Ski boot shopping help

My current boots (Head EZ-On) are on their very last legs.  I'm pretty sure they were well below my level way back when I got them.  But they were cheap boots I got at a liquidation sale at the start of grad school and served me very well for 8 seasons over 9 years. 

I've lost support. One has an issue with the tongue. Another I'm worried about a buckle that seams to be weakening.  The top 2 buckles aren't full buckles and I can never get the cuff tight enough (and no ability to add a Booster strap).  One day teaching recently I developed a massive cramp in the arch of one foot out of nowhere.

Problem is I know absolutely nothing about boot shopping.  0.  Zilch.  Nada.  I can look on a manufacturer's site and see many models.  And pretty much can only tell that some have pretty colors while others don't.

Does anyone have basics so I don't go in as a complete buffoon?  

Comments

  • Honestly these days, just find a reputable shop near you with the reputation for a good boot fitter, and let him/her assess your foot shape/volume and listen to your skiing ability description, and make recommendations to you about what he/she thinks is the best fit for your foot
  • edited February 24
    Got fortunate last year finding a few yr old lightly used size (33.5)15 Dalbello's for $65. Just finding a boot so easy to get on and off and so cheap I was ecstatic. As far as performance, I don't push the envelope anymore, I just knock ibrake off the chair, ease of entry and exit and comfort are # 1 in my book at this age.

    Sorry to be of no help
  • Boot shopping is tough because you really can't shop for value/price, you need to shop for fit. And the various boot manufacturers often have very different feels. Last time I went boot shopping in person, I was astounded by how different both the shell fits and actual boot fits were between different manufacturers. I was glad I did a proper boot fitting that first time, when I need new boots, I just buy the latest version of the same model on the cheap. But if you don't know what you are looking for, DrJeff has sound advice in just going to a good boot fitter. Probably should wait until after President's week or maybe March/April so you can get better prices when things go on sale. Though size options will begin to get limited towards the end of the season.

    As far as the basics, fit is obviously the most important thing. You also need to have the right "flex" for your body, weight, skiing style, etc. You'll find the much like skis, manufacturers usually all have similar lines of boots (recreational skier, park skier, aggressive on piste, aggressive off piste, race, and backcountry). And then within those lines, are different flexes). You don't want something that feels like a wet noodle but you don't want something so stiff you can't flex it either. Again, that is where trying boots on is key. You can't compare flexes between different companies because there is no standard. One companies 100 might be another company's 100.

    Getting fit is absolutely the best way to go if you don't know much about boots. Having poor fitting boots will ruin all of your ski days. A better fitting boot than you have currently will make your days much more enjoyable.
  • I agree on finding a Shop close to you with a good fitter. When I bought my last pair I spent about 2 hours trying different boots. After my first time out I was having problems with my right heel losing circulation and going numb. Took them back, fitter did some grinding inside the shell to relieve pressure and everything was good.
    Close by is the key!
  • I have narrow heels.  If your heel can move up when you lean forward, it doesn't fit.
  • Don't be a slave to brands either. I have to get new boots (waiting for end of season sales) and when I first went to fit boots, I ended up doing best in one that I hadn't considered. I'll go back soon and get them cheaper than mid season (assuming they're still there)-- but getting the fit right is key. My current boots are also on their last days-- toes worn, too much flex, hurt my feet. No complaints after ten seasons and fifty bucks at a ski swap. 
    "Making ski films is being irresponsible with other people's money, in a responsible sort of way..." 
    Greg Stump
  •      I bought my boots last spring.  I have had fit issues for @ 25 years and tried to fix them buy buying new boots that felt good in the shop.  One set that served me fairly well were bought at a local shop and their boot guy got me in some boots with a custom foot bed.  They served me ok for a while but the pain came back.  I bought another pair with more pain.  The boot fitter who was at the shop is now an independent boot fitter, I found him and he did a full evaluation of me and fitted the boots I was in.  The result was the happiest skiing for me in years with a but.  My boots were too soft for my size and style.  He gave me a list of boots to try and I went to him with the boots I tried and picked the right boot which he customized and now I am an even happier skier with boots that fit, are up to my ability and are ground for better edge control.

