Whether you’re a beginner to the fabulous sport of skiing or an avid winter sportsman, making sure your new men’s ski boots fit correctly is paramount if you are to make the most of your time on the slopes.
Modern ski boots are manufactured with an inner shoe of leather, fabric, plastic and foam, and an outer shell of rigid polyurethane. Wearing poorly fitting ski boots can cause blisters, toe bangs, numb feet, cold or cramping feet, and reduced control when skiing. So, with these points in mind, what is the best way to break in your new ski boots, to ensure maximum enjoyment during your first time on the piste?
Breaking in your ski boots on the slopes
One school of thought suggests new ski boots should be broken in on the slopes. This is due to the fact the boot liners mould to the shape of the feet (similar to a memory foam mattress) and is based on the reality that your posture is different when standing up than it is when skiing. When in the skiing position, your ankles tend to be flexed, and your body leans forward, putting pressure on different areas of the liners.
This approach is often the chosen path for seasoned, experienced skiers who have previously broken in men’s ski boots and know what to expect. However, for newcomers with their first pair of ski boots, getting used to the boots’ feel, tightness and weight by starting at home and completing the process on the slopes is the most recommended option.
Choosing your new ski boots
When choosing your new boots stay away from synthetic socks, and wear wool or purpose-made ski socks when trying on your boots. The boots need to be a snug fit, allowing you to be able to wiggle your toes while your heel is comfortable against the back of the boot. If you suffer from flat feet or raised arches, ask your Snow + Rock supplier for the appropriate boot liners to compensate. They can supply pre-moulded and custom-fitted footbeds.
Although boots need to be tight, you don’t want them cramped. Breaking them in slowly will help stretch the shoes and spread the liners to suit your feet.
Breaking in your new ski boots at home
Just like shoes, putting on warm ski boots is much easier than putting on cold ones, so leave them overnight close to a heat source such as a radiator or fire. Failing that, borrow your partner’s hair dryer for 30 minutes and thoroughly warm them inside and out before putting them on.
Open the boots as wide as you can, making sure the tongue is pulled up and pushed forward. Slide your foot into the boot, wiggle your toes and twist your ankle until the boot feels comfortable.
Pull the tongue back and lay it up the shin bone, ensuring it has no creases that can rub and irritate the shin’s skin. Now you can start tightening all straps and buckles.
Start by wearing your boots for 15-30 minutes a day for a week or so, then increase it to 45-60 minutes and then a couple of hours.
Don’t just strap on your boots and settle down to watch your favourite TV programme. The foam liner needs to adjust to your foot shape and to do that, you need your full body weight to press hard onto the foam liners while you stand and walk around in your boots – at least for some of the time you are wearing them.
When to break in your new men’s ski boots
As a new skier, you can begin getting used to your ski boots as soon as you get them. It’s also a good idea to wear them for a couple of hours a day for two or three days just before jetting off to your chosen ski resort. This will help soften the foam liner, and remind you and your brain about the tight fit and the extra weight your feet will be carrying when you finally strap on your boots and hit the slopes.
Although breaking in men’s ski boots can sound like a daunting task, it’s really just a matter of patience and common sense. If you have any concerns prior to your holiday, contact your boot supplier. At your chosen resort, you will find plenty of highly experienced skiers and friendly professional ski shops you can visit for help and advice. Welcome to the wonderful world of skiing.