Ski boots are an essential component to skiing, playing an important role in a skier’s ability and performance. In addition to their function as a means to connect feet to skis, ski boots help transmit the skier’s movements to the skis and transfer applied pressure to the edges. Fit is critical! Ski boots should fit snuggly (so no energy is lost by the foot slipping around inside the boot) yet comfortably, so it is extremely important to pick the right size. A good guideline for choosing the correct size is feeling your toes touch the front of your boot when you’re standing up straight. When you’re leaning forward into the boot, your toes should lose contact with the front of the boot. Your heel should move as little as possible.
Ski boot selection should not only be based on how the boot fits, however. Consider also the kind of skiing you are planning to do, your level of ability, and your goals. Boots for beginners (and some intermediate skiers) are often very soft and can make for a more comfortable and forgiving ride, however they won’t provide adequate pressure transfer to your edges in steeper terrain or at higher speeds. Stiffer boots will give you more direct energy transfer to your edges, but may at the same time be more taxing on your legs. Racing boots, for example, are extremely stiff and often have thinner padding in order to optimally transfer pressure to your edges. A full on race boot may therefore not be a good choice for an eight-hour day of joy on the slopes. Choosing a boot that is neither too soft nor too stiff and that is well padded to prevent bruising will allow for both increasing your ability and provide the most comfort.
Finally, I recommend buying boots at an actual store, as opposed to ordering online without having tried them on. There are great ski boots with some awesome features out there, but it took me several trips to several stores to find the boot that adequately matched my foot, and I still had to have them custom fitted (the store staff widened some the ankle area for me)… So I also suggest buying at a store that offers free boot fitting with purchase.
The models reviewed here are all geared toward the advanced and expert skier. Stiffness in general is higher than in your intermediate or beginner’s boot, but is a few notches down from the racing models. All the models I have tried are very comfortable yet stiff enough to optimally transfer energy to your skis.