This is a follow up to the Boot Fitting 101 article I wrote about the basics of sizing. In this article, I’m going to discuss one aspect of measuring the foot that when overlooked or measured incorrectly, can cause great discomfort. I’m also going to try to put to rest one of the most common myths of boot fitting.
Measuring the Foot: Length AND Volume
It’s easy to put a foot on a brannock-style measuring device and come up with the allegedly “correct” size. But there is more to it than that.
The problem here is that all this tells you is the length and width of the foot. What it doesn’t tell you is the volume of the foot.
So for instance, you have two people, both measure 26.5 on the measuring device. One is a D width and the other is an A width. Are these two people going to be in the same length boot? More often than not, they will be.
But lets add another bit of information: one person has a very high instep and arch, while the other has a very low instep, and little to no arch. Are both people still going to wear the same measured size?
One sure fire way to find out is to sell the person with the huge instep / arch his or her measured (Brannock) size, and … wait for that person to come back wanting to kill you.
Or you could take an easy, extra step: while you have the foot on the brannock device, take a metric tape measure and place one end on one corner of the heel cup, and pull the tape over the instep to the opposite corner of the heelcup.
This instep measurement should correspond to the length measurement of a “normal” foot. In the rare instance when it does not correspond, you will have saved yourself and your customer a whole lotta grief.
A guy came into The BootDoctors early this season after buying a pair of Salomon X Pro 100’s. He was in great pain. He told me he bought the boots in the summer. When he took off his shoes and I saw his foot, I knew immediately that his foot was way out of proportion.
I helped him put the boot on, and the lower of the boot would not even close over his foot.
Clue #1 folks: if the shoe won’t close, there’s a good chance that it’s not the right size.
So I measured his foot: 25.5. Then I looked at the size of the boot: 25.5. Then I measured his heel / instep volume as described above. Low and behold, he measured a 29.
I wound up trading the 25.5 for a 28. (Salomon’s run long, so I normally have people drop down a size in them.)
This is probably the worst case scenario for the high volume foot, but in such cases, it is best to follow the Volume measurement than the Length measurement.
What do you do if the H/I (heel/instep) volume is smaller than the measured length?
Fortunately, if you miss this, you aren’t going to cause as much pain as you will if you misjudge or don’t measure a high instep foot; you will just wind up stuffing a whole bunch of fit aids into the boot to secure the foot.
The first clue to identifying a low-volume foot is the customer begins to crank the buckles down to the point where there is no more buckling to be had. If the bootfitter did her measurements and found that the heel/instep measurement is lower volume relative to length, she will want to suggest trying on a smaller size boot.
The fitter may have to do some work in the toe box to add a little length, but more often than not, the customer will be happier with the smaller size.
Remember, a good boot fitter should always let you make the choice. He will spell out all the options, then let you make the choice. Never, ever let a bootfitter force you into a smaller boot if you don’t want to go down that road. A good fitter will tell you all the pros and cons of downsizing; it’s not for everyone.
The Myth of the “Lange” (or Salomon, or Nordica, etc.) Foot
I often have customers come in and say, “I have a (insert brand name) foot.”
The idea that there was such a thing as a Lange foot-type (or Salomon foot-type, etc.) was certainly true about five years ago, when Lange’s RL-11 (Banshee) shell was still in existence. It no longer holds true today.
Every company makes 3-4 different lasts, from 93mm-106mm, and different models with completely different shapes.
And there are heat moldable shells. With this new technology, a person’s foot shape is almost irrelevant.
Local guy comes into the BootDoctors wanting to replace his old boots. The boots are Salomon, and he tells me how he has always skied Salomon because, “I guess I have a Salomon foot.”
My boss, Bob Remiger, happens to be good friends with this customer, so he briefed me earlier. He tells me that ‘Joe’ is coming in for boots, and these are the boots I would like you to try on him. He gives me a short list. I know this customer, he’s been skiing Taos for 30+ years, and he is pretty particular when it comes to his boots. So I oblige. I bring out a Salomon, Atomic, Tecnica and a Nordica with the idea that he will default to the Salomon but at least he has options.
He actually settled on the Atomic. He then asks me if there is anything else to try. I think about it a bit, not wanting confuse the issue with yet another boot. But I decide to put a Lange on his foot if for no other reason than to sell the Atomic. To my surprise, he wound up liking the Lange the most, and has only been back once for refitting.
This scenario happens a few times a season, and usually manifests itself in the form of “Hey, are you a bootfitter? I want to try on a Nordica Patron Pro (or some other brand/model). It sounds like the boot for me.”
Instead of arguing with the customer, it is best to just get the person’s measurements, then ask questions to qualify the customer.
By now we hopefully have the size we want the customer to try. What boot models are going to be the correct ones for this person? For this we will have to get some more information. Some of the questions I like to ask to qualify the customer are:
1) How long have you been skiing?
2) How many days a year do you ski?
3) Have you skied Taos before? If the answer is Yes, then:
What part of the mountain do you like to ski?
Which chair do you ride the most?
If the answer to the question #3 is No, then,
1) Where do you normally ski?
2) What kind of terrain do you like to ski? i.e. bumps, groomers, steeps, hike-to terrain, etc.
3) What boots have you been skiing in?
4) What kind of skis do you ski on?
5) Do you participate in any other athletic activities?
I try to garner as much information as I can so I am able to get a picture of what type of skier I am dealing with. Is this person aggressive, or cautious? Technically skilled, or a beginner?
Some other clues to help guide the way are in plain sight. How tall is the skier? How is his or her dorsiflexion? These two points, especially dorsiflexion, will give you a good idea where to start as far as flex goes.
The boot fitter ought to get the requested boot, as well as the one he thinks is right. Then he should put the requested boot on one foot, and the alternate boot on the other. In my experience, most of the time, the customer will walk out with the option that the knowledgeable bootfitter selected.
So much for the “Lange” foot.
Final Thoughts, For Now
It is misguided or arrogant to assume that all skiers—from lifelong recreational skiers to current comp skiers—require the same fit. People skI for different reasons, and with different objectives. Understanding those objectives is hugely important.
The skier who only skis on groomed runs on sunny days at slower speeds will want an entirely different fit than the skier who is hiking the ridge and skiing aggressively down narrow chutes and steep bumps.
I have sold boots to skiers who simply wanted a boot that was easy to put on. To insist that this person “should” be in a downsized 120-130 flex boot is… well… let’s just say that there is no room for ego at the bootfit bench.
Understanding the needs of the customer is the priority here, and always should be.
154 comments on “Boot Fitting 101: Fit Issues and Myths”
Stellar Article! I have really enjoyed the articles about boot fitting, I hope you continue to post more. Its a very interesting topic. I have constantly had issues with boots and that has driven my interest in the subject. Nonetheless great job keep it up!
Hi thanks a lot for this article !
All my life i have skied 27 and like that size but boot every fiter where trying to sell me 26.5 .
I tried for the first time this season bto listen to the bootfiter and have to return it because when i do park every time i land back seat i hit my big toe .
But for going downhill i agree i d’ont have that issue, But it’s impossible to land trick perfectly every run !
I have a really high foot arch so i can only ride fulltilt or dalbello three pieces boots yet .
Again a great article! I have learned more about boot fitting through your articles than anywhere else. While I’ve skied for years in the past growing up, I’m now getting back into the sport and feel I have so much to learn (and forget!).
Really appreciate Blister’s thoroughness on every article and review. Keep up the good work!
You put a guy who is a 25.5 in a 28 boot? Seriously? There is such a thing as a high volume boot.
StuckathuntermtnI agree with you,that’s a non sense. The thing is, there is the center of the foot that should correspond to the center of the boots to ski properly, if the boots are to long the center of the boot will not properly positionate and that will mest up the way it will ski. What they should do it to sell a wider or higher volume boot with the right size. I’m a ski pro fort 31 years and a good one, I know about ski technique and confort is one thing but a ski boot should be choice to performe properly… It’s the most important part of your equipement.
Follow of my comment. But if you do have no choice because of and extreme case total anormal foot, I thing the bootfitter should find where the real center of the client foot is and mark that center on the boot. Like this the binding could be adjust in fonction of the realfoot center, not the one that is mark by the boots company.
I thing this is very important… Every persons as a different foot.
Yes I did just that. The confusing part about this situation is that the customer did NOT have a size 25.5 foot even though that was what the brannock device showed. He actually had a size 29 foot as measured by the instep to heel (volume) measurement. As i said in the article when the clog or shoe fails to close over the foot chances are that foot is BIGGER in fact than the measured length. I have had numerous occasions when i needed to upsize the boot to accommodate a foot that was disprorportionately larger than the brannock measurement. Yes there are high volume boots. Every brand makes one or two. That doesn’t mean you can put a 29 foot into a 25.5 boot just because the brannock says 25.5. And by the way, the customer was extremely grateful.
Another case in point. A customer is brought to me by a local homeowner to try on boots. She told me they had been to the boot shop up the street and they didn’t like the service. I ask the customer to take his shoes and socks off and his foot looks pretty big relative to the length. I again measure his instep to heel and find that indeed his foot is not the size they tried to jam him into at the other store. I bring out the size corresponding to his VOLUME measurement and put it on. When I was finished he thanked me for not trying to put him in the same size the other store did. That store lost a customer because they don’t differentiate between length and volume.
