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Rental Ski Boot Fitting 101

a man riding a snowboard down a snow covered mountain

Most rental ski customers experience a bowling alley-type experience at the rental shop.  The windows are foggy, and it smells like a mix of a boy’s locker room and Lysol Disinfectant spray.  That’s the moment you know you have arrived and your once-a-year Family Ski Trip is about to begin.  The rental tech then calls your name and you are in the front of the line.  “What’s your shoe size?” the 17-year-old asks and you suddenly realize the origin of the smell as he slings a pair of Ski Shoes on the counter.  “Here you go,” he mumbles. Sound Familiar? 

Unfortunately, selecting the right boot is more technical and infinitely more important to a safe and fun day than merely referencing your shoe size. So, here’s what you should do when you try on your boots for the first time. 

#1-Don’t wear multiple pairs of socks.  

Many times, customers will remove their shoes for fitting and it won’t even look like a foot.  They have not one or two pairs on their feet, but MULTIPLE socks on.  This is a rookie mistake. One pair of thin, well-fitting ski socks is highly recommended.  If you are wearing cotton socks that you bought in a 12-pack that fit M6 to M14, then get some new socks!  The $20 to $30 Merino or synthetic ski socks are a must. They are literally worth their weight in gold when you are on the mountain.  Any ski professional will start there and so should you.  The right sock is critical. No hiking or hunting socks that are super thick and only arrive at the mid-shin area.  We hear this all the time, “But, I’m going to wear 2 or 3 pairs of socks, so I want some extra room.” This is a recipe for disaster. 

#2-The only thing you want inside the boot is your foot and your sock.

This means NO long underwear! NO ski pants or sweatpants inside the boots. NO ankle bracelets or anything that would potentially bother your shins.  Most companies will offer a ¾ tight or capri that works great.  If all you have long underwear, fold them up so they gather just under your knee.  Then put the sock over the legging.  Some guests will say, “But…I get really cold!” In over 40 years of skiing, in absolutely brutal conditions, I have never said, “Wow, my shins and ankles are really cold!”

#3-The first time you put on the boot your toes will go right to the front.  

Immediately, you think, “What is this guy doing to me? This is way too small!” It’s okay…RELAX.  Give it a minute! We have already measured your foot and have selected the correct size, width, and volume.  This isn’t a Nike shoe and it’s not supposed to feel like one.  It’s an exact measurement.  Just like when you buy pants, a 34” X 32” should actually measure 34” in the waist and 32” in length.  The reason your foot is at the front of the boot is there’s quite a bit of foam and padding in the rear of the boot.  It’s designed to keep your heel in place while you ski and provide a comfortable fit. Begin by lightly buckling the boot.  I usually start at the toe, but it’s not critical.  Buckle the top 2 buckles tighter than the bottom 2.  Secure the Power Strap or Velcro strap at the top of the boot.  Now flex the boot.  Keep your foot flat on the floor and bend your knee and ankle simultaneously.  This will allow your foot and ankle to fit securely in the heel pocket of the boot.  Your toes are now happy and away from the front of the boot.  

Miraculously, it fits!  In a properly fitted boot you should feel the front of the boot with your toes when you stand up straight.  When you flex forward, they should shift back and away from the front.  Most customers think they need a bigger boot because their friends have told them how important the boot fit is. To them that translates to “bigger is going to be more comfortable.” They are more comfortable for walking, but when you ski, your foot will be swimming and you won’t be able to control your skis.  Remember, these are ski boots. They should be comfortable while skiing, not necessarily while walking around the plaza!

So, there you have it. Now you know the boot fitting basics. When you walk into your local ski shop and the windows are foggy and it smells like…well, you know what, and you say to yourself, “There has to be a better option!”, you’ll be correct. With HWY 40 Ski Delivery, you can start your reservation days in advance and have the size conversation via our convenient pre-arrival email. It can be filled out in your pajamas from the comfort of your own home, on your schedule. It can also be forwarded to each member of your party and they can give the appropriate and accurate information and sign their own waiver. That way when our techs arrive at your Park City vacation rental they’’ have the correct gear that will allow the right fit.  We’ll also bring extra boots that will offer options to ensure a proper fit!

Now get to the mountain already. 


Jonathan Wagstaff

Jonathan Wagstaff

Jonathan loves pushing the limits and has been skiing since age 2. He’s a father of four, an entrepreneur, and owns and operates HWY 40 Ski Delivery with his wife Jessica. Jonathan has a passion for creating outdoor experiences for others, boating, adventure travel and he only sleeps when the wind blows.