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Ski boot lingo guide

Are you feeling a bit lost, searching for ski boots online? Do you find choosing ski boots an arduous task? Knowing the lingo might make things easier, so here you have the basics.

A ski shoe is made up of a hard and heavy shell; a soft, removable liner (heat mouldable ones offer a better fit); a footbed, which is like an insole for extra support; and finally, a sole - this can either be a continuation of the shell or a separate part. Excessive sole wear can dangerously destabilise the connection between the shoe and the ski, so if you have non-removable soles, try to preserve them by not walking on rocks.

Ski boots have 2 to 4 buckles, preferably durable metal ones. Micro-adjustable buckles provide a more precise fit as they can be lengthened as well as moved up the buckle ladder, but it?s the power strap that adjusts the cuff of the ski boot. A wide strap is better because it's less likely to slip.

Finally, like many ski clothing, some ski boots have a RECCO reflector ? it reflects RECCO detector waves so you can be easily found under snow.

Types of ski boots

Now it's time to learn how types of ski boots differ. There are 5 main groups of them: downhill shoes are the standard for recreational skiers; side country shoes have a ski/ walk function that make it easier for you to walk in search of fresh snow; freestyle shoes are especially designed for stunt skiers - they fit a little less snugly and provide more shock absorption; race shoes are stiff, thick and purpose-built for speed; alpine touring shoes are lightweight and can be used for skiing, hiking and climbing.

When choosing ski footwear you should also take the stiffness (or "flex") into account. Beginners tend to need softer flexes to allow for mistakes, and women usually need softer shoes because the former are more sensitive to pressure than men; having said that, it's about your own comfort, so those tendencies should only serve as a guide. Flex varies from manufacturer to manufacturer but generally 40 is considered the softest and 130 the hardest. Watch out! Ski boots turn softer in warm conditions, so a very soft shoe tried on in a heated home will feel harder at the top of a snowy mountain.

The perfect fitting ski boots

You've probably found the right ski shoe and have enough vocabulary to discuss your fit with a boot-fitter - but before you order you need to choose the right size!

Firstly, look at the length, which is measured in centimetres and should match the longest part of your foot. Sizing can vary from brand to brand, so check the manufacturer's sizing guides. Take into account that the length of the shoe sole is not the same as the size. If you buy new ski boots that are the same size as your old ones, they might not fit your ski binding, so make sure you check this before you try to step into it.

The next thing to consider is the width (also referred to as "last"). A lower end width is 97-98mm and over 102mm is at the higher end. When you try on the liner, ideally there should be no more than 2 fingers width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Now put the shell on and fasten the buckles: the shoe should feel snug, there should be little to no lateral movement in the forefoot and, while standing, your toes should barely touch the end of the shoe.

Keller Sports cannot offer a fitting service and cannot deliver an personally fitted pair of snow boots to your door because we are an online shop, but we can definitely give you advice on what type of shoe you need and what size if most appropriate for the brand you've chosen. Remember, though: we offer much more than just ski boots! Check out ski equipment and helmets while you're here.


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