DISCLAIMER: Before you venture down this particular rabbit hole, please consider this: The following article was borne out of a level of frustration that only a bootfitter can fully comprehend. As a matter of fact, most of our editorial luminaries here at Ski & Bike Magazine suggested that I NOT go ahead and submit this piece. And yet here it is.

After thirty-plus years in the ski retail business (and more specifically for the vast majority of those years as a professional bootfitter) I have formulated the opinion (and this is, just that: an opinion) that the single most idiotic, least useful, and dumbest “journalistic” creation has GOT to be the “boot test” or “boot review”.


Here’s what I think is wrong with the concept:

Just think about it for a second.

Please humor me and consider this… If I was going to write a boot review using feedback from MY dumb foot and related apendages… How relevant, in any way, would my experience be to you and YOUR foot?

Are we the same height?
Are we the same weight?
Do we share the same instep height?
Do we share the same heel girth?
Do we have similar ball girth?
Do you let your toenails grow long and disgusting like me?
(No, I don’t let my toenails grow long and disgusting

JF Ravenelle at Mt Sutton | Photo Credit: Bernard Brault

At this juncture I sincerely hope that I’ve done an ok job presenting my argument about how utterly useless my experience (as a skier, ski tester, and ski magazine writer) with a particular ski boot is to you and your experience… and more specifically how irrelevant my opinion of a boot is in relationship to your foot and thus your skiing experience.

Recently my friend Paul and I were discussing possible solutions for his lovely wife’s “special” feet. At some point I told him that for the first time in my 40+ year ski career I had FINALLY found boots that fit me, that skied like I believe ski boots should ski and that didn’t hurt my own “special” feet. I immediately regretted telling him this because the next words out of his mouth were (you guessed it): “What boots are they?” to which I curtly replied in jest: “I know how your brain works, I’M NOT TELLING YOU!” 

How my foam-injected boots fit my stupid feet has no bearing whatsoever on his giant feet, even less on Nicole’s… But I understand the curiosity.


If the above text has not made you think again about the validity of my (and other’s) opinion in regards to the Atomic Hawx Magna 130, please allow me to ask a few more questions:

Are we identical twins?
Do we ski with the same thickness of sock?
Are you an ex-racer, ex-coach, ex-ski instructor, AND an ex-ski patrol that spent the better part of 20 years in the wrong boots because you were sponsored?
Did you crush your right foot at 17 by dropping a freezer on it?
Do you have the bad habit of looking at your tips when you ski?
Did they break both your legs at the age of one in order to reset them (à la Forrest Gump)?

If, after reading my silly profile, you’ve (hopefully) come to the conclusion that we quite likely have very few things in common (from a ski-experience and physiological point of view anyway), then why-oh-why would you be even remotely interested in how much I absolutely love my Dalbello DRS 140’s and how they transfer power to my skis in a way that no other boot ever has for me? If you agree that my opinion of how a boot feels (and how it skis) is almost completely irrelevant to you, then do me a favor: Help me spread the word that talking about ski boots is semantics at best. Help me propagate the gospel that ski and boot reviews and tests are bunk. 

Ski and boot reviews are as useful to your ski experience as discussing the Trump years in the White House, wine, boyfriends, or Battlestar Galactica.

My point is that ski boot reviews don’t help anyone, if anything they make the lives of ski boot fitters such as myself, Max, Paul, and Jay more difficult. 

JF Ravenelle upside down at Alyeska, Alaska | Photo Credit: JF Ravenelle

Finally, If you need to satisfy your insatiable desire to do research, if your OCD demands that you scour the internet for information and opinions on something… then may I humbly suggest that you research ski shops, read reviews about your local shops, scour their website about how they do bootfitting, about their fit guarantees, do they “push” thin socks (that’s a good thing), do they measure your foot using fancy machines (that’s also a good thing), do they push footbeds (that’s a very good thing), do they insist or suggest making an appointment (that’s an exceedingly good thing) or do they carry only one or two brands of boots (really not a good thing)… Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few shops, here’s the ultimate test: Walk into each, stand in front of the boot wall and ask the first salesperson who says hello what boot they recommend. If they point to a boot without looking down at your feet or insisting to measure your foot… WALK OUT.


  • Jay, January 4, 2021 @ 11:12 pm

    Amen brother.

  • Kyle Leonard, January 12, 2021 @ 8:09 pm

    I literally just experienced this rant in person from JF and LOVED it! The guy knows what he’s talking about and I look forward to my boot-fitting appointment at SkiWest

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