When it comes to shopping for shoes, it is usually never as simple as it seems. Trying to find the right skiing boots can sometimes be overwhelming when you start to consider all the choices. What are the best women’s ski boots and what factors do you need to know in order to find them.
Ski boots are not something that you should just pick blindly or because they fit a certain style. There are several factors that come into play when you are deciding to purchase a pair. Whether you prefer to shop online or go into a licensed retailer, when you are preparing to purchase there are some key details that you need to consider.
Key Features for Choosing a Ski Boot
The first thing you might consider is the style and color of the boot. Is this important? It may be to you, but the color should not be a deciding factor. If you want to have a pair of boots that match your skis, then you should purchase the boots first and then look for skis to match. The features you need to focus on are:
The term “flex” refers to the flexibility and bend of the ski boot. The lower the flex number the easier it will be to bend, the higher the number means it will be stiffer.
In order to figure out your flex number, there are some details that you need to factor in:
- Your ability will play a large part in the decision. Beginners should chose a lower flex number. This allows you to feel your movements better as you are learning to ski. Also a lower flex number is more forgiving and any unbalanced movement won’t affect your skiing as much. A higher flex number is more sensitive to movement and better for more intermediate to advanced skiers. Honesty is the best policy when discussing your level of skiing. If you try to seem more experienced than you are, you will risk getting a wrong fit, which can lead to injury and difficulty when you are skiing.
- Being an aggressive skier is not a bad thing. It means that instead of just meandering down a hill, you prefer to have obstacles to weave in and around. If you tend to be more aggressive, then it is suggested that you raise your flex number for a stiffer boot. With a higher flex number, you will have more control of your skis and be able to maneuver around obstacles and hills with ease. A lower flex number will require a little more effort to turn.
- You height plays a large part in balancing on your skis. If you are taller you should go up in your flex number. A stiffer boot gives you better control over your balance. If you are shorter then you will need to go down in your flex size. A softer more forgiving boot will help keep you centered.
- Finally your weight will help determine what type of flex fits best for you. Again, honesty is the best policy when it comes to deciding for your flex. If you are over 200 pounds then you will need a stiffer flex. Individuals weighing less than 115 pounds will need a lighter flex boot.
With this information, it can still be puzzling to narrow down what your preferred flex number is. Firstly, there is no perfect number. Two boots with the same flex number could have completely different feeling and flex allowance.
The best way for you to find your flex is to figure out what level you should be looking for and then start trying on boots for the best idea of the flex fit. Also, user reviews are very helpful in determining which boot is true to the fit and flex.
Flex numbers start at 50 for women and go all the way up to 110. Note that the flex numbers for women and men are slightly different, so don’t go by the wrong guide when you are looking.
Also, if you are looking for flex ratings 110 and higher, you will need to look for speciality boots. A high flex rating is difficult to find and is reserved for expert skiers.
If you are unsure about where your flex number rating should be, then your best option would be to consult with a licensed ski boot retailer. They are trained to help you find your best fit. Remember to be honest about the key features mentioned above.
While you may have friends and family that have purchased ski boots in the past, their advice should be taken with a grain of salt. They were able to find the best fit for them, however, your fit will be different and you will need to focus on what makes you the most comfortable.
Soft and removable, the liner is intended to shield your foot from the cold exterior and keep it insulated. The liner will also provide you with all day support and comfort as you ski. There are three different types of liners that come with ski boots.
- Non-Moldable: A non moldable liner is a generic off the shelf liner. It has some padding and provides decent stability. Over time it will slowly mold to cushion your feet, but it is not considered to give a custom fit.
- Thermoformable: These are foam liners that will be activated by the warmth of your foot as you wear them. It takes about two days of wearing and skiing for the mold to adjust to your foot. This will give you a very personalized fit around your feet and calfs.
- Custom Moldable: This type of liner needs to be taken to a professional shop to be heated and molded. While there is speculation that it can be done at home, this is not suggested. When a professional begins to mold your boot, they do more than just heat it. Different areas can be adjusted to specifically fit your foot. They are able to tweak different pressure points and widen the liner as needed. It usually takes about an hour or two for the entire process to be done.
When you first try on your ski boot, don’t be alarmed at how snug it feels. This is incredibly normal. Your new boots will need to be broken in, so that you get a good fit. This process can take anywhere from an hour to a few days depending on which liner you choose.
So is purchasing a higher end and custom liner worth it? The custom fit effects three areas when you are skiing. First, a custom fit boot will have more lining and padding, ensuring you are kept warmer. Second, a custom liner will weigh less than a non-moldable stock liner.
Finally, having a better fitting liner gives you more sensitivity when you are skiing. This will cut down on having to do excess movements and reduces the chance of heel lift. This is when your heel is not locked down and raises up in the boot as you ski. This can lead to fatigue, loss of confidence, pins-and-needles feeling, and overall discomfort as the day goes on.
Most of the available ski boots will offer a thermoformable liner that will form over time, or can be taken in to be custom molded.
The last refers to how wide the boot is. This is important because most ski boots are made to be narrow. If you have a wide foot, then the liner will not fully stretch out in that area and you will experience some discomfort.
Boot makers have adjusted their sizing in the past few years to better accommodate for different width feet. It’s important to measure your foot at it’s widest area to figure out what your best fit will be.
Ski Boot Extra Features
- Adjustable Flex. Certain pairs of ski boots will offer the option to adjust your flex rating. This is mainly for more intermediate to expert skiers who adjust for certain slopes and terrain. It will also benefit beginners so they can adjust up to a tighter flex as they advance. It is an easy to find switch that is located on the back ankle area of the boot.
