Boots and Boot Fitting - By Christian Xavier - 6 November 2008

Reporter Carol Sencicle

Chris has over 20 years experience of fitting ski boots so it is impossible for me to impart, in this short review, all the information he gave us. For those of you unable to attend I shall try to give you the key points he made - you missed a very enjoyable evening.

Chris pointed out that there are many Myths and Legends about boots and boot fitting and he tried to clear the mystery for us.

He stressed that these days all boots are made to a good standard and no particular company is better than any other, so you do not need to buy very expensive boots. He advised that boots with metal clips are best because plastic ones easily snap off, and mouldable liners are worthwhile. Modern boots tend to be lighter and to have a softer plastic shell because of the different pressures applied to boots when skiing on carver skis.

An amusing comment Chris made was that men generally over estimate their size and women tend to be more accurate so be aware you may not be the size you think you are. When you go to buy new boots donít forget to mention any problems that you have had in the past. The fitter is not a mind reader!

Boots come in many shapes the most common are V shaped, D shaped and L shaped. These relate to foot shapes and a good fitter will select the best boot to fit the individual foot shape. Although boots are marked in half sizes they only come in full sizes, so a 24 cm boot is exactly the same as a 24.5 cm boot - amazing isn't it!

When trying on a boot, the first stage should be to try the plastic shell without the liner. There should be room for 2 fingers behind the foot for a comfortable fit. Your toes will slide to the front of the boot because modern boots are more angled than they used to be, ie the angle of the ankle support to the foot is more acute. Try on the boots for at least 10 minutes with just the top two buckles clipped - do not feel pressured to make a quick decision. Not everyone needs a foot bed but for most people they make the boot more comfortable. Lots can be done to adjust the boot without a foot bed.

A key point that Chris made was that it is important not only to fit the boot accurately but to align the leg with the boot. The hip, knee and ankle should be in line. Some boots have cant adjustments to achieve this but the same alignment can be achieved with wedges fitted in the boots.

Boots aftercare is important to ensure your boots last you as long as possible. After skiing, allow the boots to dry - it is best to take the liner out. If your hotel provides heated rails for the boots, make sure that the temperature is low. Boots can be damaged by over heating. Make sure that the toe and heel of your boots are in good condition. Your bindings will not operate properly when the toe and heel are worn. Some boots have replaceable toe and heels but if yours don't then try to wear "Cat Tracks" when walking off snow. After a week's skiing spray the boots with an anti bacterial spray. Bacteria not only smell but break down the liner. Store boots with clips closed in a cool place - do not put in the loft as they get very hot in summer.

Modern boots have some new features. Can you believe that rear entry boots are coming back into fashion? Ventilated liners are also available to keep your boots dry. Basic boots start at about £160 and all new boots should last for 26 weeks or 10 years. After that period of time the plastic may start to deteriorate.

Chris brought a modern ski to show us that is designed to ski in the same way both on and off piste. It was very short, 160 cm for an average man, and very wide, about one and a half times as wide as ordinary carver skis. He also commented that most companies offer the same ski for both men and women, the only difference being the decoration. However, Dynastar do offer a full range of ladies skis.

Chris Xavier can be contacted on: 01423 522230

His address is:
17 Commercial St