Ski Boot Guide
When buying ski boots we always recommend that you travel to store and have one of our professional boot fitters fit the boots to your feet. They will guide you through the four steps covered below and can offer advice on any questions you have.
Many boots also require heat moulding to make the liner fit your feet - this requires a special machine and needs to be done by a qualified technician. If buying your boots online, we would still recommend taking your purchased boots into a store with a qualified boot fitter as soon as you can to ensure a better fit - please note we don't charge for refitting boots bought from us, provided they've not been used, however other stores may charge for this service.
Step One: What kind of skier are you?
Choosing a pair of ski boots can be a daunting prospect so we have made this process as easy as possible. Below there are ten levels of performance to help you select your skiing ability. These ten levels have then been separated into three simple categories: recreational, advanced and expert. Once you have established your ability level, you will find a filter on the left of our ski boot page allowing you to choose the appropriate level for you. We also include the performance level in the text of each of our ski boots.
- You are a First Time Skier OR you've skied once but are not yet able to do a snowplough on a gentle nursery slope.
- You have skied at least once before. You can make changes in direction and stop using a snowplough on gentle slopes and prefer to ski at a slow pace around the nursery slope area.
- Able to link snowplough turns, you’ve left the nursery slope and tried skiing on easy Blue runs but they remain a challenge.
- You link your snowplough turns consistently, perhaps finishing your turns with the skis parallel, or you have a wide parallel stance most of the time. With your new found mobility you have started to explore the mountains, but are cautious where you travel since you prefer groomed green and blue runs.
- You are now exploring many more of the groomed runs on the mountain in a wide parallel stance, but may have to use a snow plough if you feel you are getting into trouble on steeper slopes. You've noticed that things become easier when you travel faster and enjoy the confidence of being more in control by doing a series of turns. You may have tried an easy Red run, and you may have come across moguls in your travels, but at this stage would not choose to ski them.
- You are a much more confident skier now that your skis are parallel most of the time; this is because you are skiing faster and you are consistently linking your turns. You have felt the ski carve and enjoy using the shape to help you change direction. You are now able to travel at different speeds on pisted runs. You can ski all Green and Blue Runs and are feeling much more confident on Red runs, you may even have tried a Black run, and you are now choosing to experiment with easy moguls.
- You are now skiing with strong parallel turns in various conditions and you have begun to develop your ability to ski short & long radius turns. You enjoy the feeling of carving your turns and the speed it brings. You are more accomplished at skiing on Black runs and feeling more comfortable in the moguls but you want to improve. At this stage you want to learn about different types of terrain such as Off-Piste and how to ski them. You are ideally looking for skis or boots that will help you to excel both on piste and off or even in the park.
- You are a confident skier who's skied in many resorts and you are much more aware of different equipment. Because of your experience you may; A) be someone who wants to do high speed or carving for most of the day. OR B) be looking to develop your all mountain freeriding skills and want to further explore what off piste has to offer. OR C) want to explore the Pipe and Park and you are looking for a product that will help you to learn tricks easily.
- You can vary your turn shape on a given run and enjoy the challenge of skiing. You have the ability to ski on and off piste; but you also know where you prefer to spend your time because you're trying to improve those skills and perhaps considering instructor training or skill specific coaching. You may currently own a pair of piste skis but are looking for a more specific pair for Freeride or Twin Tips. So you either; A) mainly ski off piste, and may even have hiked for your turns so you are looking to further develop your freeride and off piste skiing ability. OR; B) you have been exploring everything the mountain has to offer from Powder & Bumps to Pisted runs - You like a little bit of everything and want to be able to do it all. OR; C) you want a high end performance product that allows you to confidently ski fast on mainly pisted runs, but has the ability to venture elsewhere. D) you now know your way around the Pipe & Park and want a ski that is going to allow you to focus on improving your tricks.
