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How should I take care of my ski boots?

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Your ski boots are the most important purchase next to your ski jacket. And a good ski boot is an investment so naturally, you want to take good care of your boots. But how do you do that? What’s the best way to care for your ski boots, when you’re not using them?

You can read more on how to find the best ski boot for you in this article: How to find the right ski boots when you have weird feet

So how and why should you take care of your ski boots? Here are some important things, I’ve picked up through the years.

If you’re looking for a good ski boot dryer, I suggest you take a look at this article: Best ski boot dryers

Why is it important to tend to my ski boots?

Ski boots don’t come cheap. So it would be wise to take good care of the ones, you have.

Even though, ski boots might look like they’re indestructible, actually, they need to be tended to, in the right matter in order to last for many years.

However, if you do take good care of your ski boots, they will take good care of you for many years to come.

When you need to take care of your ski boots, it is a good idea to start thinking about their main parts: the shell, the liner, and the sole. You need to attend to each of these parts in their own manner.

What is the best way to protect my ski boot soles?

First of all, it is important to make sure, that the soles of your ski boots are in good shape. Walking in your boots can quickly deteriorate the soles.

A lot of ski boots have a “walking mode.” Mine does as well. The walking mode increases the flex of the boot, making it easier to walk.

It’s is a nice feature to have when you take off your skis on the slopes and have to walk in the snow (e.g., when you need to take a break). It is also very nice to have, when you need to walk up or down a lot of steps, to get into a gondola lift.

However, the walking mode is not intended to be used for walking on asphalt, on gravel in the parking lot or on the sidewalk from the lift and back to your hotel. “These boots are made for walking” is not true, when it comes to ski boots.

When you walk on such surfaces in your ski boots, you’ll quickly wear down the soles. Especially the toes and heels, which fit into the ski bindings, are prone to wear and tear by walking, and these should never be worn out.

If the heels and toes of your boots are worn out two critical errors might happen: 1) they might not trigger the release mechanism of the bindings in case of a fall or collision, and 2) they might release in the middle of your run. In the end, you’re compromising your safety.

Cat Tracks like these on Amazon are a great way to protect your ski boot soles.

If you have to walk in your ski boots, I highly recommend, that you invest in a pair of Cat Tracks.

Cat Tracks are detachable sole protectors, which fits all major ski boot brands, and also adds extra traction and comfort when you walk in your ski boots. They are easily foldable and easily fits in your pocket or backpack. Bring a plastic bag to carry them in, as they will get dirty from all the slush and gravel on the roads.

Keep your boots clean and dry

Another important reason, you should tend to your ski boots every time you’ve used them is to make sure they’re clean and dry.

When you ski, the humidity will build up in the boots. This can be from snow, rain, and/or sweat.

If you don’t make sure to dry your boots completely dry each night, the humidity will enter the liner and shorten its lifespan. Now add to this a few bacteria from your feet or socks, and you’ll have the perfect witch cauldron for mold, mildew and in the end a very bad odor.

Starting a day by sticking your nice duvet warm feet into a pair of cold wet boots really sucks! And as you hit the slopes you’re feet will keep getting colder. That’s another reason for taking good care of your ski boots each night.

Check out my article on the best ski boot dryers if you want to read more on ski boot dryer options.

When should I tend to my ski boots?

There are two main situations, where you need to take care of your boots: Après ski and after the ski season has ended.

Après ski care is your everyday care, you should do every afternoon or evening when you’re finished with your day of skiing. Make it a habit to do these things every single day, and your ski boots will last for years.

The après ski season care is what you should do when the skiing season is over.

In reality, they are not that different, but there are a few extra things, you need to think about when you’re storing away your ski boots for the summer. I’ll get back to that later.

What is the best way I take care of the ski boot shell?

how should I take care of my ski boots?

The ski boot shell is the hard, outer shell, which is made from different types of plastic like Thermoplastic Polyurethane for the hard shell, and Triax for the cuffs (the latter being much softer than the former).

