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Help with AT boot fit!

alexashreds

Certified Ski Diva
Hi everyone! I am a mountain biker that dabbles in cross country skiing (in the off-season) who is new to downhill skiing (started last year) with the goal of getting into alpine touring! After one season at the resort (season pass last winter), I felt confident enough to buy AT gear for this winter; planning to start off very gentle because my downhill skills are still pretty basic. I'm struggling with the fit of the AT boots that I bought and I'm looking for some advice on next steps.

I recently bought Scarpa Gea AT boots (in December). I went to a shop 5 hours from where I live and was bootfit by the owner over two days. He spent hours with me including 2 rounds of heat molding and I was skiing some downhill runs during the process. We got them workable (or so I thought) and we had to leave to get back home). I have low arches and narrow feet/heels except for bunions which are proving to be problematic recently when it comes to buying shoes. I’ve only used these new boots once since buying them (I went out on Monday, ski toured/downhill runs for 4 hours). The boots are still pretty uncomfortable; the widest part of my foot is very squished, my bunions are rubbing and my pinkie toe was going numb. My feet were very uncomfortable during the touring, slightly better on downhill runs. I’m familiar with the fit of downhill boots and these are worse than my Dalbello downhill boots. The bootfitter was adamant that these boots are the correct size for me and that the liners will pack out over time. I want to trust the process, but I’m pretty nervous that I dropped $850 on boots that kill my feet. Does anyone have any advice? I feel like I could go back to the shop and they’d help me get into a bigger size but I don’t know if that’s the right decision. I have to travel to do this type of skiing so it’s not totally reasonable for me to get a ton of time in the boots right now (we don’t have much snow yet where I live). The thought of going through this process all over again is exhausting but I need to not want to rip my boots off my feet every time I ski.

I see the following options:

1) it's likely that these boots will get more comfortable over time
2) go back to the shop and see if they'll work with me to get me into something more comfortable and/or a larger size of these boots
3) sell these boots as lightly used and start over
 

alexashreds

Certified Ski Diva
Which shop did you go to? There is a list of bootfitters somewhere on this forum. I would bring the boot to a master bootfitter for an answer to your question.
I went to High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid (I live in western NY). I did peruse the bootfitters list while I was waiting for my account to be verified and I didn't see any in NY state unfortunately. That's a good idea though! I figured bootfitters wanted to start from scratch and not try to fit you into a boot you already own.
 

Chuyi

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Master bootfitters charge for the fitting. Since the shell is new restart may mean a new liner. Low arches is usually taken care of by a different footbed. I use superfeet. Go to REI step on the different superfeet until you find the ones that you don't feel. My ankles are smaller than my fat feet/calf. The fitter uses an ankle wrap (google boxum ankle pad). Finally cuz I am short for the heel to catch+ walk +Calf comfort I need a heel lift.
 

alexashreds

Certified Ski Diva
Master bootfitters charge for the fitting. Since the shell is new restart may mean a new liner. Low arches is usually taken care of by a different footbed. I use superfeet. Go to REI step on the different superfeet until you find the ones that you don't feel. My ankles are smaller than my fat feet/calf. The fitter uses an ankle wrap (google boxum ankle pad). Finally cuz I am short for the heel to catch+ walk +Calf comfort I need a heel lift.
Superfeet are a no go. We did the whole boot fit with Superfeet in the boots, and they ended up pushing my feet up too much and the top of my feet were getting annihilated. On a whim, we removed the Superfeet and the boots felt a million times better, I did a few ski runs and then we headed home. However, I think my feet were so beat up from the fitting process and felt so much relief from removing the Superfeet, that I didn't "notice" how smushed my feet still were.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I went to High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid (I live in western NY). I did peruse the bootfitters list while I was waiting for my account to be verified and I didn't see any in NY state unfortunately. That's a good idea though! I figured bootfitters wanted to start from scratch and not try to fit you into a boot you already own.
Welcome! You might check out the NYSkiBlog since you are in NY.

High Peaks is a good ski shop. The other one in Lake Placid is right in town, Lake Placid Ski and Board. I didn't have a good impression of Cunningham's.

A bootfitter at LP Ski and Board helped my niece with adding relatively inexpensive heat-moldable footbeds to her boots.

My daughter was at North Country School for middle school so the last time I was in LP during the winter was 2016. Those shops have been around for quite a while. I learned to ski at NCS (rope town on campus) and Whiteface but that was a long time ago.
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Were there no other boot options after you tried the footbed and found that it made the boot uncomfortable?