         There already is some good advice in previous posts.  The guy I worked with did a number of tests that measured my range of motion.  I have a limited range of motion,  He found that one leg is shorter than the other and accounted for my different sized feet. The boots he gave me to research took all of this into account. Once I bought the boots, he modified my custom foot bed which is the best thing you can do for your self.  He also took padding out of the tongue, cut the top of the boot for my large calf  did some grinding in the forefoot of the boot, and ground the soles for better edging.

         Some things I learned and did from my research.  Ski shops and boot companies market for the comfort of the masses.  Most offerings you will find are a 102mm fore foot.  I was surprised when he put me in a 97mm boot and it fit well before he worked on it.  I tried three different boots.  None of which were at any shop near me. I researched return policies and bought three pairs of boots that were shipped to my house.  I tried them on and wore them several times each before meeting with my fitter.   I returned the two I did not choose with no issues.  The boots I ended up with are the Lange RS120 SC and I love them.  I fully admit that I went to extremes a lot of people would not because of the pain and discomfort I experienced.  But as I previously stated, I am a very happy skier right now.
  • Thanks for all your valuable input!  I think I'm planning on going Wednesday morning.  I was recommended Mountain Dogs in Plaistow by a colleague.  And they seem to get excellent reviews on Yelp/Facebook/Google.

    How much adjustment does a binding need based on the last dimension?  Does pretty much any boot fit in any binding (with the obvious adjustments to length)? Seems there's no standard and various models have various size toe plate widths.  

  • Depends on the binding (assuming it isn't a system or demo binding that can be easily adjusted). BSL is the size you would need to compare. If you are uncertain, you should bring your skis to have them reviewed for a remount if the new BSL is not compatible with the existing mount.
  • obienick said:

    Thanks for all your valuable input!  I think I'm planning on going Wednesday morning.  I was recommended Mountain Dogs in Plaistow by a colleague.  And they seem to get excellent reviews on Yelp/Facebook/Google.


    How much adjustment does a binding need based on the last dimension?  Does pretty much any boot fit in any binding (with the obvious adjustments to length)? Seems there's no standard and various models have various size toe plate widths.  

    Just bought a pair of Salomon's at half off at Slopestyle in Montpelier. Great crew, promised to do any fittings needed but they felt good right out of the box. When I put on the boot I had tried on before, the new one was a clear winner. Stiffer-- 120 flex (whatever that means). Tis the season for deals. 
    "Making ski films is being irresponsible with other people's money, in a responsible sort of way..." 
    Greg Stump
  • Trying on several boots at two different shops, the Lange SX 120 is currently the leader for me.
  • I got some Dalbello Aspect 100 this season and love them.
  • edited March 1
    The Dalbello's I tried are supposed to be 100mm wide. They were TIGHT at the widest part of your toes and the fitter said "Dalbello's run narrow". Tried on Technical Cochise which is also 100mm and felt much better but still too tight in that area. 102s like the SX 120 are great there.

    But my question: my calfs got tight just standing in the SX 120 boots after 10 or so min. Not like the cuff was cutting off circulation. Just like well-used. Fitter said that it could be the result of not having proper boots in the past and needing to get used to the new boots. Anybody have any insight into that? I see these Langes have a 4-degree ramp. Could that be why?
  • obienick said:

    The Dalbello's I tried are supposed to be 100mm wide. They were TIGHT at the widest part of your toes and the fitter said "Dalbello's run narrow". Tried on Technical Cochise which is also 100mm and felt much better but still too tight in that area. 102s like the SX 120 are great there.

    But my question: my calfs got tight just standing in the SX 120 boots after 10 or so min. Not like the cuff was cutting off circulation. Just like well-used. Fitter said that it could be the result of not having proper boots in the past and needing to get used to the new boots. Anybody have any insight into that? I see these Langes have a 4-degree ramp. Could that be why?

    I would NOT buy a boot that the bootfitter says you have to get used to. Furthermore I would not buy boots from said bootfitter.

    As for the Dalbellos, if a given boot is otherwise right for you, a good bootfitter will make that "tight" spot feel like a glove if they do their job properly.

