snow business like snow business
You know what colour you want (preferably all black please, to match my miserable soul).
You know that you’re after maximum comfort from the plastic and metal transformer-esque boot you’re about to purchase.
You might even know which store you’ll be gracing with your presence.
But what you don’t know is what to expect from the ski -boot fitting process or how to properly prepare. Described a form of dark art, as ‘what works in a ski boot for one person rarely works for another’ (not my words FYI), the fitters at Snow & Rock Chertsey are stern advocates of ensuring that customers go away with the perfect pair of boots that suit their individual needs and ability, after all…
“The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter.” (RIP John Hurt 😢)
My advice to you …
1 / Shave your legs
Ladies, now that we are in the midst of the colder months, daily dalliances with a razor during your morning shower for ‘acceptable’ summer legs is a distant memory of inconvenience (hooray!). Now that winter is here you can hide that extra layer of fuzzy warmth under tights made from the thickest of denier, your favourite winter jeans or a pair of super trendy over-the-knee booties which have been hanging around the past couple of AW seasons. But when fitting ski boots, your entire calf will need to be exposed.
To the whole store.
The kindly salesperson helping you with your boot purchase will get a full on view of your fluffy shins and shall attempt to quell your embarrassment / garbled apologetic self-comparisons to a yeti by assuring you that ‘they’re not the worst hairy legs he’s seen’.
And it won’t be a quick flash of the lower legs either, oh no no no. You’ll be displaying your natural (*gasp*) bodyhair on and off for the best part of 45 minutes to unwitting strangers, the cute floppy haired guy perusing a stack of snowboards and the family seated on the bench directly next to you ….
If you’ve got the type of confidence to rock your pins in public with a solid four months of untouched growth then I take my hat off to you, I honestly do. But for now, if I could go back in time and give myself one top tip for that specific Saturday afternoon it would be to de-fuzz.
2 / Paint your toe nails
Going along a similar vein of shaving legs here, as it’s all down to personal preference on self-appearance, but as your naked calves will be out for a boot fitting session so will your bare feet. Another area of your body that the lovely salesperson will quickly become well acquainted with. As you can probably guess as I had let my leg hair grow wild and free, the last remnants of chipped polish on my tootsies from the summer had not been removed. I’m not one of those people who get overly weirded out by feet but I do hate patchy nail varnish. Especially when it’s my own because I’ve been too lazy to do anything about it. There’s also something about unpainted nails that I don’t feel at ease with on either hands or feet – a sentiment also expressed by the lady next to me on the moulding machine as she exclaimed to her husband that she wished she had painted her toenails that morning.
OK so it’s more of a vanity point than actual hard advice. But your feet will be manually measured so if you’re bothered about stuff like that make sure they’re in a state you feel comfortable with having someone touch and see them up close. Plus it will be nicer day at work for that gem of a salesperson fitting boots to hairy -legged, unsightly footed people all day.
3 / Don’t wear skinny jeans
As I’ve said, you will need to get your legs out from the knee down. That means you’ve got to be able to get the bottoms you are wearing rolled up like you’re about to go for a paddle in the sea. Being a prize pillock I wore the skinniest jeans I owned (mega mega tight Topshop number, definitely not ‘fat day’ jeans) that barely made it pushed up over my ankle.
“You’ll have to go get some ski pants. Go pick any pair and put them on” said the salesperson.
All righty then, off I trotted downstairs to grab a pair of vibrant purple Salomon trousers I had spotted earlier whilst browsing / pretending I was a bajillionaire. Feeling a bit silly in salopettes amongst the sensible boot-cut jeans of other middle-classians milling away their beige weekends, I rustled / waddled my way from the changing rooms back upstairs.
Maybe bright purple was a bad idea. Not only could you hear me coming from a mile off, the shock of the colour was drawing a lot of attention to me and my hairy legs too.
Moral of the story, if you want to look like you know what you are doing when it comes to trying on ski boots, wear the fat day jeans.
3 / Bring ski socks
So fundamental for any shoe fitting exercise.