For the squished toes, a potential option is to get it punched out, but not all bootfitters are comfortable doing that with touring boots b/c the plastic is thinner/different than in burlier alpine boots.

I have a pretty wide forefoot and owned the Scarpa Geas for a hot second and returned them after I convinced myself that a boot where my foot felt like it was folded up like an upside down taco was never going to break in. I'm in a different boot with a wider toe box now, which are hands down the best fitting boots -- AT or alpine -- that I have owned.

You haven't said anything about the length being wrong, so I don't think a larger size boot in this line will help, but a boot with a different shape, e.g., wider toe box, might be better. It also worries me that adding a non-stock footbed seems to have taken up so much volume/made the fit painful on top. It generally sounds like boot shape and your foot shape do not match.
 

WaterGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@alexashreds I have a few thoughts as I have the Gea from a few seasons ago and I realize they are a pretty straight boot at the forefoot.

Are you in the new Geas? 23/24 season

Did the fitter do a shell check - meaning taking the liner out and seeing how you foot fits within the actual shell ? If so did you have enough room for your bunions ?

What socks are you using?

You said you heat molded twice - I’m assuming the liner?

AT boots are tough bc you are fitting for both skiing and touring. And balance weight and performance…..

What other boots did you get to try?
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Do you mind sharing your street size, the model & size on your Dalbellos, and the size for your Geas? Just trying to rule out any glaring mismatches in last or sizing.

Boots can totally get more comfortable over time, either passively or intentionally. I can totally relate - my touring boots are super downsized to hold my heel in place and the toe crunch left me in tears the first few tours.

At home, wear the boots while you're sitting around. You can even pop the liners in the oven like another heat molding to expedite the process. This'll help you maximize the the room in the shell as-is.

If you don't get the desired results from that, a fitter can punch the shell. (They melt the plastic a bit and re-mold it). The most important part of a boot fitting is that your heel's locked in place, then your calf is comfortable, then the clog because the clog can be punched. I've got a friend with remarkable bunions, and even with the thin plastic on touring boots, her fitter got the boot to match her feet perfectly. Do you know what he was doing with all of that time other than the initial fit and heat molding? 2 days of fitting isn't unheard of, but most of my friends going through that kind of time either have very challenging feet or are athletes trying to dial in a sponsor boot that's not the best fit for them. What was the shopping process for your Dalbellos? The shop you purchased from will usually be the most affordable option for a follow-up fitting. But if you decide you don't trust that shop, that's totally valid. I'd find another fitter to give a second opinion about altering the boot or switching to something new. I know the shop owner sounds incredibly experienced, but I don't love that he didn't seem to hear or trust your concerns. I also think it's weird he let you leave without a footbed (or at least a recommendation for something lower profile to try / at least offer the idea of a custom footbed).
 

WaterGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@Analisa not to hijack OP, but since she has a narrow foot and bunions - what are your thoughts for boots that are similar to the Gea? I only ask b/c I'm looking to upgrade my boots, I "thought" that I would just get a new Gea RS as I needed a stiffer boot( laster years version, not in love with then new Quatro influenced Gea). Then I demo'd the La Sportive Vanguard yesterday for a few hours on mt, and did a 15 min skin, ran out of time, need to skin in it more. Wow I LOVED the Vanguard for the down hill compared to the Gea it fixed a lot of issues I have. I felt it matched my foot/instep a lot better, BUT I am suspect of the wider heel..... and the liner has some stiffer material under the ankles so I'm not sure if that is what I was feeling. I was in a 'performance' fit for sure not much room behind heel, but I'm narrow ankle heel and width with some first met arthritis so don't mind a little more width for skinning in the forefoot. Discussed w/ shop will demo again on a flat skin to sus out any issues, and may pop in my Gea liners.... fwiw I was skiing in knee nylons and my custom footbeds.

Zero G is really the only narrow boot, but it apparently doesn't skin as well as the Gea or Vanguard? In reality, skinning is 85% of the time, skiing 15%, I get it but I don't love where the ankle rivet is in the Zero G, it conflicts with my bony ankles. Thoughts on other options? If the boot is 90% perfect but the heel is a little wide ..... looking for that goldilocks equal skin/ski performance that the Geas and Vanguard have....
thanks!
The most important part of a boot fitting is that your heel's locked in place, then your calf is comfortable, then the clog because the clog can be punched.
 
