Foam-injected ski boot liners: the process
OK… after years of being rather undecided, at times even indifferent to the subject, I’ve decided to finally take the plunge and go in for custom ski boot liners.
Goodbye, duct tape-covered, Frankenstein-ed stock liners. Hello, foam-injected perfection! Well, that’s the plan anyway.
It’s not that my ski boots are too big, too small, too painful or otherwise detracting from my enjoyment of skiing, but over several seasons of talking to skiers who did have custom liners, and after doing a bit more research online, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing to be lost – especially given Surefoot’s reputation for excellent customer service and a guarantee that they’ll sort out any issues.
I took my ski boots (Lange RX 130’s) with about a hundred days skiing in them into the Surefoot store in Fulham, London. The boots are still in great shape, though they’ve had a bit of minor work done to create space for a bone spur and also around the big toe. They’ve served me fairly well so far, so I was hopeful that Surefoot would be able to work with these boots.
When I met Chris (UK Manager and boot technician Surefoot London) the first thing he did was a fit to assess whether my existing boots were going to work with the new Contoura X3 liner. Surefoot can customise liners to fit almost any pair of boots, however if your boots are really not right for you (especially if they’re too big) they may recommend that you sort this out first. My Lange’s were fine, so it was time get measured up for the custom orthotic footbed.
Chris carefully lined up my foot on their high-tech machine, and then replicating the correct stance and weighting on the foot a ‘topographical map’ of my foot was made through 538 points of measurement. This information is sent off to another machine, which sets about fabricating the footbed.
It’s high-tech stuff, but Chris breaks down the all-important why of each part of the process, explaining the new Contoura X3 liner and the improvements in the foam-injection process over the last few years. The new liner is a continuation of the successful X series, with the addition of ‘concertina’-like areas to allow the liner to function effectively in a touring-capable boot (such as the new Lange XT range which share the same lower shell as my current boots).
The new footbeds are trimmed and put into unfilled X3 liners, then the liners inserted my ski boots. Although I’ve got standard ski socks on (make sure you take some with you), I’m also instructed to wear of neoprene toe-caps. The reason for this is that when the foam is added to the liners it should fill all the space between your foot and the ski boot shell, however you do want to have a little bit of “wiggle room” in the toe box. This means that when you’re skiing, you should have the best possible performance and precision due to the connected to the ski boots through the liner, but with enough space around the toes so that they don’t get cold or fall asleep.
I’d heard that some people find the process of having the gel-like foam injected into the liner quite painful due to the pressure, and while this might be the case for some I found it was no more uncomfortable than getting a overly-assertive handshake. A few more minutes in skiing stance while the foam solidified with a bit of coaching from Chris to stay in the right position, and we were done.
The only alteration after the foam-injection process was to remove the little plugs behind the ankle where the foam was injected. The new liners felt extremely comfortable… but standing in the store was no true test of the new liners.
I can’t wait to give them a real test in a few days time and see how they compare with my old stock liners… but that’ll have to wait for a few days yet!
Read the next blog where the new liners are put to the test…