The plastic shell is either molded from the manufacturer to some standard measurements or custom-fitted by a boot fitter. The goal is to secure the best fit for your foot and maximize the energy transfer from your legs to the skis.

Even though the ski boot shell can seem rugged, they still need to be taken care of in the right way.

After a day on the slopes, do this:

  1. Remove the snow from the shells, buckles, ladders, and cuffs. You can use your hands or a soft-haired brush. Avoid banging the boots together, as I see a lot of people doing, as this may damage the shells.
  2. Remove the liners. Do this by unbuckling your boots, and putting your hand in the liner. Then gently pull the liner from the shell.
  3. Check for water at the bottom of the boot, and pour it out if there is any. Water can get in your boots from melted snow, rain or sweat. If necessary remove the Zeppa (footbed) and boot board as well. If the boot board has metal bolts in it, which fits into holes in the shell, make sure these aren’t rusty from sweat. Replace if necessary.
  4. Wipe down the inside and outside of the boot with a cloth.
  5. Close the buckles (but don’t tighten them), in order for the shell to retain its shape. Make sure, that the tongue of the boot doesn’t protrude the overlaps, as this can damage
  6. Leave the shells out to dry. You can leave the shells on the floor at room temperature. You can also use portable dryers or a hot boot bag for the purpose. Don’t use the heat racks found at several resorts, as these can damage the shell, because they produce too much heat. Never expose the shell to direct heat (like a fireplace or radiators) or UV-rays (like direct sunlight), as this may degrade the plastic (and the boot can begin to crack), alter the shape of the boot or even cause the plastic to melt.

What is the best way to take care of the ski boot liner?

The liners are usually the first part of your boot to wear out, but if you take good care of them, they’ll last considerably longer.

The ski boot liner is the soft inner boot, that sits within the shell. Liners can be off-the-shelf or custom made.

Liners are especially susceptible to mildew, due to the soft material, so they should always be kept nice and warm each night in order for them to dry.

If mildew has infected your ski boot liner, your boot will smell really bad. It will ruin the liner and be next to impossible to get rid of. In that case, your best bet is to buy a new liner.

You can read more about the different kinds of liners in this article.

If you’re looking for a good ski boot dryer, I suggest you take a look at this article: Best ski boot dryers

The liners will often get wet, even though they sit within the plastic shell. It can be from powder or snow melting on top of the boot, from rain or from your sweaty feet.

Late in the season, when the temperature is warmer, I’ve been able to pour water from my boots after a full day on the mountain.

If you have a tendency for sweaty feet, you will benefit from emptying your boot twice a day, and maybe even put a dry cloth into your boot, while you sit down for lunch. You might also consider putting a bit of talcum powder in your socks each morning, before heading out on the slopes.

The caring for your ski boot liners starts even before, you’ve put your boots on. As I mentioned earlier, the ski boot witch cauldron only really starts to boil, when you add bacteria to the soup.

Bacteria often stem from dirty feet and socks. So it’s important to put on some clean socks every morning. Also don’t walk around in your socks on the hotel hall, lobby or your room, before you stick your feet in your boots. Hotel rooms are a nest for bacteria.

The best you can do is wash your feet, dry them, put on the ski socks and then put them in your boots. If that isn’t possible, consider bringing your ski socks with you, to the place, where you put on your boots and put the socks on right before the ski boots.

How to take care of your ski boot liner quick guide

In order to take care of your liner, do this:

  1. Unbuckle your ski boots and remove the liner. Do this by sticking your hand down the liner, and then gently pull the liner from the shell.
  2. Use a towel to dry the exterior of the liners
  3. Let the liner dry at room temperature. You can put them upside down. Never keep your boots in your car, on the porch or the balcony overnight. They should always be kept nice and warm in a dry place.
  4. I always bring my boot dryer with me. Boot dryers are very effective at drying your boots overnight, by heating up the boots and circulating the air within them. Do not expose the liners to a direct heat source (e.g., fireplace, radiator or hairdryer), as this can ruin the shape. The same goes for the heating racks or cabinets found at resorts. They might produce too much heat and damage your boots.
    If you’re traveling with your boots while they’re still humid, you should consider a hot boot bag, which is a heated ski bag, that will dry your boots. A hot boot bag is essential when you ski and travel on the same day, e.g., when you go skiing the last day, and then pack up and leave for home the same afternoon. You don’t want your wet boots to stay in your cold trunk for a ten-hour drive back to your place after a week of skiing. That’s a witch’s cauldron just waiting to explode in a bacteria fest right there.

