Every skier at one time has struggled with putting on their ski boots. Getting the ski boot on shouldn’t be a hassle or chore just before hitting the slopes. We’ve all seen that hurried skier trying to rush the process of getting their equipment on. We’ve witnessed the frustrated parent helping their child or the peer-pressured teen rushing getting their boot on with a wrinkled sock that causes pain. Putting on our ski boots doesn’t have to be an exhausting morning ritual. With some simple steps, our day can literally start out on the right foot.
“A child seen exiting the ski chalet with their boot buckles on the INSIDE of their feet is probably not going to have a good day.”
Yes-I’ve seen it !Instructor James
A simple ritual
1. THE SETUP
Properly Fitted Boots
It all starts with seeking the advise of a professional boot fitter. Comfortable properly fitted boots will make our day and season that much more enjoyable. The right boot with the right fit and stiffness will set us up for success. Sore feet is the last thing we want when trying to enjoy our day on the slopes. Try before we buy is advisable.
“You wouldn’t put old worn-out bicycle tires on your new Portofino Ferrari would you?” That would be the wrong fit”Instructor Dave
A properly fitted boot gives us the ability to transmit the energy from our foot to the ski. The last thing we want is a foot that moves around inside the boot or a boot that fits too tight. Circulation and blood flow in a firm fitting boot will stay warm and working throughout the day.
Probably one of the most essential pieces of equipment for our skiing is the footbed. Proper alignment and function of our skis on the snow starts with your foot. Being able to make that ski perform starts with a solid instant-maneuverability of our foot in the ski boot. A loose fitting boot or improper alignment in the boot can be frustrating when trying to carve or grip the snow. One degree off can make all the difference in the world.
We’re not all treated equal when it comes to skeleton structure and alignment. Foot beds provide the correct alignment and function of our skeleton in the boots on and our skis.
Don’t Sweat it! – No, I’m serious. The last thing we want is a sweaty foot. A sock that wicks the sweat away stays dry and therefore WARM.
Our feet sweat which can result in a cold uncomfortable foot. The solution is to wear a sock (non-cotton) that is made of material that wicks the moisture away.
Generally speaking, one of the best choices for sock material is the synthetic sock. It’s made from materials like nylon, acrylic, and polyester. It’s comfortable and controls the warmth. They are really good at wicking away the sweat.
Wool and wool blend socks can be used. It’s all a personal preference.
Ok, I can’t say enough about socks. Long gone are the days of “give me the thickest ‘warmest’ sock you got!”. Alot of technology has gone into the function and fit of ski socks. Understanding that a sock doesn’t need to be THICK to work is key.
Think of a thick pair of mountain mitts versus a pair of surgical gloves. More dexterity and feel of the foot in the boot is provided by a thinner, moisture wicking, proper fitting sock. An Alpine-ski-designed sock in the boot will enable you to transmit your energy directly to the ski.
Design enables us to slip into our boot much easier without any wrinkles or discomfort. A thinner sock designed for skiers is more maneuverable and comfortable.
NOW, if you have been on the wrong side of a very cold day, I’ve tried the grocery bag between the liner and my shell to keep the frost out of my boot as an added layer of protection from the cold, but that was – 40 degrees … Dedicated much?Frozen Eastern Ski Instructor
A simple trick to making it easier for us to slip into our ski boots in the morning is to keep them warm and dry the night before. This simple trick will make the ski day a good one.
A nasty trick on a friend is putting their ski boots in the freezer the night before. Not calling anyone out, but you know who you are !Mr. Nasty Pranks
Depending on where we’re skiing, some additional methods of keeping the foot warm and comfy are Boot Heaters. (Hotronic FootWarmer S4 Custom). On those cold blistery days in mid-winter conditions, our feet need some extra protection. Boot heaters have saved my life before…
2. LET’S GET IT ON! (The Ski Boot folks)
A simple ritual each time we put our boot on in the morning will prevent that nasty pain half way down the bump run and feeling a pinch over the last of our foot. Take an extra 60 seconds in the morning to prevent an unscheduled visit to the chalet during the day.
