Are your ski boots too narrow? What can you do?
Are your ski boots too narrow? What can you do?
If your ski boots are feeling too narrow, do not fret as this is often a simple fix.
1. Make sure that you are wearing a thin ski sock so that you are not taking up any extra volume in the boot, with a sock.
2. Ensure that you are not over buckling the lower 2 buckles across the foot, keep light tension on these.
3. Make sure that your foot is supported in the boot with a footed. A custom footbed is the best option as it is built to the shape and flexibility of your foot. However, an off the shelf, trim-to-fit is the next best option. Many people have the misconception that a footbed will take up more volume in the boot but when built correctly, it is simply replacing the flat insole that comes in the boot and filling the gap in the arch to comfortably support it, preventing the foot from splaying out so much in width.
4. If you still feel pressure in width, then the boot can be modified to better fit your foot. A bootfitter will have to check your foot in the boot and assess how much space is required. Sometimes adapting the liner is enough. However, it is very common to stretch the width of a ski boot to gain extra width. The plastic will need to be heated to the correct temperature and stretched using specialist tools. If only a minimal amount of width is required, then the bootfitter may also grind the boot but this will depend on the plastics used.
Of course, there is another scenario to consider when you feel pressure on the side of your foot........ and that is when the boot is actually too big. This is very common. The movement in the boot, will create friction and pressure points on the foot, which gives the impression that the boot is too small. So, it is important that a bootfitter assesses your foot and boot, to ensure that the correct diagnosis is made.
How do I wax my skis or snowboard?
Leon Butler is an accomplished Ski Technician and Workshop Manager, explains the process of waxing your skis or snowboard at home, with just a few simple tools.
How do I wax my skis or snowboard?
The two main methods of waxing are a hot wax, using an iron, and roller waxing which is something you might see in some ski shops. Always ask for a hot iron wax as this will give better results, it's also something that you can do at home with some pretty rudimentary tools. Stick some tunes on in the background, get some mates round and it’s guaranteed to get you hyped for your next trip to the mountains.
We’d always recommend doing this with the correct tools to get the best results, but if you’re on a budget then you’ll be surprised what you might have lying around at home.
Crude tools needed for the home waxer:
- Iron - any iron but one without holes on the bottom is best (this will ruin you iron, so don’t expecting to be ironing your trousers anymore)
- Plastic scraper - Something around 5mm thick…..along the lines of a car licence plate
- Brush - medium stiffness with nylon bristles, something you’d clean shoes with is ideal. But nothing that will damage the base. Don’t go digging out the dog's hairbrush.
- Two chairs - to act as your stand
Wipe down the base. Use some kitchen paper or an old towel and wipe down any dirt and dust.
Switch your iron on. A temperature of around 120 degree C is ideal. You don’t want to iron to be smoking when you’re using it with the wax.
Hold the wax to your iron with the tip facing down and drip wax down your skis. The amount of wax will vary but don’t use too much as that will result in more waste. You can always wax again if you want more.
Once you’ve dripped on the wax it's time to ‘iron’ it in. Starting at the tip of the ski, put the hot iron onto your base and slowly move it up and down the ski. It’s easier to divide your ski into sections and work your way to the tail. DO NOT LEAVE THE IRON LONGER THAN A FEW SECONDS IN THE SAME PLACE. Keep the iron moving.
Once you can see that wax has covered the base, leave it to cool down completely.
Time to scrape! Starting at the tip of the ski and holding the scraper at a 30 degree angle, so that only one edge is touching the base, start to scrape the wax off. You don’t need to push down into the ski, but just along the base with the goal being to scape all visible wax off. You’ll always meet those people who say “I don’t scrape, I just ski the wax off”. Don’t listen, Just smile at them while you whizz past.
Once you think all the visible wax has been scraped off, you can now switch to the brush. With a firm amount of pressure, you can brush off any wax you missed, you want your bases to shine. A properly waxed ski will look brand new.
