Why the right boots matter.
A ski vacation can be ruined if your ski boots don’t fit. Shin bang, bruised toes, and cut off circulation can have a major impact on your skiing experience. How your feet feel directly relate to the type of skiing you’re going to be able to accomplish. If the boots are too loose you will have no control over your skis, and if they’re too tight you risk cutting off circulation, and numb feet correlate to even less control than loose boots. So, what is the solution?
The right rental ski boot fit
A ski boot’s fit depends on a ton of key variables. The length and width of your foot of course are major influences, but your skiing ability, pain tolerance, and overall flexibility also come into play. Getting into a proper fitting ski boot is not just about how close your toes are to the end of the boot. The proper measurement used in industry is “snug, but not tight.” This means that you want to be able to get your boots as tight as possible without any discomfort. Its okay if your foot is flush with the toe of the boot, or if the boot is hugging all sides of your foot. In fact, if these factors can all be achieved without causing you any discomfort, you have probably found the right boot. The tighter you can get a boot, the more control you will have. If the first boot you try feels either too tight, or too loose, ask to try another model. Often ski rental stores will have multiple models to choose from, and each model will fit your foot differently. If you know you have particularly wide feet, ask for a high volume fit. If you have narrow feet ask for a low volume fit. Often distinguishing the classification of your feet early on, will help you get your ski gear more quickly.
How do I know my rental tech is putting me in the right size?
Picking the right length of boot is a rather simple process, but inexperienced or rushed rental technicians can mess this part up. Yes it is normal for your toes to be touching the end of the boot. When a rental tech puts you in a boot where your toes are touching, don’t worry. Don’t tell them that your boot is too small. Allow them to buckle the boot for you, stand up, and flex into the boot. After doing this, your toes should slide back into the heel of the boot and your toes should either not be touching, or just brushing the toe box of the boot. If your rental tech puts you into a boot where this occurs, it is likely that they in fact, do know what they are doing. A lot of rental stores will put you in a boot one or even two sizes bigger than normal, just so they don’t have to explain how a ski boot should fit. Leisure skiers (those who do not ski often) will typically comment on the size of the boot; to avoid this discussion a bigger size is automatically chosen. Pay attention to the length of the boot. This initial decision by the rental tech. could be a tell tale sign that they are inexperienced, and could lead to a bad fit.
Knowing what to expect before going into a ski shop is crucial. While the good rental stores are knowledgable and want you to know as much about the equipment as possible, some are not. Stay informed and pay close attention to what feels good and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to ask to try on multiple boots. It is the responsibility of any rental shop to get you into a pair of ski boots that are both comfortable, and perform well. If a shop is not meeting your expectations, or acts like it is a hassle to do this for you go to a different shop. You are not an inconvenience, your comfort will determine the level of skiing you can achieve and this is important to your overall ski trip. Be conscious and clear with what you need, talk to the rental tech about the equipment. If you do all of this you are guaranteed to have a better ski vacation.