Heating and Molding Intuition Ski Boot Liners

put foot in heated liner before placing in boot

True to DIYer form, trial and error (sometimes lots of errors) lead to a better understanding of “do’s and don’ts”. Molding Intuition Boot Liners was not excepted. After reading and viewing Intuition, Scarpa, SVST and DIY techniques and ideas, we set out to experiment with new Intuition Pro Tour liners from Scarpa Maestrale RS AT boots to discover and illustrate the pitfalls of home oven backing vs heat gun hot air approaches. A ‘modified conventional oven boot liner baking’ approach appears to be a reliable and safe for good boot to foot fitting. Especially for ovens without enough height to stand the liners on their bottoms.

scaled liner vs sound linerConventional Oven Baking: The first attempt was to place a liner on it’s side, in a 240° non-convection oven on wood supports instead of directly on the oven racks. After 5 minutes the oven, which was on, scorched and wrinkled the side of the liner where it was in contact with the wood. Big mistake and bummer! Though unsightly, functionally the liner is fine. Time will tell how long this remains true. The wood conducted high heat too readily from the concentrated heat from the lower baking element. With this older oven, the temperature of the elements probably need to far exceed the target oven temperature to generate enough heat for the whole oven to reach and maintain the 240°. A reasonable assumption is that a convection oven would be superior to conventional ovens.

240 heat gun for 12 minutesHot Air Gun: The second test was to keep the liners in the shell and utilize a digital heat gun with high output and reliable temperature control for 12 minutes to assimilate an Intuition blower heater. Care was made to make sure the nozzle did not touch the interior of the liner while driving heat to the toe area. It is desirable option since it reduces steps, time and needed care and effort to place a floppy, hot liner into difficult boot shells. This straight forward approach achieved an OK fit, but the exterior of the boot remained cold and did not mold to the shell. For many, this technique may be more than acceptable for basic boot fitting. It also could be utilized for minor spot heating and tweaks. For instance, if the toes fit well, but there is a small issue around the instep, the toe area could be stuffed with a sock or other insulating area, to focus the heat only on the problem area. Additionally, a longer heat application may provide better results.

left backed right heat gunThe liner on the left was baked in an oven, while the one on the right was heated with a heat gun. Note that the heat gun approach had no effect on the liner’s exterior.

Hot Rice: Placing rice in an old sock and microwaving to achieve desired heat is the option recommended by Intuition for Home Fitting that may be more desirable and convenient. Make sure to get the rice all the way into the toe area in the liner. The instructions state to fill a single sock with 3-4 lbs of rice. This may not work for getting heat all the way into the toes and front of the foot. Breaking the rice into (3) varying sock sizes (with room in the socks & secured with zip ties works much better for getting the heat where you need it. Plus you can use one of the smaller amounts of rice to fix any spot adjustments.

Hot Water: Boiling water in a collapsible water bottle can also provide lower temperature heat for minor adjustments, but probably is not the best option for fully heating the liner’s interior for proper molding.

added mass keeps oven at 240° after 12 minutesModified Conventional oven boot liner baking: As noted previously, it appears that a conventional oven’s heating element produces higher heat than which is desirable and practical to avoid liner damage and even heating inside and out. By adding mass to the equation, a more controllable and even temperature can be maintain for the time frame needed. Four, 6 x 6x 3/8″ ceramic tiles provided sufficient mass to keep the oven temperature 240° for 12 minutes in our tests after the oven was turned off to avoid high heat issues. (Rubber ‘pads’ where placed on the tiles to avoid direct contact with the liners as a precaution.) Though the 12 minutes was a little arbitrary of a time frame, it did appear to be sufficient for our molding purposes. Longer or shorter may be fine for others.

footbedBasic Liner Molding Steps:  While the liners were heated, 1/8″, adhesive backed boot fitting pads were cut to allow more room at known pressure points. This was coupled with toe caps and a thin sock.

footbed ready for sockIf a foot bed was desired, it could also be placed on the foot before putting on the sock. In the interest of gram counting, the foot bed was omitted for this round to also see how well the Intuition bottoms support the foot on their own. Silicone spray was used to lubricated the shell interiors.

place sock over toe caps pads and footbedAfter the timer for the baking liner chimed, placing the sock with pad(s), foot bed and toe cap was placed in the liner, before being placed in the shell, while pulling upward on the liner multiple times. (See 1st image.)

lightly buckle boot and place toe on board for 10 minutesAfter lightly buckling the boot, knocking the boot heel helps to set the heel into the liner. Place the toe on a board and stand on the boot in a neutral position for ten minutes.

Afterwards, remove the foot from the boot. Take out the pad, caps and foot bed (if used) from the sock. Again, if used, place the foot bed in the liner after it is placed in the shell. Test the fit of boot and tweak as needed.