Why Are Ski Boots So Hard To Walk In?

Why Are Ski Boots So Hard To Walk In featured photo

There’s nothing more frustrating and awkward than trying to walk with ski boots. If you ever fell hard on your knees while walking from the parking lot to the ski resort, that makes the two of us. I’ve slipped numerous times throughout the years and wondered why ski boots could make walking difficult. So, if you’re also curious about the reason, I’ve got you covered.

Ski boots are hard to walk in because they are designed for skiing rather than walking. They use a more rigid material than your typical shoes. The stiffness of the ski boots may cause pain or discomfort, especially when you use them for long periods.

Below, I’ll go into more detail about why ski boots are hard to walk in. I’ll also share some tips to help you walk in these types of shoes without falling. Plus, I’ll introduce a feature in ski boots that can make strolling easier.

Why Are Ski Boots So Hard To Walk In?

Why Are Ski Boots So Hard To Walk In

You may notice that walking in ski boots is difficult and, sometimes, awkward. But why is it so?

The most obvious reason why ski boots are hard to walk in is the difference in their intended purpose. Ski boots are specifically designed to support your feet while skiing. They feature a cuff above the ankle that is angled forward, ranging from 13 to 16 degrees. The goal of this forward lean is to keep you in balance. Ordinary shoes don’t lean forward, letting you flex your ankle and lower leg without pain.

Ski boots also cause difficulty in walking because of the material used. They usually feature more rigid materials than your typical footwear. Although this stiffness is beneficial for skiing, it can lead to a painful and uncomfortable experience when you’re simply strolling around. 

Ski boots ultimately force your feet into an unnatural walking position. It takes lots of practice to help your feet get used to these ski shoes.

Is It Bad To Walk in Ski Boots?

Is It Bad To Walk in Ski Boots

Walking in ski boots is sometimes a necessary evil. You can do it if you need to get from one place to another in the middle of skiing. For example, you want to walk towards the gondola lift or an attraction nearby. You’re also likely to walk from the parking lot to reach the skiing area.

However, you must avoid walking long distances before and after hitting the slopes. As previously mentioned, ski boots are hard on your ankles and lower legs. They can also strain your knees, hips, and back if you’re not careful.

Consider paying for a locker where you can stash a pair of snow or hiking boots. Your body will thank you at the end of the day. As a bonus, you won’t get embarrassed in case you fall hard on your knees trying to walk with the ski shoes.

How To Walk in Ski Boots?

If you do need to walk in ski boots, keep these tips in mind to ensure your comfort and safety.

Check the Buckles and Straps

You may feel tempted to loosen the buckles or power straps to give your ankles more movement while walking. However, this would be a wrong move, especially for first-time users. You’re more likely to twist your ankle or trip on the unfastened power strap, which ultimately poses a danger.

So, before you even walk, check all the buckles and power straps of the ski boots. Make sure you fasten them tightly, but not overly tight. You should still feel your feet and move your toes inside the boots.

Keep Your Knees Bent

Straightening the legs is another mistake people make when walking with ski boots. However, doing so can cause pain and discomfort since the boots have a forward lean.

Instead, bend your knees to walk comfortably on a flat surface in ski boots. It may feel weird initially, especially since your ankles are fixed in place. But this method of walking is more forgiving on your legs and hips.

Avoid looking at the ground when wearing ski boots because you’ll just overthink things. Focus on what’s ahead. 

Lift your first leg, and as you are stepping forward try to land on your heel first on the ground. Once your heel connects with the ground, you can put the rest of your foot down as well. Keep your knees bent even though it likely means most of your weight is concentrated forward toward your toes. Maintain a straight upper body and repeat the same steps with the other leg or foot. 

Kick Your Toes Into the Snow When Walking Uphill 

Kick Your Toes Into the Snow When Walking Uphill 

Walking with ski boots on a flat surface is tricky enough for beginners. If you’re going for an uphill hike, expect things to be more difficult.

The recommended way to walk on an incline is to kick the tip of your toes forward into the snow. Strike the ground harder if you’re dealing with harder icy terrain. Doing so carves a small step, making climbing easier and faster.

