When it comes to ski gear, most experts and even many lay skiers agree that boots are the most important equipment selection. While the wrong ski for the job will prevent you from having maximum enjoyment, normally it will not necessarily hurt you in the quite literal way that an ill-fit boot can. While I believe that every piece of the gear jigsaw puzzle needs equal attention and consideration, I can attest to the fact that a poorly fit boot can effect your enjoyment while skiing and perhaps even your number of ski days.
Boot fit issues plagued my days spent earning turns these past few years. My first Alpine Touring boot was a Garmont G-Ride that always felt too tight and had three major pressure points. My flat foot rebelled without a supported heel. But I got the boots on the cheap and damned if I was going to spend more than half of what I paid for the boots on a custom fitting. Wrong decision. While touring, I suffered through poor fit and opted for lift serviced in my alpine boots more often than I had planned. One look at my G-Rides sitting next to my alpine boots was usually all it took. The AT boots got left behind more often than not.
Not that I did not know the benefits of a well fit boot. I had my alpine boots custom fit when I purchased them years ago. There was a noticeable improvement in fit and comfort but without having used those boots without a fitting and custom foot bed, I had nothing of which to compare to my alpine boots.
Having toured in unfitted touring boots without a custom footbed, I now know better. While I baked my own liner for my G-Rides, it never fit quite right. Touring, and more importantly–skiing, in those boots was a horrible experience without a custom foot bed.
I recently got a new pair of Garmont Radiums and had them fitted with a custom foot bed at Profile Orthotic Center in Concord, NH by Jeff Bokum (more details about this great experience in a future article). Sliding on my newly fitted slippers complete with a custom footbed was an amazing feeling. The rock solid stability of the heel in the pocket and under my (lack-of-an) arch was stunning when I sampled the finished product.
No skier should suffer less than ideal fit in their ski boots. It is worth every penny and then some. Especially when you consider that one custom foot bed could take you through a few different boots in double digit number years. If you do not have a custom foot bed in your ski boots, get thee to a reputable boot fitter as soon as possible and reap the benefits of a better fitting boot and perhaps even a slight performance gain as well.