This post is going to be a bit longer than normal but its because it’s about something I’ve very passionate about. Women’s Ski Boots. I think I love this topic so much because I currently have some awsome fitting boots . And how I got them was a great experience that I only hope other boot sellers can emulate.
I was fortunate to have been fitted by Jeannie Thoren (a pioneer in women’s skiing) and her husband who had a store near one of the chairlifts in Vail. She recommended a boot for me then let me make one run in it to see if I liked it. I did but it needed some tweaking. Her husband made some adjustments to the boots and sent me back out to make another run. After about 3 or 4 times doing this I have what I consider a great fitting boot. My feet rarely are cold or hurt. Jeannie and her husband have since sold their store to Outdoor Divas but she is working with them to pass down her expertise. The point I’m trying to make is you too can find that perfect boot but you first need to find someone who knows what they are doing and realize it may take a few visits to them to get it right.
I also get excited about ski boot because they are the single most important piece of ski equipment to own are ski boots. Why???? Because your feet control your skis and what your skis do. Boots transmit both weight and energy to your skis. Your feet cause your skis to tip on edge and your weight pressures the tip of the ski and that’s how you turn. In order for this to happen, you need to have a properly fitted boot. If your ski boot is too loose, there’s a delayed reaction as your foot struggles to move the boot. The result? A sloppy, out-of-control turn. On the flip side, if your boot is too tight, your foot will hurt. Sore feet make for a miserable day of skiing. Also, tight-fitting boots can restrict blood flow, leading to cold and numb feet, which is also miserable. If you’ve lost sensation in your feet, 40% of your balance is lost and you need to get out of those boots within 15 minutes otherwise you can have severe nerve damage. Finally, if the boot is too high and tight around your calf muscle, the issues mentioned above will occur as well as a loss of muscle control. Convinced yet?
If you struggle with making clean, carved turns down the slopes, or feel like your ski tips wander during a turn or your feet are sore after a day of skiing—or even just a run, the solution may be right at your feet.
Why Women Should Buy Women’s Ski Boots….
Women’s ski boots are designed for women. The same reasons women don’t buy men’s shoes hold true for ski boots. The major differences between men’s and women’s ski boots are in the cuff height, heel and ankle fit and in the liners. Besides our feet just being shaped differently than men so are our calves. Men have longer lower leg bones so their calf muscle will generally be above the cuff of a ski boot. But we women have shorter lower leg bones so our calf muscles will likely have to fit inside the cuff of a ski boot. So generally the plastic cuff on women’s ski boots will be shorter than the comparable boot for a man and they may have wider cuffs.
Women also tend to have narrower heels and ankles then men so women’s boots will tend to taper in closer around the heel and may have additional padding in the ankle area to provide a better fit. Liners are also often made with warmer and thicker materials to help combat cold. YEA!
Another huge difference between men’s and women’s boots is the flex of the boot. Women’s boots generally have a softer flex so we can initiate turns easier. The stance of the boots is also typically different having a higher ramp angle. What do I mean by stance and ramp angle??? Technically it’s the “angle of the boot board”. Non-technically it means the bottom of the boot isn’t perfectly flat and is ramped up slightly. Think of it like a wedge shoe. Why do we women need this? Because our center of gravity is closer to our tail bone and below our waist whereas men’s is closer to their belly buttons and above their waists. By having more ramp angle, it helps we women get our body weight forward. So between the softer flex and the different boot design women who ski a women’s ski boot can get their center of gravity closer to the tips of their skis making it easier to start each turn. We’ll cover more about ramp angle when we talk about making adjustments to your boots.
Ready to buy some boots? Here are some tips…..
–Find the right ski shop with a large selection. Go to a ski boot shop that has good selection of women’s ski boots and try on several pairs. Don’t buy online without trying on what you are going to buy first. Try to find ski shops that have knowledgeable bootfitters. Avoid the big box stores. Your best bet are ski stores in ski towns. Research online for bootfitter recommendations. Outdoor Divas in Vail specializes in only women’s equipment and is located right off chair 8. They also have a store in Boulder. We also like Larson’s Ski & Sport in Denver and Boulder Ski Deals in Boulder.
–Wear one pair of socks. The thinner the sock the better foot’s feel inside the boot. If your feet get cold often, try boot heaters.
