Ski and snowboard boots — perhaps the key part of ski equipment. These are special shoes designed for skiing and snowboarding. The boots provide warmth, comfort and safety for skiing and snowboarding, as well as efficient control.
No matter how great the rest of the equipment of a skier or snowboarder is, improperly selected and uncomfortable boots completely level out the pleasure of skiing. Therefore, you should follow the basic rules and selection criteria as accurately as possible:
- you need to realistically assess your level of physical fitness and skating skills;
- to study the main parameters of the foot and shoe adjustment, namely, the width and length of the foot, the stiffness of the boot;
- do not chase the design, brand and relevance of the model — even the coolest and most modern boots, poorly matched, will spoil the ride.
The main difference is that the legs in ski boots can only be bent forward, while in snowboarding boots there is still freedom to bend left / right. Therefore, using ski boots on a snowboard is almost impossible, and most importantly, wrong.
- Ski boots
- Snowboard Boots
Ski boots and hard snowboard boots consist of two parts:
- external boot — provides rigidity and protection against moisture and snow, as well as the safety of the skier’s foot; made of plastic;
- interior boot (boot) — provides fixation of the leg, comfort and heat retention. It is made of synthetic materials that quickly take the shape of the foot.
Interesting: there are a number of specialists called «bootfitters» (eng. boot — boots, feet — foot), who can «fit» the purchased shoes exactly to your foot. This is a very rare occurrence in our country, but such professionals exist.
The essence of fitting shoes to the leg is to create the correct orthopedic insole. Sounds easier than it really is. Just buying the suggested insoles may not be the best solution. An experienced bootfitter will determine all the parameters of the buyer’s foot and produce a personalized insole based on the needs. If you are serious about alpine skiing, then fitting your boot to your foot will be very useful.
Boots for skiing and snowboarding are classified in the same way and are made taking into account the anatomical features of men’s, women’s and children’s feet.
Men’s — differ from women’s in a long and narrow shaft. They are wider at the ankles and heels.
Women’s — have a «hidden heel», which makes it possible to easily adjust the turns. The upper part of the outer boot is more inclined forward. It should be noted that some of the women’s models are ultra-soft, for a light load, when a tourist wants to relax more than ride on the slopes.
Unisex — Suitable for both men and women. However, they are not very convenient, and therefore the demand for them is limited.
Baby — differ in shorter length and thickness of the sole, softness of the boot material, as well as lower cost than adult models. In addition, they have a striking design.
There are two types of children’s shoes:
- for children aged 3-9 years — models with one clip for fixing the leg, a soft inner boot and an opening back. In these boots, the emphasis is on comfort and safety;
- for teenagers (junior) — more rigid boots, choosing which, it is necessary to take into account the physical fitness and skills of the young athlete.
Important: you should not buy children’s shoes «for growth». These shoes are dangerous.
The handling of skis (snowboard) directly depends on the stiffness of the boot. It determines the force required to bend the boot «forward».
The most important rule for a beginner: do not chase the stiffness of the boot — it is inversely proportional to comfort. In order not to be disappointed, initially choose soft boots.
For alpine skiing
Rigidity is measured by a number from 15 to 160 and is marked on the boot. I must say that the softer the shoes, the cheaper they are and vice versa. Children’s shoes have a stiffness of 15 to 30 units.
Soft boots (15-60) — Good for beginners and hikers. They are as comfortable as possible and perfectly absorb shocks, but the controllability of skis in such boots is weak.
Medium hardness (70-110) — the best option for unprepared trails and calm skiing. Good combination of comfort and handling.
Hard boots (120-160) — suitable for experienced athletes who prefer high-speed aggressive skiing on prepared tracks. In these boots, the foot is rigidly fixed, which provides maximum ski control. However, they are inconvenient for long-term riding.
Rigidity is measured by a number from 3 to 10 and is indicated on the boot.
Soft boots (3-5) — are the most common. Designed for most types of skiing, except for high-speed ones, where the accuracy of board control is put in the first place. Beginners are advised to choose just such boots. Made from leather or synthetic materials.
Important: it is better to choose soft boots made of synthetic materials, which, although less durable than leather, do not absorb water and remain light. Wet leather shoes increase in weight (which is uncomfortable for the rider), as well as deform and lose their appearance.
Medium hardness (6-7) – designed for both beginners and experienced snowboarders. They are hard boots, in the front and side parts of which soft inserts are made. Good combination of handling and comfort.
Rigid boots (8-10) — special plastic boots that are used in high-speed snowboarding. They look like ski boots, but at the soles of snowboarding boots, the edges of the toes and heels are beveled so that when turning the shoes do not cling to the snow. The angle of inclination of such boots is greater than that of models for skiing.
