If you've ever had to end your ski day because of tired, sore, or cold feet or you've noticed that you just can't get the performance from your skis that you once had, you could be a candidate for custom made boot liners or boots.
Custom made ski footwear is nothing new - it's been around since the 1920s when Ambros Strolz cobbled hand-made, leather ski boots in Lech, Austria. When plastic ski boots entered the scene in the late 1960s, skiers often suffered from squashing their feet into rigid plastic shells. While the shells provided great support, the inferior liners could keep beer cold in the summertime. Fortunately, things have improved since then.
Most boot fitters agree that even though plastic boots have fairly long life spans, the boot shells (the plastic material on the outside) typically outlive the liners on the inside. From the first time you slip your feet into the liners, the spongy material inside begins to compress, dramatically changing the fit of the boot over time. Eventually, the liners will "pack out" so much that your feet will slosh around the inside of the boot - almost as if it were a larger size, making it difficult to effectively edge and turn your skis. When that happens, you have two options: either buy a new pair of ski boots or a new pair of boot liners.
Ski boot liners are available through a number of manufacturers. The costs range from $100 to over $300, depending on the material and technology used in the liner. One of the easiest and less expensive liners is the Zipfit Pullover. The Pullover is a simple sleeve that laces over your existing boot liner. After cinching up the laces, the Pullover makes your old boot liners conform to your feet. It also comes with pads to solve one of the most common fit problems: heel lift. Zipfit also offers several custom-fit liners that use their patented "One Minute Fit."
The One Minute Fit is made possible through a combination of granulated cork and ceramic clay binders. The One Minute Fit material dynamically shifts to accommodate changes with your foot as you ski unlike other liner material such as foam. They are available in four models: the World Cup, the Grand Prix, the Classic and the Touring. The World Cup is a "low volume" liner that is designed to be used with tight-fitting racing shells. The Grand Prix is designed for "average" feet with few fitting problems and is available with a leather or neoprene lining. The Classic is ideal for feet that require low to medium volume liners and is the most comfortable liner of the 4 models offered. The Touring is designed for touring or backcountry boots and features a special tongue design that works well with telemark boots.
The most common material used in custom boot liners is synthetic foam. After determining the proper boot shell size, the client's foot is inserted into the new liner and the boot shell. Two or more chemicals, mixed together, create the foam that is injected into a series of "bladders" inside the boot liner surrounding the foot. After 20 to 30 minutes, the client removes their feet from the liners and the liners are allowed to "cure" overnight. The result is a perfect, custom fitted boot liner. Foam boot liners are available from Conform'able, Nordica, Surefoot and many other vendors.
You might want to consider having a custom ski boot designed for you from Strolz if you need more than just a custom fitted liner and are willing to pay a little extra for a superior fitting ski boot,. The boot fitting begins with a consultation by one of their boot-fitting experts. Together, you determine what type of skier you are, how you ski, and what type of ski conditions you prefer. The boot fitter will help you to determine which type of shell is best for you, its height, stiffness, amount of forward flex and cant that will work best for your body weight, height, and skiing ability.
After choosing the shell, the technician will make custom footbeds that accommodate your specific foot type, instep, ankle and pressure points. Next, your feet are fitted with custom "foot pads" that correct differences in the shape of your feet. Finally, your feet are inserted into liner "bladders" and injected with foam. After allowing the foam to cure for 24 hours, you're ready to take your new boots out for a spin.
There's no reason to suffer with cold, aching feet since there are plenty of great options available today. You can start enjoying the most out of your equipment for very little money, while your feet are toasty, comfortable, and ready for action.