How To Buy Snowboard Boots

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.

Boot Flex

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.