    Having been through this process just under a year ago, I can say that I'm shopping elsewhere if I were in your....boots

    ;)

  • I think rick is right on. In this day and age, and at today's prices, there should be no period of discomfort (which could turn into agony by the end of the day) until you "get used to 'em." Back in the day of leather lace=ups with no inner liners, some people would put their new boots on and stand in a bucket of hot water until the boots softened enough to takethe shape of their feet, kind of. When the leather dried and stiffened, they were supposed to conform to your foot. It kind of worked, but only until calluses  built up on the tight spots and didn't hurt any more. That should not happen when you're putting down hundreds of dollars. IMO it doesn't take a hell of a lot ot talent and knowledge as a boot-fitter to say "get used to 'em.".
  • I'd definitely second the recommendation for the custom footbed.  I like the vacuum molded Superfeet.

    They may also have extended bails to help with your calf.

    When all else fails, Leif at Strands in Worcester MA will get you fit.   Plan to stay 3-4 hours.  
    Not saying you'll need one, but for a fully custom boot like Strolz, you'll be spending close to a grand.  
  • tedede said:

    I'd definitely second the recommendation for the custom footbed.  I like the vacuum molded Superfeet.


    They may also have extended bails to help with your calf.

    When all else fails, Leif at Strands in Worcester MA will get you fit.   Plan to stay 3-4 hours.  
    Not saying you'll need one, but for a fully custom boot like Strolz, you'll be spending close to a grand.  
    Third on the footbed.  I got some sort of upgraded footbed (not the superfeet).   Seems to me it's kind of like the 1970s when most new cars came with cheap "original equipment" tires. 

    I purchased a rather low-end boot because I'm cheap.  The bootfitting process took 2 hours even for that, the guy wrapped stuff on my feet, wrapped stuff on the innerliner on my feet, heated stuff, I had no idea it was so involved.  

  • I'll 4th the footbed recommendation!!

    Not so sure though that I'd run from a fitter who says that there may be a "getting used to them" period.  In my mind, that means that you need to ski in them for some time, as the motions and forces that you generate while on the hill are often very, very different than what you're doing in the shop.  After some time on the hill, the fitter may need to make a slight tweak via possibly punching out the shell a touch in a place or 2, or maybe adding some padding in one place or removing some in another place, or adding some cant, etc
  • DrJeff said:

    I'll 4th the footbed recommendation!!


    Not so sure though that I'd run from a fitter who says that there may be a "getting used to them" period.  In my mind, that means that you need to ski in them for some time, as the motions and forces that you generate while on the hill are often very, very different than what you're doing in the shop.  After some time on the hill, the fitter may need to make a slight tweak via possibly punching out the shell a touch in a place or 2, or maybe adding some padding in one place or removing some in another place, or adding some cant, etc
    I'm saying that standing in the boot -- simply standing -- should not have discomfort or take getting used to.    

    The follow up you describe, touch ups, etc.  yes, agree 

  • I agree with a boot fitter can change the whole sport. I have always used cheap boots, and my last pair had finally worn out. I always had pain in them, my feet would adjust after a while but the first 6 runs were usually excruciating. I finally went to a shop where my foot type, weight and ski style were taken into consideration. I was shown 3 boots that should fit the bill, I ended up purchasing a pair of k2's. It was also recommended getting a superfeet insert. It was the first time I have ever spent some serious money on boots, it was also the first time my feet have been perfectly comfortable in a pair. Moral of the story is there are some things not to cheap out on. The boot fitter didn't coarse me into the most expensive pair on the rack, but what would work. Take their advice and purchase whats comfortable, it really makes all the difference. 
  • I've been using custome footbeds for over 20 years.  I can't imagine wearing a boot without one, especially since I am in them for 80+ days each season.
  • Tried on Rossi Alltrack 120s which are 102mm wide and the "fitted" 26.5 which were tight in the same spot. Fitter recommended going up to 27.5 and was much better. No calf tightness like before.
  • obienick said:

    Tried on Rossi Alltrack 120s which are 102mm wide and the "fitted" 26.5 which were tight in the same spot. Fitter recommended going up to 27.5 and was much better. No calf tightness like before.

    The fitter should pull out the bladder and have you put your foot in the shell with your toes just touching the front.  You should have 1.5 to 2 finger widths behind your heel.  Any more and you'll be slopping around in the boot when it packs out.  
  • My latest fitter had a dowel for the back behind the heel and a skinnier one for the side of the ankle.
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