If you really want to geek out, then put a small drop of water on the base and watch it glide down the ski. Thats the hydrophobic properties of wax at work.
Whenever working on your skis, always start at the tip and work towards the tail. You bases are made up of tiny fibres and we want them all to be facing the same direction.
Written by and photo credit - Leon Butler.
Why wax your skis or snowboard?
Leon Butler, an accomplished veteran in tuning ski equipment, helps to explain the importance of waxing your skis and snowboards. Leon is a Ski Technician and Workshop Manager, as well as being a sponsored athlete, so understands first-hand the importance of maintaining your equipment and the difference it makes to performance and durability.
Why wax your skis?
It’s the question that gets asked the most; “Why should I get my skis waxed?”. Well, we are going to do our best to show you how to improve your ski holiday from the get-go.
There comes a certain point where what you have on your feet will make a massive difference to how much fun you have in the mountains, with boots and skis/snowboard having the biggest influence. If you keep those items in tip top condition, we’re confident in saying it will make your holiday a more enjoyable experience. After all, if you’ve been giddy with excitement to get away then the last thing you want is your equipment to hold you back. It will put an end to those equipment excuses though…..
Wax, what’s all the fuss?
Wax is the key to sliding with ease; when your skis are zipping along, the bases are causing friction with the snow. Wax helps to decrease the drag from the friction allowing you to move with little effort; we’ve all been there when the terrain flattens out and it feels like someone has slammed the brakes on, only to be overtaken by the local ski school.
There is a whole science behind the art of wax, but the basics are enough to keep you gliding and smiling. So why does the friction happen? Snow is very abrasive, think of the sharp edges you see on a cartoon snowflake. Colder snow has sharper points and is more abrasive, which is why you can struggle in the colder months and also why the wax doesn’t last quite as long. Spring is a little different as the snow crystals are less aggressive (more rounded) but there is a lot of water in the snow which gives you that similar ‘skiing in porridge’ feeling.
To get the best results use soft, warm temperature wax (usually yellow) for spring conditions and cold wax (usually blue) for the depths of winter. Universal wax will work well enough for most conditions apart from super slushy spring snow.
Wax also acts as protection for your equipment, without it then these rough snowflakes are scratching away at your base. Ever wondered why your black ski base is looking white? Thats because the friction has been great enough to dry out and slightly damage the material. Regular waxing will help prevent this.
Written by and photo credit - Leon Butler.
What should I consider when renting ski equipment?
What should I consider when renting ski equipment?
- Can you pick the equipment up the afternoon or evening before skiing to save time?
- If you damage a ski/snowboard, or they are stolen, what is the policy? Do you have adequate insurance cover either from the shop or travel insurance?
- Does the shop offer a multi-day discount?
- If you are thinking of buying skis, does the shop offer a demo-to-buy program where you can test the skis before buying?
- Do they rent helmets and clothing, if required?
- Do they offer a delivery service, if required?
- Can you exchange equipment during the week if you wish to try a different ski/snowboarding etc.?
- Can you pre-book the equipment online to save time?
- Do you have appropriate, thin ski socks?
What is a Ski Boot Fitter? What do they do?
Most people assume a Ski Boot Fitter is someone that sells new ski boots. This is true, part of their job is to find the best fitting ski boot for their customer. However, the job of a 'good' Boot Fitter, is often very much more complex than this.
- A 'good' bootfitter will know the anatomy of the foot and understand how it works in a ski boot. When selecting a ski boot, a boot fitter must analyse the shape of the foot and leg, checking the flexibility, in order to find the best possible option.
- A 'good' boot fitter must have a good knowledge of all ski boots models - old and new. There are hundreds of ski boot models on the market, which all have different widths, flexibilities, instep heights, heel shapes, toe boxes etc. It takes many years of working in the industry to learn each model and how they actually fit the foot as this varies greatly between each brand.