Boot companies do have “high volume” and “low volume” boots. This typically pertains to the width of the shoe/clog. Hence the 93mm, 97mm, 100mm etc. etc. lasts. Take Lange for instance. The 95mm RS 130 and the 100mm RS 130 are only different in width. The SX 120 which is 102mm feels very nearly the same across the instep as the RS boots.
You have go by the size of the foot. That size in some cases is not determined by the measured length on a brannock. A foot without toes (and i have fit feet without toes) is bigger than it measures on a brannock. A foot can have short metatarsals and short toes. On the flip side a foot can have very long metatarsals and long toes with a very low instep. This can easily fool the sales person/”boot fitter” into putting a customer into too big of a boot because the instep to heel measurement is disproportionately much smaller than the measured length.
The brannock only measures two dimensions. Length and width. It does not measure height and thickness. In most cases the length measurement will suffice in putting the customer in the “correct” size. But on those rare occasions when the customers foot is much larger (i have seen three sizes larger) or much smaller than what the brannock says, having a small tape measure handy and taking a few seconds to measure around the instep as described above can save the customer and the bootfitter a whole lot of grief.
BTW, I’m sorry you are stuck at Hunter. I skied there once many, many years ago and my skis were stolen. Go to Windham. There is a really good bootfitter there. :-)
Interesting and helpful article. I have skied in Raichle boots for years. I did try a typical shell once and missed the forward flex. Because the design is different do you think I should try something else next time or continue with this boot model? Also, even though they now come with a custom liner I have a high instep and there is a short sweet spot between when they cut off circulation and are too packed out to be useful.
I skied in the Raichle flexon comp (now full tilt) for years. I now ski in Lange and don’t miss the flexon three piece shell. I did ski the FT Seth Morrison for a couple days and was glad to get back in my langes. I’m a firm believer in “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. But I also believe that the overlap two piece shell is more anatomically shaped and wraps the foot more effectively. Finding the right flex for you is a matter of trying on a few boots with a knowledgeable fitter to help guide you. BTW, which model are you skiing in?
Nice article. What are your thoughts on how often you should replace your boots? I have heard different advice from different people.
I am currently using the Dalbello Krpyton, which I bought about 10 years ago. I am very happy with them, but am wondering has the technology changed that much since then which is worth spending the money for replacing them. I have skied at Taos now for the past six years (week long), I ski the entire mountain including the Ridge if condition is worth the hike. I ski about 10-15 days each year. Love to get your thoughts.
I would say that 200 to 250 skier days is about max for a pair of boots. I had to replace mine after 150 or so days.
I currently ski in some Rossignol Sensor 120 that are 2012-2013. I have put about 70 days on them. They have never really worked for me I have both top buckles all the way cranked down and have moved the screw over to the tighter setting for the buckles. The boots feel like they have too much flex and I have had sixth toe problems with these boots and have had them heated and pushed out three times. The sixth toe problem happens about a third of the time I ski and is severe when it does happen and can come when skiing hard all day or with my kids. I am a expert skier that skis about 40 to 50 days a year and all types of terrain with about 65% of my time in the bumps I ski summit county and Vail and I am 6′ 4″ 240. Any suggestions on boots and places to get them fitted in Denver? Thank you, I am normally a 11.5 D shoe.
It sounds to me like the boots are too big. The sixth you’re issue being intermittent is kind of a clue. You get into some more aggressive terrain and start banging around. Also at you weight and height the boot is probably too soft. Go see Greg Hoffman and his crew addy Vail sports in lions head.
This is exactly the method that Salomon used for their rear entry boots. It was called HIP- i.e. Heel Instep Perimeter. Still valid it would seem.
Yeah, the boots themselves might be ridiculed now, but the HIP sizing system (and later they also took length into account) was ahead of it’s time.
Great article, Charlie. I love your “don’t jam anything down the customer’s throat” approach. My wife has frequently fought this buying new boots to the point that she absolutely dreads it.
Great article! As a boot fitter myself, I see way too many people with boots that don’t fit that were sold to them by someone who didn’t listen to a word they said during the fit process. It’s pretty sad in this day and age, with all the great and distinctly different boot models and fits we have at our disposal, that there are still boot fitters out there who are fitting customers using their absurd egos and bizarre, out-dated brand biases instead of their eyes, ears, and brains. I never stop being amazed at some of the ridiculous boot choices some fitters make for their customers and then bully them into buying.
Question, where did this idea that the “hip” ( heel instep perimeter) that matches the length is normal?
Grreg Hoffman at ski boot fitting in Vail more or less discovered it. I hate to say discovered because salomon used the hip measurement for their rear entry boots. Anyway, Greg had a fitter at his shop who kept putting customers in boots that were too small. So he thought about it and went to the store and bought a metric tape measure. After measuring many customers he found that more often than not the hip matched the heel/toe measurement. There are many people who have a discrepancy of one size which is not a big deal but when you come across those who are two and three sizes different, that’s an issue that can’t be solved with “high volume” boots or stretching tools.
I don’t like using the word normal. That would typically indicate an “abnormal”. I never want a customer thinking they are abnormal or suggest that they are abnormal. I prefer proportionate. If I used the word normal in my article I hope I used quotation marks.
Thanks for the question.
good article, I’m one of those with a high instep compared to the lenght, ehich is actually good for me since my 7 US foot size makes it very hard to find stiff boots! I measure right at 24cm long, narrow 93mm, but with a 25.5 instep… while I could fit most 23/97mm shells in lenght the boot will crush my instep and I have to stay in a 24 shell, narrow and with some padding on the instep to mold the liner I usually won’t need shell modification other than the ankle bones… so yes, your example of instep measurement is really important!
Question about shin bang:
I’m in a 3 buckle Dalbello Krytpon, and have really skinny ankles. I have long narrow feet. Few hiking boot uppers crank tight enough to support my ankles.
Last season after going hard for 2-3 months, I started to get painful shin bang and took a 10+ day break in February.
What causes shin bang? Is a 3 buckle boot better? I have a molded liner and foot beds and feel like my bootfitter did a pretty good job. I probably ski 60-70 days a year and will hike in my boots.
I typically find that boots that are soft can create shin bang. If you have excessive ankle range of motion you could be over flexing your boots. Also if your lower leg is really thin then your shin will take a beating because your leg not being held effectively. I would suggest examining ankle joint range of motion and go from there.
It was a pleasure to read your thoughtful and informative insights into boot fitting. I have a touring setup with Dynafit boots and bindings and on longer tours I have suffered from massive blisters on the insides of my feet near the heel (right foot a bit more seriously then left). If I just ski the boots all day without skinning there is no pain or discomfort nor blisters. They feel great! Any thoughts on how I might be able to solve this issue? Thanks. Craig
Blisters usually indicate movement. Couple of questions. do you go skinning with your boots unbuckled? I don’t go on very long tours, usually a six hour day with 3 to 4 runs. I never unbuckle my boots because it keeps my foot held securely while I’m skinning. do you have a lace up liner? A lace up liner can help in this situation because it keeps the abrasive movement between the liner in the shell. I would recommend keeping your boots buckled while skinning if you don’t already. If this doesn’t help then you need to snug up the fit to reduce the movement in the area of the blister. Also check your ankle joint range of motion and see if maybe a heel lift will help. Is there a good boot fitter in your area?
Well, I have been able to solve the problem and did so by getting some new Intuition full tilt power wrap liners. I can skin up with buckles loose and no hint of any blisters. I think your advice nailed it Charlie when you suggested relative motion between my foot and the old liner. Many thanks!
Thanks for all the great articles on boot fitting, its amazing how much goes into fitting a ski boot. I’ve got a question for you: I have the ability to get a pair of Salomon’s online for a really good price. With their custom fit technology do you think it would be a safe bet to measure up my foot and then order them based on my mondo size? I’m nervous because it seems like a lot goes into making a proper fit, but at the same time the heat molding process seems like it can make a good fit without doing a whole lot of work before hand, and would let me take advantage of a great deal. Whats your opinion?
Hey Charlie, awesome info. Its amazing how much knowledge goes into fitting a ski boot the right way. You mentioned how Salomon’s heat molding shell will accommodate most feet, despite what the shape/volume of the foot might be. I have an opportunity to get a pair of Salomon’s boots at a pretty good discount, but I have to order them online. Do you think I would be okay to measure up my foot length and width and order based on those measurements? Is it a better idea to size down whit heat moldable shells as it would be easier to create room rather than fill it? Any input would be much appreciated! Thanks!
You mention that by measuring the instep height you get a sense for whether the person has a average or below/above average volume foot and you then size them according to volume rather than just the length of their foot which makes sense. I might have missed it but is there a ratio between instep height and foot length which would represent an “average” volume foot ?
thanks very much
Typically an average foot will have the same heel/instep measurement as arch and heel/toe length.
Thanks for the great article! I’ve got a fairly narrow foot, a narrow heel, but a very high arch and instep. To get boots that fit my instep I usually find myself swimming in the boots, ie they are too wide, or i go for lower volume boots that kill my instep. Any suggestions for me? Would a boot like a Fischer Ranger be able to conform to my instep, yet get tight around the rest of my foot?
Also, I am just moving to alpine after 30+ years of tele.mhow do I determine what stiffness I would like? I am an expert skier who likes hike to terrain, including steep chutes, funky snow, and steep bumbed out gullies. Coming from tele I don’t charge hard or fast but am in the habit of carefully picking my way down. Any suggestions?
Fischer would be a very good choice. Based on your description of your skiing the 110 would probably suffice.