- You are a top level skier who can ski in all types of terrain & conditions and may: A) hold a professional instructors certification or you actively compete in events in the park & pipe OR B) you are someone who mainly skis in the back country, has Avalanche safety and mountaineering experience and tend to ski big mountain runs off piste.
Step Two: Foot Profile
Our 3-D Fit Profile will quickly help you identify which boots are suited to your foot shape. Prior to selecting our ski boot range, we tried and tested every pair to identify the three most important factors that determine the fit.
Once you have chosen your performance range, use the 3-D Fit Profile to find the boots that best suit your ability and foot shape. Don't worry if you're not sure about your own foot shape, our boot fitting technicians will measure and assess your feet when you come to one of our stores. All our adult ski boots have a performance indicator and 3-D Fit Profile next to their picture.
Step Three: The Right Size
It is our aim at Snow+Rock to provide you with the largest and most comprehensive range of ski boots you could possibly find in one place. To complement the choice of nearly sixty models of boots from U.K size 1 - 15, including a huge range for women, we offer an extensive assortment of additional products to improve the fit, comfort and performance of your boots. Supportive custom-moulded and pre-moulded insoles, custom foam injected liners, custom fit liners and boot heaters are all available to make your feet more comfortable and improve your skiing performance. Unfortunately we can't offer our entire range online as many of the items need a skilled technician and special heat molding machines to be fitted to your feet.
In our stores we continue to provide an expert level of boot fitting, thanks to our 8 week company accredited training scheme. During this period, our staff are trained, monitored and assessed by our training department, both in ski boot fitting procedure and in-depth foot analysis. With this level of technical expertise, along with your accurate feedback and communication, we believe we can provide you with a great fit, regardless of your foot's shape or size because of this we'd always recommend going to store to have your boots fitted, which is free on production of your receipt from an online or mail order purchase. When heading to store it can often it can take two hours or more for you to select, try on and make any final adjustments to your new boots. Please devote enough time; you will be thankful when you reach the slopes!
Whether purchasing a new boot online or in store, please think ahead about any problems you may have encountered with previous boots you have owned or rented, and make sure that you try on with a pair of technical ski socks and your supportive foot-beds with you if you already own some. Alternatively, we will be happy to recommend some to you in store or over the phone. An appointment service is also available at all stores if you feel that you need specific help.
We offer a free re-fitting service to adjust or modify your boots should you have any problems prior to, or after, skiing. This service is also available to anyone who has purchased boots elsewhere for a nominal cost of £15 per hour plus materials.
Step Four: Footbeds + Socks
Many people give up on skiing due to uncomfortable boots or cold feet. It doesn't have to be this way. To complete the fitting process and offer you the very best in comfort and performance a foot-bed is an essential addition to your ski boots. Although not included in the cost of the boots, your boot fitter will help advise on the correct one for you, after your intial assessment. We offer the Superfeet range of pre-moulded foot-beds which offer improved alignment and support. Or for our in-store customers wanting the ultimate fit we have been recommending the Conform'able range of Custom moulded foot-beds for over 25 years and our boot fitters are all skilled in the custom fitting process. A custom moulded foot-bed will help improve circulation, balance, fit and performance and cost in the region of £60 - £75.
To complete the fit use a technical ski sock for total comfort. The construction of modern ski socks is designed to support your foot and draw moisture away from the skin to help keep you warm. They have varying amounts of padding in strategic areas to further enhance comfort. They also come in various weights; choose thicker socks for more comfort and warmth, or a thinner sock for a closer fit and better performance and response.
We recommend buying your own ski boots to anyone who has skied for more than a week. It is the best investment you will make in your skiing.
Our Unique Guarantees
Buying at Snow+Rock is cheaper and safer than hiring. Our equipment is the latest in ski technology, and you can relax with the knowledge that boots and skis are correctly fitted. Our trained technicians care about you and your family’s skiing experience.
Boot Comfort Guarantee
When you buy boots from us we will do our best to ensure they fit. If any problems develop prior to going skiing, we will refit or change the boot at no charge and refund the difference if you choose a cheaper model. For full details, see our terms and conditions.
