This week I had Jarrad McCarl come into the shop. If you haven't heard of this guy, check him out below:
Jarrad rides for Full Tilt and this gave me a perfect opportunity to do something I've been wanting to do in one of these articles for a while.
If you read the forums and you look at the Full Tilt threads, quite often you'll see people saying additional support by the way of footbeds was not needed, with some even questioning whether it was possible to use them in the boots.
A Full Tilt rep has told me in the past that footbeds were not needed in the boots, but being a big advocate for the use of footbeds I used Jarrad as my guinea pig to show that not only will footbeds work, but they will actually improve the fit.
Jarrad is currently wearing the B&E boot, but looking at his feet I was surprised they fitted.
The B&E uses the original shell which has a 99mm last, but in measuring Jarrad's feet it turned out he was closer to 110mm wide. He measures a size 26 but he is actually wearing a size 28 (the 28 in the original shell is 318mm so closer to most 27 boots); something he does to get a more comfortable width fit.
Shell checking Jarrad in the boots, they were too big for him and he would have perhaps been better going with the next shell size down, then getting the width punched, or he might even be better in the wider lasted Full Tilt's such as the new Descendant boot; a boot I will be doing a full review on in a few weeks.
Even with the boots being a little big for Jarrad I knew the footbeds would still help, so we moved onto the machine.
Although Jarrad's feet are wide with a very high arch, they are actually very stable. This is probably partly down to something I did not know about Jarrad - in the summer he is a cross-fit trainer, which has probably helped him maintain good balance.
Even though his feet were relatively stable, the high arch meant not much of his foot was in contact with the boot, so adding the footbed will still give a more snug fit, as it fills the void in the arch, even if supporting the foot was perhaps not totally totally necessary in this case.
While the footbeds were cooling in the molds we talked about his ski selection.
Jarrad rides for Line and his current setup is a pair of the 2016 Blends in size 186. At 6'2" and 180lbs Jarrad has no problem handling the extra length in the park and the fact that the Blend is a pretty soft ski, means the length helps with stability.
When I asked if he ever skied any of the narrower skis Jarred said if he was going for a jump session he would probably ride the Chronic, but most of the time he would be on the Blends.
Going for a wider park ski is something I'm seeing a lot of people doing and it certainly has its advantages, especially in a place like Whistler, where the average day may include a few laps just blasting round the mountain.
Binding wise, Jarrad goes for the ever-popular Rossignol FKS 180. I asked why he was not on Marker and he said he had got a pair of Jesters once, but he did not get bindings regularly from Marker, so he tended to stick with the FKS that he trusts.
This was the first pair of 180's Jarrad had used, as he was riding the 140 previously, but after a few small durability issues with the toe he wanted to upgrade to the full metal 180.
Jarrad only rides on 11 which shows you don't have to be riding at the very highest DIN's to enjoy the advantages the 180 offers over the 140.
While I was finishing up the footbeds I heated up the liners to remold them. Adding the footbed would slightly re-position the foot, so remolding would be a good way to make sure everything still felt good in the new position.
For those who are interested, I went with a rather flexible stabilization for the footbed, with my reasoning being that the foam in the base of the Intuition liner would fill some of the void under the footbed and I have found that this can make them feel slightly stiffer then intended.
With the boots all done up and Jarrad standing in them I asked how they felt. His response was exactly what I wanted to hear.
The boots felt more snug, without feeling tight and he found he was able to do the buckles slightly less tight and still achieve a good hold on the foot. This is very important in boot fitting, we all want a tight fit, but if we have to tighten the buckles all the way to achieve this, it is more likely to restrict blood flow and cause numb feet.
Using a footbed to keep the foot snug without having the buckles tight is hugely helpful, but standing in the shop is only going to tell you so much, so I sent Jarred off for a ski and told him to get back to me with what he thought of the fit.
So Jarrad seems happy and even though he did not have any problems with his boots I have been able to improve the fit simply by adding some support and this is an important factor to remember, just because a boot does not hurt, does not necessarily mean that it fits well.
Photo credit: Ilanna Barkusky
Thanks to Jarrad for letting me use him as my test subject and Jarrad wanted to thank his sponsors: Line, Full Tilt, Muscle Milk, Outdoor Tech and Herd.