Good read. I have realized that my old boots are way too big for me because of this. I was wondering besides instep, foot length and the width of the boot, is there any indicator to the calf volume one should be looking for? I thought I had all my measurements down and I just tried on a pair of Technica Cochise 90 boots and as soon as I was locked in, it felt like I had a vise grip on my calf muscle. Are there any brands that are geared towards larger volume legs?
Atomic and Salomon are good choices as well as rossignol.
Thank you for the great article! I’ve just been demoing boots this week. The size I thought I was (25) is what I measured at. I thought boots were supposed to fit snugly at first and they were a new pair of rentals and not yet packed out. They were excruciating!! I also tried a 26 and loved them, but was cautioned that if they fit comfortably right off, they’ll pack out to be too big. I didn’t end up buying anything as there is no boot fitter in the tiny town where I ski (usually backcountry). I read this article and knowing I have a ridiculously high arch and remembering that the knitting teacher of a custom fit sock class told me that I have “extremely unusually shaped feet”, I measured my instep. 27. So, no wonder the 26s fit well. I’ll be happy to buy those after several happy days skiing on them. Thanks!!!
I have an older, 26.5 Solomon 4 buckle high performance racing boot. I have a high arched foot. Once in the boot, the fit is fine, but getting the volume part of my heel/ankle past the narrowest part of the boot shaft has always been next to impossible; with age it has only gotten much worse. Once past the shaft, I can push my foot/heel into the boot. Yesterday, I went to a ski shop to try to get some answers; even with larger softer boots, I could still not get my heel past the narrow part of the boot shaft. After returning home and looking at my feet, I concluded the high arch was posing the problem. The left foot circumference around the back of the heel/ankle, with the toes pointed, measured 13.75 inches, and the right 14 inches ( the right has always been the harder foot). Even though your comments have been more about volume and fit, I believe the volume measurement is causing the entry problem. I just ordered a boot horn to possibly help. My questions:
1. How do I position my foot, leg and boot to get the most downward pressure and leverage to get past the narrowest part of the boot shaft (with my toes pointed down into the boot shaft, I just can not get enough downward leverage and pressure)?
2. What other suggestions do you have?
Have you tried putting the liner on first and then the shell.Put your ski boots on. Here is a video I made for putting boots on: search Youtube “Put your ski boots on!” by Charlie Bradley
I have very high insteps and really struggle to get my boots on. Charlie’s points about warm boots and thin slippery socks are very important and can make all the difference between getting them on an struggling forever. I have even had to take my boots into a bathroom to run the hot air dryer on them before I could get them on. I just picked up a boot horn and it seems to really help as well, as my foot slides into the boot with much less friction against the liner than without it. Now I just need to figure out how to keep my boots warm in the car so they are warm and soft(er) when I get to the mountain!
Charlie: 130 flex boot for a LOW VOLUME skinny Calf??
Im typically fit well in 97 and 98 last, have normal HIT volumes, but my very high calves leave too much volume for the snug race type fit I like. Any ideas?
(It always seems a shame to work so hard on getting the fit right in the lower foot only to have exess volume up by the top of the boot.)
What boots are you skiing in?
Charlie: Im in older Salomon Falcons. The volume at the cuff isnt as bad as Some other manufactures but it still leaves something to be desired. (note: I briefly had some Dalbello Kyrpton Pro R with custom intuitions and volume at the calf wasnt that bad, but I couldnt get confortable with the Dalbello feel. So I sold the boots and went back to with my dialed in Falcons)
The falcon is definitely a better skiing boot than the krypton. I would suggest looking at the fischer rc4 pro 130/ranger pro 13 vacuum. I had a customer a couple years ago with really skinny lower leg. We vacuumed his boots 4 times to get the fit he wanted.
After trying several ski boots I settled on the Rossignol Experience SI 130 (97mm last) as the best fit given my narrow foot. I have a 26.0 mondo foot and purchased the 26.5, which is the same size as my last pair of old Lange boots (the Experience shares the same shell as the Lange XT 130). At first they fit great, giving a snug hold at just the first buckle notch. However, after 14 days over this season the liners have compressed so much that I’m mostly on the 4th buckle notch and even then my feet have some movement (fore and aft and side to side… but if I consciously flex forward I feel my heel push back into the heel pocket for better fit). Perhaps I should have bought a 25.5 and suffered for about 10 days like my friend did, but I find that unacceptable (I’ve had black toe and cold toes with prior boots). Is this amount of packing out normal? If so, what is the best way to take up extra volume (I’m not a fan of cranking down buckles to compensate for poor fit)? I can pay a boot fitter, but would prefer to first try a couple things myself (I have some shims and ankle liner pads shaped like an X). Any advice for reducing the extra room (fore and aft and width) would be greatly appreciated.
Well, liners do pack down! And although the experience 130 is the same shell as the lange rx130 the Rossi liner isn’t quite as good. The best thing you could do is spend some extra money and buy a Zipfit liner. This liner gives the best locked in fit than any other liner and it doesn’t break down. Outside of that, then a bontex shim under the liner and an ankle wrap well help.
Downsizing for the low volume foot is a good idea (I measure 29 and ski in 27.5). I’ve never lost a toenail. Toenail damage, 99% of the time, is impact related. This typically results from skiing in terrain such as bumps and being thrown back. The lower leg levers back on the cuff pushing the foot forward resulting in slamming the toe against the front. Any extra room in the toebox can increase the potential for black toe. The closer the toes are to the front of the boot, the less likely one is to slide forward and slam the front.
Thanks, Charlie, for the very helpful advice. I’ll first try a home fix with those shims and pads, then visit a boot fitter if necessary. Manufacturers tend to be complacent, and boots clearly haven’t seen the improvements made with skis over the past few years. If they’re going to charge several hundred dollars for a little plastic and foam, customers shouldn’t have to guess/hope about the eventual fit. At minimum, they should use durable liners that barely pack out (that’s what I thought I bought after reading some reviews). Better yet, maybe someday engineers will think out of the box and develop a disruptive design that changes the industry forever (like Salomon tried with rear-entry). We can only hope.
Great article! I just experienced this very problem. Ordered a pair of Scarpa T4s Mondo 28 based on just my foot length of 276-8. Ouch! Very slightly short and narrow but unbearable on that top instep bone. I heard the T4s ran a bit small or low volume but didn’t want too big a boot. Did some research (found this article) and remeasured my foot: length 278, width 103, and instep 305! No wonder it hurt. I’m hoping that the 29s are not too big but based on this article looks like they may be right on. Unfortunately, due to my location online ordering is the only option unless I want to travel. Thanks again.
Charlie, thanks for the insightful writeups.
Your first 101 article ends with an advice to go one size down. Now you are saying one should size up if outsized instep tells to do so. Does this mean that instep measurement “overrides” mondo point criteria?
Lets take my case as an example: just got myself a pair of brand new Fischer Progressor 13 Vacs @ 26.5. My feet measure 265 and 267, the shell test leaves about 2 cm between my heel and the shell, so one could argue there is some room for sizing down. However my instep comes in at ~300 mm. If I decide to go with the exact boot model I mentioned, would 25.5 be out of question (unfortunately I could not try a smaller size at the shop)?
As a boot fitter I have to look at every situation individually. Down sizing or up sizing does not just depend on size/measurements alone. Experience, aggressiveness and skill all come into play when deciding between comfort and performance. I measure 29 mondo and ski 27 shells. My boot fits perfectly with no modifications. This isn’t true for everyone. There is no hard and fast rule. I always allow the option to downsize and leave it to the skier to decide if it’s the right way to go.
Wonderful article! Now I understand why feet slid around in my boots! I started skiing about 5 years ago at age 50, and bought what I thought were good starter boots for me: Lange RX 100, 31.5. I’m 6’7″ at 230 lb with 31 cm long feet with a 105 mm width, but my instep and your HIP measurement say 28 cm. As I have started skiing faster and more aggressively, I have installed bontex insoles and ankle pads to tighten up my fit. It worked pretty well this season with no pain once I sorted things out, but think I may want to upgrade next season. Unfortunately, I do not live anywhere near Taos or I’d visit your shop. I thought a Lange RX 130 LV, 30.5 might be right for me, but now am second guessing based on some your comments above. Any suggestions? Should I go smaller than 30.5 or consider a lower instep boot?
I would suggest that you try on the 29.5 and the 30.5. It sounds like your feet are fairly low volume. The Lange rx130lv is a good choice. The Fischer rc4 130 would also be a good choice, but I would wait for the 15/16 model. Where do you live? I may be able to recommend a fitter near you.
Thanks for the suggestions. I was able to get my feet inside Tecnica 29.5 boots (too wide) with only a little bit of pressure on the toes of my longer foot. I live just west of Philadelphia.
If you have time go see Marc Stewart at Widham mountain resort in ny.
Great article, Charlie, thanks!
I have been having problems with my ski boots feeling too sloppy, and, like you said in your article, there is a lag between what I want to do and what my skis do. My instep measurement is shorter than my foot length, and I also have a very narrow foot width. My ankles and calves are also pretty thin. It seems that no matter how tight I do my buckles up (I have to crank them with both hands, kneeling down) I can’t get rid of the extra space around my heel cup. When I go touring, I keep my buckles done up (looser than when skiing) and my liners have laces, but I still get blisters on the insides of my feet (if you put your feet together, the part where your arches meet).
