If you’re just starting out with snowboarding, you’re probably a little flustered with choosing equipment. Even picking out the right apparel to wear can make your head spin! Besides the snowboard and bindings, you also need a good pair of snowboard boots all working together in tandem for the best snowboarding experience possible. However, you should put a little more consideration into choosing snowboard boots than anything else since you’ll be riding in them all day. Having a pair that hurts will have you thinking less about shredding the gnar and more about getting off the mountain as soon as possible. We wouldn’t want that! That’s why today, we’ll be talking to you about the most important things to look for in snowboard boots, including how to fit them right. With that said, here is our guide on how to choose snowboard boots. Let’s cruise!

How to Choose Snowboard Boots

 

How Much Should That Boot Flex?

Snowboard boots have varying levels of flex designed to cater to differing riding styles and levels. Boots have a rating on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the stiffest. The stiffer a boot, the more quickly it transfers energy to your board. However, flex ratings between manufacturers aren’t exactly the same, so keep that in mind as we learn how to choose snowboard boots.

Riding Style

This refers to what type of terrain you like to ride. There are four main categories: freestyle, all-mountain, freeride, and racing/freecarve.

  • Freestyle is fun terrain where you like to jump and spin, such as half-pipes, rails, jumps, spins, jibbing, or doing tricks.
  • All-mountain applies to the majority of riders; those who want a funner rider should look for softer boots while those who like a more aggressive ride should look for a medium stiff flex.
  • Freeride is for riders who favor the backcountry and steep slopes and should opt for a stiffer boot for the best response and speed.
  • Racers and speedcarvers are experienced riders who like racing down the mountain with style. Very stiff boots are the best for the most speed and control.
Riding Style Recommended Flex
Freestyle Soft (1-4)
All-Mountain Soft to Medium (3-5)
Freeride Stiff (6-10)
Race/Freecarve Stiff (8-10)

 

Picture originally from The House

Riding Level

Most beginners should look for a softer snowboard boot (1-4) as it’s more comfortable and allows for more mobility. Although less stable, softer boots are more forgiving for mistakes and landings. For intermediate riders who like big jumps, you can look for a soft-medium (4-6) boot for a bit more control and response. If you’re an advanced rider, you probably know what you want already, no need for our advice.

 

How to Fit Snowboard Boots

  • Start with your street shoe size and work around that
  • Try multiple pairs instead of buying the first ones you try on, even if they feel good
  • Snowboard boots should fit snug, but not painfully so
  • Don’t worry about somewhat tight boots. They’ll loosen up a bit as they’re broken in
  • There should be some room in the forefoot, enough to wiggle your toes
  • Make sure your heel is properly locked down without any movement or heel lift
  • When learning how to choose snowboard boots, always wear snowboard socks when fitting
  • Your big toe should barely touch the end of the boot
  • There should be no pressure points that make you feel uneven
  • There should be no pinching, rubbing, or loss of circulation
  • Try flexing the boots in different positions to see how they feel dynamically
  • Walking in your boots should not cause any pain

 

Lacing Options

Snowboard boots come in one of three lacing system: traditional, speed or quick-pull, and BOA lacing. Let’s talk a little about each.

Traditional Lacing

They’re exactly what they sound like, just your standard laces that you can tighten by hand. They offer the most customization in fit and are the least expensive option. Easy to replace too although they do take a little more time and effort, and you also have to take your gloves off.

Speed or Quick-Pull Lacing

This type of lacing can be called different names depending on who makes the boot. But, the general idea is that different zones (forefoot/ankle/lower leg) on the boot can be individually tightened with a single handle. This makes than faster and more convenient than traditional laces, and you can do them with your gloves on. However, adjustability is limited and can be difficult to get really tight.

BOA Lacing

BOA lacing is also fast and easy, although it’ll often be the most expensive option. Boots with BOA lacing rely on a ratcheting dial that adjusts a cable for desired tension. Simply turn the dial to increase tension and pull on the knob to release tension. Boots can feature either single, double, or even triple BOA dials, with multiple ones being able to adjust tension in different zones. Takes less effort/time and you can do them with one hand and gloves on. However, there’s the possibility that they can cause uneven tension or even break.

