Ski boots are one of the most important parts of your skiing equipment, because they are designed to transfer your movements into the skis while they support and protect your feet, ankles, and lower l [...]
How To Choose Ski Boot Footbeds
Published: Dec 14, 2020
To choose the best ski boot footbeds and insoles, you have to pick the option that meets your needs, and will provide comfort and support to your feet. One factor to making sure that you are getting maximum response from your skis and boots is proper fitting and supportive footbeds.
Painful feet are a sure way to ruin a day on the slopes. Skiing is a sport that puts tons of pressure on your feet, so making sure that they are supported and comfortable is important. The right ski boots can make a big difference, but comfortable footbeds are vital for a perfect fit.
Choosing footbeds that work best for your feet is important. Insoles can be made to provide you different levels of support, so making sure they fit your feet is also critical.
For skiers who have high arches or flat feet, it is best to look for an insole that is capable of supporting them. Deep heel cups are also a popular footbed choice, because they provide the extra stability and will allow you to keep your foot in place while skiing.
Not only do ski boot insoles give you maximum performance, they also provide you with maximum comfort. Footbeds and insoles are made to support your foot, and keep it from collapsing or being put into uncomfortable positions. So, this means ski footbeds and insoles can be your ticket to pain-free days on the mountain.
Benefits of footbeds and insoles
A good footbed has a lot of important functions. First, it distributes pressure evenly over the entire foot. It also quickens response, and enhances comfort. A properly supportive footbed may alleviate pain in the balls of your feet, arch fatigue, slow turn response, and your inability to maintain consistent pressure on your edges when initiating a turn. Although most ski boots come with some sort of stock footbeds, very few offer sufficiently adequate support, and none of them can be customized to fit your feet. You may or may not feel any pain with stock footbeds, but having uniform support under your entire foot will redefine your notion of control.
To fix stability issues, a footbed can help stabilize your foot and ankle. It helps most people by causing less fatigue, and it facilitates a more natural movement of the ankle.
A supportive footbed can also help confine your foot in both the length and width, to allow you to wear a smaller shell size and have more precision in your fit. It can also help you initiate a turn more efficiently, and alleviate discomfort caused by too much pressure on the inside or outside edges.
Footbeds provide extra arch support due to their preformed arch, which also allows for optimal pressure distribution. If you are experiencing any discomfort from your ski boot, then it probably means it lacks support. It is vital to have ski boot footbed and insoles that are designed to support your feet.
Fit and compatibility
It is of vital importance to make sure that your new insoles fit. Having footbeds that ideally suit your needs but do not fit your ski boots is useless. Thus, you need to be able to find an insole that matches your feet, as well as the shape of your ski boots. However, many of the best ski boot insoles can be cut to accommodate your size. In general, it's best to buy insoles that are slightly too large, to give you the ability to cut down the size if necessary. But if you plan on trimming your new insoles, you have to make sure to follow the instructions carefully.
Your feet are extremely prone to the cold, so getting warm footbeds can really make a difference. Warm footbeds provide added insulation between your feet and the snow, while retaining the heat that is lost from your feet.
Know that cold feet can be enough to ruin a good ski day. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it may also cause numbness and lack of dexterity, both of which are essential for better performance.
Wool and synthetic materials that are known to retain heat are mostly used on the best ski boot insoles. Some may also include thermal layers that are specifically designed to keep the cold out.
There are also heated footbeds, for those who are prone to frozen toes. These footbeds use heating elements to warm the sole of your feet, and will guarantee warmth regardless of the weather conditions.
Ski boot insoles take on some serious wear and tear, so it is important that they are able to withstand the forces when you are skiing on all types of terrains.
The best ski boot footbeds should be able to maintain their structure when put under pressure. Your foot shape is unlikely to change over time, so neither should your insole. Additionally, temperature changes can affect the quality of your insole. They are able to maintain their shape on the slopes, but using boot heaters may cause them to change.
To get an idea of the durability of footbeds and insoles, you should check their features and materials first.
Those with either very high or very low arch, or very long or short arch, as well as those with pronation problems may benefit well from a custom footbed. These come in many styles, but must be heat molded by a shop with the right equipment to fit your foot. The advantage of a custom footbed is that it exactly matches the shape of your foot, and will therefore give you ultimate control.
Most manufacturers provide a basic custom model with heat moldable supportive layers that are laminated through the heel and arch areas. These footbeds are heated and placed in impressions made by your feet to shape the footbed, and then trimmed to fit in your liners.
