When I log into forums like Epicski, Newschoolers or TGR and read the numerous posts about which pair of ski boots they should get, the first few responses are always 'go to a bootfitter' or 'bootfitter'. Now these responses are correct, that's what they should do. The misconception skiers have is that everyone that works at a shop is a bootfitter or every shop has one. Just because a shop sells ski boots doesn't mean that they know how to fit a person for a pair.
What to look for in a bootfitter? They should be asking you questions about you.
• What kind of boots do you have now?
• What is the reason for new boots?
• How often do you go skiing per season?
• What mountains do you like going to?
• Where do you like to spend your time on the mountain (trails; Trees, Groomers, Bumps, Steeps etc.)?
• What kind of skis do you have?
After all these questions are asked, then it's time to look at the feet and figure out what is best for you. A boot fitter will point out certain parts of your feet, ankles and/or calves that may be or most likely are current pressure spots for you if you have any (most do). Most boot fitters will shell fit you for length purposes, this is done for a couple reasons;
1:) Not all boots that say 27 (average BSL 'Boot Sole Length' for a size 27 is 315mm but can be as low as 309mm and as high as 319mm, a full size difference) are the same, it's a way of checking to make sure that particular model is the right size for you. 2:) It's a great way to illustrate how much room is actually in the boot, and the liner will break down and pack out.
Not all bootfitters will shell fit for length and that can be ok, they may have BSL's memorized. If they didn't shell fit you, ask them to shell fit you and ask how much room will be behind your heel with your toes all the way to the front of the boot, if they get it right when your foot is in the shell, you're in a good shop with a great boot fitter.
There are many different boots out there, all different shapes, flexes, stances and all have different liners. There are many different boots out there and many even more unique feet. I view bootfitting someone like the missing pieces to a puzzle, I ask the questions that I listed above, narrow down in my head; stiffness, shell type or maybe something stood out about your skiing and a problem with your current boots. Then it's time to look at the feet and find the best boot I have for your skiing and foot shape. Like we say all over this website we want you to be happy out on the hill.
The issue I have with many so called bootfitters is they treat everyone that walks in like they are an expert skier including people that have never skied before or are just starting out. Not everyone should be sized down in a pair of boots and not everyone should be in a pair of expert level boots either. Some people go skiing a few times per year hang out on green circles or mild blues cruising in the backseat and have a great time. Too many 'bootfitters' assume everyone wants to be an expert, this is why a good boot fitter asks all those questions I listed above.
No Bootfitter can find the best boot for you just by looking at your feet and no bootfitter can find the best boot for you without looking at your feet.
I'm sure this will ruffle some feathers of some 'boot fitters' out there, that's ok, it's 2012 step your game up!