- Ski/Walk Mode. Some ski boots will offer the ski/walk mode as a feature. It should be considered if you are planning to do a lot of hiking while you are on the slopes. The ski/walk mode allows you to click your boot out of the rear joint to lift your foot up as you walk, giving you better comfort for long hikes. If you won’t be walking as much then this feature isn’t something that is really needed.
The outer part of the boots are made of hard shell and come with three to four buckles in the front. The number of buckles is generally a preference.
Some skiers think four buckles gives them a snugger feeling, while others would rather have less constriction and opt for three buckles. If you consult a ski boot professional, they can offer better insight for your specific foot shape and needs.
Now that you have a general knowledge of some ski boot terminology, let’s take a look at some of the popular boots that are currently available for women.
Salomon X-Pro 90
Flex: 70 – 90
Last/Width: Medium (100-106mm)
Liner: Custom Moldable.
Additional Features: Adjustable Flex; 24mm Oversized Pivot; 360 degree custom shell; Known to fit most foot shapes.
Description: Known to provide the best custom liner fit, the Salomon X-Pro 90 Ski Boots are made to fit any foot. Featuring a custom moldable liner, when heated by a professional these boots fit all the contours of your foot and offer more fit options than other boots currently on the market.
The boots are made to fit a narrow calf or can be adjusted for a wider calf. It has a stiff flex rating to keep bend to a minimum, but it can be adjusted. These boots have a 24mm Oversized Pivot that will keep your energy and momentum driving towards your skis, giving you better precision and control.
These boots stand up a little straight and will need to be driven by you. Given the chance, they will put you in the back seat so get some practice with them first.
Lange RX 110 Ski Boot
Flex: 80 – 110.
Last/Width: 97 & 100 mm
Additional Features: Adjustable Flex; Control fit liner; Mono-Injected Shell; Thinsulate liner; Replaceable grip soles; Power strap.
Description: Fitted with a thinsulate liner, the Lange RX 110 Ski Boot is made to keep you warm and comfortable. The thermoformable liner heats up and forms to your foot after a few uses, giving you an easy to achieve fit.
The boots come with a high performance rating and are known to be very responsive while skiing.These boots are made to grip your feet, keeping your heels down and offer a slightly more forward stance.
The flex rating tends to be on the softer side. While this can be more forgiving for some skiers, it can be an issue for those looking for the best stiffness.
Dalbello Kyra 95 I.D. Women’s Ski Boots
Flex: 75 – 95, Adjustable
Last/Width: 102 mm
Liner: Custom Moldable
Additional Features: Ski/Walk mode; Adjustable Flex; Intuition moldable liner; Predictable flex mode.
Description: The Dalbello Kyra 95 I.D. women’s ski boots offer a ski/walk mode that can transition from skiing to hiking with just the flick of a switch. Allowing you to chose your own path on the slopes. These boots also offer an adjustable flex so that when you are ready you can adjust the settings to a higher stiffness.
The liner is an intuition moldable liner, meaning that it will need to be heated by a professional for a custom fit. They also have a predictable flex mode that gives you better control over shaped skis.
While very comfortable, there is a chance for some heel lift to occur. Also reviewers state that the toe box can be a little tight for wider feet.
Nordica Belle Pro Ski Boots
Liner: Custom Moldable
Additional Features: Custom moldable cork liner; High traction soles; High performance hinge.
Description: The Nordica Belle Pro Ski Boot is a great option for more aggressive skiers. This boot features a more narrow calf and gives more room in the heel, which can be similar to a men’s boot. The flex rating is a little stiffer, giving expert users better control and ease.
These boots feature a custom moldable cork liner that can mold to your foot over time, or be taken in to a professional for a closer and more personal heated fit. The dense cushion of the cork liners give the boot a more responsive fit. Reviews state that this boot is a great fit for taller skiers.
This boot is heavier than most and the taller cuff can give agitation to users with shorter calves.
Rossignol Alltrack Pro 110 Ski Boot
Flex: 80 – 110
Additional Features: Ski/Walk mode; Sensor Grid Technology; Women Thermo Optisensor 3D liner; Diagonal Buckles Technology.
Description: Fitted with a faux-fur cuff liner and Thinsulate, the Rossignol Alltrack Pro Ski Boot is one of the warmest boots you can find. The OptiSensor 3D liner is made to mold to your feet with use. However, it can be heated and custom molded by a professional if you prefer.
Sensor Grid technology improves the fit, giving you a more snug connection between the shell and liner.
The 100mm last seems to be wider than stated, so if you have a narrow foot, then you may end up with too much wiggle room.
Atomic Waymaker Carbon 100 Ski Boots
Flex: 90 – 100
Additional Features: Ski/Walk mode; Gold liner Thinsulate platinum; Triad 6000 buckle; Rubber soles.
Description: A carbon spine gives the Atomic Waymaker Carbon 100 Ski Boots a lightweight yet sturdy feel. The spine also gives you better responsiveness while going downhill. The Gold Brand liner features platinum thinsulate to keep your feet warm and should conform to your feet within a few uses.
The ski/walk mode adds excellent comfort as you hike up a mountain. This boot also has rubber soles that give better traction in walk mode. Also, they offer a stiff flex rating for more advances skiers.
This boot can be very pricey and does not seem to have as many features as some lower priced options. This boot is also on the heavier side.
As you have seen, there are many factors to take into consideration. While ordering online may be more convenient, it seems that the most effective way to shop would be in person. The fit can be very different than what is listed, so it is suggested to try on boots before you make the final investment.
A professional seller would be able to sit down with you and offer to let you try on multiple options that would fit your experience and foot needs. Taking the extra time to fit and adjust your boot is so important. With preparation you will be on the slopes feeling great in boots that not only perform well, but also conform and fit well.
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