Buying ski boots that fit your feet and complement your ability level will make a huge difference when you hit the slopes. Also, depending on what kind of bindings you use, only some boots will be compatible with your equipment. Alpine ski boots, also known as downhill ski boots, are designed to be used with alpine skis and bindings, which secure both the toe and heel of the boot. Telemark ski boots look and function a lot like downhill ski boots, except for a unique feature at the forefoot called a bellows.
Alpine touring is a type of all-mountain skiing that combines aspects of both telemark and alpine skiing.
AT bindings also allow a skier to unlock the heel for traversing flat terrain or ascending inclined terrain.
Since Nordic skiers navigate less aggressive terrain, cross-country ski boots are lighter and less bulky than alpine, telemark and AT boots. To better accommodate different-sized feet, some brands offer ski boot models in two or three different last widths. Before sliding your feet into a pair of ski boots for the first time, slip on some ski socks first. All ski boots need to be broken in and will usually feel a little snug out of the box, especially hard-shell boots.
Keeping the heel locked down at all times is the main distinction that separates alpine skiing from other types of skiing. Most AT boots have a walk mode or touring mode that can be toggled on or off using a small lever. Most cross-country ski boots tie using traditional laces and have a waterproof outer cover with a zipper.

Boots in the 80-100 range are usually moderately stiff, and best for intermediate and advanced skiers. Because modern ski boots have liners specifically designed to fit snuggly and keep feet warm, your ski socks should be relatively lightweight. The ideal tool for measuring feet is a Brannock Device, which is used by nearly all shoe stores and ski shops.
To ensure you get the best fit, consider having a boot technician measure your foot in mondopoint. If you have high arches, stock insoles may not provide the support you need for a full day on the mountain. Although these liners will conform to your feet over time, for the best results, take your new boots into a ski shop and have a qualified technician fit your boots using a specialized heating device. A ski boot technician has several tools that can be used to stretch or reshape certain parts of the boot shell to help relieve pressure points. For information on skis and bindings, check out our Alpine Skiing Guide or our Nordic Skiing Guide.
Boots are either compatible with NN (Nordic Norm) bindings or NTN (New Telemark Norm) bindings.
Turning the walk mode on makes the boot flex more easily during ascents and touring on flat terrain. This is a key aspect of AT skiing, and there are a range of different binding systems available. There are five main types of Nordic bindings, and subsequently five main styles of boot soles (see fig. Most ski boot sizes are represented in Mondopoint sizing, which accounts for both foot length and foot width.

Adding insoles with more arch support could make a big difference and help reduce foot fatigue. By getting your heat-moldable liners and boots properly fitted, they will require little or no break-in time. Stiffer boots transfer more energy from skier to ski, which is ideal for aggressive carving. Any boot with 120 or higher stiffness is geared toward aggressive carving and expert ability levels. Ski socks are also made of moisture-wicking materials like merino wool and synthetic fibers that pull sweat away from your skin to keep feet dry. This slight misalignment can make skiing more difficult, depending on the degree of imbalance.
Alpine ski boots have a pivot point near the ankle that allows the upper shell to flex forward slightly, making it easier to initiate turns.
AT boots also have a rubber outsole for traction, should you need to step out of your boots and walk in the snow. However, there is no industry standard for ski boot flex, so the flex ratings of different brands will vary slightly.
Tech-compatible ski boots have two small metal inserts with circular indentations on each side of the toe cap (see Fig. A qualified ski tech can check your stance and help compensate for any imbalances by adjusting the canting of your ski boots.

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