How to choose your ski boots to take advantage of the season and stay in the heart of the ski resort of your dreams!
Afraid of having sore feet or of not making the right choice when buying ski boots? Hawaii Surf, the Feeeride ski specialist ski shop, offers you in addition to this explanatory video, to be able to follow below all the necessary elements to take into account to better choose your ski boot.
Skiing is surely the mountain sport that requires the most attention when purchasing equipment. Buying a men's or women's ski requires the skier to invest in selection choices made with great care. All the work of a ski shop like Hawaiisurf is to advise you as best as possible, to help you make the perfect purchase with boots that are perfectly suited to your pair of skis.
Feeling good in your sneakers is surely the expression with the most meaning when it comes to making a crucial choice in the acquisition of your new ski boots . Who doesn't remember Josiane Balasko in her mythical role of the Bronzés are skiing when she tries on a multitude of models of ski boots throughout the film, which turn out to be one step too small and one step too big. So to avoid discomfort, even pain in the foot, heel or legs, Hawaiisurf offers you to find the most crucial advice in order to choose suitable products!
The more advanced among you will also want to choose a ski boot so that it is perfectly in harmony with all your ski equipment! Bindings, clothing, poles, helmet and other accessories of your equipment can of course offer a nod to your shoes by color or style. But before the "pretty and aesthetic" aspect, you must first understand the anatomy of a ski boot and opt for the most comfortable!
Hawaiisurf presents its special ski boots buying guide so that you can finally make the best choice in order to ride with confidence!
How does a ski boot break down?
Beyond the design specific to each brand, a ski boot is distinguished by several elements and characteristics.
The liner is independent of the shell, i.e. removable. It is the guarantor of all the comfort of your foot in the ski boot. It protects you from cold and humidity, providing you with all the warmth you need to ski with maximum comfort while keeping your feet dry. Its role is to support your foot, while ensuring comfort and thermal regulation. Each brand offers a quality label according to the types of slippers used. It is more and more common to find so-called "thermoformable" slippers offering more comfort thanks to the ability to "memorize the shape of your foot". Some liners are said to have shape memory by the simple heat generated by your feet, while other ski liners need to be thermoformed using a specific machine.
Because each person has a unique foot, with a more or less strong instep and very different widths (sometimes both at the same time). It is important to check the width of the shells offered by the different brands present on this market. Finding yourself with a shoe that is too narrow or too big can cause inconvenience, or even lead to irreversible injuries when practicing alpine skiing or any other discipline (hiking, freeride, freestyle, all mountain, etc.).
We consider approximately 3 categories of shell widths for three types of feet:
• Less than 100 MM = Rather narrow foot
• From 100 to 102 MM = Rather average foot
• More than 102 MM = Rather wide foot
Be careful because these "categories" are purely indicative of the overall appearance of an instep in width. Several parameters such as the shape of your foot, the instep, the sensitivity and a history with injuries (foot surgery) can be taken into account when choosing a ski boot.
There are essentially two main categories of ski boots with variations on the number of closure hooks for the shell. Some have three closing hooks and others have four. You can also sometimes find two hooks and a powerstrap specifically for 100% Freestyle-Park or junior-kids shoes.
Boots with 4 hooks offer a much more precise tightening, it is logical to find them on alpine boots intended more for sports performance than leisure practice. While tightening with 3 hooks is more often found on ski boots offering a reduction in hard points (Full Tilt, Dalbello, Roxa, etc.) offering cable tightening with better distribution.
But which model should you choose? A retailer who tells you that one type of hook is better than another does not actually provide you with any valid argument in the choice of your ski boots. The use you will make of your ski boots and the frequency will indeed be decisive in your choice. Asking this question already determines the type of ski boot (a subject we discuss a little below). Ski touring, which alternates uphill and downhill, thus requires a different model from practice on slopes with mechanical lifts.
The strap (or power-strap)
It is (alas) too often overlooked by ski boot consumers! Whether you opt for a performance, leisure, touring, freestyle or freeride alpine ski boot, it is nevertheless a crucial element to ensure a perfect closure of your boots. The strap has the role of securing the shell of your ski boots and optimizes an effective and powerful adjustment of the tightening of your ski boot. It's basically "the 5th hook" (or 4th for shoes with 3 hooks). It will thus increase the power and lift on your pair of skis. No matter what type of rider you are, it's an added performance element.
