A good pair of boots is one of the most important pieces of equipment in any dialed snowboarding kit. On the mountain they will make your day or break it. Here are a few topics that will help you learn how to choose the best snowboarding boots.
Size and Fit
Snowboards boots won’t (and should NOT) fit like your everyday shoes. Your boots should fit comfortably snug with just enough room to allow for circulation — it’s not a bad thing if you can feel the end of the toebox. Remember that most people have one foot that is slightly larger than the other so make sure to size for that foot. If the boots feel too tight at first don’t worry. They will pack down and form to your foot in time and fit like a glove as you compress the foam. There should be zero heel lift in your new boots. If there is, expect blisters to end your powder days early. Your boots are responsible for transferring the energy from your legs to your edges so any extra space can make carving all day a thigh busting experience.
Make sure you try them on with a good pair of snowboard socks. Despite what mom says, avoid wearing two pairs of socks with your boots — it cuts off circulation and can lock moisture on your foot turning your digits down there into a sweaty icicle. Invest in a good pair of snowboard socks — it makes a big difference to have a nice pair of wool or synthetic ones for those long lift rides.
Closure (Lacing systems): Nowadays there are just about as many ways to tie your boots as there are companies that make them. Your laces are just as important in how your boot fits as the size of the boot. Make sure that regardless of what lacing system you choose, you can get your boots snug without too much effort. There are two main types:
Traditional Laces: These are what we’ve all been using (presumably) since kindergarten. They’re the least expensive option and also the cheapest to repair if you bust a lace. You can easily customize fit with laces, but it can be difficult on the mountain with big gloves and gusty winds. Though they are cheap to repair, they are the most likely to need it as they tend to loosen on the mountain. Pro Tip: Make two twists in laces before the ‘bunny ears’ because it holds the tension better. You can even do this between every stirrup as you lace for a snug fit around the shin and breathability in your foot bed.
Boa Lacing systems: If you’re a lover of convenience and feeling spendy, BOA lacing might be just your style. This system is quickly gaining popularity because of its reliable design that offers quick, secure lacing though at an inflated price compared to traditional laces. This system uses a length of steel chord tightened by one or two twist knobs on the top of the boot tongue or by the ankle. For a uniform, snug fit, the boa can’t be beat. However, the knobs can create pressure points, and unless you shell out the extra cash for the second dial, you won’t be able to customize your fit very well. Also, replacing the cable is a costly fiasco that can end your day. They don’t break often though because they’re, well, steel.
Do you want your boots stiff or soft? It all depends on your ability level and your riding style. All mountain riders (90 percent of all resort snowboarders) will want a softer boot for all day comfort. If you’re just starting out, you especially want a softer boot. If you want to tackle steeper, harder lines, a stiff boot will give you the edge response you need, and though they take longer to break in, will last longer as well. Stiff boots give the most technical rider the support they need to push their limits.
All snowboard boots come with a full liner. This adds comfort, warmth and support for your feet on cold days and cushion for those big drops. Most liners are made out of EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate), a lightweight, moldable polymer. They come in two varieities.
Non-Moldable: In non-moldable liners your foot forms itself into a mold by a combination of body heat and weight which makes them more comfortable over time. They are found in most boots and are becoming more and more comfortable and supportive thanks to constant and innovative engineering.
Heat Moldable: Heat Moldable liners use more sophisticated materials that hold the mold better over time and can be fine tuned to fit your feet right out of the box. Don’t try this at home — most board shops will have a special heating unit to do this for you so it’s best to let them do their job.