By: Amin Momen
Now that it’s the end of the ski season, it’s the ideal time to go shopping for ski boots for next season’s ski holiday.
Not only do you have the time to find the perfect ski boots without the pressure of a ski getaway breathing down your neck, but you’ll also be able to grab a discount at most stores, such as Snow + Rock, as they need to sell their winter stuff to make space for summer or next season’s equipment.
And I’m sure we all know what good ski boots can do for you. If you need a reminder – let’s take a look at my ski boot journey.
Where It All Began
Here I am, looking fashionable as ever clad in my mum’s rolled up ski pants with three thick pairs of socks to wedge my feet into my older sister’s leather ski boots that were at least three sizes too large:
Ice-nibbled feet with skis too long to manoeuvre was my baptism to skiing. And what an impression it made, clearly!
Somehow it wasn’t enough to put me off, and years later here I was again, still wearing incredibly uncomfortable and highly oversized skis with an unimpressed smile…
The only difference was that at last I had (slightly) better clothing. I really had to crank the buckles to the absolute max to anchor my feet in the boots, resulting in cut-off circulation and painfully cold feet.
But The Years Flew By…
Fast forward and I’m still the best dressed on the mountain, naturally.
I became a ski guide with Bladon Lines and Ski West, and the company got us a great deal with Salomon boots and Dynastar skis. My adult ski boot experience started with the Salomon SX90s and progressed to SX92s.
And my god – those foam buckets really were the best. To this day, they’re still the comfiest ski boots I’ve ever worn. Rear entry was the magic element – this meant that you could also unclip the back and stand straight – a perfect standing-at-the-bar position.
Well, that’s where my quest for the perfect boot began.
My Quest for the perfect ski boot
During the ’80s, I went to Snow Fun in Val d’Isere, where they started with setting me up with some custom-made insoles and then proceeded with a foam injection. Suddenly it was as though my skis had been awakened – my whole experience was totally transformed, as my skis actually reacted quickly to my movements.
The next decade was all about the Strolz shop in Lech that used to actually custom-make ski boots. I was happy in those days with my Nordica 22 Grand Prix boots. The race foam injection, stiff competition shell, the extra shin pad… I mean, you could ski with these boots unclipped – that is what I call a perfect fit.
I wore those for years until they fell apart, before moving back to some comfy Salomons again. But the time was approaching to invest in something that would better my performance, as well as being comfortable when hanging around with my children.
My next ski boot shopping experience took place slightly closer to home, in Fulham. And this is where I learnt my first piece of ski boot wisdom to share with you.
Lesson Finally Learnt: Don’t Go By Brand
The boot fitter in Fulham established the right size and shape boots for me and before I knew it, I was introduced to my first pair of Atomics. Never in my life had I pictured myself wearing Atomic.
It goes to prove that within each brand there are the right and wrong shell sizes for every person. So seriously, don’t be swayed by your favourite brand names – take expert advice and choose your boots based on what fits your feet best, not what brand you think sounds the coolest.
Right, that’s my ski boot life story done with. Now I want to help you find your ski boot soulmates using the lessons I have learned, so pay attention…
Vital Ski Boot Facts to Know Before Purchasing
Over the years, I’ve managed to gather some important facts on ski boots that you must take into account before deciding to buy, as told by ski boot fitting legends.
Ski Boots Fall into Three Categories
A ski boot’s a ski boot, right? Wrong – have you not been listening to a word I’ve had to say so far?
There are three main categories: Alpine, telemark and touring. Alpine boots are what most people use; telemark boots are for use with telemark bindings; and touring boots are essentially a combination of the two, allowing for both downhill and telemark skiing, as well as making hiking up hills much easier.
Once you’ve decided which type of boot you are after, find a shop with a great selection of brands and options for your feet. By options I’m talking variations of flex, liners, width and volume for your foot and a good boot doctor to make you the perfect footbed.
You’ll Need To Spare a Couple of Hours
Allow plenty of time for ski boot shopping, as you’ll want to ensure you try a variety of shapes and styles. And once you’ve found a pair that fits well, I’d recommend wearing them for a while to ensure they still feel comfy after a prolonged period of time. And you’ll need even longer if you opt for custom fit.
Things have progressed since my loose leather boot days, and now you can opt for custom moulded footbeds to fit the contours of your feet. A custom fit takes about two hours. It can take up to two days for World Cup racers. So if you plan to buy ski boots, it’s best to make an appointment and set aside a couple of hours.
They Will Loosen Up (So Loosen Up…)
Bear in mind, after your purchase, the boots will feel tight and small, particularly if you are used to renting. Shops tend to upsize, whereas boot doctors make you downsize.
They may be tight for roughly three days but you will settle in, so don’t fret.
Some Niche Brands Offer Customised Boots
Choose from the likes of Dale, Dahu, Apex, and of course Strolz in Lech who have been making the same shells for years and years with unlimited width options.
Look at this one below. The idea is that you take the shell out after skiing and you can drive your car!
Be Honest About Your Ability
When you see the boot doctor, don’t overstate your ability or they will simply recommend the wrong boots for you. I’ve been there, and boy was it unpleasant.
Picture aching feet in heavy hike boots resulting in a lot of hard uphill work for a powder-less outcome. If you say you are an expert but you lean back when you ski off-piste, your ski boots just won’t work for you.
So ask yourself: are you really an expert?
You scoff, but think about this one carefully. Most people think they are experts. An expert is not someone who is just capable of bombing down the mountain.
To claim this title you need to be confident (and in control!) when skiing in all conditions, from ice, to bumps to white-outs! .
So, to my skiing friends and clients out there, as winter season comes to an end and the perfect time for investing in ski boots has come, make the best future investment for next season and treat yourself to a gorgeous pair of ski boots.
And don’t forget, any clients of Momentum Ski are entitled to a 15% discount, off full-price items, not only at Snow + Rock but also their 3 other sister brands, Cotswold Outdoor, Runners Need & Cycle Surgery.
Oh, and if you’re interested in heading out to any of the ski resorts I’ve mentioned here, perhaps for a ski weekend that combines time on the mountain with a trip to one of the famous boot doctors, we can make it happen for you.
Get in touch today and we can start planning your tailor-made trip to one of the world-class destinations we offer.
I’d love to hear your feedback, too. How many pairs of ski boots have you owned? How did you finally get it right?