The Custom Ski Boot Fitting Process

Custom Ski Boot Fitting Process: The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on March 24, 2021 by James

If you are interested in custom ski boot fitting, then this is the article for you. We followed ski instructor, James, on his trip to UK ski shop Ellis Brigham.

Whether you’re a holiday skier, instructor or athlete; getting ski boots that fit your feet is essential. If you are looking for comfort and performance, the ski boot fitting process can make or break your time on the slopes.

In this article, we have documented the ski boot fitting process. This includes a step-by-step guide, timescales and what you can usually expect during your ski boot fitting experience.

Ski Boot Fitting Process
Please Note: I Did Not Get Paid Or Gifted For This Article, It’s For Your Informative Purposes Only.

Pre Appointment

Once you have decided that custom ski boots are for you, the first stage will be to prepare for a consultation.

Once you have chosen your boot fitter, you can then go ahead and make an appointment. The ski boot fitting process usually takes around two hours.

In preparation, make sure you bring your ski socks. Also, no skinny jeans! You will need to be able to expose your legs up to at least your knees.

Ski Boot Fitting Clothing
Ski Socks And Shorts Is The Ideal Ski Boot Fitting Clothing

Step 1: Initial Consultation

After arriving at the store, the first step of your ski boot journey will be an informal conversation. During this ‘ski chat’, your ski boot fitter will establish your needs.

During this initial stage, your ski boot technician will already begin to make an informed ski boot selection.

Ski Boot Fitting Process Conversation
Let’s Talk Ski Boots!

The questions your ski boot technician might ask you:

  • What is your skiing ability level?
  • What type of skiing do you enjoy doing?
  • Have you had any previous issues with ski boots/general footwear that may occur again?
  • Do you currently own ski boots? What is the model, size? Were they fitted correctly?
  • Are you aware of any medical issues that might affect your skiing? (e.g poor circulation, nerve damage, diabetes, loss of sensation)
  • Do you already own custom footbeds?

Once these questions have been answered, your ski boot fitter will have an idea of the level/type of ski boots you are looking for.

Step 2: Foot Analysis

Foot Size Measurement

It’s now time to analyse your feet. When you reach this point, your boot fitter will now use a Brannock Device to measure your feet.

The length and width of your foot will be measured, while standing on the measuring device.

You will be asked to flex your foot forward, while the distance is measured. This simulates pushing your shins into the front of the ski boots.

Flexing your legs forwards also provides an accurate size reading by taking ankle flex into consideration.

Foot Measurement Inside Ski Shop
Foot Length And Width Are Both Recorded

Now the standing measurement is confirmed, it will be recorded as your ‘weighted’ ski boot measurement.

This time you will take a seated position, completing the same measurement again. This will be recorded as your ‘un-weighted’ size.

They will separately measure each foot. This is because it’s common for each foot to have a slightly different size.

Area Of Fit Assessment

With length and width accurately measured, it’s now time to look at the overall shape of your foot.

Your ski boot technician will now ask you to stand on a mirrored device, which allows them to see the soles of your feet. This gives them a great ‘3D view’ of your foot composition.

During this stage, the assessment will be based on:

  • Toe Shape: Square/Round/Angled
  • Instep Height: Low/Medium/High
  • Ankle And Heel Width: Wide/Medium/Narrow
  • Overall Foot Volume: Low/Medium/High
  • Forefoot Width: Wide/Medium/Narrow
  • Arch Height: Low/Medium/High
  • Lower Leg Volume: Low/Medium/High
Ski Boot Fitting Foot Shape Measurement
Back And Forth Conversation IS Important For Ski Boot Fitting!

Next, you will be asked to flex and extend from your ankles. This movement will allow your boot fitter to assess some additional movement variables. These include:

  • Knee Tracking: When you flex and extend your knees, do they stay in a straight line?
  • Ankle Flex: The amount of flexibility you have in your ankle joint.
  • Achilles: Does your Achilles tendon stay straight while flexing/extending?

With your feet now thoroughly assessed, your ski boot technician will now have a full picture of your exact ski boot requirements.

Foot Measurement Device
This Mirrored Device Allows For A 3D View!

Step 3: Ski Boot Fitting Comparison

It’s now time for the fun part, choosing your new ski boots!

With a full knowledge of your ski boot needs, your technician will now be able to draw on his/her vast ski boot knowledge.

Your ski boot technician will have narrowed down your choice to a few pairs, based on your requirements and foot shape.

It’s certainly not ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to ski boots. Click To Tweet
Ski Boot Choices
Once Your Choices Are Narrowed Down, You Can Start Trying Them Out!

Each ski boot brand/model has a different type of fit. This means that you will have a limited selection of boots to choose from.

You will try on each selected pair of ski boots in order to make an informed decision.

When you try on each pair, you will be asked to try the ski boot with the liner removed. This means just having your foot inside the plastic shell.

With your foot inside the shell, the ski boot technician will ask you to move your foot around. While you move your foot in the instructed directions, you will be asked questions about the size.

Ski Boot Fitting Process, Trying The Ski Boot Plastic Shell
You Will First Be Checking The Size Of The Ski Boot Shell

They will analyse how much space is available between your foot and the ski boot shell.

This initial trial will paint an overall picture of the size and shape of your foot in comparison to the whole ski boot.

Next, it’s time to try the whole ski boot. This time, you will put on the ski boot as normal (including the liner).

