Seeking advice on buying skis
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12 users
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skiobsessed
April 28, 2008
Member since 03/10/2008 🔗
80 posts
Greetings!

I am a rookie skier (started last year, skied about 5 times since). During my last lesson, my instructor at Canaan told me that I was a "4" and have the technical skills to ski all the terrains on CV, just need more confidence and experience. I have skied mostly greens and have ventured on to blues during my last ski trip.

I am very interested in buying an "all-mountain" ski since I do most of the skiing on the east coast. I'm about 5'6'' and weigh 150 lbs, what brand/model of skis would you recommend? I am afraid of getting beginning skis only to "outgrow" them in a year, and would appreciate any advice on intermediate skis that I can "grow into". Thanks in advance!
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
April 28, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Over to you skier219. Generally speaking, is a level 4 considered an "all mountain skier"?
The Colonel \:\)
Ullr
April 28, 2008
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
531 posts
Go to Snowshoe early in the winter and do the demo platter at the MAC. You can try as many as you like all day long. Do you own your own boots? If not, spend your $$$ there 1st!
SteveC
April 28, 2008
Member since 10/24/2005 🔗
145 posts
Go to Pro-Fit in Leesburg for a bootfitting. Brian has end of season discounts and time to get you fitted right. The man is simply amazing. I spent 6 hours easy with him over two Sundays working on my boots (I have difficult feet). The guy seemed to thrive on the challenge instead of getting tired or frustrated with me.

He also has skis on clearance.
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comprex
April 28, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
skiobsessed welcome to the forum.

Good posts above, I am going to add to them instead of arguing.

One thing you need to consider in your ski purchase is how much you plan on skiing next season. With lessons and application, with no major stumbling blocks, you could easily be at level 6 within 10days to two weeks of skiing. If you plan on getting 10-20 days in next season, and those stumbling blocks don't occur, then you would be quite justified in buying for a level 6.

Level 7 would put you into the intermediate/advanced category, that might take a bit of on-snow time unless you are extremely athletic.

Stumbling blocks
- bad boot selection and fitting
- psychological (read: fear and lack of training to deal with it)
- not enough snow time
- other physiological not taken care of at bootfitting (injury, out of shape for whatever reason)

The other secret is that we talk more about skis than about boots not because skis are more important, but because boots are so individual.

IMHO, once you have properly-fitted boots, almost -ANY- "intermediate" ski having 150-163cm length, a 71-77mm waist, and a 13-17m published radius will be enough to take you to level 6. Different models will have a different feel, but all should get you there, and maybe even provide for quite some fun between level 6 and level 7.

Beyond that, you will mostly know what you want.
tromano
April 28, 2008
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
Get boots first. After that skis, bindings, and the rest. My brother in law is a low intermediate and just got the Fischer RX4 as his first ski last year. He really likes them and even skied them here in UT when they came to visit. Seems like a decent ski for him as he was doing great on them and very confident.

I think the big thing is just to go our and ski and get good instruction and then go out and ski some more.
Crush
April 28, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,020 posts
can't agree more with T-man, comprex, et al. ... don't worry about skis... think boots.

i pride myself in being able to take any crap-pair-of-planks and make them do what i want ...
but no-one touches my boots, except two people in the entire world. every pair of boots i've had for the last 20 years have been the most important single piece of equipment i have had.

you need to go to the best bootfitter shop around and blow as much money as you can afford on the best boots you can buy. no one thing will give you more return for your money. it may take you a year or two seasons to dial-in those boots but it will set you up in the end for success.

your boots act as a gasket between your body and your skis - it is the most important interface.

i have skied on horrible-floppy rental skis made by a boat-builder (wally skis: Wally Skis ) that were no better than two rough-cut pine planks... and i still laid trenches @ deer valley.

i once forgot my boots at home for wed. night gate training @ liberty and rented boots to try and do my training - i took one run, turned them in and drove back home b/c i knew i would kill myself in them.

i don't think anyone on this site or others would say different.
skiobsessed
April 28, 2008
Member since 03/10/2008 🔗
80 posts
Thank you so much for all of your quick and useful advice. A little more information about my plan of skiing for next season:

I plan on skiing as much as possible, hence getting my own skis and equipment in order to bypass the rental line. Ideally, I would LOVE to ski 10+ weekends (ambitious, I know...but I am SKI OBSESSED:) I plan on exploring the convenient three (Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail with their "advantage card") as much as possible. I also want to go either out West to ski or up north to Vermont at least once next season.

