Do you find yourself over-tightening your ski boots to the point of agony? Does this do nothing to stop your feet slopping around as you struggle down the hill, out-of-control? Maybe you just need new ski boot liners.
When I was just a young boot fitter, one of the reasons I chose a career in the ski industry was the great attention to detail and technology employed by manufacturers and industry professionals alike. Which is why it saddens me that as the years have gone by, that same attention to detail has begun to disappear in favour of extending profit margins and reducing production costs.
Little more than a carpet underlay
Worse still, this affects you – the customer. A perfect example of manufacturers trading quality for lower costs can be seen in the production of ski boot liners. Hidden beneath flashy fabric covering, today’s liners are often little more than a carpet underlay which is incapable of providing the necessary support for the average skier.
There was a time when almost every manufacturer offered customers the option to purchase durable, custom foam ski boot liners (and in one case silicone – not as good a solution, given that the cold would quickly turn them as hard as concrete!). Liners like these would ski for years, providing superior levels of comfort and performance all the while. Sadly, their modern-day counterparts will usually only last 50 or 60 days before they begin to degrade.
Which leads any keen skier to wonder: what can you do if the interior of your ski boots have deteriorated to a point where you find yourself slopping around, generally unable to control the two pieces of wood attached to you feet? Assuming that the shells are fine – or even if they need minor adjustments – purchasing a new boot will end up with the same result a few weeks down the line, and at great expense. If you ask me, that doesn’t make much sense.
There is a solution
A couple of companies out there have picked up on the lack of quality in ski boot liners, and now offer exceptional alternatives. These third-party liners can be fitted into just about any boot, immediately improving every aspect of fit and performance.
Zipfit liners – created by iconic ski boot designer Sven Coomer – represent one of the most versatile offerings on the market. Zipfit liners are only made with high-quality materials that can be moulded and remoulded to account for any skier’s personal skiing dynamic. Regardless of how weird your feet are!
The result is some of the finest and most functional liners out there, which will often outlive two consecutive ski boot shells of hard plastic. They’re so good, that at Outdoor Traders we frequently end up fitting them into brand new boots to provide the best fit right from the word go. Zipfits don’t cost an arm and a leg either, with an average retail price of £175.
The website of the Aspen-based company is worth checking out if your interest is piqued, and should be able to answer most of your questions on the process and the relevance of each product to your skiing.
Another notable liner choice is the heat-mouldable ski boot liners that are available from DaleBoot. These EVA (short for ‘ethylene-vinyl acetate’ – a modern plastic so mouldable that it boasts industrial applications ranging from mouthguards to explosives!) liners come as standard in the Daleboot range, and are also available separately through authorised retailers and Intuition’s website. Here’s the bottom line: although DaleBoot were issued the original patent for foam-injected liners back in 1971 when they were all the rage, the company soon left that technology behind in favour of the better materials (and therefore customer comfort) found in Intuition liners. The most popular model – known as the Luxury Liner – is available in three distinct volumes to best accommodate the widest range of lower leg and foot sizes, whilst the unorthodox design provides a significant weight reduction and improved warmth and comfort. The overlapping tongue makes them really easy to slip into on a cold alpine morning, too. They retail at an average price of £190.
Any serious skiing enthusiast should try a custom ski boot liner at some point, if only to compare the huge difference in the way you’ll feel inside you boots. I urge you to give them a shot, or at the very least get in touch with your local specialist boot fitter to discuss your options further.