Do Ski Boots Run Small? True to Size

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

Uncomfortable, ill-fitting ski boots can ruin your day on the slopes. You know how miserable the wrong pair of ski boots can make a day if you've ever discovered blistered toes or bruised shins. The key to an enjoyable day of skiing is the right pair of boots.

Ski boots usually run true to size. We don't wear the same size ski boot as we do tennis shoes because a ski boot needs to be well-fitted to ensure proper performance. That means your ski boot could be half a size to a full size smaller than your regular shoe.

skiing boots

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Most of us might not realize it, but our regular shoes are usually a little bigger than our real size. And there is no problem with that. Doing so gives us more wiggle room and general comfort. With other winter boots, we sometimes get a little bit bigger size to have room for thick socks and as well as room for our toes to move around and stay warm.

Knowing that ski boots were not meant to have wiggle room and thick sock space will take a little guesswork out of ski boot shopping. Getting ski boots that are too big will only impact your ski abilities for the worse and can ruin what should have been a perfectly fun day.

How to Find the Right Size of Boots

Step One: Understand Ski Boot Sizes

If you live in a country that doesn't use the metric system, a size 27 boot sounds like something only a giant could wear. However, ski boots are measured in centimeters, and thus the numbers will be different than the size 9 or 10 you usually wear.

Also, keep in mind that ski boots don't come in half sizes, or at least the shell of the boot doesn't come in half sizes. So if a 26 is too big, size down to a 25.

While boots and linings will be listed as half sizes, don't be fooled. The only difference between a 26.5 and a 26 is that the smaller size will have a thicker removable insole. The shells and liners themselves are identical.

Step Two: Measure Your Foot

The easiest way to do this is to use the measuring tool at the sports store or ski rental shop, and the person assisting you can find the exact size. Otherwise, if you are purchasing boots online or for some reason you're trying on boots by yourself, you can measure your own foot.

The process is relatively simple. Just trace your foot on a piece of paper (you might need a helping hand with this), and measure the outline of your foot from the longest toe to the heal. Remember to measure in centimeters.

Step Three: Trying on the Boot

A really good trick to making sure you pick the right size of the boot is to take the liner out of the shell and trying on the shell and liner separately.

Put your foot in the boot shell and push your toes to the front, so they are touching the boot's end. Now take notice of how much space is between your heal and the back of the boot. If it is half an inch to three-quarters of an inch, the boot is far too big.

Next, try on the liner. If your foot is pushing out the sides or end of the liner, it is too small. Your toes should touch the front of the liner, but they should not start to curl in or cause the liner to be on the brink of tearing.

Finally, after reinserting the liner into the boot you will try the set on together. Put your foot into the boot and make sure your heel in all the way into place before your start buckling.

Step Four: Analyzing the Fit

As you start buckling up your boot, you'll begin with the lowest buckle to lock in your heal then continue onto your other buckles.

It should not be difficult to buckle and unbuckle your boots and should require only slight pressure. If you have to buckle your boots to the tightest fit and it is difficult to do so, it's a good indicator that your boot is the wrong size or model.

Now stand up. Your foot should not move around, and the boot should feel snug but not cause discomfort, and your toe should reach the end of your boot. Bend your knees and lean forward in a natural ski position. While your toes will lightly touch the end, you do not want them to be pressed hard against the shell.

As you continue leaning forward, you will want to put your weight into your shins. If your heals come up at this point, the boots are too large.

Step Five: Test Them Out

Person snowboarding

You will know whether you have the right pair of boots before you get on the chairlift. Just give yourself ten minutes or so to walk and move around. If your toes are getting pinched or your heel or arch starts to hurt, then you might want to try a different size or model.

Extra Points to Keep in Mind

While ski boots shouldn't hurt your feet, they also won't be as comfortable as your house slippers. The stiff hold is what keeps you in control of your skis and protects your feet and ankles. It's normal if they feel awkward, but they should never leave you with battle wounds.

Ski boots are made of hard plastic. Apart from the insoles and the foam liner, they are not going to "break-in" like your leather work boots. The way they feel when you buy them is how they will feel for the rest of the time you own them.


Ski ability has a lot to do with sizing. The more advanced a skier, the tighter the boot will fit. So be honest with yourself about your skiing abilities.

Ski boots will be your most important purchase when it comes to ski gear, so make sure that you find the right fit. Don't focus on the numbers but rather the actual snugness and feel of the boot. Then you'll be sure to find the perfect pair.

Tips for Purchasing Ski Boots

Now that you know a little bit more about ski boots and why it is so important to have a good fit, you may be wondering where you can purchase a pair of boots that will work well for you. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Start by doing your research

As with anything, it is important to do your research before you make a purchase. This way, you can be sure that you are getting the best possible deal on a quality product.

2. Talk to a professional

If you are still not sure what type of boot you need, then it may be a good idea to talk to a professional. They will be able to help you find the right ski boot for your needs and can even custom-fit a pair of boots for you.

3. Don’t forget about comfort

Even though performance is important, you should also make sure that the boot is comfortable. If you are not comfortable, then you are not going to be able to ski at your best.

4. Take your time

Ski boots are a big investment, so you should take your time when making your purchase. This way, you can be sure that you are getting the best possible deal on a quality product.