Author Topic: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit  (Read 1153 times)

HighAngles

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Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« on: December 29, 2012, 10:21:54 pm »
The number one "sin" of skiers is skiing in boots that are ill-suited to their foot anatomy and/or far too big.  Most skiers are led far astray by the stock liner and how that liner makes the fit feel in the shell.  The primary goal must always be to find the shell that fits your foot best - and best means really tight and closely matching the contours and volume of your foot.  Once you find the shell that's the best match then move on to finding the right liner - a liner that will work with your foot, shell, and footbed of choice. 


byronm

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 12:53:11 am »
Duly noted HighAngles...at the time I was doing dilligent "try-ons", wearing each prospect around the store for 15-20 minutes but again, sans an experienced fitter. I was naive about the actual fitting process in terms of "shell fit" other than too big is no bueno.
 
I have a fairly narrow (98.4) low volume foot, narrow heel and slender calves. The problem I ran into with shop inventories is that 60% or more of the stock in suitable flex range are designed for "comfort" and wider feet. Most others were race fit (well "fitting") but 130ish to 150 in flex. A bit stiff for my intended use and weight at 139lbs.
 
Only after joining this forum did I learn the real importance of professional bootfitting and some consumer based things I could have done to mitigate a poor purchase choice. I didn't go cheap and buy the "bargain booster" selection as I feel like generally one gets what they pay for in most cases. I think the Sal Impact 100cs is a good boot, although yet to be determined by a fitter, perhaps just not good for me.
 
I've learned a ton from the experienced dialoguers in this thread alone. While I can't garuntee I won't have another boot debacle, I can say the info gleaned here has significantly reduced the chances.

Dan..I felt the same way with regard to the article. The words were "purdy"....the substance kind of wondered in the vein of tarot reading.... 8)   I hear what your saying tho. There are sooo many variables (it seems to me) in that each skier views their needs through their own prism of limited or substantial experience, while the fitter must extrapolate what the skier thinks they need vs what they really need, as viewed through the filter of the fitter. Quite a paradox.
 
One thing, I  will definately halt the fitting process if my fitter pulls out a stainless reciprocal saw...... :o
 
 
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 04:02:31 pm by jim-ratliff »

Svend

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 09:08:44 am »
I have a fairly narrow (98.4) low volume foot, narrow heel and slender calves. The problem I ran into with shop inventories is that 60% or more of the stock in suitable flex range are designed for "comfort" and wider feet. Most others were race fit (well "fitting") but 130ish to 150 in flex. A bit stiff for my intended use and weight at 139lbs.
 

Byron, I hate to say this, but your Impacts may be too wide for you.  They are a 100 mm last.  Did you do a shell fit when you tried them at the store? My rough guideline is about 1 or 2 mm wiggle room on either side at the forefoot, with the foot centered fore/aft in the shell, for a comfortable performance fit (less for a really snug performance fit).  BTW, in this regard I disagree with the Beckman guy, who states that 1 cm side-to-side is acceptable -- that is a massive gap, IMO. 

It used to be true that the only narrow-lasted boots available were 120 flex and higher.  But this has changed, and you can now get 98 mm boots down to 90 flex (lower for the Krypton boots).  I wouldn't rule out junior race boots either.  They used to be made with really crappy liners, but some of the current ones are using the same liners as in adult boots.  Eg. my wife has the Lange RS110SC, with the SC meaning "short cuff" -- this is listed on the Lange site as a junior race boot, but many women and smaller guys are buying them for their performance and fit.  They are identical in every way to the adult RS boots, including the liners, but just have a (slightly) shorter cuff and softer flex.  FYI, she is 5'7", 130 lbs, and has no trouble making that boot boogie.  To paraphrase Dan:  the geometry works.  In case you want to check that one out, they have a rather narrow heel pocket and slim cuff area for slender calves.  Might be an excellent fit for you if the Impacts are a no-go.

Cheers, and good luck with this. 



« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 12:53:01 pm by Svend »

Svend

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 09:38:02 am »
I think it's a great example of what I see as the biggest problem with bootfitting, to be honest--namely that there are a ton of incredibly nice and very well-intentioned guys out there who each have their own take on the timing of when the patient should be bled relative to the mandatory leg amputation for patients with an ingrown toenail.  Guys doing the bootfitting equivalent of this get tons of recommendations from skiers who've never experienced anything better, and don't realize that the bootfitting equivalent of "modern medicine" already exists.

So, how do you find the really, really good ones?  I know the Harb-trained fitters are outstanding, and all use "modern medicine".  If I remember right, jbotti has spoken highly of Jim Schaffner at Start Haus in Truckee, and jbotti's had enough experience with Harb-trained guys that I'd consider him a qualified reviewer.  Aside from that?  I have no idea.  I've been through a couple of fitters who were on the super-highly-recommended list on other fora and magazines, and they were still practicing Civil War-era medicine.  I've also seen boots from a few others that were brought to my fitter to be fixed because they never skied right, and heard the explanations of what was wrong, and why.  I wouldn't go to any of those guys, either.  It's a really tough situation all around.

Dan,  would you mind elaborating a bit on what you said? I think it might be extremely helpful and enlightening for those of us who aren't savvy to this, just what you mean by "modern medicine" vs. 19th century butchery.  Specifically, what do they do wrt. pre-purchase assessment and boot selection, and then post-purchase modifications, that other less-knowledgeable bootfitters don't do? With this in our back pocket, it would help screen the bootfitters we encounter and get an idea of their ability.  And perhaps help us to self-evaluate (if possible) if a boot is a good choice for us or not, if the advice from the shop is lacking.

As a more general comment, I completely agree with you that a truly good boot fitter is a rare bird indeed.  I think that of all the stores I have visited to try on boots, or have my family try on, I have encountered perhaps only 3 or 4 guys who really knew what they were doing.  That's a pretty small percentage, considering that I'm talking about ~15+ stores and dozens of shop guys.  Or at least those 3 or 4 seemed to know their stuff -- from your comments above, I am wondering if this was even true.  Looking forward to your reply to shed some light on this....  Thanks!


Gary

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 11:49:26 am »
HA...you're right on target regarding shell fit...it's HUGE. we're all different but with the liner out, I want the sides of my bare fore foot just lightly touching the plastic (not buckled). I also want the heel to feel nice and snug, I don't want any instep pressure, I want the 2 lower buckles with a light push of my fingers to snug up the fit, I want the right stance, correct alignment, I want to feel balanced in my boot, centered over my arches.

I want a bootfitter that knows what I want and how to get there. So even though I'm not certified (maybe certifiable nuts) I know enough because of boot errors in the past from fitters and ski shops alike....what I do know is that I've done things to make my boots perform and fit better for me.

I believe having a basis of knowledge, being able to verbalize what you feel in the boot....all makes for that much closer to getting it right.

G
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 11:50:47 am by Gary »

dan.boisvert

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 06:20:26 pm »
Specifically, what do they do wrt. pre-purchase assessment and boot selection, and then post-purchase modifications, that other less-knowledgeable bootfitters don't do?

Pre-purchase, it doesn't look like they do much.  They'll check out the size of your ankle and lower leg, to select a line of boots for you based on the hole size, and will then use a Brannock device for sizing length and width.  A good bootfitter will know right away which boots would be good fits for you (hole size is primary, then width and flex), and a brief conversation about what kind of skiing you do or what flex you're looking for will get you to pretty much the exact boot you should be in.  If it's a retail environment, he'll probably bring out another option so you feel like you're making a decision, and not just doing what you're told.

Post-purchase, there's a menu.  Casual purchasers may walk out with a boot that'll "work fine" for them out of the box (meaning they won't know what they're missing, don't want to pay extra to find out, and will leave happy with a boot that just fits well).  If you're more performance-minded (this would've come out in the pre-purchase conversation), you might have been encouraged to buy a narrower, lower-volume boot, which would include the expectation that it would be widened to fit your foot and had plastic ground out to fit the knobby oddities of your particular feet.  There is also a budget consideration.

