How Custom Ski Boots Are Fitted and Why They Are Worth It

Updated on February 24, 2018
Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul is an avid skier and outdoor enthusiast. He has three nationally ranked junior skier cross daughters.

Top Reasons to Get Custom Ski Boots

  • Custom ski boots can make ski boots comfortable for an entire day of skiing. The custom fit can be tailored to feet that are two different sizes, to wide or narrow width feet, or to feet with high arches.
  • A well-fitted boot will help with turning and balance while skiing.
  • Ski boots last several seasons. The pair you invest in will likely outlast two pairs of skis since boot technology hasn't changed significantly in the last ten years.

Downside of Custom Ski Boots

  • They are expensive. You can save money by purchasing them during the off season, buying boots that are a previous year's model, waiting till the end of the season for when things go on sale, or even getting slightly used boots (worn once) like I did, which saved me $175 on my recent pair (February, 2017).
  • How good the fit is often depends on the boot fitter. Make sure to get your boots from an expert, or you may end up with a poorly fitted boot.

The Custom Ski Boot Process

I didn't know it, but I had been suffering for nearly 25 years with ski boots that didn't fit properly. They've always been too tight around my ankles, and since one of my feet is slightly larger than the other, either one foot is floating around, or one foot has its toe crammed into the end of the boot. No matter what, at the end of the day, my feet were seriously hurting. One of my expert skier friends said "Dude, it doesn't have to be that way. Kick down for some custom ski boots." "Kick down" is right; custom ski boots are expensive. I guess almost everything having to do with skiing is expensive, but custom ski boots are easily double the cost of production boots. So I purchased a pair of custom ski boots; to save a bit of money, about 40%, I did it during the off season.

There are three main pieces to custom ski boots. The first part is the ski boot foot bed, the second is the ski boot foot liner, and the third is the ski boot shell.

The Cost of Custom Ski Boots in 2017

Boots
Custom Footbeds
Fitting
$400 - $1000
$150 - $200
$150 - $200

How Custom Boots Are Fitted

I'm going to show you custom boot fittings by two different experts: Barry Allison, of Whistler Sports Village in British Columbia, and Cosmos Custom Bootwerks of Truckee.

Getting Custom Ski Boots by Master Boot Fitter Barry Allison

Getting Custom Ski Boots by Master Boot Fitter Barry Allison

The entire boot fitting took about one hour and my boots were ready the next morning. Barry is about as cool of a guy as you will meet, with an easy smile and calm demeanor. Here are a few cool things about Barry.

  • He trains ski instructors.
  • He started boot fitting out of his garage in Quebec.
  • He's fitted kids for the Canadian Para Team.

Getting Custom Footbeds

The first part of the process is putting the various layers of the custom bed into a machine that heats and compresses the layers.

Standing on Gel Pads

To create a form of your foot, you stand on a Sidas Gel Pad.

Molding the Footbed

After the layers of the footbed have been compressed, they are placed over the gel pad molds and you stand on the foot beds to create the custom fit.

Fitting the Boot to the Foot

After the molds are done, he places your foot back into the boot and examines how the boot is fitting each of your feet.

Punching and Adjusting the Boot

Based on how the boot fits, he adds padding and punches the boot out to relieve pressure. He marks the boot with white chalk and takes notes as well as an outline of your feet.

It takes about one hour for the fitting and then the next day the boots are ready.

Amazing Fit with Barry Allison

These are the absolute best fitting most comfortable boots I've ever had. I highly recommend Barry. Tell him Paul sent you!

Barry Requires an Appointment

Barry works out of Whistler Sports in the village. He's in high demand, so schedule an appointment by emailing him at info@skiconnexions.ca.

If you get boots, please leave me a comment to let us know how they feel.

The Custom Ski Boot Process in Lake Tahoe by Cosmos Custom Bootwerks

Custom Foot Bed Photos Process Done by Expert Boot Fitter Cosmo in Lake Tahoe

Custom Ski Boot Foot Beds Process

One of the most important pieces to a custom ski boot is getting foot beds molded to your feet. A composite of glue, plastics and cork is the high-end way to go for a great foot bed. The custom foot bed process involves

  • Selecting the foot bed for your boot. If you go with cork, the cork is heated, then while it's malleable, it's placed on your foot with a plastic bag around it.
  • A high powered vacuum is inserted into the bag and the air is rapidly sucked from the bag to compress the foot bed onto the foot. This creates the perfect foot bed that is a mirror of your foot.

Once the foot bed is completed, it's placed in the shell of the ski boot.

Custom foot beds can really help people with unusually shaped feet, like feet that are two different sizes or have high arches, although people with feet of more ordinary shape swear by custom foot beds as well. The great thing about about custom foot beds is that they can last fifteen years or longer.

Custom Molded Ski Boot Liner Photos

Liners get heated up so they can be molded to fit your foot.
Liners get heated up so they can be molded to fit your foot.
Then the liners are inserted into the boot
Then the liners are inserted into the boot
After the liner is inserted into the ski boot your foot is placed into the boot.
After the liner is inserted into the ski boot your foot is placed into the boot.

Custom Molded Ski Boot Liners

Ski boot liners are a very important part of getting the perfect fit of your ski boot. Getting a liner fitted to your foot, ankle and calf is similar to the foot bed process, but the pressure applied to mold the liner comes from the boot itself.

  • After the liner is heated, it's placed back into the boot.
  • To get the liner extra tight, a toe cap may be put on your feet and held in place with a ski sock.
  • You insert your feet into the ski boot, and tighten the crap out of the boot.
  • During this part of the process, it can become painful and the foot numb. Very similar to wearing uncomfortable ski boots for a day. Cosmo, the boot fitter I went to, handed me an ice cold Coors Light to drink while my feet were clamped down in the boots molding the liner to my feet.
  • During this process you will likely stand on a piece of two-by-four with your toes up and weight forward against the forward piece of the boot to add pressure. After about ten minutes, the liners are a perfect fit.