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Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@WaterGirl When I started touring in 2015, I remember my bootfitter saying "you find the boot that skis the way you want it to and then you figure out fit from there." 2015 was a very different time in ski touring. A lot fewer brands were playing in the space. Even fewer had much R&D to speak of. Most customers have been able to move on from that approach, but I know a few people who have very specific goals for their boots and are willing to invest the time and money into their an R&D project with a willing fitter.

Where I'm seeing the most tension in your ask is the desire for something stiffer but also something that prioritizes the uphill mechanics. Those tend to work in opposition to each other. I ski a Zero G and definitely miss my old Dynafit's mechanics on the uphill, I don't think realistically, there are many options on the market that are going to get much better / not come with some sort of downhill trade-off. I sometimes think about building a boot quiver and getting a 2-buckle boot for long approaches or ski traverses, but I don't really do either enough to warrant it.

In terms of your options:

1. I'd definitely look at getting an old RS. Most sizes are still in stock (and $399 at Backcountry). They're the only boot that comes to mind as stiffer, but with no ROM drawbacks.

2. For me personally, if the current Geas are in good shape, I'd put money into some upgrades like a Zipfit liner and booster strap. Idk the science behind why, but I know it changes the perceived flex of the boot. Both can carry over into new setups. It buys some time for R&D improvements and market shifts. The Zero G's getting an update for next season. K2 just entered the ISO touring market and I feel like there's a lot of competition in mid-volume boots. Dalbello & Salomon have never made something ISO touring & 3/4 buckle. I'd hope that someone sees a sales opportunity to go lower or higher volume.

3. XT3 Tour 115 W, Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD, Nordica Unlimited, and Fischer TransAlp Tour W come to mind as potential options? I wouldn't be surprised if the same ROM issues the Zero G apply to the first 3 on that list.

4. New Gea RS - just curious what those changes were that made it a deal breaker?

5. For the Vanguard, are you getting heel lift? If so, not ideal, but possible to take up that volume with a higher profile footbed, padding on the liners, cork injection liners. But if your goal is downhill performance, there's some uncertainty of where you can get with mods. I'm far too risk averse for that, but I've seen much more dramatic "frankenboots" work out for friends. Now, if your heel's kept down as a result of the instep fit and you're looking to fix some lateral movement & get better responsiveness, totally different story.
 

sdski4fun

Diva in Training
I too have very narrow feet with almost non existent arches. My AT boots are also my resort boots. I worked with a boot fitter in park city and he basically told me not to heat mold the liners if I was also using them to tour. The boots had a good fit to start with and he did some work on rub spots by working on the shells. Plus he got me using correct foot beds to support the arches and correct my pronation. I don't think salespeople make good boot fitters.... go to a pro and see what they can fix. They are in the business of fitting not selling a product. My AT boots are the best boots I've ever skied in and working with a fitting pro made the difference.
 

WaterGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Again not to hijack but to add info:

Thanks @Analisa for your reply - I appreciate your thoughts
1. purchased last years GEA RS for cheap. bird in the hand-
2. Have upgraded strap (have a $1K Lange World Cup ZA power strap to chinch down) long story, but I'm getting something from the plug boot fitter disaster. Also added neoprene pad on tongue. B/c while the heel fits and I have no issues skining in this boot, there is a gap in the front and I don't feel supported. I have to hold myself up when skiing.
3. Interesting about the Nordica Unlimited since I'm happy skiing in a "extra super tight performance fit" ProMachine now. Also, I see that you can get the unisex version in a 130 in a 22.5 hmmmmmm. But the sole is not as beefy, have that talus and scree here that chews up rubber.... and I'm looking dedicated AT not so much 50/50....
4. New Gea (too forward), and Zero G (ankle bite) - I guess I'm going to have to spend more time possibly demoing these to rule them out but I have tried on both multiple times in the shop and just wasn't right.
5. Vanguard - no heel lift while skiing and I was wearing knee high nylons the liner has different thicknesses around the ankle and I'm not sure if I was feeling that. I do see that it's just a much bigger heel space than the Gea, but then it really locks down my instep and it has a higher cuff which I need. The fit of the front of the boot and its support is perfect. Skiing was a dream. Need to demo again and do a flat skin.