If you're paying for a full setup, like you would if you were getting into a plug boot, to include alignment, etc, the process is much longer.  In that case, as soon as you buy the boot, he starts cutting stuff off of it.  He'd widen it to fit your foot, grind out the bootboard and interior so your foot sits properly in it, grind out whatever hot spots you detect in the store, probably cut down the cuff to suit your lower leg (or at least to get the plastic out of the way of the power/booster strap).  He'd talk about footbeds, and whether you need them.  If you need them, he'll make them.  Aligning the outside of the boot without doing the inside first is a recipe for disaster.  If the footbed conversation includes key phrases like "you pronate, so you need a posted footbed to support your foot", run away.  "Correcting pronation" is also known as locking the foot in the boot so you can't use it.  The pronating feet that need to be "corrected" are the ones that also have a twist in them, and it's the twist you want to address, not the pronation.  Rigid footbeds are a sign the guy doesn't want you using your foot inside your boot at all, so I'd recommend avoiding them like the plague.

Alignment is handled differently at various places, as well.  For it to work right, each boot should be aligned individually so you can stand on one foot well, and it will then work fine with the other when you use them together.  Your alignment should be confirmed on snow.  Your fore-aft setup should be checked out on snow, too.  Skiing includes a lot of dynamic fore-aft movement.  It's not a position you want, it's access to a range of motion, and for support to exist where you need it.  Your conversation with your fitter should be in these terms.

The biggest difference is really that a great fitter fixes causes, while the other guys treat symptoms.  A perfect example is one I ran into when I first got my Head Raptor 130 RD's.  The shop I bought them from was highly recommended, etc, and were very interested in making them work for me.  I spent probably 4-5 days going back and forth between the shop and the hill, finding new hot spots and problems, and them grinding them out.  Well, one problem that never went away was that my big toes always hit the end of the boot.  No matter how much room they ground out for me, my toes always filled it.  I eventually gave up on this problem (there were a series of others, as well) but, when I went to see a great fitter for a second opinion on the alignment (thanks to recommendations on the PMTS forum), he fixed my big-toe problem instantly, without my even mentioning it.  He pointed out that the boot had a 95mm last, and my foot was 98mm across the met heads when weighted.  Because feet and boots are both shaped like V's, the bigger V of my foot was always going to rocket to the end of the smaller V of the boot once I weight it, because it's seeking a width that'll fit it.  He widened the boot by a few millimeters, and my big-toe problems went away.

Fix causes, not symptoms!  It oughtta be a mantra..  ;D

Anyway, I hope this helps a bit.  I'm no expert or anything; I've just had my share of problems and spent a bunch of time hanging out with a really, really good bootfitter who's been absurdly generous about answering my questions and showing me stuff.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 08:44:19 pm by dan.boisvert »

dan.boisvert

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 08:55:01 pm »
Briefly returning to the boot stiffness thing, there's a lot of info about that on the PMTS forum that doesn't just apply to PMTS.  The Harb-trained fitters are the same way.  It's not like you have to ski PMTS to make use of awesome bootfitting; you'll be able to make whatever movements you want better with better-fitting and properly-aligned boots.

Here's a thread from the PMTS forum where HH gives more perspective on the how & why of stiff boots: http://www.pmts.org/pmtsforum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3487  He says it a lot better than I do.

I'm not sure what you guys are into as far as ski instruction or whatever goes, so I wanted to clarify that this stuff is useful for everybody, not just PMTS adherents.

byronm

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2012, 10:32:48 pm »
 
Gary/Svend/Dan....I didnt do a shell fit prior...took some pics tonight showing the heal space etc as my boots are translucent....

Bare footed, I have about 3/4"-5/8" of heel space with toes touching...1/4"-3/8" side space with one side touching the shell.

Great info Svend on the lower volume boots..thx

And...despite my "Merlin..ish"...outward appearance......Joe Namath legs.....well with some photoshop help.... ;D

[old attachment deleted - file maintenance]
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 12:21:30 am by byronm »

epic

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2012, 05:02:49 am »
Yeah.... that's pretty roomy.

