Ski boot fitting advice
We're very proud of our SUREfit boot program at Ellis Brigham, but we're even more proud of our boot-fitting staff. We have an amazing amount of experience in the company, so if you're thinking of buying boots this year here's some words of wisdom from staff around the country who spend their winter fitting and adjusting skis and boots.
These boot fitters have an amazing amount of expert knowledge, so do get in touch with them if you want advice, a new pair of boots or maybe some help improving the fit of your existing boots.
Name: Dave Casey
Store: Manchester Castlefield
Years fitting boots: 8 years
Relevant training or qualifications: 8 years of boot fitting seminars (SUREfit and Sidas) and 'in shop'/ski show experience; Salomon Expert Programs. On snow qualifications include New Zealand Level 1 and British Level 2 instructor qualifications.
Why do you enjoy boot fitting? It quite simply boils down to the fact that almost no two pairs of feet and/or customers are the same, hence even after 8 years in the job I'm still wondering what challenge the next pair of feet will bring me! Following on from this it goes without saying that this is certainly one job where there's always something more to learn!
If you had 1 piece of advice for someone buying boots what would it be? Definitely walk in as open minded as possible. You can do no end of research on the boots before you come in but ultimately a lot will come down to your foot/leg shape and after 20 minutes your boot fitter will probably know more about your feet than you’d ever thought possible!
What's the biggest mistake skiers make when they look for boots and how can they avoid it? In our shops at least you should be letting your boot fitter guide your choice. I say guide rather than dictate because throughout the whole process he should be gathering important feedback from you too. Be honest in what you can feel and try not to ‘anticipate’ how a boot 'might' feel once skiing. In a shoe shop we correctly anticipate how a shoe might feel once we’ve been walking around in it for hours but in a ski boot you're really still just stood in it even when skiing along! Hence there should be almost no difference between how it feels in the shop and actually on the slope… makes my job easier or I'd constantly be second guessing myself!
Finally, make sure you spend at least an honest 15min stretch in the shop in what looks like your final choice. When you've been in the shop for quite a while and there's a lot going on, it's all too easy to assume you've spent loads of time in each boot, when in fact you might not have made it to that 15min mark in any of them!
What's been your weirdest experience or your toughest boot fit? Getting to fit a few of the Brighams' family themselves has to be up there - no pressure!
Name: Rob Evans
Store: Manchester Deansgate
Years fitting ski boots: 16
Relevant training or qualifications: Ellis Brigham SUREfit trained, Sidas seminars and refresher courses, Salomon Expert Programs, Wintersteiger ski workshop technician, BASI Level 2 Alpine Ski Instructor.
Why do you enjoy boot fitting? Being a passionate skier myself, I just love helping others achieve their own skiing dreams. Through the challenge of fitting ski boots, I get chance to share ideas and pass on knowledge to all different types of people that have got one thing in common - skiing.
If you had 1 piece of advice for someone buying boots what would it be? Take your time and don't rush yourself. Have patience and be honest.
What's the biggest mistake skiers make when they look for boots and how can they avoid it? The biggest mistake skiers can make is they look for boots that look nice but are completely the wrong shape for their feet. This can be avoided by being open-minded about which boots the technician has chosen, as these will be based on fit and ability - not looks!
What's been your weirdest experience or your toughest boot fit? My toughest boot fit to date has definitely been - my own, but then if you have ever seen my feet then you will understand why!
Name: Tom Pietrowski
Store: London Kensington
Years fitting boots: 10 years
Relevant training or qualifications: Ellis Brigham SUREfit Qualifications, Sidas Footbed and Boot Alignment Courses, Salomon Expert Programs, Atomic Expert Program, Superfeet advanced fitting seminars.
Why do you enjoy boot fitting? One of the things I enjoy the most is getting someone fitted into a boot, when they have had bad experiences with boots in the past. There really is no reason anyone should ski in discomfort but there is still the stereotype that ski boots will hurt. This really need not be the case. Whether you are a one week a year cruiser or an Olympic athlete going for gold there is no reason your boots should hurt. I strongly believe getting your boots right is the best way to improve your overall enjoyment of skiing.
If you had 1 piece of advice for someone buying boots what would it be? Don’t worry about how they look or if they are from a company you perceive to be better than others. How the boot fits is what matters, not how it looks. I guarantee you will have more fun in a comfy boot you find ugly, then a boot which does not fit as well but you like the look of.
What's the biggest mistake skiers make when they look for boots and how can they avoid it? Most people think they want boots bigger than they actually need. Shoe size has no relevance to ski boot size as very few of us buys shoes which truly fit our feet. Skis boots should always feel a bit too small when you first try them on. Boots pack out and will always increase in size, so don't buy them too big.
What's been your weirdest experience or your toughest boot fit? Hard to say, I have seen some very strange feet, but to be honest it's usually the professional skiers who have the worst feet. Wearing boots which maybe don’t fit perfectly day after day for years can do some interesting things to the feet. However they are also the most grateful if you can make the boots fit better. I like strange feet though, it can be a challenge and can let you try some new things to attempt and achieve the best possible fit.
Name: Scott Carpenter
Years fitting boots: From 2002 but with the odd winter season away. 11 years I would think.
Relevant training or qualifications: Been to multiple Sidas and Superfeet training seminars over the years and have completed SUREfit training for the last 5 winters.
Why do you enjoy boot fitting? My favourite part of the job would be seeing customers who have had issues with their boots in the past, come back to thank you for how happy they now are with the fit and how much more they enjoyed their skiing because the advice/help we gave them.
If you had 1 piece of advice for someone buying boots what would it be? Try to come in with an open mind about which boot you are going to get. Your foot shape and ability will dictate which boot is best, not which brand or colour you like the most.
What's been your weirdest experience or your toughest boot fit? My most peculiar experience would have been fitting a gentleman who had been in the military and lost a leg. Fitting a boot to a prosthetic limb was a different challenge but fairly easy to do.
Name: Eddie Thelwell
Years fitting boots: 6 years
Relevant training or qualifications: Ellis Brigham SUREfit trained, Sidas seminars and refresher courses, Salomon Expert Programs
Why do you enjoy boot fitting? The chance to improve someone's skiing experience so they can have as much fun on the slopes as I have had over the years.
If you had 1 piece of advice for someone buying boots what would it be? Ask lots of questions, be picky and make sure you are happy and satisfied before leaving the shop.
What's the biggest mistake skiers make when they look for boots and how can they avoid it? Asking for boots too big when buying to get a “slipper-like” fit or the exact opposite, thinking they have to fit like a vice...snug is the key word!
What's been your weirdest experience or your toughest boot fit? Fitting a man who had his ankle fused so that it didn’t flex at all, lots of custom work required on that one.