My issue isn't so much that I want/need a 'better performing boot on the down hill' as much as its I finally figured out what works with my "excessive" dorsiflexion and its a taller cuff, and a negative binding delta. I shimmed my dynafits last year with a B&D 6.4 shim its not enough. After skiing my Alpine set up negative 1, and getting back on my AT set up this season I realized instant quad fatigue and squatty position. I can't double up the shims (I could but why) and the binding is pretty 'extra' for what I am doing now. so I am going with a Marker Alpinist b/c it is about 2mm delta and I can get a 3.2 B & D toe shim if necessary to make the negative delta. If I'm going to get new boots, I want to mount the Alpinist to that boot.

What was super interesting about skiing the Vanguard on my current set up w/ Dynafit extra delta was that even though I was +1 mount (b/c smaller BSL than the Gea) and I hadn't really worked thru all the adjustments on the boot, I had so much more control and felt way more upright. Actually kind of a lightbulb moment as to maybe it's not all the binding delta but combination of the cuff support/ height from the boot. So its other factors that come into play for me - I wasn't really planning on getting new boots b/c I thought the GEA was ok, but now I see that there may be other options that aren't perfect but are better.
 
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alexashreds

Certified Ski Diva
Were there no other boot options after you tried the footbed and found that it made the boot uncomfortable?

For the squished toes, a potential option is to get it punched out, but not all bootfitters are comfortable doing that with touring boots b/c the plastic is thinner/different than in burlier alpine boots.

I have a pretty wide forefoot and owned the Scarpa Geas for a hot second and returned them after I convinced myself that a boot where my foot felt like it was folded up like an upside down taco was never going to break in. I'm in a different boot with a wider toe box now, which are hands down the best fitting boots -- AT or alpine -- that I have owned.

You haven't said anything about the length being wrong, so I don't think a larger size boot in this line will help, but a boot with a different shape, e.g., wider toe box, might be better. It also worries me that adding a non-stock footbed seems to have taken up so much volume/made the fit painful on top. It generally sounds like boot shape and your foot shape do not match.
I’m so sorry I didn’t reply! I didn’t get any more notifications and didn’t realize I had more comments. I live 5 hours from where i bought the boots so I had to wait until I went there again to try something else. I didn’t realize how uncomfortable the boots still were until I skied with them twice at home. I went today to the original shop and basically returned my boots and they set me up in some Salomon MTN Summit Pures. They’re much wider and now I’m worried they might be too big. What a process this is.
 

alexashreds

Certified Ski Diva
@alexashreds I have a few thoughts as I have the Gea from a few seasons ago and I realize they are a pretty straight boot at the forefoot.

Are you in the new Geas? 23/24 season

Did the fitter do a shell check - meaning taking the liner out and seeing how you foot fits within the actual shell ? If so did you have enough room for your bunions ?

What socks are you using?

You said you heat molded twice - I’m assuming the liner?

AT boots are tough bc you are fitting for both skiing and touring. And balance weight and performance…..

What other boots did you get to try?
They were the brand new Geas. He did a shell check and I think the bunions were fine but I can’t really remember. I finally was able to go back today and swapped the boots out for Salomon MTN Summit Pures.
 

alexashreds

Certified Ski Diva
Do you mind sharing your street size, the model & size on your Dalbellos, and the size for your Geas? Just trying to rule out any glaring mismatches in last or sizing.

Boots can totally get more comfortable over time, either passively or intentionally. I can totally relate - my touring boots are super downsized to hold my heel in place and the toe crunch left me in tears the first few tours.

At home, wear the boots while you're sitting around. You can even pop the liners in the oven like another heat molding to expedite the process. This'll help you maximize the the room in the shell as-is.

