Back when I was going through college on the 8 year plan, I paid the bills and satisfied my gear addiction by working as a boot fitter at a couple of local ski shops. After a few years of service in this highly esteemed profession, I came to a few realizations. One, I needed to finish college as quickly as possible and get a real job. Two, breathing through my mouth eight hours a day so I did not have to smell “foot funk” made me sound like Forrest Gump. And three, skiers are extremely particular when it comes to ski boots. Once your boots are dialed in, getting rid of them is right up there with having your dog put to sleep. For those of you who are unsure as to whether or not you need new boots, here are 10 signs to look for:
1. Your boot fitter hides when he sees you walk in to the shop. You both know that there is not going to be “one more season” on your boots, since there have already been seven of those.
2. While standing in the lift line, you hear folks whispering such things as “vintage,” “old-school,” “classic,” and “museum” to name a few.
3. Other skiers heckle you when you ski beneath the chair lift. “Hey man – Gene Simmons called and he wants his boots back!”
4. You carry a roll of duct tape labeled “Boots.”
5. You have to buckle your boots so tight that you can’t feel your feet, and it takes until June for the circulation to return to normal.
6. When you Google “Replacement Salomon SX-91 Rear-Entry Boots,” the only hit you get says “Seriously?”
7. You have not had toenails since the late 20th century.
8. If your chairlift partner asks how you like your boots, you mutter through clenched teeth: “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.”
9. Your boots are so packed out that you have to wear 3 pairs of socks, 2 of which are thick cotton and are made by Fruit of the Loom.
10. You liken the experience of getting new boots to visiting a proctologist – and mean it.
Brad Northrup spent nearly a decade working in the ski industry. He eventually gave up ski boot sniffing.