Custom Ski Boots

Skis may be sexier, but boots are more important

Custom ski boots

Custom ski boots     Photo: Illustrations by James Provost

Boots are the linchpin of your skiing setup for one simple reason: if they don’t fit properly, your technique will suffer. If you can’t find a boot on the shelf that conforms to the peculiarities of your foot, you need to take action—­either by consulting a knowledgeable fitter or by going all-in with a pair of ­custom boots. Your skiing will improve, your boots won’t feel like torture devices, and you’ll have more fun.

Liner Sore feet? Heel spur or squeezed styloid process (that bony bump along the outside middle of your foot)? Bespoke boots come equipped with custom liners that are either heat-moldable (which opens up the fit around tight spots) or manually injected with foam, a process that eliminates gaps between foot and shell. The latter type must be done by a boot technician and creates a more individualized fit. Once the foam solidifies (about 45 minutes), the results are firm yet forgiving.

Footbed Stock boots can feel sloppy or cause ankle rub. Because they align and support your feet, orthotics are the most important part of the customization process. Cad-cam orthotics, which require a foot scan and are precisely cut from foam blanks, are more accurate and adjustable than heat-moldable ones. Both require a skilled professional.

Shell Do you often experience shin bang, a painful bruise caused by uneven pressure? A custom boot fitter will measure the length, width, and height of your foot to pick the stock shell that matches your shape best. The shell will then be modified—by either stretching, grinding, or punching out—to produce a boot that fits you correctly.

Cuff Alignment and Canting Both are crucial. To adjust cuff alignment, the technician will make sure the upper cuff follows the angle of your leg. For canting he’ll measure the lateral distance from your knee to the center of the boot, then adjust the sole to realign the knee and stack the bones of your leg.

Get Some: America’s Best Boot Fitters (bootfitters.com), an organization of independent ski shops that specialize in boot fitting. Or visit Strolz, strolzboots.com; Daleboot, dalebootusa.com; Surefoot, surefoot.com; or Conformable, conform-able.com.

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