Thinking of saving a few pennies by buying your ski boots on the cheap? Here’s a cautionary tale about why it’s almost definitely not worth it (and how a good pair of boots can transform your skiing)
I’m a bit of a latecomer to skiing. I learnt as a youngster but it wasn’t until I moved to the Tyrol last year that I finally caught the ski bug. It was time to splash out on my first pair of ski boots.
Except I didn’t really splash out on them. Keen to save a few cents, I went to a cut-price Austrian sports store and spent around 20 minutes trying on various boots, before settling on a €100 pair. Bargain, I reckoned at the time. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. For the first few days they pinched and ached. Then there was about a seven day period where they felt pretty good, before packing out so much that my feet would jolt around every time I hit even the smallest of bumps. My technique suffered tremendously — I had to lean back to keep my heel from lifting, and I just couldn’t get out of that upper-intermediate plateau. Not even one season in and I needed a new pair. So much for good value…
Determined to get a pair that would last, I booked an appointment at Edge & Wax while visiting family back in the UK. From the get-go, I knew my feet were in good hands. It all started with a cup of tea and a questionnaire about my skiing. My bootfitter, the incredibly experienced Simon (he has been fitting boots for 25 years) led me over to the podoscope — a plastic block with a blue light on it — to analyse my foot profile (arch, instep, toe shape etc.). I was surprised to hear that I had incredibly high arches, which explained why I’ve had issues with boots in the past. “Not to worry,” assured Simon, “The right boot and a good footbed will sort that out.”
Next up, Simon measured my foot, both in a sitting and a standing position. Cue another big shock: turns out I’m a Mondo size 26.5 in ski boots, a whole size and a half smaller than my old pair of boots! No wonder I’d been struggling to keep my heel in place!
With my needs (I was after a high-performance ski/hike model), size and foot profile sussed out, Simon was able to narrow it down a two key models: The K2 Pinnacle or the Lange XC 120. After trying them both on, and talking through the fit with Simon, we both concluded that the Lange, RRP £315, was the best option.
Next came the fine details; custom footbeds and moulding the liner. Custom footbeds are optional, but with arches as high as mine, very much advisable and worth the extra time and money (Edge & Wax charge £60 as part of their Silver boot fitting level). Simon used silicone gel pads to take impressions of my feet, before carefully cutting the footbeds to shape. When I put my feet in they felt snug and secure, yet surprisingly comfortable. I couldn’t wait to try them out.
Two weeks later I was back on snow and my skiing was — and I’m not exaggerating here — transformed! With my heel secure and a snug all-round fit I had so much more control over my skis, and I could finally master the correct ski position. Comfort-wise, the first few days were a little tight, but since breaking them in I can ski happily in them all day long. Spending extra time and money to get a proper boot fitting was worth every single penny.
And that old €100 pair? They’re sat in my cellar collecting dust. Which is exactly where they belong.