BOOTFITTING PART 1: CREATING IMPROVEMENT
A HYPE OR A NECESSITY
Getting the right boot fit is a common problem for skiers. Get some help and get it right. It’s not rocket science. Fit is personal. Different boots fit different feet.
“Without properly fitting boots, you can’t ski with good technique. They should fit like a firm handshake. Your toes should touch the front while you’re sitting, but then pull back a bit when you stand up. When a boot is too big, the foot shifts and you’ll get toe and shin bang.
It looks like it’s becoming a trend “Boot Fitting”. More & more sports shops offer Boot Fit service and Boot Fit Centers can be found everywhere nowadays. People are even calling themselves “The Best Boot Fitter”. Shops, Winter Sports Centers & Ski professionals will do anything to stand out in the crowd.
BUT, WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOT FITTER? AT LEAST YOU WANT SOMEONE WITH THE RIGHT EXPERIENCE, A pROFESSIONAL SKILL TRAINING, EDUCATION, AND HONESTY
In my opinion, the real added value of a Boot Fitter is when this professional is able to give independent advice to customers having problems with their winter sports shoes. Someone who is honest and free of prejudice. Whether these are Ski Boots, Snowboard Boots, or Cross-Country Boots. But also Ice-Skates or Mountain Hiking Boots.
LET’S START AT THE BEGINNING
Most of the problems I encounter are foot-related problems rather than shoe problems.
MEASURING IS KNOWING
A good measurement of the length, width, the height of the foot is essential. The mobility of the foot, ankle, and mobility, in general, is an important factor during the intake process. The way in which this is measured depends entirely on the Boot Fitter or shop you are going to.
Nowadays you see a lot of pressure measurements by impressive-looking scanners, but a traditional way of measuring will also do the trick. As long as the Boot Fitter knows what he/she is doing and has the right expertise there is nothing to worry about or question the advice.
A Boot Fitter will also ask about your track record in the snow, with a focus on injuries, any relevant surgeries, and/or current problems/issues during your Winter Sports activities. What or how caused the problem to arise? Basically, everything to ensure that the Boot Fitter gets the clearest picture to help you, and which possible solutions can be found?
THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO GET TO THE SAME RESULT
Even in the “Boot Fit world”, there are more solutions for one specific problem. If a Boot Fitter figured out how to solve your problem and has a suitable solution for you? That’s perfect! It could easily be that another Boot Fitter tackles the same problem in a different way, with different solutions. A different approach by a different specialist for the same problem and yet everyone is satisfied, and after all; That’s what matters!
With everything that needs solid construction, getting the right solid foundation – “a custom-made insole“- is the most critical and important step in the entire process of buying or modifying your boots. It’s the same approach to building a house. You wouldn’t start with the roof, right 😊
SO, ALWAYS MAKE SURE TO GET THE RIGHT ADVICE ABOUT INSOLES EARLY IN THE PROCESS|
There are many theories about custom-made insoles. Is it better to put all the stress on an insole, partially or not at all? Do you make an insole fully loaded, half loaded, or completely empty?
It would be great when your Boot Fitter can offer you different techniques but can also explain why a certain technique is chosen. The basic, standard insole, included in your boot, is nothing more than a template for a Boot Fitter to cut, trim or grind into your personal custom-made insole, supporting your feet the right way.
The insoles for your boots must provide the perfect heel bone fixation and arch support. When it comes to pressure on your feet, during your snow activities, don’t underestimate the amount of it. Most of the boots don’t excel in good support.
You should try taking out your inner shoes (from your ski or snowboard boots) and have a good look at the bottom. Then take a closer look at the plastic plate, lying in the outer shell and ask yourself if you want to ride the slopes all day? Especially taking a large amount of pressure into account? Do you still think it’s strange that your feet were hurting before? Once you have finalized this part of the Boot Fitting process and probably decided to get your personal, custom-made insoles, the next step can begin.
TRY ON YOUR NEW SKI OR SNOWBOARD BOOTS
Although this sounds strange, the secret is to try on as few as possible. Your Boot Fitter needs to provide you the best choices, regardless of the brand, color, price, or what a friend tells you.
A befriended colleague Boot Fitter likes to call this; THE TSUNAMI OF BOOTS
You have to rely on the expertise of your Boot Fitter. He/She knows the construction of the boots. Meaning, the width of the last, the correct length and volume of the boot, and the flex construction.
Your Boot Fitter should be wise and smart enough to limit your choice. Preferably even that the first or second pair of boots you try will have the right fit. Always remember; “The perfect pair of boots doesn’t exist (yet)!! Luckily, but with the best possible fit, the right insole, and tailoring you will come as close as you can get.
I highly recommend hitting the slopes a couple of times before having the complete boot adjusted, a boot will certainly feel a bit different as it is pressurized, temperature changes, and snow/slope conditions come into play. Unless there are clear indications that adjustments need to be made immediately, I would invest time on the slopes first.
And DO NOT buy your boots the day before you go on winter sports. Take your time to inform yourself properly and look for a Boot Fitter you feel comfortable with.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Jack van Nunen; A Dutchman as a Boot Fitter in the heart of the Alps
Jack van Nunen, 53 years old and living in Salzburg-Stadt. Since 1998 full-time in the winter sports industry in various shops in NL. I have had various positions, such as sales, manager, purchasing, boat fitting, and events. Until 2002 I had an outdoor sports company with activities in Belgium, France, Italy, and Slovenia, specializing in Canyoning and Caving.
Emigrated to Austria in 2018 and fulfilled a long-cherished dream there let go … your own Boot fit company. A Dutchman as a boot fitter in the heart of the Alps… exciting!
I have followed a number of solid boot-fit courses at the American MasterFit University and of course many clinics and courses of all ski boot brands. I am active in the instruction group of the SnowSafetyCenter that provides avalanche training caters for skiers, snowboarders, tour skiers, splitboarders, snowshoe hikers.
All this in Dutch and with Dutch-speaking mountain and ski/snowboard guides. Super fun and above all educational days where we familiarize people with responsibility being busy in the undisturbed terrain.
STAY SAFE AND STAY BOOT-FITTED
More info: www.bootfitzimmer.com