So easily forgotten in all the excitement of buying your first pair of ski boots.
Luckily Mama Taylor wanted to gift me a pair of new socks (have been knocking around in some pairs of ski socks for at least a decade – yes they have been thoroughly washed in between) so ripping the packing off a pair of smart red and grey ones was the solution to that little problem. Didn’t stop me from wallowing in the continual feeling of being the village (or shop, in this case) idiot.
I don’t need to expand any more on this point. JUST BRING YA’ BLOODY SKI SOCKS.
4 / Be clear about budget
For a couple of weeks I had mentally prepared myself that I would be spending the cost of a pair of Stella McCartney sunnies on these boots. Fine. No problem. There’s plenty of rational reasons why it’s better to buy your own boots if you’re going to be spending A LOT of time in them for the foreseeable future. It’s waaay more financially viable on price per wear than rentals and you don’t have think about the sweaty hoofs of the previous temporary owners But what I didn’t do was communicate to our friend the delightful salesperson that I had a price limit.
Before my fitting sesh began I examined the women’s section, scanning the shelves for the chicest pair in my price range, occasionally picking up boot to carefully weigh in my hands and giving a considered satisfied nod to myself like I had some sort of semblance of a clue as to what I was looking at, ‘Ahh yes, this model is heavy. Just as I suspected it to be. Good.’ I had settled on what I thought would be the ones I’d ask to try on that didn’t blow a cannon sized hole in my budget.
My number was called with the urgent vibration of a hand held buzzer that the fitting desk had sent me away with. Once pleasantries were exchanged with the utterly charming gent who would be helping me choose my boots he starts bombarding me with questions. Asking about my skiing ability, what I want from a boot, had I bought a pair of boots before, where do I usually ski, where was I going this year, who I work for etc. He then scurries away to the stock room before I could even get a chance to shyly point at the shelf and mumble that I’d like to see the ones middle row, third in from the right.
He came back with armfuls of boxes, bags of knowledge and explanations as to why he had selected the boots he had picked, as well as a fresh batch of probing questions.
But never once did he mention budget, because this dude was an A* salesman. He worked his magic, even going as far as spinning out a line that the ski boot chooses the person and not the other way round.
Of course I totally fell for it and that is how I ended up jabbing my pin number into a card machine in disbelief an hour and a half later as I had just made the most extravagant purchase of my life so far. As much as I love my ski boots and believe I was given the best advice possible for me, I was an easy sell at the end of the day. So be vocal about your price range, query why the boots you originally had in mind didn’t make the cut if the fitter hasn’t suggested them, go armed with your own set of questions scribbled down somewhere and don’t get too swept up in an in-depth conversation about the Tremplin Bar at the bottom of Morzine’s home run.
5 / Cry
A) Because you’ve spent lots of money. B) Because now you know what it feels like to own your own bit of kit you’ve been ruined for cheaper rentals for the rest of your life. C) And with that first big purchase you also know it’s only going snowball (soz) from there with spending more and more money on a sport that you’re completely nutty for which could decide to one day bless you with a cracked rib or future knee problems. Your employer might as well pay your wages directly to your local ski shop and cut you out as the middleman.
If you’re curious, these are the ones I ended up with.
I went for a custom moulded foot bed too because apparently I was feeling like P.Diddy that day and wanted to make it rain.
These snazzy babies also have a party-trick whereby once the little clip on the back is flipped the boot is put into ‘walk mode’ which allows for less Optimus Prime-style steps and more human like movements.
One thing to remember when having your booties in walk mode is to flip that little clip back into place when you’re on skis again as it could end in disaster going down a piste, wondering why your legs feel so strange when you turn as you haven’t had that much to drink- only a few beers, oh wait you’ve not eaten all day that’ll be why you’re a bit pissed and holy shit your boots are in walk mode that explains the impending sense of a possible broken arm with every swoosh of your skis… Or so I’ve heard.
In all seriousness, a moulded foot-bed is great for preventing the afore mentioned future knee problems. Talk to a professional for more technical info.