May 23 2013

Technique: Use a boot horn for cold boots

Can’t get your foot around the corner of the tongue? Try a slip of plastic, a boot horn, to reduce binding friction.

One of the most common problems skiers experience is the simple act of getting in to their boots. This is especially true when the boot is cold and has an overlapping tongue design. Plastic ski boots do get stiffer as they get colder and if you left them in the car overnight you’re sure to be cursing as you try to pry them apart to stuff your feet in them.

It happened to me last February while testing a bunch of ski gear at the demo days at Alpine Meadows, sponsored by the WWSRA. Fortunately I had two pair of boots to chose from, so when I found that I simply could not jam my feet into my Lange XT‘s, I opted for the Scarpa Maestrale‘s with a tongue that hinges open and completely out of the way.

The solution for getting in to the XT’s at the moment was to stick them on the front dash of the car and let them warm in the sun while I took a few runs to test skis rigged with Dynafiddle bindings. An hour later the XT’s were nice and pliable and easy to get my foot in. But what if it had been a stormy day?

The final cut on a boot horn. All you need is a utility knife and a plastic jug.

Of course one option would be to fire up the engine and crank the heater up with the boots directly in the flow of warm air. It works, but isn’t the most energy efficient option.

Another option is to get a can of silicon spray and apply a good mist to the inside of your liner to reduce the binding friction between your socks and the liner. Again, this works but isn’t the most environmentally friendly method, and if you need this a lot you’ll be chipping away at your apres’ ski budge for pizza and beer not to mention soaking your liners with silicon which can’t be good in the long run.

You can make a boot horn from a simple one gallon plastic jug. For more length, get a taller jug, like a 5-gallon pail.

The method I recommend is to use a boot horn. It’s like a shoe horn, only bigger, longer, and potentially cheaper too. All it takes is a long strip of slippery plastic that you can cut out of the side of a plastic bucket. The boot fitters at the Start Haus use a boot horn cut from a 5-gallon bucket whenever they’re trying to slide a soft, heated Intuition® liner into a shell to prevent it from wrinkling up. It works just was well for stuffing your foot into a recalcitrant boot. If you don’t have a 5-gallon bucket you’re willing to sacrifice, a slice from a 1-gallon jug will do the job just as well, and is probably more readily available. I use the jugs from windshield washer fluid, but any similar sized jug will do. Keep it in your boot bag so it’s handy when you need it.

© 2013

  • bob shattuck

    Serendipity . . . funny I am sitting here wrestling a pair of boots on ( sadly, in the living room, nowhere near the snow) take a break and come across this article and then remember how much I liked your paint-bucket boot horn . . . but I just happen to have an empty 1-gallon out back . . . things are gonna be a lot easier this season. (and happy belated birthday! )