Let me see if I got this correctly...

Get boots before skis, since they give you the best "feel" for the sport. My question is, while custom-fit sounds great, is it necessary and what would be a "good" price?

As for bindings, I see skis come with the bindings...would that suffice? Would most boots fit the bindings? If I were to purchase skis online, where should I go to get them adjusted to my boot? I would ideally love to demo skis before I buy them, but it is necessary? I'm just ITCHING to get my own skis!!! It's quite pathetic...I know...but I'm obsessed.

Thanks for all of your advice and support. I will stop sounding like a 12-year-old once I get my own skis and hit the slopes for next season. I hear that Timberline, OR, is open in the summer for skiing...is this true???
tromano
April 29, 2008
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
 Originally Posted By: skiobsessed
Get boots before skis, since they give you the best "feel" for the sport. My question is, while custom-fit sounds great, is it necessary and what would be a "good" price?

As for bindings, I see skis come with the bindings...would that suffice? Would most boots fit the bindings? If I were to purchase skis online, where should I go to get them adjusted to my boot? I would ideally love to demo skis before I buy them, but it is necessary? I'm just ITCHING to get my own skis!!! It's quite pathetic...I know...but I'm obsessed.

Thanks for all of your advice and support. I will stop sounding like a 12-year-old once I get my own skis and hit the slopes for next season. I hear that Timberline, OR, is open in the summer for skiing...is this true???


Boot are important since they are basically a prosthetic that allows you to control the ski. If the boot fits poorly the skis you have don't matter at all. To summarize other tips I have been given and followed over the years:

1. Never buy boots unless you know they will fit.

2. The best way to know is to buy boots in person from a good boot fitter. (The ski center in NW DC is a great place to go. REI, hudson trail, and big box stores are not.)

3. One standard boot fitting practice is a technique called shell fitting. You stand in the plastic boot shell (no liner) and they see how much extra space is in there. There are typically 3 different levels of fit: performance / correct sizing (for frequent skiers), 1 size too big (casual skiers), and 2 sizes too big (comfort for sitting in the lodge). The less space around the foot the better performance. The down side of the performance fit is that the first time you try them on it feels like a bone crusher hand shake and your feet fall asleep. This becomes extremely painful and it continues until the boot is broken in (called pack out). Break in starts the first time you wear the boot and continues for about 10 ski days. If you get a boot that feels just a little tight the first time you try it by the time it is broken in it will feel like you are swimming in the boot (comfort fit).

4. The only solution to a boot that is too loose is a new boot. It seems that everyone buys a boot that is at least 1-2 size too big the first time. I think its some sort of truism that you must go through the financial pain needing to buy a new boot after half a season skiing before accepting the physical pain of a properly fitting boot.

5. Custom liners can eliminate this break in period and don't pack out. $100 is less financial pain than new boots next year.

6. It's a good idea to wear you boot around the house before skiing them to speed the break in process.

7. A price range for a intermediate boot would be $300 - $400.

8. Boots and binding are standard, all alpine ski boots will fit any alpine ski binding. Alpine is distinct form alpine touring, telemark, and cross country.

9. Leave mounting the bindings and doing the adjustments to the professionals. Any ski shop can mount a bindings.

10. Mt Hood Meadows, OR is open in the summer too. Or you can go to South America or New Zealand.
comprex
April 29, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
What tromano said.

You have to understand, most of us have gone through several iterations of the very, very old story:

Act I, Scene 1 (ski shop): Boots fit great in shop. Ooh, they are on sale and so comfy. Oooh. Let me take them home.

ActI Scene 2: Getting bindings adjusted to new boots. Oooh, so excited. Let's go shop for shiny new jackets and poles and things.

ActII Scene 1 (ski lodge): Danggiit #@(*#&!(^ stupid things are pinching my toes/squeezing my ankle. Lemme play with these some more.

ActII Scene 2 (ski slope): Danggitt #$&#($ I'm all over the place, I feel I can't ski at all, let me get these buckles tighter.

