Boot Fit by Freeze Pro Shop.

Posted on Friday 3rd December, 2010 Times Viewed: 4370
Getting the right boots is, without doubt, the single most important equipment purchase you can make – get it right you’ll progress faster, ride longer and ride harder – get it wrong and your time on the hill can become a misery. It’s a hugely personal thing – don’t rush it, find an expert and try on as many boots as you can.
Basic Principles of Boot Fitting: When trying on boots / getting boots fitted the key things to consider are:
Boot Types – broadly speaking, like boards, there are two core factors that determine the right boot for you: 1) How good a rider you are: Beginner – Pro, and 2) The sort of riding you’re going to do: Freestyle & Jib – Freeride & Charging.
Entry level boots and freestyle specific boots will sit at the softer end of the scale giving a more forgiving ride while you learn and more flex for tweaks, pokes and presses for the freestylers. There are however significant differences between a great beginner boot and a top-end freestyle boot and this is what justifies the difference in price. First is quality of fit – entry level boots will be more spacious allowing greater movement of the foot in the boot. As you don’t need such a precise response this is ideal as it makes the ride even more forgiving. A top-end freestyle boot, while being soft, will be a much snugger fit with a far more engineered fit to hold your feet firm, support them and minimise heel lift. In addition to the quality of fit the increased price of a top-end boot will also reflect the build quality, durability and features such as shock absorbers– a freestyle boot taking hundreds of impacts a day needs to be more durable and hard wearing than the boot used by someone who’s a more intermediate rider, riding only a few weeks a year.
At the other end of the scale there are the boots for more advanced riders who demand a more powerful boot with greater responsiveness and faster power transfer for carving and pipe riding. These will be stiffer, with a super snug fit so that every minor movement the rider makes will affect how the board rides. Again, the more you pay you’ll get a stiffer boot that’s going to last and maintain its shape, comfort and performance longer.
When speaking to your shop assistant and be honest about the type of riding you’ll be doing, how often you’ll be riding and how good you are – they’re not interested in your ego, they just want to get you the right boot to make the most of your time on the hill.

Finding the right size

Now you’ve established the type of boot thats most suitable to you the next thing is finding the right size for you. You should be asked what size you are and whether your foot is wide or narrow or somewhere in between as different brands / models will suit different foot shapes. Once the Assistant has this information, along with your riding ability / style they should find you a selection of the most suitable boots.

First thing to do is a shell check to ensure you’re in the right ball park. To do this put you riding socks on (only ever one pair to avoid friction and blisters) and remove the liner from the boot. Put your foot into the shell and slide it forward so your toes are just touching the end of the boot. Then flex your knee forward keeping the heel on the base of the boot. The Assistant should then see how many fingers they can slip fit between your heel and the back of the boot. 1 finger is a performance fit, suitable for racing, 2 is ideal for general use, 3 is really relaxed fit and suitable only for beginners. So depending on ability and ride style you should be looking for 1.5 – 2 fingers space.

Now you have a good idea of the right size established put the liner back in the boot and get your foot in there ensuring your socks are on properly without any creases. First impressions should always be that the boots too small but as you tie them up they should feel a little more spacious as your boot is anchored into the back of the boot. Before finally tying them you need to pump your feet to get them properly seated in the boot. To do this hold the shell on the ground with one hand and lift and drop your heel while at the same time pumping the liner up and down by holding the liner at the cuff with your other hand. Once you have done a couple of heel pumps your heel should be properly seated in the heel cup area of the boot. Many people will bang their heels on the ground but apart from wearing out your boots this can actually be counterproductive sometimes. Lacing styles vary massively and price is likely to affect how dynamic it is. Whether you like your boots really tight top to bottom or looser, or tight at the top and looser lower down or visa-versa is personal preference.

Now you’ve tied up your boots, when you stand up straight your toes should be touching the end of the boot and as you flex your knee forward into the position you should be in for riding your toes should move away from the end so you can move them around – this movement is key to circulation and warmth. Even at this point it’s really important that the boots do still seem too tight as they’re going to pack out. The extent to which they will expand will depend on the quality of the boot (more expensive boots will pack out less) and how hard you ride them. Someone riding in the park every day for a season will pack out boots a lot more rapidly than an intermediate rider who gets 2 weeks a year on snow. It may defy your gut instinct to buy a boot that seems too tight in the shop but its key to getting the right fit. You want it to fit once you’ve packed it in, not when you try it on in the shop. Trust us!! Even as you walk around in the shop and the boot starts to warm up and mould to your feet it should start getting comfier and feel closer to the right size. Your shop should offer you the chance to return the boots if you take them home, wear them around the house for a few hours and you’re still convinced they are the wrong size.