- A 'good' boot fitter will have the tools and skills to be able to modify any boot to comfortably fit your foot. There are very few customers that are able to step into a ski boot and ski comfortably without any adaptions to the shell or liner. This is to be expected when selecting a boot that fits close to the foot and is all part of the process. A 'good' Boot Fitter will know about the different plastics that are used in each boot and how they react, when trying to modify them.
- Creating a foundation to the boot is another important step that a Boot Fitter needs to assess. The majority of skiers will benefit from having a footbed in the boot to prevent problems occurring and increase control, but of course there are exceptions. As everyone's foot is unique, a 'good' Boot Fitter will have the knowledge to be able to select the correct materials for the flexibility of the foot, take an accurate mould and create an insole to support the foot.
- Checking the alignment of the skier in the boot, is another key part of a boot fitters job. It is important to get a skier centred in the boot so that they are able to easily turn in each direction. For skiers with more complex alignment problems, the angle of the sole of the boot can also be changed to get them more centred and balanced. This level of expertise takes a lot of training.
- A 'good' Boot Fitter must also be able to carry out repairs on a boot, such as replacing buckles and soles, to keep the skier on the hill whenever possible.
To become a 'good' Boot Fitter, it takes a lot of training and many years of hands on experience.
How should I store my skis in summer?
- Once you have finished skiing for the season, it is a good idea to check the ski for any damage before putting it away in storage. You can either check the ski yourself or take it to a trained ski service technician, who will advise you of any recommended work.
- If you are assessing the ski yourself, here are a few key points to look for: Check for any gouges or scratches in the base which may need filling. Check the edges of the skis for any cracks or dents. It is also good to check if the edges still feel sharp which is vital for control. It is important to look for structure (pattern/grooves) in the base which allows the ski to glide over the snow. The end of the season is often a good time to get a Full Tune on the skis so that they are ready to go for next winter. Likewise it is good to have the binding checked on a yearly basis to ensure it is still functioning as it should.
- Once any repair or maintenance work has been carried out, the skis can be prepared for storage. The skis should be dried thoroughly to avoid getting rust on the edges. A thick layer of storage wax can then be applied to the base and edges to prevent oxygen getting into the base and drying it out. The wax should be melted onto the ski using a waxing iron for better absorption into the base. If you do not own any waxing equipment to do this yourself, a ski service workshop will be able to apply the wax. It is usually inexpensive.
- The skis then need to be stored in a cool, dry ventilated room. Avoid anywhere damp and humid, or direct sunlight which can cause damage over time. Garages and attics often see large fluctuations in temperature so aren't ideal.
- When you are ready to ski again, the wax just needs to be scraped from the base and then the skis are set to go.
How should I store my ski boots in summer?
- Make sure the boots are thoroughly dried out before putting them into storage. If the liners are damp, they will begin to smell and over time, break down quicker. You can do this using a boot dryer that blows air through at a low temperature, avoiding damage to the boots or footbeds, or by removing the liners.
- It is a good habit to check the soles and hardware for any damage. Some of these parts can take time to source and need to be ordered.
- Make sure all the buckles are lightly fastened. If the buckles are left open, the plastic starts to lose its shape, becoming increasingly hard to buckle. Ensure that the tongue is sitting in the correct place and that there are no kinks in the plastic.
- Store at room temperature, away from any extreme heat and cold. Ideally in a well ventilated room, avoiding dampness and humidity which is bad for the liners.
- Make sure that mice cannot access the boots. It is not uncommon to hear stories of mice munching large holes through liners, sadly destroying them. Storing boots in a secure boot bag is recommended.
Are you looking to buy a new pair of skis but are unsure of what you want or need?
Are you looking to buy a new pair of skis but are unsure of what you want or need? Why not demo the skis before you buy?
Many ski shops in resort will offer a demo to buy program. This allows you to demo the latest skis on the market over a number of days to compare and see which ones you prefer. There will be a limited number of days that apply towards a purchase, for example 3 days is quite common. And if you do not find any that you wish to purchase, you can simply pay the rental cost. It is a great way of ensuring that you find exactly what you want.
How do I know when I need new ski boots?
