Snowboard Boots - What To Look For?
When it comes to snowboard boots, the first and foremost thing to understand is that every foot is different and every boot has a different fit. THE MOST IMPORTANT thing when it comes to snowboard boots is FIT! A good fitting boot will outweigh any feature in the long run. It might be a good idea to check out our Snowboard Boot Fit Guide before you start. That being said, there are some things that you may want to look for in your snowboard boot to narrow down the selection....
Your snowboard boot should have a snug but not scrunchy fit. Your foot should lay flat in the boot. You should be able to feel the end of the boot with your toes, but they shouldn't be curled up. Remember, too much room in your boot will give you heel lift and cause your foot to slide around and not enough room will cause bad circulation and give you cold feet!
II. Boot Flex
Snowboard boots all have different stiffnesses. While stiffness is a preference, there are some advantages and disadvantages on either end of the spectrum.
A. Softer Boots
A soft boot allows for more flex which can be good (preference pending) in a park situation. Also, softer flex is a little less responsive which can be beneficial for someone who is learning and doesn't necessarily want reaction with every little wibble-wobble they make while they are getting their snowboard legs.
B. Stiffer Boots
The stiffer your boot, the more support that it will supply to your ankles. Many times riders who have bad ankles tend to prefer a stiffer flex. Stiffness also provides a more responsive feel. Riders who like to be one with there shred stick and are super dialed and expect the handling to be like that of a high-end sports car tend to prefer a stiffer feel.
III. Lacing Systems
There are three main types of systems used for snowboard boot lacing. There is traditional laces, speed laces and BOA. Just as in every other aspect of snowboarding, this is a rider preference and there is no wrong choice.
A. Traditional Laces
Laces often provide the most zonage and the truest flex throughout a boot. Your laces will expand and contract as you flex your boot giving you the best feel. Also, because of the zonage(how many times the laces cross), a rider can be very specific how tight or loose his/her boot is in each specific area of his/her boot. For the most customized feel on the market, go for a traditional lace boot.
BOA is the quickest and most convenient of the lacing systems. There is single and double BOA boots. Double BOA has a different dial for the upper and lower sections giving the rider more specificity with how tight or loose they want each section of there boot. BOA uses a cable to tighten the boots, so there is no flex or give. When it comes to BOA convenience is the name of the game, if the ease of popping your boots open at lunch is too good to be true, this is the system for you!
C. Speed Laces
There are a few different versions of speed lacing throughout the industry, but the function is similar across the board. Speed laces try to bridge the gap between the versatility of the lace and the ease and convenience of a BOA system.
IV. Outer Features
There are several features on the outside of your boot that can really make all the diference. For startes, notice the shell of the boot. Is it one or two pieces? A two piece shell, where the boot has a slit right at the ankle is known as an articulated cuff. This allows your boot to flex without creating any gaps or pressure points. You may not notice this at first try on, but over the course of a day on the mountain, trust us, this will make a difference! Another big feature is the material used in the sole of your boot. Rubber is the most common material, but some boots use an EVA foam to drastically decrease the weight. While rubber is much more durable, foam has proven to have pretty reliable durability while turning the bricks on your feet to feathers!
The liner of your boot is where all the comfort comes from. It cusions your foot inside the hard shell and also provides your foot with some insulation to keep you warm. Most liners are removable and some of the higher end liners are heat moldable. This means that they can be custom molded to your feet giving you a broken in feeling before you ever hit the mountain.
For those riders who want a boot that is completely customized to their foot and personal preference, after-market footbeds can be purchased seperately and added to any snowboard boot. As boots increase in price, footbed features such as gels and heel cups are added to the footbeds to increase comfort and the structural stability of your foot. HAPPY FEET = HAPPY RIDERS!
Just as important as good boots are a good sock. Socks don't necessarily have to be super thick and warm, instead they should be breathable and moisture wicking. Remember, you are going to be shredding and generating tons of heat on the mountain. People usually get cold because they get wet...they get wet because the sweat.... so rid yourself of sweat with a good poly-blended snowboard sock!