If you’ve ever put a pair of ski boots on before, it’s probably true to say they weren’t the most comfortable footwear you’ve ever tried on. While ski boots were never going to win any comfort awards, custom ski boot footbeds could go a long way to improving them. But are they worth it?
Custom ski boot footbeds are worth it for the majority of people. The comfort, security, and incredible foot support they instantly provide far outweigh any reason not to use them.
As custom footbeds don’t come as standard with all ski boots, there are a few things we need to understand about them before making a decision. Whether or not they’re worth it for you will depend on a few factors.
If you’ve only ever tried on rental boots from a ski shop in the resort, it’s highly likely that you’ve never even considered the possibility of custom ski boot footbeds. Whether they’re worth it or not for you is potentially debatable, but one thing is for sure, custom ski boots make the initial few weeks of skiing far more comfortable for everyone.
A custom ski boot footbed is essentially an innersole that’s been pre-molded to fit around the contours and entire shape of your foot. It “fast tracks” you across the stage of wearing-in your boots, and always provides a far more comfortable experience for the skier, at least at the beginning.
The process of getting a custom footbed starts at the ski shop. More well-known, or big ski stores should have the facilities to produce custom ski footbeds but always check beforehand to avoid disappointment.
First, you’ll be required to pick out your ski boot (if you haven’t already got one) with the help of a boot fitter. As a slight side note, it’s always better to let the boot choose you, rather than basing your decision on whichever has your favorite pattern and color.
Next, your boot fitter will grab some third-party footbeds, and place them into a heater to make them malleable. As this is happening, you’ll stand on top of two separate heat molds with bags over the top. Standing in a neutral stance, air will be sucked out of the bag to create a unique concave mold of each foot.
Once that’s done, the boot fitter will place the pre-warmed soles into the concave molds and have you stand on them. They will then define the shape, making sure it gives you all the support needed.
Finally, the boot fitter will remove the soles and attach a heated piece of foam to the heel to provide stability when it’s placed into the boot. The whole process shouldn’t take more than an hour or so, so plan your time accordingly.
Custom ski boot footbeds are, of course, an extra cost to an already expensive activity. If you’re already buying a pair of ski boots at the same time, it might seem like an added expense you could do without.
However, for most people, it will be well worth fronting the extra cash for the comfort and support that custom ski boot footbeds cost. As we’ll talk about later, it’s probably not worth it if your feet haven’t fully grown. If that sounds like you, just wait out a few more years!
An average pair of custom ski boot footbeds will likely cost anywhere from $75 – $100. This price is likely to fluctuate depending on whether the soles need extra trimming or modifying to accommodate your feet.
When it comes down to it, the only person that can decide whether or not custom footbeds are worth it is you. You’ll need to account for the extra money, but if you fall into any of the following categories, it’s likely they’ll be a worthwhile purchase.
The first reason you may decide to get custom ski boot footbeds is that you need foot support. You may have high arches, flat feet, or any other foot shape that requires the use of a special sole. If you wear orthopedic innersoles with regular shoes, chances are high that you’ll benefit from a custom footbed.
If your foot doesn’t sit correctly in the ski boot, it has the potential to throw your entire body out of alignment. So you might think you have the perfect skiing posture, but without fixing your feet positioning first, it’s going to be a futile attempt.
One situation where your body structure won’t be affected without custom footbeds is if you have one leg longer than the other and usually wear an innersole to correct it. Because skiing is never on an equal plane (flat), the use of an innersole or custom footbed that accounts for a leg discrepancy won’t be needed.
If you’re fully grown, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t get some custom footbeds. However, if you’re a child whos still on their first pair of boots then it’s not a great idea. The cost and hassle of getting new custom boot liners every year truly won’t be worth it.
Depending on your skiing goals and ability, you may only need to get 2-3 pairs of ski boots in your life. It’s perfectly acceptable to get custom footbeds for all of them, but if you’re still growing that number is likely to be far higher.
If you only go skiing every few years, you may not think the cost is worth it. That’s if you’ve even got your own boots. At such a casual level, you might not think you’ll see any benefit.
However, if you’ve been once or twice and realize skiing is something you want to continue doing later on in your life, or at least once a year, then investing in a set of custom footbeds is going to really benefit your skiing. Your ski boots will feel like slippers, not rigid tin cans on your feet.
In fact, one could argue that the less frequently you go skiing, the more important custom ski footbeds are for you. For example, ski boot liners and footbeds can take around 3-4 days to properly adjust to your feet. That means if you only go skiing once a year for a week, well over half of your holiday has the possibility to be uncomfortable.
While your boots absolutely should not hurt, you’ll still end up with more fatigued feet after your holiday, whereas if you had got custom footbeds that are unique to your feet, they would instantly give you the support you need. This will allow you to get on with skiing and not worry about any breaking-in period with your boots.
Unless you’re Marcel Hirscher, an entire day ripping up the slopes is probably likely to leave you feeling fatigued. So you need to know every single piece of your equipment is working with you to make the muscular strain as little as possible.
If you’re anything like us, getting the first lift up and the last lift down is the only way to start and end a day on the mountains. Unfortunately, squeezing every last hour of your time at a ski resort on the mountain might leave your feet feeling sore, which means custom footbeds are the only way to prevent fatigue as much as possible.
That said, if you’d prefer to spend the morning at the chalet and then slowly make your way up the mountain in the afternoon for a few runs, you may think custom footbeds are too specialized for you. You won’t know without trying them, so take the leap of faith if you want to be comfortable.
We would argue that comfort is king when skiing. As we’ve said before, technically the less amount of skiing you do, the more you want it to be a great experience. So, unless you aren’t sure that skiing is for you, grab yourself some custom footbeds!
The simplest reason you may find yourself wanting a pair of custom ski footbeds is that you just don’t want to deal with the breaking-in period. Granted, that may only take a few days in some cases, but there’s nothing wrong with making the most of your time skiing as we’ve already discussed above.
For someone trying on their first pair of ski boots to buy, skiing might still be a fairly new thing for them. Naturally, that means all their attention needs to be used to focus on learning a great technique, and not the fatigue in their feet.
Skiing without custom footbeds shouldn’t hurt, but the first few days will likely be a little more uncomfortable than not having them. Take that into consideration if you only get a small amount of time on the slopes each year, you want to make every second as good as it can be!
Technically, you don’t need custom ski boot footbeds. But, for the key support, comfort, and confidence they provide right from the outset, they’re definitely worth it for most people. The only people who may not benefit are those whose feet are still growing, and people trying skiing for the first time and unsure if they will continue.