How to Buy Snowboard Boots
Snowboard boots that fit and work properly is one of the most important things to making sure you have a great day on the mountain. Even if you have the best board and bindings, wearing boots that do not fit will ruin your day. When buying snowboard boots from The Ski Bum, you must take into account fit, ability level, and riding style to maximize your performance.
Just like purchasing a new pair of shoes, you must first make sure your snowboard boots are the correct size. Your boots should fit snuggly; slightly tighter than your everyday shoes. However, they should not be so tight that they cut off circulation in your feet.
In the front, having a tiny bit of wiggle room with your toes helps your circulation and also keeps your feet warmer. Your heels should have a tighter fit, as heel lift is the worst thing that can happen inside your boots. When you are riding and lean forward, your heels should stay completely planted as your board rises. If your boot fits everywhere but your heel still lifts, you can lace you boots tighter or add some padding to the boot liner to help hold your heel down. As always, the key is personal comfort, so make sure your boot is snug but still comfortable.
The inside of a snowboard boot contains the liner, usually made out of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), and is designed to make the boot fit comfortably and be warm. Most snowboard boot liners are removable, which means you can remove them from the boot to dry them quickly.
Snowboard boot liners fall into three general categories:
Basic Liner (Non-Heat Moldable) - This liner is the generic choice, as it offers base stability and padding for your feet. Over time, the lining will begin to conform to your feet, which increases comfort after a few days on the hill. Usually found in boots under $150.
Heat Moldable Liner - These liners break in quickly, as the liner material molds to your feet through natural body heat. This liner is a little more expensive than the basic liner and is usually found in boots over $150.
Custom Heat Moldable Liner - These premium liners are molded through custom heating techniques like a specialized boot fitting oven or an air dryer. This provides a true custom fit to your feet, maximizing the comfort of your snowboard boots. Usually found in boots over $199.
Boot Flex and Snowboard Riding Style
Your riding style and ability level is an important component of choosing the flex of your snowboard boots. The flex rating ranges from 1-10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the stiffest. In general, a 1-3 rating is soft, 4-6 is medium, 7-8 is stiff, and 9-10 is very stiff.
Your riding style will influence your decision on your boot’s flex rating, as different flexes are designed to fit specific styles.
All-Mountain Riding - For this kind of all-purpose riding, a softer-to-medium flex works best. This allows you to dabble in various kinds of riding without restricting yourself to a certain style.
Freeride Riding - This kind of riding emphasizes speed and precision, so a stiffer boot will increase your performance. A stiffer boot helps generate power when you are riding off-piste or attempting a fast groomed run.
Freestyle Riding - In this style of riding, maneuverability and control are paramount, so a softer boot should be the choice. A softer boot offers more feel, which helps perform tricks in the terrain park.
Along with riding style, your ability level also factors in the selection of your snowboard boot flex. Beginners should gravitate toward a softer boot, as they are more versatile and easier to control. For expert riders who prefer aggressive riding, a stiffer boot will be more responsive.
Snowboard Boot Lacing
Lacing is another important aspect to your snowboard boots, as they help limit heel-lift while you are riding. Your laces should be tight, but not restrictive. There are a few lacing systems you can select from for your snowboard boots.
Traditional Lacing - This is the classic lacing system that you tie up by hand (like your shoes). You can adjust the tightness yourself and laces are cheap and replaceable. However, throughout the day they are prone to loosening and can be difficult or impossible to tie with gloves or when your hands are cold.
Quick-Pull Lacing - These are tightened with a single pull cord, so they are fast and easy and can be adjusted while wearing gloves. Some quick-pull lace boots also use zonal lacing, which means you can tighten and loosen specific areas of your boot at your discretion. These can also loosen while riding, and if they break normally can throw in a traditional lace or may need to seek the help of a shop. They usually do not break, but more often than not they are cut by your board edges when you are riding the lift and resting your board on your back foot. Avoid this as much as possible.
Boa System Lacing - This lacing system also stresses simplicity and convenience. Boa laces are tightened through dials attached to a cable. Even with gloves on, it is easy to adjust the dial, enabling precise and quick control of your boot tightness. Boa has become very popular and many boot brands are offering this as their lacing option in boots over $150.
With the information above, you should be ready to purchase snowboard boots from The Ski Bum. There are many different types of boots, so be sure to buy the ones that fit your style and ability level. With the proper fitting boots, you are ready to carve all day!