As the season is getting near, every year we hear a lot of questions what ski boots to choose. For, believe it or not, ski boots are a piece of equipment that can mostly affect your improvement in skiing. So, how to choose optimal ones?
If you intend to try out your ski boots, take proper socks with you, the ones you usually wear when you ski. In the same manner, our advice is to avoid cotton socks, because cotton soaks up and keeps moisture extremely well, which will make you feel pretty uncomfortable in the cold and snow.
Feet have a tendency of swelling during the day, so the best thing to do is to try out ski boots in the afternoon or evening when your feet and ankles are "the biggest". At first, you should feel firmness in your boot, but not tightness, because the pad in your boot can be extended even half a size. Fingers should touch the top of a boot, but they should not be bent or kick the boot top while walking. When you tie up your boot, you should not feel any painful tightening or chafing. When you bend your knees and when your boot is tied up, your heel must not raise up independently from the boot. Your foot must not have such level of freedom, so that when the boot is still, it moves left-right in the boot itself. In order to make a decision, you should spend at least twenty minutes in your boots. These days, every shop with ski equipment has a special measuring device for foot size, so that you can choose your ski boot as accurately as possible. Each ski boot has a mark of length in millimetres on the outside. Don`t be confused because of it, since nominally, the same size with two different manufacturers can differ up to several millimetres. This number indicates whether you will have to adjust your bindings when you replace your old boots with new ones. It is also important to mention that some manufacturers make models that nominally differ in half a size, but the outer dimensions of the boot are identical, which means that they actually differ in size of the pad.
When you are choosing your ski boots, by yourself or with the help of a shop assistant, be honest about how well you ski and about your physical predispositions. Generally, ski boots can be divided into three categories:
Entry-level ski boots su udobne, savitljive i “opraštaju” mnoge pogrešne pokrete. Dizajnirane su da budu prihvatljive cenom i adekvatne za savladavanje i učenje osnovnih skijaških tehnika.
Recreation boots are models made for skiers who have defined ski technique, but still want to improve their curve turns and skiing on more demanding terrains. They are more responsive than the previous category, easier for performing faster and dynamic turns and are somewhat harder (hardness will be mentioned later in the text).
Competition boots are very hard, most responsive and made for skiing with ultimate speed and precision, but for majority of amateurs too hard to ski in them all day long.
Generally speaking, ski boots consist of two major components: outer polyurethane plastic (shell) and inner pad (liner). Adhesion and softness of both components define category and ski boot purpose, very often their quality, too. The better cooperation between plastic and the pad, the better response of the boot to the leg movements, better transfer of the forces to the skis, thus, skis are more precise.
Hardness of the outer plastic is most often defined with the term FLEX INDEX (further in the text FI) - index of flexibility or hardness Higher FI defines harder ski boot and the span can vary from 50 up to 140. Boots with the FI of 100-140 are more than recreation models,they are more adherent to the leg, they enable maximum transfer of leg or foot movement onto the ski and thus provides faster response of the ski. They are intended for excellent skiers.
For reacreation boots, standard spans are from 50-100, , depending on the amateur category. For those who prefer speed, have good technique and strong legs and weight, we recommend models with FI 80-100, whereas for the slimmer ones, with the tendency that their boot is as comfortable as it can be, we recommend FI 50-70, especially if they don`t have heavy and hard model of the skis. These things must also be taken into consideration, because what use of soft boots if you ski on unfriendly terrains or if you have hard and fast skis for competitions?
Therefore, when you more or less know what FI you will take, there is still a lot of work ahead of you. Today, every manufacturer brings out their patents in the shape of different clasps, pad adjustment strategies depending on warmth, leg pressure or specific warming techniques. It is very important for the clasps to have microscrews, which are very useful for boot adjustment in order to have maximum comfort.
As for the pad adjustment, here we have a lot of standards present, depending on the manufacturer. Most of these adjustments are based on warming up the pad due to body temperature and leg pressure, whereas there are also ones warmed up with the special apparatus in order to make the shape of a leg and keep that shape. There are also pads filled with gel to get the shape of a foot. In recent years, many manufacturers have used a special plastic to make shell, which is also possible to shape according to the foot by warming it with special apparatus.
People often make mistake and buy ski boots looking at models they see in the World Cup or following the "more expensive is higher quality" logic. It may be so, but real competition boots are not intended for wearing all day long, but for the maximum ski response for a shorter period of time. If you bought ski boots that chafe you, maybe there is some help to it. There are service shops that do bootfitting, but if you bought boots too large, I am afraid that even an extra pair of socks will not help. The most common mistake skiers constantly make and the one we are warning you about is: Don`t buy larger boots than you need. Ignore the "when I put on an extra pair of socks..." phylosophy and bear in mind that the pads, especially softer models, can strech only after a few days of skiing.
We hope that we have helped you with these advice. See you on the track.