I am 165cm tall and weigh 56kg, and I ski pretty aggressively, ski touring, ski mountaineering, and generally avoiding the ski field. From what I could ascertain in the pictures about ankle and arch flex, mine are both pretty flexible. I do have customised foot beds, but I’m not sure how well the guy knew his stuff (he didn’t look at my flex at all). I would not mind downsizing my boot size, except I am wary of squashing my toes in too tight and risking circulation loss, leading to frostbite. I have the same problem in my mountaineering boots, where I have sacrificed length in order to try to reduce volume (there is still waaaay too much volume) and have suffered frostnip in my big toes as a result.
Would you be able to give me a couple of recommendations of good boots to look at? My current boots are Lange XT 130 Low Volume boots. I live in New Zealand where it is not easy to find a wide range of models, and it is hard for me to try things on before buying (usually online), so I would appreciate any advice!
I’ll have ask first are you skiing in your measured size? If you are, then definitely go down a size. It’s easy to do in Lange boots. I ski in Lange rx130 two sizes smaller than I measure, and they are very comfortable. You should also look into the Zipfit liner http://www.zipfit.com/. It has awesome ankle and heel fit, and you can add more material if needed. Another option would be the fischer vacuum boot except that they don’t make a narrow AT boot. Frost bite issues can be averted with hotronic foot warmer. Once you have been frost bit it’s more likely to happen again.
Thanks for the questions
Hi Charlie, I have been skiing for 20+ years and have had a real issue finding boots that fit as I have a foot (left 26.5, right 26, high instep 33 and wide 10.8 left, 10.5 right. I currently have a pair of Rossisoft 1 which I believe are 27.5 but cannot remember as they are 13-14yo. The other issue is that I have orthotics. The RossiSofts were the only boots I found that fitted and did not squeeze my forefoot. One of the issue I have is that we can get days that are over 5 degrees C in Australia, yesterday it was 11C and my feet get really hot and swell up to the point that the pressure on my forefoot leads to my middle toes being dislocated and that is the end on the skiing. After reading your article it now makes sense why I could never get a boot that fitted as all they measured was length and width.
A little more information, I am 56, are 6ft and weigh about 210lbs, I would say I and a advanced skier and ski 172 k2 Apaches also have 182’s but after tearing a Patilla tendon and 4 lots of surgery I downsized.
I believe the reason for the skis moving around is the the boots are worn out and are now looking for a replacement. According to the boot selectors they recommend Technica and Head 90-120 flex, what would you recommend.
Thanks for your questions. First of all I would guess that your ankle joint range of motion is limited based on the height of your instep. Without actually seeing your foot and performing the proper assessments it’s just a guess. The Rossi soft in my opinion is too soft. As far as the “Boot selectors” choices go, just giving you the flex you should be skiing in doesn’t help. You want the proper brand/model/flex.
So I would say you should try the Salomon X Pro 130. The X Pro is Salomon’s higher volume Boot and it’s heat molding ability will allow it to get bigger where you need it. The 130 flex because you’re a big dude coupled with possible limitation in dorsiflexion. The 130 will support you fore/aftand possibly take some pressure off your forefoot.
Thanks. I hope this helps you.
I cover range of motion here: Bootfitting 201.http://blistergearreview.com/gear-101/boot-fitting-101/boot-fitting-201
Thanks Charlie, yes the RossiSoft were too soft but at the time they were the only boots I could find that did not hurt my feet so I lived with the soft flex.
I am going to be in Jackson hole early next month, is there a fitter you would recommend there that I could spend a couple of hours with.
Once again, thanks for the advice.
Never thought about to much flex affecting my forefoot but it make sense. Is there a way I can measure ankle joint range? I found out yesterday that my right leg is now 12mm shorter than my left. 15 years ago it was only 7mm, apparently according to my Podiatrist the knee issues and surgery is the reason for the change.
Charlie, Fantastic article. With a 28 hard shell what about the extra toe room? Or does one use a foamed liner to take up the toe space?
I thought I had a good boot fitter but he seems to be stuck with the length not the diagonal. From you I learned that modo, i.e. 26.5, is the foot length in cm. And the diagonal measure method gives a way to quantify how much volume my foot has – 26.5 but 28+ diagonal. 43 are the soft boots that fit my feet – system or 75mm for easy Tele.
My local boot fitter put me in Fischer 26.5 Vacuum Rangers fall 2013 for AT with Aaambition bindings. The first ski fall 2014 the Fischer felt better than the end of spring 2014.
For hard shell Tele he said that the old Garmont Gara, 26.5, would be the only hard shell that would fit. I had tried several different brands over the year. So for hard shell Tele I am using Gara 26.5 with a foamed liner. And maybe looking for something better.
From the article it sounds like I should go with 28.5 hard shell for Tele 75mm or NTN – shells seem to break on .5 i.e. 28, 28.5 are the same shell.
It is great to see that there is a boot fitter at Windham that is actively posting comments – they are about 3 hrs away. Plus PSIA has Tele events at Windham.
Hi Charlie, great article. I’ve skied a lifetime im boots that were too big because I was supposed to grow into them. My shoe size is a 9/9.5 and all of the conversion charts online say I should be in a 26.5 to a 27, but when I was recently measured at a local store and the sales guy was really pushing a 25.5 on me. He took the liner out and used a dowel which still spinned. They were snug and he affirmed the liner would “punch out” a half size giving me a perfect fit. Now that I have them home with a pair of ski socks they seem a little more snug than a firm hand shake, but I can move my toes slightly, not jammed/buckled though. I am really tempted to exchange them for the 26.5 before I head to the hill because I don’t want to be stuck with a boot too small after they are used. They are Rossi allspeed . Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
good question and you have good reason for concern. typically your ski boot size is one size smaller than your shoe size. a 9/9.5 = 27/27.5 so you would typically ski in a 26/26.5. that said, going to a 25.5 is not necessarily a bad thing. if you’re aggressive the 25.5 may be the best thing for you. here is how you check. pull the liner out of the shell. put your foot in the shell and slide your foot forward till your toe is touching the front. can you get one finger behind your heel? the rossignol allspeed is fairly long. do you have a custom footed? how is your dorsiflexion? you may need a heel lift. did the fitter actually check your dorsiflexion?
now if you want to be comfortable then by all means exchange the boot for the 26.5 but keep in mind that boots only get bigger. I’m not saying the 25.5 will always be uncomfortable, it will just take more time.
Having a size 9 foot, I also agree that the 25.5 probably will be the better choice since it definitely will pack out. Last year I bought the Rossi Experience SI 130 in the 26.5 and for the first 8 or so days they were fantastic… incredibly comfortable and snug like a glove with the buckles only on the first or second notch. But then they started packing out much more than I anticipated and by the 12th day my foot was sloshing around (side to side and back to front) despite cranking the buckles.
When I went to a shop the fitter said I should have bought the 25.5. But oddly, when he had me try on a pair, the overall fit had the same issues as my packed out 26.5. Yes, the length was snugger, but side to side was just as loose (despite not being packed out yet) and my foot was sliding forward in the boot when I flexed, apparently because the bend where my foot and ankle connect is very low in volume and the shell has too big of an opening circumference (where the lower boot and cuff connect) despite being a low volume (97mm) model. My foot did not do this with the 26.5 until after it packed out… so go figure.
The good news is I don’t get black toe from the 26.5 if my foot jams forward, but very likely would with the 25.5. Also, my toes seem to stay warmer with that slightly extra breathing room. As a short-term fix to get through my trip, I placed the stock insole under my custom foot bed and wore thicker socks, which worked well enough.
The fitter had recommended a custom liner ($450) and/or getting the Salomon X-Max 130, which supposedly has a smaller ankle opening circumference than the Rossi. Since I don’t feel like spending $$$$, I’ll have a good fitter play with shims and pads and hope for the best.
The moral of this story is that it’s too simplistic to say the length of the boot is the only criteria for a proper fit. For whatever reason, out of the box my 26.5 retained my foot better than the 25.5 did. With either size I still would need shims and pads once it packed out, but perhaps the 25.5 might have been the better choice anyway… though my big toes might not have agreed.
Thank you for what will probably be the best piece of advice ever. I have a high instep and for decades have struggled to find shoes that fit. You just explained why I couldn’t get into the last pair of boots I ordered, even though they were “my size.” My feet are not wide but I tried wide shoes over and over thinking that was it. Now I know to measure the instep to ankle and adjust size accordingly.
Thanks for the great info in this article. I’m just coming from a shop where I tried three different models, each with seemingly different instep. I tried Salomon X-Pro 100, Rossi Alltrack Pro 100 and Tecnica Mach1 100, all this year’s models. My mondo size is 26.5, last 100 but instep is around 27.
All three models were 26.5 and they fit pretty comfy, however X-Pro and Alltrack feel a bit too snugly so I am afraid they won’t give me problems later when the liner stretches out. Another thing I noticed with these two is that there is a certain pressure point right above my arch in the line with the ankle. I could only feel it on my right foot, though. What could be a problem?
Tecnica overall felt more stiffer and while it was really snugly, I felt my feet held more in place than the previous two models. Also interestingly enough I didn’t notice the right foot pressure point.
Since I know it’s hard to explain everything through text, any input as to what I could try is welcome – especially when it comes to X-Pro and Rossi. Maybe they are just not for me, maybe Tecnica is the way to go, what about downsizing a number, could that help? I am afraid that the liner won’t get too stretched out and that I’ll have to really buckle up to the end.
it sounds like the tecnica fits the best. the tecnica liner has a more anatomically shaped liner than either the Salomon or the Rossi. that said, you should have a custom footbed made. the pressure you felt above the arch is most likely the navicular bone which tends to protrude when the foot collapses to the inside. a custom footed will help prevent this from happening.
