You wouldn’t wear an uncomfortable, blister-prone, two-size-too-small cross-trainer while jogging. Obviously, with the amount of stress placed on the feet and ankles in snowboarding, it’s even more vital to ensure your feet are secure and supported by getting the right boots. Your boots are just as important as your board in terms of enjoying your ride!
We’ve compiled this simple guide to help you start your riding off on the right foot!
Firstly, before you hit the stores, research which type of boot you want. There are three different types of boot in the marketplace today; hard, hybrid and soft. These varieties refer to the exterior of the shoe, the soft inner bladder will generally remain the same. For the most part, casual to intermediate boarders will be best suited to Soft boots. Hybrid boots are used mostly for step-in bindings. The Hard boot is generally reserved for advanced downhill riders.
However, remember you must choose the right boot for your bindings. The two most common types of bindings are strap, and step-in.
Strap bindings secure your feet, funnily enough, with two straps, and a high backplate giving support to the heel. For strap bindings you’ll need a soft boot; which will give you great control, are easy to adjust, and most comfortable. These bindings are the most popular, for beginners and advanced alike. Your stock standard soft boot will suit any strap bindings.
Step-in bindings are more suited to a newbie to the sport, and use a step-in plate on the board to lock in the boot. While these bindings are much easier to get in and out of (perfect if you plan on stacking a ton!), they do not offer the same range of control and flexibility a strap binding will bring. You’re more likely to injure your ankle when you bail on that landing. Step-in boots are bought the same time as your bindings, as the plate mechanism of the step-in bindings must fit the boot.
Trying Them On
Now unfortunately most snow retail stores won’t let you take your boots for a test spin on the slopes, so your next best option is to try them on. Take your time, as each boot is tailored for a certain type of foot, just like cross-trainers. Try on as many pairs as possible, and not just for appearances. Ensure you give each boot a full workout. Bring the socks you’ll ride in, lace the boot up fully, and stand on your toes. In a soft boot, you should feel a small amount of give in the toes, but never should the heel of the boot lift off the ground. Bend forward, and either side to check the flex. Intermediate to advanced boarders will want more flex in the boot to allow for more agile movements in the boot. An oversized boot however, will make for a painful experience, transferring strain onto the leg muscles to help your feet balance. For beginners, you’ll be much better off in a very tight boot, as generally after a few days wear they will compress to a better fit.
The staff in your local snow store will most likely know a hell of a lot more than you do about which boot will suit. So don’t be afraid to ask the trained staff for their advice. Check our store guide for details of some great board shops.
Don’t Believe the Hype
Never judge a boot by its looks; on mountain, the brand, looks or spouted ‘special features’ will matter nought, what will matter is the comfort and fit of your boot. So remember, try a large range of brands and styles til you find the boot made for you!