- Unbuckle all buckles & Power strap
- Pull pant leg up, make sure socks are unwrinkled and pulled up
- Pull up tongue of boot while inserting your foot
- Flex ankle and pull-up on the back cuff up of liner with two hands
- Tap boot heel on ground to make sure heel in heel pocket
- Finally, pull up and align the tongue of the boot so it’s vertical
- Success?: Your ankle should drop into heel pocket
Little Johny had a wincing look on his face as he carried his skis out to the snow. There was an obvious need to rescue if not question the pain on the face of this kid as he walked across the snow.
I approached the kid and asked if he needed any help? “No, I’ll be ok I think?” When I dug deeper into the cause of his pain, he mentioned: “My running shoes are killing me!”
WHAT???Ski Pro Tip #289 – Check your equipment dawning processes before starting
3. BUCKLE UP
The goal of properly buckling our boots is to have our ankles fit in the heel pocket and the shin against the tongue of the boot . Buckling up in the improper sequence can jam our toes to the front and cause your heel to lift out of the heel pocket. Not good.
- Tongue of boot is vertical and pulled up
- Tongue of boot is against the shin
- Buckles are on the outside of the plastic flaps
- Buckling Sequence:
- 2nd from top buckle
- Power Strap (Make sure it’s snug but not too tight to cut off any circulation)
- Top buckle
- Second from bottom buckle
- Bottom buckle
- Flex in the boot and make any micro adjustments on the buckles
- Note: Make sure our ski pants are on the outside of the boot. Sorry, I had to say it.
- Success?: You can wiggle your toes, not feel any heel lift, and there’s no side to side foot movement. “ahhhhhh”
The purpose of starting with the 2nd buckle from the top is to hold our ankle down and back in the boot. The shin should be able to flex against the tongue of the boot without any gap or wiggle room.
The purpose of the top buck and power strap it to make sure when we tilt our feet and feeling the front corners of the boot tongue, there’s no gap. A sloppiness or movement in the boot shaft will limit our ability to tilt the ski on edge when we want to. Don’t be afraid to check that Power Strap frequently throughout the day. Keep it snug.
We saw a grown man enjoying his apres skiing on the sunny deck one day. Without bringing too much attention to the matter, we noticed that his boot buckles were on the INSIDE of his feet. OUCH !!
Don’t worry, we rescued him from any further pain or embarrassment.Ski Pro Tip #235- “Make sure you talk to someone before guessing”
4. GOOD TO GO
As Jim Carrey says,.”It’s Good, It’s All Good.”
Once we’re on the slopes, we may find that things loosen up a little with the boot. Feel free to adjust any of the buckles (loosen, tighten) as needed. Our boots should feel comfortable throughout the day without any pressure points. Pressure points cause reduction of circulation and cold feet.
Trust me, it’s not worth getting cold feet (or frostbite). It can affect our future days on snow.
When we go in for lunch, it might be a good idea to loosen up on the buckles. If we have the time or luxury, it’s a great feeling to take off the boots and let your feet take a break. I’ve always had great success in the afternoons when I take my boots off at lunch.
If there any problems after applying these simple steps of putting on and maintaining the fit of your ski boots, take them in to your local ski shop and double check the boots / buckles / footbeds / and socks to make sure we’re properly setup.
- Proper setup of boots, Footbeds, and ski socks
- Keep our boots warm and dry the night before
- Use proper buckle sequence that keeps our ankle down and back
- Make adjustments as we ski and we’re Good To Go !
You may also like:
- Always thinking about Skiing?
- Ski Terminology and Lingo
- Top 10 Reasons to Start Skiing
- Planning your next Family Ski Vacation | Top 8 Tips
- Interview with a Ski Instructor
- How to REALLY become a better skier
- Ski Technique Exposed
- How to Ski – A Beginner’s Intro
- How to Ski – Eliminate The Wedge