How To Properly Break In New Ski Boots?

by Simon Knott | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

Once you have been fitted for your new ski boots you are ready to get out on the snow. The fit of any boot is always a trade-off between comfort and efficiency. Efficiency is the ability to convert your leg and foot movements down through the bindings and into guiding the skis. If the trade-off is too biased one way or the other, you will end up with a comfortable boot but with little control and vice versa. So, how can you make new ski boots more comfortable by breaking them in? What are the techniques of breaking them in?

New ski boots can be stiff and inflexible when you first get them. However, simply by wearing them indoors for a few hours or using them to go skiing, you can start the process of loosening them up. There are several techniques to make boot liners more comfortable, either by molding them with heat yourself or asking your ski shop to do it. For real luxury, foam injection molded liners adapt exactly to the shape of your foot and leg but at a cost.

Athlete's Skier's Boots

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Any new ski boot is bound to feel stiff at the beginning. All the components making up your boot are brand-new and haven’t had a chance to repeatedly flex during normal everyday use. It’s best to make your final choice of ski boot a little on the tight side. While they may be slightly uncomfortable at first, as they wear the fit and flexibility will improve over the first few weeks, giving a good combination of comfort and control.

Each ski boot is manufactured from an outer, hard polyurethane shell, which provides strength and protection, and an inner boot or liner which is made from foam, leather, fabric, and plastic. The inner boot is in direct contact with the foot and lower leg and offers a combination of protection from the outer shell, support for the leg and ankle, and restraint, so the movements of the leg and foot can be transferred effectively to the skis.

The footbed or insole slides into the bottom of the boot and offers the same comfort and protection as an insole in a normal pair of shoes. Both the inner boot and the footbed can easily be removed and replaced.

Techniques for Breaking Ski Boots In

All sorts of myths and legends have grown up around the best way to break in a pair of ski boots. However, the most effective and enjoyable method is simply to go skiing in them. Skiing will naturally exert all the different tensions and strains on the boots, which will encourage flexibility and help the inner boot and footbed to adapt to the shape of the foot and leg.

If you do want to wear the boots before going skiing for the first time then wear them at home buckled up, with a pair of ski socks. It doesn’t achieve anything walking about in them, so just wear them sitting down, which will start the process of your boot liner adapting or packing out around your leg.

Wear Thin Ski Socks

Invest in a proper pair of ski socks. It’s easy to imagine wearing a thick pair of hiking socks is going to keep your feet warm and protected inside your ski boots. However, a thick pair of socks will often reduce the feeling of control and they may well fall and bunch around your ankle, which can lead to blisters.

Ski socks are manufactured from elasticated fabric, which is designed to keep the sock in place. They also have a small amount of padding in high friction areas, to provide protection. Ski socks should ideally be made from man-made fibers such as polyester, which are much better at wicking moisture away from your foot, where it can evaporate.

Moulding Your Ski Boot Liners

As you start using your new ski boots, the boot liners will gradually compress and adapt to the contours of your leg and ankle. This can be a slow process but can be speeded up by using the services of a ski shop.

The ski shop technician heats the boot liners until they are soft enough to compress but not too hot to the touch. The customer then puts on the boots, buckles them up as if going skiing, and then walks about in them for about 20 minutes until the boot liners have cooled to room temperature.

The softer boot liner will have adapted to the shape of the leg and the cooling process will make the shape of the boot liner permanent.

DIY Moulding your Ski Boot Liners

If you don’t want to go to the expense of a ski shop molding, it is quite straightforward to undertake the task yourself at home. By using uncooked rice, heated in a microwave, and poured into a ski sock is possible to imitate the rough shape of your leg and foot in the boot.

Once the rice has heated the boot liners, the socks are removed, and the foot is inserted into the boot. Once again, the boot is buckled up as if for skiing, and by walking around the boot liner adapts to the leg and foot. It is also worth raising the toe of the boot a couple of inches on a piece of wood, to imitate the pressure on the boot when skiing, which helps the boot liner to adapt to the correct shape.

Foam Injection Moulding

For purists and those with the cash, foam injection boot liner molding is often quoted as the most comfortable and best performing boot experience. By their nature foam injection liners offer an accurate fit, where the foam adjusts to the exact shape of your leg and foot.

Different foams are used such as polyurethane and ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer foam, but they achieve the same accurate result. For some skiers, with slim or oddly shaped feet, and prominent ankle bones, the foam acts to protect and support the malformation.

Some skiers love the all-around supportive feeling of a foam-injected liner, while others find them claustrophobic. Foam-injected boot liners can take longer to the break in, but most skiers understand this and that the cost is worth it.