How to Put on Ski Boots and Skis

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This article is part of our series: Intro to Skiing

a skier clicking into their ski bindings

When you’re hitting the slopes for the first time, it can feel daunting to figure out how to manage and put on all that equipment. Learning some basic tips to get in and out of your skis can make the process smoother so you spend more time enjoying bluebird days and less time fiddling with boots and bindings. This guide will help you get in and out of your ski boots, click into your bindings and move around on skis.

 

Video: How to Put on Skis

 

How to Put on Ski Boots

 

 
  1. Undo all the buckles and the power strap at the top of the boot.
  2. To open the boot, grab the loop of the tongue and pull it forward away from you and off to the side.
  3. Stand up, step into the boot, sliding in your toes and then your heel. You may need to bend your knees and flex your shins forward to get your foot in at the correct angle. (Note that it’s very difficult to put your ski boots on properly when you’re sitting down.)  
  4. Grab the tongue loop and pull up on everything. The tongue should be centered in place against your shin and the buckle flaps should overlap correctly.
  5. Stand up with your heel on the ground and your toe pointed up about at about a 45-degree angle to the ground.
  6. Cinch the power strap but don’t secure it tightly at this point.
  7. Start buckling at the top of the boot and work your way down.
  8. Fasten the top buckles until you get a nice, firm snap. It should take some effort to close the buckles. If you’re wrestling hard to close it, it’s too tight. The second buckle from the top is the most important one for keeping your heel in place.
  9. Take your power strap and secure it so that it matches the snugness of the top buckles.
  10. Flex forward and fasten the lower buckles. You want enough tension to hold your boot closed, but not so tight that you’ll cut off blood circulation to your feet. If you crank it too tight, you’ll notice that it will slightly deform the plastic.

 

How to make sure your ski boots fit properly:

  • When standing upright, your toes should brush the front of the boot. You shouldn’t be able to wiggle your toes much — once you flex forward in a ski stance you’ll have more room.
  • When you flex forward into a ski stance, you’ll feel your toes pull slightly away from the front of the boot. You shouldn’t feel any pressure points.
  • You may need to re-adjust your strap and buckles after a couple of runs.
  • Remember that the more snug and better your boots fit, the easier it will be to control your skis.

 

How to Click Into Your Ski Bindings

 

 
  1. Set your skis parallel on a flat surface or across the slope (perpendicular to the fall line) so they don’t slide away from you. (Hint: Put your skis on close to where you want to start skiing, such as near a chairlift).
  2. Skis typically aren’t designated for the right or left foot. Sometimes ski shops mount and test your bindings using a specific left or right boot and may mark skis right or left.
  3. Make sure the heel pieces of the ski bindings are pushed down.
  4. Use your ski poles to tap excess snow from your boots. Or tap your boots gently against the toe or heel piece of your binding to remove the snow. ( Snow clumped on the bottom of boots is a common reason people can’t get into their skis.) Also clear the binding’s toe piece of snow.
  5. Plant your poles for balance. If you’re on a hill, you’ll want to put on your downhill ski first. This will give you more stability before you click into the second ski.
  6. Align the toe of your boot with the toepiece of the binding. Hint: You know your skis are facing in the correct direction if the ski brake sits under your heel.
  7. Standing on your tiptoe, look back at your heel piece and drop your heel down into the binding until you hear a solid click. The heel piece should now be flipped up and your boot should be secured to your ski.

 

How to Click Out of Your Skis

A skier uses the tip of their pole to click out of their ski bindings

  1. Find a relatively flat spot.
  2. Insert the pointy tip of your ski pole into the indentation on top of the heel piece.
  3. Push down firmly to release your boot from the binding.
  4. Lift your foot to the side and step out.

 

How to Get Out of Your Boots

  1. Undo all of your buckles, starting at the toe and working your way up to the top buckle.
  2. Pull the tongue of the boot forward and off to the side to open the boot up. Grasp the back of the boot and push it away as you pull your foot out.

 

What to Do Before Putting on Ski Boots

Find the right ski boots. Good-fitting ski boots are the most important piece of gear you’ll need to ski your best. Take the time to find boots that match the size and shape of your feet. A common mistake people make is buying boots that are too big and then overcompensating by cranking boot buckles too tight. If you can, get professionally fitted by an REI bootfitter.

Keep your boots warm. Dry, warm boots will be much easier to get your feet into than cold, damp ones. Warm your boots overnight by bringing them inside rather than storing them in your car or garage. Keep boots with you in the car when driving to the slopes.  

Wear a single pair of socks. To keep your feet warm and dry, stick with one pair of thin wool or synthetic socks. Wool and synthetic are durable materials that wick away moisture (sweat). Try to avoid cotton socks since cotton absorbs moisture when you sweat and takes a long time to dry, leaving your feet wet and cold.

Some ski socks provide padding at the shins to provide added protection. Make sure your socks are dry and pulled all the way up so there aren’t creases that bunch up and rub against your legs and feet. Socks are the only clothing you should have in your ski boots; try if possible to keep your long underwear out.

 

Caring for Your Ski Boots

  1. Dry out your boots at the end of your ski day. Bring them inside to warm up. Take care not to put them too close to a heat source.
  2. If the liners are very wet, you can remove them from the boots and let them dry separately.
  3. You can also stuff your boots with newspaper, swapping out dry paper as needed.

When your boots are completely dry, lightly buckle them shut to help maintain their shape so they’re ready to go next time.

 

 

Remember: Safety is your responsibility. No internet article or video can replace proper instruction and experience—this article is intended solely as supplemental information. Be sure you’re practiced in proper techniques and safety requirements before you engage in any outdoors activity.

 

 

 

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Contributing Experts

Emily Murray

Emily is an assistant category merchant for downhill skis, Nordic skis and car racks at REI headquarters in Kent, Wash. A Northwest transplant from Colorado, she is passionate about playing outside.