 

Lacing Systems - How to Choose Snowboard Boots - Athlete Audit

 

Snowboard & Binding Compatibility

Compatibility between your snowboard, bindings, and boots is also crucial for the best riding experience. Generally, you’ll want your boots, bindings, and board to have similar flex ratings. Although it isn’t set in stone, it’s good advice when starting off. And as you gain more experience, you’ll have a better idea of what you prefer for each.

When learning how to choose snowboards boots, it’s important that your boots fit into your binding so that they’re comfortable and secure. Any squeezed material when you tighten them means they’re a bad fit. A binding fit that is too loose or too tight also means that they are not compatible. Assuming you picked the right size, there shouldn’t be any problems in this department.

Your boots should also fit your snowboard’s size width-wise, more formally known as the board’s waist size. Those with larger boots should opt for wider boards while those with smaller boots should choose a narrower board. This is important because you don’t want your toes or heels to hang too far off the edge (it’s okay if they hang off slightly). Too much overhang can cause your boots to touch the snow when carving, which can slow you down, mess up your stability, and make you fall.

Boot Size (US Men’s)  — 6.0-8.0 8.0-9.5 9.5-10.5 10.5-12.5 12.5+
Boot Size (US Women’s) <6.0 6.0-7.5 7.5-8.5 8.5-10.0 10.0+  —
Width (in mm) <235mm 235-240mm 240-245mm 245-250mm 250-255mm 255-265mm 265mm+
Snowboard Width Narrow Narrow Narrow Regular Regular Mid-Wide Wide

 

Picture originally from Surfdome

 

Other Essentials:
  • Snowboard Boot Anatomy - How to Choose Snowboard Boots - Athlete AuditInsole/Cushioning – Most default insoles that come with boots are pretty plain, although you can buy after-market insoles for more comfort, support, or shock absorption.
  • Liners – Refers to the whole inner boot. Typically made of EVA for light weight, cushioning, stability, and insulation. However, some boot liners are removable which can be air dried while some are permanent. There are also moldable and heat-moldable liners that allow for a custom fit and more comfort, although they’ll cost more.
  • Ankle Harness – Some boots feature ankle harnesses that wrap around the liner of the boot for more security.
  • Shock Absorption – If you mostly ride park and freestyle, you’ll want more shock absorption for better landings.
  • Sole Materials – Boots for freestyle and parks will often have soles made of rubber or EVA, while boots meant for hiking will have lugs for better traction, support, and durability.
  • Upper Materials – Most boots are synthetic, although higher-end boots will feature leather.
  • Budget – More expensive boots will have better materials and technology meant for the advanced rider. Meaning, if you’re a beginner, you don’t need the most expensive boots you can find. However, don’t spend too little as well since durability and performance could be issues.

 

*** Tips on How to Choose Snowboard Boots ***
  • Boot flex is extremely crucial! Do your research on what will suit you best
  • Purchase snowboard shoes based on what type of riding you’ll be doing
  • Very tight boots can cut off circulation or cause pain
  • The heel, instep, and ball of your foot should always feel locked down
  • Boots that are too loose can result in lots of heel lift, which won’t make you feel secure
  • Buy snowboard boots that are a little snug since they loosen up as you break them in
  • There should be a little room in the toe box, enough for you to wiggle your toes, although they should be touching the end
  • Be sure to choose a lacing system that works with you and your budget
  • Don’t neglect the importance of snowboard socks; they can really increase comfort and fit. Snowboarding specific socks are either synthetic or merino wool, which produces less friction and hot spots
  • Boots liners are important for keeping your feet feel supported, warm, and comfortable. Make sure they meet your needs whether it’s removable, extra padded, shock absorbing, or has antimicrobial treatment to fight odors
  • Walk around in snowboard boots to see how they feel; any pain or pressure points are bad signs
  • Look into after-market insoles for better comfort, shock absorption, or support