Boot Solutions Japan

A specialist custom bootfitting and winter footwear store.

Boot Solutions in Niseko and Hakuba Japan is a specialist custom ski boot and snowboard boot fitting operation. 

Boot Solutions is owned and operated by experienced Podiatrist Ned Buckley. Through a unique combination of medical, biomechanical and technical knowledge, Ned and his team of qualified bootfitters are able to offer clients an unrivalled boot fitting experience.  

We offer an extensive range of ski and snowboard boots, with over 120 different models from 11 leading brands. We also have a fantastic selection of quality European winter footwear.

 

 

Hot Tips for Cold Toes

Many people suffer from cold feet in their ski boots. While having your boots custom fit can help reduce these symptoms, many people still experience uncomfortably cold feet. This can really put a downer on your skiing experience.  So here’s five hot tips to keep your toes toasty warm this ski season. 

Tip 1: Don’t wear thick socks

A lot of people assume that thicker socks will keep their feet warmer than thin ones. This is actually false. By wearing thick socks, your feet can be more constricted, hence impeding blood flow, and a lack of an air pocket between sock and liner can produce unwanted heat conduction and temperature loss from your feet. We recommend thin woollen socks, or thin socks made from insulating and moisture wicking materials.  

Tip 2: Make sure your liners are dry

It is imperative to keep your boot liners dry if you are going to have any chance of staving off the cold. Liners can easily get damp through snow entering the boot or from perspiration (and yes, you do still sweat even when it’s cold). That’s why you need to dry out your boots every night. People often think putting their boots in a drying room will do the trick, but unfortunately that’s not enough. The liners need air circulation to dry out properly and the lower shell of the boot is designed in such a way that condensation can get trapped over the dorsal interior shell. One option is to remove your liners from the boot each night and place in a warm room as well as wiping the inside plastic boot shell dry. However they can be a little tricky to put back in, so a much more convenient option is to grab yourself a boot dryer, such as the Hotronics Boot & Glove dryer which circulates warm air into the boot and produces drying by evaporation. And as the name suggests, it works a treat for drying out your gloves too. 

Tip 3: Wear clean, dry socks

It may sound obvious, but wearing clean, dry socks each day will help keep your feet warm. Even the slightest dampness can really play havoc with your temperature control. It’s therefore worth investing in 3-5 pairs of socks so you know you’ll always have a clean pair on hand.  If you're putting in a long day skiing, it can even be worth changing into a fresh pair during your lunch break. 

Tip 4: Don’t over-buckle your boots

If you buckle up your boots too tightly,  especially over the top of the foot, you will reduce the circulation to your feet and your feet will end up numb and cold. 

Tip 5: Invest in a boot heater

If you’ve tried the methods above without results, or just like nice toasty toes, a boot heater or battery-operated socks are definitely a great option. 

Boot heaters are battery operated heating elements which are installed into the boots insole under the ball of your foot. By providing a base level temperature at the toes, they work to block and neutralize the penetrating cold, keeping the blood circulation open and maintaining comfort and warmth in the feet. 

And with different temperature settings you can keep your feet at a perfect temperature. While you’re sitting on the chair lift, with a quick turn of the dial you can crank up the heat, and then when you’re ready to power down the mountain, you can take the temperature down a few notches. We recommend Hotronics FootWarmers and the Sidas One Set warming system.

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The other option is battery-operated heated socks. The socks are adjustable through 3 heat levels both on the battery itself and through an optional smart phone app that connects to the batteries via blue tooth. The benefit of a heated sock over traditional boot heaters is the ability use in other footwear, so you can keep your feet warm in your apres boots or hiking boots too!  We recommend the Lenz Heat Sock and theSidas Pro Heat battery-operated socks.

 

 

 

So don’t let frozen feet ruin your ski holiday. Get yourself a pair of well-fitted boots and implement the recommendations above and you’ll stay warm and comfortable all day long. 

 

 

Why you need Custom Orthotics

Regardless of skiing ability or the shape and mechanics of your foot, every skier and snowboarder can benefit from custom footbeds (or orthotics) in their boots.

