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Boot Selection Strategy - Help Needed

Ok. So last year I bought a pair of new Auras near the end of the season, which I am really looking forward to spending time on this winter.

This year, it's time for new boots. Believe me, I know the importance of boots. I spent alot of time and money on my current pair of Nordicas, which I have loved, but which now have enough miles on them that they need to be retired.

The thing is, it's been so long since I've shopped for boots, I really have no idea what's out there or how to start. And it's not like skis, where you can easily demo a variety and see what you like.

I don't know of a good bootfitter at the moment, but I think I can find one. My question is . . . what is the best strategy for boot shopping? Just be sure to go to a good bootfitter and pick from whatever their shop is selling? Or should I read reviews and go in with several models in mind? How have the rest of you approached this?

Also, if anyone feels inclined to make specific boot model recommendations, my vital stats are:
Level 7-8 skier
Aspiring to spend more and more time off piste - powder novice but big time powder enthusiast
5'2" 126 lbs - relatively small feet (6 1/2) with no particularly challenging foot or calf fitting issues
My current boot has a somewhat aggressive stance and is pretty soft-flexing. So that is what I am used to.

This winter I'll be splitting my ski time 60/40 in the east (on my Burnin luvs) and in the west (on my Auras).

I've received so much good advice on this site already, so let me thank everyone up front for any advice I might get here!


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Go to as many shops as you can find and try on many, many models from different manufacturers.

Check around with your local coaches, instructors, patrolers to find the most recommended fitter.

Try to avoid preconceived notions of manufacturers or models before you have your fitting.

Buy the very smallest shell you can fit into without pain and be prepared for multiple visits and some shell modification after purchase.

Read the Boot Fitting and Boot Construction articles in the Gearipedia and go forth informed!


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My stats are very similar to yours and also found myself wanting to be off piste more. I have a narrow foot with a pretty high arch. Last year I bought the Dalbello Lotus boot and love it. It's a freeride boot so if you're into being off piste or getting air in the park its designed for that kind of skiing.
Of course, as I'm sure any Diva here will tell you, a good bootfitter is a must. I'd start with finding a qualified bootfitter first, then he/she can help you select the boot that works for you.


Diva in Training
A good bootfitter is a must. Just be honest with them and they should be able to get you the best fit. Reviews are great but it is all about what fits your foot, your biomechanics--you need to be able to flex the boot to make your skis react, and your skiing style. Good Luck!


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Find a good bootfitter, but don't just pick from what they have... if a shop doesn't carry a boot that fits right, find another shop, don't try to make a so-so boot fit your foot.

Also just an FYI regarding your size, pay very close attention to the shell size (ie bootsole length). I wear a 268 bsl (22.5 mondo size, which is roughly a 6/6.5 ladies I believe) and I found a lot of boot manufacturers will claim a 22.5 size for their smallest boots, but in reality they are the same shell length as a 23/23.5, or 7/7.5 womens (about 275mm bsl versus about 265mm bsl). The manufacturer will just use a smaller/more padded liner with the larger shell size or use a bigger boot board to take up room. Don't get them if the shell sizing is not correct because they will pack out and the shells that were made for a 23/23.5 foot are going to be too big in the end. I've seen this with some Rossi and Atomic models... Salomon and Tecnica have true 22/22.5 shell sizes.
Wow. Great advice everyone.

Interestingly, I think my current sole length is 275mm. With the custom footbeds, etc, it's been a great, extremely tight fit for quite a number of seasons (can't complain), but they are starting to pack out and I am beginning to notice (especially when standing in lift lines) that I feel like my ankles are rolling to the outside just a bit. I will definitely make a point about checking the sole length. Tx! I'm also aware of the two finger test.

So what's the deal with the "America's Best Bootfitters" certification?

Is that for real? There's a shop I can get to that advertises the fact that they have a number of bootfitters who have this certification and training.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Wow. Great advice everyone.

Interestingly, I think my current sole length is 275mm. With the custom footbeds, etc, it's been a great, extremely tight fit for quite a number of seasons (can't complain), but they are starting to pack out and I am beginning to notice (especially when standing in lift lines) that I feel like my ankles are rolling to the outside just a bit. I will definitely make a point about checking the sole length. Tx! I'm also aware of the two finger test.
So what's the deal with the "America's Best Bootfitters" certification?

Is that for real? There's a shop I can get to that advertises the fact that they have a number of bootfitters who have this certification and training.
2 Fingers is TOO BIG!!


Diva in Training
OK Ladies, here is the best guideline to go by for boot sizing....all boot sizes and boot sole lengths vary-even within the same manufacturer. Depending on the level of skier, 5/8 of an inch or less between the back of the heel and the shell is a proper shell length. The volume of boots can vary, so make sure it matches your foot shape.

America's Best Bootfitters is for real, but as with anything else, you need to evaluate the shop and bootfitter. There is a certification process that the shops go through and protocol & guidelines that are followed for boot fitting.
Our shop is a member of America's Best Bootfitters and as certified bootfitters we are constantly attending seminars, networking and bettering our techniques.

Remember, your boot is your most important piece of equipment!


