving more space in the front.
Check out the internal cover: pull it out from the plastic shell and try it on to figure out if the excessive pressure comes from the internal cover or from the plastic external shell. In this case you can ask assistance to a "bootfitter". Keep in mind that a too small boot could be grow larger, however, a too large one can't be squeezed.

Shell Fit

If you want to measure the internal part of the plastic shell you should use the "shell fit" method. For this measurement you need to remove the internal shoes from the plastic shells. Then, put your foot inside the nude shell and place it so that your longer toes touch the shell.
Check the distance between the heel and the bottom part of the boot with your hand or with a piece of wood with the specific thickness which corresponds to the thickness of a finger, a finger and a half (approximately, thickness changes from person to person). If the space measures more than two finger, it means that the boot is too big, whereas if it measures less than one finger it's suitable only for competition because they are worn only for a little bit.
Please note: half measure shell doesn't exist, so 26 and 26 ½ boots size have the same plastic shell. What changes is the internal shoe and/or the width of the insole.

 

Flection

Ski boot flexibility is proportional to the difficulty of bending the boot forwards. The flexibility level defines different categories, from a very flexible boot to a very rigid one, suitable for competition. Usually it is determined by a number between 50 (soft) and 130 (very rigid), written on the external part of the strip. There isn't a universal way of considering the flex grade, so there can be differences between manufacturers. So, keep in mind these hints but remember they are not crucial.

 Male ski boot flection classification

Ability: Learner / Intermediate; Intermediate / Advanced; Advanced / Expert; Espert / Athlete Flection: 60-80; 85-100; 100-120; 130+ Effect: Soft; Medium Rigid; Very rigid

For male boot we suggest:

  • if the level is learner / intermediate: flection between 65 and 80;
  • if the level is intermediate / advanced : flection between 90 and 100;
  • advanced / expert level : 110-130 range.

The more rigid competition ski boots are fixed between 140 and 150, far more than any skier really needs or wants and it is used only for high competition skier.


It is also important to keep in mind type of ground, snow and speed when choosing flexibility. Different type of snow and very steep ground need more mobility, whereas harder and smoother grounds need a boot with a more rigid flection.


Your own preferences and physical features are equally important. A beginner athlete can appreciate a medium-rigid boot, expert skier can prefer a softer flection rather than a very rigid one. Generally who practice skiing:

  • Pro Freeride and Big Mountain: prefer a softer boot;
  • World Cup: look at more rigid boot;
  • Pro Park: softer as possible.

Also height and weight should contribute to the choice of flection. For skiers of a smaller and lighter build we suggest not to pick a very rigid boot as the body lever is less powerful, whereas for a taller and heavier skier can be easier a more rigid boot, even if he's a lerner. You suggest you to keep it mind especially if your height and weight are considerably above or below average.
As women have less body mass in respect to height and smaller feet in respect to males, flection should be lower:

Female ski boot flection classification

bility: Learner / Intermediate; Intermediate / Advanced; Advanced / Expert; Espert / Athlete Flection: 50-60 65-80 85-100 110+ Effect: Soft; Medium Rigid; Very rigid

Shape

Ski boot length is not the only measure to consider. The shape of the internal cover is very important.

Most manufacturer design two or three models which will adapt to different type of feet.

Generally, shape distinguish in: tight, medium and large fitting and is based on the width of the feet sole (diagonal between metatarsus).

Tight fitting

Tight fitting for a sole width of 97 mm/98 mm and is suitable for people with thin feet.

Medium fitting

Medium fitting for a sole width of 100mm approximately, suitable for most of the people.

Large fitting

Large fitting for wider feet or high instep. Sole width between 102 mm and 106 mm.

 

The width that you usually pick for trekking shoes can help you understand what shape typology is the most suitable for you. Feet with "A" or "B" width adapt to a tight fitting shape, "C" or "D" to medium. "E" type should look for large shape.

As for length, also width doesn't have a standard between manufacturer. Everyone use different formulas to determine internal measures, however, the listed ones are good hints.

Anomalies in the shape of feet such as bursitis, bone spur and very long toes which are not average for dimensions or for position can cause serious problem to adaptation. Instead of choosing a bigger boot we suggest you to ask help to an expert bootfitter who can adjust the shape to your problem.

Volume and instep height

The foot volume usually is proportional to the width of the front part of the foot. A tight boot has less volume between metatarsus and heel, whereas larger shape also has more space inside of the internal cover.

