Ski Boot Insoles, Inserts & Footbeds - Improve Your Boots

by Mark Paigen

Ski Boot Insoles

Ski gear is not cheap. Add lift tickets, transportation, and a quick lunch, and the cost of a day on the slopes can be substantial. Enjoying what you paid for can be difficult if your feet are uncomfortable. Good ski boot insoles can transform your day from one of suffering to one of pure enjoyment while making a dramatic difference in your skiing ability. And who wouldn’t want that?

Whether you’re carving groomers under the lift or earning your turns in the backcountry, one of your biggest skiing challenges is getting commands to flow from brain to foot to ski to snow. The weakest link is often the connection between your foot and your ski. Ski boots often don't fit as well as they should.

You chose your ski boots for the combination of flex, fit, and comfort. But how much does that combination help you if the contours of your feet don't match the contours of your boots?

Improve Your Boot Fit With Ski Boot Insoles

Any professional ski boot fitter will tell you that upgrading your ski boot insoles will make a dramatic difference in both your skiing ability and your comfort. There are two reasons for this:

  1. The factory insoles in all ski boots are generic. They’re made to the lowest common denominator of arch contour (which is pretty low), so they won’t be too uncomfortable for anyone. And this is done for good reason. No boot company wants to lose several hundred dollars in sales because the arches in the boots were too high. The boot company is depending on after-market ski boot insoles to allow the boots to rise to their full potential.
  2. In the arc of a turn, your feet experience a pressure of 3-4 times your body weight. Without proper support, this pressure flattens your arches, putting your feet into an overpronated position. Overpronated feet lose their ability to effectively transfer power and make boot fit problematic. The right ski boot footbeds can help.

Better Fitting Boots Can Make You A Better Skier

It’s not complicated. A simple exercise will demonstrate what happens to an unsupported foot in the middle of a turn:

  • Take off your shoes and socks and stand with your feet shoulder-width apartas you would when skiing.
  • Bend your knees forward as you would on the slopes.
  • Push your knees to the left as you would in the middle of a turn.
  • Look at the arch on your right foot.

It has collapsed, leaving your foot in an overpronated position. There is no strength in your foot when it is in this position. Imagine a real ski turn where the force is multiplied, and you can see why arch support makes such a difference in skiing ability.

Supporting the arch and eliminating overpronation with proper ski boot inserts puts the foot in a powerful position, enabling it to exert optimum pressure on the edge of your ski.

Arch-Support Ski Boot Inserts Increase Boot Comfort

Ski boots have a difficult job. They must hold your feet completely still while allowing your toes room to move. They must allow your ankles to flex forward, but not side to side. Finally, they must keep your feet warm and comfortable in cold weather. They do this with a hard, molded shell and firm, foam liner. The hard shell closes with high-leverage buckles that clamp your feet in place. Here’s the rub:

  • As your foot overpronates in a turn, the arches flatten and your foot gets longer. With a lower arch, your foot can now slide forward, reducing the great fit that you had in the shop.
  • Tightening the buckles over your instep to try to prevent foot movement only creates more discomfort. The best fitting ski boots do not need extreme pressure to keep your feet in place.

Strong Arch Support Minimizes Pronation

Strong arch support lets you reduce buckle pressure without losing performance. In addition, arch support in your ski boots reduces foot fatigue. The muscles in your foot do not have to try to hold your arches up during each turn.

Spreading the pressure over a greater area on the bottom of your feet also adds to your comfort. Ski boot insoles can do wonders for your comfort and ability on the slopes.

Choosing the Right Ski Boot Insoles

There are a number of ski boot footbeds and inserts available. Like any piece of gear, investing in quality will pay dividends down the road.

After-Market Ski Boot Footbeds

Avoid soft, foam insoles or inserts that are heat molded to your feet. While these types of insoles feel good initially, they do not have the structural integrity to support your feet during rigorous skiing. Purchase ski boot insoles that have a firm arch support covered with a layer of foam for comfort. Look for the following features:

  • A deep heel cup – Holds the heel securely in place, limiting rear foot motion.
  • Ski boot appropriate fit – Ski boots are sized shorter than regular shoes, and are often narrow at the heel. Make sure that the insoles you purchase are sized appropriately.
  • Strong support – The forces on your feet are large, and you need a footbed that can stand up to the pressure. In this situation, firm is better than soft.

Custom Orthotics

Some people have foot abnormalities so extreme that custom (or prescription) orthotics are the best solution. A fully custom pair of ski footbeds is often $250 - $400. If this is the solution for you, make sure to pick an experienced technician who knows both feet and ski boots. Make sure that modifications are included in the base price. It can take more than one try to get it right.

Great Performance and Comfort For Less

If custom orthotics are more than you need (and for most people, they are), adding a pair of over-the-counter insoles with  strong arch support will transform your ski boots and improve your technique.

For less than the cost of most lift tickets, a pair of arch-support insoles that provide for full foot contact will allow you to feel the edges of your skis, even under your arches. That increased sensitivity equals more control.

When your foot is supported in your boot, less buckle pressure is needed to make sure your foot stays put. You’ll enjoy more runs in comfort. And less buckle pressure equals warmer feet. Now that’s a great day on the slopes.


Mark Paigen
Mark Paigen

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