Masterfit University — Today’s Tidbits

Post by blogger | October 22, 2013      

Master bootfitter

Master boot fitter, Bob Egeland, speaks about bones, tendons and pressure points and how they affect boot fit and performance.

Back in Denver, Colorado for our second year at Masterfit University. This two-day boot fitting seminar always teaches us something new. Especially since we’re amateur boot fitters, not in the trenches year around like some of the gurus teaching us. A few things I learned today that apply directly to WildSnow boot fitting and stance tuning projects:

– Skiing is what these guys call a “mid-stance” sport. Meaning your “ready” or “neutral” position is where you want your foot solidly supported. That means everything from footbed shape to binding and boot ramp angles.

– The mavens of Masterfit seem to be emphasizing ankle flex and shape even more this year. My own theory with fitting ski touring boots has always been to 1) Support the foot, 2) Snug around the ankle, 3) Fit the cuff to the shin and lower leg so the boot is responsive. Lectures today validated those ideas. More, I heard greater emphasis on the fact that if you work the principles above, you don’t need your toes banging into the end of the boot for a “performance fit.” At Wildsnow, we don’t call that a “performance” fit, we call it a frostbite fit. Best avoided by crafty boot fitting.

Various methods of evaluation ankle flex is demonstrated

Various methods of evaluating ankle flex are demonstrated.

– Biggest problem for many boot fitters these days is people buying boots online, then showing up for a fit. As always, our suggestion is talk to the boot fitter first. Arrange a contract, have him or her evaluate what type of boot you need (size, width, flex, etc.) then go for that killer deal you’ve been eyeing if the fitter says it’s worth a go. is doing a better and better job on reporting flex ratings and width categories for hundreds of ski boots — including AT boots. While much of their information is acquired by repeating manufaturer specs, I was told by Mark Elling (content creator the website, and MasterFit instructo) that efforts are ongoing to establish last width measurement standardization and that sort of thing. Here at WildSnow we’re supporting what they’re trying to do, and will link where appropriate to their information.

– Boots with for/aft stiffness are important for people with minimal ankle flex, and also help skiers with lots of ankle flex who would otherwise “collapse” forward. In other words, no wonder most people we talk AT boots with are always searching for something with good for/aft support.

– Beware of ramp angle tuning. Some raising of the toe is good with rampy tech bindings. But mess things up too much and you could be looking at a ruptured Achilles tendon due to pre-stressing that part of your foot anatomy. Also, the only skiers who really “need” exactly neutral ramp are park skiers who spend as much time going backwards as going forwards. The rest of us do fine with some binding ramp angle (though less than most tech bindings), at least that’s the conventional wisdom.

– I like Masterfit’s new “no grinding, no gluing” footbed system. You simply run a pre-build footbed through a heater, then mold it on a foot form. Basic. Other companies have similar systems, nice to see one from these guys. It’s sort of cross between a totally custom glue/grind or otherwise constructed footbed, and the “drop-ins” you can buy off the rack in nearly any shop.

Brief overview

Brief overview of the new InstaPrint process: first step is to align the foot. leg, thigh at 90 degree angles.


Quick bed insole becomes pliable after going through the Masterfit quick heater.


After placing the warm insole between the InstaPrint mold and customer's foot, a custom insole is formed. A few steps left to finish it but mo cumbersome and OSHA hazardous grinder is involved.

Overall, much other stuff of highly technical nature is covered at these seminars. All helps inform our writing at WildSnow. More importantly, when we do receive a test boot we don’t just crimp down the buckles, ski for a few hours, and write a three paragraph review. Instead, thanks to Masterfit we’ve learned enough about fitting to do a decent job in the WildSnow shop, and go out on test boots that actually perform as their makers intended.

Boot fitting can have interesting permutations. We were listening to Fresh Air on NPR a while ago, and the late great crime novelist Elmore Leonard described the following situation. Interviewer Terry Gross had asked him how he thought up the terrific dialog in his novels:

Leonard related that when writing you have months to think about getting the dialog right, but in real life things are somewhat different.

He described sitting on a bench at the bottom of Aspen Mountain at 4:00 in the afternoon, dead tired.

A beautiful gal skis down, she’s perhaps half Leonard’s age. She props one foot up on the bench and says something like “I don’t know what feels better, taking off these boots or making amazing love.”

Leonard to Terry: “That was 15 years ago and I’m still trying to think of a good comeback.”

(P.S., These no-flash indoor shots were taken with our new Canon EOS Rebel SL1. Simply amazing how easy it was to get this kind of quality with very little ambient light.)


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


13 Responses to “Masterfit University — Today’s Tidbits”

  1. Jim Milstein October 22nd, 2013 9:44 am

    Elmore Leonard’s Sidebar Comeback

    Since Elmore was “dead tired”, there was no comeback, but if he were alert and ready, he might have proposed in a convincing manner, “Let us find out while your boot removal is still fresh.”

    Of course, that would have ruined the story he told to Terry Gross. Which is better, telling a good story to Terry Gross or making amazing love with a beautiful young skier?