Diva in Training
If you go to a shop with Full Tilt Sally's, give them a try. I've always had shin issues where the liner crosses under the buckles; in fact I developed the bad habit of sking on my heels to avoid putting pressure on the front. Last year I went to my local ski shop in PA, tried on the funny-looking Sally's and was sold, immediately. The one piece tongue is amazing, and I had my liners heat-molded, which is the best decision I've made in awhile in regards to ski gear. The new Sallys are really pretty too, which I would've waited a year, but I'm still phsyched about them. PS- I wear women's 5.5/6


Diva in Training
For many years my family has gone to Mountainside in Mechancisburg, PA. It is a small shop with a limited quantity, but really all we had until the internet came along. They have a decently knowledgable staff, but sometimes copp an attitude. I'm 25 but look a lot younger and they wouldn't really talk to me about the expensive gear I was inquiring about until my dad arrived, then suddenly they were interested. We liked supporting the local store so we kept going back. Now I live in Colorado and am going to encourage my parents to come out and get their gear here since there is such a better selection.

I really like REI's 'no questions asked' return policy on everything they carry. My fiance and I have returned everything from a $500+ tent that didn't keep the sand out to $20 headlamps that ceased to work. The policy goes for skis too, I just checked tonight when I was ogling the new Celebrities. I believe they have an REI in Philly but I could be mistaken.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
the only thing that bothers me about the "no questions asked return policy" is that i think it removes the motivation for employees to work to get you in the right gear. If they know you can bring it back, why bother trying to really understand your needs? I mean, it definitely gives the customer piece of mind but I think the whole reason REI had to come up with this policy is that they have so much turn over that they know their employees are going to sell the wrong thing on a fairly regular occasion because of lack of training, knowledge..ect. Wouldn't you rather get in the right equipment the first time around? You might spend a little more but if time is money then I think you would break even. I don't know?
Hi Delawhere!

I think we're probably near each other. I grew up in PA but now live in northeastern MD and I work in Delawhere . . . :smile:

I was planning to boot shop at Pinnacle Sports in Reading. I've heard good things about that shop and my sister lives in Reading so it makes for an easy foray up that way. They advertise the "America's Best Bootfitter" certification.

I bought my current boots at Salter's in Eagleville, west of Philly. They have a couple of very good bootfitters plus all the fancy stance assessment machines, etc. I don't think their selection of boots is quite as good as other shops though, so that's why I was looking around.

Forgot to add - the Full Tilt Sallys look interesting! They're a bit harder to find but I may make it a point to try a pair. I've had occasional shin issues with my current boots . . . .


Diva in Training
I agree completely with regards to the REI's staff knowledgability. However, I think it is all what you're looking for and what part of the country you're in. When I lived in Chicago, I went to the Schaumburg, IL shop. When I'm not on skis I'm probably hanging from a rock somewhere and most of my rock-crazed friends worked at REI to supplement their addiction to gear.. :smile: Climbers tend to do A LOT of research about their gear before hitting the store because they really do put their lives on the line. Here in Colorado, I've been impressed with how the REI staff knows about bikes but less than pleased with how much they know about the skis I'm looking at. I tend to do an extraordinary amount of research when it comes to buying gear, due to lack of extra money to throw around and climber-habits, so if I know what gear I want ahead of time, I'll probably get it at REI because if I hate it, at least I can return it. But I agree, not the best place for "what ski on this wall would be best for me and why." To be fair, I've never come across a shop that was good at that.. I had to convince my old shop that I wanted to try on the Sallys.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
New Boots

I just bought a new pair of boots - my first high performance pair, Dalbello Kryzma 2010's. Haven't skied them yet, but am super-jazzed for the coming season.

I went to The Ski Shop in Colorado Springs and got the best fitting I've ever experienced. I can share some of the things my fitter (Kevin) did. The Ski Shop is (I think), the oldest ski place in town and is family owned. Everyone there knows gear inside and out. They don't carry junk and will tell you right off if the gear you want is probably not a good idea (and they will tell you why.) They are not shy. The Ski Shop is a little higher than the box stores, but the service is worth the extra.

1. Kevin spent nearly two hours with me on the initial fitting. He could do this because I went on an off time, Monday morning. So, if possible, go when it is quiet in the shop. Kevin was specific about the socks he wanted me to use, but you might consider taking your favorite pair to the fitting.
2. I asked a Lot of questions - everything from boot construction and materials to differences in brands, and how when and why to cant them. Kevin had the answers. We talked shells, liners, pack-out time, everything.
3. I tried on every boot they stocked, though Kevin had a good idea what I should get before we even started. But he didn't tell me or otherwise bias my fitting. Kevin's system is great. He puts two different boots on you at the same time, one on each foot. You flex and move laterally and walk around the shop for a while. It is very easy to judge which one fits best - much easier than when you try on one pair of boots after another. Then he takes off the reject and puts another boot on; you go through the flexing and walking around process again. Again, you judge between the two. Eventually you come down to "the pair." Then you put on both boots and walk around for 15 minutes or so just to make sure. Kevin has you also try the #2 pair just to make sure.
4. Kevin will tell you that you can research all you want, but what it comes down to (after selecting your price range and type of skiing) is your foot shape and size, and which brands fit best. Every company shapes their shells somewhat differently. He says that for everyone there are only a few brands that work best. To find out which ones, you have to try them on. I have a friend who only uses Langes. He says he has used that brand his whole life because that's what fits.
5. Kevin recommended custom foot beds. I took a couple of weeks to think about the additional $100+. In the end I went back in for them. Kevin spent another hour with me creating the perfect fit. Again, I asked sometimes insane questions and he always had the answers.

Soooo. IMHO. Fit is everything and a good fitter is worth whatever premium it costs to get your boot from a good shop.

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