Keep both knees bent with every step to maintain your balance. You should feel pressure from your legs leaning forward in the ski shoes. Use your full strength with every forward step to lift your whole body. 

Dig Your Heels When Walking Downhill

Walking with ski boots downhill is another challenging task. It can also be dangerous and intimidating for a beginner.

The trick is to stomp down to dig your heel down into the snowy ground while descending. Again, keep your knees bent to support the weight of your upper body.

If you feel like you’ll fall, try to walk down sideways. Take little steps to ensure your safety. Move one leg or foot at a time while maintaining pressure on the tongue of the ski boots.

Use the Handrails

Are you still struggling to walk with the ski boots? Your last resort is to use the rails or ask for help from others. It can be embarrassing at first. However, this is the best solution if you don’t want to risk your safety.

Grip a nearby handrail if possible or hold onto another person hands if they are comfortable with helping to keep you steady. Walk slowly with your knees bent. 

Make sure that the other person is not also a beginner in ski shoes like you. If you ask an inexperienced individual for help, you two may just slip and fall together.

What Is Walk Mode? 

What Is Walk Mode

Do you intend to walk long distances with your ski boots? Or do you simply want an alternative if you do need to walk on the slopes?

Fortunately, you can purchase boots with a walk mode. This feature allows you to convert your ski boots to ordinary shoes designed for walking. Once you activate walk mode, you can enjoy a wider range of movement. This way, you’ll have an easier time walking to the slop or tour attractions near the ski resort.

Note that the benefit of walk mode is pretty limited to walking or hiking. It offers extra comfort and support for the time you’ll spend strolling around. 

But if you’re mostly skiing, the price of boots with walk mode might not be worth it. While rare, it may also cause accidents if you forget that the feature is on and you try to ski.

How Does Walk Mode Work?

Walk mode has different designs depending on the ski boot manufacturer. However, this feature usually works the same, regardless of the boot model.

Ski boots with walk mode have a lever mechanism located at the back of the heel. The lever has two adjustable positions, namely, walk mode and ski mode.

When you move the lever to ski mode, it releases the upper cuff of the boot from the lower cuff. It gives the skier more flexibility in the boot because the material will move backward with the pressure from your ankles. This makes it easier to walk more naturally and with confidence. Activating the ski mode also decreases the chances of injuries while hiking.

Once you’re ready to return to skiing, simply switch the lever to the ski mode. It will lock both the upper and lower cuff. At the same time, it secures your lower leg, ankle, and foot in the same position. It allows you to transfer your leg movements down into the skis. This gives you better control and balance. 

Do You Need Walk Mode in Ski Boots?

Do You Need Walk Mode in Ski Boots

Now that you know how walk mode works, you may be tempted to buy boots with this special feature. But do you really need walk or ski mode on your new boots?

The answer entirely depends on the type of activities you want to do while wearing the ski shoes. 

For example, if you’re interested in ski touring or cross-country skiing, you’ll find walk mode beneficial. You can use this feature to walk on slopes or climb sections where full flexibility of the foot is necessary.

You can also invest in ski boots with walk mode if you often explore villages or attractions near the ski resort. You can enjoy the sights better if your feet aren’t hurting and under severe pressure. Then, if you need to return to skiing, you simply need to switch the lever behind the heel.

Finally, if you don’t have the budget for ski-in ski-out accommodations, you can take advantage of boots with walk mode. You don’t need to carry around a spare pair of shoes and pay for lockers, too. Simply reach behind and adjust the lever mechanism at the back of your ski shoes.


Walking on ski boots is a challenging feat for two main reasons. First, they are designed to support your feet while skiing rather than walking. As such, they have inflexible materials that keep your ankles and feet locked in. Ski shoes also feature a stiff construction, which gives you a limited range of movement. This makes it difficult to walk or hike with the footwear.

Fortunately, you can try several ways to make walking with ski boots easier. You can even invest in shoes with a dedicated walk mode, as explained above.

Do you have more questions about skiing? Feel free to drop by our contact page to send your queries!