  2. Bill October 22nd, 2013 11:04 am

    Maybe Elmore had such a good day on the slopes that he wasn’t too interested. Sometimes it IS better.

  3. Woody Dixon October 22nd, 2013 11:12 am

    I’ve always thought a more meaningful way of measuring boots would three numbers: width in MM at the forefoot, width in MM at the heel/ankle and then a lower shell volume measurement with water or sand. So rather than the old “it’s a 103 last”- It would be 103mm – 99mm – 220cc.

  4. Jack October 22nd, 2013 1:12 pm

    “It’s a good thing you don’t have to choose. You can have both.”

  5. Jim Milstein October 22nd, 2013 1:24 pm

    Well, Bill, Elmore may have had a very fine day on the slopes, but that doesn’t explain his being haunted about a good comeback to the beautiful young skier’s remark.

    No interest, no haunt.

  6. Mat Coffey October 23rd, 2013 8:59 am

    Lou — not sure if you’ve heard of him, but Scott Peterson (Peterson’s Orthotic Lab) out of Bend, OR has the magic wand in terms of boot fitting/cycling shoe fitting. He’s a physiology guy, so is expert at lining up your musculoskeletal thing with the other things to give you that thing, which is the “I forgot I had boots/shoes on” outcome.
    His Cyclesoles version — similar to the boot version — won the Vuelta a Espana on the feet of one Chris Horner this year.
    Might be worth checking him out. Super nice guy and uber-passionate about “correct fit”.

  7. Tyler October 23rd, 2013 9:42 am

    “As always, our suggestion is talk to the boot fitter first. Arrange a contract, have him or her evaluate what type of boot you need (size, width, flex, etc.) then go for that killer deal you’ve been eyeing if the fitter says it’s worth a go.”

    As someone who makes their living from boot fitting, I would say two things about this:

    1) Be up front and honest from the start. Tell your boot fitter that you’re looking for a deal. Some shops will work out a better price with you, others will ask you to pay for their expertise before hand.

    2) Understand that expert boot fitting is absolutely worth the price. If you save $100 on your boots online, you’ll pay at least that for customizing the fit at a shop. Most shops will comp you boot work if you buy the boot from them, often making the online savings moot or not a savings at all.

    Above all else be respectful. Would you go into an art gallery, talk to an artist about their work and they say you’re going to go buy a similar print online for cheaper? It’s much the same thing when you walk into a shop, get great service to find a great fit and walk out with a “thanks I’m going to go buy this from your competition now, they didn’t offer me any service, but they’re cheaper.”

  8. Lou Dawson October 23rd, 2013 9:57 am

    Thanks Tyler, it was implied that honesty was part of the equation but I know this can be an issue. On the other hand, if a person actually “arranged” a contact, all would be out in the open I would think.

    At any rate, it is indeed important when buying boots to evaluate the cost online vs the cost from shop that provides some “free” services you’d otherwise pay for. I’d think in many cases the shop option would work out better. But not always.

  9. Brian October 23rd, 2013 10:09 am

    “That was 15 years ago and I’m still trying to think of a good comeback.”

    I have one: Why not take your boots off AFTER making amazing love

  10. Tyler October 23rd, 2013 10:20 am


    I liked the idea of a contract. There’s a shop in Idaho that charges for boot fitting before you buy the boot. If you buy it from them the cost of the fit comes off the cost of the boot, otherwise the customer has paid for the fit and can take that information and do with it what they want.

  11. Patrick October 23rd, 2013 11:04 am

    I’m pretty sure I met that same gal at the bottom of Ajax in 1978!
    Didn’t need a reply, our eyes met, and we set off for libations and dinner at the Jerome. All was good with the boot removal, we shared satisfying foot massages.
    Next morn, things were so ‘right’,,, blueberry pancakes at the Village Pantry and a day of skiing the Highlands.
    Boots felt so much better that day — talk about a boot-fitting session!

  12. Colin W October 23rd, 2013 7:48 pm


    You gonna do a review of the SL1? Very intrigued by that camera.

  13. Lou Dawson October 24th, 2013 5:21 am

    Hi Colin, will probably review. We bought it more as a studio and event camera, as we’re still partial to carrying smaller cameras in the backcountry. On the other hand, I got a few lenses and it’s going to be tempting to go out and do some ski action photography with the thing. I can tell you right now that the size is amazingly small and the feature set is good, but the fake shutter/winder sound the SL1 makes (in addition to real shutter and mirror) can’t be turned off, which is annoying. You get used to the silence of the point & shoot mirrorless cameras and the chunking and whirring of the Rebel is bothersome when in a quite venue. The touch screen is kinda cool, but probably superfluous. It can be turned off., thankfully. The controls are ok for gloves, at least it doesn’t have a fingernail dial, which is the worst camera control you can have in the winter backcountry.

    Above shots were taken at super high ISO with no white balance correction and very little post processing. Have to say I’m pretty amazed. During the second day of the event I fired up the custom white balance as well as a setting that attempts to post-process and balance out the light/dark ratios of the photo. Even better results.


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