I’m always fascinated by the way we humans come up with crafts to make our lives easier — and recreation more fun. In the sport of skiing, boot fitting might be the most visible yet most arcane of such things.
Ski tuning isn’t that hard to understand, and it’s often done in a back room, out of sight. Work with a boot fitter, and you’re up front (and I mean up front as in having a person kneeling in front of you messing around with your feet) and personal from the moment you start.
Good snowsport retailers know how meaningful the boot fitting interaction can be — and because of that, how important that it’s done well. Many (I pray most) boot shoppers know this as well. Problem is, as I know first hand, shoppers are not always comfortable with the results or the price of getting their boots customized. Masterfit Enterprises seeks to support the former and remedy the latter, by developing and selling excellent products such as their EZ.FIT drop-in insole (improved for this year, and looking good), as well as operating an extensive seminar operation that builds boot fitting expertise for shop employees and independent boot fitters from Kitzbuhel to Colorado.
We’re loving being here and doing some formal learning about boot fitting. I can already see how my own fitting and custom projects will receive a boost in quality and effectiveness. Good cred for a ski blogger as well. And the boot fitters we do work with will have a much more knowledgeable customer. Indeed, Lisa and I were talking about all this and agreed that any comitted skier with the money and time would receive huge benefit from doing the first level course at Masterfit. For example, if you’ve got fairly normal feet and some knowledge of fitting, you could probably buy and configure your own drop-ins to be nearly as good as an expensive custom job. That sort of thing could be key if you’re running a lot of ski boots and athletic shoes (like us). And who knows? Career number 642?
So, here is a tip for you WildSnowers out there who are working with a boot footer. It’s something you can check for yourself. While the guy is getting your footbeds dialed, he (or she in disturbingly rare cases) should be throwing that footbed in your shell with no liner and doing a tactile check for interface with the boot. Ditto for yourself. Just stick the footbed in the shell, resting on the boot board. Press gently down on the ‘bed and check for rocking or tilting that indicates it’s not shaped to fit the boot. Any lack of interface can cause all sorts of seemingly insurmountable fit problems, since once the footbed is forced to bend and conform to the boot shell, it’s not conforming to your foot.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.