When you get into snowboarding, you’ll have to realize there’s a lot of Jargon. Much like any sport or company, snowboarders have developed their own language. This is especially true when you’re talking about gear. The term snowboard boots is an easy one to grasp, but what do people mean by flex, boa, or packing out?
First off, make sure the boots you purchase fit you well. You’ll want them fitting properly without being too snug or too loose. For me, I like them really snug, almost to the point of pain when they’re brand new. This is because the Snowboard boots tend to pack out (get bigger inside) and once they do, they’re like slippers to me.
It’s painful during the interim though.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through the basics of Snowboard Boots. Hopefully, we will answer your questions and if something comes up that we don’t cover, feel free to message us from the link below, or make a comment.
With that being said, keep in mind, the way a boot looks is the LAST thing to consider. I know you wanna look epic on the mountain, but if you have ill-fitting boots, you won’t be on the mountain long. I’m not saying style isn’t important, it’s just the last thing to look at.
What Should You Look For When Buying Snowboard Boots?
Some of this information will be duplicated throughout this post. However, I have a few quick ideas you should consider when looking to buy a new pair of boots.
Style Isn’t more important than comfort and ability. Boots that look good but make your feet hurt won’t help you in the long run. Make style the last piece of the puzzle.
What level of snowboarder are you? Did you just learn to shred? Or are you an advanced rider?
Where do you normally ride? Boots for the park have a different feel than snowboard boots for the backcountry.
Understand Your Snowboarding Skill Level:
Generally, speaking, snowboarders who’ve ridden for a while know what kind of boot they want. Advanced riders have their brands (Like me and DC) Because they know how the boot fits.
When you’re starting, purchase a boot that has a little more flex. It’ll be more in the category of a park boot (description written below). Boots with more flex are more forgiving, and when you’re new, you’ll make more mistakes. This means you’ll have a better time learning such an awesome sport, and you won’t be hurting as badly when you’re done for the day.
More forgiving means less pain and wipeouts. As you get better, you can upgrade to stiffer boots if you’d prefer, however, I always say start soft.
Snowboard Boots In General Fall Into 2 categories
ALL-Mountain/Free Ride Snowboarders: Generally these shredders hit the mountain hard and ride anything on it. They Shred Trees, Groomed Runs, And Back Country. Traditionally they use a Stiffer Boot (More info below on that)
Park Or Freestyle Snowboarders: These shredders spend a good portion of their time in the park, riding boxes, rails, and getting air. Traditionally their boots have more cushion which softens & Dampens the shock from landing.
Keep in mind I’m speaking in general terms here, in the snowboarding world these all break out into many different types of snowboarding style and skill.
As you learn more and more about snowboarding. A lot of these things will become second nature and you’ll have your own preference on how you’d like to spend your day on the mountain.
Snowboard Boot Size; The Basics
My first snowboard tip involves boot sizing. Finding the proper boot size can be a chore. When I first began shredding, I purchased a pair of DC Judges, size 11. After a season of hard riding, I couldn’t get them tight enough on my feet. I’d carve hard and lose control because my feet started to bounce around inside the boot.
This phenomenon is due to a Snowboard term called “packing out.” Almost every pair of boots a snowboarder wears will expand after riding hard in them.
This depends on a few different factors.
How much you ride
Is there a lot of material in the boot that can be compressed
How old is the boot
Sometimes if the boot is cheap it’ll do it faster as well.
For me to achieve a full pack out, it usually takes half a season. I tend to ride a lot, I’m a bigger guy, and I use DC Snowboard Boots exclusively. It’s not that I think they’re the greatest, and I don’t get paid by them.
They just make a great snowboarding boot, that fits perfectly on my feet. You might have a different experience with them.
Are Snowboard Boots True To Size:
Depending on the company snowboard boots tend to run a bit smaller than shoe sizes. Mostly this is to help keep them snug on the snowboarders’ feet. Much of the time the difference is minimal, and the size difference is usually half to 1 size less than the normal shoe size.
Finding the correct boot size is imperative, and sometimes you’ll have to jump to a different company to find the right one. Above I talked about DC, the reason they fit so well is because of my wide feet.
Make sure you try on different boots with a few different sizes of each to get that perfect snug fit.
How To Know If Your Boots Are Too Small.
When you go to the snowboard shop, be prepared from the following list of items. They’ll help you greatly in finding your proper fit.
Wear the socks you are going to shred in. This gives you the correct feel for the size.
The boots should be snug, and your toes touching or really close to the front of the boot liner. (not cramped or curled just snug)
Likewise, your heel should be touching the back of the boot liner.
Lace/Tighten the boots up and walk around in them. Rock back and forth from heels to toes & see how it feels.
If the heel lifts inside the boot, you might want a different size or another boot.
Keep in mind that pain isn’t a good thing, however, if they’re almost perfect but you need like half a size more for your feet to feel good, then these might be the boot for you. Remember packing out?
The last point is extremely important, when you’re dealing with heel lift on the slopes you’ll have a bad time.
Loss of control, speed, and a good feel for the board will all result from heel lift.
How To Know If You’ve Found The Right Fit.
While I’ve tried other boots, I’ve always developed problems with them, so I’ve stuck with DC, and even written a few articles about them.
