Shell Fitting

So here we begin the massive subject of ski boot shell fitting. Besides a footbed, the fit of your shells will be the next most important element of your ski boots. Whether you are looking at a new pair of boots or looking to see what is wrong with your current boots, Shell fitting is the only way to check if your ski boots are suitable for your foot.

Now, before you step in to the shells, you need to measure your foot. Knowing your foots length, width and instep height are all key dimensions you want to have as a reference against the plastic shell. Not just that. Also take a good look into the shape of your foot, become familiar with the toe area, forefoot curvature and relative heel and lower leg dimensions.

The ultimate goal of your ski boot is to completely surround and support your foot. If there’s a mismatch of these key areas the boot can’t do its job properly. Extra space destroys ski control and can lead to pain from impacts.(shin and toe bang). Not enough space leads to constriction pain and blood flow issues. So we gotta check it all out.
When doing this process it is best to do so on a footbed. A footbed will give that true position of how your foot will sit within the shell. And with the arch support it will also generally shorten and narrow the foot.

Check the length
It an unfortunate fact that a lot of skiers end up in a boot with too much length. Usually due to the fact that they desire space in the toes like they wear their daily shoes. This is not what you want in your ski boots though. You must keep your boots within these parameters:

Firstly, slide your foot to the front to see how much space you have from heel to the back of the boot. The ideal distance will be within 10-25mm, for more aggressive skiing keep this down to around 10-15mm. Extra length in your shell will allow your foot to slide within the boot and this will cause problems.

Check the width
So then we should compare your forefoot. Matching the curvature of both sides of your foot to shell will help ensure an even security of fit. Space wise, having between 2-5mm of space will keep you in a good range. This allows enough space for your liner foam to settle once you have them back in with your foot. More than 5mm is getting into a boot too wide for your foot. Having little or no space may cause constriction issues, however it is better too steer towards the narrower side as you can gain relief with either a stretch or punch.

Check the volume
Lastly, we look into the height of the boot and also look at some other critical fit points. So around the heel, ankles and lower leg. Have at least one finger width of clearance over the instep. You can get away with a bit more space here if you have a thick liner, but the instep is where you want most of your security.
Also you need a couple of mm clearance around the heel. A couple of mm either side of your ankles. Make sure them ankle bones line up with the ankle pockets. And check that your calf sits above the top of the cuff.

So every time you need answers, shell fitting will give them to you. Go through the process and see what you have got going on. Now I know shell fitting is a big subject and you may have some unique circumstances.
If you have any questions on this, don't hesitate to get in touch!



Patriot on April 12 2016 at 01:34PM

Hi Patrick,
Nearly every boot brand will have an option for a wide fitting boot.
My best advice right now would be to measure your feet to be more clear on the size that you will require. (12.5 shoe may need 29.5 ski boot)
Once you find the size that you need, you will be able to narrow down the options that will also accommodate your calf.

Patrick Green on April 12 2016 at 01:06AM

Thanks for all the good information!! I have massive calves, 20-21"… And I have pretty immense achilles /calf pain after skiing for a day and a half. I also have crazy bottom foot pain during the day. I thought it may have been from cutting off the circulation, but after watching the video I’m thinking it was due to width of the rental boot. I am doing my homework on buying boots and am quite an amateur… I know there are shoe companies like New Balance that specialize in a wide running shoe… Are there boot manufacturers that specialize in wide boots and/or wide calves? In US I am a 12.5, EE. In the rental boot I was a 30.5, which seemed like the correct length.

With all that information, would it be possible to point me in the right starting direction?

Thank you. All the best!!

Craig on February 29 2016 at 11:48AM

Thanks Gill :)

Now that you have experienced neuroma pain, be sure to find a boot with enough width to alleviate pressure. Also support your foot well with a footbed.
Good luck.

Gill Wilson on February 27 2016 at 03:22AM

Ah so that’s where my Morton’s neuroma probably came from! (pinched nerve which gets a fibrous build up and gives pain off the richter scale!) Thank you for all the information and I now feel I will not make the same mistakes again.

Patriot on December 16 2015 at 09:10AM

^ That is actually a great idea!! Would be helpful in demonstrating the size and shape around the foot. You would need a lot of cut samples though for every size and might not be so practical.
Unfortunately it would not give you the other details such as volume and fit around the lower leg.
Besides fingers, another tactic is to use dowels that are at set sizes to judge the space in the shells. That way you dont have to struggle as much with opening up the boot!

anon. on December 12 2015 at 03:57PM

thanks for all the good bits… why is it that boot mfg don’t provide shops a cut sample for ALL their product… seems this would take A LOT of futzing on length and shape out of the equation. you nor i can see the foot in the boot. But that cut section you have is so good for explaining and finding a good start point…. trying to jamb fingers or whatever in the back of the boot is nonsense….

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