Like death and taxes, boot liners pack out. Alas, you’ve got options to improve a boot’s function and life span. Maybe a boot liner refresh is in order.
There are a few ways to go for a better boot fit. This came to mind over the weekend when a neighbor/friend/ski partner came to my front door stating they had overcooked their new Intuition liners. Without going into all the details, let’s say there was no smoke, melted plastic, or torched foam: just a liner, post-cook, that he had softened too much and, upon molding, felt too roomy.
This brings up the first step for some for better boot fit, which often begins with liners; you may need to seek out professional help. Better to spend $25-100$ on possible solutions with a boot fitter than a literal reboot and purchasing another new liner after botching the DIY heat molding process. (Although, with patience, the heat molding job can be done at home.)
Feet are complex, and each one possesses variabilities. That as many boots and liners fit as many different feet as they do is a minor miracle. And in many cases makes the fitting process more streamlined. But if you’ve packed out, shredded, or altogether hate your liners — you do have some options.
We connected with Zak Munro from SLC’s Skimo Co to get his thoughts on aftermarket liners. But first, we asked when it might not make sense to spend $175-$200 on a new liner to help refresh a boot’s fit.
Starting with the Boot Fit and Feature Set
“I would just say it depends on how much you really like the boot, the features, how well the boots fit overall,” said Munro when asked about moving away from the new liner old shell solution to better boot fit and performance. “We definitely have a lot of people coming in, maybe after a season or two, and they’ve put quite a few days in the boot trying to figure that out. It doesn’t make as much sense to spend $175 to $200 to throw a whole new liner in there if you really don’t like the boots.”
If, for example, you dislike the fiddly ski/walk mode, or the BOA system, spending nearly a ¼ of the price of a new boot, may not make sense. Doubling down on a different boot altogether may help solve your boot fit and boot function woes.
Munro also explained that many aftermarket liners, Palau, for example, do not come with footbeds. If you are heading in for a new liner and don’t have a footbed you like, you might be positioning yourself for footbed shopping too. It’s well documented that stock footbeds across the board are rather ho-hum.
Munro said if a customer likes their preexisting footbed, they suggest a new liner that resembles the old stock liner. There are, of course, exceptions. Munro added that if the client is trying to accomplish a specific fit characteristic like taking up more volume, they will go with a slightly higher volume liner relative to the stock liner. Additionally, shims might be added under the footed to reduce volume too.
The point is that the footbed, and maybe shims, matter too when seeking a new liner, especially when reducing volume.
Expanding the Range of a Boot
Often at WildSnow we hear of skiers wanting a bit more range from their ski boots. From Munro’s experience, he noted that he sees, for example, many people wanting to beef up a lightweight boot for warmth, say for a Denali expedition.
“I see people trying to throw Intuition Pro Tours into a mid to lightweight race boot. From my experience, putting a Pro Tour or a Pulau Power LT in Scarpa F1 LT boots can work. However, the fact is, if the fit is on the slightly tighter side, throwing that beefy liner in there isn’t necessarily going to make it warmer or anything. It’s just going to cut off circulation more.”
In Munro’s approximation, placing a thicker liner in a lightweight boot sometimes works if the skier bumps up in shell size when outfitting themselves for something like an expedition where circulation/warmth is a key concern.
And buyer beware if you intend on adding a beefier liner to your shell, either for warmth or better skiability, it is likely to impact the boot’s walk mode a bit. That said, it’s not uncommon to see some form of the classic Intuition wrap liners in boots comprising the 1000-1300g class of touring boots.
The New Liners
Like death and taxes, boot liners pack out. And those lightweight liners helping a boot shell make weight at the 1kg realm, those liners will pack out even faster. You be the judge, but even 60-70 days in a liner can render them too voluminous and insufficient.
If the boot shell is to your liking, a new liner may extend the boot’s life. Remember, as Munro explained above, a thicker liner can impact a boot’s articulation. But if you desire something to stiffen a boot as well, a new liner’s thicker and denser tongue may add to that cause— just ensure the boot’s tourability is to your liking too.
Replacing an aged-out lightweight stock liner with a similar aftermarket liner can be as easy as plug-and-play. I replaced an old stock liner in a Fischer Travers Carbon with a Palau Tour Lite Pro Evo (for under $200) and added several more years of use to the boot.
If you have access to several boots, you have some options. Here’s a solid pointer from Gary Smith. He suggested taking a packed-out liner from a beefier boot and placing it in a lightweight boot.
“…try swapping liners in boots. A packed-out liner from a beefy boot will often feel like a perfect fit in your new lighter, more trim slippers. The impressive weight of the four-buckle Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro is achieved with an impressively light liner. I found that it was insufficient for the tight and powerful shell; it packed out in only a handful of days and reminded me exactly where my bone spurs are located. I passed this roughly 200g liner down to my Alien RS and found it to be a great matchup and upgrade.”
Jason Albert comes to WildSnow from Bend, Oregon. After growing up on the East Coast, he migrated from Montana to Colorado and settled in Oregon. Simple pleasures are quiet and long days touring. His gray hair might stem from his first Grand Traverse in 2000 when rented leather boots and 210cm skis were not the speed weapons he had hoped for. Jason survived the transition from free-heel kool-aid drinker to faster and lighter (think AT), and safer, are better.