Your boots are arguably the most important piece of snowboard equipment you own. If your feet are unhappy, then your whole body is unhappy. Riding with foot pain is about as much fun as getting splinters under your fingernails. Luckily, finding a good fit isn’t rocket science. Here are a few easy tips to finding a pair of boots that won’t give you bone spurs, pressure points, blisters, or any sort of bipedal discomfort.
Before you start, you should decide how much and what type of terrain you’ll be riding. A full season of hard-charging freeriding will obviously require a lot stiffer, more aggressive boot than a mellow week or two of piecing together your toe- and heelside turns. Regardless, as long as you communicate what type of rider you are, a knowledgeable shop employee can point you in the right direction.
A Good Fit
In general, snowboard boots are made up of an outer shell and inner removable liner. Some initial fit tips for boots include:
- When trying on boots, wear the socks you’ll be wearing up to the hill. Usually a medium-weight wool or other moisture-wicking sock is best.
- The fit should be snug. Remember, your boots will “pack out” (loosen up) as you break them in, so you want them tight at the beginning-but not painful, of course.
- Your heel should remain in place when you bend your knee and ankle forward. Heel lift renders the boot much less responsive, making for a sloppy ride.
- Walk around and make sure there aren’t any pressure points or spots that pinch your feet. Common problem areas include on the bridge of the foot, the heel, and around the anklebones.
A good boot is nothing without the support of its binding. Make sure your boots are compatible with your binding setup. Most snowboard bindings are made of a baseplate that attaches to the board, a highback (an ergonomic plastic piece that supports the back of your leg), and two straps that run across the bridge of your foot. There should be little-to-no play between your boot and binding once you’re strapped in.
Technologies to Keep In Mind
Mind Heat Moldable Liners: These are liners meant to be specially molded to your feet before use. Most snowboard shops have convection ovens for heating up the liners (don’t try this at home).
BOA Lacing: This patented wire lacing system means that you just turn a dial to tighten your boots instead of pulling and yanking like you would with a traditional lacing setup.
Step-In Systems: This boot/binding system entails a stiff boot (it has the support of the highback incorporated into the body of the boot) and a metal binding that’s just a baseplate. You can simply click in and out without having to bend over or deal with straps. This style is most popular with crossover skiers.
Also: Odor control, special heel harnesses, air pump support, extra traction, etc. etc. Boots get more and more technical every year, so do some research and ask your retail shop employee for their expert advice and guidance.
All in all, it should be pretty obvious when you meet the right boots for you. They’ll just feel natural on your body. Remember, be kind to your feet, and they’ll be kind to you. Likewise, make them mad and you’ll be in a world of hurt!Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and snowlink.com.