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First and foremost, snowboard boots are not shoes, and therefore should not fit like them. When you buy shoes, you generally get them with a little extra room and a little larger than necessary. A snowboard boot is made for performance, and therefore if it is too big, your foot will move around instead of directly transferring energy to the boot and subsequently the binding. Thus you want to select the smallest size you can without being uncomfortable. Snowboard sizing is the same as regular shoes, but as we’ve outlined already, many people exaggerate their shoe size larger than they actually measure. Be sure that you avoid doing this and you’ll end up with a proper size. For additional help, please review our snowboard boot sizing guide.
When trying on a snowboard boot you should sit down, completely loosen the boot, and then slide your foot into it. Make sure that you are wearing the sock you will generally be riding in. Kick your heel back into the boot a few times to make sure your heel is set back in place. Then tighten the liner and then the exterior of the boot. When you stand up, your toes should be touching the end of the liner, but should not be cramped or curled. When you bend your knees, or stand in a bent stance, your toes should come away from the end of the boot slightly. This allows for just the right amount of room in the boot once it is broken in.
Women are built differently than men. Therefore their snowboard boots are built differently as well. Women’s calves are positioned lower on their legs than men. Therefore, the cuff of the boot on a women’s snowboard boot does not come up as high. This creates a snowboard boot that is less restrictive and more comfortable for women. Additionally, women’s snowboard boots are generally softer from a flex standpoint, making the transfer of energy easier.
Women also tend to have narrower feet; therefore their boots are designed to compensate for this difference. If you have a woman’s snowboard boot you should select a woman’s binding to work with it. Additionally, if you have a woman’s binding you should select a woman’s boot to work with it. This will allow for a more precise and secure fit, making the set up for your board more responsive when riding.
Choosing an accurate ability level will match you with the appropriate product for the rider. A beginner is a first time rider or someone still fairly new to the sport that is still learning how to carve. An ideal boot for a beginner is generally one that will be soft flexing and forgiving so as not to transfer every little movement to the board. An intermediate rider is someone with a bit more experience that is comfortable on most runs but still cautious and riding at moderate speeds. They’ll want a little more performance out of their boot as they began to ride faster than they were and understand how to shift their weight to their edges. An advanced rider is someone who is not only comfortable on the majority of runs and terrain but is more aggressive and tends to ride at a higher speed. Advanced riders may be looking for a stiff responsive boot if they are just cruising or a freestyle specific boot if doing tricks is more their style. Those who consider themselves experts are comfortable and confident on any type of terrain and are generally looking for all the bells and whistles on their boots in terms of both comfort and performance.
Just like snowboards, snowboard boots are designed for different types of terrain as well as all kinds of riding styles. They will loosely fall into the categories of All Mountain, Freestyle, and All Mountain Freestyle.
All-Mountain boots are designed for general cruising and carving anywhere on the mountain. They tend to increase in stiffness as you work your way into higher performing boots as an increase in stiffness equals an increase in responsiveness. Added features generally increase comfort as well as dampen vibrations as riders become more aggressive and hit higher speeds.
Freestyle boots are designed for doing tricks usually in a terrain park with features like rails, boxes and jumps. Often, freestyle boots are modeled after skate shoes in both fit and appearance. Freestyle boots generally have a somewhat softer flex, but added features allow these boots to maintain this same flex over time while still giving the rider the appropriate amount of support. Various technologies are also present to give these boots more cushioning underfoot to soften landings and dampen shock.
All-Mountain Freestyle boots offer the best of both worlds for the rider that truly wants to go everywhere on the mountain, seeking both the playfulness needed for freestyle terrain, as well as the power and response for carving at higher speeds. Higher end all-mountain freestyle boots maybe a bit stiffer than their freestyle counterparts, but extra cushioning and dampening features make these the true go everywhere and do everything kind of boot.
Just like with snowboards, boots vary in flex which greatly affects their performance. The stiffer something is, the more responsive it is. Soft boots are ideal for a beginner because they are forgiving and will not react to every movement like their stiffer counterparts. Some park riders also prefer soft boots as they allow the rider different positioning and leverage over their bindings and board for various tricks. On the flip side, stiff boots will respond quickly to movements made by the rider with very little energy lost. These boots are ideal for hard charging aggressive riders who tend to find themselves riding at higher speeds. A beginner will find a boots that’s too stiff hard to flex and control therefore sending the wrong signals to their board. Those seeking something somewhere in between will find comfort in a boot with a medium flex. These boots are often ideal for the intermediate rider or the athletic beginner who wants a little more performance out of their boot, but nothing they can’t handle. Flex can also often be a thing of preference. Some advanced riders just prefer the feel of a softer flexing boot over that of a stiff one. In this case it’s just important to make sure you find a quality soft flexing boot or maybe a freestyle boot rather something that’s specifically designed for beginners.