–Find the right flex. The flex of a boot varies between different models and manufacturers. Find the right balance of flex for your ability: Too stiff and you won’t be able to effectively turn the ski. Too soft and you’ll overpower it. This is where talking to a good bootfitter is important in selecting what is best for you.
–Don’t undersell yourself. We women tend to downplay our ability level. Talk honestly about how and where you ski to your bootfitter.
–Try on in the afternoon or evening. Feet swell during the day.
–Buy boots that fit snugly (but not too tight) in the shop. Slight pressure on your longest toes when the boot is buckled up is usually an indication that the boot will be the right size after some use. Remember the ski shop is a warm environment. Once you get outside, your foot changes.
–Found a boot you like? Don’t buy it just yet. Keep them on for at least 15 minutes and walk around so you will feel what it is like when the boots are at work. Bending your knees so that your shins push against the Ski Boot tongue will tell you about the stiffness of the boots you’re wearing. A ski boot is soft if it flexes easily. However, if you cannot flex it forward, it can be an indicator that it is too stiff for your weight or skill. After wearing the boots for a while, check if you feel pain in some vulnerable points such as your ankle bones, shins, as well as toes.
–Found two boots you like? Wear the left Ski Boot of the first pair and the right Ski Boot of the second pair. After keeping them on for a while, do the same for the right Ski Boot of the first pair and left Skiing Boot of the second pair. Then decide which pair gives more comfort to you.
How to try on Boot (by Evo.com)
1. Unbuckle the boot completely.
2. Most boots have a loop on the tongue to help you pull it up and forward. It’s usually easiest to keep the boot flat on the ground and step into it as you stand up. Grab the tongue loop, point your toe straight into the boot, and in one deliberate motion pull the tongue up and out as you stand and step into the boot. With very stiff performance boots, it sometimes helps to grasp the medial (inside) cuff by the buckle straps with one hand and the tongue loop with the other and pull the two sides apart as you slide your foot in – this will spread the stiff plastic in the instep area and give you more room to slide your foot in.
3. Make sure to center the tongue on top of your foot and check that it’s positioned inside the leading edges of the liner. Don’t make an assessment about the fit yet, as the boot isn’t buckled and your foot isn’t settled.
4. Don’t be alarmed if your boot feels tight and your toes brush the end of the boot when you first put it on. At this point, your foot hasn’t warmed up the liner foam or started to push excess air out. Also, your foot isn’t in the “ski position” yet, because you haven’t buckled the boot.
5. Start by standing up and buckling the top two buckles lightly to seat the tongue on the instep of the foot. You want to make sure the tongue of the boot is against your leg. After fastening the Velcro power strap, flex the boot forward (hard) a few times with bottom buckles still unbuckled. This will pull your toes away from the front of the boot and push your heel deep in the heel pocket. Bang your heel on the ground if you need to to get your heel back in the heel pocket. Now fasten all the buckles snugly, but don’t over-tighten them to the point of discomfort. Keep in mind that your boots, at this point, are the tightest they will ever be.
6. Now that you’re buckled up, spend some time standing with your feet parallel in a ski stance while simulating ski motions. If your heel is lifting up, your boots are likely too big. Flex the boot forward by driving your knee over your toe while keeping your shoulder and hip vertical. Do this one knee at a time. You want your knee to go 2” past the tip of your toe but no further. The upper cuff should hinge at the ankle. If you are only able to hinge at the hips and can’t move the upper cuff forward with your lower leg, the boot may be too stiff for you. Remember too that your living room is probably around 70 degrees F. and the boot will get stiffer when it’s cold. While flexing the boot, roll the boots side to side as if rolling the skis from edge to edge. If possible, do this in front of an audience – another skier can often tell if you’re flexing the boot properly or if the boot is overpowering you.
7. Make sure you feel no single pressure points or other painful spots. If you feel them now already, you will definitely feel them when they come under the added pressure of actual Skiing. Make sure you feel an evenly distributed snug fit all around your foot not only at the soles of your feet but also on top. The same goes for the upper Ski Boot. Make sure your ankles and calves are connecting well to your Ski Boot but not too tight. Make sure your muscles in your calves are not restricted in their movements.
8. Sizes, fit, and flex ratings vary from manufacturer to manufacturer so be sure to try on your boot before you buy it.
In my next post I’ll talk about how to customize the fit of your boots. 🙂