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Have you ever felt like a drunk flamingo as you walk to the bar in your ski boots, even before the first beer? Me too. Don’t worry, we’re here to help explain why.
Ski boots are heavy because they are constructed with rigid plastic molds that protect your feet and ankles from extreme forces as you slice through the snow at speed. Their weight also gives you more control, and different types of boots can range in their weight, comfort, and control.
Control To Your Carving
One reason your ski boots weigh so much is to give you the control you need to stay safe on the mountain. Well-built boots are important as they move the energy from your body into the skis and keep you stuck to the slopes.
The weight helps you slice through the snow as the skis sink in like they were designed to. As you move your weight through the boots, your carves and general control become even easier.
I learned this lesson the hard way when trying out some lighter ‘skimo’ equipment made for heading up the mountain. After very quickly hitting the icy deck, I realized you need the gear that’s right for you.
Construction Meets Protection
Most ski boots are essential casts made of polyurethane as they need to be both thick and stiff enough to transfer force to the front of the ski in order to turn. The design is there to give YOU the steering wheel, and not the mountain.
When your parents tell you to always use protection, skiing is no exception. Ski boots are also heavy for your safety. Whether you’re a beginner or pro, a crash could be just around the corner.
The build of the boots protects your ankle & foot when you take that turn just a little bit too fast. As your skis pop off and head to the next ski lift without you, your boots will be there every step of the way.
The construction of ski boots can be split into 4 main elements:
1. Lugs (Toe and Heel)
The lugs are the points that attach the ski binding to the boot. They are made from plastic which can be replaced unless you have rigid lugs for racing. Lugs are an essential safety feature that prevents premature binding release (and maybe a broken bone or two).
The liner is the removable inner boot, usually made of foams, leather, textiles, and injected plastic components. This protects your foot from the plastic shell.
The footbed is the removable sole inside the liner which stabilizes your foot, offering more protection and control.
The shell is traditionally made up of the lower part and upper cuff with plastic wings drawn together by a buckling system. This buckling system is usually made up of aluminum but can be plastic in cheaper boots.
Why Aren’t My Ski Boots Comfortable?
It can be annoying when you see the snowboarders jumping around with joy as your boots can feel like led bricks. It’s true, ski boots are heavier than snowboard boots as they weigh approximately 2kg (which can range from 1.5 – 2.5kg per boot).
While people complain about the weight, it’s the whole design that feels goofy once you get off the slope. The main reason ski boots don’t feel natural as you walk around is that they weren’t made for walking.
For example, the ‘flex’ of boots can change how comfortable they feel, and it depends on what you use them for. This refers to the stiffness of the boot, with a soft 60 flex for amateurs ranging to 140 plus for the pros.
Too much flex can lead to damage from muscle fatigue, yet too little changes your centre of weight which can lead to less control and sore shins.
There are different boots for different types, and depending on which skiing you want to do they may feel more comfortable, lighter, or more flexible.
6 Main Types of Ski Boot
Talking about ski boots is like talking to an Italian about pasta, there is no one-size-fits-all. First, ask yourself “which type of skiing do I want to do?” and go from there.
As a ski beginner, you’ll probably just be happy with getting down your standard slope without taking a nose-dive. So piste skiing will be the one for you.
Designed for comfort & regular piste skiing, sometimes with a ‘walk’ option which can make them slightly heavier.
Approx 2kg per boot
Boots that are more flexible as they need to take on high impacts.
Approx 2kg per boot
Built for mixed terrain on and off-piste. Has some flex, more on the lighter side.
Approx 1.6kg per boot
Touring/Skimo boots offer more comfort than your standard boot. Built for the climb, they weigh less and have a switch that gives more flex to choose between walk mode & ski.
Approx 1.5kg per boot
Stiff & tight, built just for racing. Not to be chosen as an all-day boot.
Approx 1.2kg per boot
6. Cross Country:
More similar to hiking boots, they are lightweight and allow for the flex of your foot, while still giving ankle & heel support.
Top 3 Tips For More Comfortable Ski Boots
- Unclip your straps. If you’re just walking to your table for that important mid-piste ‘Messy Burger with cheese’, give your feet that extra space your belly will soon be needing.
- Moulded insoles. Many shops will let you take a mould of your feet to create a personalised set of insoles to keep you feeling comfortable.
- Serious socks. Not to be overlooked, socks that aren’t big enough or thick enough can spoil your trip and your toes. Size really does matter, so make sure you’re prepared.