Blisters, pinched calves, cold feet… just some of the many afflictions of the ill-fitting rental ski boot and the cause of misery that can ruin an otherwise glorious day on the slopes. But thanks to bespoke ski-boot maker ErtlRenz – a Munich-based company that merges hand-craftsmanship with cutting-edge tech – such podiatric pain can now be a thing of the past.
The company is the brainchild of a husband-and-wife team who’ve spent much time in high-performance footwear: Martina Ertl-Renz is a 14-time World Cup champion as well as World Championship and Olympic medallist, while Sven Renz is a former triathlete for the German national league. Boot-fitting first begins with a consultation in one of their outlets in Germany, Switzerland, Austria or Colorado, where a consultant will examine a customer’s foot, and also discuss orthopaedic and performance needs.
Then comes the high-tech bit: with the aid of a special pair of gridded socks and a rotating 3D-scanner, 4,000 consecutive images of the foot and leg are taken. Precise measurements from the scan, including pressure-points, appear instantly on an accompanying screen, and help determine the optimal shell to select for the customer. Next up is stepping into a few “try-on” boots – a process that’s as important as collecting hard data. “Every customer has a different feeling inside a boot,” says Renz. “Measurements are one thing; the customer in the boot, and their expectations, are another. We try to get both pieces of information to create the perfect boot.”
Skiing habits are also discussed. Is the customer, for example, looking to do some hardcore racing (as small and snug as possible, advises Renz)? Or is he the family father out with his kids for the whole day (good contact but less pressure)?
A digital copy of the foot and leg is then sent to ErtlRenz’s factory in Munich, where – not unlike the finest bootmakers in Paris or London – an individual wooden last is created. Wrapped around the last is the shell, which is produced by ski marques Head or Lange in a superior PU material that can be heated up to 160º, for moulding around the last. A custom-made insole and liner are also created by an on-site orthopaedic technician, before the finished boot is returned to the store for collection – an end-to-end process that takes no longer than a typical ski holiday: one to two weeks.
The boots start from €850, and for an additional €300 (plus an extra day), the liner can be further fine-tuned with a thermal foam that fills any small and unwanted (read painful) gaps, for an über-comfy fit. Real kit fanatics may even opt for the patented boot warmers (€1,500 with boot and foam liner), co-developed by ErtlRenz and a company that produces car-seat heaters for the likes of Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
Interestingly, the only uncustomisable feature of an ErtlRenz ski boot is the colour. All boots come in a cool, signature black – a fixed outer hue that, summa summarum, seems a small sacrifice when everything inside fits like a glove, er, boot…