Footbeds help to take your boots to the next level by providing superior fit, support, and comfort. They help to stabilise your foot and correct your posture, so that the energy you exert while skiing is transferred directly to your skis, rather than being lost in your boot. This ultimately results in less fatigue, less discomfort and better skiing performance.

 

 

The biomechanics

The motion of skiing results in a lot of force directed through the feet in a way that is not the same as walking or during other activities.  During each turn, a large amount of the body’s weight is transferred to the inside edge of the foot, directly down through the midfoot and into the arch. Depending on your foot type, without the support of a custom orthotic, this position and movement may cause some of the following adverse affects: 

  • The arch collapses and the foot rotates laterally (towards the outside) in the transverse plane, squeezing the outside of the foot.

  • The arch collapsing means that at the same time the tibia (shin bone) rotates medially (inwards) exposing ankle bone to the upper inside of the boot which can rub due to excessive pressure and movement in and out as well as up and down.  

  • As the arch collapses and foot pronates (three way movement) in the boot, the bones of the midfoot can unlock and the foot spreads causing increased pressure along the big toe and 5th toe.

  • The foot also lengthens as a result of spreading, causing the toes to hit the front of the boot.

  • The medial (inside) ankle bone ends up awkwardly positioned on the lower ridge of the boot’s ankle pocket, causing pressure and rubbing.

  • The arch is unstable, so it is unable to act as a shock absorber and therefore shock is transferred to the knee.

  • The multidirectional movements of the leg irritate the shin and pinch the calf.

  • Leg muscles at the front and back of the leg work overtime to pull the foot back and stabilise it in the boot during and between turns, which can lead to shin pain and tendonitis at the front and calf pain at the back.

  • Without adequate ankle range of motion, a combination the starting forward lean of boot and the flexing of the ankle in a turn can cause the heel to rise up and shift the weight of the body forward to the front of the boot, increasing pressure to the forefoot, causing pain and numbness.

  • Pressure caused by the misalignment of the leg/foot in the boot can lead to impingements of the nerves and arteries, leading to cold, numbness and pain.

Improved Comfort

A custom insole or orthotic that offers the right combination of control, support, and flex, can go a long way in correcting the above fit issues. The insole holds the foot in a powerful neutral pose, which in turn supports all of the muscles and ligaments of the foot. As a result, the foot will stay centred in the middle of the boot and the insole will support and align the ankle bones and instep bones in a comfortable position. 

Improved Performance 

And with the improved fit, comes better performance. A footbed preserves neutral position, stops wasted motion, and markedly improves edging efficiency. A skier will set and release their edge quicker, without over-twisting the knee.

To find out more about the process of making custom orthotics and FAQs, please visit http://www.bootsolutionsjapan.com/custom-orthotics/


The Best Boot Models for Niseko's Unique Terrain

Boot fitters worldwide will agree that accurately matching the size, shape and flex of a ski boot with a skier’s anatomy and ability is crucial when selecting a boot model.  However, a well-fitting boot is only part of the picture. Skier’s also need to ensure the boot they choose is compatible with their type of skiing and the terrain they plan toski. So we’ve put together our recommendations for the best ski boot models for those wishing to make the most of Niseko’s unique combination of lift accessed and short hike-to-powder skiing terrain.

What type of skier are you? 

An All Mountain Traditionalist, an All Mountain Adventurer or a Backcountry Adventurer? By identifying which category you fall into will help guide your choice of ski boot.

 

Will you be skiing off-piste?

If your answer is yes, whether it be a dabble into knee-deep powder at the sides of the groomed runs, or an aggressive early morning assault of the superidge, you will need something that skis well off piste and ideally matches a freeride style of skiing. Freeride boots tend to have lower ramp angles to facilitate the occasional backseat position as well as allow good close feel of the ski underfoot.  They will also have some inbuilt shock absorbing material underfoot to dampen the jarring forces of rough terrain and variable snow. For those spending most of their time in resort then the All Mountain Traditionalist boot with freeride specs is what you want!