Trying On The Ski Boot
It’s Important To Get A Good Feel For Each Ski Boot

Once the ski boot is on, you can expect to wear each pair for around five to ten minutes. It’s now time to go through some questions about the fit and feel of the ski boot you’re wearing. Commonly asked questions include:

  • Is the ski boot tight or loose?
  • Can you move your toes?
  • Are there any pressure points?
  • Can you feel the end of the boot with your toes?
  • When flexing forwards, does your heel lift up?
  • Do you find the boots stiff or flexible?
Trying On The Ski Boot
You Will Need To Make A Thorough Assessment Of Each Ski Boot

You will find that the best fitting ski boots are slightly tighter than you would like. However, this is based on the fact that the liner will compress over time. It’s easier to create space in a boot, rather than make it smaller.

They’re not supposed to feel like slippers. Click To Tweet

After a period of consideration, conversation, walking and flexing; you will eventually find the pair for you!

Ski Boot Fitting And Trial
Eventually, You Will Find Your Ski Boots

Step 4: Creating Custom Footbeds

Custom footbeds are a vital part of comfortable ski boots. If you are looking for comfort and performance, custom footbeds are the way forward.

If you have custom footbeds in your ski boots, you can expect increased stability, fewer pressure points, improved alignment and generally happier feet!

The first step of making your custom footbeds involves using the footbed moulding machine to gain an imprint of the sole of your foot.

Two silicone bags make up the moulding machine. With your feet in a neutral position, you will now be asked to stand on the bags.

Ski Boot Custom Footbed Moulding
Your Feet Will Be Aligned In A Neutral Position

Air is then added to the silicone bags, allowing them to adapt to the shape of your feet..

Your ski boot technician will adjust your feet into a neutral position during this process. The air is then removed from the silicone bags, with your foot imprint visibly in place.

The silicone will now go firm, since the air has been removed. This leaves a sole imprint of your feet.

While you have been creating your foot imprint, your ski boot technician will have been heating up your new footbeds. Heating them up makes them soft and malleable.

Ski Footbed Moulding Process
The Hot And Soft Footbeds Are Placed In Your Footprint

The heated footbeds are then placed onto your newly moulded silicone bags. You will then place your feet on top of the footbeds, while sitting on top of the moulding machine.

With the footbed between your foot and the mould, it will now adapt to the shape of the sole of your foot. After around ten minutes, your new footbeds are already hard enough to be removed.

Ski Boot Custom Footbed Fitting
It Takes Around 10 Minutes Before You Can Remove Your Feet

Your ski boot technician will now apply the finishing touches. This means it’s coffee time for you!

Step 5: Ski Boot Fitting Customization

It’s now time to try your ski boots with the footbeds for the first time. When you try them on, you will be focussing on the feeling of the footbed.

With the footbed completed, you may notice that some of the discomfort you were feeling when you first tried on the ski boot has disappeared.

However, you will usually require some further customization in order to perfect the fit.

In this case, there were pressure points around the ankles, outside edge of the forefoot and the end of the toes.

Ski Boot Fitting And Shell Moulding Customization
After Another Trial, The Painful Points Are Established!

The advised ski boot fitting technique to remedy the pressure points around the ankles and forefoot was to expand the plastic shell. This will create additional space to relieve the pressure points in these areas.

It is also possible to make more space inside your ski boot liner. In this case, the liner was adjusted to make slightly more room for the toes.

Your ski boot shells will now be heated up. This will soften the plastic, making it more supple and mouldable.

While waiting for the ski boot shells to heat up, your technician will prepare your ski boot liners and feet for the next step.

Foam padding will be stuck to the outside of your ski boot liners in the problem pressure points. This means that when your foot and liner are inside the heated ski boot shell, the foam will act as padding to push out the now mouldable plastic.

To adjust the liner, padding will be added to the outside of your ski socks. When you wear the heated ski boots, this padding will help to expand the liner to create more space. This sock padding will also further expand the plastic shell.

With all necessary foam added and your ski boots heated, it’s time to make some space in the boot.

Ski Boot Fitting Technique, Heating Up The Ski Boot
Be Careful When Putting On the Heated Boot!

You will be asked to wear the heated boot for around ten minutes. This is enough time for the boot to cool down and accept its new expanded shape.

After 10 minutes, the cooling process is then hastened by adding ice packs to the outside of the ski boots.

Ski Boot Plastic Moulding
They Can Use Ice Packs To Cool The Ski Boot Faster

With the ski boots back to a regular temperature, you can remove all foam padding from your socks and ski boot liners.

With the boots now successfully remoulded, it’s time to try them again. When you try them on now, you should notice that the pressure points have been released.

This means your new custom ski boots should now have a much better fit!

However, remember that this process may need to be repeated multiple times. Although your ski boot technician will strive to relieve all pressure points and issues at the first attempt, this can be a trial and error process.

Ski Boot Fitting Process Complete
Ski Boots Sorted

With most ski boot shops, including Ellis Brigham, any follow-up adjustments over the next couple of years will be done for free (always check the terms with your ski boot provider first!).

It’s sometimes the case that your feet can change over time, or it takes multiple attempts to perfect the ski boot fit in the first instance. In my opinion, it’s important to choose a place where you can return for further adjustments if required.

This means that you can test your new ski boots at home (or wear them on the slopes!) and check for any further discomfort or issues. If you need minor adjustments, it’s always best to get them completed before your intended ski trip!

Buy during the summer sale if possible, you'll find the best deals. No mad boot fitting panics either! Click To Tweet

Summing Up

Getting custom ski boots is something that can take your comfort, performance and happiness up a notch!

Modern ski boot fitting techniques are allowing for more customization than ever before. The days of skiing in pain should now be long forgotten!

How have custom ski boots affected your skiing? How has the ski boot fitting process changed over the years? Leave a comment and let us know!