ActII Scene 3 (chair lift): Daggitt !&(&$#$ My feet are numb/bruised/black and blue/my pinkie is falling off/I can't feel my big toe/I'm about to use my toenail as icecube in my whisky to kill the pain

ActIII Scene 1 (ski shop 2, somewhat knowledgeable, recommended staff): Your boots are too big. Well, really you need new boots, but we can sort of help things along by putting in this foot bed for only $35/55. Oh, yes, and we'll put some wedges in, too.

ActIII Scene 2 (ski slope, lessons, instructor): You're A-framing. You really need someone to look at that.

ActIII Scene 3 (ski slope, lessons and drills): Danggitt %*^$$ I'll never get the hang of this one-footed-skiing/getting weight forward/bending the ankles/I'm so frustrated/I just want to ski/I know I can ski but I just can't get this drill/Why do I need this drill when I can just go ski/Whine/Whine/Whine

ActIV Scene 1 (ski shop 3, highly competent staff): you need new boots, two sizes smaller, and a supportive footbed.

(You): OK. I'm dedicated. Here's my wallet.

So, you see, we're just trying to -save- you money in the long run (the next 2-3, maybe 4 seasons). FWIW, I've taken 5 beginners at your level or below to Pro-Fit in the last few years, and they are still in those boots and loving every minute of it.




BTW, 10 weekends of the Con3 is certainly possible. Keep in touch and see you out there.
David
April 29, 2008
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
Nice! Tragedy of the Ski Boot. Shakespeare would be proud.....
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 29, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Agree with Tromano and Crush big time. Like Kipling's poem... Boots, boots, boots... moving up and down again... Boots are the key. I also have flat feet which adds to the problem of arches and ergonomics.

The other thing that tromano stated is quite important. Unless you know what you're looking for, a certified boot fitter is worth his/her weight in gold.

After going though life spending $300 to $400 every year buying what I though were implements of torture, I took my friends' advice and decided to go through a professional. The first day of my two-week stay at Whistler two years ago, I went to the SureFoot store and got both orthotics and custom made boots made. The price was steep - with the built-in heaters, it was over a grand. However, you can do much cheaper if your feet are normally shaped. Flat feet can be torture with the normal foot pads that come with ski boots.

Besides SureFoot, with stores in Whistler, Sugarbush, Killington, NYC, and virtually every ski area in Utah, the other Utah based custom boots is Daleboot. They have master fitters in several stores too.

If you want to go more on a budget, please follow tromano's advice and get thee to the Ski center, Pro-Fit or another specialty store. Else you'll end up like me, throwing money away for years and having your little toe nail fall out twice a season. I will say that the SureFoot boots have been a godsend. They fit like a glove and are both comfortable and made me able to do things I never did before.
Crush
April 29, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,020 posts
 Originally Posted By: lbotta
.... I will say that the SureFoot boots have been a godsend. They fit like a glove and are both comfortable and made me able to do things I never did before.


- ditto - surefoot (utah - the canyons) and ski center (dc) are the two i let touch my boots. and i have huge problems .. my left and right canting are total opposites and both places picked that up. plus they actually listen to me when i tell them stuff.
comprex
April 30, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
 Originally Posted By: skiobsessed

Get boots before skis, since they give you the best "feel" for the sport. My question is, while custom-fit sounds great, is it necessary and what would be a "good" price?


Custom-fit can mean many things, and is used to market things so will be applied to many products in many senses.

Just to be clear here, we are not necessarily recommending custom-made boots or custom-moulded liners (the inner boots).

You will also see liners labeled 'custom-fit' come stock from the boot manufacturer. This just means that the break-in, bedding-in process can be accelerated in the shop and isn't at all the same thing as custom-moulded liners because 'custom-fit' liners can't fill gaps between the liner and your foot, they can only let pressure points out. Think of it as a slight comfort feature, not a performance feature.

Custom footbeds you may need, but we can't determine that here. At the very least, you ought to look into stock footbeds of the proper shape selected for you by the boot fitter.

And now we come to the essential concept of 'custom' that we are recommending, a usage you won't see in print much because it makes for bad advertising.

