A day on the slopes can be tough on the wallet. Between pricey ski gear and the expense of lift tickets, plus transportation, lunch, and apres ski, the cost of a day at the mountain can be substantial. So, making sure you get the most of the day is important. And it's hard to enjoy the powder when you're feet aren't comfortable. The best ski boot insoles can not only make keep you skiing longer, but they can also help you ski better. 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?
As board-certified Pedorthist and master bootfitter Bob Egeland says, "You marry your boots, you date your skis. You have to get your boots dialed in."
You ask a lot of your ski boots. You expect them to do the difficult job of holding 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 have to keep your feet warm and comfortable in cold weather.
They do this with a hard, molded shell and a firm, foam liner. The hard shell closes with high-leverage buckles that clamp your feet in place. Here’s the rub:
Strong ski boot 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.
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:
To understand the huge impact insoles for ski boots can have on your performance, just do this simple exercise. It will show you what happens to an unsupported foot in the middle of a turn.
It has collapsed, leaving your foot in an overpronated position. Your foot doesn't have any strength when it is in this position. So imagine a real ski turn where the force is multiplied. Now you can see why arch support makes such a difference in improving your ski performance.
Supporting the arch and eliminating overpronation with ski boot inserts puts your foot in a powerful position, allowing it to exert maximum pressure on the edge of your ski.
Now that you get how important the right insoles for ski boots are to you day on the slopes, you'll need to narrow down all of the options available. Like any piece of gear, investing in quality will pay dividends down the road.
The first rule of thumb to buying ski boot insoles is to avoid soft, foam insoles or inserts that are heat molded to your feet. While these types of insoles feel good initially, they lack the structural integrity your feet need to get support during rigorous skiing. Look for ski boot insoles with a firm arch support that is covered with a foam layer for comfort.
The best insoles for ski boots will have a structure that includes:
Remember, 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.
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 - $600. If this is the solution for you, 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.
For most people, custom orthotics are unnecessary. If you're one of the majority of people who only need an over-the-counter insole, find one that offers medical-grade support at a wallet-friendly price. Drugstore inserts won't do the trick when it comes to supporting your arch properly.
You'll know if an insole has enough arch support for you by doing a quick test: If you can easily deflect the arch toward the floor with your fingers, the insole lacks the power to improve your skiing.
The best ski boot insole will fit you flawlessly. That means the arch of the insole should contour to the arch of your foot. Your arch isn't one size fits all, and your insole shouldn't be either. Look for an insert that offers multiple arch height options.
For less than the cost of most lift tickets, a pair of arch support insoles that offer for full foot contact will allow you to feel the edges of your skis, even under your arches. This increased sensitivity will improve your feel for the snow and control of your skis.
When your foot is supported in your boot, less buckle pressure is needed to hold it in place. That means your runs will be more comfortable and your feet will stay warmer. Now that’s a great day on the slopes.
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