How do I know when I need new ski boots?
Usually the first obvious sign, is that you start to feel your feet moving inside the boots and can't control the skis so easily. The more movement you have inside the boot, the more you will have to work to control the skis. All ski boot liners will pack down over time, they can only get bigger. Excessive movement can cause friction, which often results in blisters. Loose heels is another common complaint as the liners breaks down. If the plastic shell is still in good condition, a simple fix is to replace the liner. There are many liners available on the market, so a boot fitter will help you select the correct one to meet your needs and fit the boot.
It is important to also check the condition of the shell, as you do not want to waste money replacing a liner into a worn shell. Over time and with frequent use, plastics lose their responsiveness and can become brittle. Keep a check on the shell for signs of cracks as these cannot be fixed. The typical sign of wear on the shell, is when the sole of the boot becomes worn down. The boot will then move in the binding meaning less control when skiing and it may not release as designed from the binding. Many ski boots now have replaceable soles, so it is a good idea to have a spare set for when needed. Be aware that replaceable soles are only produced for a limited time and after that can be hard to source. If your boots don't have replaceable soles, you can purchase Cat Tracks/Ski Skootys, to wear over the soles for protection, when walking around.
It is also recommended to check the hardware on the boots. Check that all buckles are functioning correctly and all screws are fastened and secure.
Which ski boot brand is the right one for me?
It is important to remember that ALL ski boot brands make a selection of different width ski boots within their range, so that they are able to fit a variety of different foot shapes. Therefore each brand will have a narrow, medium and a wide fitting boot.
Although different brands tend to gain certain characteristics, such as a low instep, stiffer flex etc, it is impossible to recommend just one brand, when there are so many options to consider. A good boot fitter has the knowledge of all available boots on the market and how they compare. They will be able to assess your foot shape - length, width, instep volume, heel volume, ankle flex etc. and will be able to narrow down the selection to 2 or 3 models that would best fit your foot, for optimum comfort and performance.
My boots are feeling loose, is there anything I can do or do I need new boots?
First it is important to check if the plastic shell is still in good condition. If the soles of the boot become too worn, the boot will move in the binding and it will not release correctly. Many boots have replaceable soles but be aware that these are only available for a limited time after the boot is produced, so it is worth buying a spare set early on. Also check the shell for any cracks and that the buckles and components are all functioning correctly.
If the shell is still in good shape, you can revive the boot with a new liner. There are many options available and it will depend on your needs and what fits in the shell. A good boot fitter will be able to assess your foot and the space available to make the best recommendation. Some of the options available include: Intuition liners which are very warm and lightweight; Zipfit liners which are cork injected giving a precise fit and can be remoulded into different boots; Foam injected liners which fill the voids around your foot increasing control and performance.
Custom liners can be a great solution for problematic feet, securing loose heels and increasing durability in a boot.
Help Save Our Snowsports Industry
With Climate Change intensifying at a rapid rate, the impact on our ski resorts is becoming a very concerning reality. With warmer temperatures and lower amounts of snowfall, the winter seasons are becoming much shorter. Many resorts are now relying on snow making to extend their season but unfortunately this isn't the ideal solution as it adds to the problem, consuming large amounts of energy and water. Temperatures must also be cold enough for snow making to be possible, which is becoming increasingly difficult as temperatures rise. Lower altitude ski resorts will be hardest hit as the snow line rises. Potentially we will start to see many close within the next 20-30 years because there simply is not enough snow.
Aside from the environmental impact, low snow seasons have proven to have a large negative impact on the economy, which also results in far fewer jobs being available.
What simple measures can you take at home, to help save our Snowsports Industry?
• Reduce the use of heaters and air conditioners, which often account for almost half of home energy use. Draught-proofing windows and doors will certainly help.
• Reduce water waste – don’t leave taps running, shorter showers etc.
• Don’t waste food and reduce meat consumption.
• Change bulbs to LED lightbulbs which use up to 80 percent less energy.