What would exactly do a custom footbed that the original one that comes with the boots won’t? (assuming everything fit snugly and no pressure points are felt – similar to Tecnica’s feeling).
I appreciate your knowledge share!
Cheers and Happy New Year!
Ive skiid for 20 years now and have had “unconventional” feet for even longer. Every boot I’ve ever had would leave me at the end of the day with bad bruises bruises on the tops of my feet and purple frozen toes. Boot fitters always put me in a 25 boot because my smaller foot measures that. My longer foot is about 26.5, but my instep measurement on both feet is snug at 27.5 (it’s really more like 28). Are my boots 3 sizes too small? My current boots I don’t (can’t) even buckle at the bottom since they put so much pressure on the tops of my feet. I’ve gone to different shops looking for new boots and have left empty handed each time because fitters didn’t want to size up or go against the length-width measurement.
yes your boots are too small. if the lower shell won’t close over the top of your foot then the boot is too small.
Great article. I have a high arch and also instep. The boots I have are relatively low volume, I do have a red patch on top of the instep when the boot is closed.
I have always had the same problem in ski boots and that is that the front of my foot from the toes forward will go numb after about 20 mins in the boot. The feeling is releaved when the boot is taken off within minutes with a hot tingling sensation.
I have a feeling this is a nerve problem rather than circulation as the toes never get cold really just can’t feel them!
What do you think? Try and get the height of the boot increased? Would this be trapping a nerve over the top of the foot and causing this.
Thanks for any advice. Andy.
What boot are you in?
Hi Charlie thanks for the reply,
Currently in scarpa freedom sl.
I’ve got a feeling that it is compression of the deep peroneal across the instep resulting in numbness at the first and second toes spreading across the foot. Releaved within minutes when the boot is removed.
The boot is made of pebax so pretty hard for a fitter to work on by all accounts. With the instep height being pretty hard to alter anyhow.
Really like the boots but I may have to look with something with a higher instep. The boot board is not existent and having said that I have even skied them without a footbed or a boot board to lower the foot and provide more room over the instep, with no luck.
I’m reluctant to cut the liner over the instep to release any pressure without knowing this is the exact area to work on, and I’m not sure how to confirm this.
Any help or suggestions most appreciated. I’ve tried so many things and chatted to a lot of people trying to resolve this problem.
Thanks very much, Andy
Check that the boot is the correct size. It sounds like you need to be in a size bigger. If you can’t change the boot then something has to be done to create more room over the instep wether it’s a liner mod or shell mod. You need to seek out an experienced fitter.
Hi Charlie, tried the Solomon X-Pro 130 when we were in Jackson Hole and they felt amazing. Did not but them as I found out that I have a complex ganglion on the ball of my right foot which requires surgery to fix. The boot fitter was great and he was the one that suggest I wait as my right foot is about 10mm thicker than the left.
Once again thanks for the advice.
Hi I bought my son new boots last week. Head Raptor 70 flex. Fit fine in the shop. Now I simply cannot get his feet in them. Any tips?
Go back to the store where you bought them and have the fitter show you/your son how to put the boots on.
I have a fairly highly instep relative to the length of my foot but i wouldn’t say it requires upsizing. i still downsize from a measured 30.5 to a 29.5. i’ve been skiing the salomon impact 10 for a few years and am looking at the pro 120 and max 120. unfortunately i have not seen the max in my size yet. I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind. First, does custom shell heating and molding work to address instep pressure? second, does heating the shells appreciably change the behavior of the plastic and the boot? I have spoken to several boot fitters here in the Denver, Colorado area who are saying they don’t “buy into” the custom shell concept because the boots become more flexible and that one’s foot cannot meaningfully change the shape of the boot so why try……. FYI the pro 120 feels great but there’s quite a bit of pressure on the top of my foot, leaving a red mark after 5-10 minutes of wearing the boot in the shop. this was before heat molding of the liner and shell because i was simply trying the boot on and did not purchase. i suppose the max will cause even more pressure on the top of my foot! Thoughts are appreciated! Thank you.
Wow Great article. For years I have suffered with rental boots and extreme pain. Even had a so a pro shop come to our condo in Jackson Hole last year with various size boots. He kept insisting I was a size 7 based on his measurements. One half our into skiing I was in terrible pain hand had to stop. I returned all the rental equipment. I just did my measurements based on photo and my right instep measurement is 9.5 inches and my left measures 9.0 however shoe size is size 7. Now I know I must have a larger boot size. Will experiment this weekend. Thanks for the wonderful article
What would cause great pain at the ankle bones. Particularly the inside ankle bone? I am an intermediate to advanced level skiier who enjoys groomed, not groomed, tree skiing, bumps, pretty much the whole mountain. I am 61 years old and 5’7″ tall and weigh 145 lbs. I have a fairly narrow foot. Normally wear an 8 1/2 size street shoe. I am currently skiing in a Tecnica Phnx 90 Air Shell boot, size 26.5 and skiing on Volkl RTM 84 skis length 167. I wear one pair of thin Smartwool ski socks. I also have the Surefoot coustom foot bed in these boots. Just finished my 4th trip in these boots. When I first buckle them up, they feel perfect! By lunch time of the first day, my ankles feel beat up and bruised, and are very sore to the touch. By the end of the first day, I can’t wait to get down and get them off! Takes all the enjoyment out of skiing! I have tried additional padding etc. with little to no relief. I have visited the Surefoot location and they “punched out” the ankle bone area. That didn’t help. (My previous boots which were Solomon x-wave 8.0 did not give me any problems at the ankles…) Any suggestions??
The tecnica boot you have now is much different than the salmon you once had. It’s a higher volume boot. I never liked air boots. And the surefoot footbed leaves a lot to be desired. It sounds like you have some pronation going on that the footbed isn’t stabilizing. So your are probably rolling the into the shell. It’s either that or the boot is not holding your foot. You should seek a skilled boot fitter.
Thanks Charlie! Where are you located??
Charlie is at The Boot Doctors at Taos Ski Valley, which is one of our Blister Recommended Shops:
Hi There. Any chance you are still answering questions? If so I could do with some advice regarding new boots. Cheers Ethan
Love this article Charlie! I’m wondering about my feet issue. I curently ski on women Lange XT 100 LV, size 23,5. I tried to measure my HIP (hope I did correctly) which is 23,5, foot length is 23,5 and 92mm width. But, I have high arches, I use custom footbed. At the end of the season, I started feeling pain and kinda numb feeling on the right side of my right foot, just under my little toe. Feel like a nerve problem and I started having isues with that same ankle, pain and bone to bone feeling to the point that I had to take xray (nothing came out). I was wondering if it could be a issue cause by the fact that I feel pressure on the TOP of my feet, juster under the toes line. I’m an agressive skier, love to ski as hard as I can everyday, drops and tight chutes on the menu 5 days/week. In preparation of next season, I’m trying on my boots right now and I can definitely feel that pressure point on the top of my feet and I realise I could also feel the inside screw pushing against my feet. What can I do for that? File the screw? Can I heat mold the top of the boot ? Thanks so much ! Marie
Sorry I missed your response. I would suggest skiing with the lower buckles unbuckled. I can’t really give you any insight unless I saw your feet and did my assessments. My gut tells me you need heel lift.
I just came back from a boot fitting with a supposed long time “expert” boot fitter. I measure 27.5 on the device, but have an E width foot with a 28.0 measurement on the volume as you describe (high instep). I was presented with a boot (Head) that was highly touted as being easily modified to accomodate my high volume. I tried it on and immediately realized that the shell was too small and pressed down on my instep causing my foot to flatten out and go numb from pressing against the sole. The solution offered was to remove the factory insole and yes it did provide more volume, but my toes ran right up against the front of the boot… moreover I need some arch support and cushioning over the front of my foot. I asked repeatedly to try the 28.0 shell… but I was scoffed at and given a laundry list of modifications that needed to be made to the brand new 27 shell… including punching out some plastic in the toe box and removing some padding from the tongue.
At this point I found that I was running late and had to regretably come back later…Lesson learned… if a brand new boot needs to be “modified” … its the wrong boot for you.
Kudos to you for walking out! Any boot that needs modification for an apparent volume issue is the wrong boot. Any boot fitter who doesn’t heed the request of the customer to try on a different size should be run away from. Removing the stock insole to create room is 25 year old thinking. Never let a sales person railroad you into a specific boot.
Hi, i find your articles enlightening to say the least.
What boot would you reccomend for me.
My both feet are the same size 28.0, width 110mm and the “volume”/instep measures roughly 28.0 like the lenght of the foot. The Fischer Vacuum line sound great to me. Im 6’4” 200pounds, average athletic, i own Elan Wavemaster Ingemar Stenmark skis 176. Starting out but i love the sport and would like to improve. I love speed and im starting to ski agressive. I own Nordica size 30.5 beginer boots that are to soft and roomy. What size do i need and what last? Kind regards. Keep on the good work!
Lenght of my feet is 28cm. Measured on paper.
If you measure 28/28.5 then that’s the size you should be in. The Fischer is a great choice. The RC4 skis great. For a guy your size I would recommend a flex of about 120-130. You should also try the Lange RX 130 as well. If there isn’t a reputable shop in your area please find one in your travels and try on some boots.
