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After a season of skiing in rental boots of all sorts, I want to buy my own pair. My options are:

  1. a local shop in a country where there's no snow and the prices are so high,
  2. online deals that are cheaper, and I could order a few pairs and try them on, keep the best fit, and return the rest.

Some advise that it has to be heat molded, so a local shop who would do that is the way to go, where some others say wearing it is enough to get the foot shape molded into the liner.

I'd like to know what temperature the liners need to mold the shape, and is it really necessary for the commercial heat molding process or is it just another way of ripping buyers off?

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    While this isn't an answer and is dependent on models, I own Garmont (now Scott) touring boots and body heat seems to be quite enough. I once wore thin liner socks only after forgetting thick socks and over the course of a whole day skinning uphill, the boots gradually became less and less loose. The next time I went skiing, my thick socks didn't fit inside. I forced myself to wear the too tight fit and gradually the boots returned to their original set. I had done a (free, at least) thermo moulding but it didn't seem to actually hold over time. – Gabriel C. Nov 28 '18 at 15:29
  • @GabrielC. Not holding might be due to the low temperature, meaning the threshold wasn't reached, where the deformation gets stable after recooling. I am just speculating here, but it seems plausible to me. Also I was recommended to not mold at all at first, only if there are specific problems, so just using liners without molding is an option too (at least for some models). – imsodin Nov 28 '18 at 16:07
  • @imsodin The original moulding had been done in a Scarpa branded oven using the prescribed methods so temperature should have been correct. I'd be more inclined to blame the liners themselves. Personally I had done it so I could give my toes more room using spacers, but it was not a critically needed procedure. My field experience where the liner has a memory of my sock thickness leads me to think that the temperature needed to mould isn't that high for this particular liner. – Gabriel C. Nov 28 '18 at 16:22
  • @GabrielC. I had to comment to express my particular amusement for “Scarpa branded oven”. To me this whole thing seems to be just another money trap. I find your experience quite interesting and practical. – Neeku Nov 29 '18 at 0:50
  • @Neeku Working in the shop and having to thermoform those liners, I was glad Scarpa pretty much provided us with the tools to do any other brand we carried. But nonetheless, I found the idea of moulding to be superfluous as I wasn't the only one that experienced this. – Gabriel C. Nov 29 '18 at 4:11
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Body heat isn't enough (caveat: of course there may be liners for which it is, but not typically). but that doesn't mean you need a "commercial heating device".

Intuition liners (no affiliation, they're just the only pair of molded liners I own) recommend "cooking" with rice in socks preheated in a microwave. Probably a gentle method, but I wouldn't know whether I wanted to go to the trouble (and I don't own a microwave). However this doesn't give an estimate on temperature.

I "cooked" mine in the oven at 80degC. A quick google search provides lots of tutorials with people going as high as 140degC. In the end you need to step into them with thin socks (that's another topic) and you don't want to burn yourself, so I'd rather go a bit lower temp and longer exposure.

A definite answer will depend on the exact model you have. Most likely you won't find the information supplied by the vendor. However it's no rocket science: Read some instructions online (there's other important stuff apart from the cooking to take care of) and select a cooking method that seems reasonable to you.

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An oven works fine to heat such liners. Materials and temperatures vary but if you go too high you will significantly decrease the life of the foam. Many ovens fluctuate greatly so filling pillow case with sand, stones, beans, rice and put them in or over the boots will help warm the boot slowly and evenly. Preheat the oven a few degrees more before putting the liner or boot in, then turn it down, you don't want the radiant heat melting the foam or plastic. The best way to heat it is get a sous vide cooker, a large vessel of water like a cooler, put the item in a garbage bag and put it in the heated water, leave it for at least 10 minutes but not too long or hot as it will start to weaken the foam. Sous vide cookers are reasonably priced and great for cooking so many things. Personally unless there is a specific spot that is uncomfortable, just let the liner wear in naturally. Most people get too large of a boot their foot slides forward causing issues. If you do try to mold the liner use acrylic, polyester or some sort of thin, non-cotton sock as moisture can transfer a lot of heat. Its best to leave the foot in for a while so it cools into position.

When it comes to most any footwear and especially ski boots and hockey skates, NOTHING is better than a custom foot bed. They typically run about $200. Alternatively you can buy a tube of silicone caulk and corn starch, mix them together apply them to the arch area of the insole at wrap it in plastic wrap put it in the shoe and then put your foot in and walk around in it. The silicone will spread and conform. There is a chance the plastic might break or silicone may leak out. Don't put too much in, you can add more later if its not good enough. Regardless if you have high arches, flat feet or what ever, making or paying for a custom foot bed is easily the first thing you should do.

  • Thanks for the detailed answer. The question that pops up now is: why should we need to heat mold at all if the boots are bought brand new and I’m the only person wearing them? – Neeku Dec 12 '18 at 12:59
  • @Neeku because your feet don't exactly match either the ski boot or the liner. There will be gaps and pressure points between your feet, the un-molded liner, and the boot. These will a) tend to make your feet hurt and give you blisters, b) lessen your control of the ski. If done right the molding process will eliminate most of these. – Charles E. Grant Dec 13 '18 at 1:56

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