How do we review each pair of boots?

When testing out a new ski boot for review there are several important things to keep in mind. First and foremost is fit. Performance and comfort will both suffer if you have the wrong size boot. Below is a list of all the criteria to consider when buying a new boot. Most of the specs come straight from the manufacturers, while the performance is rated on ABetterSki Snowflake Rating System. The more snowflakes, the better we felt that boot performed in that given category. While this list may not be all inclusive, it does give you what we feel to be the most important things to look for when buying a new boot.

Criteria for A Better Ski Boot Reviews

 

These are the specs that are listed for each pair of boots.

  • Boot Type
  • Skier Ability
  • Last
  • # of Buckles
  • Manufactured In
  • Flex
  • Ski/Hike Mode
  • Cuff Adjustment
  • Interchangeable Sole
  • Approximate Weight

These are rated based on performance.

Flex Stiff Adjustability Excellent Comfort Excellent
Medium/Stiff Great Great
Medium Good Good
Medium/Soft Average Average
Soft Poor Poor
Heel Hold Excellent Response Excellent Shock Absorption Excellent
Great Great Great
Good Good Good
Average Average Average
Poor Poor Poor

 

 

Ski Type – The type of ski your ride will play a role in what boot you want to buy. Race skiers will want a boot that’s stiffer and have more response when trying to carve, while others like pipe skiers may want a boot that has better shock absorption to reduce the impact of landing off of park features.

Skier Ability – Just like with skis, skier ability level will play an important role in what boots you want to buy. In general beginner boots will have a wide last and lots of flex. These are generally more comfortable, and more forgiving. Advanced skiers will generally want a boot that is stiff, and narrow. These boots will usually be less comfortable, but will be more responsive.

Last – Boot last is just the industries way of saying boot width. It is measured in millimeters and usually falls between 90mm-106mm. In general, most high performance boots are narrow since they tend to have a bit more responsiveness. However, manufacturers have begun to realize the need for wide high performance boots for those with a wider foot.

# of Buckles – Most boots will have 3 or 4 buckles. Where these buckles cinch down plays an important role in how the boot fits, and therefore performs.

Forward Lean – The center of the ski is the sweet spot. If in the correct centered and balanced position a ski will perform as the manufacturer intended it too. The forward lean in a boot will help to center your weight over the ski and “force” us into a balanced position. Entry level boots will have a greater amount of forward lean to “push” the weight of the skier forward without much effort. Too much forward lean, however, can also throw a skier out of balance. The more experience the skier, the more they will understand how to shift their weight to the proper position. This will be different for each person based on their ability to “stretch” their ankles, as well as strength, and even calf size. Some will obviously be able to flex more than others. There is no one answer to, what forward lean is right for me? It will vary with each person, and will be better understood after trying on a new boot.

Liner Type – The type of liner a boot has will alter how the boot fits your particular foot. Some come with foam liners that will use your foots heat and pressure to mold to your foot (thermal moldable), others will require an outside heat source (Custom), and some will come with liners separate the individual pieces (tongue and footbed) and allow you to customize each separately.

Flex Adjustment – Flex plays an important role in how are boots perform (see flex below), so finding a boot with the right flex is important. Some models of boots come with an adjustable range of flex to better accommodate a wider range of skiers and terrain.

Ski/Hike Mode – Some boots will have a hike setting that allows the cuff of the boot to move more freely. This helps people when walking beyond the lift accessed terrain, or when walking around town at the end of the day. Move the boot to ski mode and it locks the cuff back in place allowing it to perform on the snow.

Cuff Adjustment – Let’s face it, not every person is built the same way. Cuff adjustment allows the skier to adjust the cuff to better suit your natural stance.

Interchangeable Sole – Fit is one of the most important things when choosing a new boot. The more features you’re able to customize, the better you can make the boot fit. Sometimes the sole that comes with the boot, just doesn’t do it for your particular foot. Some have little to no arch support, while others have more. Just like shoes, some boots allow you to change out the original sole for one that better supports your foot.

Flex – Generally speaking the stiffer the boot, the better your power transitions to the bindings and skis. Most beginner skiers are going to have softer boots that are a bit more forgiving and a lot more comfortable. As your skills progress, so should the stiffness of the boot.

Heel Hold – When your heel lifts up in your boot in can cause pain, discomfort, and lack of performance. Sometimes when your heel lifts it’s a sign of improperly sized boot, other times its poor manufacturing. Either way, you want your heel secure.

Adjustability – Are you able to customize your boot? Fit and comfort are two very important factors when fitting a ski boot. Sometimes the only way to properly fit a boot is to add custom accessories. Likewise it is sometimes these accessories that help with comfort. Some boots allow for adjustability and customization, others do not.

Response – The ski boot is the link between your foot, and the skis you’re on. The better the response, the better your movement will translate to the ski.

Comfort – Boots should fit comfortably. There should not be any pain. If they are painful, you may have the wrong size. If they are still painful, try a different manufacturer. Remember that last (width), mondo size, liner type, and flex adjustment can all play a role in comfort.

Shock Absorption – Just like skis, shock absorption in boots can play an important role in reducing chatter, sticking that landing, or playing in the bumps. Good boots can handle the shock and reduce impact on your body. Some boots have great shock absorption and can handle landings when in the park. Others, not so much. Find a boot that matches the type of skiing you want to do.

 

Other things to consider

 

Boots, while one of the most important pieces of equipment, can also be the hardest piece of gear to size correctly. Boots should be comfortable, not painful. If you have to “get used to it”, chances are they don’t fit correctly. Some boots will allow you to customize them to fit better, but make sure to do your research first. The fit should be snug. Unlike shoes, we don’t want space in-between our toes and the end of the boots. If you have ever had black toenails after skiing, chances are your boots are too loose, not too tight. If a boot is too loose, it allows the foot to move inside. When on a steep trail, our feet may be pushed forward to the end of the boot. Worse yet is your toes crashing into the end of the boot after landing a big jump. On the other hand, if a boot is too tight, it can cut off circulation to your toes and your feet will always be cold. It’s very important to find a boot that fits correctly.

 

Tips for buying boots online

 

It is possible to buy a boot online with confidence if you follow a few guidelines. However, it’s important to remember that the best way to correctly size a boot for you is to actually try it on. Go to your local ski shop (or if you’re in our area, check out a few of our friends) and try on a few different boots. Bring a pair of ski socks, since that is what you will be wearing when on the snow. Try boots from several manufacturers as boots that are the same dimensions may actually fit slightly different. Some boots may feel too small at first, but as your feet warm the liner, they may begin to feel more comfortable. If you find a boot you like, but would rather buy it online, take note of all the specs and use that information when you go to purchase that boot.

Found an awesome deal online, but can’t find that boot in a local shop? Don’t have time to try on a boot? There are several steps you can take to try and have a better idea for the correct fit. This is the hard part, but there are a few things you can do to get a better idea of the size you need. First, measure your foot from heel to toe in cm (manufacturers give boot sizes in cm). Next, measure the widest part of your toe-box in mm. This will be the number you use to determine the last that is right for you. This will be the best way to get an idea for what size you need without actually trying it on. Please note however, that even after following these steps, the boot may still not fit properly for your foot.