“If you measure 28/28.5 then that’s the size you should be in”
This is the size you should start with. You may want to try one size smaller to see if it suits you.
Wow,thank you for your fast response. I took your advice and went on and tried some boots,i can even fit in some 27 size boots. But it seems that 28.5 is my size. Im puzzled by the flex you reccomended. I thought that i could flex some 100 flex boots and i can in the shop at least. I forgot to mention i can ski reds confidently, and i can descend blacks safely. But i feel i will be confident on blacks after this winters trip. I’m more of a good beginner-intermediate skier. Do you still reccomend flex 120-130? And i must say your articles made me understand boots to a high degree. Thank you.
At 6’4″ and 200lbs I think 100 flex will be too soft in the long run. 120 will take you into your advanced stages more effectively.
Thank you! You made everything clear. Where i come from we do not have bootfitters or boot choice. Kind regards.
I am so glad that I found this article! I keep telling my husband that my boots feel too big and sloppy, and he just cannot believe it. My feet are 25.5 cm long and I am in a size 24.5. That sounds small, but no boot fitter has ever measured my instep that way. I just measured it myself and it’s 21 cm. There is no way that I could fit into that small of a boot, but at least I am not crazy! Are there ways to tighten this up properly with that much size difference? I want to have some ideas before I head to another boot fitter. Thanks!
What boot are you skiing in now?
I am in the Lange RX 80 L.V. with custom foot beds. I am completely maxxed out on the shin buckles (including the micro adjusters). I am halfway to max on the foot buckles.
The RX Lange lv is a good choice however the 80 has a wimpy liner. I would recommend the 110 because the liner is more performance oriented. Another option would be a ZipFit liner. I ski in a ZipFit and won’t ever go back to a stock liner. You might want to try on a 23.5 as well just to see if you can do it. Where do you usually go for boot work?
Charlie, I just stumbled across your article, thank you. I was measured at Surefit the other day. (I have an 8 1/2 foot, 5′ 6″, 146 lbs.) I measured at 26, but he thought I could even go 25.5 knowing that I’m an advanced/expert. Knowing that they recommend Lange, and having skied the last 10 years in my beloved Lange Banshees, I ordered the Lange RS 110 on evo.com in both 25.5 and 26.5, knowing I could send back the pair that doesn’t fit. Problem is, I think the 26.5 is too big, and I’m worried the 25.5 is too snug. I understand the lining will punch out a bit, but wanted to get your opinion. Thank you!
The 25.5 should fit fine. Get a good custom foot bed. Get your ankle range of motion checked. I measure 29 and ski the Lange rx130 in a 27.5 with no issues.
I have had horrible experiences w rental boots for years. As a Floridian I only get to ski about 1 week every year or so. I have large ankles and calves. Finally after another bad rental experience I went to bootfitter at Park City who set me up w Lange XT 90 sz 25.5. ( the rental had me in massive 28.5 to accomodate calf size) I will ski tomorrow for the 1st time w them. He adjusted the upper part of the boot expanding it and heated/shaped the back of the ankle.
I hated the cost, but am so hopeful for an improvement.
I had read thru much of your posts before I went and felt more knowledgable. Heres to a better day of skiing tomorrow !
Excellent article, as previously stated! I recently bought Solomon XPro 100’s. I measure a 29.5, but they put Superfeet inserts in a 28.5 and they felt great in the store. I have skied four times over the last week, and now I can’t feel the bottoms of my feet, from the ball of the foot forward. It’s been two days and still pins and needles. I have really narrow flat feet so I never imagined I could have this issue. Have I done permanent damage? I felt discomfort around my ankle bones mainly on the insides. Could this be the issue! Has anyone else experienced this for this extended period???
Pins and needles from ball of foot through the toes typically indicates limited range of motion in the ankle joint. You probably need a heel lift. Which superfeet insole did you get? The full cork or the trim to fit? The full cork insole usually isn’t finished to fit the liner properly and can make the boot too small. The trim to fit insoles are too generic. Find a experienced boot fitter and have your ankle joint range of motion checked. Get a custom insole that’s molded to your foot. Insta print is an excellent foot bed if it’s made by a qualified boot fitter. Where are you located? Where do you get your boots fit?
Love this article! Now I understand why my ski boots give me so much pain! Nobody has ever taken my high arch into account during fittings. I am shopping for new boots now. I measure 25 but my instep/arch is 27. I went for a fitting this week and the salesman insisted that 24.5 was the only size for me. The boots were so uncomfortable! Are there any current model boots that you would recommend for high arch? I’ve owned Solomon in the past but they have always been uncomfortable. I’m open to any brands.
This is what I hate about most “boot fitters”. They don’t listen to the customer. It’s absolutely OK to insist on trying a bigger size! If your heel/instep truly measures 27 and your heel/toe measures 25/25.5, I would recommend that you try on a 26.5. As far as boots that accommodate high instep, I would suggest Lange rx110, atomic ultra110.
Thank you so much for your help!
Wow. Just found this article and read it and the comments and it is full of great info. The problem with my boots is not really comfort, I am comfortable all day in them and warm. I want more control and closer fit. I just measured my instep and it measured a 25~26max. Makes sense since I am in a 27.5 boot and I have to buckle the foot buckle (the one closest to the toes) all the way. The #2 buckle about 3/4. While the top two buckles usually are in the last 1/3 from max open. Fit around the calf is perfect. My foot just has a pretty low instep but very lo volume in the front. I really like where the widest part of my foot sits on the boot. Feels like I can really drive the skis but I get just a bit too much movement on the front and ankle retention is somewhat weak. On a Brannock device I measure about a 10.25 size. Please advice since the comments I see are of people who have the opposite problem! Thanks in advance.
Your boots are too big. The toe buckle really does nothing for fit. Any boot properly fit can be skied unbuckled. If you’re fitting the boot with the buckles it’s the wrong size and/or the wrong shape.
I got a great deal on some new Lange RS130’s in 27.5 and wow. A tad harder to get into but absolutely great fit inside. The liner is much more sculpted and I get great heel hold. No need to even buckle the front buckles much at all. I feel amazing support all the way to the front. I could probably fit a 26.5 with some work but the thing with my foot is that my toes are short for the size of my foot and the volume is low. If I happen to be in Taos this month I will stop by.
Great article. Many of the points you raise were mentioned by my fitter last year and my boots fit great. However, I’m 6’6″ and have very slim calves. I’ve always wondered if ideally a very tall skier should have extra long cuffs or inner sock to try and get more control. Surely the physics of my 36″ legs compared to a 5’10” in same 28.5 boots will be very different?
I think it all depends on whether or not you are crushing the boot. The mechanics of your idea is sound but a taller cuff reduces ones mechanical advantage over the boot. I’m 6’2″ 170lb. 34″ inseam. My foot measures 29 and I ski 27.5 Lange rx130. I feel like I have to work harder to stay forward when I ski in a 28.5 or 29.5 because not only is the cuff too tall but the boot sole is too long. I can apply more pressure to the ski in shorter cuff and shorter boot sole.
Hi, following a ski holiday wearing hire Solomon Mission 70 boots size 27.5 which I loved, I ordered a new pair size 27.5 as per day of 27.5. My feet size UK 8, the reason for the larger size (27,5) is I dislike my toes touching the front of the boot, I purchased new pair of Salomon Mission 60, but the fell very snug and toes are close and feel on occasions are touch the front of the boot. What do you suggest ? G
Hi there! I wear a 24/24.5 in boots, but I know I have a low instep height (actually found that out when I lived in Vail). I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I know it’s low. I’m currently in the market for new alpine boots, and living in a spot where I can’t go to a boot fitter within 3 hour of me, I’m doing online shopping. Do you have any general recommendations for boots that accommodate a low instep height? I’m looking for a flex of 75-100 – I’m 5’6″, 120lbs, intermediate-advanced skier, and my foot is on the narrow end of average width.
I’ve been struggling with my backcountry boots. I wear an 8.5 and that is what the brannock says I am. I do fine with 26.5 garmont boots for my in-bounds skiing. For the backcountry I picked the dynafit TLT6 because it was the lightest most capable and well-reviewed boot I could find. I don’t live near a good boot fitter and would have gone if possible. I tried on several sizes and the 26/26.5 shell was way too big (more than 2 fingers behind my heel). My foot felt way too comfortable with too much room. Plus my heel didn’t stay locked down even with the buckles completely tight. So… I went with the 25.5 boot which gave me 1 finger breadth (about 13-14 mm) behind the heel with the shell test. I need a footbed to support my arch as well. Even after molding the liners and using a heat-gun to gently expand the over the metatarsals I still can’t get any footbed thicker than the factory one in without it being too tight and causing my feet to cramp. So I just ski with the factory footbed which isn’t the most comfortable. I’ve tried the superfeet and sole footbeds but they are both too thick. Also though the boot skis great on the downhill I found that maybe a longer boot isn’t such a bad idea when the toes keep nudging the front during the skinning. Anybody have any helpful suggestions for a solution to fitting a footbed in? Should I have gone with the bigger shell size? Thanks.
A well made custom foot bed normally doesn’t take up any more room than the stock footbed. Sole footbeds are not custom, neither are most superfeet. I suggest you travel to a reputable boot fitter and get it done right.
IMHO a one finger shell fit on a touring specific boot is tight. I’m no bootfitter but am somewhat informed. Your assessment of skiing great on the down but toe bang on the up is exactly what I’m getting at. With AT there is so much more up and, personally, I’ll take a bit more comfort over that little added performance on the down (AT boots are a compromise anyway to true alpine boots).
