Figuring out what kind of gear you should buy or rent is one of the first hurdles you will have to get over before you can head out to the slopes. I recommend getting help from a professional at a ski equipment rental place to make sure you use the right gear.
Finding your ski boot size can be difficult, and it’s not an exact science. Here’s what you need to know about ski boot sizing.
Why Is Ski Boot Sizing Different From Your Regular Shoe Size?
When picking a pair of everyday shoes, comfort is going to be your top priority. You will walk and maybe run in them, but you don’t need precise control over your movements.
A ski boot needs to be a lot more responsive because its purpose is to transmit your movements to your skis. Performance is more important than comfort because you need a certain amount of control to turn and stop.
Your usual shoe size allows for some extra room to wiggle your toes, and some people prefer sizing up to account for swelling or simply because they like having some additional room for comfort. Expect your ski boots to have a tighter fit, and don’t use your regular shoe size when picking out a pair of ski boots.
What Is Mondopoint Sizing?
Mondopoint sizing is a universal system for measuring ski boots. It corresponds to the length of your foot in centimeters. You might find the term MSS-Metric sizing system when researching ski boots. It’s another way of referring to the Mondopoint sizing system.
Ski boot sizes might seem unfamiliar because they use centimeters:
- A kid’s shoe size of 8 or 8.5 would roughly correspond to a 14 or 14.5 in Mondopoint sizes.
- A woman’s 6.5 becomes a 23 or 23.5 with this universal system.
- A men’s 11 corresponds to a 29 or 29.5.
If the ski equipment rental place is extremely busy, you might come across employees who will simply ask what your shoe size is, calculate the Mondopoint equivalent, and give you the corresponding ski boot size.
The problem with using your shoe size is that everyone likes to wear their shoes a little differently. If you tend to size up because you have a wide foot or like the extra wiggle room for your toes, your ski boot sizing will be way off.
I recommend measuring the length of your foot before renting or buying ski boots. Measure your foot from the heel to the tip of your longest toe. Do it with both feet in case there is a slight difference. You can also trace the outline of your foot on a piece of paper to get a more accurate result.
You can measure the length of your foot with a ruler or tape measure. If there are centimeter markings on your ruler or tape measure, use them so you can get a precise measurement without having to round up numbers in the process of converting your foot length.
Measure the width of your foot once you have figured out the length. You can use the outline you traced to measure the widest area of your foot.
Most ski boots range from 97 to 102mm in width. If you have narrow feet, a width of 97 to 100mm will be ideal. You might need to look for boots that are wider than 102mm if you have a wide toe box.
If you’re in between two sizes because of your foot width, it’s usually best to pick the smaller size. It’s better to feel slightly cramped and retain optimal control over your skis.
Children’s, Women’s, and Men’s Ski Boot Sizes
Shopping for children’s, women’s, or men’s ski boots is an easy way to find a boot shape and design that feels comfortable for you. However, you might find that another category is best for your morphology. You might want to try women’s and men’s sizes if you have a hard time finding comfortable ski boots.
You will also notice an overlap in sizes between children’s, women’s, and men’s boots:
- Children’s sizes typically range from 14 to 27.
- Most manufacturers offer men’s sizes from 20 to 33.
- Women’s ski boots range from 20 to 27.
Even though you can find a 20 in these three categories, these boots would not fit the same. The length of the boot would be the only measurement in common.
Kid’s and women’s ski boots are ideal if you have a small frame. The liner of the boot will be a lot lower compared to a men’s ski boot.
You will also find that children’s and women’s ski boots tend to have a narrow shape. If you have a wide toe box, consider investing in men’s ski boots.
Some manufacturers use different designs. For instance, you can find some kid’s boots that are easier to fasten because they open in the back and don’t use traditional buckles for closure.
Construction is another area where you’ll notice differences. Children’s and women’s ski boots are usually more flexible and lighter compared to men’s boots.
When it comes down to it, ski boots are unisex. The only difference between men’s and women’s sizes is the width of the boots and the height of the liner. A man with a small frame and narrow feet will probably feel that women’s boots are more comfortable, while a tall woman would need the extra liner height that men’s ski boots have.
It’s best to stick to kid’s ski boots if you’re shopping for gear for a child or teenager since adult ski boots would feel too heavy and lack flexibility. Skiing with boots that are too heavy is a very frustrating experience that will keep your child from progressing.
Should You Size Up to Wear Thick Socks?
