Ski Boot Buying Guide

Choosing the perfect ski boot can be tricky, but it’s one of the most important parts of the ski setup. The ski boot process may seem time-consuming, and it may take some energy and dedication to identify the correct fit, but understanding all elements of picking the proper ski boot is a major key to safe and successful ski experience.

The ski boot communicates your body movements to the ski. With the accurate fit, skiers can command control and ultimately optimise their performance. Getting the perfect fit with men’s ski boots is not just about the length of the foot, skiers must consider the shape of the foot as well, skiers also must consider the fact that the ski boot is made of a hard plastic material with little room for flexibility or movement.

When choosing the ideal ski boot, skiers should aim to identify the size, shape, and fit that provides comfort and ultimately elevates performance levels.

Remember, every foot is different, so skiers should be careful when taking size advice from ski boot salesmen. They may advise you that there is no specific technique to picking the correct size, but it’s extremely important to consider all aspects of the foot when choosing the correct ski size. Foot size, width, shape, and flex should all be taken into consideration. Women’s ski boots, in particular, are shaped for women’s feet.

Ultimately, the perfect size will vary, not only on the size, height, and weight of the skier, but also the ability level, and the frequency at which the skier would choose to use the boot. Ski boots may not be the most comfortable footwear, they are made for an extreme sport, and they should not be sized in the same way as a normal boot. Like normal boots, ski boots do tend to stretch or loosen up after a few days of usage since they are lined with a foam padding. Keep that in mind if you feel your boot is a little snug after following the ski boot buying guide below.

Skier Type

Alpine Skiing

Boot size and fit depends highly on the skier type. Your ability level will affect the type of terrains the boots will be used for. Beginner skiers may need a more flexible boot than a more seasoned skier. Below, we’ve provided a breakdown of the three levels of skier types. Review each skier type to help determine what flex you’ll need, as well as what types of features and fit you should expect from your ski.

Beginner

Beginner skiers usually prefer practicing on flat and well-groomed terrain with minimal challenges to promote safety. Beginners are still getting a grip on the logistics of the sport of skiing, but they are dedicated to learning and practice is a regular part of their schedule. Beginner and intermediate skiers are recommended to choose a boot with soft or medium flex. Soft flex boots are lighter on the foot and allow for beginner skiers to have comfort for long periods of time during long practicing hours during the day. With practice, a beginner skier can elevate to a higher level, at which point they may need to consider changing the flex and fit of the boot.

Intermediate

Once you begin to experiment with various speeds, terrain conditions, and weather patterns, you may be considered an intermediate skier. Exploring steeper terrains and more harsh weather conditions requires a boot that allows for precision in steering and maximum control. Intermediate skiers may venture into blue and black diamond terrains. As an intermediate skier, you have several years of experience with the sport, at this point, you should be considering a medium flex boot. The fit of the boot should be precise and it should allow maximum control on various terrains. The medium flex allows for more experimental skiing with safety in several different weather and terrain conditions.

Advanced

Advanced Level Skiing

Advanced skiers venture out to the highest points of mountains and the most challenging terrains. As an advanced level skier, skiing conditions may vary from extreme ice, heavily deep snow levels, high mountains, and moguls. Stiff boots with minimal flex and an extremely precise fit is recommended for advanced skiers. At times, expert skiers have expressed that the ideal boot should have a snug fit, about one size down from the actual needed ski size, in both volume and length, to increase safety and agility while skiing challenging terrains.

Ski Boot Size

Determining the ski boot size sounds like it should be extremely easy, but it may be a little more complicated than expected. Ski boot sizes are determined using a special scale called the Mondopoint scale. The Mondopoint scale is measured based on the foot length measured in centimeters. Measuring the distance of the heel of your foot from a vertical surface with toes pointed outward satisfies the Mondopoint system.

After measuring your foot, it is suggested to try on your boot with a very thin sock, as not to confuse a boot for being too small due to extra sock fabric. Keep in mind, there is a plastic shell and foam lined on the inside of the ski boot. Wearing a thick sock with the inside shell may alter the control and response function between the boot and the ski. Some choose to use a Mondopoint conversion chart to translate their street shoe size and determine their ski boot size, we recommend against this, as there may be some inconsistencies between the chart and the ski level and activity level.