Our All Mountain Traditionalist pick:  Men’s K2 Spyne/Women’s K2 Spyre

  • Low ramp angle boot board facilitates better weight position for powder skiing
  • Rear cuff is forgiving in the backseat (powder seat)
  • Rivet free cuff lock allows smoother ride in varied terrain and snow conditions
  • Fully moldable Intuition liner
  • Varied flex options
  • Three last width options: caters for narrow, medium and wide feet
  • Dual Cuff alignment: so the boot can be adjusted to perfectly match skier’s leg shape

Will you want to hike? 

On a good clear day the hike-to-the peak is a must. Also, those who ski at Hanazono will at some stage look out towards the east face of the mountain and want to explore everything there is to offer in that direction. Skiing this terrain will require some extra traversing and a decent hike in and out of some places.  For these All Mountain Adventurers, choosing a ski boot with a “Hike Mode” is highly recommended. Hike mode essentially allows the upper cuff of the ski boot to unlock and allow for the ankle to move more freely, allowing for a more natural walking gait. This takes considerable strain off the knees and hips when climbing or walking in deep snow.

Our All Mountain Adventurer Pick: Men’s Dalbello Panterra/Women’s Dalbello Kyra

  • Hike mode mechanism is easy to engage/disengage and offers a good range of motion for easy movement up the mountain when skinning and through deep snow when hiking.
     
  • Centre balanced rocker stance: optimum control of wider skis and easy balance in powder ( less back seat) 
     
  • High grip rubber soles allow easy grip on packed powder and steep hike ascents Relatively light weight but does not give up downhill performance
     
  • Smooth and responsive flex optimized for all mountain skis and powder conditions
     
  • Width adjustment from wide to medium fit
     
  • Optional custom moldable Intuition liner: (the warmest on the market)

Will you be going skinning? 

Fancy going a little bit further into the wilderness?  Guided backcountry tours are fast becoming very popular and Niseko is blessed with an abundance of easy access, relatively safe terrain for skiers of all levels to explore and enjoy. If you plan to spend a majority of your time skinning up mountains and hiking from the roadside, then a backcountry-touring style boot is essential. There is a vast range of boots on offer in this category that are really lightweight with plenty of cuff range in hike mode.  However, buyers should be aware that many of these lightweight, easy-hike models don’t perform as well downhill as traditional boots. And considering the majority of ski touring around the Niseko region consists of short hikes with amazing powder filled descents, it’s recommended you choose a model that is light, but still performs to a level that allows maximum powder froth when descending!  

Our Backcountry Adventurer Pick: Unisex Dynafit Vulcan


  • Designed for freeriders, this super light (only 1600gms) boot hikes well and skies brilliantly

  • The stiffness of the boot is equal to the most solid of downhill ski boots and can therefore handle fat skis with ease, and skis varied powder terrain with good responsiveness

  • Overall it is a great compromise between skiing well on powder skis, and keeping a light weight boot with high range of motion for fast and easy hike up. Compatible with a large number of touring and freeride bindings

  • Thermomoldable liner

How biomechanics affects your ski game

Biomechanics in sport involves the observation, study and assessment of the way people move in space using scientific principles of mechanical physics. Biomechanics play a major role in skiing, as skiing well requires the body to be doing all the right things at the right times when moving down the mountain. Making turns efficiently and with fluidity on your skis requires balance and coordination, which can only be achieved through the complex interactions that your body has with your equipment as well as the terrain that you are skiing. 

Alignment in skiing can have a huge impact on one's fatigue or ability to perform certain ski movements. If the alignment is too far out it becomes impossible to let your body move in the way it should.  Unfortunately many people do not naturally possess a neutral skiing stance and instead are prone to various degrees of alignment issues such as excessive foot pronation (rolling the foot in), abnormal femoral or tibial torsional issues, problems with their hips and/or lower backs and leg length discrepancies just to mention a few... Just being either slightly knock-kneed or bow-legged can affect skiing alignment. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to overcome this: 

  • Custom orthotics: Regardless of the shape or mechanics of your feet, footbeds help to take your boots to the next level by providing superior fit, support, and comfort.   They help to stabilise your foot and help correct your foot posture, so that the energy you exert while skiing is transferred directly to your skis, rather than being lost in your boot. This ultimately results in less fatigue, less discomfort and better skiing performance.