If you don't get the desired results from that, a fitter can punch the shell. (They melt the plastic a bit and re-mold it). The most important part of a boot fitting is that your heel's locked in place, then your calf is comfortable, then the clog because the clog can be punched. I've got a friend with remarkable bunions, and even with the thin plastic on touring boots, her fitter got the boot to match her feet perfectly. Do you know what he was doing with all of that time other than the initial fit and heat molding? 2 days of fitting isn't unheard of, but most of my friends going through that kind of time either have very challenging feet or are athletes trying to dial in a sponsor boot that's not the best fit for them. What was the shopping process for your Dalbellos? The shop you purchased from will usually be the most affordable option for a follow-up fitting. But if you decide you don't trust that shop, that's totally valid. I'd find another fitter to give a second opinion about altering the boot or switching to something new. I know the shop owner sounds incredibly experienced, but I don't love that he didn't seem to hear or trust your concerns. I also think it's weird he let you leave without a footbed (or at least a recommendation for something lower profile to try / at least offer the idea of a custom footbed).
I range between a 7-8 for shoe (typically a 7.5 in a running sneaker. The Geas are 23.0. My Dalbellos are VELOCE MAX GW 65 W in a 23/23. I ended up returning the Geas today, and walked out with Salomon MTN Summit Pure W in a 24/24.5. I fear these are too big. I just feel so helpless and totally clueless throughout this process. We took 2 days to fit bc I was in the shop at the end of the day, and then we continued the next day at the bottom of the ski mountain where they were running a demo. So he would hear mold the boots and i went and took some runs. I thought they were ok so I left and we drove 5 hours home. When I was able to use them again they were so ungodly uncomfortable and all I wanted to do was rip my feet off. I panicked and took them back today. They’re just so expensive and I’m a newish skier and I couldn’t manage the thought of having to ski through the pain for hours in hopes they would eventually not hurt me.
 

alexashreds

Certified Ski Diva
I too have very narrow feet with almost non existent arches. My AT boots are also my resort boots. I worked with a boot fitter in park city and he basically told me not to heat mold the liners if I was also using them to tour. The boots had a good fit to start with and he did some work on rub spots by working on the shells. Plus he got me using correct foot beds to support the arches and correct my pronation. I don't think salespeople make good boot fitters.... go to a pro and see what they can fix. They are in the business of fitting not selling a product. My AT boots are the best boots I've ever skied in and working with a fitting pro made the difference.
So did you buy the boots and then take them to the fitter? Or buy them from the fitter? This process is confusing to me because if I take the wrong sized boot to a boot fitter, he’s not going to be able to remedy that!
 

alexashreds

Certified Ski Diva
Were there no other boot options after you tried the footbed and found that it made the boot uncomfortable?

For the squished toes, a potential option is to get it punched out, but not all bootfitters are comfortable doing that with touring boots b/c the plastic is thinner/different than in burlier alpine boots.

I have a pretty wide forefoot and owned the Scarpa Geas for a hot second and returned them after I convinced myself that a boot where my foot felt like it was folded up like an upside down taco was never going to break in. I'm in a different boot with a wider toe box now, which are hands down the best fitting boots -- AT or alpine -- that I have owned.

You haven't said anything about the length being wrong, so I don't think a larger size boot in this line will help, but a boot with a different shape, e.g., wider toe box, might be better. It also worries me that adding a non-stock footbed seems to have taken up so much volume/made the fit painful on top. It generally sounds like boot shape and your foot shape do not match.
What boot did you end up in? I swapped the boots out for Salomon MTN Summit Pures. They’re a size up and I feel like I’m swimming in them. The width is good but I feel like they’re too big. I am literally DREADING going back to this shop for a 3rd time.
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
What boot did you end up in? I swapped the boots out for Salomon MTN Summit Pures. They’re a size up and I feel like I’m swimming in them. The width is good but I feel like they’re too big. I am literally DREADING going back to this shop for a 3rd time.
I'm in a Scott Celeste II that I bought in 2016. My dress shoe size is a 6.5D, running shoe a 7.5D, and the ski boot is a 23. From what you write, it sounds like you need a wider boot, not a longer boot.
 

KathrynC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm in a Scott Celeste II that I bought in 2016. My dress shoe size is a 6.5D, running shoe a 7.5D, and the ski boot is a 23. From what you write, it sounds like you need a wider boot, not a longer boot.
I use a Scott Celeste from 2019. Very similar - I have a wide forefoot and a high instep. Much as the Gea RS looks nice, Scarpa boots have never been a good fit for me. They are always too narrow, and press on the tops of my feet.

I'm not sure about sizes - I'm a 2.5 - 3 in UK street size, but I'm not sure what that translates to in US sizes. My Celestes are a 23.0.

For me, the Celestes needed no modification - I just put the custom insoles I already had in them, and they were perfect. Of course, your mileage will vary with that, depending on your feet.

My experience is that the Celestes come up slightly small in the length compared to Scarpas. This suited me too because I could get the width I needed without feeling like I was swimming in them.

Celestes come in a Pebax version (standard) and a Grilamid version called the Celeste Tour. This are slightly lighter and slightly stiffer. I have the standard version - I didn't try the Tour because I couldn't find it in my size in the UK. However, for me the standard is fine, I don't feel like they are overly heavy for me.
 

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