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When To Replace Ski Boots (Full Guide)

Ski boots are without a doubt the most important piece of equipment you’ll buy during your ski journey. However, many people often wonder if, and indeed when, they should replace their boots.

Ski boots typically last around 200 days of skiing, and should be replaced if they no longer function as they are supposed to. This may include damage, ski ability change, or general wear and tear.

While it is important to replace your ski boots when the time is right, there are a few things you can do to make them last longer. That said, it’s still critical to understand when a boot should be replaced, and when it should be preserved.

How Long Do Ski Boots Last?

There are so many contributing factors that go to determine how long a pair of ski boots last. As a rule of thumb, you can expect a new set of boots to last around 200 days. That may not sound like a lot, but if you consider an average ski holiday length of 10 days, that means at least 20 years of life.

However, that’s not a guaranteed 20 years of life. Though it’s important to be realistic when you buy your ski boots, there are certain things that will give your ski boots a shorter life.

Second-Hand Boots

As you might have guessed, buying second-hand ski boots, as so many beginners do, won’t give you as much time as a new boot. Pre-owned boots are still a great way to go for beginners or people who don’t get many weeks in each season, but it’s important to realize their lifespan may not be as long as you think.

Treated Badly

Treating your boots badly, throwing them about, and not being careful with them is another surefire way to give your boots a shorter lifespan. Ideally, they should always be in a bag when traveling, and you should avoid walking on concrete for a prolonged period of time.

Stored Incorrectly

Storing your boots incorrectly is another way to not maximize the life of your ski boots. As we’ll talk about later, the best place to store your boots is in a warm and dry place, not your garage. This helps preserve the shell and lining of your boots and helps you get as close to those 20 years as you can.

Toe Or Heel Wore Away

It’s a frequent occurrence to find yourself walking across towns or car parks not covered in snow to reach the gondola. While it may seem harmless in the moment, constantly exposing the soles of your ski boots to such distress can severely damage the toe and heel plates of your boots.

If you can, take an extra pair of lightweight shoes or snow boots to walk in, and attach your ski boots to your backpack. That way, you’ll preserve the toe and heel of your boot so you know it acts in the way it was designed to. If you aren’t able to use another pair of shoes, try to park as close to the gondola as you can, and minimize the stress your boots go through.

Of course, some walking can’t be helped. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to molly coddle your ski boots because they were designed to thrive in harsh conditions, just make sure you take care of them when you have the chance.

How To Make Your Ski Boots Last Longer

While it may seem like the best option is to just buy the latest and greatest ski boots, there’s a hell of a lot you can do to ensure yours last as long as possible. By following the advice below, you should be able to make sure your ski boots last as long as possible.

Dry Them Out

Let’s take a moment to think about the amount of moisture your ski boots are likely to accumulate after a day of skiing. That’s why it’s so important to keep your boots dry after each session. If you have the opportunity to do so, use a boot dryer.

Some of the more premium chalets (and sometimes hotels) will offer boot lockups that include boot dryers/warmers. This helps eliminate any water that’s made its way into the shell and means your boots will be nice and toasty when you put them on in the morning.

It’s important to remember, that the warmers you find at these chalets or hotels are likely industry standard and build for the purpose of drying out your boots. Don’t purchase any old warming device off the internet without first thoroughly checking out the reviews specifically for ski boots. Failure to do so could damage your boots.

Also, make sure you only leave them in overnight, to prevent any warping damage to the liner and footbed. This shouldn’t happen if you use the proper equipment, but it’s best not to leave them in any longer than they need to be.

So, using a boot dryer each day after skiing (especially after your final day) will prevent humidity and moisture from building up and damaging the internal liner and also the potential for rust. At the very least give your boots a rub down with a towel on the last day of your holiday so they aren’t sitting wet for an entire season.

Keep Them Buckled

Keeping your ski boots buckled is one of the most important tips for keeping them in prime condition. Quite simply, if you are thinking of hanging up your boots for more than a couple of weeks at a time, buckle them up. In fact, it makes good practice to do it every time you take them off.

The reason for this is so that the cuff shell (that’s the bit that goes around your ankle) can keep its shape. When the boot was made, the cuff was bent into a specific shape to fit someone’s leg, leaving your boots unbuckled for an extended period of time will see the cuff lose its shape.

Once it starts to lose its shape, your ski boot won’t only cause you pain throughout your sessions, but it will also compromise the safety of your boots and skis. It’s important to recognize if your cuff shell has deformed or no longer buckles up like it should because at that point it’s time to change boots.

Store Your Boots In A Cool Dry Place

Not only do you need to store your boots buckled up, but you should also keep them in a cool and dry place. That means no garage, and nowhere outdoors! Keep them in your room, in a cool area, preferably displayed where everyone can see how fantastic they are.

