I live in the ski resort town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I moved out west to be a ski bum about 10 minutes after graduating from college back east, when I was 21 years old.
My first two jobs (held concurrently) in Steamboat were as a dishwasher and as a ski shop rental employee. Fast forward 40 years to today: my “real” job is as a real estate broker specializing in new development sales and marketing. My “fun” job is as a part-time ski boot fitter at the same ski shop where I worked in ski rentals decades previously.
Skiing is supposed to be fun and it is for many people. But I am continually amazed at how often people put themselves in agony due to their lack of a good ski boot game. So, I’m going to give everybody out there a few tips about how to grow to love your ski boots. In no particular order;
- If you are going to spend money one just one thing to make skiing more enjoyable, spend it on a good pair of ski boots. Most people I see in Steamboat ski about 7 to 10 days a year on mostly intermediate terrain. A good pair of boots, that actually fit, will last you about 8 to 10 years. That is cheaper than renting ill fitting boots each year!
- Always buy your boots at a ski shop at a major ski resort. The boot fitters at these shops are the best. they get lots of practice fitting boots. Trust them, they know what they are doing.
- Whatever, you do, don’t buy ski boots from somebody in a major city that sells you ski boots that are way too big just before he/she sells the next guy a riding mower or deck furniture. Chances are there isn’t much boot fitting experience in play with this scenario.
- Go in to get fitted for custom boots at the beginning of your ski trip, not the end. That way, you can spend your trip fine tuning the fit, so that when you leave your boots fit just right.
- Bootfitters who fit a lot of boots will put you in the right size. Bootfitters who don’t fit a lot of ski boots will put you in boots that are too big. Trust me on this. It is relatively easy for a good bootfitter to make a small boot bigger. It is really hard to make a big boot smaller.
- Always buy a custom footbed when you buy your boots. Buying custom fitted ski boots without buying a custom footbed is like buying a Ferrari with bald tires. A footbed finishes the fit on your new boots. Suck it up, pay the extra money and just do it. You won’t regret it.
- Buckle your ski boots from top to bottom, not bottom to top. I would say that about half the people I see buckle their boots wrong, which leads to all sorts of boot fitting drama. Buckle your top buckles snugly and your bottom buckles what I call “one finger tight”. The top buckles are what pulls your heel back into the heel pocket of the boot. A snug heel fit in a boot is the most important fit consideration. If you buckle your bottom buckles first, especially if you buckle them tight, you can trap your foot outside of the heel pocket. Pain and drama will be the likely result.
- Do not walk around the ski resort with your boots unbuckled. Please. All this does is jam your foot to the front of the boot. Then, when you re-buckle, guess what? Your foot is trapped outside of the heel pocket and here we go again with the pain and drama.
- Please don’t ask a bootfitter if a boot that fits you comes in a different color. They don’t.
- Good bootfitters fit boots to the foot shapes of their clients. We don’t fit by ski boot brand or price. Just because you have always skied a certain boot brand doesn’t mean that “brand” is the only boot that will fit. And what is the point of getting a killer deal on an inexpensive boot if it doesn’t fit? Again, trust the bootfitter.
So, take these little tips and enjoy your next ski vacation. Your feet will thank you for it. Hopefully you’ll come to visit us in Steamboat.