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Why Are Ski Boots So Uncomfortable? (Explained)

Why Are Ski Boots So Uncomfortable

Ski boots are one of THE most important gear used in skiing. And being such a crucial part of the equipment, they can ruin your ski tour if they are uncomfortable to wear.

While ski boots are not designed for comfort, they are not supposed to be uncomfortable – they must still be comfortable enough not to get in the way of you enjoying skiing.

In this post, I’ll break down the reasons why are ski boots so uncomfortable, how to avoid this when buying a new pair,  and what you can do to a pair you have already bought and find uncomfortable.

In What Ways Can Ski Boots Be Uncomfortable?

Here are a few ways ski boots can be uncomfortable. 

  • Causing pain: Ski boots can make a skier’s shins, insteps, toes, backs of the heels, and calves hurt.
  • Cuts and blisters: Ski boots can cause cuts and blisters in the same places they can cause pain. 
  • Reducing circulation: Ski boots can cut off blood flow to the feet, making them numb, giving the”pins and needles” sensation, and making them cold. 
  • Restricting movement: Ski boots can make ski maneuvers harder to perform. 

What Makes Ski Boots Uncomfortable?

Beginners usually end up owning a pair of uncomfortable ski boots that causes these issues by not giving enough thought and time to choose the right pair and get it fitted properly. 

What Makes Ski Boots Uncomfortable

Wrong Size

A pair of ski boots that are either too small or too big are going to be uncomfortable to ski in. 

If they are too little, they will create pressure points in the shins, steps, backs of the heels, toes, and calves, making them painful, cut and blistered, numb, and even cold. 

If they are too big, the feet are going to be moving forward and back, and side to side inside them and bang or rub against the boot which can be painful. The toes, the backs of the heels, and the shins will bear it the most. 

Wrong Flex

Each pair of ski boots is manufactured to have a certain stiffness, as indicated by the flex rating. 

The flex of the ski boots must match the skier’s skill level and weight. If the boots are too stiff, the leg movements necessary for maneuvering the skis will meet with resistance and pressure from the boots, causing pain and possibly cuts and blisters.

Read our guide on how you can tell if a ski boot is stiff.

If the boots are not stiff enough, they would not transfer the energy of movement from the skier to the skis efficiently, and the skier might get exhausted due to the extra effort needed to get the skis to do what he needs them to do.

Not Being Fitted Properly

Even a pair of ski boots of the right size can still be uncomfortable if they are not custom fitted to the skier’s feet and cause similar problems that wrong-sized ski boots do. 

Not Being Fitted Properly

Buckles Not Done Properly

If the buckles of a pair of ski boots are not done in the right order or they are too tightly or too loosely fastened, the feet will have pressure points or they will move inside the boots, causing pain, and possibly cuts and blisters.

Problems With Socks 

Right-sized and well-fitted ski boots are snug around the feet, so you are better off wearing a single pair of ski socks. 

Wearing more than one pair of socks, socks rolling down and forming bulges inside the boots, or tucking your leg wear inside the boots can cause pressure points that result in pain.

Also read our guide on heated socks vs ski boot heaters.

Ski Boots Not Being Broken In Properly 

Even a pair of well-fitted boots with the right flex might still need to be broken in over a few days for them to be comfortable to ski in.

How To Avoid Ending Up With Uncomfortable Ski Boots

Now that you know what makes a pair of ski boots uncomfortable, it is quite easy to avoid buying the wrong ones in the future. 

How To Avoid Ending Up With Uncomfortable Ski Boots

Pick The Right Size

Get a professional ski boot fitter to measure your feet and help pick up the right size of boots. Check the size chart here.

Pick Up Right Shape

Your ski boots’ shells have to have the right shape to be comfortable too.

You can get a professional ski boot fitter to help you pick up boots that have the shells of the right last (a measurement of the length, width, and volume of the foot).

Get Your Ski Boots Custom Fitted

Once you have selected a pair of ski boots that have the right size and shape, you might still need to get them customized by a ski boot fitter to fit your feet as perfectly as possible. 

The boot fitter will ask you to put them on without the liners, walk around a bit and mark any pressure points according to your feedback. The same will be repeated with the liners as well. 

The boot fitter will then start the customization process. The process will include heating and molding the shells and liners, and installing custom footbeds, depending on the model of the boots and your pressure points.

Break New Ski Boots In Properly

Don’t be in a hurry to go skiing in your newly fitted boots. Put them on when you are home and walk just a little over a few days before your ski tour.

Break New Ski Boots In Properly

Start with the easy stuff in your new boots and gradually move on to more advanced ones as they stretch and adjust. 

It will take about four to five days of skiing in your new boots for them to be fully broken in. Read our full guide on how to break in ski boots here.

Wear Only Socks Between Your Feet And Boots

Make sure to wear only a single pair of ski socks, and they are not rolling down. Don’t tuck your legwear into your ski boots.

Fasten The Buckles Correctly 

The proper way to buckle your ski boots is from top to bottom.

You should fasten the top buckles until you hear a snap. The buckles must be just tight enough that you have to put some effort to fasten them, but not struggle to do so.

Once you have done the top buckles, fasten the power strap with tension to match that of the buckles. Next you can fasten the lower buckles. Make sure they are tight enough for the boots to fit snugly to your feet. 

What If You Already Have Uncomfortable Ski Boots?

You might be able to work around a pair of Ski boots you find uncomfortable if they are of the right size, shape, and flex and are uncomfortable to use only because they were not custom fitted to mold to your feet well. 

You will be able to ski in them comfortably after asking a ski boot fitter to do the necessary adjustments to how they fit. 

If your ski boots are of the wrong size, shape, and flex though, your only option will be to replace them.

Quick Recap 

Even though many skiers find their ski boots to be uncomfortable, it is mainly because of not enough knowledge, time, and effort to select a pair, custom fit them, put them on, and break them in.

One should get the help of a professional ski boot fitter to select ski boots with the right size, shape, and flex as well as get them custom fitted for them to be comfortable. 

Buckling the ski boots up properly, having only one pair of ski socks that don’t roll down and nothing else between the feet and the boots, and allowing time to break them in will also factor into ski boots being comfortable to use.

A ski boot fitter could probably help you to customize boots you already have and are uncomfortable, given that they are the right size, shape and flex. 

Unfortunately, ski boots that are of the wrong size, shape and flex will have to be replaced.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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