Manufacturers don't show volume so the best way to size the boots it's to try them on. Instep height (bone zone in the upper part of your foot) is a very important feature.

We are all sensible to pressure on the instep part and wearing a pair of boots for 10/15 minutes can help sort out any possible problem.

If this part it's too tight it will get very difficult to modify it in respect to the sole part, so pay attention to this detail when sizing the boots.

Shape of the calf

Shape and position of both the internal and external part of the boot couldn't be entirely negligible especially for women (whose calf are generally lower and proportionally bigger in respect to male).

Be careful when choosing the boot that even if closed at the maximum width, the hook doesn't squeeze too much.

Most manufacturer design specific women boots to adapt to the calf or a adjustable shell..

Grade and angle ramp 

Boots for alpine skiing usually have a fixed angle between 12 and 18 degrees forward in respect to the vertical axis.

Most boots reflect the style changement towards a more upright standing and a less grade, however there are some way to regulate it: putting on or off a spoiler or a thickness behind the calf.

Boots for alpine skiing usually have two possible level of grade.

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Type of skier

To define the right shape, flexibility and the features to keep in mind when choosing the most suitable boots it will be useful to check out the following table where ability, style, speed and type of ground are took in consideration.

SkillBeginner/IntermediateIntermediate/AdvancedAdvanced/Expert
StyleCaurefulAverageSureAggressive
SpeedSlowMedium/SpeedyVery speedy
Land

On piste

Park and Pipe

On/off-piste

All Mountain Park and Pipe

Off-piste/Cliff

Steep grade

Learner/Intermediate Skier

If you prefer well-finished piste (such as blue and green type piste), you're still working on control and ski movement mechanic and you're improving step by step, we suggest soft boots with a medium flex and a size that give you all day long comfort. 

Intermediate/Advanced Skier

Do you like changing speed and conditions, even steeper and more irregular ground, and you need more precision and control from your boots (mostly blue piste but some black ones)?
If you have reached the perfect control of your ski on-piste and you want to try out off-piste we suggest you a medium flex boot and a size pretty much tight to let you have good control in any condition.

Advanced/Expert Skier

You can ski in any condition with self-confidence, both on and off piste and with any snow type: powder. Soaked, ice or dune.

We suggest you to pick a pair of boots with rigid or very rigid flex, and to prefer tight fitting, almost squeezed.

Sometimes expert skiers intentionally reduce both length and volume measures. To these skiers typology we suggest to ask help to a bootfitter in order to not sacrify comfort. (Please note: advanced level skiers who practice Park&Pipe still prefer a softer flex and a larger shape for their boots).

 

Other features

To improve ski boots performances many manufacturers customize their products in order to enhance comfort and other features.

Lining

The lining is the soft and removable internal boot which protect and isolate the foot from the shell. Some boots can have thermo-adjustable lining which is shaped directly on the user foot (it's firstly warmed up, fitted and then cools on the foot).

Customized shells

Salomon (Custom Shell) and Atomic (Memory Fit) manufacturer also design external shells that could be customized, shaping them directly on your foot (with the same procedure of the lining). This procedure can be made only for a too tight boot but it has to be made by a qualified shop..

Power Strap

The velcro strap in the upper part of the boot is called Power Strap (it could also be mechanic in certain models). This additional strap can be tighten up in order to improve power and control, it has a wide range of adjustment to reduce the gap between leg and boot.

Adjustable clip

Most adult boots have adjustable clip made of a teeth gear (the notch part in which closure wedges in). Usually the closure can be moved with a hex key so you can choose different options. Sometimes it also possible to drill the plastic and move the teeth gear.

Micro-adjustable clip

For precise measure. Micro-adjustable regulation let you shorten or extend the closure clip and precisely regulate power between parts.

Leg alignment

Certain boot models give the possibility to regulate the angle of the upper part in order to adapt it to the angle of the leg. This regulation can be very important if your weight is not well proportioned in the inside or outside part of the ski.

Rear spoiler

It's a removable wedge between the internal cover and the external shell, right behind the calf. It has two functions: enhance grade of some degree and fills up the space between the leg and the boot. It could be very important for those who need to bend forward or for skier with very thin leg.

Insole

The insole is the internal part of the lining and where the feet are placed on. Many insoles give a little support on the side of the feet so we suggest you to purchase an insole to place inside. We sell both pre-printed insole cut with different size and completely customized ones that can be printed with your exactly size. Insoles reduce problems with comfort and wearability.