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  • Writer's pictureHenry

Boot Fitting Part 1: Made to Measure

Buying your first pair of ski boots has long been the accepted next step if you are a keen and committed skier, and want to take the next step in your skiing journey. There are two big reasons why upgrading to your own pair of boots, rather than hire boots, is a good things – firstly as you’ll be in a better quality bit of kit that has not been worn by hundreds of people before you (I know right, ick) and you will better be able to match your kit to your skiing ability and ambition.

In many ways, buying your own pair of boots is a very easy process, unlike buying a pair of skis. Whereas you can umm and ahhh over skis until the cows come home, boots will pick themselves. You’ll need to try on a few pairs, sure, but fundamentally it’s a case of finding the one that fits you best within a category of boots. Sort of like choosing a wand in the wizarding world of Harry Potter; when you know, you know. Getting in the wrong pair of boots can also cause all sorts of problems along the way!

The process will take some time, so its important to clear an afternoon and be patient. Listen to what your feet and your boot fitter are telling you, be prepared to spend a bit of time and money, and there is no reason you won’t walk out of the shop with a pair of boots that will last you, comfortably, for the next five to ten years.


First things first, call ahead to your local boot fitting shop, especially if you are doing this in the UK. In resort, this is less of an issue, although be prepared to pay a premium “resort tax” when buying in resort. Boot fitters are harder to come by but almost all shops run a booking system, ensuring you can guarantee availability. There are two big chains in the UK that offer quality boot fitting services – Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports  and Snow+Rock – as well as a huge range of smaller shops; Ski Bartlett, Absolute Snow, Craigdon, Rivington Alpine, and Lockwoods, to name but a few.

There are two ways you can gauge the quality of the shop and the boot fitter you are working with. The first is the availability of boots that have. This is something you can judge from their website before you go in, and is important because you’ll need to try on a fair few pairs along the way. The other test is when you sit down for the fitting. Does your fitter gauge your ski boot size by asking you what your normal shoe size is? Then turn around and walk out.

I’m serious here. When I was fitting boots I did a lot of refits along the way. I would always ask these customers this question – were they properly measure for length and width, or did their fitter simply convert shoe size to ski boot size? If they answered the latter, I could bet all the money I had in the world that they were in the wrong size boot, and I was right every time – the client was always, always, always in a boot one size, sometimes even two sizes too big for what they needed.


So how do you get the right size? Simple. You – or your boot fitter – measure your feet’s length and width. Ski boots are sized in centimetres, officially call “mondopoint” to make it sound more formal and also because “sized in centimetres” isn’t quite accurate. Alongside length, however, it is important to understand the width of your feet at their widest point across the balls of the feet, known as a “last”. Boots are generally built to one of three different last widths – 98mm, 100mm, and 102mm – and as such it is important to know which one of these will fit you best.

N.B. a boot's last width is always displayed in a size 26/26.5 boot - add two millimetres of last width for every boot size you go up, and minus two millimetres of last for each boot size you go down. Therefore, a 98mm last will still fit a 102mm-width foot in size 28/28.5.

Both length and width measurements should be taken in both an unweighted and weighted position, by measuring sitting down, then standing up and pressing forward into your skiing position. Your feet will grow by up to one centimetre in length and half a centimetre in width when this happens – this is completely normal, and again, its important for your fitter to get an idea of just how much your feet move and grow.

At this point, your fitter will have or will have had a conversation with you about the type of skiing you are doing and how hard you like to ski. Here, they will put this knowledge together with your foot measurements and begin suggesting boots for you to try.




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