Among the most essential pieces of snowboarding equipment are definitely boots. Your snowboard boots can either make or break your experience in the mountains. They need to fit your feet comfortably, keep them dry and warm, and work well in combination with your bindings. That being said, spending a bit more money in the pursuit of high-quality boots can go a long way in making sure you have a good day riding down the slopes. But buying the most expensive boots doesn’t necessarily mean you’re buying the best model. There are a couple of important factors you need to consider, such as the fit, foot flex, lacing system, liners and footbeds, in order to get the best boots that snowboard professionals suggest.
Finding the Right Fit
Your boots should fit you snuggly, and most boots need several days of riding to pack out and “loosen up” a bit. As a result, when shopping for the ideal boots snowboard experts suggest you get a pair that fits tightly when brand new. Your toes should gently graze the toecap, and you should have the freedom to move your toes inside the boots. Another important factor when it comes to the fit is the heel hold. When your knees are driven forward, your heel should remain in place. This is important for maneuvering your board in toeside turns. Keep in mind that the socks you wear also play a role in your boots’ fit, so you’ll want wool or synthetic socks that are thin to medium weight.
The Flex Rating
Different boots have different flex ratings, ranging from stiff to soft. Choosing the ideal flex rating comes down to personal preference, and most beginners and park riders go for softer flex boots. On the other hand, experienced mountain and freeride snowboarders prefer stiffer flex boots. Keep in mind that the flex rating isn’t standardised, so it can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Most manufacturers provide a number rating ranging from 1 to 10, 10 being the stiffest and 1 being the softest.
Snowboard Boot Lacing System
There are a few different types of popular boots snowboard lacing systems. The traditional lacing system is a tried and tested option for prototypical riders. You can easily tighten your boots with your hands, and this system is the most customisable of all lacing styles. However, there are also some drawbacks to this lacing system style. For instance, your laces can loosen during the day and lacing up in harsh weather can be difficult on your hands.
The quick-pull lacing system is much faster than the traditional lacing system, and most quick-pull lacing systems let the ankle/lower leg and forefoot to be tightened independently. This type of lacing system is easy, fast and you can tighten it with gloves on. There are several different quick-pull lacing systems that differ from brand to brand.
Lastly, the Boa lacing system allows for fast and easy micro-adjustability. It uses a ratcheting dial, which is attached to a cable. Turning and locking the laces can be done with one hand, even when wearing gloves. Boa closures are frequently offered as double and triple systems, with one dial managing the forefoot tightness, and one or two more dials managing the upper cuff tightness.
Liners and Footbeds
The liner is the inner boot within the snowboard boot and is generally made of lightweight, moldable material like Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA). This is an important aspect of the snowboard boot’s construction, as it provides stability, insulation and cushioning to ensure a comfortable ride on the mountain after, even after a long day. Some liners can be removed, while others are permanent. Removable liners can be removed for quick drying when they get wet. There are three types of liners, stock, moldable and heat-moldable. Stock liners provide base-level stability and padding and conform to your foot’s shape over time. Moldable liners are specifically built to mould to your foot’s shape with the help of body heat, and heat-moldable liners provide a true, custom fit for your feet, making them the most expensive option.
The footbed also plays a crucial role in how your snowboard boots feel. You can put orthopedic insoles or footbeds to increase your comfort. But in order to find a proper footbed for your boot and foot shape, you need to see a boot fitter.
Understanding Sizing Numbers
Depending on where you’re shopping from, the boots may come in US or traditional sizes, but keep in mind that the size can vary by brand and even by model within a single brand’s line. But when it comes to compatibility with your snowboard, the boot’s size is very important to take into consideration. People with larger feet need a wider board, while people with smaller feet need a narrower board. The ramp angle on the bindings also plays a role in determining how big of a boot you can put on your snowboard.