Fully custom footbeds make use of a custom moldable base that is first formed to your foot. This is further supported by the addition of layers of foam or cork underneath, and is then sanded or grounded to match the contours of your bootboard and boot shell. This is most likely the best solution for those with very high arches or serious stability issues.
Custom posting materials may vary in hardness, so the amount of cushion to build in is up to your own preference. Very firm posted footbeds are mostly preferred by racers and skiers who want the most precise and quickest response, while soft posted footbeds are often favored by people with very rigid feet, or those who want a bit of cushion between their feet and the bootboard. For others, there are also medium density posted footbeds.
Manufacturers and bootfitters both have different theories when it comes to the best way to mold custom footbeds. The methods used in customizing footbeds range from unsupported, Superfeet to Conform'able, and Instaprint to fully weighted molding. But there really isn't a single right way to make custom footbeds; each method has its own difference, thus many bootfitters use more than just one method. A bootfitter's skill and ability to evaluate your specific stance and biomechanical needs are often as vital as the method used.
If you have normal or average feet, then you probably won't be needing custom footbeds. As long as your feet are comfortable in your ski boots, then it doesn't really matter. However, if you need more support, and need something for your ski boots to fit you better, then you can opt for these footbeds.
Note that there still may be a break-in period for any new footbed. If you haven't been trying on the footbeds in your ski boots, you may find it uncomfortable at first, as it takes time for your foot to get accustomed to the new support.
Footbeds come in many various styles and materials, and vary in prices. If the arch of your foot is of average height and length, and your foot is reasonably stable, a trim-to-fit (TTF) footbed may be a better choice, as it will provide enough support at an affordable price.
To do so, simply take the stock footbeds out of your ski boots, then align the heels with the new footbeds. You then have to trace around the toe with a marker, and finally, trim them to match the length and shape of your old footbeds. Put them back in your ski boots, then put your ski boots on to feel if the fit is exactly what you prefer, and if they make your feet more comfortable. Be careful while trimming your footbeds, so you won't have to worry about purchasing another pair just because you trimmed them too much.
Many manufacturers offer trim-to-fit footbeds that have a heat sensitive foam that can mold to your feet over time to create a semi-custom fit. If the footbed's shape is close to that of your foot out of the box, then these may be a good choice.
How long do ski boot footbeds last?
Ski boot footbeds may last as long as your ski boots do, meaning that you can get the most out of them for 50 to 200 days of skiing. But of course, that depends on a lot of factors. One important factor is how often they are used, as they may last longer for occasional skiers than for frequent skiers. Too much heat can also destroy some types of footbeds in just a few hours. Some factors, like body weight, or amount of pronation of the materials they are made of, and even the materials' density may also have an impact on the footbeds' longevity.
Additionally, premium or high-end footbeds may last longer than conformable type of footbeds, because of the material that is used.
Finally, footbeds and any other ski equipment will last longer if cared for properly. So, it is best that you know how to maintain every single piece of your gear for it to survive numerous seasons.
Are footbeds worth it?
There are factors that make footbeds worth buying. One of them is that they stabilize the foot. Footbeds have naturally developed to become adaptable when the foot is placed down on a surface. They act as a shock absorber, but then stiffens up at the end of our stride to be able to provide a rigid lever for momentum. Throughout this motion, the width, height, and length of the foot changes constantly. Because a ski boot has no flexibility and is made with hard shell, this does not allow for these movements. Thus, problems may soon arise, and many boot fitters may say that there is a little amount of space in the shell for the foot. But actually, an unsupported foot collapsing and pressing against the inner walls of the boot may be the real cause.
Another factor that makes footbeds worth it is that they improve alignment. Whenever the foot is in a neutral position, the effect surprisingly spreads across our body. Not only will the foot relax in a straight and appropriate position for the boot, but the legs and hips will also become straighter, and will be in a stronger position to resist the forces experienced while skiing. This then reduces fatigue of the leg and feet, and will significantly improve your stance, balance, and control.
Lastly, footbeds improve pressure distribution. Taking an entire mold of the foot's sole, we can build a complementary shape along its whole length, to obtain the best platform to bear weight on. This then improves comfort, reduces fatigue that is experienced in the foot, and increases the contact area, which will give more sensory feedback to the brain, thus improving balance.
In conclusion, footbeds are an integral component of your skiing gear for you to be able get the most out of your skiing and equipment.
I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.