A lot of beginner skiers bring thick wooly socks on their first trip. The liner in your boots will provide you with the warmth and insulation you need.
If your ski boots fit properly, there is no need to wear anything thicker than a medium sock. You shouldn’t wear two pairs of socks and should opt for synthetic socks that will absorb moisture rather than thick, wooly socks.
Once you have found some socks that keep you warm without adding a lot of bulk, make sure you bring them with you when trying on different ski boots. You should also wear your socks when measuring your foot length and width.
Skiing is an amazing cardio workout. As your blood gets pumping, your feet will probably swell up. You will probably notice a difference in how your boots fit toward the end of the day.
Don’t size up to account for swelling. You might end up wearing ski boots that are too large toward the beginning of your day on the slopes, which can reduce your control and increase your risk of injuries.
Instead, go for a run or complete your favorite cardio workout before measuring the length and width of your foot. Compare this measurement to the length and width before exercising to get an idea of how much swelling to expect on the slopes.
You should also know that ski boots use a soft foam liner to insulate your feet. This liner can feel restrictive at first, but your movements will compress the foam after a few minutes of skiing.
What Does a Proper Fit Feel Like?
Beginners tend to pick ski boots that are too large for them because they feel more comfortable. The right fit should feel a little tight when you stand upright.
Your ski boots should feel tight in the toe box area when you put them on. You might have to stand up and push down to get your heels all the way into the boots.
Fasten the top buckles, stand up, and squat. You can then adjust the other buckles. You should feel some pressure on your shins but should still be able to wiggle your toes slightly.
Once you adopt a skiing stance, your feet will move back into the boots, and you will have more room to move your toes. The fit should still be tighter compared to a regular pair of shoes, but it should be a lot more comfortable than when you stand upright.
Don’t worry if your toes touch the front of your ski boots when you walk with them. It’s uncomfortable, but you won’t spend a lot of time walking in your boots.
There is a simple test you can use to see if you have picked the right size:
- Remove the liner from your boots.
- Put the boots on with the socks you use for skiing.
- Measure the space between your heel and the shell of the boot.
- This space should be somewhere between ½ and ¾.”
- You can go below ½” if you want to enhance performance and control but shouldn’t go above ¾.”
Top Signs You’re Not Wearing the Right Size
There are a few telltale signs your ski boots are too large or too tights.
Top Signs Your Ski Boots Are Too Tight
A tight fit will reduce circulation. As blood flow decreases, your body will have a hard time keeping your feet warm.
Not feeling comfortable when you walk isn’t a sign that your ski boots are too tight. You’re wearing the right size as long as you can move your toes once you adopt a skiing stance.
However, experiencing numbness, tingling, swelling, or skin color changes are signs that your feet aren’t getting enough blood because your boots are too tight. Another common sign is pain and cramps in your toes when you’re in a skiing position.
Top Signs Your Ski Boots Are Too Big
Cramps are a common sign that your boots are too wide or too long, or simply have the wrong shape. Large ski boots allow for more lateral movements inside of the boot and can force your feet into uncomfortable positions. The lack of support will make it difficult to maintain a healthy posture when skiing.
Movement inside of your ski boots can also result in chafing or blisters. If you have a hard time with moves like parallel turns or stops, your boots might be too large.
You might be able to address this issue by adjusting the heel buckle for a tighter fit, or might need to size down.
Top Signs of Uneven Pressure
Uneven pressure is another issue that can appear if you don’t adjust your ski boot buckles properly or pick boots with a shape that doesn’t match your feet.
You’re more likely to experience this problem if you have wide feet or high arches. You might experience pain or a burning sensation on the ball of your foot, or feel pressure on your instep.
You can adjust pressure with the buckles, opt for a wider boot, or replace the footbed.
How to Customize the Fit of Your Ski Boots
If you have a hard time finding ski boots that feel comfortable, you might need to customize the fit. Here are some tips to consider if you have narrow or wide feet, high arches, or an unusual foot shape:
- A professional can create a custom liner for your boots.
- You can add wedges to correct your posture.
- A professional can grind the edges of the shell to modify the shape of the boots.
- You can get a new footbed that is more supportive if you have high arches.
- If you need more room in the cuff, remove the spoiler on the back of your boots.
- Buckle straps typically have a plate or ladder that you can move by removing a screw.
Skiing with boots that are too large or too tight is uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Figuring out the right fit can be challenging, but I think you should have a better idea of what to look for and what the right fit will feel like. When in doubt, head to an equipment rental place with good reviews and ask a professional for advice!