Adjustment rigidity — usually found in shoe models for advanced and professional athletes. Needed to change the accuracy of ski control and is useful when changing the type of snow cover or skiing style. It is not necessary for beginners, since a novice skier still does not know what stiffness is needed in which case.
For alpine skiing
Boots for beginners — suitable for beginners who have not yet decided on the style of riding. They are relatively inexpensive, soft and easy to adjust.
These shoes often have a «Walk/Ski» mode, which helps to quickly get used to the boots.
Boots freeride — Designed for skiing on unprepared trails and fresh snow. These boots are strong enough and able to withstand temperature extremes, intense and long-term skiing. Their clasps are made of metal, and the bottom one is made «inside out» — this design prevents snow from getting inside the clip and opening it while riding.
Boots for carving — are used for sports riding on prepared tracks, which are characterized by precise and sharp turns. These boots are resilient, soft and have good cushioning. It is easy to control skis in such shoes.
Boots for freestyle — used in stunt skating, including ski jumping, etc. These boots have a second shock-absorbing sole, which softens the load on the legs during jumps. It is recommended to purchase boots with metal clips, as plastic can crack on impact in very cold weather.
For snowboarding, soft boots are used in disciplines such as freeride and freestyle, while hard boots are used in carving and slalom.
The date the boots were made. The most modern models — boots released this season and made using innovative technologies, are not cheap and are more relevant for professionals.
For amateurs and people on a budget, it makes sense to pay attention to the models of the previous season. It is better to buy last year’s shoes, but of better quality, than new ones for the same price, but of a little-known brand. In addition, sports equipment of past seasons significantly loses in price with the release of a new collection.
Fixation on the leg
For alpine skiing
Clips — Made of plastic or metal. Metal clips are more resistant to shock and low temperatures, so they have a longer service life. For reliable fixation of the leg, both in an adult and in a children’s boot there should be 4 clips and a strap.
Canting — special adjustment in the ski boot to compensate for the curvature of the legs.
Lacing – fixation occurs by means of a lace, hooks and loops.
Quick lacing — fixation is carried out using a Kevlar cord threaded into the boot loops. Saves time and effort, which is especially important on a slope.
BOA (boa) — fixation is carried out by means of a Kevlar cord threaded through the holes, at the end of which there is a latch-drum. To fix the foot, it is enough to twist the lock-drum.
- Classic lacing
- BOA lacing
Size refers to the length and width of the outer boot. The comfort and safety of skiing, as well as the handling of skis, depend on this parameter. The size of the foot can be determined using a special meter, which can be found in many stores. Children’s shoes are up to 22-23 cm in size.
It is necessary to measure the length of the foot in centimeters in the skating position — with the legs bent at the knees. In this case, the foot is several millimeters larger (up to 12 mm) than in the normal position.
It should be remembered that the size indicated in centimeters may not match the size grid with the usual European shoe sizes for us. If shoes are bought online, you need to study the reviews on the size grid of a particular manufacturer, and, of course, try on shoes in the store.
Special socks for skiing or snowboarding are expensive. However, they often fully justify the money spent: they make it as easy as possible to put on shoes, provide comfort while skiing. If you do not wear them outside of riding, they will last a very long time.
The main advice when choosing boots for skiing: obligatory and careful fitting. There are a lot of features from different manufacturers that may or may not suit you individually.
- When trying on, you should not tighten the strap to the end, otherwise the leg will freeze on a winter slope after a long wearing. It is recommended to walk in boots for 10-15 minutes, stand, squat, etc.
- When choosing snowboard boots, you also need to shift your weight forward onto your toes, while the heels should not come off the insole.
- It is important that the shoes fit snugly and fix the foot, but do not pinch it.
- It should be noted that the inner boot may have an additional insole and even a heating function (from a special remote control).
- Some inner boots have special thermoformed zones that take the shape of the athlete’s foot.
When choosing a brand of ski boots, you should start solely from convenience. Design and manufacturer in this case is a secondary matter. Almost all brands on the market, Atomic, Burton, DC, Fischer, Flow, Head, Nidecker, Rossignol, Salomon, Scott, provide approximately equal quality shoes. All produce models for both beginners and advanced athletes. Moreover, it is not recommended for beginners to buy the most expensive models, as these shoes are aimed at a certain level of skill. A beginner will be uncomfortable and hard in such equipment.
There is an opinion that if one day you picked up ski boots for your leg, then you can safely choose among the models of the same manufacturer. However, any theory does not cancel careful fitting of shoes.