For a successful day on the slopes, ski boots are your most important piece of equipment. The right pair will be cozy, warm, and provide the support you need for a full day of skiing. The wrong pair can leave your feet bruised, miserable, and ready to call it quits after one run.
If you live somewhere with an active ski community, we recommend working with a local professional boot fitter. Ski boots can be tricky to get just right, but a boot fitter will guide you through the process and even fine tune a boot's shape so it works perfectly for you.
But if professional boot fitting isn’t in your future, we get it, and we’re here to help. We've broken ski boot fitting into a couple key considerations. If you follow the steps in this guide, you'll be able to confidently narrow down your options, and find a pair online that is most likely to work for you.
How Should a Ski Boot Fit?
Ski boots are going to fit differently than your street shoes, so it’s important to understand what you’re looking for before you pick a boot or make a purchase decision.
The general goal with a ski boot is to find the snuggest possible fit that you’d feel comfortable wearing all day.
A perfect boot would match the shape of your foot exactly — holding your foot in place with minimal room for movement, but without squeezing, pinching or poking anywhere. Imagine a nice firm handshake, and that’s about how a ski boot should fit.
Roomy boots feel great in the shop, but can feel awful on the slopes.
Signs of a too-big boot —
- Jammed toes from your foot shifting forward and backward repeatedly in the boot
- Shin banging inside the cuff
- Painful arches
- Loss of circulation and numb feet from over-tightening the buckles
Avoid the temptation of a too-big boot!
What Ski Boot Size Should I Buy?
Ski boots don’t use your typical shoe sizing. Instead, they’re measured in Mondopoint (MP). Mondopoint may sound fancy, but really it’s just centimeters. If your foot is 26.5 centimeters long, your mondopoint size is 26.5.
There are three ways to find out your ski boot size. Using one or more of these methods will give you a good idea of what size is most likely to work for you.
Option 1: Measure Your Foot
Actually measuring your foot with a tape measure (in centimeters) is the most accurate way to find your Mondopoint size.
Measure with your ski socks on, while standing up, and looking straight down at the tape measure. If possible, ask a friend to help.
Should I Round My Ski Boot Size Up or Down?
If you don’t ski aggressively or frequently and you prioritize comfort over performance, you’ll probably get a better fit by rounding up, but not by more than 1 Mondopoint size. For example, if your foot is 26.3cm long, you’d choose a 26.5 or 27.
If you ski aggressively on a variety of terrains, you’ll probably do best with a boot as close to your Mondopoint size as possible.
If you’ll be working with a professional boot fitter to fine tune your boot, consider getting as close to your Mondopoint size as possible, or even rounding down. Boot fitters can stretch and mold boots that are too small, but they have limited options to help you if your boot is too big to begin with.
Option 2: Use a Mondopoint Size Chart
If at all possible, we recommend measuring your foot for an accurate fit. But if that’s not an option for you, you can refer to the following size chart —
|Men / Unisex (US Sizing)||Women (US Sizing)||Comfort Fit||Performance Fit|
|8 (Little Kids)||15|
|8 (Little Kids)||15.5|
|9 (Little Kids)||16|
|9 (Little Kids)||16.5|
|10 (Little Kids)||17|
|11 (Little Kids)||17.5|
|12 (Little Kids)||18|
|12 (Little Kids)||18.5|
|13 (Little Kids)||19|
|13 (Little Kids)||19.5|
|13.5 (Little Kids)||20|
|1 (Big Kids)||20.5|
|2 (Big Kids)||21|
|3 (Big Kids)||21.5|
|4 (Big Kids)||5||22||21|
|4.5 (Big Kids)||5.5||22.5||21.5|
|5 (Big Kids)||6||23||22|
|5.5 (Big Kids)||6.5||23.5||22.5|
Option 3: Consider Previous Skiing Experience
If you’ve rented a boot in the past that worked really well for you, consider starting with that same size. If you don’t remember the size, you might be able to call the resort or shop you rented from to see if they still have your information on file.
What Ski Boot Width Should I Get?
Once you know your Mondopoint size, the next step is to figure out the best boot width for you. The width of the boot plays an important role in securing your foot and reducing movement inside the boot while you're skiing. Adult ski boots come in a range of "last widths". Last width is measured in mm, and generally ranges from about 97 to 106mm for adult boots.
|Choose this width if —|
You know you have narrow feet.
OR You ski aggressively AND you’ve successfully used narrow boots in the past.
You’ve never thought twice about your foot width. Shoes just tend to fit.
You’re aware that your foot is wide, based on experience with other shoes.
OR you’ve been happy skiing with basic rental boots (which tend to be wide).
How Stiff Should My Ski Boot Be?
Ski boots vary in their level of “flex”, or stiffness. Imagine trying to squat down in a pair of ski boots. If the ski boot bends easily under your weight, this would be considered a "soft" flex for you. If the boot holds you upright without allowing much squatting, this would be considered a "stiff" flex for you.
