How Ski Boots Are Supposed to Fit - a Q&A with Ben Rockis

by Margaret Hedderman

It’s the most commonly asked question this time of year: how are ski boots supposed to fit, anyway? Whether you’re a beginning skier or seasoned shredder, an ill-fitting boot can really foul up your day in the mountains. We asked Ben Rockis, owner of Backcountry Experience, to share his knowledge about fitting ski boots.

Q: Should my toes touch the end of my boots?

Ben: If you’re putting on a new pair of boots and you lock your knees, your toes will touch the end. If you drop your knees into your ski stance, your toes should pull away from the end of the boot. When you’re buying a brand new pair, your toes will barely touch the end. Once we’ve molded them and the correct orthotic is used, your toes should not touch the end. You should be able to wiggle your toes. It helps to create blood circulation and keep your feet warm.

Q: How much heel lift should I have inside my ski boot?

Ben: Zero.

Q: What is an acceptable amount of “discomfort” in a ski boot?

Ben: In my opinion, you should not have any discomfort in your ski boot. You should be able to work with a bootfitter that alleviates all discomfort.

Q: What should I do if there is uncomfortable pressure or pinching inside a ski boot?

Ben: When you’re done with your ski trip, take your boots and socks off. Take a picture of your foot and bring it to your local bootfitter. They should be able to solve all your issues with the correct information. If you have a bone protrusion, they can do a spot stretch on the liner, pushing it out by hand. If it needs more, you can do a spot stretch on the boot itself.

Q: How long will it take to break in a ski boot?

Ben: If a boot is fit appropriately, it should be only one or two days of skiing. But leave room for specific modifications or a return trip to the bootfitter to solve any uncomfortable pressure or pinching.

Q: How much pressure should I feel on my calves and shins?

Ben: A comfortable squeeze. Snug, but not restricting.

Q: I already own a pair of ski boots and they hurt my feet. Is there anything you can do to make them more comfortable?

Ben: You can always make ski boots feel more comfortable, but the first step is to go through the whole fit evaluation of a ski boot. Typically a boot or liner mold or an orthotic will help tremendously.

Q: When do I need a new pair of ski boots?

Ben: When you’re not getting the appropriate desired energy transfer from the body through the boot and into the ski. Also, if your ISO soles are too worn down, they might not release from your binding properly.

Q: How can I extend the life of my existing boots?

Ben: Instead of buying a new pair of boots, you can buy an booster strap and add some new life to your boots. You can have your liners remolded which will add more comfort to them or buy a new liner.

Want some expert advice? Book your free personal boot-fit assessment