Sizing Guide for Ski Boots
By Steve Kopitz
While there have been significant improvements made to ski boots to make them fit more comfortably, it is still important to select the correct size to ensure the best fit and performance on the slopes. Select boots that are sized too large and you will end up working certain leg muscles more than necessary, resulting in cramps and increased fatigue. Select boots that are sized too small and your feet will hurt badly…very badly. To avoid these potential issues it is important that you take the steps necessary to get the right ski boots from the start. It is our goal with this sizing guide to provide you with the information necessary for you to make the right sizing decision.
Mondo Point Sizing
Ski Boots are measured in Mondo Point sizing which is a measurement in centimeters. Many manufacturers produce shells and liners that are stamped with a range from the whole to the half size, i.e. 27.0 - 27.5. Inside the liner is a stock footbed or insole. That insole may be available in a thick and thin version to create the illusion of a "whole" size. The stock insoles do not offer much arch support and are recommended by both the boot manufacturers and Skis.com to be replaced with an aftermarket pre-formed or custom insole to give you better support.
Since the custom fit adjustments are much better than they used to be, many manufacturers have decided that producing both half and whole sizes isn't critical anymore. For this reason many of the ski boots available on Skis.com will only be available in sizes ending with .5. The refinement in the left navigation will show the sizes in ranges such as 27.0 - 27.5, and will return results for with sizes 27.0 and 27.5. For information on aftermarket footbeds or insoles to make the whole and half size boots fit the same please consult the Buying Guide for Footbeds and Insoles.
Click Here to view the size chart to see what size ski boots you need.
What's My Size?
How to Determine Your Boot Size
Ski boots are the only products which are sized on the Mondo Point size scale; so many people have questions or prefer to ask for assistance when determining their size. Luckily sizing ski boots isn’t as complicated as it might sound, Mondo Point is actually is just measured in centimeters.
If you aren't a skier who already knows his or her ski boot size, there is a quick technique that you can use to determine the proper size by tracing and measuring your foot.
First, you will need to gather some supplies. You will need a piece of paper or cardboard that is large enough for your foot to fit on, both length and width wise, a pen or marker, as well as a tape measure and a calculator.
To determine your ski boot size, get a friend to trace your foot on to the piece of cardboard or paper while you are standing on it. Then take the tape measure and measure from the tip of the foot to the heel. This measurement will be used to determine your boot size.
If you used a tape measure with centimeter measurements on it, you can simply take length in centimeters as your Mondo Point size. However, if you measured your foot in inches, you will want to take this measurement and multiply it by 2.54 to convert to centimeters. Since most people will not get an exact measurement to the full centimeter, drop any fraction of a centimeter.
If you foot measurement is 10.5 inches. When you convert to centimeters (10.5 inches * 2.54) the answer will be 26.67cm. Your ski boot size will be 26.0 or 26.5 depending on which is available in the particular model you select.
It is ok to purchase either the 26.0 or the 26.5 since the shells and liners are the same on most models of ski boots.
To see this process in action, please review the video below on How to Select the Right Size Ski Boots.
In addition to the length that was measured above, you will also want to account for the width of your foot. Manufacturers do a great job of creating different lines of boots to satisfy all different widths. Generally the skiers who need ski boots specific for narrow or wide feet also need to purchase shoes that are either narrow or wide, respectively.
The filters on left hand side of the ski boots pages on Skis.com give you the option to select boots by width in addition to length. The specific width of each ski boot is listed on the specifications on the product page as well.
A common mistake skiers with wide feet tend to make is to size up to a larger pair of ski boots thinking that they will fit wider. While that might work with sneakers, it doesn’t work for ski boots. Since your heel gets ‘locked’ into place at the back of the boot, when you size up the widest part of the boot and the widest part of your foot won’t line up anymore.
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Men's vs. Women's Ski Boots
Many women, especially women with wider feet consider buying men’s ski boots. However there are several differences in design, therefore we recommend that women use women’s ski boots. Unfortunately, women’s ski boots aren’t produced in sizes larger than 27.5 so if you need a size 28 or larger then men’s ski boots are the only option.
Women with large calf muscles often inquire about men’s boots thinking that they will provide a wider cuff. While some designs of men’s ski boot cuffs may provide a bit wider fit they are also taller. Since a woman’s lower leg is generally shorter than that of a man’s using men’s ski boots requires that more calf muscle has to fit inside the taller cuff. This often causes more issues that it solves.
While there are plenty of women out there with wide feet they tend to have narrower heels and ankles than men do. Both men’s and women’s boots are available in narrow, regular and wide widths or up to 106mm. So buying a women’s boot that is 106mm wide won’t provide anymore width than a men’s ski boot that is also 106mm wide. It will most likely give you more room in the heel and ankle which can often be too voluminous. A good fitting ski boot should be comfortably snug and not sloppy. You should be able to wiggle your toes but not have slippage of movement from side to side or forward to back.