• Switch off and unplug any devices not in use, including light switches.
• When replacing appliances, look for energy efficient alternatives.
• Walk or bike when possible to avoid using the car. When purchasing a car – research more fuel efficient vehicles.
• Keep car tyres properly inflated which saves wasting money and emissions from fuel.
• When possible, cut down on flying. Travel by train to ski resorts, is a great alternative.
• Plant trees in the garden/open space – as trees grow they absorb carbon dioxide, making it a very effective way of tackling climate change.
Ski Safely & Avoid Collisions
The most common type of ski accident on the slopes is when one skier/boarder collides with another. When skiers are colliding at high speeds, victims can sustain severe and sometimes catastrophic injuries. With far too many collisions happening on the ski slopes, it is important to know your Responsibility Code.
1. Always stay in control and be able to stop to avoid other people or objects.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Be aware, that not all ski resorts use signage to show that trails are merging or to warn you, that you are approaching a slow zone. Some resorts are much better with signage than others. So it is your responsibility to ski at a speed where you are in control and can react to any situation. If not for your own safety, then to avoid causing serious injury to others.
How should my ski boots fit?
How should a ski boot fit? When you first step into a boot, your toes will be in contact with the front of the boot. It may feel too small initially but once the upper cuff of the boot is buckled and you flex forward a few times, your heel will settle back in to the heel pocket and your toes will then release from the front of the boot, so that they are comfortable. If the boot is too long, you will find that once you start skiing, you foot will slide back and forth in the boot, which often results in bruising to the toes and a lack of control. If the boot is too short, you will end up with very squashed, cold toes.
Aside from the toes, you want the whole boot to feel comfortably snug and firm around your foot. If you try to move your foot, you want the boot to move with you. This way you have much more control in your skiing, making it more efficient so you are less tired. Ideally the boot should fit equally snug around the foot with as few pressure points as possible.
A key area to check, is that the heel feels secure within the boot. When the heel is loose, it is very hard to control the skis. When buckling, the top two buckles of the boot are the most important and should be buckled firmly so that you have a close contact around the shin and calf. If there is space here, you will end up banging the front of the boot when flexing, causing shin bang. The lower two buckles across the foot, should have little tension on them to avoid compressing the nerves and circulation coming into the foot.
Do you always suffer from heel lift when you ski?
Heel lift is one of the most common complaints in ski boots, it can happen for a number of reasons - the boot can simply be too big; there could be a lack of ankle flexion (dorsiflexion), often due to tight calf muscles, so when the skier bends forwards, the heel lifts; the liner could be getting old and showing signs of wear; not buckling the boot correctly; or it could be as simple as having skinny heels.
When the heel is loose it is very hard to control the skis and takes much more work, leaving you exhausted after a few hours. You may be tempted to over buckle your boots in order to try and secure your foot, but instead you end up cutting off circulation and compressing nerves. However, there are many solutions which can make a big difference.
- When the boot is too big, unfortunately the only way to really solve the problem is to down size to the correct size. As a temporary solution there are some foam boot fitting aids, which can be attached to the liner in various spots to secure the heel, but this won't be a long term fix.
- When ankle flexion is limited, a heel lift can be added to the boot to fill the space under the heel when the skier bends forwards.
- If the liner is packed out and no longer securing the foot, a replacement liner can be purchased to avoid buying a whole new boot. There are many custom liners which are great at filling voids around the heel, such as a cork injected or foam injected.
- If the boot is simply not being buckled correctly, then learning how to buckle and adjust tension, can be a very simple fix.
- If the problem is as simple as having a skinny heel, then foam boot fitting aids can be added to the liner but the ultimate solution would be a custom liner where cork or foam can be injected into the voids.
Do you always suffer from cold painful feet when you ski?
Do you always suffer from cold painful feet when you ski? It's enough to ruin your ski day when you are counting down the minutes to be relieved of the pain. There are however, a few steps that can be taken, to ensure your toes stay warm and snug all day long.