  • Cuff alignment:  Available on most ski boot models, cuff alignment specifically deals with the inward or outward angling of your upper cuff; it does not involve an adjustment to the lower shell. The purpose of this adjustment is to match the angle of the upper cuff to the curvature of your lower leg so that you're able to apply equal pressure to your skis when standing in a natural stance.  This results in greater comfort, control, and more responsive skiing.
     
  • Canting: Canting refers to tilting or angling the entire ski boot laterally to achieve a neutral stance, meaning your heels, ankles, knees and hips are all correctly aligned.  Initially this is done by placing temporary wedges under the boot. Once the skier is happy with the adjusted angle, the boot fitter will grind the sole of the boot to create a permanent cant.    A properly canted boot will bring your knee into its natural position, vertically above the centre of your foot and will provide much better precision on the slopes.

An experienced boot fitter will be able to conduct a comprehensive biomechanical assessment and then implement the appropriate measures to get you all 'dialled in' so that your whole body is correctly aligned. This will set you on the right path to achieving your full skiing potential and ultimately just having more fun on the mountain!

Which flex is best?

In our last two posts we've looked at choosing the correct ski boot size and shape. This week we focus on ski boot flex.

Flex ratings

Flex ratings have increasingly become a major feature in the advertising and marketing of ski boots as well as in the categorisation of boots for the type of skier and level of performance required.  

There appears to be no standards for flex ratings between brands and models, meaning that the same flex rating in one boot can differ considerably from another despite having the same rating. 

Stiff vs soft flex

Generally speaking, the higher the flex rating, the stiffer the flex becomes with more resistance to movement of the upper and lower cuff as the skier applies pressure to the front of the boot. A stiffer flex may be desirable for the more aggressive skier as energy transfer from leg-to-boot-to ski as well as the rebound will occur more efficiently. A softer flex allows for easier movement of the boot’s upper and lower cuff, which means less force is required, however, there is a pay off as the rebound force will also be weaker. A softer flex is generally desired for the less advanced skier, who is still learning the technique of applying pressure into the front of the boot. A softer flex may also be appropriate for a freestyle skier, or a person of lighter weight.

Which flex is right for you?

When fitting boots, the custom boot fitter will make a recommendation of flex based on a number of factors such as the skier’s height, weight, ability, and personal preference. The boot fitter will usually observe the skier flexing a boot and may make a judgment to either recommend a stiffer or softer flex based on their observation in the shop. The flex of some ski boots varies considerably in different temperatures depending on the type of plastics used in manufacturing. The boot fitter should also advise the skier on this fact as part of the consultation.

Assessment of foot and ankle biomechanics play an important role in the choice of flex for some skiers. There are some circumstances where a stiffer flex is desirable for a less experienced or lighter weight skier. An example may be someone who has limited ankle range of motion in the dorsiflexory direction (bringing the foot towards the shin). All ski boots are made with varying amounts of forward lean, which can be calculated by measuring the angle of the upper cuff to the base of the ski boot and subtracting the delta angle which is the ramp angle of the boot board inside the boot. A range of ankle dorsiflexory ankle motion of less than 10 degrees is considered inefficient in gait biomechanics (walking). For skiing, this number is slightly higher, with the skier requiring around 12-15 degrees of motion, which will allow them to stand in the boot and then have enough reserve to actually flex the boot.  When someone is considerably limited in their dorsiflexory range of motion (less than 12 degrees), they can reach their limit just by standing in the boot, and so they will not have enough available motion to flex the boot. As a consequence their heel will lift at the back of the boot when the ankle reaches its maximum range and their weight will shift towards the toes, sometimes leading to calf cramping and/or forefoot pain. In this instance the boot fitter may recommend a stiffer (less flex) boot that is naturally more upright in forward lean and this way the skier will engage the ski boot with less ankle range of motion.

