Saturday, April 19th, 2014

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Review: Surefoot Custom Ski Boots

6

home_skibootNever in my entire life have I had a comfortable pair of ski boots. My feet are wide and high-volume, my calves are big, and I have pain-in-the-ass navicular bones on the inside of my ankles, among other problems.

I’ve tried everything, but nothing has ever worked. I’ve had shells modified, heat-moldable liners cooked, and etc. Still, I spend my time skiing in mild to extreme discomfort, ending most days with cramped, numb feet.

So, I decided to give the guys at the Squaw Valley Surefoot a try. They make a fully-customized ski boot with custom orthotics, foam-injected custom liners, and all the shell adjustments you need.

The process begins with a general interview in which the fitter asks about your skiing style, ability, history, habits, trouble spots on your feet and etc.

Then they scan your feet and get a digital contour readout. From this scan, the team grinds down a fully-customized orthotic that fits your arch like a glove.

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A digital scan of the contours of the author's feet.

Then, as the orthotic is being created, it’s time to talk about the shell. Most people don’t need shells modified. I do, however, and they’re happy to do whatever it takes. The fitter widened both toe boxes, stretched the shell to accomodate my fat feet, and punched out some room for my navicular bones.

Next, he prepared my feet for the liner fitting. This includes toe caps over your toes, so that room is left in the liner for tow-wiggle. And he placed foam spacers over trouble spots on your feet.

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the author's feet fully prepared with toe caps and foam over problem spots.

Then comes the fun part: filling the foam-injected liner. It feels weird. It’s hot and at first it feels WAY too tight. The foam cures in a matter of a few minutes and forms a perfect negative of every bump, nook and cranny in your lower leg and foot.

After the orthotic, the shell mods and the custom liner, what you’ve got is a one-of-a-kind, totally personalized, custom ski boot. And even better, they guarantee the fit, so you can go back anytime for further adjustments. I can’t wait to try them out.

Now, not everybody needs this level of customization. You lucky fools out there who can wear off-the-shelf boots in comfort definitely don’t. But for those of you who have had boot-fitting problems like mine, it’s definitely worth considering.

The downside? It’s bloody expensive. Retail price on the full-monty with shell, orthotic and liner will usually run more than $1000. Ouch.

I will report back after I put a few days on my new boots, and let you know how they work out. But after clomping around in my apartment for a few hours, they definitely feel promising.

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The author's new boots prior to foam injection.

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Completing the foam injection into the custom liners.

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  • jeff volimas

    I’m glad you finally invested the time the best some of the best to have properly fitted boots. What i would tell you is that Tahoe is staffed with the best bootfitters in the US. Ask around and you will find talented bootfitters in the North Shore and the South Shore who have been plying their trade for many years. These fitters do continuing education every year and don’t subscribe to one way to fit boots nor do they answer to a corporate master. Remember, keep your $$ local.

  • Charles

    How did the custom boots work out for you?

  • KC

    UN-SUREFOOT! I am a very strong skier (raced through college) and now ski 30-40 days per year. I am 6ft 3in, weigh 205, and have wide size 13 feet, with a high volume instep, and a 6th toe lateral bump that that has developed from being in poorly fitting ski boots. Given that it is has been hard to find performance ski boots that fit well, I decided to give Surefoot a try when it was time for new boots this year. I was on vacation at Copper and purchased the Lange 130RX with custom liner and orthotics from Surefoot. The Surefoot boot fitter told me that they would have no problem getting me into a comfortable boot. The boot fitter also put me in a size smaller than I normally wear to enhance performance and because the injection liners would allow a better fit in a size 28 vs. size 29. I also purchased $350 SIDAS boot heaters because it is cold where I ski in the northeast and cold feet would sometimes limit the number of runs I would take on a freezing day. The grand total for the boots, insoles, heaters was $1350.00. After all was said and done, these UN-Surefit boots are the worst ski equipment decision I have ever made. I spent each morning and afternoon of my Copper vacation in the Surefoot shop trying to work with the tech to make the boots tolerable. The despite, grinding, heating, and punchouts I was in agony after the second run and my feet fell asleep and freeze despite the boot heaters. I gave up on the Un-surefoot boot fitters after 9 or 10 visits as I had little progress in getting the boots to a point where I could even ski on them. In addition, the Copper staff became less and less interested in helping to get the boots to fit well after each visit depite the fact that I was polite, appreciative and tried to work with them. It became clear to me that they were not very skilled. It was also apparent from reading web reviews and from speaking to the Surefoot Copper Mtn staff that the Fit-guarantee and boot replacement would not be honored until I spent months in an out of the store while they worked to get the boots they sold me to fit. At home, the nearest Surefoot shop in VT is 2h away so I consciously gave up and voided the Surefoot warranty (that they apparently don’t honor without torturing customers) and had work done by a local boot fitter who is excellent. The local guy noted that the boots are sized a bit small. He did some additional grinding but my feet still fall asleep and my big toe gets bruised when I ski bumps because the boots are too short. THEN the kicker is, while skiing along, my boots must have bumped one another and the connector in the SIDAS boot heater broke off in the battery. The construction is quite flimsy and the cheap plastic breaks quite easily which evidenced by the fact that the company puts and ad hoc sheet in the box telling customers to remove the plug straight so the connector does not break off. Well, I mailed the broken heaters and foot beds to Sure foot Killington where they were not very helpful, forgot to call me back several times, and they eventually CHARGED ME ANOTHER $180.00 for a replacement battery pack and heating element. The “hey dude” boot fitter guy in the Surefoot shop was unwilling to check with SIDAS to see if any type of warranty or repair was available. I do not make a habit of complaining, and this is my fist web review of anything, but I felt that it was necessary to relate my terrible experience to potentially save another skier the hassle and aggravation of an expensive UN-surefoot mistake. I am going back to the off-the-shelf Dalbello boots that eventually fit me after I have some basic boot fitting work done on them! Buyer beware!

    • Kai

      Did you get the Dalbellos? If so, what style worked for you? I have had a lot of the same issues with my foot shape and custom fitting, though I’ve not spent anywhere near the time or money that you have. Some of my toenails did fall off though. Rented banged up clunky looking Dalbellos at my local ski resort after forgetting my expensive, torture boots at home and had the first blissful, pain-free days of skiing in 3 years. The rented Dalbello style is pretty old and not available in my size, new or used.
      Thank you for sharing your experience!

  • Jonny

    Where the follow-up post to let us know how they were? No point in even posting without an actual review of the fit in action!

    “I will report back after I put a few days on my new boots, and let you know how they work out. But after clomping around in my apartment for a few hours, they definitely feel promising.”