Many skiers will have asked themselves at some point in time how they can choose the best possible ski boot. In this blog I’ll attempt to provide skiers with a few tips to enable them to learn a little about how to find a boot that is comfortable and functional, depending on how we ski.
Firstly, I’d like to clarify that these are just my opinions, which have been reached based on my own experience as a skier; so, it’s always best to discuss your situation with a boot professional, but, as I mentioned above, my goal here is to provide advice for skiers.
Now that I’ve introduced the blog, let’s begin!
What is the stiffness or flex of a boot?
Well, the flex of a boot is the stiffness index of the leg of the boot, in other words, how much the boot leg flexes, depending on the forward pressure you exert. The flex is classified more or less between 30 and 60 for children and from 70 to 130 or higher for adults. We need a different grade of stiffness, depending on what our objectives are, as wearing boots with the wrong stiffness can lead to various problems, so I’ll clarify the type of stiffness we should choose for our boots below.
What size boot should we choose?
One of the factors we should take into account above all, is the size of the boot. It’s very important for it to grip your foot and shin evenly and that you should always be able to feel the end of the boot with your big toe. If we choose a boot that’s too big or if our big toe simply can’t touch the end of it, our feet will slide forward, forcing your body to adopt a poor posture, making us lean backwards. This may result in greater difficulty to ski and a loss of control.
Before dealing with the types of boot to be chosen, I’d personally advise skiers from any discipline to visit a boot professional to have their feet measured and check whether they have any deformations in their feet and/or legs. These deformations can lead to terrible pain in your feet when wearing boots, but this can be solved by boot-fitting, using insoles to correct your movements.
What is boot-fitting?
There are some professionals who modify boots for greater adaptation to their feet and legs, either by perfecting certain parts of the boot’s shell or by adding material to increase the pressure the boot exerts on the foot. I can say that this technique is often used by competition skiers, as they wear very hard boots and they need them to fully adapt to their feet so they can transmit their movements and energy to their skis as accurately as they can.
Who are their boots for?
It’s true to say that their ski boots are designed for both adults (men and women) and children. The children’s ones are simpler and cheaper, but we won’t focus on them too much as they tend to be for beginners, so they are more or less universal, with a stiffness index ranging from 30 to 60. You just have to find the right size.
In this blog we’ll focus on how to choose boots for adults, so we should now ask ourselves the following question:
What do we want to wear the boots for?
In my opinion, there are three major skiing disciplines to be discussed: freeride, freestyle and alpine skiing.
When it comes to downhill skiing, there are three types of users: beginners, advanced-level and competition skiers.
For beginners, I’d recommend a comfortable, medium-flex boot (80-90 for men and 70-80 for women); this will enhance the experience when the moment comes to doing the first turns on the skis, as a lot of pain or boots that are too hard could lead to skiers losing their enthusiasm or going away without skiing having made a good impression on them. They are mid-range boots. We should choose medium-flex boots, as skiers have to learn to flex their ankles properly and push their weight forward to maintain better balance. The problem for beginners caused by choosing a boot that is too stiff is that, as it is so hard and rigid, when we are still learning, it will make our body lean backwards. This may mean that we’ll never ski properly.
Remember that skiing is a sport that is learnt gradually, step by step!
We shouldn’t choose the coolest boots but the ones best suited to our needs!
For more advanced skiers, the most suitable boots are hard ones (100-130 for men and 90-110 for women) with a good grip on the feet, as skiers at this level have mastered the technique, thus skiing with a correct posture, in other words, well-flexed and with their weight forwards. These are more experienced skiers who go down the slopes at high speeds and require boots that can absorb the pressure. These are high-end boots.
The types of boots that suit competition skiers are ones that have a stiffness of greater than 130 and are very narrow providing an amazing grip for the feet. These are the types of boots most appropriate for boot-fitting because, as so much pressure is exerted on the feet, they may cause a lot of pain and even injuries if they’re not properly adapted to each skier’s feet.
These types of boots can also be worn by ex-competitors or highly experienced skiers.
Freestyle boots are usually very comfortable boots with ankle supports specialised in absorbing the heavy impacts of jumps in snowparks. They usually have a stiffness index ranging from 80 to 100 and require a good grip on the feet.
This discipline requires a very high standard of skiing in terms of jumps and technique, so we’ll need boots with an excellent grip in order to transfer the energy to the skis in the best possible way, as many reflexes are required. The boot should have extremely absorbent ankle support as well as a very stiff leg (110-130), as this sport involves jumping over rocks and doing tricks on very steep slopes with uneven terrain.
Finally, after reading this blog, we should be able to identify our level of skiing and what skiing discipline we prefer so that we can start thinking about what kind of boots we need when you set off to buy them. Above all, we should consider asking a professional to perform an analysis of our legs and feet to detect any potential deformations and measure them.
See you next time!
Alfred Velasco, Skitude Ambassador
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