 

Why Shape Matters

In last week's post, we looked at the important of choosing the correct size ski boot.  Today we are going to focus on boot shape. Many of the common problems related to discomfort in ski boots stem from a mismatch between the shape of the boot and the shape of the leg/foot. Many people have variations in their foot shape like bony prominences or small anatomical peculiarities that make it necessary for them to have some customisation done to increase their comfort and performance. 

For ski boots to be comfortable and perform optimally,   there must be a certain degree of compatibility between boot shape and foot shape. Incorrect shape can lead to many of the painful conditions that our bootfitters regularly encounter in their clients.

Boot shape is a highly personal thing: Some skiers want ultimate performance and are willing to forego a certain amount of comfort to achieve this by squeezing their feet into a smaller, narrower boot that will provide ultimate energy transmission from leg to ski. On the other hand, some skiers are happy to forgo a certain amount of performance to achieve a higher level of comfort. Going further with this, there are also individual tolerance levels that come into play; some people simply don't feel or distinguish discomfort in the same way that others do, or they have conditioned their feet due to many hours in ski boots.   

It is very difficult to perfectly match the shape of boots to each foot, as the manufacturers make a standard mould, and for this reason we often customise the boots to further match the individual shape of the foot. 

Many of the models that we carry in stock now have customisable shells, making it further possible to provide the ultimate in customisation. See our page on boot fitting options

Some common Foot/Boot Shape considerations:

Foot/Toe Length: People vary in the length of their feet and individual length of the toes. They may have longer first or second toes or they may have all toes of closer length to each other.

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Toe Box Shape: The shape of the boot toe box should match the overall curve and shape of the toes as a whole. A couple examples might include a pointed shape vs a squared-off shape: The pointed shape might have a longest second toe and other toes that each fall sharply shorter in length compared to the other, producing a situation where a more tapered toe-box is better. Alternatively, the person with toes thar have a squared-off appearance due to less variation in toe length will require a boot that is more squared-off at the toe box, or may indeed need a slight modification to make the shell wider in key areas.

Width: All boot models fit slightly differently in width. Often the overall width of the boot is advertised and classified as an overall last size. Some boot company websites display last sizes in millimetres. As a general rule, boots classified in last size 98mm or narrower may be recognised as a narrower fit. Boots ranging from 99mm-101mm are medium and anything 102mm or above fall into the wider fit category. 

There are no hard and fast rules with regards to what last size one should ski in, however for general comfort with maximum performance, a closer fit is desirable.

Arch Height and Instep: The amount of space provided over the instep of the foot is a very important consideration. There are various anatomical structures over the dorsum (upper surface) of the foot, which require the boot to fit correctly to prevent impingement and pain.

If the boot is too tight over the dorsum, then the skier may experience symptoms that are due to nerve, and blood supply/return impingement. It is also common for people to have bony prominences over the dorsum, which rub against the tongue of the shell. These problems may be combated by appropriate selection of boot shell and liner combination along with further modifications if needed.

If the boot is too roomy over the dorsum of the foot and anterior ankle, then people may experience muscle and tendon pain, shin pain and soft tissue problems, from excessive rubbing and movement as well as incorrect conformity of the curve of the boot with the position of the feet.     

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Ankle positioning: Boot manufacturers will often place a small indent in the position where they envision the ankle bones to be positioned in the boot. Due to anatomical variation, every skier's ankles will be slightly differently positioned in their boots, meaning that sometimes these simply miss the spot, or are so far off so as to cause a problem. There is also often a hinge point in the boot with rivets close to the ankle bones that can cause a rub. The combination of correcting footbeds/orthotics, the choice of most appropriate shell and further modification as needed can overcome these issues.  At the front of the ankle it is important that the boot bends in concordance with how you foot bends - this is crucial to prevent lower shin bang!   