Be sure to consider more than just the measurement when determining your boot size. Measuring your shoe size is recommended as an effective practice for beginner skiers, but other factors must be considered, like ski level, and the ability to tolerate a close fitting ski boot. We recommend using some of these tactics to properly determine the ski boot fit. Once you have the perfect pair of ski boots, check out our Ski and Snowboard Goggles Buying Guide for the ski goggles you’ll need.

How to Determine Ski Boot Size

  • Beginner/Intermediate Skiers – It is recommended that beginner skiers choose the boot that correlates with the Mondopoint length. Some beginners choose to go slightly longer than their measured size. Beginners should keep in mind that the boot may feel snug at first, the boot will loosen up after a few uses when the liner of the boot begins to compress.
  • Intermediate/Advanced Skiers – Similar to advanced skiers, intermediate skiers should consider choosing a boot which matches their Mondopoint length, or even a little smaller for increased control in more challenging terrains.
  • Advanced/Expert Skiers – Advanced skiers should aim for a smaller boot. Advanced terrain requires a more snug fit for optimal control. Advanced skiers are encouraged to choose a boot shell size up to ½ a size smaller than shown on the Mondopoint chart.

Expert Skiier

Choosing a smaller size will give a very stiff flex with a more responsive fit for challenging terrains.

Ski boots are not meant to be the most comfortable sports accessories. Skiers may experience slight to moderate pressure on their longest toes. You may also feel a slight pressure from the boot buckle. These are all good signs that you have chosen a good fit, especially for intermediate and advanced skiers. Sometimes the boot may feel short, it may still be a good fit, in this case, before changing the boot size, try flexing your foot and moving your heel towards the back of the boot. Stores and boot fitters also may be able to help stretch your boot to make it more comfortable.

Shell Liner Fit

Head Adapt Edge 90 Ski Boot
Click Here for Head Adapt Edge 90 Ski Boot

Measuring the interior lining of the ski boot is determining the shell fit. Determining the shell fit is an ideal way to check if the boot is the right size, or at least close to it. In order to determine the shell fit the inner liner needs to be removed from the shell. Once the inner liner is removed you should put your foot into the bare shell of the boot and slide your foot fully forward so that your long toes are grazing the end of the shell. Place your fingers in the space in the back of the shell, one finger, to one and a half finger fit is usually an indication of a good shell fit. Two fingers or more is usually considered an oversized or too large fit. If you are unable to fit at least one finger in the space in the back of the shell, your boot may be too snug.
Be sure to consider that ski boot shells are not manufactured in half sizes. So keep in mind that a size 24 boot and a 24.5 boot may actually have the same sized shell within.

Footbeds For Ski Boots

The footbed is the foundation of the ski boot. For this reason, it is recommended for new and seasoned skiers to invest in a custom footbed when purchasing a new pair of ski boots. A skier with custom footbeds is likely to ski with effortlessness and grace. Custom footbeds increase comfort and allow for minimal exhaustion, more accurate turns, and more precise stops. Custom footbeds offer additional support. They assist your foot transfer and guides movements through your knees, hips, legs, and your entire body. Footbeds are important because they offer support to the bottom of the foot of the skier. Footbeds allow more flexibility in the ankle area allowing you to flex from side to side with optimal movement transfer. Footbeds aid effortless turns and add comfort in your toe area. With custom footbeds, you’ll notice a dramatic change in the feel and the fit of your ski boot. This is one of the ways you can get custom snowboard boots or a heel lift in snowboard boots. See our post on Footbeds For Ski Boots to learn more.

Ski Boot Insoles

Other types of ski boot insoles include Superfeet insoles and Sidas ski boot insoles. Both of these brands are popular with customers who would like to add a ski boot insole without going for the custom footbed option. Ski boot insoles for flat feet or snowboard boot insoles for flat feet are also popular with skiers who have flat feet and desire more comfort. Don’t forget that you can also get Superfeet for snowboard boots.

Cuff Shape

The cuff shape is determined by matching the cuff of the ski boot to the shape of your calf. Your cuff shape may vary depending on the size and shape of your calf, women especially may need to pay closer attention to cuff shape when picking their perfect ski boot size. Some boots are equipped with upper buckle ladders which can be adjusted at the cuff and moved to different positions based on calf size. Some new models of boots offer easily adjustable cuffs that are specifically designed for wide calves.

