Finding the perfect fitting ski boot is not nearly as daunting as it may seem. Recently, ski boot manufacturers have been producing ski boots that are loaded with high-tech features that will help you improve the comfort and performance, but here we are going to cover the basics that are fairly simple and economical for you to do, as well as getting into some of the more die-hard ways to improve the comfort of your ski boot.
The Correct Sock
It is amazing to me, even after 20 years in fitting boots and selling skis, how many people are still out there skiing in cotton tube socks. This is the textbook way to make your feet cold and uncomfortable. The sole of your foot is one of the sweatiest parts of your body, and even when you are out skiing in 20 degree weather the bottom of your foot expels moisture. A cotton sock will only make you colder by trapping in that moisture.
A Ski Sock is designed to wick moisture away from your foot rather than trap it in. Ski socks are typically made of double spun merino wool or some other synthetic material that keeps your feet warmer and dryer. Ski socks also have a shape and contour that is designed to match your foot shape to prevent them from causing discomfort by getting bunched up or sinking down inside your boot. Skiing in a proper sock is the most economical way to improve the comfort of your ski boots. Heated Skis Socks are quickly becoming a very popular product. While they may not be the most cost effective option, they offer the same warmth as a boot heating system, but in a less bulky package that fits closer to your foot.
An Aftermarket Footbed is one of the single most important pieces of ski equipment you can have. Even the most expensive ski boots that are loaded with performance and adjustment features offer no support for your arch whatsoever. It is recommended by bootfitters everywhere, by every retailer and even by the ski boot manufacturers that the stock footbed be replaced by an aftermarket footbed. A supported foot will improve both the comfort and performance of your ski boot by creating a little extra space in the toe, aligning your ankle correctly and making your entire body bio-mechanically stronger. The entire foundation of skiing starts with your foot, and properly aligning your foot will improve your balance, control, reaction times and even the warmth of your boot. Think of your foot as a tripod, consisting of your first metatarsal, fifth metatarsal and your heel bone. Once both of your feet are lined up on these three points the rest of your body works easier and more efficiently.
For more details on aftermarket footbeds and all of the benefits associated with them, please take a look at our Footbed and Insoles Buying Guide. Aftermarket footbeds can be found for around $60 for pre-molded ones. It’s typically very easy for you to determine which one fits your arch, and they are a great value. Specialty ski shops with strong bootfitters offer custom made footbeds that are made by making a mold of your foot. These custom footbeds typically cost around $150.
Regardless of the insulation that a manufacturer uses, a ski boot is not always the warmest thing for you. Adding a Boot heater to your ski boot is one of the nicest options available while skiing. A boot heater uses a heating element that is stuck to either the stock footbed or an aftermarket footbed. A wire then runs through the liner of the boot and connects to a battery pack that is connected to the Velcro strap on your boot. Not only is having warm feet a big plus while you are out on a cold day, but they soup up your performance as well. Every hour you are out below 32 degrees, your muscle dexterity and your balance starts to decrease. Balance and skiing go hand in hand. Having better balance will improve your skiing, and having warm feet will keep you out on the mountain longer.
Heating the Liner
The vast majority of ski boots that have a retail price starting at $399 and upward have a liner that can be heat molded to accelerate the breaking in process. Heat molding the liner will not not solve any major fit issues for you, but it does allow that liner to start to contour to your foot, especially around the heel, ankle pocket and forefoot. Most ski shops use a special convection oven or heat stacks that use warm air to heat the liner. Once the liner is warm enough you place the boot on your foot, and after about 10 minutes of having the warm liner on your foot it will start to gel and adapt to the shape of your foot. Nearly every ski shop possesses this equipment to heat up a liner, but you may want to call and confirm beforehand just to be sure. It is at the shops discretion if they offer this as a free service or not. If they do charge for it, the cost is pretty minimal. I do know from my years of being a bootfitter that a six pack of beer makes for a fantastic tip.
If you are always searching for a way to make your boots more comfortable, these quick and easy tips will have you heading down the right path.