Firstly ensure that you are wearing a good quality ski sock, which breathes well and wicks away moisture from the foot, keeping it dry and warm. Make sure the sock is thin. Thick socks tend to take up too much space in a snug fitting boot, which adds to cutting circulation off to the foot and eliminates air space around the toes.
If you are still feeling the cold, you need to get the boot checked to see if circulation is being cut off anywhere. As the blood vessels run across the top of the foot, it is important to check that you have enough height in the boot, in this area. It is imperative that you do not over tighten the two buckles that run across the top of the foot. When you are in the correct size and shape boot, your foot will be snug and ideally you should have little or no tension on these buckles. Supporting the foot with a custom footbed, will also help to aide better circulation. Drying the boot out at night will also ensure that you don't start the following day's skiing with wet, cold liners.
At this point, if you are still suffering from the cold, you would certainly benefit from adding boot heaters to your boots or wearing heated socks. If you are just renting, then heated socks are definitely the answer as they do not require any installation to the boot. If you have your own boots, either are an option. Boot heaters are installed into a footbed and are so minimal that they do not affect the fit of a boot. Heated socks tend to be a light cushion thickness, rather than ultra thin, so it is important to check you have the space in the boot.
Are custom insoles really worth the extra money?
Are custom insoles in ski boots really worth the extra money? All skiers, from beginner to expert, will certainly benefit from adding a custom insole to their boots, improving both comfort and performance. Custom insoles help to stabilise and support the foot, distributing weight more evenly and alleviating pressure points underneath and around the foot. By supporting the arch and filling voids around the foot, any movement that is made, is instantly transferred to the ski, increasing control. When the ankle is stabilised, overall alignment through the knees and hips will also improve.
Typically custom insoles are not cheap as they require a lot of skill and knowledge to build them correctly. Many stores offer a fit guarantee when buying a custom insole with a new boot, which covers adjustments for a period of time and is therefore, great value. For those that simply can't afford a custom insole, an alternative is to add a trim-to-fit insole which will definitely help. The key, however, is to find an insole which matches the shape and flexibility of your foot.
Do I really need to bother with pre-ski trip exercises?
Do you need to bother with pre-ski trip exercises?
Although it seems like a lot of effort to start training your body for a ski holiday, you will find a small amount of preparation work will go a long way to increasing your comfort and enjoyment on the slopes. Increasing strength and flexibility in your body, will most definitely result in less fatigue and more time on the ski slopes. The extra strength will help you to maintain a better ski posture, which is very hard to do if you do not have the strength in your legs and core. Once you are able to stand in the correct skiing stance, you will find movements to steer and control the skis much easier, improving technique.
Another advantage from standing in the correct ski position, is that you will certainly reduce the risk of pressure points appearing in your ski boots. One common example is when skiers are standing too upright and leaning back in the boots, because their legs are too tired to stay flexed. This will create pressure and pain in the back of the calves and in the toes where they hit the top of the boots. Therefore, standing in the correct ski position is key to having comfortable ski boots.
Will badly fitting boots affect my technique?
The fit of a ski boot and skiing technique, have a very close connection. Naturally, when a ski boot is not fitting correctly it will certainly affect a skiers performance. When a ski boot is too tight causing pressure points and pain, it makes it very hard to ski comfortably. When a ski boot is too loose, it takes a lot more work to control the skis and usually friction points will occur causing blisters.
However, when the fit of a ski boot is looking good on the foot, but the skier is not standing in the correct skiing stance, this will again create pressure points on the foot and leg. For instance, when a skier leans back in their boots (a very common problem), they will certainly feel pressure on the back of the calves and the toes will hit the top of the boot, causing discomfort and pain. Therefore when problems occur in a ski boot, it is key to get the fit of the boot checked first. When everything looks good with the fit of the boot, you may find a ski lesson very beneficial to assess your stance and technique, ensuring that you are standing in the correct position in the boot, when on the slopes. Getting into the correct ski stance will certainly make your boots feel more comfortable, increasing performance and technique.