As many of you will be heading out to buy new equipment for the season we thought we'd help you by putting together a guide to help you choose the rights skis & boots. The key element in a successful purchase is having expert help to make sure you are buying what is right for you.

What to look for when buying skis

If you have been involved in skiing for many years you will have seen the dramatic change in the length and shape of the new models that are now available. The benefit for all skiers is that this new shape of ski can be used in a much shorter length which makes them more manoeuvrable and much more fun. Edge control is fantastic and there is much less strain on the limbs and knees. You can now also enjoy a full day on the hill without the legs feeling as tired after that lunch stop. Skis are designed for various target groups both in performance and price. Known as segment groups they usually come with an integrated binding system designed by the ski manufacturer. The sales person will be able to advise you on how to match your skiing needs to the models on offer.
  • All Mountain

The most popular shape is the all mountain segment which give superb performance both on and off piste across the mountain. The width under foot for this segment ranges from 74mm to 84mm.    Ski length for ladies is 145cm. to 165cm. and for men 160cm. to 180cm. Length selection mostly depends on weight but the advanced technical construction of this shape of ski gives a wide and versatile option for length selection.
  • Big Mountain and Fun Park

Various shapes exist in this segment with some extremely wide under foot models which are aimed at the skier who thrives off piste and enjoys extreme mountain sport. Under foot widths can vary from 82 mm. to 125mm; these skis are not for the faint hearted and are physically demanding. Twin tip skis are also quite evident and are aimed at a particular segment of skier that enjoys big air in the half pipes and acrobatic manoeuvres.
  • On Piste Carving

These skis are less extreme widths and range from 65mm. to 70 mm. under foot. Although aimed at on piste carving they are very versatile and are more associated with the slalom shape turns that many skiers enjoy. Once you have selected your new skis it is important to have your bindings adjusted correctly to your boots and to be aware of the after sales ski servicing capability of the retailer.

What to look for when buying boots

This guide is for your awareness and because there are so many factors to consider when buying ski boots the sales person must be your partner in this process. The expertise and knowledge of the sales person will be the most determining factor in guiding you to the correct choice of ski boots. You boots will be your most important purchase and having a great time on the slopes is a combination of comfort and your ability to control your skis. Here are our top ten tips for buying new boots:
  1. Allow yourself adequate time for buying new boots / shop at off peak times.
  2. Men’s boots and ladies boots have technical differences, so don't chose boots on your colour preferences!
  3. The sales person will guide you through what questions are relevant and you will soon be involved in the fitting process, so don't try to do it alone.
  4. Make sure you have access to the socks that you will be skiing / boarding in, as your feet will be measured taking this into account.
  5. Boots will be selected that the sales person believes are suitable and various sizing techniques will be explained.
  6. It is very unlikely that you will get the perfect fit straight out of the box, so heat moulding is advisable.
  7. When clipped up you are looking for a good snug fit with your foot, ankle and lower leg making contact at all points in the boot.
  8. Your heel will be in contact with the boot and should remain in place when you flex your ankles and knees forward. (do not try to lever your heel upward and out of the boot.)
  9. Your toes may just touch the end of the inner boot, this will be relieved when you flex your ankles and knees forward. Your boots will also become roomier with use and adequate clip adjustments should be apparent.
  10. You should feel no uncomfortable pressure points. If there are your technician will explain how this can be adjusted and corrected. The introduction of a supportive footbed will be discussed and what the benefits of stabilising your feet in the boots will mean in terms of comfort and performance.
Once you have reached a buying decision you will be reassured about the ongoing after sales service that you would expect from a professional ski shop. Blues The Ski Shop, have kindly put together this advice. Based in Edinburgh & Glasgow they have been fitting ski boots for over 30 years and have fitted national team skiers, Olympic skiers, ski instructors, podiatry and foot specialists, novices and all categories of snow sport activists. Blues give an unlimited guarantee on their boot fitting service. Blues is well known for its after sales ski servicing and offers a 15% Discount to returning customers.