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More Ski boot facts

What you need to pay attention to when purchasing your ski boot

Most importantly: Your ski boot must fit! Lots of studies have shown, that up to 90% of skiers are using a boot that is actually too large. And a too large ski boot do not only lead to painful blisters, they also make you lose stability. You are basically swimming in the boot. And whoever thinks he could simply make those buckles a bit tighter is certainly wrong. Because this only constricts your foot, makes your toes cold and still you have no stability. Meaning, when your boot is too tight in some areas, get a boot fitting to make it fit instead! This is possibly with almost every ski boot, heat is used to make your boot fit your individual foot.

What should I think of when trying boots on? Generally, your toes should touch in the front when standing straight. It is not until you bend your knees that you should lose this contact (or only touch slightly). Also, the suiting wide groin, meaning the widest part of your forefoot, is important. The different brands offer ski boots with groins ranging from around 97 to 103mm. Women’s boots will be more narrow than men’s boots. But this measure is always based on the reference size. Meaning, if you are looking for a different size, the groin width will change around 2mm per mondo point size. Also, you should make sure you do not get a boot that is too soft. Because this has the same effects as a boot that is too large. When trying your boots on in the store, they might feel a bit softer than they actually are. This is because shells might get a bit softer in the store as it is way warmer there than out on the slopes. Especially with Fischer Vacuum boots this change is noticeable. Over all, the boot must sit nice and tight, especially in the area of your heel and mid foot.

To make sure your boot keeps its form, you need to close all buckles when storing them or putting them away for summer. Also, let it dry entirely and do not store it in damp places. When transporting your boots, it might also be good to get a boot bag or backpack!


Your ski boots actually say a lot about you. For example, if you are an experienced skier you´re a lot more likely to opt for a higher flex than a beginner, who will rather choose a lower flex. Now, imagine you having found the right pair of high-quality boots from top dogs such as Fischer, Dalbello or K2: isn´t it time to start your engine, tighten them buckles and enjoy your time in the fine winter air?   

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Ski boot flex, canting and inner boot – what can my ski boot do?

Your ski boot should provide stability on the ski, support and secure the foot as well as possible in case of a crash and guarantee great power transfer. Also, you want your boot to be flexible, you want to be able to walk with it (or do some après ski) and have them easy to handle. The different models all have their own characteristics and skills, be it on-piste, freeride/tour, allmountain, freestyle or racing boots.

The most known characteristic of a ski boot is its flex. Pretty often, you will hear someone on the lifts or huts telling how great they are because of their high flex of 130. But what does that even mean? This measure refers to the stiffness of your stem forwards. The higher the flex, the less will the stem move. This ensures more stability in the boot. However, it is really important that the boot will properly transmit your movement impulses. If the flex is too high, this will lead to too much resistance or hinder your ankles from moving properly. As of this, a higher flex also asks for more strength, which is why women’s boots usually have a slightly lower flex, as do children’s boots, starting at 50. However, the flex is not a normed measure. This means, that if you were to compare different boots by different manufacturers, this might be misleading!

Another characteristic is the isolation of the boot. Allmountain boots for example are more isolated and more comfortable than a race boot. But the thicker the isolation, the softer the boot, leading to a dampening of your power transfer.

The different boots also have other functions. Some have adjustable canting. This means, that the angle between stem and sole can be adapted, making the neutralization of knock knees and bandy legs possible to reach a neutral position. Also, most ski boots will let you change the inner sole and put your own ones in. Also, many are compatible with different forms of heating elements or even have heaters built into them, keeping your feet warm even on the coldest days!

Alpine boots are generally built to fit alpine skis and alpine bindings. Most of them can also be used on touring frame bindings and some even have pin inserts to make them fit tec-bindings. This is especially interesting to those who spend much time in the off-piste and want to do some ascents as well.

 

Men’s vs. Women’s ski boots: Men’s and women’s ski boots are not only different in their flex. They also differ in their construction. Because a woman’s body is simply a bit different than a man’s body, which is why the boot needs to be different as well. Since women’s calves start lower, the stem of the boot is lower as well, about 4cm. Also, the inner boot is cut more narrow and the heel is more narrow.  

The different usage areas of apline ski boots

On-Piste boots: Their area to be: The slopes. And most of the times, these are groomed, great for carving, long and short turns, slow and fast. As of this, the boot will be less dampened than allmountain boots, still they will be more comfortable than race ski boots. Their flex varies quite a lot and should be chosen based on skills and weight.

Allmountain boots: As the name already tells, and as we already know from allmountain skis, this ski boot is very diverse in its abilities. A compromise between comfort and performance is found. The inner boot is rather comfortable while the shell is still pretty hard. As of this, the boot will have a relatively high flex, making them great for sporty turns on the slopes as well as off-piste tours and moguls.

Freeride and touring boots: This boot has a rather low flex, which is why it is a bit softer, offering more movement and flexibility and a dampened shell. Because when skiing in the off-piste, the snow will often be harsh and not always powdery, which is why your body will have to go through some hits and harsh impacts, and this should be dampened as well as possible to preserve your bones and joints. The inner boot is more cushioned and the stem oftentimes a bit lower. This boot is also great for moguls!

Race boot: Great transfer of power and awesome stability – that is what you want from your racing boot. And this is achieved by having a very stiff shell and a thin inner boot. This ski boot, having the highest flex of them all at 120 or 130, for women at around 110, lets you go the highest speeds on the slopes, speed through the slalom poles and really put some high pressure on your edges. But this ski is not really the most comfortable one, but really – who wants comfort when you can have speed instead? The boot also has the groin most narrow. And because most feet will not perfectly fit the boot, a boot fitting is for sure advisable!

Freestyle ski boot: Jumping over those kickers, doing a rough landing, getting some serious hits in uneven terrain and doing rails – this boot for sure needs to stand quite some tough things. It also needs to make sure your feet live through all this. As of this, park & pipe boots have a dampening shell, offer more flexibility due to a lower flex. But of course, this boot needs to fit perfectly and should not be too large, because who would want to drop down a 10m jump and be shaking in the boot when landing?

 

Read more regarding ski boots

- Telemark and alpine ski boot: Sole length and mondopoint

- How to choose the right ski length?