The title of this blog may seem counterproductive. Why would an ecommerce website, with an emphasis on skiing, urge consumers to ignore the “Buy Now” option when looking at ski boots online?
The answer, at root, is found in Park City, UT, where Jans’ brick and mortar ski shops have been fitting and selling ski boots for over 30 years. Many of our experienced staff have been with the company since the early days, and take pride in being known as some of the most trusted boot fitters in the country.
When pride in one’s work outweighs want for profit, the finished product is always of a higher quality. Watch the video below to hear Jans General Manager, Jack Walzer, explain why, in the name of quality, we discourage customers from buying their ski boots online.
Not only are everyone’s feet unique, but foot structure can change dramatically over the course of even a single season. And while this is happening, manufacturers themselves continually evolve the fit of their ski boots. From last width and instep, to liner thickness and toebox construction, ski boot designs are always being tweaked from season to season. The boots that fit your feet like a dream four years ago won’t necessarily be your best option anymore.
The only foolproof way for us to ensure that you, the customer, get the best fitting boot available is to quite literally get hands-on with your feet – identifying width in millimeters of the forefoot, height of the instep, shape of the Achilles, general ankle structure, calf configuration…
With a firsthand understanding of the needs of your feet, the next step is to match the performance of a ski boot to your skiing style and ability level. Again, regardless of the rave reviews a specific boot may have received for this season, if it is not designed for your level of skiing, or doesn’t fit the shape of your particular foot, it will not perform anything like the magazines suggest.
There is a strange deception perpetuated by ski boot manufacturers that flex indexes of ski boots are measured on a uniform scale. Plain and simple, there is no consensus method for determining flex. The 120 flex of your old Atomic boots, for example, may not feel anything like the flex pattern of a new pair of 120 flex Tecnicas. Without getting your foot in the boot, there is no way to confidently make your purchase knowing the flex and performance of the ski boot has best been matched to your specific needs.
To a professional boot fitter, a ski boot out of the box is simply a template. Chosen, of course, because it is the closest match to a specific foot, but designed to be tinkered with all the same. Fitting a ski boot requires adjustments as major as a grind or punch, or as simple as heat molding the liner to your foot. Either way, your ski boot can always fit better than it did right off the shelf.
And that is where the proximity of a shop to the snow comes in. Being able to provide your boot fitter with immediate feedback about their alterations is a unique and highly effective way to ensure the most accurate boot fit. When you’re fresh from the snow, not only are indentations from pressure points still visible, but you, personally, are also best able to articulate your concerns.
Diagnosing bone protrusions, arch structures, and even alignment issues is easy. But where the real benefit of face-to-foot boot work comes from is in finding the solutions to these problems. The best possible boot for you may have shipped from our warehouse, but without some simple tweaks from a professional boot fitter, you may never know it.
Our reasoning for discouraging online ski boot purchases is, in many ways, a simple matter of quality control. When a ski boot leaves our warehouse intended for a customer we have never met, and whose sweaty feet we’ve never touched, we have lost complete control of the boot fit process. In the shops, we can confidently send a customer out the door with the best ski boot for them.
We consider our online Ski Boot Shop more of a research resource for our customers. Yes there is a “Buy Now” option, but as our zero return policy indicates, we are reluctant to send a pair of ski boots your way without having had the chance to provide you with a proper boot fit first. If you’ve dealt with a professional boot fitter that you trust, by all means make the purchase. But if you’re not 100% positive about the fit, don’t buy online. Head to your local ski shop instead.
Nate Tomlinson, Senior Content Writer
Learn more about Jans Custom Ski Boot Fits in Park City, UT