A comfortable and properly fitting pair of boots for snowboarding can be the difference between having an amazing day on the slopes or having a miserable one. Knowing how snowboard boots should fit you will help you pick the right pair, and the right pair will help you perform better. With that said, I’ll talk about what you should know about fitting snowboarding boots properly, so that you can make the best buying decision.
Obviously, you want the boots to fit snugly. Most snowboard boots will need a few days of riding for them to pack out and get to their true size, so they should be quite tight when brand new. The toes should gently graze the boot’s toecap and you should be able to slightly wiggle them inside. The heel hold is something else that can make or break the comfort of the boots. When your knees are driven forward, your heels should remain in place. This is an important factor for board control when performing toeside turns. Further, socks also play a role in the snowboard boot fit. Single layer (thin), medium weight wool socks or synthetic socks are typically your best choice. There’s a thin line between boots that are too tight and boots that are too loose, so it’s really important to get the right size. So how do you pick the right size snowboarding boots?
Boots for snowboarding come in traditional US number sizing, but the actual size can vary depending on the brand and model within a single brand’s line. For instance, the outsole of brand A’s size 10 might be a bit longer than the outsole of brand B’s size 10. Also, there are some boots that are specifically built with a low profile, which allows the rider to use a narrower board. Further, the ramp angle of the bindings can also determine how big of a boot you can fit on a specific snowboard. With that said, when it comes to compatibility with your board, the size of your boot is an important factor to take into account. People with larger boot sizes will need wider boards, whereas people with smaller boot sizes will need a narrower board.
Boots for snowboarding are available in different flex ratings, ranging from stiff to soft. The flex of the boot comes down to personal preference, but typically, softer flex boots are ideal for beginner and park riders. Advanced, all-mountain riders and freeriders, on the other hand, prefer a stiffer flex boot. The flex rating of boots isn’t standardised between brands, so it may vary slightly. Most brands rate their boots’ flex rating from 1-10, 1 being the softest flex, and 10 being the stiffest flex. Usually, 1-2 rated boots are considered soft, 3-5 are considered medium stiff, 6-8 are considered stiff and 9-10 are considered very stiff.
Next, you’ll have to consider the boot’s liner. Most liners are made of a moldable, lightweight material known as EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate). The liner is what provides the cushioning, insulation and stability needed to ensure your feet stay warm and comfortable on the slopes, even after a long day of ripping. Some boot liners are removable, while others are permanent. Removable liners can be taken out when they get wet for speed drying. There are three popular types of liners – stock liners which provide base-level stability and padding and conform to your foot’s shape over time; moldable liners which are built to mold to your foot’s shape over time with the help of body heat, and heat-moldable liners which provide a true custom fit.
And lastly, you have to consider the footbeds of the boot. Also known as insoles, the footbeds are used to improve your comfort level by supporting the natural shape of your foot. Footbeds are also available as separate upgrades, and they can be added to any pair of boots. However, keep in mind that the footbeds won’t make up for an improperly fitting boot. In order to get the ideal footbed for your foot’s shape and boot size, it’s recommended that you see a bootfitter.
And as briefly aforementioned, the choice of snowboard socks you pick can make a huge difference in your performance and comfort on the mountain. Snowboard specific socks are made of merino wool and/or synthetic materials that will wick moisture and keep you warm. Synthetic materials like polypropylene and wool are great insulators, keeping your feet warm and dry. Avoid cotton socks at all costs, since they don’t have moisture wicking properties, and damp feet are cold feet. Also, avoid wearing two pairs of socks, as the extra material between you and the board will reduce your feel for the snow. The foam inside the boot and the outer shell of the boot will provide enough insulation by themselves.