We recommend that before you head off on your annual ski trip you take the opportunity to try out your new ski boots at one of our snow slope locations. If you experience any fit issues then it’s a quick visit to our boot lab in either our Hemel Hempstead store or Chill Factore (Manchester) to rectify the problem under our "Boot comfort guarantee".
UK Price Pledge
All of our products are covered by our unique price pledge. For full details, see our terms and conditions.
Kids' Buy Back
When you purchase your children’s ski equipment from us and they grow out of it, bring it back and we will give you a credit towards your next purchase of children’s ski equipment of up to 20% of the original value paid. If your children have grown out of junior equipment, the credit value may be put towards other purchases at Snow+Rock. No refunds will be given. For full details, see our terms and conditions.
Ski Boot Fitting - Common Misconceptions
Having spent over 27 years fitting ski boots and dealing with our share of challenges along the way we decided to get some honest feedback about the quality of our work. Warren Smith's ski academy has seen over 10,000 skiers over the last 5 years, many of which had bought their boots from Snow+Rock. Feedback from the Academy's team of ski coaches showed that there have been a few customers that had boot issues, but the two most common problems are caused by the individual's biomechanics rather than the fit of the ski boot.
The first issue was identified as a lack of flexibility in the skier's ankles. The cause being tight calf muscles, stiff ankles and maybe ski boots that are too stiff. The second issue relates to the canting adjustment of boots. The feedback from the ski coaches showed that skiers have little awareness of the lateral control muscles in their legs and often used the canting adjuster on their boots to try to correct their skiing posture. The results usually mean that skiers had their boots badly set up, making symmetry in their skiing almost impossible to achieve.
As a result of this feedback we have added some of the findings to our boot fitters training sessions to raise their awareness of what happens once our customers get onto the snow, and to try to help people get the right boot fit. If any of these issues sound familiar check out the Ski Biomechanics & Physiology pages on the Warren Smith Ski Academy website, or have a chat with one of our boot fitters the next time you're in store.
Our Boot Labs
With boot labs in the majority of all our stores, it gives us the ability to solve your foot problems quickly and correctly. Our professional boot labs are equipped to provide you with instant foot solutions such as Superfeet or make custom moulded liners and food beds for your ski boots, snowboard boots, walking or running shoes.
Snow + Rock 3D Foot Profile
When assessing feet, in addition to the discussions with your boot fitter about your needs, our staff look at the following factors:
- Width - Referring to how wide the foot spreads across the forefoot when standing
- Volume - The height of the instep and the arch of the foot
- Heel & Achilles - The width of the Heel, the Achilles and the width of the ankle bone
When assessing your foot our staff will establish if your foot pronates, supinates, or remains neutral. All feet must pronate and supinate to some degree in order to absorb shock and propel the body forwards effectively. It is when the foot over-pronates or over-supinates that problems can arise:
- Pronate = foot rolls to the inside
- Supinate = foot rolls to the outside
- Neutral = foot does neither.
When making a foot bed for your active footwear the goal is to keep the foot in the neutral position as much as possible to assist with balance and movment.
The Boot Fitting Process
- Step 1 - The technician will examine and discuss your bio-mechanical make up by looking at the mobility and flexibility in your foot, ankle and calf. The technician will ask you about your sporting activities, fitness, injuries and future goals. They will then determine whether you pronate, supinate or remain neutral.
- Step 2 - The technician will help select the correct technical socks for ultimate comfort and temperature control. A maximum of 2 ski/snowboard boots will be selected that suit your anatomical foot shape, ability and future goals.
- Step 3 - Once the boot has been selected the technician will advise on the correct custom insole/footbed to further enhance comfort and performance.