LivingProof

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2012, 09:48:58 am »
Byron,

Take a look at this Epic Ski thread, and, specifically Response 4. It's written by my personal Jackson Hole bootfitter, Skiing in Jackson who works right at the Tram base there and his sole business is fitting and fixing boots. He uses three different dowels to determine boot fit, One each for "comfort", "Performance" and "Racer". The most common issue he finds is that boots are bought too big, no surprise.

http://www.epicski.com/t/115935/boot-shopping

For what it's worth, my boots are closer to comfort fitting, but, during a local fitting session last year with a very good fitter, his thoughts were I could go to a shorter boot, but, my ability to withstand pain would be a factor. Not sure I'm willing to go there without also getting a shorter custom liner. I've yet to find a boot one size smaller that I felt comfortable on my toes. I skied for 2 years in a short boot and came to hate it due to pain.

dan.boisvert

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2012, 10:20:33 am »
Yeah.... that's pretty roomy.

^--- what he said.


LP, why not go for the shorter boot and just have him blow out the toe box to fit?  That'd get you the snugger fit everywhere else and still plenty of room in the toes.  Grinding in the toe box is limited due to plastic thickness, but you can stretch the heck out of it..

Gary

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2012, 11:08:17 am »
Hmmm..length of boot...OK..

I personally have found if the heel stays locked in place with a good heel shell fit and a buckle system that keeps the ankle pulled back into the ankle and heel "cave"...I find I can allow myself a wee bit more length in the boot as long as the side to side fit is snug and the forefoot overlap fits like a glove.

My Lange RX130's do that for me and my toes are warm...er , I can wiggle them up and down. Front of my toes never bang the front of the boots...


G

Svend

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2012, 12:30:43 pm »
Pre-purchase, it doesn't look like they do much.  They'll check out the size of your ankle and lower leg, to select a line of boots for you based on the hole size, and will then use a Brannock device for sizing length and width.  A good bootfitter will know right away which boots would be good fits for you (hole size is primary, then width and flex), and a brief conversation about what kind of skiing you do or what flex you're looking for will get you to pretty much the exact boot you should be in.  If it's a retail environment, he'll probably bring out another option so you feel like you're making a decision, and not just doing what you're told.

Post-purchase, there's a menu.  Casual purchasers may walk out with a boot that'll "work fine" for them out of the box (meaning they won't know what they're missing, don't want to pay extra to find out, and will leave happy with a boot that just fits well).  If you're more performance-minded (this would've come out in the pre-purchase conversation), you might have been encouraged to buy a narrower, lower-volume boot, which would include the expectation that it would be widened to fit your foot and had plastic ground out to fit the knobby oddities of your particular feet.  There is also a budget consideration.

If you're paying for a full setup, like you would if you were getting into a plug boot, to include alignment, etc, the process is much longer.  In that case, as soon as you buy the boot, he starts cutting stuff off of it.  He'd widen it to fit your foot, grind out the bootboard and interior so your foot sits properly in it, grind out whatever hot spots you detect in the store, probably cut down the cuff to suit your lower leg (or at least to get the plastic out of the way of the power/booster strap).  He'd talk about footbeds, and whether you need them.  If you need them, he'll make them.  Aligning the outside of the boot without doing the inside first is a recipe for disaster.  If the footbed conversation includes key phrases like "you pronate, so you need a posted footbed to support your foot", run away.  "Correcting pronation" is also known as locking the foot in the boot so you can't use it.  The pronating feet that need to be "corrected" are the ones that also have a twist in them, and it's the twist you want to address, not the pronation.  Rigid footbeds are a sign the guy doesn't want you using your foot inside your boot at all, so I'd recommend avoiding them like the plague.

Alignment is handled differently at various places, as well.  For it to work right, each boot should be aligned individually so you can stand on one foot well, and it will then work fine with the other when you use them together.  Your alignment should be confirmed on snow.  Your fore-aft setup should be checked out on snow, too.  Skiing includes a lot of dynamic fore-aft movement.  It's not a position you want, it's access to a range of motion, and for support to exist where you need it.  Your conversation with your fitter should be in these terms.

