Snowboard Boot Guide | The Board Basement
Snowboard boots are the most important equipment in your snowboard set up, and definitely the item that you should buy first or spend the most money on. Uncomfortable boots can ruin a day on the mountain so it is essential to get them just right! The Board Basement crew are experts in fitting snowboard boots, so here is our guide to getting the best fit...
The Board Basement Guide to Buying the Right Size Snowboard Boot
Before you buy:
If you can go to your local snowboard shop, please do.
Even if you are going to buy the snowboard boots online, it is a good idea to try them on in a shop first. Sizes and shapes of boots vary between brands and season. For example, Vans snowboard boots used to suit a wider foot, but have since changed factory and have become narrower. Styles evolve and change over the years so don’t expect a style to fit the same from one year to the next.
Prepare your feet!
Cut your toenails and take a pair of snowboard socks with you so you can get a realistic fit. Don't use more than 1 pair of socks when riding. Your feet will be too hot and uncomfortable. If it's really cold conditions, then get some warmer socks. The Snowboard Boots liners are constructed to keep your feet warm even in the coldest conditions.
Brace yourself to try on a lot of snowboard boots of all different shapes, styles and sizes to get a good comparison. Don't disregard a boot if it isn't a nice colour, it might be your perfect one! Be prepared for the fact that snowboard boots will feel very different from your trainers, it is more like trying on a pair of walking boots.
Fitting Snowboard Boots:
Undo the lacing system of the snowboard boots fully; slide your foot in whilst standing up. Tap your heel into the ground and make sure your foot is firmly in and do the lacing system up tightly. New snowboard boots should feel very snug around your whole foot, but not painful. Your snowboard boot will "pack out" ever so slightly, so it's best to get them a little tight rather than too big. All modern snowboard boots will mould to your foot so the snugger the better when you buy new. Please bear in mind that snowboard boots will take a few days of riding before they break in properly.
Whilst standing up in the "snowboard position" assess these 3 things (knees slightly bent as in riding position):
Standing with your legs straight, your toes can be touching the end, but only just, there should be little to no pressure on them. Tap your heel on the floor and then when you bend your knees further into the snowboard riding position, your toes should move away slightly from the end. Bear in mind that when you strap into the snowboard the binding will also pull your heel further into the boot.
2) Heel lift
Whilst bending your legs, try rocking on the ball of your foot. Your heel should lift up no further than 5mm. You do not want heel lift as this will put pressure on your Achilles Tendon. The boot should move as if it is part of your foot. This will help with control when riding. They should enclose your heel so it feels supported and with no "sloppy" feeling.
There should be no movement from side to side in your boot - if there is, the boot is too wide. On the flipside, you should also beware of "Knuckle Crush"! This is the Board Basement's very technical term to describe boots that are too tight across the ball of the foot. This can result in a very painful day of snowboarding and numbness!
We recommend to keep the boots on and walk around for several minutes to get a true impression of the fit. If you start to get cramp or numbness in this time, then try a different size boot. If it feels tight, then that is good. Specific localised pain points are bad. You should double check the tongue is in the right place as this can lead to pain points.
Finally, once you have bought the snowboard boots, wear them around the house for a few hours. Again they should feel tight but there should be no specific pain points. If you do have pain, this will be worse on the slopes.
Use our "Flex Rating" filter, which will tell you how stiff/soft the snowboard boots are. These range from 1-10 (10 being the stiffest). How stiff/soft you like your boots is really down to personal preference and what type of snowboarder you are. But as a general guide:
- All-Mountain (most riders) = soft/medium flex 3-7
- Freestyle (park) = soft flex 1-5
- Freeride (off-piste) = stiff flex 6-10
- Racers = stiff flex 7-10
For beginners and freestyle riders, a softer boot is a good option while more experienced riders who want more control and support may opt for a stiffer snowboard boot.
Different Lacing Systems
Again this can all be down to personal preference. There are pros and cons to each system so just experiment and see what works best for you. It's a good idea to get used to the boots before you put them into action on the slopes. Again wear your new boots around the house, watch TV and cook some dinner, or even go up and down the stairs a few times! You may feel stupid, but this is a great way for your feet to get accustomed to wearing new snowboard boots and will help with the breaking in process.
The original tried and tested system. Tightness can be customised by hand, although can be awkward to adjust on the mountain with gloves on. Your feet will change size during the day, getting bigger as the day wears on so you may find you need to adjust the laces a couple of times during the day.
Boa Lacing System
The Boa System is really quick, convenient and easy to adjust. The circular dial is a good system for beginners as you can adjust the snowboard boot easily on the mountain without needing to take your glove off. The only downside being they can be fiddly to replace if they break, which is very occasionally and any decent shop should be able to do this for you. Twin BOA boots give even more adjustability and allows you to adjust the top and bottom differently, which can help people with high arches. Some boots take it to the extreme with Triple Boa's. The Triple Boa tends to be very stiff and aimed to the riders that want the ultimate support. Just spin the wheel to get your custom fit.
Fast lacing system
Works on simultaneously tightening 2 areas around the foot by pulling a handle attached to a cord, for a good fit, similar to the twin BOA system. Although can be a little confusing at the start on how to work them! Faster than normal laces and gives you a little bit more custom tension.
Combined lacing system
The combined lacing system simply gives you a combination of laces, Boa and Speed laces. This can give you the best of two worlds. Where laces might not hold your heel in place, an added boa system that focuses on the arch might do the trick and hold it in place.