Dan Egan and Eric Wilbur’s latest book Thirty Years in a White Haze tells Egan’s…
How to find the right ski boot size – The right fit for winter, by Atomic.
When you buy ski boots, you lay the foundation of a great skiing experience. The right ski boot should fit comfortably, providing a firm hold to the foot while reliably transmitting power and steering impulses from the skier to the ski. The wrong boot can spoil the fun of skiing. It gives the ski a “life of its own” and causes pressure points and often enough results in cold feet. This is as important for beginners as it is for advanced skiers and experts. Quite frankly, putting some extra thought in choosing the right ski boot is worth the effort!
As a link to the ski, the ski boot is a fundamental component of the equipment. The better the hold and the power transmission, the more precise and effortless the ski can be steered and essentially the more fun it is to ski.
However, hardly any skier is as proud of his ski boots as he is of his new “planks”. For many, the stiff and heavier boots are more of a problem child, because even putting them on or “getting in” often quickly reveals that the plastic shell doesn’t wear as comfortably as a sneaker! That’s why it’s even more important than with other footwear to get advice, try it on and test the boot! A trusted ski shop with a large selection of models and well trained staff offers the best opportunity to find a pair that fits like they should.
Finding the right size
Whether men’s, women’s or children’s footwear, the most important criteria is a proper fit and that starts with the right size. So how do I find out, what size is right for me?
In a specialist shop, the length and width of the foot is measured using a gauge (by the way, you should do this every time you buy a new ski boot, because the size and shape of the feet can change over time).
Length: The sizes of ski boots are given in Mondo Point (MP) – equivalent to the foot length in centimeters. They are divided into 5 mm segments, 25; 25.5; 26; 26.5 etc. Generally the shells of the ski boots share two Mondo Point sizes. For example, the MP sizes 27 and 27.5 have the same shell. To adjust the intermediate sizes, manufacturers use two different insoles (one thicker and one thinner) to adjust the volume accordingly. Atomic includes a so-called size adjuster with every pair, which can be placed under the insole and even under a personalized footbed.
The boot size chart provides an orientation for comparable footwear sizes. Nevertheless, both feet have to be measured.
Beware of the width
For an excellent fit the width of the ski boot is equally important. A boot that is too narrow hurts. A boot that is too wide leaves room for movement and hardly provides a foothold. So how tight should the fit of a ski boot be? How much comfort can be expected?
A well-trained dealer can make an initial recommendation for possibly suitable ski boots on the basis of the measured foot length and width. In the past most recommended different manufacturers or types for different foot widths, nowadays there are models such as the extensive ATOMIC Hawx series which comes in three different last widths.
Accordingly, not only the correct length of the shell or ski boot is chosen, but also its width. A forefoot width of less than 98 mm is considered narrow, shells with a width of around 100 mm are considered medium, 102 mm and above as wide.
The width classification of narrow, medium and wide helps you to choose the right ski boot or fit.
Ski boot types and Flex Index
Once the right boot size has been determined, skiing style and ability come into play. In addition to the choice between gender-specific women’s and men’s models, there are also different ski boot types. They differ in the construction of the liner, the functionality and the rigidity of the shell.
For shell rigidity all brands use the so-called Flex Index which describes the stiffness of the shell with regard to the forward inclination of the shaft. When choosing the flex and the style of skiing, the skier’s strength and his anatomy play a decisive role. Good to know: There is no standardized measurement method for the Flex Index, so that the same values are not necessarily identical for different manufacturers.
Basically, a ski boot should fit as comfortably as possible and as tightly as necessary. The crux is the frictional connection between foot and liner as well as liner and shell. If there is play somewhere, the whole system no longer works. This means that you can ski better with a really well-fitting ski boot.
During the fitting, close the buckles from the bottom up with only little force. This brings you a little closer to the right fit. For occasional skiers, closing the buckles often creates an unfamiliar feeling: “That feels tight!” Then patience is required. One closes the buckles conscientiously from the bottom upwards to the shaft. The buckles should be tight, but not so tight that they exert excessive pressure on the foot. At the top of the cuff they may sit relatively tight, but should not restrict blood circulation. Then it turns out whether one gets used to the comparatively narrower feeling of the ski boot or whether one really has some pressure points. The flexion of the ankle joint, which is common in correct alpine skiing, pushes the heel backwards. In this position, there should no longer be any toe contact at the front. If you now have a secure grip and no “play” when moving, the boot sits correctly. Only when certain areas, such as the ankle or toe joint, still show pressure points or friction a ski boot adjustment has to be considered.
Founded in 1955 in the heart of the Austrian Alps, ATOMIC is the world‘s largest ski-manufacturer. Products perfectly tailored for ski racers and freeskiers, cross-country skiers and backcountry skiers, beginners and World Champions alike are being tested in the company’s backyard around Altenmarkt. ATOMIC employs 750 people and has more than 60 years of experience in the skiing industry, while selling products in 49 countries. Through its passion for skiing, the brand strives to create a better skiing experience with leading quality and technological innovations. ATOMIC is an Amer Sports brand.