Custom Ski Boot Shell Photos

Once the new liners are in the boot, a toe cap is added to create an extra tight fit while the liner is molded.
Once the new liners are in the boot, a toe cap is added to create an extra tight fit while the liner is molded.
To reduce friction, a plastic bag is put over your sock before you insert your foot into the boot to reduce friction.
To reduce friction, a plastic bag is put over your sock before you insert your foot into the boot to reduce friction.
Then you stand for about 10 minutes with your toes slightly elevated on a board with your feet incredibly squeezed into the boot.
Then you stand for about 10 minutes with your toes slightly elevated on a board with your feet incredibly squeezed into the boot.
You might want to drink a beer to reduce some of the pain and numbness while you wait with your feet in the boots
You might want to drink a beer to reduce some of the pain and numbness while you wait with your feet in the boots
Lastly, your boot shell is punched and stretched to make a perfect fit.  This picture shows a hydraulic punch increasing the width in the ankle.
Lastly, your boot shell is punched and stretched to make a perfect fit. This picture shows a hydraulic punch increasing the width in the ankle.
Here is my ski boot getting customized by slightly lengthening the ski boot.
Here is my ski boot getting customized by slightly lengthening the ski boot.

Custom Ski Boot Shells

One of the interesting things about getting custom ski boots is that the liner and foot bed can be fitted into off-the-shelf ski boots which can be punched and pressed to fit your foot perfectly. Cosmo, the world's greatest boot fitter, who fits some of the worlds greatest skiers, will study your foot, pull and twist your ankles, and recommend a shell for your feet. When he analyzed my feet, he was able to tell that I had turned my right ankle a few times more than my left and which boot would fit me best. He recommended a Full Tilt Professional boot for my long and sort of narrow feet.

The first day I tried them on the slope with the liner and custom foot beds in them, I began to worry. Crap, they were pinching my ankle and my larger foot felt like it was hitting the end. He examined my foot in the boot, made some marks on it, and placed a hydraulic punch in the boot to expand the ankle area and stretch the boot a tad. After he customized the shell to my foot, I put on my freshly fitted custom ski boots and couldn't believe how good they fit.

Everyone I know that gets custom boots needs to get them adjusted after the first day of skiing. Wear them for a day. Mark the spots that don't feel right and bring them back to the boot fitter. They can adjust them until they're perfect. Since they are so expensive, it's reasonable to get them adjusted.

Where to Get Custom Ski Boots

It's a wonderful thing to meet an expert craftsman and to be the beneficiary of years of study and practice. Cosmos is located outside of Truckee, CA in Lake Tahoe and I highly recommend making a trip to see him if you've suffered from uncomfortable ski boots in the past. What he can do to make a ski boot feel comfortable is magical and worth every penny. Call and make an appointment and tell him you learned about him from Paul on HubPages.

Questions & Answers

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      • neilKurt profile image

        neilKurt 5 years ago from Hull

        There is loads of useful info in this hub. From a skier I just wanted to say good job.

      • melbel profile image

        Melanie Palen 6 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

        I am so fortunate that I don't have to get custom made ski boots! I don't know of anywhere around here I could get that done... probably the closest would be Chicago! Great hub! I know of someone who has trouble with his snowboarding boots fitting properly, I'll have to let him know that he can get some custom made ones.

      • cooperfsu profile image

        cooperfsu 7 years ago from Valencia, Spain

        Having skii boots that don't fit well can be miserable! Great information, thank you.

      • pmccray profile image

        pmccray 7 years ago from Utah

        I'm not a skier, but live in ski country. Very informative, voted up, useful and shared.

      • KKalmes profile image

        KKalmes 7 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

        Hello Paul, the two smartest things I did when my son, Anthony took up snowboarding... custom boots that fit right and good medical insurance for the parts the boots didn't save.

        thanx for the good read... also, am promoting adding excellent to the ratings list and this would be a good hub for excellent instead of useful or any of the other choices.

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
        Author

        Paul Edmondson 7 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        My wife got a pair from Cosmos at the same time and the foot beds were made by superfeet. They make a cork foot bed and a plastic one that is less expensive.

      • ltfawkes profile image

        ltfawkes 7 years ago from NE Ohio

        I'm with Earth Angel - I was wondering about the purple toenail polish myself. It kind of added an extra dimension of drama to the whole thing . . .

        Interesting hub. I didn't know there was such a thing as custom boots.

        L.T.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

        If you love the sport why suffer in pain? You might as well shell out the money and enjoy yourself. Skiing is a lot of fun and it shouldn't be painful. Good hub.

      • Earth Angel profile image

        Earth Angel 7 years ago

        Good Morning Sir Hub Edmondson!!

        GREAT Hub, thank you for sharing!! I lived in Tahoe City for years and LOVE skiing!! Having Cosmos in Truckee is a real find!! Thank you!!

        See you on the slopes!!

        Blessings always, Earth Angel!!

        P.S. I love the way you remove and replace your purple toe polish in the photos!! ;-)

      • sheila b. profile image

        sheila b. 7 years ago

        In a few months you can report on how they feel in use. I'll be interested to know

      • Hello, hello, profile image

        Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

        Wow, this is great information. Thank you, Paul.

      • msorensson profile image

        msorensson 7 years ago

        This is great! I have been wondering about this..Thanks!!

        For the record I do not ski, but it is good to know that one can order custom made ski boots.

      • samsons1 profile image

        Sam 7 years ago from Tennessee

        voted up & useful! not being a skier I didn't know all the involvement to sizing the boots...

      working