The bootfitter custom-selects and adapts a hard plastic shell for your foot size, foot shape, foot loading pattern (feet grow and change shape as you put weight on them, so a seated measurement of foot size is almost meaningless by itself), leg geometry (shin to femur length for example), ankle range of motion (governs stiffness and forward lean and zeppa), upper body weight and COM shape (governs stiffness and forward lean), hip width and stance width (governs cuff angle, possible extra volume needed at ankle), lower leg shinbone tilt, and so on and on and on...

That, and the selection of a proper footbed, is exactly the sort of "custom fit" we regard as, well, necessary.

There is a classic argument of "Well, if that were true, then how would people sell or buy so many ski boots, how is it that rental boots fit everybody, how is it that people can buy so many ski boots online and they seem to work".

The classic rebuttal to that argument is "How come there's so many skiers stuck at a level 6 plateau or lower, requiring major feats of athleticism and conditioning to progress beyond that?"
SteveC
April 30, 2008
Member since 10/24/2005 🔗
145 posts
Brian (Pro-fit) set me up with molded footbeds (he explained the problems with surefeet - he has several on a ring from customers who came to him after getting surefeet insoles but still had problems) and solved my "windswept" canting issue. Heated the boot and made little cavities for my bunions and cut my liner and removed some stuffing to relieve pressure on a boney protusion on my instep.

The boots still feel really tight, just not painful. The guy is a miracle worker. I've gone to podiatrists and have not have the level of knowledgeable service I got with him.
comprex
April 30, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
I'm one of the folks who went to Brian after Surefoot.

Totally new game this year, in spite of a wonky knee.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
May 1, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
I don't think this is a problem. All boots are subject to have modifications in the bedding or the shell in order to make it fully comfortable. In my case, the techie at the Surefoot store had to make some heat blowouts for my little toes. That's just a part of the boot fitting. They are now a glove.

What is essential is to be patient with the boots. They're seldom going to fit perfectly out of the box or out of the oven in the case of orthotic footbeds. In my case, I made the purchase the first day of a two-week trip and it took three trips and three different accomodations for it to feel perfect. If anyone is wishing for a boot that you can just wear out of the box, either you have perfect fit or wishful thinking.
Crush
May 1, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,020 posts
... agreed - i tend to like surefoot (at least in ut) because u can go back as many times as you need (within reasonable limits) and they will make adjustments for no charge until u are satisfied.

i switched to their custom foot beds and went back three times to add shims to the bottom and plane them down a little here and there until i was dialed-in.

my g/f went back 5 times with boots she bought from them to blow-out the toe box , move buckles ,etc and not a penny asked for. she got discouraged at one point but i told her just keep working at it every day and it will get sorted out eventually - and it did!
SteveC
May 2, 2008
Member since 10/24/2005 🔗
145 posts
My impression was not that surefoot was a bad product. Rather, it was a product whose efficacy depended greatly on the person doing the molding. If you have reasonable feet, the technician does not need to do much and you will get good results. If you have odd feet, the outcome depends on the knowledge of the technician.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
May 2, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Steve, you've hit one of the stud nails on the head. Garbage in, garbage out. Even the greatest sports shop can do a hack job if they don't take the time.

Several here have stated that and I will try to synthesize it - box stores and volume sales are not the way to go if you want personalized service and highly experienced techies. On top of that, boots are about the most important aspect of skiing. Bad boots = bad skiing.
skiobsessed
May 6, 2008
Member since 03/10/2008 🔗
80 posts
Wow...thank you for all of the advice. I guess all of this talk has really convinced me to see a specialist (that's what they're for!!!) if I am indeed serious about the sport. It seems that it is both for comfort and to progress as a skier.

I will be sure to fill you guys in on my boot buying process. I was hoping that I could just order online and voila...but I guess that is wishful thinking.

I have one more question:

If I pay good $$$ and spend the time to get the boots...how many seasons should they last? Thanks!
scootertig
May 6, 2008
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
I've heard that boots should last approx 150 days or about 7-10 years before NEEDING to be replaced. NEEDING meaning "plastic is fatigued to the point that it's a dangerous situation". After 7-10 years, depending on how you store your gear (in the dark, in temperature controlled environment, etc) the plastic can break down and become brittle even if you've only put 5 days on them.

