New ski boots typically come with a warranty that covers their lifespan. You can check the manufacturer’s website for such details, but you’ll typically get at least one season out of your purchase before they’re done. If you skied on old, outdated equipment last year and feel like it’s taking a toll on your performance this year, don’t worry! Ski boots generally have a shelf life of three or four years before they need to be replaced.
As a general rule of thumb, ski boots should be replaced every few years as the materials used in manufacturing can eventually deteriorate due to weather conditions and use.
Table of Contents
- How Long Do Ski Boots Last
- Why Do Ski Boots Fail To Perform
- When Should Your Ski Boots Be Replaced?
- 5 Main Factors that Affect Ski Boot Performance
- 3 Methods for Extending the Life of Your Ski Boots
How Long Do Ski Boots Last
The life of a ski boot is all dependent on the quality of your boots and how often you use them. Typically, ski boots will last between 50-200 full skiing days. If you only skied one day a year, then one set of good quality boots would last for about 2 years (50 days). If you skied 10 days per year, they would last for about 5 years (200 days). However, if your skiing style involves a lot of hiking and carrying gear in between runs, then your ski boot may not live up to 200 days. Also, remember that if you are an avid free rider or boarder, then the tips on your ski boots will last substantially less than someone who is only skiing.
The life of a ski boot is important for a few reasons:
- It can affect how comfortable you feel on the mountain; those 50-200 days will now become only 50-100 days if your boots wear out quickly. This is especially important for those of us riding 8 hour lift lines waiting to go back up and do it again (just like I am right now), and we don’t want our feet to start hurting.
- You can’t get in or out of your ski boots without the buckle completely taking it off. So, any time that you are in your skis, you are stuck with them for the day.
- If you are a backcountry skier, when you go to buy new ski boots, they will be sized to your feet when they are in pain because you have been skiing all day. If your boots have worn out quickly previously because of how often you ski, then this will cause the boots to not fit correctly.
Why Do Ski Boots Fail To Perform
Ski boots degrade in a variety of ways. When determining the “How long do ski boots last?” question, the following factors must be considered:
Let us examine each of these variables in turn!
Reason 1 Climate is the primary factor
It may seem counterintuitive to hear that climate has an effect on the wear and tear of your ski boots, but it does. Indeed, it can occasionally be too cold.
Due to the extremely cold temperatures, skiers have reported several instances of ski boots exploding into countless pieces. However, climate change over the lifespan of the ski boots can have a significant impact as well.
Moving your ski boots from a warm climate to snow-covered mountains and back again has a detrimental effect on the plastic shells. Each time you wear your ski boots on a skiing trip, the plastic contracts due to the cold.
Similarly, as you descend the mountain, your ski boots expand. All of that expansion and contraction places a significant amount of strain on your ski boots.
Reason 2 Excessive Walking
As with all high-performance footwear, ski boots sustain unwarranted wear and tear when used for purposes other than their intended purpose.
However, we all occasionally find ourselves walking around in our ski boots. As a result, the lifespan of our boots is shortened.
Reason 3 UV Exposure
Over time, ultraviolet light can cause significant damage to ski boots. Excessive exposure to UV rays causes the shells of your ski boots to become brittle and fail.
Additionally, UV rays cause sun to rot, which shortens the life of your liners. When not in use, keep your ski boots out of direct sunlight to avoid harmful UV rays.
Reason 4 Stress
Ski boots are subjected to a great deal of abuse over the course of their lives. As you weave your way down the mountain, the forward and lateral forces on your ski boots erode the shells after several seasons of use.
For advanced skiers, the stress is amplified. Additionally, the heavier a skier is, the shorter the lifespan of a pair of ski boots due to the increased stress.
Reason 5 Inadequate storage
Inadequate storage can quickly deteriorate a pair of ski boots. Each time the ski boots are used, the liners become wet and require proper drying. If not dried thoroughly enough, the liners can become moldy.
If the liners are overdried from a direct heat source, they may warp and never fit properly again. Skiers should allow their ski boots to air dry rather than using a hair dryer or placing them too close to a fire.
When Should Your Ski Boots Be Replaced?
The following are the most frequently cited reasons why people exchange their old boots for new ones. In brackets, I’ve included possible solutions.
The current boots do not fit as well as they used to (replace the liner first?)
Cracks in the shell or buckles that have snapped (buckles sometimes repairable)
If the toe or heel is rounded off, the shoe will not connect securely to the bindings (on some boots the heel and toe parts can be ground down & replaced).
Your previous boots had a softer flex, and you’re now looking for a stiffer flex to accommodate your increased skiing ability.
The plastic shell gradually loses its elasticity and becomes more brittle. This decreased the flexibility and pop that aids in energy transfer to your skis. While a worn sole can move within the bindings (even when they are securely attached), reducing your control over your skis.
If you believe that your ski boots are restricting your skiing ability because you’ve outgrown them or they’re no longer as responsive as they once were, this is a good reason to consider a new purchase.
A skier’s boots will eventually see their final run. Certain skiers are unconcerned about wearing ski boots past their peak.
However, everyone should understand when to retire their old pair of ski boots. Let’s examine some of the most common indicators that it’s time to replace your ski boots.
Sign 1 Extreme adaptability
If you’ve advanced as a skier, you may wish to transition to high-performance ski boots, which typically provide less flexibility. While all ski boots become more flexible over time, novice ski boots experience this phenomenon to a greater extent.
Skiers looking to improve their game may wish to upgrade to more rigid, high-end ski boots.
Sign 2 Abrasion to the shell
A cracked shell is often the most obvious indication that it is time to replace your ski boots. Cracks and breaks in the shells of your ski boots pose a substantial risk of injury.
