It pays to listen to Leif Mikkelsen about ski boots.
Mikkelsen is one of the best boot fitters around, having sold a ton of them out of Strand's, the oldest ski shop in New England, founded by his father, Strand Mikkelsen, in 1934. Strand Mikkelsen was three-time national ski jump champion, and his love of the sport passed on to his sons, twins Leif and Roy, and younger sibling Paul.
How many boots has Leif fitted?
"It's hard to pin it down, but I've foamed over 25,000 pairs, and fitted a couple of hundred thousand," he said.
His advice: The main thing in fitting boots is matching the shape of the foot to the shape of the shell. Address any special concerns, such as high arch, low arch, or no arch; bunions, or particularly long toes. Then match the height of the boot to the shape of the calf muscles.
Next is figuring out how stiff a boot a skier wants. Racing? Stiffer boot. Recreational? Go for comfort.
"Once you get the shell shape right, you're comfortable. You want boots to hold your foot so you don't hurt. You have to be comfortable so you can ski all day without unbuckling the boot," Leif said.
"Boot technology hasn't changed in 30 years," Leif said. "A 1975 Lange, for example, is the same inside as a 2010 Lange; they've changed the colors and some of the features, is all."
A common problem Leif finds is customers who have heard a particular boot is good, and come in wanting that boot. "It's the ‘invisible they' who tell friends things that aren't true. Someone comes in and says they want a specific boot, but they really don't," Leif said.
Best advice: Find someone who knows boots, like Leif, and try on different models until you find one that fits the shape of your foot, and that will suit the use you intend to give it.
Question: How to buy ski boots.
Check out this video from Strand's.