How to Put on Ski Boots and Skis

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It may seem basic or intuitive to some, but learning how to properly get in and out of your ski boots and skis can seem intimidating your first few times hitting the slopes. Having a good idea of the process and nailing the routine from the get-go can boost your confidence and get you focusing on learning and improving your actual skiing. So let’s get started!

In This Post

How to Put on Ski Boots

Ski boots can be the most frustrating and sometimes dreaded part of skiing. If you follow these tips and steps, however, the process will become quick and easy so you can get out on the mountain more efficiently (you’ll forget you’re even wearing boots at that point).

Tip and tricks BEFORE you put your boots on:

  • The RIGHT socks:  Many new skiers don’t understand how important it is to have THIN and snug socks because it is counterintuitive. You would think thicker socks keep your feet warmer, right? In fact, the exact opposite is true. Thicker socks leave no room for air and are too tight within the ski boot, which leads to worse blood circulation. Thin ski socks are the way to go, especially ones with moisture wicking properties so your feet don’t get sweaty and subsequently cold. A pair of Smartwool or Darn Tough ski socks are our favorites.
  • Dry socks: Start with completely dry socks before putting your boots on. We personally recommend not even putting your ski socks on until you are ready to put your boots on. I wear thicker socks with my winter boots traveling to and from the ski area, and then switch into my ski socks right before putting my boots on. This ensures my ski socks are dry from the start and has the added benefit of being able to travel and move around with warmer feet.
  • Dry Boots: Also make sure your boots are completely dry. Moist boot liners act “sticky” and can make it difficult to slide your foot into the boot. Make sure that you bring your boots inside with you in between ski days. A boot dryer is a HUGE help to use overnight to get your boots back to a dry state, but if you don’t have one, letting them air out in a warm, dry place still helps quite a bit.
  • Warm Boots: Starting with a warm boot is another essential tip because the boot shell material becomes softer and more pliable when warm. A more flexible shell makes it much easier to fit your foot in. Heated boot bags exist that make this super easy while your boots are in the car. Alternatively, you can simply place your boots near the car heater on your ride to the ski area. If your feet tend to get cold, you can also consider purchasing ski boot heaters so that you can keep the warmth flowing all day long.

Let’s take a look at the actual steps to get those boots on now that you are set up for success with the right, dry socks and a warm, dry boot.

Steps to Put on Ski Boots

  1. Undo all the buckles and straps.
  2. Open the boot as wide as you can by grabbing the loop on the tongue and pulling it forward and to the side. This helps stretch the shell out wide, especially down near the foot area. If you need extra room, try manually spreading the plastic down low to create a bit more space.
  3. While continuing to pull the tongue forward (away from you), stand up and step into the boot. It is very difficult to put on boots while sitting.
  4. Bend your knees and flex your shins while wiggling your foot in if you need to.
  5. Once you have your foot in, tap your heel on the ground to set your heel into the back of the boot.
  6. Secure the straps and buckles. The tension on your buckles should be snug, but not so tight that it cuts off your circulation. If you are struggling to close a buckle, it is likely too tight.
  7. If you have a strap at the top, also known as a power strap, fasten it to match the general tightness of your buckled boot. Sometimes, tightening the power strap first can make buckling your upper two buckles a little easier.

How to Know Your Ski Boots Fit Properly

The more snug your boot is, the more responsive your skis will be to small movements in your feet. Tighter boots make controlling your skis a little easier. However, you definitely do not want to be cutting off circulation or causing overly uncomfortable pressure points. Some other things to consider about the fit of your boot include:

  • When standing straight up, your toes should very lightly be touching the end of the boot and you shouldn’t have too much room to wiggle your toes around. 
  • Once you flex forward into a more athletic ski stance, your heel should slide back a bit and give your toes more room. In this stance, you shouldn’t feel any major discomforts. This is likely a similar stance you’ll be in on the slopes, so if it hurts before getting on the mountain, it will hurt on the mountain too.
  • To keep your boots at the properly fitted, you may need to readjust your buckles after your first few runs as your foot “sets” into the liner.