The tongue of the liner:
A component directly sewn/glued to your ski boot liner, it provides "tibial" support and generates all the power you need by adapting to your way of skiing. The tongues are also comfort elements to avoid chafing of the tibia (just like a good pair of socks!).
The hull tabs:
Some brands offer a front tab on the hull. We notice these shoes with 3 hooks among brands like Dalbello, Full tilt or Roxa. These are removable tabs to adjust the flexibility index of the shoe.
The Flex of the shoe:
It is associated both with the level of practice of the skier but also with his size, and often both at the same time. Adopting the right flex means making sure to optimize even more the comfort of practice and optimize the performance of the shoe according to your desires.
Beyond the profile of the ski boots which vary according to the terrain of practice, there is also a "classification" according to your level of practice. A beginner, intermediate or confirmed skier will not have the same needs and expectations. We can thus consider that a classification by "level of practice" can be established to segment the different ranges.
The best solution is to analyze ski boots by their FLEX, which are more or less rigid in order to suit all types of skiers.
The degree of rigidity of the shoe depends on the control of the practitioner (remember also to take into account your physical condition and the frequency of your ski activity). We recommend that you choose your ski boots according to this classification below.
Beginner to intermediate level
- "Soft" flex below index 70
- Low resistance to bending
- Forgive & catch up on position errors more easily.
Intermediate to advanced level
- "Medium" flex between 70 & 90
- The happy medium between tolerance and precision
Confirmed to expert level
- "Rigid" flex greater than 100
- High resistance to bending
- Super precise and responsive ride and handling
The lower the flex of your shoe, the more flexible it will be (beginner and very light build). Conversely, with high flex, the shoe is more rigid and provides great riding precision. (Advanced to expert skiers with a good technical background).
If you make the mistake of choosing a shoe that is not suitable for your level, the sensations will be unpleasant. With a ski boot with a lower flex than expected, your support will be too limited, while a boot that is too stiff for your level and size will be difficult to handle.
Here is an overall diagram to easily identify the components mentioned above
How to choose the size of your ski boots?
It is of course and as in all sports footwear, the most decisive element of your choice! Customers sometimes skip this step too quickly when choosing their ski boots, thinking that they can rely on the sizes of their sneakers worn on a daily basis. Measuring your foot is the most important step.
To know your size, it is necessary to measure your feet in "centimeters". To do this you can place a sheet on the ground and stick it against a wall. Then place your foot on it and lean against the wall, sticking your heels well to the wall. Draw a mark in front of the frontmost toe, then measure the length!
The measurement in "centimetre-mondopoint" thus remains universal. When we take an X or Y mark in a sports shoe, we notice that the sizes in "Europe" (40.41 etc.) and "US/UK" (9.10 etc.) vary in terms of correspondence. So using its size in centimeters allows you to quickly target ski boots at the right length for your foot.
For each ski boot product sheet, Hawaiisurf offers you to find a chapter in the buying guide that brings together all the size charts (size chart) by sport in order to find the brand's size correspondence. You will thus know the sizes in “centimeters-mondopoint, USA, UK & Europe”.
Do not forget also in the choice of your shoes the size in width of your feet (subject discussed above for the hulls).
Never make the mistake of taking a size above. It is "catastrophic" to ski with a ski boot that is too big, increasing the risk of injury and reducing the feeling of comfort and performance. The precision is thus reduced and each descent becomes much less fluid: turns and curves will be more difficult to achieve.
Tip from the specialist ski boot advisor at Hawaiisurf
“We often hear customers talk about their bad experiences when renting a ski boot or making a botched purchase in a sports store. The error consists in preferring an attractive price rather than valuable advice to acquire the ski boot best suited to one's morphology”.
The main error made by many skiers is often based on the choice of an unsuitable size. One or two sizes above never gives you a gain in comfort and performance, quite the contrary. Conversely, shoes that are too small will be uncomfortable. You simply have to take the time to properly measure your feet in centimeters and perform a ski boot test with a good pair of socks. These should not be too low (raise on the tibia) and not too thick, in order to favor comfort while offering good sensations felt in the liner.
How to correctly try on your ski boots?
Once your ski boots have been acquired in the right size, you have to take the time to adjust them properly and check that they are adapted to your morphology.