Ski Boot Last

Lange SX 80 W Ski Boot
 Lange SX 80 W Ski Boot

Each ski boot interior is shaped differently. Ski boot manufacturers have began creating special models of ski boots with distinct “lasts” in an effort to fit all shapes and sizes of feet. Normally, lasts are identified between narrow, medium, and wide. The last of the boot is based on the width of the front of the foot. A wider foot needs an increased interior volume. Here is a basic description of each ski boot last:

Narrow Last

Forefoot Width: 97mm -98mm
Features: Narrow from the front of the foot to the middle of the foot. Optimal for skiers with narrow, low volume feet.

Average Last

Forefoot Width: Approximately 100mm
Features: Usually fits average sized feet. Average lasts offer a relaxed fit throughout the boot and the heel.

Wide Last

Forefoot Width: 102mm-106mm
Features: Best used for skiers who have a wide foot with wide volume.

Flex

Ski boot flex refers to the level of difficulty when flexing the boot forward during skiing. Boot flex can range from extremely soft to extremely stiff. Flex is measured by a special number based flex index ranging from 50 (soft flex) to 130 (extremely stiff flex). The boot flex number is found written on the outside of the ski boot cuff.

Men’s Flex Rating

Head Adapt Edge 90 Ski Boot

Men’s flex ratings usually range from 65-80 for beginner and intermediate male skiers and go up to about 90 to 100 for advanced and expert male skiers. See the below chart to help determine men’s flex rating:

Skier Type Beginner – IntermediateIntermediate – AdvancedAdvanced – Expert
Men’s Flex Rating #60-8085-100110-120
Feel/flexSoftMediumStiff

Women’s Flex Rating

Women tend to have smaller body and foot sizes for men, the same goes for women’s flex ratings. Women flex ratings usually start around 50 to 60 for beginners and range from 65 to 80 for intermediate and advanced female skiers. Women flex ratings tend to go up to around 110 for experts.

Skier Type Beginner – IntermediateIntermediate – AdvancedAdvanced – Expert
Women’s Flex Rating50-6065-8085-110
Feel/Flex SoftMediumStiff

How To Put On Ski Boots

It is recommended for skiers to dedicate some time properly putting on their ski boots. Consider what type of socks you will wear to promote the maximum comfort and minimise volume within the boot. Thinner socks are recommended to promote movement contact with the ski. Thinner socks also help the foot stay dry and more comfortable within the ski boot. After choosing the correct sock, spend some time fixing the buckles and preparing the shell and liner on the boot for a smooth foot insert. Next, slowly slide your foot in the boot and use your hands to adjust the tongue and liner of the boot for maximum comfort.

Watch this video to see how to get in and out of your ski boots:

Why Do Ski Boot Bases Wear Out Quickly?

Sidas Ski Boot Traction
Sidas Traction for ski boots

First of all, wear and tear of your ski boot bases is inevitable, it happens. There are ways to avoid these issues, so here are some tips:

  • Cat Tracks and Traction Pads – You can get these to protect the base of your ski boots and are a great investment compared to alternate methods. They are fairly inexpensive and can fit in a pocket or in your bag very easily. The Traction Pads by Sidas are great as they fit sizes 22.5 all the way to 31.5 (complete adjustability).
  • New plates – You can obtain new plates for your boots and these are easily mounted by screws underneath your boot. This is dependent on your model of boot as some brands’ plates are more expensive than others because of the materials used. Also, if your boots are a couple of years old they can be hard to find. If you are experiencing this, you can bring your boots to one of our stores and we can see if we have something suitable.

The Risk:

  • The main risk factor of the base wearing out on ski boots is clipping to the bindings. Your boots and binding work together to keep you in your skis for the right times and release when needed. If the bases are worn down by even millimetres, this could alter the release and you could be be falling out of your bindings on basic riding.
Worn down base plate with screw protruding

We hope this has given you a bit more knowledge in care for your boots. If you are ever concerned with the wear of base plates, bring them in to either our Keperra or Underwood store and we will see what we can do to help you keep skiing with your precious boots.

Custom Boot Fitting

Custom boot fitting can make your ski boot purchase seamless and accurate. Snow Central offers custom boot fitting by qualified boot fitters with a great experience. Boot fitting may be more difficult than you expect, a custom boot fitting expert will save you time and help you to avoid complications with ill-fitting boots. Getting a custom fit for your ski boot will ultimately allow for a more comfortable and enjoyable skiing experience.

Get The Best Shoes To Wear In Snow

Be sure to invest in the proper ski boot with the correct fit. Choose a custom fitting experience for convenience and comfort. Snowcentral offers custom fitting. Just walk into one of the two store locations for a seamless custom fitting experience.