The first item we recommend choosing in a ski package is the boot you will wear. Boots, like running shoes, have widely varied fit characteristics as each manufacturer uses their own lasts. This also means, of course, that it is entirely possible for a skier to get an otherwise excellent boot that just simply doesn't work with his or her foot. The first priority for any skier when boot shopping should be to find a boot that feels comfortable, because they will be spending a lot of time in it over the winter.
Having accepted that, there are several other factors that can be used to differentiate boots. First, due to the differences between skating and classical skiing, the boots used for the two disciplines are generally different. Skate boots are stiffer under the ball of the foot and will almost always have a plastic or composite cuff that provides support for the ankle when riding on a ski edge. Classic boots, on the other hand, do not include these cuffs since they need to allow the skier to move their ankle freely. Regardless of discipline, more expensive boots are generally built to be lighter weight, more durable, more supportive, and laterally, though not necessarily medially, stiffer.
In recent years, a third type of boots has emerged within the nordic industry. "Pursuit" (also called "combi") boots are a hybrid style can be used for either skating or classic skiing, and though they do not provide optimal performance for either, they are an excellent choice for newer skiers due to the value they provide by replacing two other boots.
Finally, it's important to know what binding system your boots are. We will discuss bindings in detail in the next section, but for now, it is worth noting that nearly all modern boots are built to use one of two binding systems; Atomic, Salomon, and One Way boots all use the SNS Pilot system made by Salomon, while boots made by Fischer, Madshus, Rossignol, and Alpina use the NNN system from Rottefella. We strongly advise selecting a boot first, then buying the binding that matches the boot, but you should still know which system you use for compatibility.