What to look for in a new pair of boots
So when I first bought my skiing equipment I had a tight budget and ended up going the garage sale route. This was about 7 years ago and at the time I got a pair of beat up straight edge skies for 5 and a pair of good conditioned boots for 5 bucks also. Two years ago I had the money to get a brand new pair of shaped skies and I could see instant improvement in my skiing ability with the change. Now I have the money to buy a new pair of boots.
I was pretty lucky with my old pair of boots. As far as I know they fit me very well. Of course I have never had a new pair of boots so I do not know how a pair of boots should fit exactly. I was wonder what I should look for in shopping for new boots. I know the most important part is getting a good boot fitter but I would like to know a few tips just so I know what to look for. Also I was wondering if I can expect the same kind of instant improvement in skills that I felt when I went from straight skis to shaped skis. I don't really care if I would or not I am really just curious.
Hunt down a copy of this year's SKI magazine gear guide issue. Libraries should still have it.
There is a series of on-snow pictures in there about what effect various changes in boot fit will have on your skiing.
Boots should fit snuggly without causing pain. Many new boots have a flow fit liner that mold to your foot with moderate heat.
You absolutely don't want your feet to move around freely in the boot.
As far as immediate improvement, there are a lot of factors. The stiffness of the new boots compared to your old boots is a big factor. Every movement you make in your boot should translate to an action on the ski. Stiff boots equate with quick response, soft boots equate to slower response. Most recreational skiers fall somewhere in the middle.
I hope some of these ramblings help you!
My suggestion would be to find a really good boot fitter and ask their advice. They'll usually ask you pointed questions about what type of skier you are and what type of terrain you like to ski. From that information they can make some really good recomendations. They'll usually bring out a few for you to try and work with the one that you like the most. Don't lock in on a brand right away. Go with what fits your feet.
I'm not sure who is good in your area but I'm sure that there are some people on the board from your area who could chime in. My partners and I usually deal with Ski Center down here in DC and the boot fitters here are PREMO! I believe that at least one of them has been written up in one of the major ski rags. If you're out west the people at Sure Foot are apparently really good too.
If you are a serious skier and are serious about improving I would get a little more boot than you think you need. This means that the boot might not feel really great at first (i.e. some pressure-point "hot spots", but not blinding pain) but with some modifications will be comfortable and ski well.
The most important thing is to get into a boot which is suited to your foot. Boot models fit feet differently; a good boot fitter will be able to measure your foot and select a few good candidates for you to try. I would be suspicious that any boot that feels really comfortable initially might ultimately be too big after the liner packs out.
As far as what to "feel" for: any "slop" or gross movement of your foot in the boot; toes should just touch the front of the boot when standing, but when knees flexed forward pull back slightly; firm hold in ankle and heel pocket; firm hold at forefoot; foot falling asleep is not good, but not necessarily bad- if you can pinpoint where it is the boot fitter might be able to modify the shell.
Spend as much time as possible in the boot while trying like 30 or more minutes.
I just spent a lot of time choosing a new pair of boots. Since I started getting really serious about skiing (past 10 years) I have owned 3 pairs and each pair has required progressively more work to fit, but I think I finally have a really good fit. Good luck.
If you are a serious skier and are serious about improving I would get a little more boot than you think you need.
I think thats pretty good advice for any equipment. I'm still growing into my board but thats a lot better than out riding it in a season or two which is what happened on my old ride.
The trick is to get equipment that is going to take you to where you want to go. Don't get something too out there that it holds you back or too soft and forgiving that you have no control. You need a certain ammount of feedback from the skis to help learn what movemnts are good and what doesn't work. --Tim
Stiffer is not alway better, Lateral stiffness is very important, but you almost allways gain fore and aft stiffness with increased lateral stiffness. I bought a pair of salomon X-wave 10.0 and watched my bump skiing, and park skiing decline imediatatly, while everything else got better.
Trust me most people would benifit from a softer boot, than you think.
FYI, my boots are the Salomon Eclipse 9.0 from last years vintage. They are fairly flexible compared to the xwave 10.0 The fit is pretty good, but not as tight as some people describe. Liners definately have packed a bit over 30 days. --Tim