Don’t judge a boot by its cover.
Snowboard boots are probably one of the most important things to consider when buying your set up. Many people spend all their cash on a spanking new board, but then forget about extra pennies for boots. If your boots aren’t right, you’re going to have the worst times on mountain, simple.
Firstly, try your boots on. Go into a store or a test centre and try them on. Even if you find boots cheap on the net, try them on somewhere first and then go get them online. Every single boot is a different size, shape and fit, and even if someone else is stoked riding their boots, they may give you the worst times on the mountains.
Head to a store in the afternoon or evening to try on your boots. Your feet swell up in the day time or after exercise, so even if they fit snugly in the morning, your feet may be suffocating after a day’s shred when they could expand to up to half a size bigger than usual.
Take snowboard socks with you when you try them on – it’s simple, but your board socks may end up adding half a size to your feet, compared to your standard socks.
Your main check, apart from fit, is heel lift. Take the liners out and tie up your boots as though you’re going off the mountain, then check to see if your heels lift up. If they do, your boots are wrong. Your boots should be comfortable around the ankle and your heel on the bottom at all times – if not your riding will seriously suffer as you’ll have far less control over your board.
The particular brand may be the wrong shape for your foot, so don’t worry about asking to try something else. You’ll look far better on the mountain riding properly, than in bling boots with no control!
Boot stiffness is also something to consider – if you’re usually found in the park or snow dome, then softer boots will suit you better as they’re more flexible, but if you’re found big-mountain riding then stiffer boots are better for more stability and control. Boots designed for all-mountain are usually stiffer at the top with adjustable liners, so you can play around with them when you need them stiffer or more flexible.
Finally, you need to think about your bindings. Most standard softer boots are designed for standard strap-in bindings, but if you’ve step-in bindings, you’ll need step-in boots. If you change bindings, it’s always worth checking that your boots fit in as some boots are wider or taller than others, so you may not be so secure.
Another benefit of snowboarding over skiing is that you can party-on in your boots through the night, but if your boots don’t fit then your feet will be so uncomfortable by the end of the day that you’ll not want to ride the next. Some boots come with battery packs, others have gel/air bags, but the truth is it doesn’t matter how much it costs – the most expensive aren’t always the best – it just needs to be comfortable and fit you, then you’ll be a much better rider.