Before each use, skiers should visually inspect the shells of their ski boots. If you notice a crack, it is prudent to replace them.
Sign 3: Abrasions on the Heel or Toe
The heels and toes of ski boots experience the most wear and tear with regular use. This can result in an improper fit with the skis, increasing the risk of injury.
The heels and toes may become rounded in some cases, resulting in a loose fit with the bindings. In some instances, injury to the heel or toe may impair a skier’s ability to click in.
Sign 4 Inadequate Fit
Your ski boots may no longer fit properly if the liners have become too compressed.
This can result in anything from mild discomfort to chronic foot pain. If you are unable to locate replacement liners for your current ski boots, purchase new ones.
Although a new boot will not instantly transform you into an expert skier, if you’ve been restricted by your boots for an extended period of time, you’ll likely be surprised at how much more enjoyable skiing you can get from a new pair of well-fitted boots.
5 Main Factors that Affect Ski Boot Performance
The most important factors affecting skier performance are boot weight, rigidity, and stiffness.
Ski boot weight is the force applied to the ski by your body weight during each step or turn that can be felt on both the inside and outside of the leg. Rigidity, also known as torsional rigidity, is a measure of how much twisting force is available in a ski’s construction. And stiffness refers to how much force it takes to keep an object rotating or moving forward.
There are five main factors that affect skier performance:
Machines cannot operate effectively without sufficient mass. The heavier a ski boot, the less force it needs to move through the snow. Heavy boots have a longer turning radius and absorb less energy from a step in order to move in a straight line.
The stiffness of a ski’s construction in the vertical direction (the x-direction) is expressed as how much load it takes to bend, twist or break the ski under normal skiing conditions. On skis with metal bases (typically alpine skis), this stiffness is measured in cm/rad (cm/radiometer). On other skis such as park and telemark skis, this measurement is referred to as Kp (kiloPascal). Stiffer skis typically turn faster than softer skis because they are better at resisting torsion applied by the ski boot. The stiffness of a ski, along with its sidecut radius, governs its turning radius. Stiffer skis bend less to match the same radius as softer skis.
Ski boots used for telemark skiing are typically soft for easy turn initiation but if they are too soft, the boot will fatigue and lose energy due to excessive flexing during long runs or sudden changes in direction. Shorter telemark boots tend to be stiffer than longer alpine boots because they must be able to resist the torsional forces caused by heel-free turns on varying terrain.
A ski with a larger radius will naturally turn radially faster than a ski with a smaller radius. This is because the ski can flex less to match its turning radius. Beyond critical radius, the sidecut angle of the skier has little effect on how fast he can turn. The change in speed required to match curvature increases at greater radius because of the increased number of turns traversing the arc for which comparison needs to be made.
Proprioceptive ability refers to body awareness. It is an element of human reflexes that allows us to sense our own movements and balance, regardless of what parts of our bodies are moving relative to each other. Proprioception builds muscle memory and increases balance and stability in all directions. Skiing improves proprioception in ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, and neck. Proprioception is improved by increased acceleration forces and increased angular or rotational forces.
3 Methods for Extending the Life of Your Ski Boots
At some point, all ski boots will require repurposing. However, you can extend the life of your ski boots in the interim by making wise purchasing decisions, performing routine maintenance, and attaching certain protective accessories.
Let’s look at some methods for extending the life of your ski boots.
Purchase Ski Boots with Removable Heel and Toe Caps
Numerous pairs of contemporary ski boots feature replaceable heels and toes. The ability to replace worn-out heels and toes with new ones can significantly extend the life of your ski boots.
If your current boots will not click into place properly or the fit is compromised due to the rounding out of your heel or toe, the option to purchase replacement parts can save users money on a new pair.
Purchase Welted Sole Ski Boots
Skiers who are willing to admit that they spend too much time walking around in their ski boots can purchase boots with welted soles. Welting is the process of attaching the sole to a welt (a durable leather strip that surrounds the outside of the boot) rather than the lining.
Due to the reduced likelihood of tearing or separation, welted soles provide added durability when walking on rugged surfaces.
Additionally, welting can protect ski boots from damage that occurs even when the boots are used as intended.
While Walking, Utilize Cat Tracks
Even the best-built ski boots will eventually succumb to the excessive wear and tear caused by walking around the ski resort. If you anticipate wearing your ski boots around town, consider purchasing cat tracks to protect them.
Cat tracks are detachable rubber soles that you can use to protect your ski boots while also making walking easier.
Are 20-year-old ski boots still good?
Many skiers make the mistake of wearing ski boots that are too small or outdated. But, if you initially got your boots five or 20 years ago, your skiing may have improved. Everything from muscle memory to improved reflexes may have made a difference. You may be able to move up to a ski boot that will support a more advanced or aggressive technique.
Of course, many expert skiers do not stay with one boot for long periods of time, purchasing new models for specific needs and skill levels as they develop. For instance, junior racers often use adult-sized boots until their bodies mature and adjust at around 15 years old because the larger boot supports the usage of their muscles better during high-intensity training sessions and competitions.
How do I know if my ski boot is last?
If you’re in the market for ski boots, you might be asking “what is the best way to find out if my boot is the last size?” Fear not, because we’ve got your back! For starters, it’s important to know when the boot was made. If your boots are more than five years old, there’s a chance that they’re past due for replacement.
Is it OK to use old ski boots?
If you have a pair of old ski boots sitting in the back of your closet, it may be time for you to let them go. After each trip, ski boots naturally degrade and if yours are a little too old already they will be limiting your skiing progression. It might be time to say goodbye and treat yourself to a new pair.
There are many benefits to purchasing a new pair. The newer models will likely fit better based on your size and needs, especially if you’ve outgrown the flex level that originally came with that boot.