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Customised footbed fitting for ski boots

Written by Fiona

January 29 2015

I have decided to become a born-again skier. After more than a decade of snowboarding the icy slopes of the Alps at Christmas finally got to me and I decided to try skiing again. I enjoyed it far more than I recalled from a ski holiday some 12 years ago – and I decided that I would take the plunge and become a skier.


That meant buying ski boots. While I could hire ski boots on each holiday, experience tells me that rentals are never as comfortable as your own boots – and ski boots can be very uncomfortable indeed. (By the way, I am now selling a fab snowboard and snowboard boots. Only a couple of years old and used on three holidays).

The search for ski boots took me to Ellis Brigham ski store, Xscape Braehead, near Glasgow. I had been fitted for ski boots before by Scott (when I first thought about taking up skiing again but then decided not to a couple of years ago).

I remembered Scott being very knowledgeable and as luck would have it he was the ski fitter to serve me when I popped in. He remembered my long, narrow feet (who could forget them?!) and suggested a few ski boots, including Atomic Redsters. I tried on a pair of “advanced” style Atomic ski boots and Scott reckoned they were a great fit.

He then set about ordering a pair of the Atomic Redster Pro 90 ski boots (for intermediate skiers because they have more flex and he thought they would suit me better) but found that Ellis Brigham had sold out across all their stores. He generously suggested I look elsewhere and then pop back to have them fitted. I found a pair on-line and they arrived a couple of days later.

Ellis Brigham SUREfit custom fit

I need a pair of ski boots that fit well. After years of enjoying my snowboard boots I know I will get angry and upset if I have to suffer badly fitting ski boots. The recommended fitting service at Ellis Brigham is SUREfit.

The SUREfit process looks at a skier’s history, individual foot shape and biomechanics, taking into account previous injuries and medical problems, with checks and measures to help make the right choice.

Ellis Brigham SUREfit trained staff have the skills and knowledge to ensure comfortable feet and the ideal boots. That’s how Scott came up with the Atomic ski boots as my best choice. That and his own skiing experience.

In addition you can have customised insoles made for the ski boots. It’s called SUREfit Custom Snow with Full Finish Stabiliser.

I decided this would be a good option. It’s not cheap at £67.50 (if you buy boots from Elis Brigham) or £87.50 if you just come in with your own boots. But if it means comfortable ski boots then I’m happy to pay.

My long, narrow feet moulded in the gel bags.

My long, narrow feet moulded in the gel bags.

The process takes a couple of hours. First you stand on a couple of bags of gel-like stuff. The bags reminded me of gel hand warmers, except for the feet. These gel bags take an imprint of your feet so that a mould can be created and then the insole can be customised to perfectly fit your foot.

The new customised footbed replaces the one that comes in the ski boot.

In addition, a ski boot “microwave” or “cooker” is used to heat up the plastic surrounds of the boots so that when you stand in them they will better mould to your feet.

Apparently there’s quite a lot of stretch in the plastic shell.

What I have learned about ski boots is that you buy the ones that only just fit you. They should feel tight, short and a bit too snug at first. After the footbed has been customised and the plastic casing has been heat moulded the boots should fit comfortably but still snugly.

Ski boots should keep you heels firmly in place yet still allow for a little toe wiggle. You don’t want to get cramp yet you do want your feet to be held stable and in place while skiing.

Although the process took a while, with a gap of 45 minutes in the middle while the insoles where customised) I enjoyed the process. Scott was friendly, knowledgeable and offered excellent customer service.

Also see top 10 tips for buying ski boots

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