Well, I've finally decided to do it this year. I'm making the big cross over back to the ski world from the boarding world. I dabbled in it slightly the last two years. My dabbling entailed like an hour on a green slope before going back to the board and heading out.
Excellent. More power to ya.
This year though I'm going to make dedicated days where one is skiing and another is boarding and vice versa. I really feel like the mixing it up will keep things fresh and the trails feeling like new adventures await.
This is very limiting. Your back brain where your balance centers are learns very well by repetition. This is part of (not all, but part of) what we call muscle memory. It is a very important part of the learning process, and doing it on/off like that is going to hold you back in comparison to other learners.
Thus with that said, I'm looking to get a cheap pair of boots online. I'm seeking advice towards brand of boot how the boot sizing compares to regular mens shoe sizing, etc.
Repeat after me:
Ski boots do NOT fit like shoes
Ski boots do NOT fit like shoes
Ski boots do NOT fit like shoes.
Shoes, all shoes, are designed to fit MUCH looser with less grip on the foot than ski boots. This is why it's trivial to find and size shoes. Want proof?
Run downhill, pretty quick. Say 10-15mph. Now stop in two steps. Not three, not four, two steps.
Did your shoes stay on your feet? Even money sez at least one of them came off. Or you slid onto your bum.
That was at 10-15 mph.
Ski boots are designed to stop you from 20, 30, mph and often a lot more.
If the lower part of a ski boot was as loose as your shoe every last bit of that energy would be applied as a twist on your shin. At 30mph you have four times the kinetic energy you did at 15mph. That's gonna leave a bruise. If not break bones. That's a bad ski boot.
The other thing ski boots need to do are:
- Give you leverage to keep your upper body balanced over your feet. This is important with big guys with a lot of upper body mass, and you'll see a lot of beginner big guys walk out of the shop with some burly boots. This is a good thing.
- Keep your foot in the shape it needs to be for best balance while it supports bigger loads than it was *ever* designed for. No protohuman in no African plains ever ran at 30mph or had to stop and redirect in two strides to catch that turning, twisting zebra. You ain't no cheetah.
(the ankle mass needs to be able to flex in certain planes and not others, the 3-way arch structure needs to have sufficient support without cramping the forefoot, foot twist has to have shell room so you don't smash toes, the shell has to be close enough to the side of the foot to support kicking-type loads without the heel popping out, and so on and so on).
My shoe sizing now is right at 12 or 12.5 depending on brand.
Stop thinking in US shoe sizes. Right now.
Start thinking in MondoPoint (29.5 say) or in shell lengths (330mm say).
Trust yourself to do the conversion instead of a Romanian, Italian or Chinese clerk who's never been to the US.
As you get more experience, you will automatically convert to both the Euro systems and compensate for the different lasts each brand uses in each of their fit lines.
For example, my feet fit 25.5 Dolomite or Technica Diablo shells, 306mm Atomic race shells, 41 Alpina tele boots and size 43 Rossignol ones, size 27 Crispi CX shells.
I'd like to buy a pair on ebay vs going out and dropping big $$$ on a shop in NoVA when that is a heck of a drive for me right now.
Your money. I would put a case of Magic Hat against a bottle of PBR that, at best, you will find a boot you are comfortable walking in.
That's a great thing to have, but that's also not what you need to be
- balanced on one ski edge,
- to steer that one ski edge through nasty frozen schmutz without losing your balance,
- and to stay balanced on top of your skis as the moguls and pow try to tear them out from under you,
- and to stop in two turns to avoid maniacs
- to do all the above without overtightening any buckles or leaving bruises or swelling or inflammation.
Go to a shop that is ON the hill. In our greater area, this effectively means Willis at Seven Springs. Tell them you are on a budget and that you DO NOT want to buy online. They will love you, and bend over backwards for ya.
Spend three days there, get lessons, and tweak the boots every day until they get them just right.
BTW, you know that 12/12.5 shoe size you quoted? That's in the relaxed position, not in the best-balance position with activated arches. Once they put your foot in best balance position, that can go down by a full size. Or more, depending on how fit your feet are.
So, you ask, why not just buy boots to fit the relaxed size? Because when your feet fight for balance they will slide forward in the boot, smash your toes, inflame your ankle, and blister your achilles.