For me personally, my ski boots are the most important piece of equipment I have. They are the buffer between my body and skis. If anything is wrong with my ski boots, I will probably feel it much more, than if the is something wrong with my skis. Renting the wrong size skis is something that you can live through, but skiing in uncomfortable boots is something that can ruin any great vacation.
The main characteristics you have to look for in a ski boot are:
- Shell (the shape and width of the boot)
- Flex (How much force is need to bend the boot)
The Differences in Ski Boots
There are a few types of ski boots out there:
Normal Alpine Boots – These are the typical ski boots that you will want if you are a beginner or intermediate skier. They most often have a two piece design with a cuff.
Freestyle/Freeride Boots – These are boots made for the more extreme disciplines. They have some features like shock absorbing foam under the heel to soak up impacts from jumps.
Touring/Dynafit Boots – These are shoes made long journeys in the backcountry with your skis. They are lighter than other ski boots, but still just as reliable.
Racing Boots – Just like normal alpine ski boots, just much stiffer and with a much tighter fit.
The way you foot fits inside the ski boot is the most important thing you should have in mind when picking out a boot. Never buy a specific boot without trying in on first. Boots that are perfect for one persons feet, aren’t necessarily going to be good in yours. The two main factors you should be looking at are:
Size – Just like normal shoes, ski boots have sizing. Most often you will be able to use your normal shoe size when trying out ski boots. Always go for the tightest possible boot, without it feeling painful. The tighter the better. If your boot is too loose your foot will be shifting inside it every time you try to turn. When riding brand new boots for the first time, keep in mind that they need some time to feel right and can often be uncomfortable the first few rides. Ski boots also have their length written on them in mm. For example my shoe size is 46 and my boots are 335mm long.
Shell – The shell shape affects the inner width of the ski boot. Some ski boots are narrow, some wide. The average adult male foot is 98 to 102 mm wide. If your foot is smaller than that you should be looking for a ski boot model with a narrow shell. If it’s larger, then look for a ski boot with a wide shell.
The stiffness of your ski boot, or FLEX as it’s called in ski terminology is down to personal choice and ability level. The stiffer the boot, the harder it is to flex forward and thus more stable at higher speeds or choppy terrain. The flex index is often written somewhere n the boot
Beginners should look for a boot with a flex index of 60 to 80, while intermediate skiers will be better of with an 80-100 flex boot. Expert skiers should go with boots with a flex index over 100, and racers can even go as stiff as 130-150 flex.
These numbers can be different from skier to skier based on your body as well. Woman will generally find softer boots better for their needs, while heavier skiers will require stiffer boots than light weight skiers. Taller skiers will also flex the boot easier than a short counterpart.
These are the little things that make different boots stand out from each other. There are many innovations which are not essential in a ski boot, but will make your experience a little better. Possibly the best one for beginners is a “walking mode” feature. This loosens the boots flex so that you can walk easier. Other extras include the option to change the flex or boot angel with a simple hex key.
When picking our ski boots, the fit is the most important thing, followed by the flex and lastly the extra features.
If your renting ski boots, always choose a place where you can leave them to dry over night. The better rental shops have rafts which dry the boots with warm are, which also helps for better hygiene.
Ski & Board Traventuria rental shop in Borovets has a big selection of ski boots that you can choose from. Book in advance to save time and money.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.