Finally, the construction of the liner in a woman's ski boot is different. They are typically thicker to help keep the feet warmer, which will also play a significant role in fit and comfort.
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How to Acheive the Best Fit
If you've followed the steps for determining your size, you should be good-to-go with the following sections that discuss fit.
While we won't spend a lot of time on socks here, we will say that it is important that when you are sizing for your ski boots, whether tracing your foot as described in earlier sections of this guide, or when trying on your ski boots after you've purchased and received them, to have the socks on that you will be wearing when on the slopes. This is a small, but very important aspect of ski boot sizing that can make the difference between a comfortable, accurate fit, and a miserable, sloppy boot.
Once you have received your ski boots, and before you begin trying them on, remove the liner from the shell by unbuckling the boot fully and pulling on the back cuff of the liner until it slides out of the shell. Next, put your foot in the boot's shell and push your toes up until they touch the front of the boot. Then look to see how much space is between your heel and the back of the boot. You're looking for 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of space, and even less if you are a racer or very high performance skier who likes a very tight fit. If you have more than that, you probably have a boot that is too large. This process, known as shell fitting, is another good way to make sure you will have the correct size boot before hitting the slopes.
If you have conducted a shell fitting as outlined above, slip on the liner while it is still out of the shell. If you have not removed the liner from the shell, do so and then slip it on your foot. Your toes should just feather the front of the liner (NOTE: this assumes that your foot has stopped growing; a little growing room for kids is fine). Next, look at how the liner is shaped compared to your foot. If any part of your foot is pushing hard or stretching out the sides of the liner, you may have a boot that is too narrow. If the liner fits properly, put the boot back together. This can be a little tricky, but it helps if you put the boot shell on a hard surface. Insert one hand into the liner (making a fist), while using your other hand to pinch the heel of the liner. Use the hand that is inside the liner to push it inside the shell.
Putting Your Boots On
Now that you have the boot put back together make sure to open all the buckles and pull the tongue up slightly. Holding the tongue push it forward and towards the outside of the boot, where your pinkie toe would go. Slide your foot in the boot. You may need to stand. Next, kick your heel down hard on the floor to properly set your heel in the boot’s heel pocket. Next, start buckling up. You should start with the lower buckle on the cuff and work up to the power strap if there is one; this helps to lock your heel before tightening the other buckles. Next move to the lower buckles, but don’t buckle them very hard. They should only require a small amount of pressure to buckle and unbuckle. If you have to buckle these hard to get a snug fit, you probably have the wrong size or model of boot. Buckling the lower buckles too tight will actually twist and contort the shell.
Testing Your Boots
Once the ski boot is on and snuggly buckled, stand up. This is the part that confuses new skiers the most: your toes should be touching the front the boot! Lean slightly forward and bend your knees like you are in your skiing position. When you are in your ski stance, your toes should pull back from the front of the boot. It’s ok if they are still feathering the front but they should not be pushing hard. Many better quality boots have a neoprene toe that is made for the toes to be right up against the front of the liner.
While still leaning forward, bend your knees and push your shins hard against the tongue of the boot. Your heels should hold in the heel pocket of the boot without lifting. Note that you should not be trying to force your heels up, but testing if they come up when you flex the boot. If everything is good so far, stand around in the boots for 30 minutes. This should help determine if the overall fit is right and that you don’t have any severe pressure points.
If you are very concerned about determining if the boots fit, wear them around the house for a couple hours just to be sure. While the exterior shell of the ski boots won't change shape or break in, the liners will. When you try ski boots on for the first time; that is the tightest they will ever feel. With most boots the liner will "pack out" giving you about an extra 1/2 size once the ski boots are fully broken in.
Custom Fit Boots
If you have done everything outlined to make sure you are getting the best fit out of the box, but there is still some discomfort, custom boot fitting is the best choice. The most common reason for custom fitting is if there are pressure points or sloppy areas in the boot. Custom boot fitters can heat and stretch out shells and liners to eliminate pressure points, add foam to the boot to take volume out, insert heel hold devices, tweak the footboard, and plenty more. Most major resorts have ski shops that specialize in custom boot fitting. Typically you will want to do custom boot fitting at the hill itself because it is easier to feel a pressure point or other discomfort while skiing. After a few runs if you feel this discomfort, take the boot in to the shop at the hill to have it adjusted. You may need to bring in your boot a few times to get it just right.
The most important part to ski boot customization: Footbeds
The footbed is the removable sole within the liner of your boot. Typically this footbed is pretty flimsy. Manufacturers don't include high-end footbeds, as they expect you to invest in a better fitting pre-formed footbed or get one custom made. If possible, go for the custom option. It will not only make your ski boots more comfortable, but will also lead to a more precise transfer of energy from your knees to your skis.
For any additional questions on ski boots please feel free to contact us here at skis.com, happy skiing!