My alpine boots are a size down from my measured size and my AT boots are my measured size (275mm). I’m a tight one finger shell fit on my alpines: I figure ~12mm and 25mm on the AT boots. I’ll take the uphill comfort and sacrifice a little down performance any day for touring.
just found this thread as I look for a problem with daughter ski boots.
She as 8 years, 140 cms tall and wights 40kg.
Last season used a pair of Rossignol boots, fungirl model 22,5 mondo size but allready get too fit in the shin.
As i get to prepare the boots for this seazons i made her to try the boots.
they still fit on the toe but are away on the shin, i simply can’t even put the buckle in place. offcourse forget about closing it.
So you can start to see my problem. even if i get a size up, like a 23,5 the shin will be in the limit.
So you’re saying you can’t get the cuff buckled around the lower leg? She may need to go into an adult boot.
Newbie Skiier here. Ive measured feet according to mondopoint at 27.5 but appear to have quite a difference on the instep upto 28.5-29cm. I have a set of XPro 110’s @28.5 which appear snug asides from seeming a tad narrow. Having read a lot of comments im now a tad worried that they will be too long…is there any way to remedy this as currently feel great asides from the possibly narrow last (I seem to be about 106-107mm). Im hoping just getting them heated will resolve the width problem. Im assuming a customer footbed may alleviate some of the width issues also.
I forgot to mention, im 6 foot and 240lb hence was advised to get a stiffer boot
Hi snowman. The xpro is the wider last for Salomon. Heat molding should create the width you’re needing. One must remember that the last numbers (95, 100, 102…)on boots are only relevant to size 26.5. I wouldn’t worry so much about the extra length if the boot has a sufficient grasp of the midfoot. The only concern I have is the 110 may be too soft for guy your size especially if you’re at all athletic. You may be wanting a stiffer boot sooner than you think.
Hope this helps.
Athletic is a term I once used when playing football…lol…itll just push me to drop below 210lb again….thank you for your help…i got a very good deal on the boots so if I need a new pair in a season or two so be it. Thanks once again
This is all very overwhelming, but great information. My current boots and others I have tried always seem to put my foot to sleep, even going a size up. I am a fairly aggresive skier at times and would love to have a nice fitting boot. Is there something I should be weary of when buying a boot? What exactly is causing my foot to go to sleep in the boot?
Hi Charlie, thanks for the great articles and advice!
Any chance that you could recommend a boot fitter around South Jersey / Philadelphia? I tried bootfitters.com, but the closest recommended shop is 2.5+ hours away.
The only fitter I know whom I can recommend with any confidence near you is Marc Stewart at Windham Mountain Resort in New York. He and I worked together at The Boot Doctors in Taos Ski Valley NM for about ten years.
Love this. I keep second guessing myself about going to see a boot fitter because the Dalbellos I have always fit perfectly but this season I just cannot get comfortable. I’m coming back from a knee injury and I’ve changed the entire way that I ski and my boots are killing my instep. Instead of charging, I’m Making tons of small turns and controlling my speed, pretty sure my feet are taking a beating. Glad to heat that good techs take this all into consideration. Going this week.
I have been skiing in the salomon falcon pro for about 5 seasons, though my “season” is 5-6 days per year. I like powder (though it never finds me), moguls, fluffy steeps or groomed steeps. I find I have to readjust my boots depending on the slope. I rarely buckle down the top buckle, I hook it but don’t close it, using the power strap as my top buckle in effect. I have to buckle the middle two so tightly I unbuckle prior to each lift ride. Problems: my heel comes up, which is why I crank it down. I need the skis to move instantly with me in moguls, but it’s hard to get that dialed. But intolerable is the pressure/pain on my right inside ankle. It hurts to touch when my boot is taken off, and severely impedes my ability to roll my ankles to carve. I did have a boot fit done at Beaver Creek. It helped, but how can they be too loose and too tight?
Salomon falcon is old. It was also the most over edged boot of that time which made it very difficult to ski for 90% of the skiers who bought that boot. As far as your fit issues go it’s difficult to comment on because I can’t see your foot and leg. What I can say is…BUY A NEW BOOT!!! Everything is so much better today than in the days of the falcon.
It sounds like the boot is too big or too stiff and I think you’re limited in your ankle joint range of motion. But I can’t say for sure without actually seeing you in person.
Thanks so much! I’ll try to catch an off season sale on a narrow, not unreasonably stiff boot. My ski- buddy will be relieved if I find something I can don and doff independently. I had forgotten to mention that part..I am 100% incapable of putting my foot into or extracting my foot from these beautiful see-through red boots. Out the go! Thank you. Btw, what is an “over-edged boot”?
Overedged means the plane of boot sole is biased to the inside edge. In the case of the falcon boots the boot sole plane was 3 degrees to the inside which is extreme.
Thanks for keeping up with this forum. This is really great. To boot business – I’ve been in a pair of size 8 nordica charger enforcers from 07/08 ish and am finally upgrading to Lange XT 130 LVs in a 26.5. The chargers fwiw are still holding up and have been absolutely beat to hell, lugged all over the world and performed without issue. Anyhow this Lange purchase will be online so no opportunity to try on though I can of course always return and/or have adjusted. My measurements are 26.5cm length and standing up the widest spot on foot is 100mm. I am wondering if the LV is automatically disqualified based on my 3mm overage (per my ruler in the living room) or if that is a negligible difference that will likely be absorbed / a nonissue? Thanks
Just found this site and feel so fortunate that there is such a thing… My hubby and I are planning to get back into skiing after a 25-year hiatus of raising kids when there was no money to take an entire family skiing. Now that that job is done, we are going to be outfitting ourselves from top to bottom with new equipment for our last decade of sport and are somewhat intimidated by the new products and our aging bodies. We are competent intermediate skiers. How does a person find a good boot fitter? We live in the L.A. area of CA. Thanks so very much.
Loved this article and it sounds like Imnin desperate need of your help!
I got into skiing in high school (about 15 years ago now) and begs having issues with my boots when I started college. To start, I am decent skier, blues and blacks are my fav but very leisurely and now I have a 4 year old that is beginning to ski himself and I want to be able to go with him!
I believe I had a bit of a late growth spurt, I used to wear a size 10-10.5 shoe and now am definitely an 11! I have a high instep, wide foot and wide calves. I’ve been trying to find a boot that fits me for YEARS and have had nothing but trouble. I literally haven’t skiid since 2010, and was only able to do one run on our Colorado Christmas vacay due to foot/boot issues.
The top of my foot and then the ball of my foot begin to feel like they’re being squeezed to death, they go numb and then all of my toes get this prickly tingling sensation. It is beyond painful and has brought me to tears on multiple occasions.
I’ve had the linings of my old boots adjusted too many times to count with no avail. On the Brannock scale I measure 26.5 (L) and 27 (R)
The boot fitter I just saw today put me in a 27.5 Salomon and after about 20 mins my feet were tingling again!
They did not measure my heel/instep.
How exactly do you measure this? And once you have the measurement how does that translate into the size boot you should actually be in…?
Help needed in Michigan!
Heel/instep (volume) measurement is taken while the foot is on the brannock device. Pull a metric tape measure (preferably fabric) from the bottom curve of the heel cup of the brannock on one side of the heel over the instep (where the ankle bends) to the bottom curve of the heel cup on the other side. This measurement normally matches the length of the foot. In your case is probably larger than the length of your foot. I’ve seen this be 3 sizes different. In this case you have to consider going to a larger size to accommodate the that size. Sometimes one size sometimes two sizes. A good boot fitter will recognize when the volume is improportionately larger than the length. Never let a boot fitter force a size on you because it’s what the brannock says.
Super informative and wish to ask two questions
Firstly 50 yr old 183 cm 88Kg aggressive skier *now chasing the kids.Been skiing an Atomic waymaker tour 110 (27-27.5) Medium Fit for 4 yrs 200 days (Australia & Japan) . Love the boot for size , warmth yet may be little soft have installed Booster strap which seems to not have assisted as id thought but is better than standard strap. Have a “normal” instep to length looking to upgrade boot any suggestions as Waymaker no longer any suggestions or comments on Hawk or other brand would welcome your comment
Also 12yr old 150cm – 38kg son who is in Technica Cochise Team 90 Flex hes big mountain and sending it also in park im looking to upgrade but where is there a tipping point to respect with boot flex how much is too much for his size weight skill?
I got a job teaching so probably 100 days in boots first 2 weeks rentals that where too big banging my shins and figured might as well buy some. Went and got measured and my instep on left foot was 2 sizes bigger than length and width would dictate plus my right is smaller.
So went up a size and left foots snug rights a little loose. But when sampling boots the lady only really gave me 2 choices to fit the instep nordica speedmachine and k2s that where boxy. Couldn’t even get on a bigger size k2 cause it immediately hurt. Had to get the nordicas
Know about the quality of atomic and Lange but guessed it wouldnt have the space for me
Is it worth it to get them and mold them?
Nordica speed machine is a good boot for the high instep/high volume foot. I just sold one yesterday to a woman who measured 24.5 length and 25.5 around the instep. I fit her in the 25.5 and she was very happy. The nordica shell is not heat moldable but the liner is. I typically do not heat mold liners or shells(where applicable) unless the customer says “this fits great but…” . Boot fitting is a process. Boots will not fit perfectly out of the box. It take time and patience especially for those who have have that are not proportionate in length and volume. If you like how the nordica fits then you should probably go with it and continue the fit process. It is also important that you trust your fitter.
