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Nordica Ski Equipment Size Guide

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Can I get some help over here with proper fitting of a ski boot, please?

Except for astronauts, ski boots are likely the most sophisticated footwear you’ll ever shop for! Fitted correctly, they'll keep your feet warm, comfortable and dry, all the while protecting your tootsies from prolonged and repeated exposure to cold, ice and snow. Most importantly, though, ski boots are your connection to your bindings / skis and each, then serves as vital command center, transmitting information from your legs, through your feet and on to your skis and the snow, and vice versa!  The best place to start is a recognized ski shop with trained and skilled employees who have years of boot fitting experience. 

The proper fit of a ski boot depends on a few things, including how you rank warmth and comfort versed performance and response.  Generally speaking, experienced skiers place a premium on performance while casual skiers value comfort. Regardless of your ability, ski boots should fit as snugly as possible when you're trying them on in the store, since they are going to get looser with wear and warmth of your body.

Three Measures of a Boot

Remember: whether you’re buying a full-performance flex World Cup Nordica GP, or a recreational ski boot, your new boots will only get stiffer once you’re outside in the cold and on the snow.

Achieving a proper, snug fit begins by matching the size and shape of your feet and calves with your skiing experience/abilities in mind.  Your needs and budget come into play, as well. 

1.  The interior liner, without its outer shell, should feel pretty much like a padded, second sock with a stiff tongue and back. It should hug your foot and leave your toes just a little wiggle room.

2. The outer shell, without the boot liner, should be just big enough to accept your bare foot, plus no more than *two fingers. Place your foot in the shell and while standing up, push your toes forward until they touch the front of the shell. In this position, there should be just barely enough space to place *two fingers' thickness between your heel and the back of the boot for a comfort fit and no more than one finger's thickness for a performance fit.

3. The upper cuff of the boot should feel like a pair of hands that are snugly holding your shin and lower leg, and the the overlap shell should act like two more hands to wrap around your leg/ankle/foot. Put on your reassembled boot and buckle it up!  Properly sized, it should feel like four hands are holding your foot and, especially your heel, firmly in place!

When the assembled boot is unbuckled, the boot should feel somewhere between very snug and tight, with no room for your foot to move forward, backward or sideways. Your ankle should align with the boot’s heel cup.  When buckled and when the power strap has been closed, your feet should feel like they’re snugly, but otherwise comfortably encased in the boot. Your feet should not feel squeezed or cramped, nor should you feel any hot spots or pressure points. If you do, let your boot fitter know where the boots hurts, and how it hurts/feels.

When you stand up and flex your ankles while bending your knees, there should be no lateral play whatsoever, and the boot should flex forward with you. If you can lift your heel out of he pocke, it isn't fitted correctly.  

 

A comfort fit  

Standing up, legs straight, your toes should just touch the front of the shell (and not just the liner). When you flex your ankles and bend your knees, you should feel your toes pull back from the front of the shell. This is what’s called a comfort fit, and it’s the largest size boot you should ever consider buying, because it will only get bigger and looser with use.

A performance fit  

Skiers seeking a performance fit don't want to sacrifice performance nor comfort.  Standing up, legs straight, your toes should be touching the front of the shell. When you flex your ankles and bend your knees, your toes should barely be touching the front of the shell (and not just liner). This is a performance fit.

A high performance fit  

These skiers are willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort in exchange for high levels of performance and precision.  Standing up, legs straight, your toes should feel like they’re tucked into the front of the boot.  When you flex your ankles and bend your knees, all of your toes should touch the front of the boot. Your boots should feel ‘comfortable’ when you’re skiing in them. Unbuckle the two lower buckles when you’re not. 

A word about foot beds

Advanced and expert skiers and racers who place a premium on performance should seriously consider buying ‘custom’ foot beds or ski orthotics. These ‘custom’ foot beds or insoles match the precise shape and contours of the soles of your feet and can provide additional support and stability. Because of how it supports your foot, a custom foot bed can actually give your foot a shorter, narrower profile, so that you can squeeze it into a smaller-sized boot for an even closer, snugger and more precise fit.

Today, skiers can choose between fully customized foot beds (e.g. Surefoot, Master Fit, Sidas), or off-the-shelf models (e.g. Conform’able, Super Feet).

Caveat emptor. While North American skiers have long considered custom foot beds to be essential gear, most Europeans, including racers, continue to regard them as little more than novelty items.

 

Settling into your new boots

As a general rule, it takes about five or six days of skiing for your foot and the liner to finally settle into the shell. During those first few days, your boots may feel extremely tight, especially in the early morning when your feet are swollen after a good night’s rest. During this break- or settling-in period, you may want to ski with the bottom two buckles completely undone until you can comfortably do them up at their loosest setting.

You may also want to take your boots off at lunchtime to give your feet a rest. By the end of the fifth or sixth day, your boots will feel like perfectly sculpted and moulded extensions of your feet and lower legs. Your skis will turn on command, and instantly relay vital information back to you via your boots. That’s called control. And that is the essence of skiing.

Tips for achieving that perfect fit

When buying new ski boots, bring your old ones with you. By studying them, a skilled boot fitter can learn much about your stance, how often and how hard you ski while you can fill him/her in on what you liked and disliked about them. 

Make sure your feet and ski socks are clean and dry. Wear your lightest or thinnest ski socks during the fitting. This bears repeating: your new ski boots will only get bigger and looser with use. Wear shorts or baggy pants, so your boot fitter can study your feet, lower legs, knees and stance.  Are you knock-kneed or bowlegged? Do the cuffs or uppers have to be realigned? Do you really need cants?

If you must err in size, always buy the smaller, snugger boot.  A good boot fitter can grind, punch, boil, heat and otherwise increase a good quality shell by up to one full shoe size. There’s little anyone can do to make an oversized boot smaller.