Heel contour and retention: Heel retention is a desirable aspect of a well fitting boot. The heel retention in ski boots is achieved through a combination of the shape of the contour inside the shell, as well as materials used in the liner to effect a good heel hold. All boot brands have different combinations of these in the various models.  An often overlooked circumstance is the fact that behind the ankles, either side of the heel is where a considerable number of anatomical structures exist: The main nerve, arteries and veins as well as the tendons all pass by the heel and into the foot. For this reason it is very important that the boot fits well in this area! Not too tight, not too loose. It is important to note that for anatomical/mechanical reasons, it is sometimes impossible to keep the heel from lifting, regardless of how firm the boot is in this area. In this case, modifications can be made to help combat this problem. 

Forward Lean:  The amount of forward lean or angle that the boot is set on  compared to the surface the skier is standing on plays a significant role in your skiing style. Thiswill be further discussed in next week's post about Flex, however, for some people the forward lean is an important consideration: People with limited amount of natural ankle flexion, or people who are just learning to ski might want less forward lean in their boots. On the other hand, skiers who are likely to be flexing their ankle a lot in their skiing action, such as bumps skiers or instructors might prefer a boot with more forward lean. There are some circumstances where the forward lean of the boot is a crucial consideration in the overall comfort and performance.

Upper Cuff Volume: Narrow, slimmer-legged people require boots with less volume in the upper cuff and/or more padding. People with wider, more voluminous calves/lower legs often require lower cuffed, wider fitting boots in that area. 

Boots can easily be modified to provide extra padding or more room around the calf area provided that  the overall starting shape is within acceptable limits.  

Tune in next week for our article on understanding ski boot flex. 

Choosing The Correct Boot Size

The correct boot size is one of the most crucial things to get right!

While shape and flex are  important factors when choosing the correct ski boot, for this article we will focus on size considerations. Having the wrong size may lead to many problems and ultimately the premature need to have new, correctly sized boots fitted. Incorrect sizing from another retailer or boots purchased online is the number one problem encountered by our boot fitters.  

There are many considerations to be made depending on the shape of the foot and the skier type as well as personal preference, however, as a general rule, the boots must be as close to the correct size in length as possible. Ideally the skier will have just enough toe room to keep warm and prevent the toes from pressing into the end of the boots. Quite often your ski/snowboard boot size will be smaller than your shoe size.

When a ski boot is brand-new, the liners have not been fully moulded to the contour of the shell, and so it is very common for people to perceive the out-of-the box fit as too small. All good bootfitters will double-check the available room that your foot has by removing the liner and placing the foot in the boot shell. This enables them to examine the interface between the foot and the interior shell of the boot, taking into consideration not only the length, but also the width and height of the boot, as this ultimately determines the fit.

Other considerations:

1. Your foot size may change with added orthotic support. 

Your foot type can also have some bearing on the right size for you: Some people's feet can splay significantly without innersole support. The addition of a custom footbed/orthotic can often significantly alter the size of the foot due to splay-reduction to the point where a smaller size may be more appropriate.   This is a consideration any master bootfitter will take into account after assessing your feet.     

2. Not all boot brands and models have the same sizing standards! 

Most boot companies display the sizes of their boots in mondopoint, which is a standardised measurement system, however, there is slight variation from brand to brand and model to model which makes physical assessment of the foot in each boot a necessity. In some circumstances, you may have a foot which suits two different sizes depending on the different models. 

3. Ski boots are often made in full sizes

Ski boots generally change their shells in full sizes. Most companies make boots that go up a full size for each change in sole length (the actual length of the plastic shell from heel to toe), ie 26/26.5 = 305 mm, next size up 27/27.5 = 315mm, 28/28.5 = 325mm etc. This means that essentially there is little difference in half sizes in ski boots.  Some brands chose to split the half sizes, ie 27.5/28= 320mm, 28.5/20=330mm etc. 

 

Finding the best bootfitter

As a podiatrist and also one of Australasia’s leading ski boot fitters,  Ned Buckley was asked to contribute to an article on www.snowsbest.com about finding the best boot fitter.  You can read what Ned had to say below, or read the full article http://www.snowsbest.com/finding-the-right-boot-fitter/

Boot fitters need to be able to wear many hats. They need to have good personal skills and be able to communicate with people and relate to them on a very personal level.

