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Skiing on new boots for the first time

Skiing on New Boots for the First Time

Good for you, your new ski boots felt great in the ski shop, and now you are ready for comfortable and warm feet all day. Well, perhaps not. This article is actually the second in a series of articles. You may want to check out “Homework for New Boots” first.

Realize what you felt in the ski shop, or wearing your new boots at home, is not the same as skiing in them all day. The forces your feet go through while edging, or trying to maintain balance over undulating terrain, is just not the same as standing and walking on level ground.

Also, the liner in all ski boots needs time to mold to the shape of your feet. This is true even if you have had your boots heat molded. Even after heat molding, the liner will still stretch and compress for the first 4 to 5 days of use. So, it is important to be kind to your feet for the first few days of skiing in your new boots. Here is what you need to do.

First, plan what to wear. You want thin ski socks, and they must be socks actually designed for skiing. A good ski sock will be smooth and raise above the height of the ski boot to eliminate any seams that may cause irritation. They will also be made of wicking material to keep feet dry and abrasive free. In addition to ski socks, try to keep all other clothing such as ski pants and thermals out of the ski boots. The thicker you make your feet or legs the more pressure you will get from the boots.

On a quick study we found ski socks can vary by as much as 3.5 millimeters in thickness, and skiers can feel the difference in pressure with socks that vary by as little as .5 millimeters. A thicker sock will increase pressures around the feet, and could even cut off blood circulation making your feet colder. After a few days of skiing, when the liners have had a chance to compress and stretch, you may be able to wear thicker socks depending upon the overall room you have in the ski boots.

Second, buckle your boots at the easiest settings you feel you can, and still ski with control. Too many people come out of old ski boots that were so packed out that they had to max out the buckles to get a snug fit. Then, out of habit, they go and buckle their new boots the same way. This will almost guarantee to cause pain after a few hours. So, buckle the boots looser than you think you would like. If they are too loose to maintain control over your skis, you can gradually buckle them tighter until you feel secure. Ultimately, after a few days of skiing you will learn where you like the boots buckled, and be more certain of a molded fit.

Next, before you even put your new boots on, make sure they are at room temperature, and that you are putting warm dry feet and socks into warm dry boots. Ski boots are great insulators. If the boots are cold when you put them on, they will stay cold. The only heat source will be the blood pumping through your feet, and your body will be depriving your feet of extra heat as it works to keep your core at 98.6 degrees. You want the boots to keep your feet warm and not the other way around.
As a side note, we dislike when anyone uses their new boots for the first time on an extended ski vacation. The only thing worse than skiing in new boots without first taking the time to mold them (see Homework for New Boots), is skiing on them a second or third day. You may be able to ski in the boots for one day without too much difficulty. But, by the second or third day, your feet can be so traumatized that even the slightest pressure may be too painful to ski.

Finally, please know that even if you followed all the recommendations for breaking in new ski boots, and your feet still hurt, it does not mean you have made a poor choice. It is not uncommon to need some “tweaking” to gain that pleasantly snug yet comfortable fit you yearn to have. A good bootfitter can do some amazing corrections.
Happy feet will not guarantee a happy day of skiing, but unhappy feet will guarantee an unhappy day of skiing. Take the time to keep your feet happy.