After length the next factor is width. Your foot should feel like it is being cupped with a firm handshake by the boot but not crushed. The pressure on the side of your foot should be even along the length of the boot with no pinch points. If it does, ask to try on a wider boot and see how that works.

Finally you should be checking for heel lift. Firstly ensure the inner lacing is as tight as possible whilst still being comfortable. Indeed, you should probably be able to get it a little tighter now you’ve worn the boots for a while. Put the boot into a binding or get the assistant to hold the boot firmly against the floor and flex your knee forward. Your heel should remain on the floor of the boot as opposed to your heel rising up the back of the boot. If it’s lifting ensure it’s from the natural flex of the boot as opposed to you trying to pull your foot out the boot as pretty much anyone in any boot can get their heel to lift in this way. A little bit of lift is OK too much will be detrimental to performance and comfort.
Once you’ve had the boots on for about 10 minutes and had a walk around the shop (always try them on on both feet as one foot will nearly always be bigger than the other) then start the process again with another boot but keep one of the originals on as a reference for comparison. Repeat this till you find the boot that feels best – but remember they will get bigger as they pack out so a snug fit is the right fit.
Don’t feel pressured into buying anything – its super important and super personal – if you are not feeling it with any of the boots on offer then walk away. Any decent shop should be more concerned about you having a boot that fits than making a sale.

Other things
Heat moulded liners. In the 90s there was a huge explosion in heat moulded liners and heat moulding in-store where the liners are heated up and the customer puts their foot in the boot as it cools and ‘moulds’ to their feet. Freeze doesn’t totally buy into heat moulding as it only really speeds up the natural process, however it also warms the boot up and softens the plastics giving a potentially unrealistic impression of comfort. Remember that when you are riding they will be at or below zero degrees so the plastics and rubbers will be much stiffer. Furthermore, the shape of your feet when riding will be different to the shape of your foot in a shop when you’ve been wearing regular footwear.. It’s worth a day or so discomfort for perfect natural fitting boots that will match the shape of your foot and bed in gradually at the same time as your feet change shape to get used to their new surroundings, this will provide comfort and performance for far longer.
Footbeds: Proper orthotic footbeds such as Superfeet improve balance, reduce fatigue, improve joint health and will make boots slightly more spacious (contrary to what you would think, they shorten your feet by making them sit less flat and squashed out).  Generally liners that come as standard offer some shock absorption but very limited compared to proper foot beds.  Superfeet, or similar, will improve the performance of the boots by 20% for most people and also mean you have more energy at the end of the day.  
Drying and Care: It’s very important to dry your boots as thoroughly as possible day-to-day and store them in a dry place. Number one reason is foot health as dry boots prevent bacteria eating your foot and the boot. Secondly it will preserve the life of the boots as the materials will retain strength and shape, thirdly they’ll stay smelling sweet so much longer and your riding buddies will love you for it Store them laced up so that the boots retain their moulded shape for longer too.

Socks: The wrong sock can wreck an otherwise good fit so the more you can afford. Generally, the better fitting and faster drying the sock will be. You should only ever wear one pair as two pairs will cause friction, moisture and blisters. Thin wool/silk blends are best. Ironically, too many or too-thick socks, beyond reducing control over the shell, also squash veins, inhibiting circulation and creating cold feet. We recommend TEKO merion wool socks which are guaranteed not to smell after a days riding and are comfy warm and breathable all day long!

About Freeze: The staff at Freeze have over 30 years of boot fitting experience between them with the shop owner being at the forefront of boot fitting technology since 1994. We have over 100 years of riding experience and we know how bleeding toes can ruin your holiday so give us a shout anytime you want advice.
In store purchases are covered by our boot fitting guarantee (if you follow our advice) and if you buy online and follow our advice you should be fine too but we always recommend trying boots on before buying. If you have problems we will always help you out and you can buy online and wear them in your house for a week and then return them for a swap so feel free to give it a go. The only thing you need do is pay a very small charge for more deliveries.
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