Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What To Know When Buying New Ski Boots


With so many choices, how do you know what type of ski boots to get?
While few purchases are as exciting as new ski equipment, the act of shopping also comes with a healthy dose of consternation. Nowhere do we get more flustered than trying to figure out how to find the right pair of ski boots.

As a reflection of our many different skiing styles and desires, the industry has produced specific boots to match our ever-segmented world. From fit to style to design to whether or not you want a walk mode and grippy soles, just knowing where to begin can be intimidating. This is true for professionals on down to beginners.

But this issue applies best to those who ski all the time: Boots, which cost a pretty penny, mean a great deal to us. In fact, boots can make or break a season. Since we depend on them all the time, we need them to be comfortable and work as intended. But even those of us who ski regularly have a hard time knowing exactly how a boot should properly fit.

In search of professional advice, I reached out to one of the industry's foremost experts in bootfitting and design. Matt Schiller, 46, has spent the majority of his career dialing equipment for some of the world's best skiers. From the World Cup to big mountain athletes to the X Games, he's been responsible for making sure boots, skis, and bindings are precisely tuned to get every possible advantage on the biggest stage. That includes three years as the service manager for the U.S. Ski Team, six years as Nordica’s race director, and three years as competition director for Atomic, where he helped Mikaela Shiffrin find the best fit for her equipment as she launched her career.

As the saying goes: You don't choose the boot—the boot chooses you. Schiller says finding new boots starts with having an open mind about fit, mechanics, and function. During an appointment, Schiller takes at least a half hour to collect several measurements before he even puts a boot on someone's foot. "I look really hard at mechanics," he says. "That will give them a short list of boots where they can think about fit, stance, and flex, and then they can go pick their top three boots with some guidance. I think that has to happen, no matter if you're a pro or a layman."

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