Let me preface this discussion by saying that I am in no way advocating against boot-fitters. I maintain that fitters are the most essential resource for researching, purchasing, and altering ski boots. The intent of this thread is to challenge you to think deeper than the default response to EVERY SINGLE BOOT THREAD I have clicked on in the last month, "go to a boot-fitter".
The beauty of the e-marketplace is that we now have access to brands that not every brick & mortar shop carries or endorses. With the click of a button, we can have Dalbello's at our door, where the local shop might only carry Atomic and Salomon. Perhaps an even greater benefit that the convenience is the dollars saved. Online retailers are periodically having sales offering -10%, -20%, -30% discounts and they often carry prior years' gear for a fraction of the price. Most of today's shops hold inventory until the end of the season before sending them back to the wholesaler. E-retailers offer an excellent opportunity to save some coin, something generally not offered by brick & mortar retailers.
I was once in high-school. I was once a broke college kid. Hell, I'm a broke adult now. I understand the worry and the frustration that comes along with participating in a sport that requires a significant cash investment. Any given season, you can be faced with replacing a $500 piece of equipment. Life becomes a lot easier, and skiing becomes more accessible, when we can save some money on gear, tickets, etc.
So, why is it that every time I click on a boot-related Gear Talk thread, the first response is ALWAYS "go to a boot-fitter"? The response, while correct, is lazy and uninformative. So, I challenge you to think a little deeper before you post-whore and respond as such.
To the users seeking boot advice...
- give a brief history of the boots you have skied. What did you like? What didn't you like? What spots gave you problems? What features did you feel you'd want in a future boot? What size, last, instep and closure-system did they have?
- what are you looking for in your next boot? what kind of price range can you realistically work in?
- what specific boots are you currently considering?
To the users offering boot advice...
- consider that not every skier has access to a "good" boot-fitter. I have had varied experiences with shops that are well-known for and well-versed in boot-fitting.
- consider that not every skier has the financial leeway to spend $400-$600 on boots. Most 14 year-old's don't have a credit card. Most 16 year-old's need to buy gas. Most college kids need books.
- help the user make an informed decision. Is there situation so complex that they absolutely NEED to see a boot-fitter to purchase a boot? Can a user save themselves 50% off the MSRP and make minor adjustments with a brick & mortar shop?
We are privy to knowledge and resources that the average Jerry is not privy to, just by being on this site. We have users that are experienced and reputable boot-fitters. We have brands and shops well love that are actively watching, reading, and commenting on content here. Enough of your cookie-cutter, poorly informed advice.
I recognize that by purchasing online, we are sometimes cannibalizing on business of local shops and brands that are a speck in the pond. I realize that purchasing online is not an ideal scenario for skiers and boot-fitters alike. But, at the end of the day, not all skiers are boot-fitters, but most fitters are undoubtedly skiers. Buying online represents an opportunity to make the sport more accessible to new skiers and established skiers alike.