Here are some useful tips when you put on your ski boots for the first time:
• Your foot must be well maintained in the shoe (at the level of the metatarsals, ie the width of the foot, as well as at the level of the heel).
• The toes must be able to move freely (not feel too much compression and a feeling of being far from the front of the liner). You must be able to touch the liner while keeping the foot flat, in flexion with the heel well wedged).
If you feel discomfort in the length of the foot (too much pressure, discomfort, foot far away) know that these inconveniences can increase once the shoe is put into practice on the ski slopes. Do not neglect the compression points that may appear during the fitting, especially at the malleolus level.
Don't forget that your liners are often memory foam, so feeling "too comfortable with the feeling of being wide" is not a good sign, because the liner loses about 30% of its volume afterwards. a week of practice, thus increasing the place at the level of the metatarsals and the heel. Keep in mind never to take too big!
Steps for trying on a ski boot:
Put on your ski socks:
Yes it is useful to have a good pair of socks! They should not be too thick and generally go up well above the shin. The new generations of ski socks are much thinner than in the past, are more insulating and keep your feet warm. They avoid friction and do not distort the size of the liner. Hawaisurf offers you a large selection of high quality inexpensive ski socks such as the brands "burton sowboards, la sock de France or even x-bionic".
Loosen the hooks:
Open all the hooks and the power-strap then put on the shoe standing up, closing the hooks to the very first notches. Tighten the power-strap after the two bottom hooks, this will help you better close the hooks of the upper part.
The correct fitting position:
All you have to do is stand up straight at first and feel that you are touching the end of the shell (the toes should not completely hit the shell). If these do not touch the shell at all, the shoe is one size too big!
Then, it is advisable to bend your knees while keeping the heel on the ground. By performing squat repetitions with powerful support on your shins, your toes will no longer touch the shell, but you will slightly feel the shape of the liner on the front part. If your heel in this exercise no longer moves, the shoe size is perfectly adjusted. If your toes still come into abutment on the front, it is because you have to opt for the size above.
How can I preserve the life of my ski boots?
There are a few basic rules to "take care" of your ski boots and therefore their longevity.
• Close all hooks after use
• Dry the shoes at room temperature (never store your shoes in places that are too cold)
• Use good ski socks (it is better to change the socks each season than your ski boots…)
• Use products to maintain the fabrics
Are there category differences between ski boots?
With the appearance of new disciplines such as freeride skiing, slalom, freestyle, backcountry, the ski boot market has seen the appearance of new brands and innovative models. Brands that only produced pairs of skis have also started to make ski footwear. This is for example the case with Rossignol ski boots, an essential French brand, or its North American neighbor K2 ski.
We can therefore find differences in ski boots at the level of the practice program.
• Piste-performance ski boots (Competition, slalom, super-G ect)
• Leisure-piste ski boots (recreational, occasional use) also available for skiers with wide feet, suitable for all types of snow.
• Freeride-Freerando ski boots (versatile, compatible with ski touring, the perfect boots for experiencing a beautiful descent in the powder after an ascent using sealskin and crampons).
• Freestyle-Park ski boots (often more flexible, they increase agility for skiers who practice freestyle-park)
Beyond the profile of the ski boots which varies according to the terrain of practice, there is also a "classification" according to your level of practitioner. A beginner, intermediate or experienced skier will not have the same needs and expectations, so we can consider that a classification by "level of practice" can be established to segment the ranges available on the market.
Are there any differences between men's and women's ski boots?
On the aesthetic aspect of course, the collections of men's ski boots and women's ski boots have variations. However, it is not uncommon to find the same ranges for both genres. There are still several differences that mark a difference between men's and women's ski boots.
Women's slippers are more refined, and better fit the anatomy of the female foot and calf. They are usually closer to the foot. The women's ski liner is also often more provided in terms of insulation, and therefore thermal regulation, always offering more warmth.
Can the comfort of my ski boots be improved?
The price difference between entry-level references and top-of-the-range products also often results in a gain in comfort: weight, sealing and insulation, more or less precise shape... But you may have be need to customize your shoes.
Despite a great evolution in basic comfort and a higher quality of ski boot constructions, it is indeed sometimes unavoidable to have to have recourse to a "boot fitting" session, in other words a form of personalization of your ski boots according to the morphology of your feet.