Steamboat Springs First the glue went, then the duct tape.
Now the tattered strap that keeps the top cuff of my Nordica boots together is a mess of an attempt to solve problems with needle and thread.
At least I think they're Nordicas. The graphics and logos wore off a long time ago.
The boots came into my life at the tail end of a vitamin-D milk induced pubescent high school growth spurt. This was a solid boot that I struggled to squeeze into and had to unbuckle for lift rides. The shell is now well past the manufacturer's rating for skier days. But the metal buckles I crank to their highest settings are still intact and the liner has that musky Dave Shively-boot smell I've become attached to.
On a mission to make my boots last for just one more season, I wanted to figure out what boot-salvaging options exist without swallowing the hefty price of a new pair.
Tim Widmer teaches a boot-fitting class at CMC. On Thursday he walked me through the Surefoot custom boot-sizing dojo he manages, walls lined with high-end boots ready to be injected with foam, all centered around a digital foot-mapping station.
He believes locals need to start thinking preemptively about lingering boot issues.
"Where were you starting to get hot spots at the end of last season? Pressure on your pinkie toe? Bone spurs?" He asked. "Get that stuff worked out now. It can be as easy and cheap as a band-aid type pad."
If that disgusting bone spur on your heel has died down over the summer, locking your heel down with a horseshoe pad can solve the problem.
Replacing buckles and the heel and toe pieces worn from the walk from Slopeside to the bus can be accomplished for $15 to $20.
The foundation of the fit starts with the insole. Whatever you replace the flimsy stock insole with, Widmer said, will be better than what the factory has produced. The $40 custom insoles I moved out of my hiking boots got me through last season. Ranging from the drugstore Dr. Scholl's special to a $400 podiatrist designed sole, Widmer stands firmly on and behind Surefoot's $205 custom orthodic insoles.
Another option is a new liner. If a $365 foam-injected Surefoot custom liner or $200 heat-molded liner typical of telemark boots is not in your price range, the right shops may be able work a little after-market deal to replace your packed-out liner. If the options are finally exhausted a new boot must be bought, Widmer advised avoiding the common pitfall of buying an oversized shell. A tighter shell can be tailored with presses, hydraulic expanders and Dremmel drills to punch out or shave down certain areas, but if the boot's too big, nothing can be done to shrink it to size.