I like to think I’m lucky with ski boots, since my last pair were bought off the shelf at a discount price and have given me eight seasons of comfortable use.
However, this conveniently ignores the fact that prior to this I’d had at least two pairs of ski boots that were as comfortable as Boris Johnson in a lie detector test, so when the opportunity arose to be fitted for a pair of Salomon S Pro 120 boots at Ellis Brigham in Cambridge I leapt at the chance.
Salomon claim that the award-winning S Pro 120 is their most comfortable ski boot ever, featuring easy ‘step-in’ access, a seamless liner and full customization capabilities, the latter of which I was about to encounter with the assistance of boot fitter Eva Niessen.
First off, Eva measured my plates of meat, and like most people it turned out that I have one foot (my left) that is slightly smaller (half a size) than my right. She then made a detailed analysis of the shape of my feet including toe shape, instep height, ankle and heel width, overall foot volume, forefoot width, arch height and lower leg volume.
All this is recorded on a ‘fitting form’, with the customer being given one copy and the shop keeping a second so that when you next need a new pair of boots you can refer to the original fitting.
The upshot of the foot analysis was that Eva was going to have to take into account both the difference in the size of my feet and the fact that my right foot is wider than my left when fitting my new boots, which would invariably involve some poking, prodding and general manipulation of boots, liners and footbeds.
So, my soon-to-be-tortured S Pro 120s were introduced to me (don’t think, by the way, that it was only the boots that suffered in this process…) and I was immediately struck by the lightness of both the shell and the inner boot.
The latter is seamless, which not only improves comfort but also helps in heat retention since there are no seams through which warmth may escape, whilst the shell has a thinner wall construction and new polyurethane and fibreglass materials that allow your foot to be closer to the shell and provide enhanced sensation, more power and more direct transmission of energy. Apparently.
I slipped my feet into each boot and found that the left boot felt fine straight off, but the right was a little tight across the forefoot – no surprise really given what I’d learnt from the foot analysis. So, Eva decided to take a mould of my feet and incorporate that into Sidas Merino footbeds (the Merino provides a combination of warmth, breathability and odour prevention) which would be placed inside the liner.
Whilst this felt better than before – especially on my left foot, which now felt really comfortably secured inside the boot – my right forefoot still felt too constricted, so the next step in dealing with this was to heat the liner and then stretch it slightly (the last on the S Pro 120 is 100-106mm by the way).
This didn’t do the trick unfortunately, so Eva decided to stretch the shell as well; this was heated, and as with stretching the liner, pads were attached to my foot which was then squeezed into the boot which in turn was buckled up as tightly as it would be when skiing.
This is where I suffered as well as the boot, since my foot was bound up to the point of serious discomfort – it kind of reminded me of my first ski boots…
However, the torture only lasted for a few minutes and when it was over I found myself with two ski boots that fit better than any boots I’ve yet owned. On assuming a flexed position as I would when skiing, my forefoot felt secure and comfy whilst there was little or no heel lift (something I’ve suffered from in the past) and I could hardly wait to clip into my skis and try out the boots.
That, of course, will be the real test of how well the fitting has worked, but I’m confident the two hours I spent being expertly fitted for my new Salomon S Pro 120s will prove to have been well worth it when the season kicks off in a few weeks-time. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Enjoyed this post?
Take a look at these associated ski blogs and posts on MadDogSki.com
- Can ski boots ever be comfortable and warm? – MadDogSki.com’s Fiona gets her new ski boots from Mountain Air in Verbier.
- Rob Freeman uses a very expensive scanner producing 3D images of your feet from every angle at Snowsun Adrenaline Sports.
- Matt Lumb’s video on buying boots from Ellis Brigham.
- Is Decathlon ski kit any good? MadDogSki.com test drove some of their off-the-shelf boots. Were they happy?