They must have good product knowledge. There are hundreds of models and multiple brands and often boot shops will carry many models so that they can fit the different foot types and skier types. A good bootfitter needs to know each model intimately.

They must also be good technicians, as boot fitting requires specific manual skills.

They must be creative as everyone is different and so the bootfitter is often required to think laterally, or outside the box when coming up with solutions for individual problems.

They must have a thorough understanding of the human foot and lower limb from both an anatomical but also biomechanical perspective specific to skiing/snowboarding, so that they can identify the cause of certain problems that different people face in ski and snowboarding.

They must be good diagnosticians.

What questions should the customer ask a boot fitter?

Do you provide a custom fitting service? Although there are many models out there to suit the different foot types and skier levels, in many occasions the boots will need further modifications to make them customised to the skiers needs.

Does your service include moulding of liners and shells? Many boot models have customisable liners and shells which may be adjusted at the initial fitting to ensure maximum comfort.

Do you make custom innersoles? Most good Bootfitting shops will have the option of providing custom innersoles. Custom innersoles help to align the foot and ankle in the boot as well as to help evenly distribute pressure on the foot which equates to a positive effect on the level of comfort and performance.

What level of after-purchase support will I receive? Most good boot shops will have policy that includes some level of after purchase support. This ranges from a basic returns-due-to-fault policy through to a full fit guarantee where extra work is provided as part of the original price.

It is very common for small modifications to be needed after a couple days skiing so it is best to understand what level of service the shop provides for this kind of thing.

What questions should the boot fitter ask the customer?

If buying a new pair, the boot fitter should be firstly asking questions aimed at understanding what kind of skier the buyer is and their intentions/expectations so that they may most appropriately match the options for the clients needs.

How often does the person go skiing? How long have they been skiing for? Where do they like to go skiing? What terrain do they like most? Are they aggressive or just cruisers? Are the primary objectives for the skier comfort? or performance? or a bit of both?

The boot fitter should also ask a few questions relating to previous experience with boots: Have they owned boots before? If so what models? Did they have any issues with comfort or performance in previous boot models? If so the boot fitter want to elucidate some information about the previous experiences as it will help them to better understand the clinets needs

What do you think creates black bruised big toe nails?

1. Ski boots are too big in length or width: the foot slides in the boot and the toes are repetitively traumatised or the boots are too small and the toes are jammed at the front of the boot causing repetitive trauma.

2. The wrong socks are being worn: too thick and the sock will crowd the forefoot and add the toes will sustain trauma.
Skiing Powder can cause black toes. People lean back when skiing powder as they are trying to keep their tips up. This causes the toes to be pushed forward in the boots and resulting trauma causes the toes to go black.

3. Falling backwards: one decent fall where the person has landed on the back of their heels can cause the foot to slide forward forcefully causing a black toe.

4. Very rarely toes can go black from frostbite which is a serious condition.

What are the  pros and cons of footbeds and liners?

FOOTBEDS

No matter what the foot shape is, or what the particular individual mechanics of the foot are like, foot beds can help to stabilise the foot in the boot in a way that makes the skier more confortable and at the same time ensuring that energy is transferred evenly and efficiently. Foot beds are recommended for most skiers in most boot and liners types.

Footbeds fall in to two categories:

Off the shelf premade types. There are plenty of brands and models out there offering different levels of support from different materials. These do an OK job for the most part, and some types are better than others.

Fully customised. These come in the form of an innersole that starts out from a flat blank material and which is then moulded to the skier’s foot. Often a reinforcement called a posting material is added to the heelcup and arch areas and then made to fit the contour of the boot in a way that ensures the foot is in a position of maximum stability for skiing.

There are multiple systems and various brands for making custom footbeds. Qualified health professionals such as sports physicians and podiatrists also make devices similar to custom foot beds, called orthoses. Custom footbeds are completely personalised devices that fit the skier’s foot perfectly and so these have the potential to provide maximum support.

