Your Guide to Buying Ski Boots

Ski season is never far from our minds, and it’s never the wrong time to plan your next skiing holiday. When you know you’ll regularly be taking on the slopes, ski boots are an essential investment for your comfort and safety, so you can focus on bettering your times and technique. A boot fitting with our partners Snow+Rock will guarantee your perfect boot type and fit for many years of happy, blister-free skiing!

The experts at Snow+Rock have compiled this useful guide to all things ski boots, to arm you with the necessary knowledge to buy your perfect pair.

Types of ski boots

Firstly, it’s important to understand the different types of ski boots available…

Alpine (Downhill) boots

Alpine (or downhill) ski boots are what most people think of when they imagine ski boots. They have a hard plastic shell which is intended to hold the foot and ankle securely in place; the more your ski ability increases, the stiffer you’ll want your boots, to accommodate the extra power going through them and transitioning this power straight to the ski edges. For this reason, ski boots will never be as comfortable as your day-to-day shoes, and will feel roomier as the liner packs down after a few wears, so going for the smallest ski boot you can comfortably wear is a good guideline. It’s also useful to bear in mind that whilst ski boots use the same sizes as standard shoes, it’s not a case of just buying your usual size: an in-store fitting is essential.

Touring boots

Touring boots differ from alpine boots in that they can switch between two modes: skiing and touring. In touring mode, the cuffs loosen and allow a more natural stride for skiers who like to venture off-piste and need to hike up mountains before skiing down! It’s very important to be honest with yourself about the type of skiing you’ll be doing: touring may be an aspiration, but far more important is having a boot which is secure, supportive and suitable for the activities you do now.


The volume of a ski boot refers to how tightly or loosely it is designed to fit. Low volume ski boots, the narrowest fit, are often favoured by those with slim feet or advanced skiers for the precise translation of movement between the foot and the ski. High-volume boots are more accommodating for wider feet, whilst mid-volume boots combine the foot hold of low volume with a more relaxed fit to suit most regular foot types and feel comfortable all day.

Getting a boot fitting

What to expect at a boot fitting

Your boot fitting at Snow+Rock will be a thorough analysis of your feet and your needs to match you with your perfect ski boots. For this reason, ensure you allow plenty of time for your appointment: the average ski boot fitting is around two hours, but for your first pair this may be longer.

The first thing your boot fit technician will do is conduct a full analysis of your foot profile and your gait. This will include your measurements, whether your feet pronate or supinate (roll inwards or outwards while walking) and whether your arches and insteps are low or high. The technician will also ask about what sports you currently do, which sports you would like to do in the future, and any injuries to judge how your feet may adapt and change over time.

Your foot profile will help your technician to help you select the right technical socks. These are important because ski socks and boots work together to keep you comfortable and warm on the slopes. Once you have your socks, the technician will bring you pairs of ski boots to try on with them to ensure you have the right combination.

Having selected your boots, your technician will advise you on insoles (also called footbeds). It may be that pre-fabricated insoles will be sufficient; however, we advise most skiers that custom footbeds will offer much greater comfort and support. These custom footbeds will be made at your appointment and shaped to your chosen boot, ready for you to take away.

Finally, any adjustments will be made to your boots, including spot stretching to remove any points of pressure, to make sure the fit is perfectly comfortable and secure.

For extra peace of mind that you’ll always have perfectly fitting boots, Snow+Rock’s ski boot guarantee promises that if a problem develops within 14 days of skiing in your new boots, you can get a free refit.

Ski boot fitting guide

Ski boot accessories

There is a variety of accessories available at Snow+Rock to make your ski boots even more comfortable:

Custom ski boot liners

All ski boots come with liners to provide a barrier between the foot and the boot. However, boot liners are available which can be custom fitted for ultimate comfort.

Ski boot tractions

Tractions attach to the bottom of your ski boots to make walking easier and to protect the soles. They are often made of rubber for grip and adjust to the length of your boot to ensure you’re safe and secure when walking on snow.

Heat kits

For skiers who feel the cold, heat kits are a revelation. Battery-operated and compatible with all footbeds, they simply attach and keep your feet warm on the slopes all day.

Other accessories

A range of inserts to help with the boot’s fit and comfort are available, such as heel pads and ankle supports. These are part of the customisation process, so remember to be totally honest with your boot fit technician about how the boots feel – there’s an accessory to help with most problems!