5 top tips for choosing the right ski boot


When it comes to buying ski equipment, ski boots should be at the top of your list. Having comfortable or uncomfortable boots can make or break your holiday and perception of skiing as a whole, so it is well worth the investment of time and money to get the right ones for you. A great pair will last you for years, save you time at the rental shops every holiday trying on countless pairs and can be easily transported around the globe in purposely designed boot bags. Here are 5 considerations when choosing your perfect ski boot.

1. What type of skier are you?

As with all sporting equipment there is considerable variation with what is on the market when it comes to design, usage and price tag. The differences you find in ski boots will relate to your ability level and the type of skiing that you enjoy. For example, a softer boot with a generous flex will be better suited to beginner to intermediate level skiers. It will bend easily when needed and will likely offer more comfort for those not used to being in ski boots. On the other hand, a stiffer boot with less flex would be preferred by advanced or aggressive skiers as they will benefit from the extra responsiveness and added performance that it will promote.

2. What will you use it most for?

As obvious as this may seem, it is worth taking a moment to envision the circumstances in which you will be using your ski boot. For example, if you are someone with an interest in backcountry skiing, you may want to invest in some touring boots that have both a downhill and walk mode. This means that the cuff of the boot – the section on your lower leg – can either be locked into a fixed `ski mode` for going downhill, or can be `free` – allowing some back and forth movement for walking or touring. This walk mode would also be a useful feature for those that enjoy Apres ski and maybe in the bars for several hours once they finish skiing; not an uncommon occurrence in Europe.

3. What is your budget?

Now that you have zoned in on what you want your ski boot to do for you, it is important to consider your budget. You will find a large variation in this, but generally speaking you get what you pay for and as a whole – ski boots are pricey. If you are a beginner or occasional skier – there is no need to go all out on all of the latest features, gadgets and accessories, but you do still need a quality, well fitting boot. For skiers who are on the slopes frequently, it is money well spent to find something that will last for a long time, deliver in its performance and keep you comfortable for years. Heat moulding, custom foot beds and even electronic boot warms (if you are prone to cold feet) are some of the add ons that you can opt for with new boots.

4. Know your foot

The more you know about your feet and what the problem areas are (if any) the better. While a professional boot fitter will be trained in orthotics, any information or history you have is useful. If your circulation is poor or you have difficulty with finding regular footwear – share that information with the boot fitter. Many brands are better matched to certain foot shapes, and at the same time less suited for others. For example, if you have a particularly wide or deep foot, you may find that a Technica or Salamon boot accommodate your feet well, where as a pair of Daebellos may not. To summarise, the more you know about your own foot shape – the easier it will be for your boot fitter to focus on the right brands.

5. Find a reputable dealer

Professional boot fitters should be experienced and knowledgeable, but do do your research first to make sure that you are choosing one that comes well recommended. Asking friends, acquaintances, your ski instructor or ski a industry professional is a good ways to find one. And, while they are very clued up on this – do listen to your own body and communicate as best as you can to them. After all, only you know how they feel. It is not uncommon for the first day or so to take a bit of getting used to, and sometimes slightly sore pressure points may become apparent. If they do you can take the boots back to the fitter and have the shell itself re-shaped to relieve the pressure. Blisters, excessive tightness and moderate discomfort however are not normal and should not be ignored. If this does happen, go at once back to the fitter and keep working with them until they are comfortable. `Powering through` when boots are very uncomfortable create problem areas that are then very difficult to negate even with well fitting boots, and can also lead to long term damage.

Nadine Robb is Owner and Instructor at Hakuba Ski Concierge. Hakuba Ski Concierge is a boutique ski school in Hakuba, Japan.

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Comments (8)

  1. Alex says:

    Maybe a bit early in the season for me! I doubt that I’m going to hit the slopes until December. But it is a reminder that my boots ain’t going to last another season. Some useful advice.

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Thank you for your comment Alex. I suppose whether or not it is early in the season very much depends on which hemisphere you are in! Hopefully this gives you some food for thought for selecting your new ones – all the best.

  2. Jez Brown says:

    What type of skier are you? Now there’s s question. I wonder how many honest answers you will get to that. Wherever I go there’s always a hard core of skiers who think that they are a lot better than they really are. Though, in fairness, it’s usually balanced out by the modest types, lacking confidence, who are actually more skilled than they believe.

  3. Nadine Robb says:

    Never a truer statement said Jez Brown :) If I may be so bold, the general trend seems to be that males over exaggerate their abilities on the slopes, while females tend to downplay them. Of course there are exceptions – but it is an interesting pattern; not differentiating between skill and confidence could be a possible reason for this?

  4. Jo says:

    I must admit I know nothing about skiing and never realised there were so many things to consider when getting a new pair of boots. These are priceless tips because it sounds like the right footwear can make a huge difference, so it’s a worthwhile investment of thought and money get something well fitting and suitable for your intended use. I do like the idea of electric boot warmers, that sounds very toasty!

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Hi Jo, many thanks for your comment and I am thrilled that it has been useful for you! Ah, the boot warmers are complete game changers for anyone susceptible to cold feet. I unfortunately `powered through` for years with freezing toes and got frost nip one too many times; now the circulation is so poor that without boot warmers my feet become ice cubes! I recommend `hotronics` if you do go down that avenue. Happy skiing!

  5. Alma P. says:

    Choosing the right ski boot is important because skiing is a complex and dangerous sport. You’ll be needing good equipment in order for you to fully experience the fun and excitement. Bad equipment usually affect your ride downhill and it might break with the slightest of pressure, making you susceptible for injury. Having well-fitting boots also ensure your safety and comfort. Even professionals choose a good set of equipment and follow these steps.

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Thank you for your message Alma, I couldn’t agree more. As you have pointed out there are real dangers linked to poor fitting ski boots, in addition to discomfort. The best way to minimise injury is to use a professional boot fitting service – whether you are renting or buying.

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