We open tomorrow at 8:30 AM
We open tomorrow at 8:30 AM
  • Info

    IMPORTANT - Please note: We accept bookings with children and infants on any date in Bear Lodge on room by room bookings, or on any date in any chalet if occupying the whole chalet. Also in all chalets for departures on 15, 22 & 29 Dec 2021; 6 & 13 Feb; 27 Mar; 3 & 10 Apr 2022 . Bookings made online outside these parameters unfortunately will not be accepted. 


Choosing The Right Ski Boots

Skier doing up ski boots in boot room

Choosing the right ski boots

I’m often asked “Which bit of kit matters the most?” My answer hasn’t changed for thirty years. It’s all about the boots.

Rubbish boots and the best skis in the world won’t help your skiing. Well-fitted boots and you can make any ski work… pretty much.

Rental boots have improved leaps and bounds over the years and are unrecognisable from the leather or plastic boots that murdered my feet as a child (go to your local ice rink if you want to recreate the pain), but if you are going to ski every year, buy some boots and have them hand fitted. Yes, it's expensive, but remember that you will amortise the cost over your happiest times for the rest of your life.

What type of ski boot should you choose?

Impossible to answer, very few of us want to lug around more than one pair so it’s always a compromise. When I was exploding with energy three decades ago, I was happy to carry the weight and shin-chafing stiffness of a race boot on a long touring climb because I loved the control it gave on the descent and wanted to tear up the first lift corduroy in front of the girls.

A bundle of years later I have much less energy and a hybrid touring/piste boot is much better suited to bending over the kids, carrying them on your back when they are tired and enjoying a 2pm glass of rosé with my wife before an afternoon nap.

I played with some new race skis last week thinking I was still ‘Jack the Lad’. My boots stretched and groaned with the strain but held their own and kept me happily in the carve - it was my quads that screamed and me alone that needed a lie down at lunchtime.

Do you want to rip up the hill, pootle about all day on the reds and blues or dance on the tables? More importantly, which are you best at?

Which brand of ski boot should you choose?

Even more impossible to answer. That’s all about foot size & shape. Just like a motorbike helmet, some fit, some don’t. Try not to be fixated on the colour and logos and never ever buy online. I will never forget, in my early days of guiding, when a guest only realised her boots were on the wrong feet when she noticed on the second chairlift that the stripes on her boot didn’t match the stripes on her ski trousers. Yep, true story. The boots were slightly more comfortable the right way round, but never going to get the best out of her skiing.

I’m ashamed to say that I once bought a pair of Rossignol Limited Edition race boots because they looked cool (purple … double the shame) but had to remove them halfway down the mountain after half a day of agony and tears and went home in my socks. Needless to say, I couldn’t give away the racy purple boots for love nor money and they’re still upstairs in the attic.

So, the type of boot depends on you, how you ski and how you’d like to ski, and you can ignore the brand. The only important thing is the fit.

How do you get comfortable ski boots?

The rest of this blog post is quick and easy, there is only one man. Mark Wilkinson, Wilkie to his mates, at Surefoot Val d’Isère. He fits most local skiers I know and a great number of our guests in Val d’Isère.

For the record, friend though he is, we have no commercial relationship, everyone says that he’s the best. Answer his questions on your ability and aspirations accurately (you need to be honest with yourself), he’ll look at your feet, and you can trust him to fit you into a shell and liner that works. If it is not perfect after a few days on the piste, go back and he’ll make some changes. I know guests with awkward feet that have gone back again and again until the fit was right. OK, bespoke boots and service like this is not cheap, but in the context of the priceless hours you spend on the snow, for me it represents no-brainer value for money.

Comfy feet have no price, neither on a treacherous black in a whiteout or standing on a table and banging out the moves at Cocoricos.

Lastly, whether you have inbuilt warmers or not, make sure your boots are warm when you put them on. All of our chalets have great boot warmers but if you are staying somewhere else, buy some portable heaters and carry them with you. Hot boots are so much easier to get on your foot, and they seem to fit better and stay more supple all day (author’s note: absolutely no science to support this).

Really lastly this time (!), always do your boot up as if it were on your foot even when it is not, it helps retain the shape and will distort much less over time. It’s worked for me; I’ve only ever owned four pairs of boots in the last 35 years (ignoring the pair in the attic).

Contact: Mark Wilkinson, Surefoot Val d’Isère (by appointment only)

valdisere@surefoot.com +33 4 79 09 76 60

Need somewhere to stay whilst you get your boots fitted? Grand Choucas is our closest chalet to Surefoot, fifty yards away in the very centre of Val d’Isère. 

Enquire Now

Please contact Louise, Jess, Maxine, Cam or Millie if you have any questions.

Enquire and Book Now

Newsletter sign up