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If the Boot Fits…

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By Abbie Digel

They call it Grizzly design. You
might call it a foot fetish. But the ski
boot technicians at Grizzly Outfitters,
all certified in techniques of
adding comfort, warmth and performance,
know their stuff.
Your ski boot is an extension of your
foot, helping to guide you through
the snow with grace and precision.
Your set up should be synced with
your body for optimum performance.
Andrew Schreiner, who has been fitting
ski boots at Grizzly Outfitters in
Big Sky for 20 years, says “Everyone
wants the best skis, but if your feet
aren’t good to go, good luck. Boots
that fit will improve your skiing.”
“Remember when it was fashionable
to go into a size seven boot with size
nine feet? We used to cut the end of
our liners with kitchen knives and
cover them with duct tape.” Now, he
says, “Boots have made such great
So, do your ski boots actually fit?
Take out your liner and slip your foot into the shell.
Are your toes and
heels swimming?
They’re too big.
Do you have to
buckle your boots
at the loosest setting?
They’re too
small. Do your
feet ache at the
end of only one
run? It’s time to
re-evaluate your
most important
pair of winter
“There are very
few shops who
will go to the
extent that we
do for fitting,”
Schreiner says.
“We offer a lifetime fit guarantee. If
it’s too small, or if we screwed up,
we’ll take care of it. We’ll make sure
you get what you need, even if it
means handing you a new boot off
the shelf.”
Schreiner and his team know the
specs of every boot they offer. This
knowledge eliminates the laborious
process of trying on multiple boots.
They will get it right the first time.
The process at Grizzly differs depending
on factors including ability, age
and experience. Make sure to come to
the shop prepared to dish on your skiing
timeline, and get ready to expose
some leg as the crew will compose a
thorough analyzation from the knee
down, searching for hot spots, areas
on your feet such as bunions, exposed
bones, or problem spots that cause
consistent pain. Depending on what
package you order, you can choose a
basic re-structuring of your liner, or
go all out for a custom footbed, new
liners and new boots.
The process goes like this: foot scan, needs assessment, fabrication
of orthotics, custom liners, and an
optional boot heater.
The mill used to carve custom liners
has a scanner that records 540 points
on your feet in 10 mm increments. It
is one of only two such machines in
Montana. Once the footbed is complete,
an adhesive top sheet is glued to
it for easy insertion of the foot.
Then comes the life-changing step: the
mold. Grizzly uses convection ovens
heated at 250 degrees to heat-moldable
boot liners.
“It’s like baking bread,” Schreiner
says as he pulls out the shells and liners
using his gloves as
oven mitts. He determines
how long the boots cook
based on how gnarly
your feet are.
Once your feet are in the
smoldering boots, you feel
instant heat and pressure,
but for good reason. Since
ski boots come with floppy
footbeds and liners made for
the masses, a custom footbed
and mold is key.
The end result should be a
boot with a snug fi and no
“zinging” or biting,” says
“You shouldn’t miss powder days
because your feet hurt.” Get the
Grizzly guarantee from one of seven
boot fi tters at the shop, and walk
away with happy, warm feet and ski
with stunning technique.


•Thin socks are the way
to go. Your liners, not
your socks, should keep
you warm. Forget thick
wool — it bunches up in
your boot and grinds into
your feet.
•Buckle ‘em up. Take the time
to buckle your boots after you
take them off. Don’t stash them
in the truck either. Bring them
inside. You won’t regret it in the
•Skiing with brand new boots?
Unbuckle them on the lift. Your feet
won’t feel as stiff and won’t chill with all
the wiggle room.
•Never, ever, ski in “walk” mode (on AT or telemark
boots). When you’re hiking or cruising the parking lot however,
fl ip the buckle up for an easier ride.
•In a shop, if the clerk puts you in a boot without putting you in
the shell fi rst, he’s wrong. For a proper fit, remember to size the shell first.

Call Grizzly and schedule a consultation
with a specialized boot fitter:
(406) 995- 2939.

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