- Step 4 - If requested, custom insoles are moulded to the contour of the feet to gain a neutral position and align lower limbs. A stabilising block or tabs are added to the insole and then ground to increase stability. (See Custom Foot Bed Process). Please note that custom footbeds cost in the range of £60 - £75, but they are an essential addition to a custom boot fit as they support and hold the foot, to provide increased comfort and precision.
- Step 5 - Final adjustments are made to liners and shells to further increase comfort, these may be expanding the shell and adding or removing foam. Canting on ski boot cuffs is done to optimise the lower leg alignment.
- Step 6 - The technician may discuss with you, exercises and stretches that will increase comfort and improve your skiing technique.
- Step 7 - Go riding, the boot will take a few days to get to its optimal comfort. Any problems after that you will need a technician to work on the boots, this is common practice.
Custom Footbed Process
The production of bespoke footbeds is done in conjunction with the SIDAS custom Moulding system.
- Step 1 - Once your foot has been analysed by our boot fitter you will stand on soft malleable silicon pillows which take an imprint of your foot.
- Step 2 - The footbeds which will have been warmed in a specially heated oven will then be placed in the moulds your feet have made.
- Step 3 - The now soft & flexible material of the footbed is further shaped when you stand back in the pillows allowing for the shape of your foot to be perfectly replicated.
- Step 4 - Once cooled, and depending on your activity goals you’ve discussed with our fitter, a stabiliser will be placed to ensure your foot stays in the correct bio-mechanical position for your needs.
- Step 5 - The entire footbed including the stabiliser is then further ground and shaped to fit into you boots or shoes.
- Step 6 - Enjoy comfort and performance!
No two feet are the same - even your own! So when choosing a boot you may find that the fit is 98% perfect but there may be one or two "hot spots" where it pinches or is a bit tight. No worries.
Working with our boot fitting experts, we can warm the boot and stretch areas to relieve pressure on the toes or around the ankles for example, and create that little extra room to give you the boot and the fit you were looking for.
When you purchase you boots with us, our boot stretching is included in the price. If you bring you boots to us from another shop, we are happy to help but there will be a service charge for the work we do.
Our boot fitting team have seen thousands of feet and can help to sort out your needs. However, if you know you’ve got significant medical issues we can still assist by referring you to our Podiatry & Physiotherapy specialist - Body Factor
Boot Technical Information
What size are my feet? A very important question when looking at boots. The majority of all ski boots are sized with UK, US and Mondo sizes. Mondo size is equal to the length of your foot in cm making it much more consistent between brands. This will relate to the internal length of your foot inside the shell of the boot. So when choosing a boot your foot will be measured in Mondo points because all the manufactures can agree on this standard. The high performance and specific nature of boots will require a precise fit. When fitted well, a ski boot should feel like a firm handshake.
Remember: the size of shoe will not necessarily be the size of your ski boot.
The ski boot liners in today’s boots have improved vastly even from equipment only a few years ago. Liner are now built and designed to have multiple support areas and provide cushioning and comfort throughout. The majority of off the shelf liners are now heat mouldable. This means that during the fitting process in store, liners are specially heated with hot air then re-inserted into the shell. Once the liner is re inserted into the boot and the customer has their foot in the liner, the boot gets done up to ensure a precise moulding of the foot and lower leg. Because the liner material is heat sensitive and soft when heated it fits to the form of the ankle and lower leg, providing a secure and comfortable fit.
Custom After-Market Liner
There are 3 main types of custom liners, Foam, Cork, and Heat Form. With these different styles they have their positive aspect but lend themselves better to some aspects of skiing more than others. Though liners that come with boots have improved, custom liners provide the highest level of performance and comfort. It is important to remember that custom liners are not just for expert skiers - recent designs and models make Custom Liners very comfortable and accessible for recreational skiers. Skiers who have had trouble with standard liners in the past should explore this option which may ultimately provide better support, relieve pressure and increase performance pleasure.
