Have you ever wondered why there can be such a price difference in ski boots? Just like skis, ski boots can greatly vary in their features, benefits, and qualities. Read below to learn more about some of the different ski boot features currently on the market.
Micro Adjust in boots began to appear when ski boot manufacturers transitioned from rear-entry boots to 4 buckle boots. Micro adjust is a very popular ski boot feature, but that doesn’t mean that every boot has micro adjust buckles. Youth boots and more entry level boots often don’t have the added ability to micro adjust the buckles. Some boots do not have this feature on the lower buckles, but will on the upper buckles. Having the ability to micro-adjust your buckles allows you to fine-tune the tightness of your buckles. If one notch is too tight, but the one before it is too loose, then you can adjust the buckle length to fit your needs.
Power Straps are another ski boot feature that began to began to become prevalent with the rise of 4 buckle boots. Power straps are Velcro straps that are attached to the top of the ski boot. They assist in securing the calf while skiing. They also provide support and the additional tension in the boot allows for a more responsive element in the turn as well. Like micro-adjust, power straps are usually found on higher performing ski boots. Most youth ski boots and some rental or entry-level adult boots will not have a power strap. A Booster Strap can also replace a power strap for further control and support.
Walk mode is a relatively new feature in ski boots that aims to make walking in ski boots easier. It usually involves a metal or plastic switch in the back of the boot that can be pulled on, twisted, or flipped, in order to transition between modes. Walk mode enables the cuff of the boot to angle further back and become upright in order to make walking more natural. In traditional ski boots, the cuff is angled forward and has very limited mobility. Walk-mode not only provides a more natural feeling while walking, but also reduces the impact on the knees. Sometimes this is called walk-hike mode on boots instead.
Built-In Ski Boot Heaters
Built-In ski boot heaters are one of the newest features included in ski boots. The majority of ski boots do not have built-in ski boot heaters and this feature is considered a more luxurious added benefit. Ski boot brands like Alpina lead the market in built-in boot heaters. The majority of boots that feature built-in heaters are adult ski boots that are oriented towards comfort, rather than performance. If you are interested in having electronic boot heaters, but already love your boots then you can externally install Hotronics or Therm-ics, which have been a popular ski boot heating option for the past decade.
Ski boot flex impacts your ability to bend the ski into the turn and gain momentum out of the turn. Ski boot stiffness or flex is dependent on a skiers height, weight, and skiing ability. If your boot is too soft then it will not provide the tension that you need support you through the turn. If your boot is too stiff then you will not be able to maintain an aggressive and athletic position. Sometimes finding the perfect boot with the right amount of flex is difficult, which is why some boot companies have begun to produce ski boots with adjustable flex levels. This feature can also be nice if you are just learning to ski and will want to transition into a stiffer boot eventually.
The canting adjustment is a ski boot feature that often goes unnoticed but has been around for a while. It is usually on the side of the ski boot and adjusts the alignment of the ski boot. This can be beneficial for skiers who are particularly knock-kneed or bow-legged. Professional canting can also be done, but adjusting the alignment through the canting feature can be a more affordable and convenient solution.
Size adjusting ski boots are a great ski boot solution for growing children! After taking a note from roller blades, Roces developed a line of ski boots that can stretch or shrink with children’s foot sizes. The boot sole length itself stays the same, but the liner and insole can adjust up to 3 full sizes. While these boots are not designed as performance boots, the ability to adjust them as a child grows makes them a popular option.
Moldable liners are designed to help increase comfort. Some brands such as Intuition and Surefoot have been producing heat mold custom liners for a long time, but other ski boot companies have also caught on to this feature. Custom liners one of the premium ski boot features that is often only included on higher end ski boots. A few brands even have custom molded shells now as well!