Your snowboard boots are arguably the most important part of your snowboard gear. A good pair of boots can be the difference between a good and a bad day on the mountain. It is imperative that your boot fits comfortably, correctly, and works well with your binding. If you’re going to try and save money when buying your equipment, don’t do it here, snowboard boots are where it pays to spend a little more money and time getting that perfect fit.
In this section, we are going to cover these main points to keep in mind when buying your new boots:
Fit - Boot Flex - Lacing Systems - Liners
Snowboard boots should fit snuggly around your foot, but not so tight that the boot causes you pain. Its also important to remember that most boots require around a weeks worth of riding until they pack out and form their true size.
Important points to remember when fitting a boot:
The toes should graze the end of the boot, but should have enough room to wiggle.
When you drive your knee forward your heel should also stay in place, any heel slip will lose you a lot of control on your toe edge.
Remember to wear a snowboard or ski sock when having the boot fitted. There is a very fine line between a boot that is too tight and will cause pain, and a boot that is too loose and will cause heel lift.
Much like boards and bindings, boots also have a flex rating, ranging from soft to stiff. What boot flex you should buy comes totally down personal preference, however as a general rule of thumb, most park/jib riders and beginners will choose a softer flex boot for a more forgiving ride. When it comes to freeriders and your general all mountain chargers a stiffer flex boot is often chosen, to give the rider more response and control at high speeds.
It is also important to remember there is no standardized boot flex rating system, so the flex can differ somewhat between brands. Generally we class manufacturers ratings of 1-2 as soft, 3-5 as medium, 6-8 as stiff and 9-10 as very stiff.
When it comes to lacing systems, there are three main lacing systems that companies use. They are as follows:
Dating back further than your granddads carving skis, traditional lacing systems are tried and tested and loved by a lot of riders. Traditional lacing allows you to customize the fit of your boot to the style of riding you do, or just how you like it. Even though traditional lacing is one of the simplest to use, the laces can be painful on your hands on those harsh winter days. Traditional laces also have the tendency to loosen a little during the day. Despite this, many snowboarders still choose traditional lacing for easy lace replacement and a tailor-made fit.
Quick Pull Lacing
Faster and less painful than traditional lacing systems. Most quick pull lacing systems allow the foot and the ankle/upper leg to be tightened separately, this is called zonal lacing. In comparison to traditional lacing systems, quick pull systems are fast, easy and can be tightened with gloves on. The types of system differ from brand to brand, but in general are relatively similar.
Boa System Lacing
Boa Lacing Systems offer the fastest and arguably the easiest boot tightening system of the three. Boa system boots use a ratcheting dial attached to a cable that runs through the boot in the places where a lace or quick pull cord would usually lie. Boa systems can sometimes offer double or even triple systems, with one dial controlling the tightness of the forefoot and one or two controlling the upper cuff tightness.
The three types of boa lacing systems are as follows:
Boa Coiler – Based at the centre of the boot, the fastest system of the three.
Boa at the sides of the boot for upper and lower zone tightening.
2 external ratcheting dials at the sides for upper and lower zone tightening. The third reel adjusts the inner liner.
A liner is an inner boot within the snowboard boot, usually made out of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate). EVA is a moldable lightweight material that allows the foot to slowly mold its shape into the boot over time. The Liner plays an integral part to your snowboarding experience. It provides the cushioning, stability and insulation your feet need to keep shredding all day on the mountain. Some boots come with a removable liner and some are permanently attached to the boot. Removable liners allow for a quicker drying process.
Types of Liners
Stock Liners - Provide a basic level of padding that will slowly over time conform to your foots shape.
Moldable Liners - A step up from the cheaper materials used by stock liners; they are built to mold to your foots shape over time through body heat.
Heat-Moldable Liners - A premium liner that provides the best fit possible from your boot. Trained personnel usually perform the heat molding process in a store.
The 3 Big Dont's
Don’t buy boots that are too big.
Don’t take advice from friends about what boots to buy. Everybody has different preferences and foot shapes. Boots that work great for them might not necessarily work for you!
Snowboarders often spend most of their budget on the board and bindings, forgetting about their boot. Buying the wrong boot because “it was cheap” is a potential recipe for blistered heels.
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