By Skimum Paula
“What’s that on your boot,” asked a fellow Skimum while getting off the lift. “Duct tape,” I said. Yes, I have duct tape on the toes of my new-ish custom-fitted Lange ski boots. No, I didn’t break them. As many Snowbird instructors, patrollers and skiers will tell you, it’s one the secrets to keeping your feet warm.
Every boot has a hard moulded shell, which is impervious to water, but at the seams under the toe buckle, snow and water can stick and collect or, worse yet, melt and seep in leaving you with cold feet. By putting some duct tape across the toe seam, you can make this gap more water resistant, and because it is stretchable, you can still get your boots on without tearing the tape. With duct tape coming in so many cool colors and patterns, local skiers (and not just the munchkins) are opting more and more for the crazier ones.
Another way to keep your toes warm is to go all out and get boot heaters. This is a bit more expensive than duct tape. Running north of $200, this might seem a bit extreme, but cold feet is one of the principal complaints among skiers no matter how often or how well they ski. Yes, you can shove the disposable adhesive warmers into your boots, but local boot fitters will tell you that you shouldn’t have that much room in your boots! Snug boots not only affect your ability to control your skis (if they’re too loose, forget about skiing powder or steeps well), but they also keep your feet warmer! If more air is getting in there, your feet will get cold. The other consideration is that as we get older, circulation issues develop making it harder to keep your feet (especially your toes) warm while skiing. So, if cold toes are nagging you or, worse yet, keeping you off the slopes, think about investing in some boot heaters.
Finally, one of the other boot tricks locals will share is to unbuckle your boots when you’re on the lifts. No, they’re not going to fall off. If they do, then your boots are too doggone big! The reason is circulation. Here’s a very simplified explanation — Circulation is best when you’re standing sending lots of blood from your heart to your extremities. It decreases while sitting. Tightened boots inhibits it further. If your boots are tightened while sitting on a lift, then circulation is impeded even more causing your toes to scream and swell and, because fresh warm blood isn’t getting down there very well, get cold. So, pop those boot buckles as you get on the lifts, let the toes wiggle for a few minutes, and then lock them down before heading down. You’ll stay warmer and stay out longer.