On the other hand, if you're improving every year, you might find that you need (note the lack of caps!) to replace the boots sooner, since you have have progressed beyond the boot's ability. That's why I've seen people to suggest buying just a little more boot than you need at this point, so that you can grow into it. For instance, if you're a never-ever (which you aren't - but let's go with it for example), you shouldn't buy a low-end "beginner" boot because by the time you've been in it for a few days, you'll probably need something better. From the same perspective, you also shouldn't buy an advanced boot, since it will make it harder to learn, and you won't progress enough...



aaron
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
May 6, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Scootertig is right on the money. Several months ago we talked about the storage medium as key to boot survival. A friend of mine's boots separated at the sole at the end of a ski lift ride with obvious consequences. It turned out he'd been keeping the boots in his uninsulated garage during the summer.

Storage of the boots in the off-season is one of the keys - a dark, temperature controlled environment, I put mine in their breathable bags to protect them from any insects or spiders that may like the cozy nature of the boot.

I also agree with scooterig about buying more boot than your proficiency requires. A top-of-the-line racer may not be the most forgiving boot for a beginner. On the other hand, don't buy down either. That will also keep you from progressing.

In my case, I have two pair. Mu SureFoots are kept in DC with their heaters and gadgets. At Snowshoe, I have the predecessor to the Salomon Falcon 10 that is in the process of having the liner compacted as much as it will give. My new boots will either be Salomon or SureFoots, depending on when I decide to buy them.

Bottom line for me: There are two places where although I may want to save $$, I don't endeavor to take the cheapest way out. First is brakes for my car, second is ski boots.

And skiobsessed, I noticed you were star-less... We remedied that too.
comprex
May 6, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
 Originally Posted By: skiobsessed


If I pay good $$$ and spend the time to get the boots...how many seasons should they last? Thanks!


20+mm 'recreational' shell fit -> 10-15 days use to liner packout
15-19mm 'semiformance' fit -> 30 days to 60 days use to liner packout
sub-14mm 'performance' fit -> 60 to 200 days to liner packout, this is the widest range because liner quality and materials comes into greatest play here.

aftermarket liners are becoming more popular, replacement options do exist, but they are usually a significant portion of the boot cost. There are other factors affecting durability without the plastic actually going bad, such as

heel + sole wear (from walking)
weight gain/loss or significant fitness change
water seal wear + deformation

kwillg6
May 7, 2008
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,034 posts
Boots... the most important piece of equipment a skier owns. The most important quality of that most important piece of equipment is the fit. I don't necessairly agree with the "buy up" idea. Unless you are a budding racer of superior strength and size, you should be looking for a boot which fits your ability for the proper flex. Those days where we are skiing in sub zero temps, the boot won't flex as well and you could find performance lacking. Also, when I buy boots I find the thinest of socks to get fit in. The bladders will pack out eventually, allowing me to enhance the fit for a maximum number of days by increasing the thickness of my socks. If I can, I get fit in my bare feet or a pair of women's knee high nylons. It looks kinda funky in the shop, but pays off in the long run.
JohnL
May 7, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
 Quote:
If I can, I get fit in my bare feet or a pair of women's knee high nylons.


How do you explain that one at the end of the day at Timbers? Happy Hour with your boots still on?
tromano
May 7, 2008
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
You can get after market liners after your original ones break down, which is about 100 ski days. You can repair just about any physical problems with the boots like a buckle breaking off or replacing the wear pads under the toe and heel as they get worn from walking on cement. So a good fitting boot that you keep up can last for many years and many hundreds of ski days.

Don't listen to anyone else about what level or flex of boot to buy. It is a personal choice. If the boots are designed to allow front to back flex and to be rigid form side to side. Get a boot that is the right flex for you.
kwillg6
May 7, 2008
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,034 posts
Uh, never take my boots off in da pub??? Actually, I only fit the boots with the knee-highs. After wearing them for 5-6 hours prior to skiing them, I get enough compression that a very thin sock works.
comprex
May 7, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
 Originally Posted By: JohnL
 Quote:
If I can, I get fit in my bare feet or a pair of women's knee high nylons.


How do you explain that one at the end of the day at Timbers? Happy Hour with your boots still on?


I'm surprised at the lot of ya. With mens' nylons so widely available, so warm, and so affordable, who would wear women's?

http://www.comfilon.com/catalogoptights.asp


\:D ;\)
kwillg6
May 8, 2008
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,034 posts
back in the day........ I never considered myself one of those "men in tights" though. ;\)
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