Custom footbed making is a highly technical process that requires the bootfitter to have sound knowledge in identifying different foot types and understanding foot mechanics as well as technical skills for producing a good mould and manufacture of an accurate device.

LINERS

Most ski boots come with a liner that the manufacturer has made for that shell. Depending on model, the liners than come with the boot can be highly mouldable. In many cases the fit is very good with the liner that the boot was made for, and so in many instances skiers are extremely happy with this set up.

When looking for a liner for the ski boots, having a high capacity to mould to the foot is a desirable thing. Different after-market liners exist that are designed to replace the liners in ski boot shells, usually with the intention to provide a more moulded and hence better fit.

The most common types of liners include fully injected foam liners (Sidas, Bootdoc, Surefoot), preinjected cork and oil based (Svenfit, Zipfit) and heat mouldable foam types (intuition, Sidas). Having an aftermarket liner inserted into the pre-existing shell is not always better, however, may be a good option if the skier is looking for higher level of precision in the fit.

Usually a foot bed accompanies a moulded liner and the bootfitter will recommend foot beds to be made in conjunction with the liner moulding. There are many pros and cons for the different types of liners out there.

Fully injected foam liners provide the most accurate moulding, and hence ensure that the fit is closest to the foot shape, however, they tend to be cold and hard on the feet. The injection process is quite technical and so requires an experienced fitter to ensure that mistakes are not made in the process.

Mistakes are difficult to fix once injected as the foam sets hard. Injected liners can be expensive to have fitted and sbadly moulded foam injected liners can be a costly mistake.

Injected liners often take quite a bit of skiing in before full comfort is appreciated and so are generally not recommended for the recreational and occasional skier. Some ski shops just specialise in this type of boot/liner combo.

The guys that do a lot of them generally do a good job, however, when things don’t work out, it is often very tricky to fix and the best option is to start again. Some people who regularly ski in this type of liner swear by them. Others simply cannot tolerate that level of precision in the fit. Some people are better off in this type of liner due to particular issues with their feet.

Heat moulded foam liners such as the Intuition liners are the warmest and most general in fit. The impression that the liners take of the foot is good, but not as accurate as the injected type.

As the materials are soft, there is less chance of having major problems if the right model has been chosen for the boot. These liners come in varying densities, thickness, and shape and so it is important to have the bootfitter recommend the right model for the skier’s foot and boot model.

This type of liner takes the least amount of time to ski-in and can be very comfortable after only a short while skiing. These liners do well for people who don’t ski a lot, or whose objective is general comfort and warmth.

This type of liner is also a good option for people who like to do a bit of hiking, as they are usually seamless in design, ensuring that friction is minimised. The fitting process for this type of liner is less technical than for foam liners, however, it is best to have an experienced fitter do the job as there are multiple errors that can be made which can result in less than optimum performance and comfort.

A downside to this type of liner is that they generally  ‘pack out’ more quickly than other types. Each time the person skis, the structure of the foam is put under pressure, which leads to eventual breakdown.

The upside is that this type of liner is less costly than the other types and so changing the liners out more often is not such big deal. Many manufacturers are using this type of liner as the standard liner that comes with the shell and so a customised option is available without have the expense of buying an extra product.

The cork and oil based reinjected liners are great option for people wanting a more accurate fit without the problems associated with foam injected liners. These liners tend to have most of the moldable material based around the mid-to-rear foot and on the shins, resulting in a good tight fit in the places where it is best to have maximum support whilst leaving the forefoot and toes free to spread out.

These liners are the least technical to fit and usually fully remoldable, meaning that if a mistake has been made, then the process can be repeated multiple times to get it right. This type of liner can be a little cold to ski in however and newer models are using highly insulating materials to combat this problem.

These liners have a long life-span if well cared for. More material can be added for a tighter fit and conversely it can be removed to make more space. One complaint that has surfaced with fitting these liners is that the density and amount of materials that have been preinjected is not always accurate and so the fit can vary from liner to liner.

The density of the material in these liners is also susceptible to variations in temperatue and so tends to feel softer when it is warmer.

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