Foam Liners are ideal for people looking to have a precise fit as the injected foam fills spaces around the ankle and forefoot. When it sets firm, the liner provides a direct interaction between foot, liner and boot because any space is now eliminated. The big advancement in foam liners is that they are now more suited to the recreational skier looking for performance as much as the expert skier. The Transfoam Liner by SIDAS takes the best aspects of comfort and performance into one liner making it the ideal choice for the majority of people.
Cork Liners are perhaps not as well known as their foam cousins but provide an exceptional level of fit, comfort and performance. Where foam expands to set the ankle and forefoot firm in the boot; the internal cork material of these liners allow for the material to be supple when warm to be repositioned. It has to do with the cork, clay &oil compound that sits within the liner itself. When warmed in store to the required temperature the internal compound is soft which easily forms around your foot securely. When on the slope, body heat and the action of flexing the boot causes the material to further refine the fit. ZIPFIT produce various liners for different uses and level of performance but all have an outstanding fit. Additionally, the benefit of a liner such a this, is that liners can be transferred between ski boots when you change models.
Heat Form Liners are gaining ground in many forms throughout the industry. Initially Heat form liners were only available as an after market liner, but now the majority of manufactures are incorporating Heat Form Liners and parts of, in their delivered boots. That said, the after market heat form liners offer tremendous comfort, mouldable aspects and lightweight features. Many full heat form liners such as the Intuition have wrap around mouldable aspects and provide a very soft, light flexible liner which sees favour especially with Touring boots but not limited to these uses.
The interior shape of a boot: "Last" is a cobbler's term for the foot-like form around on which shoes were once crafted. Boot Last for ski boots still refers to the internal shape of the boot, but in many cases the main point of reference for people will be the width of the boot. The most common measurement is referrers to the width across the widest point of your foot at the Fore foot– the metatarsals. Each manufacture designs their internal shape slightly differently, so two boots of the same Mondo point size and similar published last, may have a slightly different volume and feel.
This is the ability of the boot to bend forward at the ankle joint. The paradox of ski boots is that though they need to be stiff to support and provide control, they also need to bend in order to allow skiers to absorb pressure and balance. An indication of how difficult a boot is to flex is usually given by a number ranging from 50 to 150. Racers will tend to have boots 120 and above because they apply greater pressures to boots when skiing where as recreational skiers are probably more happy with a Flex of 80-110. Remember though each manufacture has its own way of designing boots, and though they may have a similar published Flex rating, you will only be able to tell if it is right for you by trying it on.
The platform inside the boot shell on which the liner rests; usually removable; also referred to by its Italian name, zeppa.
The lateral angle of the boot in relation to the ski; often confused with cuff-alignment (the adjustment of cuff angle). Boots can be canted inward or outward, usually by grinding the sole at an angle, to give a skier better access to all four ski edges. Usually reserved for extreme alignment issues or high level racers.
Layer of plastic applied to the boot sole for extra height/leverage. Usually only required in very technical circumstances such as boots for racers.
Lugs (toe and heel)
The portions of the shell's sole that interface with a ski binding; must meet industry standards for size; often replaceable in the event of wear.
The plastic exterior components of the boot, usually comprising two elements: the cuff (or upper) and lower.
Our Boot labs are able to repair many boot problems from replacing buckles to heels and toes - in most cases we can get the parts you need to make your boots good as new. Speak to our book lab technicians who can provide a guide to services and prices.
The ability to do cuff alignment is possible on many boots especially in the higher end the models. This feature assists in ensuring that the lower leg sits properly in the boot by being able to slightly adjust the cuff laterally inwards or outwards to make sure that there is not undue pressure and that there is equal spacing around the lower leg allowing the foot to stay in a neutral position. Should you need this sort of adjustment, our boot fitters can assist.
For sufferers of cold feet, boot warmers may be an option to consider. In most cases these aftermarket units consist of a small element that sits under the toes and a battery unit fixed to the ski boot. The elements can be fitting to any footbed either custom made, or standard issue and provide a gentle heat to these areas improving comfort and circulation.