Thursday, August 27, 2015

What AT Ski Boot width is right for you?

Maybe because I have fairly wide feet, the one thing that over the years always defined and still defines my choice of AT boot is its width (another criteria is number of buckles, mine are always four buckle boots). Most AT ski boot makers use just the one mold for their AT boots. The one thing you can’t have is boots too narrow for your foot, that’s the best and fastest way to turn a glorious backcountry day into a miserable Guantanamo type experience. Of course you still have to get your size right and for that you’ll need to figure out your mondo size.
The thing I used to struggle with was:

1) How to figure out what width my foot is
2) How to figure out what width the boots are

Came to find out that figuring out the width of my foot is actually simple as 1-2-3: It is the width of your foot at its widest. The experts talk about “metatarsal” width.  To measure it I put down my foot, on a piece of cardboard, parallel to the wall with the outside to the wall and on the inside find the part that protrudes the most and make a notch there, then measure that width.

So what is considered wide vs narrow? As an example, if you are a US men’s size 10, then a foot width of about 3.8" (96.5mm) is considered narrow, 4.0" (100mm) is considered pretty standard and 4.2" (106.6mm) is considered wide. For width on all other US men’s sizes see this table:

When it comes to the “metatarsal width” of your boots, the experts talk about “Last width”. That is the widest they are on the inside. These days that measurement is a lot easier to find than just a few years ago. As an example now lists it as one of its measurements under “Specs”. Once you have a length, a width, then I recommend you take a look at an Intuition liner to improve your fit. Another tool in the bag is the ability to punch out a boot shell. If the boot width is almost there but just tight enough to develop an unbearble pressure point over a few hours of touring, then have them punched out. Any full service sports store in Park City knows how to do that.

Below are a few boots I like from widest to narrowest. Brand, Model, and last width are indicated in the captions. The width you’ll see below is pretty typical of the width of the whole brand at least as far as their AT boots are concerned (click to enlarge):
Scott Cosmos (previously Garmont): 103.5mm - 4.07"

Black Diamond Quadrant: 103mm - 4.05"

La Sportiva Spitfire 102mm - 4"

Scarpa Maestrale: 101mm - 3.95"

Dynafit TLT6: 99mm - 3.9"

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