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nderstanding the anatomy of a ski boot will allow you to make an educated purchase as well as improve your ability to use your ski equipment effectively. The ski boot is the integral link between you and your ski. The movement and energy your body initiates is translated to the ski through the boot. Each component of a ski boot plays a specific role in both fit and performance.
The buckles are what latch the ski boot closed. While there are many styles of buckles, the key components are the ladder, the bail, and the buckle itself. The ladder is the graduated rung that the bail, or wire, hooks onto so that the buckle can close to latch the boot tightly around the foot or ankle. Ski boots may have as many as four buckles, each drawing the boot tightly around a different segment of the foot or ankle.
The flex of a boot is determined by the shins ability to move forward against the resistance the upper cuff of the boot provides. A stiffer boot will increase performance but is often less comfortable. A softer, more flexible boot will absorb more impact from the terrain but at the cost of performance. The flex adjustment allows the skier to fine-tune the stiffness of the boot to balance comfort and performance.
Forward Lean Adjustment
Simply explained, the forward lean of a boot is the amount the boot forces your ankle to bend when you are standing in it. Boots equipped with a forward lean adjustment can be fine-tuned to your own neutral athletic stance, where your knees and ankles are bent and your weight is primarily on the balls of your feet but evenly balanced from side to side so you are ready to respond quickly and move in any direction. (This is not a very comfortable way to stand for long periods of time but then you shouldn't be standing around in your boots anyway!).
The footbed of a ski boot provides the support for the sole of the foot. The greater the surface area of the foot making contact with the footbed the better the control and performance of the boot. For this reason, many skiers turn to custom moldable footbeds that match the contours of the foot perfectly.
The inner liner provides both comfort and protection while increasing the performance of the ski. The padding of the inner liner cushions the foot and ankle, protects it from friction, impact and cold as well as creating full foot contact, which forms the foundation for energy to transfer from the body to the ski. Ski performance is directly related to how well the foot contacts the inner liner of the boot and how well the inner liner integrates with the outer shell.