Failure to keep your boots in a cool and dry place will result in your boots getting damp, humid, and potentially covered in mold. That’s likely to ruin any material parts of your boots, and possibly cause damage to the metal parts.

Your boots are designed for the wet and harsh conditions that the mountains throw at them, but constant exposure for months on end to damp or wet environments can be very destructive. Care for your boots at home, and they’ll care for you on the mountain.

When Should You Replace Your Ski Boots?

Damaged Shell

If you notice your ski boot shell is badly damaged, you need to replace your boots. Something as simple as a crack in the boot shell may mean the ski boot won’t be able to perform at the level you’re skiing and therefore could cause an accident.

Technically, ignoring a crack in your ski boots could be dangerous for both you and other people on the mountain. If the structural integrity of the boot gives out at any point, you run the risk of crashing into someone, or not being able to stop in an environment where it’s vital.

You might want to DIY fix it with some tape and glue, but as with a lot of things in skiing, it’s not worth taking that chance. Take them to a professional ski technician if you must, but you’ll likely get the same response to replace your ski boot.

Change Size

A less dramatic circumstance in which you’ll need to replace your ski boots is if you outgrow them. While we highly recommend waiting to purchase your own boots until your feet stop growing (Especially if you only go once a year), it’s completely understandable that some of you may want to buy your own.

Staying with a ski boot that’s too small for you won’t only be extremely painful to ski in, but will also severely hamper your learning ability. It’s important to check your ski boots a good while in advance of your proposed ski holiday. That way you’ll have more than enough time to go to the ski shop and purchase another pair of boots.

Specialized Or Increased Flex

Another reason you may consider replacing your ski boots is if your skiing ability has changed from when you bought them. For example, your very first ski boots are probably going to have a relatively low flex, standard fit, and be designed for the casual skier.

As time goes on and your ability increases, you’ll likely look to a boot that can satisfy your requirements. That might mean a higher flex to keep up with your aggressive style, specialized touring boots for the back country, or performance fit for racing.

Like quite a few things when you don’t upgrade your equipment for skiing, your learning is likely to be set back if you continue using standard ski boots when you should be using something else. While it might not seem necessary in the moment, a specialized ski boot built for your needs can be one of the best skiing investments you make.

Worn Toe And Heel Plate

As we touched on above, one of the most prominent reasons you’ll have to change and replace your ski boots is if the toe or heel cap is starting to become worn. You likely already know that skiing usually involves at least a little bit of walking on concrete before you actually get to the slopes. It’s an annoying yet necessary part of pretty much everyone’s holiday.

While your boots are absolutely designed to deal with harsh conditions, constant exposure to hard surfaces (or walking on anything other than snow) is likely to wear down the soles of your boots. Couple this with the frequent clipping in and out of your bindings, and you start to understand how easy it is to potentially damage your boots.

This is likely the most serious reason to replace your ski boots as it’s highly likely to cause injury to someone if left unchecked. If your bindings start to unclip more frequently without you realizing (and without changing any settings) it’s worth having a look and the heel and toe plate to check for any major differences in shape.

Once again, we would advise taking your boots to a professional ski shop and having a technician look at them if you’re unsure. Sometimes boots have replaceable pads which would mean you won’t have to replace the entire boot. However, if yours don’t, it’s still extremely important you replace your boots to prevent unwanted injury or accidents.

Broken Buckles

The final reason you may need to replace your boots is if the buckles have broken. While you might be able to get replacements for just that individual part, the boot is now no longer functioning as it was intended to, and so its safety and effectiveness cannot be guaranteed.

It’s also not going to be a fun experience if you’re skiing and your buckles pop open if they’re broken. It’s for that reason that we would highly advise you to replace the entire boot, especially if it looks like it has compromised the structural integrritiy. However, treat each case separately, if the buckle is broken and it in no way affects the performance of the boot, then leave it.

When To Replace Ski Boot Liners

Sometimes you might think you have to change your entire ski boot, but the problem might  actually be located in your boot liners. Ski boot liners typically last between 50-100 days skiing from new before they “pack out”. That means the liner becomes too big for your feet as the inside material has been compacted in certain areas.

So, if you notice your boots aren’t fitting as well as they have done in the past, it’s worth checking out how your liners are looking. You don’t want to replace the whole ski boot, which could be a costly purchase when all you really need to do is replace the liners.

Final Thoughts

Replacing a ski boot is something almost every skier will have to do at some point. It’s important to understand the signs to look out for that require a replacement, and those that may not be as serious. On average, most holiday skiers may only need 2-3 pairs of boots in their lifetime unless they decide to specialize in a certain discipline.