How to Choose Alpine Ski Boots

How to Choose Alpine Ski Boots
Although many skiers quickly fall in love with alpine skiing, few enjoy the boot rental process. Simply put, rental boots hurt. Additionally, continually renting boots becomes expensive. However, your boots are your most important piece of ski equipment. If you consider the fact that skiing movements begin in the feet, you understand the importance of selecting the right ski boot.


Difficulty: Challenging

How to Choose Alpine Ski Boots

Things You’ll Need:
  • Ski socks Awareness of your skiing ability
  • Ski socks
  • Awareness of your skiing ability
Step 1
Determine your ability level in order to select ski boots that are appropriate for your level. Have a professional ski instructor or a friend who is an expert evaluate your skills. Novice skiers are still skiing in a wedge. They usually ski on groomed green terrain. Intermediates are beginning to ski parallel, and usually ski on blue or groomed black trails. Advanced skiers ski parallel. Their turns are carved, instead of skidded.
Step 2
Research boots appropriate for your level in ski magazines, on and from suggestions from friends. Because ski boots serve as a communication mechanism between your feet and your skis, you want boots strong enough to keep you from injury but flexible enough to allow for ankle flexion and extension.The lower legs of novice skiers are not as strong as those who have practiced the sport for a long time and will require a more flexible boot. As you get stronger, you will need a stiffer boot to give you more support in steeper terrain. An expert boot will have more shock absorption to protect your knees when landing from a jump. If you are considering ski racing, you will need an even stiffer boot; preferably designed for ski racers.
Step 3
Wear your ski socks to the ski shop. This is the only way to know that the ski boot will have a correct fit.
Step 4
Choose the correct size and width. In general, if you are a recreational alpine skier, you will want a pair of ski boots that are a bit wider than boots designed for advanced and expert skiers. For example, boots designed for beginner and intermediate alpine skiers are available in widths of 102 to 105 millimeters. In contrast, boots designed for advanced and expert skiers usually measure 100 to 102 millimeters.
Step 5
Examine the outer shell of the boot. A beginner's ski boot will have a soft shell, and an intermediate's boot will have a somewhat harder shell. Racing boots and boots designed for expert skiing have a very hard outer shell. Keep in mind that they may be uncomfortable for any types of recreational skiing.
Step 6
Choose a boot with a flex adjustment. This will allow you to make the boot more flexible for groomed terrain, and stiffer for skiing moguls.
Step 7
Remove the inner lining from your selected ski boot. Then, step into the boot, and check to see if your toes are touching the forefoot. Now, check the distance behind the heel. There should be at least a half inch of room between your heel and the back of the boot.
Step 8
Reinsert the ski boot liner, and try the boot on again. While it should feel snug, you should not feel any cramping around the ankles.
Step 9
Bend your knees and get into a skier's tuck position. If the boots fit correctly, your toes should pull away from the forefoot of the ski boot, and your heels should stay down.
Step 10
Walk around the store and experiment with ski edging movements. The boots should feel comfortable but snug.
Step 11
Compare different brands by placing one boot on one foot and a different brand on the other.

Tips & Warnings

If you are a woman, female-specific boots are easier to flex.
Be honest about your ability. If you buy a boot that is too stiff, you will have trouble flexing it. Likewise, an overly soft boot will offer precious little support on challenging terrain.


Article Written By Lisa Mercer

In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.

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