The Mount Snow area is home to some of the best bootfitters in the East. Stop in next time you are up and find out how to improve you skiing.
Posted on January 22, 2023
Mother and Son Smile in Front of Bluebird Barn
“Having ski boots that fit right, are warm and comfortable makes all the difference in the world in your skiing,” says Nick Blaylock, a former alpine racing coach, PSIA Level III instructor and Master Bootfitter who runs Nick’s Bootfitting in Dover, VT. The good news? A good bootfitter can get you there. “I’ve had skiers come back after we’ve fit them and say ‘Wow, skiing is so much easier.’ You’re no longer fighting the boot but working with it.” 

Getting a boot that fits right is a two-step process. The first is finding the right boot. And the second, is fitting it to your foot. But even boots that you may have purchased years before can often by “fixed” by a bootfitter. 

Fortunately, Mount Snow and the Deerfield Valley have some of the best bootfitters in the East who can help you not only pick out a boot that is right for your foot, ability level, and the type of skiing you do but also make adjustments to the boot as needed. Among them are Equipe Sport in Dover, Nick’s Bootfitting, and World Class Bootfitting in West Dover. 

Finding the Right Boot 

“There are a lot of great things you can buy online,” says Parker Rice, owner of Equipe Sport. “But ski boots are not one of them.” That’s because every foot is different, and the choice of a boot should reflect your foot shape, your skiing ability, and the type of skiing you plan to do. On top of that, boots will feel differently when they are outdoors in the cold and locked into your bindings than they will at home. 

“We get people coming into the shop, see a boot they’ve read about and want to try it. Of course, we let them, but we also measure their foot, ask about what type of skiing they like to do, and try to match them with a boot that’s going to be right for them,” Rice adds. “Often, the boot they buy is not the boot they initially had in mind. “We like to say, ‘the boot picks the skier, not the other way around,’” says Rice. 

Equipe Sport outlines seven steps toward making sure your boot fits right and is comfortable: accurately measuring your foot, ensuring you have quality pair of ski socks, finding the right ski boot, having a custom insole, adding a heating element so your feet stay warm, adjusting the shell to relieve pressure points and aligning the stance. 

Shoe size doesn’t necessarily translate to ski boots. “Ninety percent of skiers on the hill are in boots that are too big for them,” says Nick Blaylock of Nick’s Bootfitting. “That means they are often overbuckling them, which then can cut off their circulation or cause pain points.” If a boot is too big, your foot can also move around in it causing chafe or “toe-bang.” 

Bootfitters look at skiers’ feet as three-dimensional objects: they measure the length and width and assess the volume of your feet, considering bunions or other irregularities. They will also find out as much as they can about the type of skiing you do, how aggressive you are and where you ski. 

Boots can be stretched but it’s hard to fill extra space and wearing thicker socks is not a solution. “Skiers are getting better educated about wearing a good pair of thin, good quality ski socks,” says Rice. “Putting on a bulky sock is not going to make your feet warmer and if anything, it can take up too much volume.” 

Fitting Ski Boots   

Few boots will fit your feet perfectly, out of the box. On top of that, boots (and feet) will change over the years. A good bootfitter can make the adjustments to keep your feet happy. “We really want to make your current boots work for you as best we can,” says Equipe Sport’s Rice. “Selling a customer a new boot should be a last resort.” 

Some problems customers come in with are easy fixes. “If you unbuckle your boots as you walk around the base lodge, you’re probably going to have toe-bang and your feet are not going to be happy at the end of the day,” Rice notes. Similarly, on powder days he often sees skiers who complain of bruised shins. “That’s not the boot, it’s because the skier may not be used to skiing powder, so they are too far back on their skis. Before we do anything to a boot, we try to rule those elements out.” 

“The new boots are so much more comfortable to start with,” says Blaylcok. “They have a more upright stance; better quality liners and they are lighter. They are also made from plastics that are much easier to adjust or mold to a person’s foot.” 

Most boots can be adjusted by a good bootfitter–either by stretching the toe box in the shell, grinding out parts of the boot where a bunion or bone may be uncomfortable, heating them up or adding a heel lift or footbed. 

Fine Tuning for Fit 

“Our job as boot fitters is to figure out what the problem is and solve the problem as opposed to adapting to symptoms,” says Blaylock. He offers an example: “If your arch is cramping or you are getting bruised toes, it’s often because the foot flattens out and the ankle rolls in as you ski. A good footbed can help solve that.” 

The biggest thing that can help fit and skiing is getting someone on an insole. That’s something he, Rice and Blaylock and pretty much every bootfitter will talk to you agree on. “An insole can help support the arch and bring the foot up in the boot, creating a stable platform,” says Blaylock. 

For custom ski boot fitting, bootfitters can also work on canting, to help better align your knees, feet, and boot. Cuff canting moves the top of the boot to align the knee and the hip, but true boot canting (adjusting the sole of the boot) can help ensure a ski is flatter underfoot. “Canting helps you ski a flatter ski and turn as well to one side as you do to the other,” says Blakely, who has worked with top skiers such as Olympic freeskier Caroline Claire, who cut her teeth in Mount Snow’s Carinthia parks. 

Last, if you have poor circulation or your feet tend to get cold, bootfitters can install heaters, such as those made by Hotronics in the footbeds, or recommend a heated sock. 

Many shops will provide boot adjustments for free if you purchase through them. Custom boot adjustments and add-ons like heaters add value and comfort to your initial investment.  

“All told, getting a boot to fit right and be comfortable isn’t a quick fix and it’s not inexpensive,” says Rice. But considering you will get on average 100 to 200 days of skiing on that boot, it’s worth it to be comfortable. As Blaylock says, “Nobody needs to suffer.” 

Produced in partnership with Vermont Ski + Ride Magazine