Should I Buy My Own Ski Boots?
Should I get my own ski boots?
As instructors we're regularly asked “what's the one thing would help my skiing most?”. The usual answer is “take more lessons and buy your own boots”, so the short answer is yes.
But we would recommend waiting until you have some experience, unless rental equipment is inhibiting your progress. If you are attending our Level 6 or Skills Development Coaching Sessions or are skiing regularly or more than one week in the mountains, get your own boots. They will:
- Fit you better
- Aid progression
- Be more comfortable
Which one should I get?
We also get asked to recommend a boot or the best brand. The simple answer to this is "the one that fits you best”. If you have normal feet, one of the high street chains would be my go-to suggestion; however, if you have issues with your feet and/or legs then one of the specialist fitters should be your first port of call. Boots are like a wizard’s wand; the boot chooses the owner. This is where the skill of the boot fitter comes into play. They will match a selection of boots to your foot and leg shape which fits in with your current/aspired level of skiing. Boots are also marketed at various different types of people. There is always a trade off between comfort and performance, and this is a discussion your fitter will have with you. Some improtant factors:
- Foot and leg shape
- Skiing style
- Flex at the ankle
- Custom footbeds
- Take your time
Fitting boots is a complex process and there are many technical solutions. The fitter will look at your foot and leg shape, maybe take some measurements. They will discuss your skiing style and then suggest options around fit, boot type and flex. Flex is a measure of how much effort is needed to bend the boots when flexing the ankle – a world cup slalom skier needs a stiffer, higher flex rating than someone cruising around the blue runs while on holiday. Custom footbeds are always a good idea but do add to the cost. Find a fitter you can trust.
The actual process of fitting a pair of boots will usually take a couple of hours; I have new boots every year, I have a fairly complex fitting and it takes a couple of hours. Commit to spending the time to get the fitting right. You may need to return to the shop a few times to get everything set-up perfectly; new boots WILL feel tight to start with as the new liners need time to bed down, so expect some discomfort to start with.
Where to get boots from?
There are a number of options for boots:
- High street
- Internet shops
- Family cast-offs
We'd urge you to get your boots fitted by a professional as you then get the product you need, not what you think you need. We see a number of our guest at The Snow Centre with boots that are not quite right for them. Buying ski boots online carries an element of risk. We recommend you check out the returns policy when ordering any boots online to ensure you can find something that is comfortable. Boots that are cast offs have useually been worn in by someone else who's feet are a different shape to yours. It's unlikely you will get the best fit from thee types of boots.
When to get boots?
There will be more choice at the beginning of the alpine season, but prices will be set; later in the season prices may drop but there will be less choice it may depend on when your trip is and how complex the fitting might be.
Should I get my children boots?
The answer here is less clear cut. If your children are skiing frequently (such as with our coaching and Snowstars clubs or with a race club) then we'd say yes. But the challenge is that children's feet grow quickly, and the boots still need to be snug when new, boots that have “room to grow” are too big and may make things more difficult. With kids, cast off’s or second hand can work if chosen with care. On the plus side there is a decent secondhand market for childrens equipment via the clubs and social media. My son had boots when he started to race at the age of 7, I’ve lost count of how many pairs he had and at times it felt like it was a new pair every 6 months, but we managed to sell on every pair he had up to his mid-teens (from this point on they tend to wear out before they grow out of them).
So, should you buy your own boots? Genersally we would say yes, boots your own boots, and we'd recommend that you avoid shopping directly and consult a good fitter. Entry level boots will start from around £250 for adults; Childrens from around £70.