How to Walk in Ski Boots

There is no getting around the fact that walking around in ski boots will feel a bit clunky. I usually wait to tighten my boots until I am already in my skis, which gives my foot more room to bend and flex as I am walking. Being deliberate with your foot steps helps. Focus on walking heel to toe. A pair of boot protectors, or cat tracks, can also help give you additional grip when walking around.

How to Put on Your Skis

Setting Up and Positioning Your Skis

To put your skis on, you will have to “click into” your ski bindings. Set your skis down right next to each other on as flat of a surface as you can find that is close to the chairlift. If there is no flat surface, or you are on the hill, set your skis perpendicular to the mountain (across the hill) so they don’t slide away.

Steps to Put Your Skis On

  1. Ensure the heel piece of your ski binding is in a downward position (the brakes should therefore also be down and making contact with the snow).
  2. Remove excess snow or ice by either tapping your boots against the binding pieces or giving your boots a few solid taps with your ski poles. Also clear the toe piece of excess snow. Too much snow in these areas can sometimes get in the way of the ski boot and binding interlocking correctly, and therefore makes it difficult to click in.
  3. Use your poles to help balance while you put one foot in at a time. If you are on a slope, you want to put your DOWNHILL ski on first.
  4. Plant the toe of your boot into the groove of the toepiece of the binding.
  5. Next, with your weight on your toes, firmly drop your heel down onto the heel piece. You should hear a solid click to know you are correctly locked into your ski binding.

How to Put on Skis on a Steep Slope

If you fall on a steep slope, don’t panic. Gather your gear and get off to the side of the slope. Remember the basics. Set up your skis close together and ACROSS the direction of the hill. Put your downhill ski on first. Once you have your downhill ski on, lean into the hill a bit so your ski edge “bites” into the mountain and gives you a firm platform to balance on while you put your second, uphill ski on.

How to Put on Skis in Deep Snow or Powder

Losing your skis in deep snow is a skier’s nightmare. Not only can you risk actually losing the ski, but they can be difficult to get back on in such conditions. The easiest thing to do is take a minute to create a solid platform to put your skis on. Take the ski that fell off and use it to firmly pack down snow until you have made a fairly solid surface for the ski. It should no longer be sinking into the snow, even if you put weight on it. Making this solid platform can take a minute or two of work, but makes getting your skis back on significantly easier.

How to Take off Your Skis

When you are ready to stop for lunch or call it a day, here are the steps to get your skis off.

  •  Find a calm and relatively flat area to take off your skis.
  • Insert the tip of your ski pole into the groove on top of your binding heel piece.
  • Strongly push down to unlock the heel and release your boot from the binding.
  • Lift your foot and step out.

How to Take off Your Ski Boots

Nothing beats the feeling of taking off your ski boots after a long day on the slopes. Here are the steps to get your ski boots off.

  • Undo all of the buckles and straps on your boots.
  • Pull the tongue away from the boot, while pushing down on the back of your boot and pulling your foot up. 
  • Have a pair of dry socks and your winter boots nearby and ready to go whenever you take your ski boots off.

How to Carry Your Skis

Hold the skis out vertically in front of you with the tails on the ground and tips pointing up. With the bases of the skis facing one another, slide one ski down onto the other so the brakes interlock. There are two main ways to carry your skis:

By your side: Figure out which ski has the brakes underneath the others’. Grip that ski’s toe housing on the binding and lift the skis straight up so that you can carry them vertically next to your side. This method can quickly tire your arm muscles but is efficient if you aren’t walking far or are in a crowded area.

Over the shoulder: Raise your skis over one shoulder with the tips pointing behind you and your shoulder in front of the bindings. The ski with the brakes underneath the others’ should be the ski resting on your shoulder. Curl your arm around the front of the skis and hold them steady. This method is less tiring on your arm muscles and is better for walking longer distances but can be dangerous in crowded areas. Try not to swing the skis around or turn suddenly to avoid hitting others near you.

Final Thoughts

Putting on your ski boots and skis is just a matter of remembering a new routine. Once you get a routine down, it becomes second nature. Less time fiddling with boots and skis, means more time shredding the fresh snow. Have fun out there!