There’s no denying that I am not a natural when it comes to outdoor activities and snowy mountains are no exception. Yet, I am married to a snow-boarder and married into a family who love winter sports and know that it’s going to be part of my life from now on. But learning to ski in your 30s is not easy (in my experience anyway) and so it’s going to be a slow and steady process for me and any help I can get along the way is gratefully received. So when I was invited to the Ellis Brigham Boot Labs here in Manchester, to have some ski boots custom fit, I jumped at the chance! Here’s why…
[Gifted-ad: My ski boots were gifted in order for me to review the boot Labs service. All thoughts are my own!]
Ellis Brigham Boot Labs – What’s that then?
The Ellis Brigham Boot Labs offer a 1-2-1 bespoke service, free when you purchase your ski boots in store, to ensure that your ski boots are the perfect fit. Over the limited time that I’ve spent trying to learn how to ski, one of the major issues for me has always been utter discomfort and it has really put me off. I’ve always hired my gear and had no realisation that bruised shins and achey calves are not the norm! Now, I know different…
Custom-fit Ski Boots – here’s how…
The Boot Lab Process
In a nutshell, the whole process takes just under 2 hours and if there’s space, you can do it right away in store, as soon as you buy your boots. Alternatively you can order your boots to store and book your fitting, or come back at a later date once you’ve purchased your boots. It’s worth noting too, that if you have your custom-fitting and head off to the slopes and they don’t feel quite right, you can come back to tweak as necessary. I had mine fit before an 8-hour ski lesson, which I’d booked 10 days before our actual ski holiday, just in case they needed tweaking. They didn’t! I couldn’t believe I lasted 8 hours in them with no pain!
You pop on your boots and the person at the Boot Lab will check the fit, have a look at you stood in them and get a feel for what might need tweaking. They measure your feet properly, sat and then stood. You then head over to the special “contraption” where you sit, place your feet on a sort of squidgy-bag (feels a bit like a gel cushion) which is then inflated around your feet, so create the mould for the insoles. You then stand-up, so the mould can react to the pressure points of your feet and stand for a few minutes whilst it sets.
Then it’s time to have a peruse around the shop, as it takes about 10-15 minutes for them to shave the heel down on your perfectly moulded insoles. They are then placed inside the lining of your ski boots and popped into a special machine that heats them, so they set perfectly into place. É voila! The lining and your new insoles are then placed back into your boots and you are checked again to see how the feel and if any adjustments need making (I had the toes in one of my boots stretched slightly as one foot is larger than the other).
And there you have it, perfectly custom-fit ski boots, made to fit like a glove (or…a boot!).
What about the ski boots?
I was kindly gifted the Salomon S Pro 90 Ski boots to have custom-fit in the Ellis Brigham Boot Labs and to be honest, being a novice, I don’t know a lot about ski boots or what to look for in a good set. All I knew was that a) they looked nice and b) they felt comfortable (more comfortable than I’d ever felt in ski-wear!).
But when I got out onto the slopes, it was the comments from other people that made me realise just how lucky I was to have had these boots and the boot lab fitting. My family commented on how light they were compared to a lot of other ski boots (a major plus when you’re lugging skis up and down a mountain!) and I think this is really what kept my legs in tact this time round! They also look great – I know it’s not all about aesthetic…but it kinda is when you’re out on the slopes, if we’re honest!
Tom, in store at Ellis Brigham here in Manchester also informed be that the Salomon S Pro 90 ski boots would be ideal for my level of skiing. They were flexible enough for a beginner, but built in a way that meant there was plenty of room to progress! The S Pro 100 ski boots are for the more advanced skier FYI.
Ellis Brigham Boot Labs – The verdict
It goes without saying that this experience and service changed and shaped my enjoyment of learning to ski this year. Feeling comfortable and secure in my new boots meant that I spent longer out on the slopes, learning, and less time distracted by discomfort and pain. I can’t recommend it enough.
So what’s next?
So now I have my own boots (I’m virtually a pro just because of that, surely!), what do I need next? I’m told having your own skis is a massive help. What do you think?
Like this? Keep your eyes peeled for more skiing content (learning to ski in your 30s and everything you need to know for your first family ski holiday). But in the meantime, have a look back at my previous skiing experiences, part 1, part 2 and part 3! And 5 tips for taking a baby on a ski holiday.