I have been struggling with boots. Length of my foot would suggest 26.5, but I measured my instep as 29, which the fitters recognized as tall and a challenge for fitting but didn’t measure. Tried on a ton of different boots and the only ones that didn’t cause immediate pain were Salomon QST Pro 100, even trying on a bunch of 27.5 boots. I was looking for a boot I could tour in but also ski inbounds. After ten or so days, I can say the boots don’t work. Balls of my feet go numb. There is dead space under the liner (manufactured channels cut in the boot material under the ball of the foot) where I think cold air sits. Too much pressure across instep restricting blood flow and contributing to cold feet. I am 5′ 10″ 150lbs and only started skiing seriously 2 years ago, but am athletic, but I feel like the Salomon boots are too soft when I want to really drive hard. Also my ankle and lower calf are super skinny.
So, suggestions for modifications, or boots to try? Maybe a stiffer boot that can still tour (bindings require tech toes), along with a really light boot just for touring (and abandon the idea of a do it all boot).
Typically with a high volume foot like yours I will expect to see limited range of motion in the ankle joint, so a heel lift may help the pressure under the ball of the foot. Also the fact that your instep measures 29 you may want to try a 28.5. Some good news tho! Salomon is coming out with their qst 130 in a high volume model for 20/21 season. You may want to give up on the 100 flex you have now and get the Salomon when it comes out.
Without actually seeing your feet it’s difficult to say exactly what will work for you. For now try a heel lift.
I’ll look at those boots and try a heel lift. I actually have really good range of motion (sitting flat footed in a chair I can life my toes 3-4 inches off the floor), if that matters at all.
I read your posts like a Bible. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. It sounds like it made a big difference for many people.
Can you briefly explain the difference between regular Lange 97mm vs Lange Wide 100mm. Does “Wide” only refers to the width of the boot or is it a total volume increase? Would the Instep be higher, heel to ankle distance longer, and the calf volume larger as well? What about shell plastic thickness?
Good question. Both the 97 and 100mm last come out of the same mold. Lange uses a bigger plug in the 100mm which makes the 100 a little higher volume over all and the plastic is also thinner in the 100. Calf volume is the same as the fire doesn’t change.
Hi Charlie, Great article
I skied when was younger and have been snowboarding for the last 30 years. My daughter is now getting into sking and I may switch to learn with her. Great info here.
As a snowboarder I have found it almost impossible to find anyone to help get a good fit in a boot. I found 1 guy once. Everyone else just says here try this on and walks away. I even had a shop tell me to come back when their main bootfitter was there, so I did, that guy also would not give me the time of day.
My left foot is about full half size shorter then my right. I steer with my left foot as I ride goofy. I experience a lot of excessive heel lift, which is not ideal for the way I ride. The 1 guy I mentioned that actually helped me fit a boot is the one that made me aware of that. It was life changing to me, for all footwear. Most people when I go for a boot (or shoe even) do not believe me when I say this, until they measure my foot. I always wonder why they think I would lie about that.
So I mostly dont trust people in boot or shoe stores. It is refreshing to read what you wrote. I now live back in Denver, do you have any recommendations for bootfitters here? Ski and snowboard.
great article, I really wish we had a good boot fitter with a good boot selection in or near Madison, WI.
I feel you. I started boot fitting in NJ back in the late eighties. The shop I worked in ran bus trips to mountains in PA, NY, VT. When Bob Gleason (started Bootdoctors) that’s when I decided to move to Taos Ski Valley. There are many good boot fitters in city shops but if you want great boot fitters you have to go to the mountains. Great boot fitters are die hard skiers. They ski everyday. They see boot issues everyday. They are in the trenches. It’s nonstop troubleshooting and listening and learning. I wouldn’t be a boot fitter if I couldn’t ski everyday. Just sayin’
I am so overdue for ski boots. I have way too many issues with my boots… They are really old but I have yet to find a pair that are higher up on my calves. I have Salomon proforma 7.0 (old) Tried Atomics a few years back they couldn’t get them to fit right so went back to my old ones they have gotten way to big as my foot slides out of the heel into the toe area and I have to stop constantly on the mountain to push my heels back then I keep cranking the buckles and then my shins and calves are in pain. basically these are dangerous to ski in LOL.. I have been skiing for 40 plus years . I need a good boot fitter I am in michigan. any suggestions? I know they are going shorter for the womens boots but I am more comfortable with a taller boot. Hope they are still available. Your articles are very informative.
We don’t currently have a recommendation for a boot fitter in MI. From your description of the problem, it sounds like the boots are too big or you are leaning back when you ski or both. If you have to crank the buckles to hold your foot in place, that is an indication that the boot is too big. The other issue could be that you are not bending (flexing) the ankle joint which pressures the tongue of the boot and pushes the heel into the heel pocket of the boot. This could be because you have limited range of motion in the ankle joint which will cause all of your symptoms. When trying on new boots ask the boot fitter to add 1/4 to 3/8 inch of heel lift on the boot board and see if that isn’t immediately better.
Man…this is fascinating. I’ve struggled for so long! I have crazy measurements: 28cm (left with a heglunds deformity stocking out further at a odd place on my heel) / 28.5 (right), 32cm instep circumstance (though I’m measuring myself and I’m not exactly sure where to measure to – could be slightly bigger) for both, and a 114mm width. My toe shape is boxy (toes are short, I think, for my foot’s length – heel to widest 1st metatarsal).
I’ve wrestled with boot fitting, mostly because I want performance fit in frontside boots and worthy touring boots. Shell fit is wrong by all accounts in the boots that feel right which has me consistently freaking out about having too much toe room (not ridiculous mind you), and I’ve never escaped obsessing about not having a ‘performance’ fit.
Your old article confirmed that I’ve just been in this weird state of self-doubt but I’m probably okay. Why I didn’t search the web previously and find out more about this is beyond me.
My question to you is, should I just accept that I’m probably not going to get the ‘performance’ fit that most general bootfitters aim for in regards to shell fit in most boots? Are there high performance options frontside/touring that are better for me?
So far, I’m making it work, I guess.
Great article thanks for sharing your expertise! I have had boot salespeople refuse to show me any other sizes besides the 27.5 and even tell me width means nothing in ski boots they can be adjusted. They only measured length of foot and insisted that is my size. I would like to get your opinion if you don’t mind. I live in the NY Metro suburbs, no boot fitters in the area just sales people at the ski shops. My foot measures 27.5cm in length, left foot width 106mm right foot 108mm. Heel to heel instep perimeter is 29cm. What size/brand and model would you suggest I start with as a middle-aged beginner? I know a tough question without seeing my feet but any advice would be appreciated.
I don’t think I have owned enough boots to be a give good advice. What I can say, I like a classic four piece boot, over three, it seems the boots have matured, and the classic Polyurethane shells work great. I have skied Nordica, K2, Dalbello, Solomon, and Lange. I think Nordicas skied fine, Solomons ski great out of the box, and Lange are higher performance, but lack a bit on comfort and can be heavier. Also, what type of skiing does make a difference. I like free-skiing off Piste. I like the backside of Hidden Bowl at Squaw, and the terrain can be irregular, so I do not want a boot that is too stiff. Also, I have the Dalbello Panteras. I would not purchase them again, as they ski poorly in very cold weather, the plastic changes in character. My Langes are heavy, they ski fine, they toe bang, so I put cotton and a bandaid on my large toe, and that is that. After considerable thought, if you love the sport, upgrade. I did that with Golf. I have classic Pings, and just started upgrading to better clubs, and guess what, I like practicing. Same with skiing. I boot for carving with a more narrow last on a Volkl Mantra, that is going to be a very different setup than a medium last on Black Crow Justis. Over many years I neglected carving, I was more interested in moguls and steeps and off piste terrain, but I think carving is part of the sport, good for a half day with friends. I might get a boot with a Flex of 130 for that reason and a lower last, say 98. The Panteras had a wide last, a big mistake, and I got shin bang at Mammoth. I still had to ski with my son on all the experts, and that hurt.
Charley- thanks so much for your articles here. I measure 27.1/26.8 R/L and was trying really hard to squeeze myself into a 27.5 Hawx Prime 110. Length was fine, but the boot did not close over my instep completely and was unbearable after 20 minutes on my instep (7.7 cm using a foot scanner app). Nothing could move at all- even had trouble wiggling my toes (which may be a good thing). I tried the Magna 27.5- snug on the instep, but looser in the heel and toe box, and I really had to crank the all the buckles down to nearly their max to make it tight. Pretty loose on the calves too. After reading this I used your string method and found that measurement to be considerably longer than my foot, so I took a chance on some prime 110’s in 28.5. It is slightly long, but everything else fits better than the magna, without having to crank. Still feels snug most places compared to 27.5, with a bit more room in the toe box. I’m guessing we could have made the 27.5 fit with shell & liner hear molding and possibly grinding the footboard, but I’m not a racer, and the 28.5 seems like a good compromise while still getting me the better, lighter prime boot. I’m 6’1″, 180, so I do wonder if the 120 flex would be better, but I’m still an improving intermediate/advanced skier who only gets one to two weeks in each year. This is the stiffest boot I’ve tried, and it will be better than the rental 90’s or worse I’ve been using. Going to the wide boot, I think, would have been the worse decision.