by Staff Writer
Although you might think that skis are your most important piece of ski equipment, ski boots have more to do with performance than the skis or bindings. Ski boots that aren't right for your feet can prevent the transfer of pressure to the ski and contribute to a lack of control. While your boots will never be as comfortable as sneakers, the correct boot will be a lot more comfortable to wear for a full day on the slopes.
Identify your skiing type. Different ski boots are used for different skiing styles and are not interchangeable. The bindings and boot styles both vary with different skiing types.
Cross-country skiing boots are smaller and lighter than other boot styles, and they do not provide as much support for your ankles.
Telemark boots provide a lot of lateral support for your feet and ankles, but the free-heel design allows for forward flexibility, which is integral to telemark skiing.
Alpine, or downhill, ski boots are made of rigid plastic that provides lateral and forward support for your ankle. Your toe and heal are both locked into the binding, which forces you to keep your legs closer together as you ski.
Know your size requirements. A tight fit is very important in a ski boot. Your feet do all the work in controlling your skis, and a loose-fitting boot will not give you the precise pressure control you need to ski comfortably and skillfully. When ski boots fit properly, you won't be able to move your feet inside the boot much at all.
Choose boots with refined fastener adjustments. You'll need to adjust the boot to get a tight fit without cutting off circulation in your feet, but, sometimes, the adjustment lengths on buckles can be too far apart to find a good middle ground. Ski boots with micro-adjustment features let you tune the fit to your ankles and calves a little better.
Consider your skiing skill level. Ski boots are designed for recreational, intermediate, advanced, and racing ski levels. As you move to more advanced skill levels, you begin to sacrifice comfort and flex for performance and rigidity. The more rigid and tight-fitting a ski boot, the better the energy transfer will be from your legs to the skis. If your old ski boots just aren't giving you the control you need to make a turn, it may be time to switch to a more rigid boot.