An Intensive Process of Bootfitting

Tony Crocker

Staff member
This aspect of Dec. 15-16, 2011 at Mammoth is best detailed here rather than as part of the trip report.

My 2001-vintage Lange Banshees have about 450 days of use. While nothing is broken there are signs of wear and tear, and I thought it unwise to head off for a month of skiing mid-January to mid-February without new boots. Boot buying in 1992 and 2001 was fairly routine (mail ordered proform, fit perfect out of the box in 1992, very minor adjustments in 2001), but the long process of buying AT boots last season led me to believe it would be more difficult this time. I've traditionally been in low volume boots as my ankles are very thin and feet slightly narrower than average. But last year my feet were overhanging the 1981-vintage orthotics, so I bought new ones to accommodate the widening and flattening with age. My right foot is about half a shoe size larger than the left and is now about average in volume.

I had done preliminary boot testing in shops and most of them want to put me in 26 Mondo size though my 2001 boots are 27's. I have about 1 1/2 fingers room in a shell test in Lange 26 Mondo. Lange 26's run a bit longer than some other manufacturers. The left foot is good in most 26's but the right is too tight, particularly with my orthotics. When I finally bought the AT boots I was unable to use my orthotics in them as they took up too much volume and made the boots too tight. So I anticipated issues getting new alpine boots to work with my orthotics, and with the time pressure I believed demoing boots to be essential this time.

Usually I have boot work done at Footloose but this time I went to Kittredge. I thought the most likely boot for me was the Lange RX120, but Footloose does not carry it. I knew the 130 would be too stiff, and it turns out the 120 is also very stiff. I arranged to demo the RX100 and RX120 on Thursday. Both were comfortable in the shop with the stock footbeds. They said my orthotics were designed for my prior boot and would have to be trimmed to fit properly in a new 26 Mondo size. Therefore I had to demo boots with stock liners, choose one, then they would trim my Superfeet cork orthotic to fit properly.

Lange has redesigned boots recently and at least 3 shops I've visited are very high on the new design from both performance/comfort aspects The lower part of the boot is stiffened, makes them hard to take on and off but definitely helps performance. In some of their boots they offer both a 100 and 97 (narrow) last. In the old days I was probably a 97, but in the 26 Mondo I'm definitely a 100.

Demoing equipment works best when one can test a range of terrain/conditions as I did with shop demo skis last February. With only packed groomers available, both the shop techs and I agreed that would tend to favor a stiffer boot, while my preference for softer snow would push me in the other direction. So when the RX100 and RX120 skied essentially the same, I opted for the RX100. I slightly underdressed to start the day Thursday, so my feet started getting cold and I upgraded layers around 10:30. Foot temperature stabilized in the 100's but did not improve by the time I went into town for lunch and took out the 120's. With the lunch break the early afternoon was comfortable but I started to cool off near the end of the day. I skied 27,800 Thursday, about equal between the 2 boots.

So I went back to the shop at 5:30 to buy the 100's and start working on the orthotics. They were first trimmed for length but still had pressure points for width, particularly on the right foot. Two more trims were needed before they felt comfortable in the shop.

Friday morning I was careful to dress warmly, wear glove liners and keep the hood up on my ski jacket. So when my feet began to chill I was confident that the boots were the culprit. After just 4,200 vertical the front half of my right foot was numb along with the front quarter of my left foot. This is skiing groomers at 16F, so obviously unacceptable for skiing powder in Canada at zero F. So I got off the hill at 9:30 and went back to the shop. The blood vessels to our toes are on top of our feet and as little as 2 pounds of pressure (far less than would cause pain) can be enough to restrict circulation. This time material was trimmed from the bottom of the orthotic to give me more volume. I was back on the hill at 10:30, skied another 12,800 by 2:30 and I'm 95% satisfied the cold foot problem is fixed.

I had mild pressure spots in the larger foot and so had one more shop session where they ground the right shell to relieve those. I give credit to Hunter, Matt and Preston at Kittredge for doing all of this fine tuning work under my rather demanding schedule. With Mammoth's current conditions I don't want to go back there before I leave on my next big trip Jan. 12. I don't think it would be easy to find this level of bootfitting expertise in SoCal, much less be able to demo, test and refit multiple times in 2 days.


New member

Interesting report, particularly since our feet are similar, but your narrative should be instructive to others who have cold feet. Have you considered adding heaters to your new boots?

Even for great fits, some boots are just plain cold. Long ago, I wore San Marco AXR foamed boots that were a fit unequaled until my current Garmots. But they were cold and a heater was required. I've never needed heaters since the AXRs. But I rarely ski at temperatures much below 0 deg. F.


Tony Crocker

Staff member
lookn4powder":ey0ry1gy said:
your narrative should be instructive to others who have cold feet.
Historically I do not have particularly cold feet relative to most skiers. That's why I was so confident on the second morning that the boots were the culprit. It was informative to learn that boots can be tight enough to restrict circulation and cause cold feet without being directly painful.

The boots are no doubt still in the break-in period, at least for my larger foot. To the extent they were cold yesterday, my hands were cold at the same time as I was somewhat underdressed. Also if circulation is being restricted the problem will be much worse on the larger foot as it was last Friday.

lookn4powder":ey0ry1gy said:
Have you considered adding heaters to your new boots?
I would consider that an unacceptable hassle. I have a couple of times applied the stick-on heat pads to the toes of my boot liners for below zero days. I also own neoprene boot gloves, probably should take those along on the next trip as a precaution.