Never put your ski boot liners in the washing machine or use chemicals to clean them. This will ruin them.

Always check the instructions for your ski liners. Some manufacturers deprecate even hand-washing your liners. In that case, you could try using a damp cloth to wipe down the outside of the liners instead.

How to put your boots back together

After a night of drying, it is time to reassemble your boots again.

  1. Unbuckle the shell
  2. Insert your footbed, if you’ve removed it.
  3. Insert the liner. Use your hand to make sure, that the toes and heel of the liner are where they should be at the bottom of the boot.
  4. If your liner has a tongue (wrap liners don’t), tuck it inside, so it doesn’t interfere with the shell.
  5. Close the buckles without tightening them.
  6. Close the velcro power straps without tightening them
  7. Head for the ski lift and have fun

How do I take care of my ski boots at the end of the season?

When it’s time to store away your boots for the summer, you need to follow a lot of the same steps, as you do every day for après ski while on holiday. There are a few extra things to keep in mind though.

In order to keep your ski boots in the best condition for next season, you should do this:

  1. Loosen the power strap and unbuckle the ski boot shells
  2. Remove the liners, boot boards, and footbeds
  3. Check that any metal parts on the boot boards aren’t rusty. Replace if necessary
  4. Wash down the inside and outside of the shells with a cloth. Use hot water and a mild detergent
  5. Do the same for the boot board
  6. Put your shells on a towel and let them air-dry at room temperature the next 24-48 hours
  7. Remove any dirt from your liners with a brush, towel or damp (almost dry) cloth.
  8. Put your liners and footbeds on a towel and leave them to air-dry for 24-48 hours at room temperature
  9. After 24-48 check that everything is dry, then…
  10. Put your boot boards in the shell
  11. Put your liners in the shell. Make sure the liner tongue isn’t interfering with the plastic shell of the boot. Tuck in the tongue
  12. Put your footbeds in the liner
  13. Check that all parts of the boot are in good condition (buckles, screws, ladders, etc.). Replace any broken parts
  14. Buckle your ski boot (not tight) in order for the shell to maintain its shape while in storage.
  15. Put a couple of dryer sheets in the toes of your liners, to keep them fresh.
  16. Put your boots in a boot bag to protect them from spiders and dirt.
  17. Store your ski boots in a warm dry space like a closet, a storage room or your basement/attic (if they’re dry). Don’t store your boots in a spot where they are prone to be infested by critters. Rodents such as mice or rats love to sleep, eat and worsen in a nice soft ski boot liner. Don’t give them the opportunity to destroy your ski boots.

How long do ski boots last?

How long your ski boots will last you, is really up to you and how good you take care of them.

As a general rule of thumb, ski boots will last you 150 days before they start to lose the structural integrity and the liners start to break down.

However, it very much depends on how you treat your boots and especially the soles. If the heal and the toes are in bad shape, you should get a new pair of ski boots. 

If you’re a recreational skier, who might ski for a week or two each season, a ski boot can easily last you more than ten years. And then you might have to change the liner, and then you can ski for five more.

If you ski every day in a season, then you probably need to replace your boots after a couple of seasons maximum.

Don’t ever ski in boots, that are too worn out. You’ll put yourself and others at significant risk.

The ski boots should be stiff enough to support your legs and weight of your body properly, while still being able to flex, or else you’ll reduce the control of your skis. And the toes and heel should fit in the ski binding and stay there, while your ski, and release when you fall.

Always remember: if you take good care of your ski boots, they’ll take good care of you.

Here is a checklist for your for aprés ski boot care:

The best way to care for your ski boots

Do you have any additional tips for the best way to care for your ski boots? Please let me know in the comment section below.