>> Prioritize touring or downhill performance.
You’ll hike faster in light, flexible boots, but they’re less supportive for aggressive skiing. Want to carve the steeps? Opt for stiff boots with a high cuff. They’ll slow your uphill hike, but provide better edge control and power transfer. Exception: Check out the all-purpose Dynafit TLT5 Mountain.
>> Size right.
According to Boulder, Colorado, boot-fitting expert Larry Houchen, buying too- big boots is the most common fit mistake. Try his simple fit test: Stand up straight, then lean back slightly. Your toes should lightly tap the boot’s front. If you have chronically hard-to-fit feet, most specialty ski shops have fitters like Houchen who can melt or grind the plastic shell for a permanent, custom fix.
>> Mold liners.
Most new boots come with heat-moldable liners—a pro at the store “cooks” them in a special oven, then conforms the liner to your foot. Heating and fitting costs $25 to $50, and after treatment, the lightweight liners cradle your feet, and are less apt to compress with use.
>> Add a footbed.
Reinforce your boot’s interior base with a semi-custom sole like those from Superfeet ($40 to $50). “A stiffer insole transfers power to the ski more efficiently,” says Houchen. “And it keeps your foot from slipping while you hike.”