The biggest difference is really that a great fitter fixes causes, while the other guys treat symptoms.  A perfect example is one I ran into when I first got my Head Raptor 130 RD's.  The shop I bought them from was highly recommended, etc, and were very interested in making them work for me.  I spent probably 4-5 days going back and forth between the shop and the hill, finding new hot spots and problems, and them grinding them out.  Well, one problem that never went away was that my big toes always hit the end of the boot.  No matter how much room they ground out for me, my toes always filled it.  I eventually gave up on this problem (there were a series of others, as well) but, when I went to see a great fitter for a second opinion on the alignment (thanks to recommendations on the PMTS forum), he fixed my big-toe problem instantly, without my even mentioning it.  He pointed out that the boot had a 95mm last, and my foot was 98mm across the met heads when weighted.  Because feet and boots are both shaped like V's, the bigger V of my foot was always going to rocket to the end of the smaller V of the boot once I weight it, because it's seeking a width that'll fit it.  He widened the boot by a few millimeters, and my big-toe problems went away.

Fix causes, not symptoms!  It oughtta be a mantra..  ;D

Anyway, I hope this helps a bit.  I'm no expert or anything; I've just had my share of problems and spent a bunch of time hanging out with a really, really good bootfitter who's been absurdly generous about answering my questions and showing me stuff.

Dan, that was an excellent response.  Kudos, and thanks for taking the time. 

Gandalf:  might I suggest we create a sticky somewhere here on the site on what good boot selection and bootfitting involves? Dan's post might be the starting point for some very useful info for many members.

Dan, I will get back to you shortly (getting ready to head out to ski at Blue on New Year's Eve).  I want to continue this conversation, and I have some questions relevant to my daughter who is having some issues with forefoot pain in a pair of Salomon Instincts (Falcon series).  New footbeds are needed, but I want to pick your brain on the posted vs. non-posted types.  Pronation is another problem.  Will touch base tomorrow, and I think I will start a new thread, as poor Byron is being hijacked here.

Happy New Year everyone!  All the best for 2013!  :)

« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 12:32:34 pm by Svend »

Svend

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2012, 12:40:02 pm »
Hmmm..length of boot...OK..

I personally have found if the heel stays locked in place with a good heel shell fit and a buckle system that keeps the ankle pulled back into the ankle and heel "cave"...I find I can allow myself a wee bit more length in the boot as long as the side to side fit is snug and the forefoot overlap fits like a glove.

My Lange RX130's do that for me and my toes are warm...er , I can wiggle them up and down. Front of my toes never bang the front of the boots...


G

Byron, I agree with Gary.  For recreational skiing, even at a higher level, I see no need to suffer a too-short boot.  However, the boot should be very snug-fitting in the instep, forefoot, ankle, achilles, and calf/shin areas.  A simple but telling thing for me, is that if my feet are comfortable wearing a very thin ski sock, but hurt all over if I wear anything thicker, then my boots are bang-on perfect. 


HighAngles

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Re: Some Basic Thoughts on Good Ski boot Fit
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2012, 06:38:45 pm »
This thread is packed with great info.  Thanks for the posts from Gary, Dan, and Svend.

Keep in mind that the point in going with a shorter boot isn't necessarily about getting a "shorter" boot (huh, what's he smoking? ;) ).  What I mean is that as boots get shorter they will also get smaller in many of the other dimensions.  However, this isn't always the case depending on which brand of boot you're testing and which sizes you're moving between.  That's why it's important to always at least "try" the smaller sizes no matter how doubtful you are that you could actually fit into them.  I've gone down 2 full shell sizes in the past few years through my awareness of this fact and my willingness to open my mind to the idea of what a good boot fit was really going to feel like.

Also keep in mind that if your boot fit is only getting you solid ankle/heel hold down then you're missing another key control point; the instep.  For years I thought that my Flexons/Full Tilts were giving me a great a fit because my heel and ankle were fully held down.  But it wasn't until I got into my Head Raptors that I realized what I was missing in the instep area.  I thought that I had a good fit as long as when I was flexed forward my foot was held securely.  Unfortunately we're not always flexed forward when skiing and sometimes when we get into trouble when skiing (out of balance, etc.) it's even more important that the boot be holding all of the critical control points of your foot.  If I got set back in my Flexons my heel could rise up a bit due to the space between my instep and the roof of the boot.  Now my goal in a boot fit is to have a very firm glove-like fit across the entire foot and leg with just a bit of wiggle room for the toes.