/ ski boots
Is it worth buying boots if I only ski once a year, every year?
I am quite an avid mountaineer and want to start getting involved in ski mountaineering. SO does anyone know of a good pair of ski boots which I can use ski mountaineering in Scotland and on the slopes in the Alps?
Im currently based in Edinburgh- is there a decent skiing shop here that does moulded boots.
Any comments would be appreciated.
I'm assuming from your post that you hire skis.
Ski mountaineering boots with tread on the soles will only fit in ski mountaineering bindings, they won't fit in the hire bindings which are found on most skis available for hire.
Ski boots with DIN (flat) soles will fit in most ski mountaineering bindings or the skis found in most hire shops. The flat soles are very limiting for ski mountaineering however.
There are a few solutions to this...
i. Buy ski mountaineering skis.
ii. Hire ski mountaineering skis (This is only feasible in some resorts).
iii. Use boots which have interchangeable soles. Fitting flat soles when hiring piste skis, and soles with tread when hiring ski mountaineering skis.
Garmont Endorphin, Black Diamond Method, Black Diamond Factor, Salomon Quest are all boots with interchangeable soles. There are probably others as well.
The standard advice is to choose the boots that fit you best.
There are different types of touring bindings, most ski mountaineering boots fit Fritschi and Marker bindings, some boots fit both, and a few boots only fit Dynafit bindings. Most ski mountaineering skis available for hire have Fritschi bindings.
Another issue with buying boots is what size to get. If you take the liners out the boot, and stand in the empty plastic shell with bare feet, you can measure the gap between your heel and the shell (when your toes are lightly brushing the ends of the shell).
I've read advice on the internet from American boot fitters that state that the heel gap in a ski mountaineering boot should be 5-15mm, and I've also been advised by a UK shop that the gap should be not less than 20mm. My take on this is that smaller heel gaps are great if you can find a boot fitter that will heat up the boots and tweak the shell shape to match your feet. This service is common abroad, but much rarer in the UK.
I'm yet to meet a UK boot fitter who I would trust (they may exist, but I havn't met one yet). Sole and Sanglard Sports (both those shops are in Chamonix) are very good, so going skiing and buying boots while you are on holiday is an option.
There's loads of good info on the Wild Snow site, like this...
and on the TGR site like this...
I ski on and off piste, with a hankering to do more touring/mountineering so I got these:
Switchable soles, decent walk mode, stiff enough for carving on piste and much lighter than a standard piste boot.
There are several excellent fitters recommended on snowheads in the UK - my boots from backcountry have heat treated inners and insoles, and Andy is quite happy to tweak the fit by adding pads or stretching the shells. they offer a comfort guarantee too, so you can take them back if they hurt - tricky to do if you buy from Cham!
One of the good things about internet forums is that you get to hear advice from different people, which illustrates that there are different views and not one right answer ;-)
Sole and Sanglard have an international reputation for being the best in the business.
> Sole and Sanglard have an international reputation for being the best in the business.
I'm sure they do, but the OP didn't ask for the best boot-fitters on earth. Backcountry (and several other shops recommended on the snowheads thread mentioned above) are used, and highly recommended, by a lot of folks who ski regularly to a reasonably high standard, many of whom have had awful experiences elsewhere. I skied for five years in a pair of "fitted" boots that hurt my calves so much I had the top two clips unfastened on every lift. A pair of properly fitted boots (albeit from a UK based fitter) and I clip them up in the morning and unclip at the end of the day - i'm not a professional skier, but i know a properly fitted pair of boots when they're on my feet.
I agree with the comments made already about looking for something with an interchangeable sole. There are a few boots now that are compatible with all three binding systems (e.g. Dynafit Titan, Garmont Delirium). Unless you decide to take up racing, something like that would be pretty future proof.
As for shops, I went to Backcountry UK, who seem to have a cult following on here for all the right reasons! I know Braemar Mountain Sports and Mountain Spirit in Aviemore have a good range too, and are a bit closer to Edinburgh.
Like I said above, different views and no one right answer...
I have two pairs of touring boots (1 light, 1 heavy), which I had fitted in Cairngorm Mountain Sports. From my experience with previous boots, I'd say that shop offers the best tourimg boot fitting service in Aviemore; they're happy to continue tweaking if you need it after a few days skiing. Or you can visit their Braemar branch for the same service. I'd avoid Rose St in Edinburgh, although to be fair to them it's 8 years since that bad experience, so things could have changed a lot.
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