Ski Boot Fits & Tips

You should be able to ski any green run at top speed with your boots completely unbuckled making full turns the whole way without feeling like your feet are moving around. Even on expert runs, you shouldn’t have to tighten your boots any more than you normally wear them on your average blue cruiser. (Unbuckling the bottom two buckles is “permitted” on the chairlift on cold days.)

Photo: Peter Quayle

When someone comes to a steep pitch and says, “Hold on a second, I have to buckle my boots tighter for this section,” that’s because their boots don’t fit well enough. They are trying to keep their foot from sliding around in the boot so they have more control over their skis.

The problem is, by clamping their foot down, they are reducing circulation making the muscles less effective, and worse, they are flattening their foot with buckle pressure which means they can’t ski as strongly or control their skis as well. Proper fitting ski boots are crucial for skiing comfort and performance.

Ski boots that fit just right feel like a firm handshake – not a death grip from that jerk in your office, but rather a warm greeting from an old friend. Proper fitting boots permit good blood circulation to keep toes warm and happy so you can stay out longer and have more fun. Perhaps even more importantly, properly fitting boots give the skier more control. They make skis responsive by eliminating wobbles so that there is powerful transfer of the skier’s energy to the ski. To provide you with all these benefits, Jans expert boot fitters, who are the best in the business, offer a custom fit for every boot we sell in store.

Custom Boot Fits

We start by learning about the types of terrain you like to ski and your skill level. Then, we measure and analyze the key features of your feet and lower legs so that we can find you the ski boot design that is best suited for your particular anatomy and skiing style.

Almost all of us have feet that are slightly different in size from each other, so our next step is to adjust the boots individually according to your needs, which may include tweaks to heel pockets, toe boxes, and ankle and instep areas. Sometimes a boot fits well without “taking the tools to it,” but sometimes a boot needs a little help. If need be, we can punch out an area, grind an area, expand an entire toe box, or pad a specific area, all in the name of making the boots fit your feet exactly.

For the perfect fit, we recommend custom insoles to enhance the overall comfort and performance of your ski boots. Custom insoles are heat molded exactly to your foot. As a result, there’s support exactly where your arch starts and stops, at the ball of your foot, and under your toes. This support cradles your foot perfectly reducing the amount of buckle pressure you need to apply. This means your feet don’t slide around as your skis go over bumps and as you edge on the steep stuff. Since your toe and foot muscles aren’t trying to grab for grip, there’s less fatigue in your feet and legs, and since your foot isn’t cramped by buckle pressure, the muscles can work freely to control the skis. The cradle of support from our custom formed insoles also means better circulation so your feet stay warmer and you can enjoy skiing a lot more.

Skis And Boots Should Match

No, we’re not talking about color. We’re talking about stiffness. You can’t drive a stiff race ski with a soft freeride boot, and you can’t make the adjustments you need to make in big mountain skiing with a race boot on. That’s why it’s important to match your boots and skis to each other, and to match both of them to your preferred terrain and skiing style.

Many people (especially us macho guys) think they need a “high performance” boot which they translate to mean a race boot. In reality, however, some of the top freeride skiers in the world rock boots with flex indexes of only 110 or so. They match those boots to skis with early rise or full rocker in the tips (read reasonably soft,) and they have a combination that allows them to make rapid adjustments to variable terrain, to handle bumps, and to land airs without bruising their shins or folding their skis in half.

Conversely, racers and people who just like to stick to the front side can’t push a carving ski around very easily with a soft flexing boot. Racers might want a flex index of 150 or so while a strong skier who likes high speed groomers might look for a flex index in the area of 130 for a combination of control and comfort.

Not On A Uniform Scale

Unfortunately, Flex Indexes aren’t fully uniform like DIN settings on bindings. It would be nice if a flex index of 100 was the same for every manufacturer, but they aren’t. Because different manufacturers measure their flexes differently, the indexes are more like “guidelines” as Capt. Barbosa from Pirates of the Caribbean would say. They are certainly relative within a manufacturer’s line, and they are relevant for comparisons between manufacturers, but just be aware that they aren’t exactly universal ratings.