Softer boots are more flexible, easier to get on, and often they’re more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. But if you're trying to ski more technical terrain than green or blue slopes, you may find that they don't provide the support or responsiveness you need.
Stiffer boots better support your weight and better transmit power from your leg to your ski, important for steeper slopes and technical skiing.
There is no standard industry measurement for ski boot flex, but most manufacturers use a scale ranging from about 50-130.
|Men||Women||Best for —|
Beginning or casual skiers.
Prioritize comfort and ease of getting the boot on and off.
No intention of charging down black runs or mogul-covered terrain any time soon.
If you're lighter weight than the average skier, consider going one flex level softer (for example, "Soft Flex" instead of "Medium Flex")
If you're heavier than the average skier, consider going one level stiffer (for example "Very Stiff" instead of "Stiff")
Progressing or intermediate skiers
Experienced skiers who prioritize comfort and prefer to stick to intermediate-level terrain.
Prefers advanced terrain such as moguls or steeps
Very Stiff Flex
Professional ski racing, competitive skiers, and aggressive recreational skiers.
Should I Get a Mens or Womens Boot? Does it Matter?
Beyond the color and style, there actually are important differences between mens, womens, and youth boots. However, the boot that works best for your foot and leg shape may not necessarily align with your gender.
|Boot Type||Consider this boot if —||Calf Shape||Boot Height||Stiffness|
Narrow calf muscle
Short to medium
Significantly less stiff
You have a lower and wider calf muscle (men or women)
You've had trouble in the past with the top buckles on a ski boot being too tight.
Wider & lower calf muscle
Somewhat less stiff
You have a higher or narrower calf muscle (men or women)
You require a boot larger than about size 26.5/27.5
You ski aggressively and need a boot stiffer than most available women's models.
Putting it All Together
Once you've identified the best size, width, flex, and boot type for you, purchasing a boot becomes a matter of finding one that checks all the right boxes —
|Last Width||Narrow, Standard, or Wide|
|Flex||Soft, Medium, Stiff, or Very Stiff|
|Boot Shape||Mens, Womens, Youth (may not align with your gender or age)|
A couple other common questions we get asked —
Q: Does brand of boot matter? Are some better than others?
A: All major boot manufacturers these days create quality ski boots. Each model has a distinct shape and feel, and the only way to know which works best for your foot is to try on.
Q: Should I buy a used ski boot?
Used ski boots are a fantastic option for occasional skiers, skiers looking to replace an old boot with the same model, or skiers on a budget.
Used boots will have roughly the same fit from the day you buy them, whereas new boots will loosen slightly as you break them in.
Q: I saw some boots are labeled GripWalk. What does that mean?
Traditional ski boots have a flat bottom with minimal texture. This can make walking in them in an icy ski parking lot awkward. GripWalk boots have a slightly rounded sole with better traction, making walking easier.
GripWalk boots only work in skis with GripWalk certified ski bindings (traditional boots will work in almost any ski binding). Most ski bindings manufactured in the last couple years are GripWalk compatible, and most ski boots manufactured in the last couple years have GripWalk soles.
Q: Any other secret tips for buying your first boot?
If you've rented before and have been happy with your boot, consider buying a used rental boot, the exact same size and brand if you can find it. Your typical rental boot won't be ideal for aggressive skiing (unless you chose a "performance" boot), but for more casual outings they work really well.
Tips for Trying On Your Boot
Once your boot comes in the mail, it's time to try it on. Ski boots can sometimes be difficult to get on and understand whether they are fitting correctly. Here's our top tips for trying on —
- Wear the same socks you'll be skiing in to gauge how snug the boot will truly feel on your powder day.
- If you're having trouble getting the boot on, don't despair! Boots are stiff by nature and can require more effort than you expect to get on. A couple suggestions —
- Double check that all buckles are unbuckled.
- Pull the tongue of the boot out farther than you think you should.
- Stand up and put all your weight on it.
- Give your foot some time and a couple tries to slip in.
- Don't worry about being able to get it off again — ski boots come off easier than they come on.
- If the cuff is too tight around your ankle and calves, check your buckles — most can micro-adjust longer by spinning the buckle ends. For even larger adjustments, most buckles are designed to adjust an extra centimeter or two with the use of a hex wrench.
- Toes touching the end of the boot is normal (and actually a good sign). The classic ski boot fit involves toes touching the end of the boot (but not smashed) when standing upright, and then pulling away slightly when you crouch into skiing position.
- With used boots, how they feel on day one is roughly how they'll feel throughout the season. With new boots, expect a tighter initial feel that loosens up as they break in.
- Finally, if the boot fits well minus a pressure point or two, consider making an appointment with a boot fitter at your destination resort. They can likely punch out the boot shell to relieve pressure and optimize your fit.