Choosing your ski boots can turn out to be a real headache. Each foot can be different, and the ski boots offered by most of the brands are supposed to be suitable for the greatest number of people. To make the right choice and not regret it once on the skis, it is essential to contact a professional who will study the morphology of your foot and will direct you to the most suitable model.
This is precisely Paul Bravais’s job, a ski boot fitter expert in Val d’Isère. He explains to us what the basics to follow are when buying ski boots.
Size and volume are the keywords for ski boots
It may seem obvious, but the first criterion is the shoe size! “People very often choose a shoe that is too big. It is important to measure your foot well, in length, but also in width. And keep in mind that the inside lining loses between 30 to 40% of its volume in the first 10 days of skiing! Paul Bravais reminds us.
Volume is just as important: a thin foot in a “wide” shoe is very uncomfortable: the foot moves and you lose precision. “This is why it is important to speak to an in-store professional, who will be able to advise you according to the shape of your foot and to measure it precisely. ”
Besides the foot, many elements come into play: a particularly high (or low) kick, ankle or Achilles tendon problems, big calves, etc … Do not hesitate to keep the shoes on long enough on your foot in the store, 20 to 30 minutes for example, and do not choose them if you feel any pain.
The choice of flex is linked to the ski level
It is the level of skiing that will determine the flex, that is to say, the stiffness of your boot. Paul Bravais particularly insists on this: “If a competitive skier really needs a flex of 130, this is absolutely not the case for a freeskier, or worse, an intermediate or small skier. A rigid-flex requires power and an infallible technique: this is an additional handicap for an occasional skier, it will be more difficult for him to ski well than with a medium flex. ”
Generally speaking, a flex of 60 to 80 is recommended for intermediate skiers, while the 90-110 is for advanced skiers, 90 seeming sufficient for off-piste or freestyle use. From 120, we leave this ski boot to the competition skiers.
If you are an occasional mid-level skier, don’t base your choice on precision and performance, but more on comfort: the boots on the current market perform well enough for recreational skiing.
Carving, Freestyle, Freeride, Nordic?
Ask yourself the question about your ski habits: it is useless, for example, to choose hiking boots if you limit yourself to two outings per year, because on the piste, you may regret your choice.
Opt for versatile boots if you are involved in all facets of skiing: good “freeride” boots seem to be a good compromise. Watch out for very flexible freestyle shoes, which sometimes appear to be a guarantee of comfort, although their use is exclusive to this type of skiing.
Are specific “women’s” shoes recommended for girls?
Laurie Fayard, project manager for Rossignol’s women’s range, explained to us that “women have lower calves and narrower heels. So we improved the heel toe-in to be more comfortable and adapted the top of the boot to be V-shaped so that it doesn’t compress their calves. ”
The inside is often cosier, with faux fur for warmth, and the brands work to make women’s shoes lighter. Finally, the best women’s shoes are technical and perform enough to suit most experts. It is therefore a wise choice.
Even more comfort with thermoformable soles and boot fitting?
“This is a big plus, and depending on the type of foot, it may be essential. The thermoformed soles allow the foot to have perfect placement and alignment. Hard spots are thus eliminated, and we gain in comfort and precision, ”explains Paul.
In 2014, having sore feet is no longer inevitable, every problem has its solution. The boot fitting makes it possible to work the ski boots to adapt them 100% to the feet of their owner: “You can push the shell in one place, deform it in another, adapt the inside liner… You must not be left with pain, we can always find a solution ”insists our expert.
Final tips for choosing your next pair of ski boots
To choose your ski boots well, you have to take your time, and not hesitate to pay the price: it is essential to afford THE shoes that suit your feet.
It can be risky to wait for the end of season sales, as the choice of sizes and models becomes more restricted and may force you to make a “default” purchase. Finally, some resort stores offer you to try on the boots you plan to buy “on skis”: don’t hesitate, this is the best way to find out if they are right for you.
How long does a ski boot last?
A ski boot cannot be kept forever even if it suits you perfectly. A ski boot cannot be kept for more than 7 years even when unused because plastic is a material that does not age well and you risk finding your ski boot in two pieces. For someone who skis a lot, it is recommended to keep a shoe on for 150-200 days.
If you are starting to feel like you’re at the end of your tightening (all the way on the hooks) or if you are in pain somewhere, the inside slipper may be compressed and it is definitely time to buy a new pair of ski boots.