To hammer again at a major point while looks are important, don’t get caught up with how the Snowboard Boots look. Especially in the beginning. It’s okay if they’re cute, but your feet won’t care about that after a day of riding when they are in pain. Get a feel for what you need, and find something you like after that.
Remember, Never get hung up on how they look, your feet will thank you.
Breaking In Your Snowboard Boots
Quite a while ago, I made a sizing mistake when purchasing a pair of DC Judges. They were one of my first boots and I’d purchased them as a size 11. After packing out they became a size 12.
I would ride in them and bounce around inside the boots. I tried everything to fix them including putting the straps on tighter, nothing worked.
So I decided to go out and buy a new pair of them. This time I decided that I would make a huge change. The pair was going to be size 10 instead of 11.
However I made a massive mistake, and that’s why I’m writing about this:
BREAK IN YOU SNOWBOARD BOOTS
I purchased the new boots the day before going to Colorado. If you follow my advice and buy them snug, you’ll have epic control and they’ll feel great when they’re packed out.
However, going to Colorado almost killed my feet. I suggest going to a local hill first and break them in a bit. Get your feet used to the boots. Don’t break them in spending a ton of money, while trying to shred the back bowls of Vail as I did.
I’ve never felt that much pain in my feet, and they were bleeding on my last day in Colorado. I still tried to shred and it worked for a little while. But eventually, I gave up and hung out in the chalet bar without my boots on.
Your Toes Will Thank You For It
Halfway through the next season, these became the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn. Once the breaking in and packing out period ended, they were like an old friend. I slipped them on and off like tennis shoes, and they were still as stiff as I needed them to be.
Even today I’ve learned my lesson and always purchase a size 10 boot. I remember the past and understand that they need to be broken in. Especially before a trip to Colorado. Also, it’s good to remember that whenever you’re breaking a new pair of boots in, bring your old pair too. You never know when you’ll have to switch a pair out.
What Flex Snowboard Boot Should I Get?
If you’re familiar with Snowboards they have a flex rating. The Flex rating is how stiff the snowboard is. There’s a very similar rating for Snowboard Boots. Many companies use a boot flex rating to tell you how stiff or soft the boot is. Usually, it’s on a 1-10 Scale but it depends on the company.
When you’re starting, I recommend a softer snowboard boot. This will make it more forgiving, and less responsive. I know that seems counterintuitive and scary. When you’re starting, it’ll make your boarding mistakes less painful. If you catch the wrong edge, you might not wipe out as bad, if at all.
How Do The Lacing Systems Work?
Snowboards have 3 different types of lacing systems. They all have their pros & cons. Personally, I prefer Boa Laces, but that’s because they’re quick to put on and keep tight.
Snowboard Boots; Traditional Laces
Did you tie your shoes this morning? Have you ever worn boots? Well, you’re in luck. Traditional laces are just that. Put the boots on, make sure the laces are tight and give them a good tight knot.
Pros: You already know how to operate them.
Cons: You might need to tighten them up after riding awhile/putting them on might take longer than other methods
I’ve never worn a snowboard boot with laces. Some people swear that laces are the greatest thing ever. Take a look at what you like, and purchase whatever your preference is. Make sure you can make the boot tight, loose snowboard boots will give you a bad time.
Snowboard Boots; What About Speed-Laces?
To be fair, I’ve rarely seen these boots. Almost every brand offers them and they seem pretty awesome. With these laces, you put on the boot, instantly tighten them up and you’re ready to shred.
Pros: The fastest way to put on boots/Stays tight all day.
Cons: On many models, if the lace breaks, you have to replace the boot.
Boa laces are pretty fast, but these blow them out of the water in terms of speed. However, the issue that stems from quick laces comes from wire breakage. If you can find a pair, that’ll work for you and you can easily replace the wires, that would make them the best lacing system, but that would also make them Boas. (I am biased)
Snowboard Boots; How To Use Boas?
Not gonna lie, these are my favorite if you hadn’t noticed yet. Maybe it’s the soothing sound of the Boa Crank Tightening up or the feel of the wire tightening the boot. I’ve loved every pair of DC boots I’ve owned and they’ve all had Boas on them.
Pros: Almost as fast as Quick Laces/Easy Lace Replacement/When Loose you can tighten up quickly
Cons: Laces can get frayed especially when resting the board on them
Slower than Quick laces, but not by much.
Replacement of wires is possible. I’ve done it a few times. Kits can be ordered from Boa, you just pay for the shipping.
I would recommend purchasing dual boas whenever possible. Yes, you’ll have to tighten two different wires, but you have more options for adjustment. I don’t know if I can go back to a single boa system, because I like my lower foot to be loose and my calve to be tight.
I honestly was trying to think of more cons for Boas, and I can’t think of any. If you have any. Post them in the comments below.
Winter Snowboard Socks:
Socks are more of an afterthought, but I think they’re still important in the purchasing process. Like I wrote above, when you’re shopping wear the type/style you would normally shred in. Try on the snowboard boot and make sure your feet are comfy within them. Also, know your feet, and make sure they’ll be warm.
Many shred days get ruined when toes get frozen.
I hoped you liked my article, I’ll be adding to it regularly as I get more information. Please comment below and follow us to get updates on our latest blogs.
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