While brands vary in technology and specifics, overall most models will be somewhat comparable to others in its same price range. Here’s a little bit of what to expect when you look at the original retail of a snowboard boot. Keep in mind this is the original price and not the sale price.
Up to $149: Entry-level boots will fall into this price range. The flex of entry-level boots will generally be very soft and forgiving. The liner will be simple and the lace up system will be basic. The fit of an entry-level boot will offer a little bit of extra room because it is designed to fit a variety of different foot types.
$150 – $199: Snowboard Boots retailing in this price range will usually represent a mid-level boot with a medium flex. The boot will still be soft and forgiving, but offer more response and performance than an entry-level boot will. The liners in this price range will generally be made of materials that will wick away sweat and moisture, helping to keep the rider’s feet dry and warm. The fit of the boot will be a bit more precise, less bulky, and reduce the overall weight while maximizing energy transfer.
$200 - $249: High-end performance boots advanced rider will be found here. Boots will be more stiff and responsive and give rider’s more customization. Boots will be lightweight and extremely comfortable. Liners will generally be heat moldable, allowing the rider to obtain a custom fit.
$250+: At the price range you can be sure you’re getting the top of the line in performance and features along with all the bells and whistles available. This is where manufacturers try new and creative tech that years down the road they might trickle down to their lower models. They’re the ultimate in terms of weight reduction, total comfort, and customization and they’ll be packed with unmatched response and performance.
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You may not think that a lacing style is an option you have much control over, but you actually have several options to choose from. Each different closure style offers its own benefits and comfort features.
Traditional Lace boots are pretty much the standard system that everyone is familiar with. If you can tie your shoes, then you can tie your snowboard boots. You simply pull up the laces to tighten, tie them in a bow and you’re good to go. The simplicity is unmatched and it is the most basic form of tightening system you will find on a snowboard boot. While there are plenty of cool convenience systems out there, some people just want to stick with the feel and familiarity of traditional laces.
Quick Lacing is something almost every brand will offer in some form. They’re designed for efficiently, and to remain tightened throughout the day. Most systems involve some sort of drawstring, sometimes fixed to the tongue of the boot. After the user pulls up on the system to tighten the boot, the system usually locks into place so the lace cannot become loose while riding. Speed lacing systems also allow the user to get more leverage than a traditional lace system allows. This is especially beneficial for women and kids who may not be able to tighten their boots as much as they might like.
Boa has really taken the snowboard market by storm and can be found on tons of models of boots. If you’ve ever seen snowboard boots with a cable lace and a dial at the top of the outer tongue, then you’ve seen a boot with a Boa system. If not, boots with a Boa lacing system use a cable instead of laces and a dial that can be turned to tighten the cable to the desired level. This system is very convenient, making it easier to tighten your boots and keep them tight until you pop the dial to loosen the cable.
This system is found on various levels of men’s, women’s, and kid’s boots. It is especially nice for riders who feel that they can never get their boots as tight as they want them. Additionally, it provides the added benefit of being able to tighten your boots without taking your gloves or mittens off. As your boot and liner loosen up throughout the course of a day of riding, you can simply reach down, give the dial a few turns, and then jump back on the lift for more runs.
Boa Focus is a system that offers a variation of the Boa system and provides riders with the ability to tighten the boots in different zones. This way you can keep certain sections tighter or looser than others, offering ultimate customization. If a boot features Boa Coiler it means that when first putting your boot on, the excess wire will actual recoil itself so you aren’t cranking on your boot as long. If you’re wondering about the durability or warranty if the system were to break, you need not worry. Boa is its own company, and its system is used on everything from shoes and hockey skates to horse boots. The Boa system is a proven one that is made to outlast various levels of performance. The system is also covered under the warranty of the snowboard boots and is easily replaceable if any problems were to arise.
Regardless of how good of a snowboard boot you buy, wearing the wrong type of socks can have a negative impact on the benefits your boots can provide to you Many people believe that layering socks, or wearing a super thick sock will keep your feet warmer, but each is a common misconception. Layering of socks or wearing very thick socks will make your feet sweat and you will find your feet will ultimately end up colder.
A good snowboard sock is generally thin and made of material that wicks the moisture away from your feet so they can breathe better and remain dry. In turn, this will keep your feet warmer. Also, a big, bulky sock will take away from the overall fit of your boot. The thinner the sock, the better the fit you can get with your boot, and the more response out of your boot you will receive when riding. Investing in a good pair of snowboard socks will keep you more comfortable and keep your boots performing like they should.