Right Foot Forward: A Guide to Buying Snowboard Boots

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Whether you have years of riding experience or are planning your first day of snowboarding ever — the proper fitting pair of boots  are going to make or break that experience. Ask around and you’re bound to hear stories of epic powder days lost; of friends not sticking with it simply because their boots were too tight, too stiff, their feet were too cold. Basically they were wearing the wrong pair of boots.

We sometimes take for granted our snowboard boots, but in my opinion boots are THE MOST IMPORTANT  part of your setup! So in an effort to help you find boots that fit you right and will be there comfortably for hundreds of ride days to come, I’ve partnered up with my good friend Greg Reagan, Burton’s Advanced Product Developer for Footwear, to provide you with some helpful tips for sizing, fitting and buying your next or first pair of snowboard boots.

Just like shoe shopping you’ll want to pick out a few pairs of boots you like and try them on. Always try on multiple pairs of snowboard boots so you can compare and contrast how the different styles of boots feel in terms of comfort, flex and lacing. Understanding what style of boot you want and what fit and feel is right for your riding style will help you get started with picking out a few boots to try on.

 

RIDING STYLE

What type of rider are you? Do you like to go fast and lay in hard, carved turns on perfect corduroy groomers? Or does your preference lie in hitting jumps and jibs in the park? Maybe you like to hide away in the trees where all the deep snow hides? Or maybe you’re just learning or starting to progress your snowboarding down blue and green runs? No matter what your riding style, there’s a boot that’s just right for you whether it’s more forgiving, supportive or softer flexing.

For New or Beginner Riders

We recommend the boots below to beginner or new riders because they are soft and forgiving while being supportive where you need it for your muscles adjust while snowboarding. Some of these boots also utilize unique lacing systems to make it quick and easy for beginners and new riders to get a comfortable fit. More information about lacing systems to follow.

Left to Right: Coco $139.95, Chloe $149.95, Mint $159.95, Bootique $199.95

If you’re into Park

We recommend the boots below to ladies who like to ride more in the parks and freestyle. With all the twisting, jibbing and jumping many park riders have a tendency to like softer flexing boots but need support in key areas of the boot. A higher quality liner provides comfort while unique lacing systems also allow the park rider to tailor the snugness or looseness of her boot.

Left to Right: Axel $249.95, Restricted Sapphire $199.95

If you’re into All-Mountain riding

We recommend the boots below for All-Mountain riders. This rider tends to like the extra stiffness and support so they can lay in hard and fast turns on any surface at the same time taking advantage of all the new comfort technologies so that riding hard all day doesn’t cause foot fatigue.

Left to Right: Supreme $399.95, Felix $279.95, Emerald $219.95

LACING

Next you’ll want to consider lacing systems. Unlike your regular sneakers, snowboard boots go beyond just regular laces. Of course Burton provides regular lace boots because some riders simply prefer a traditional lace for dialing in their own fit. However we offer other lacing systems to provide speed and ease when getting in and out of your boots.

 

Speed Dial

If you’re new to snowboarding or just like something quick and low maintenance we recommend trying out a Speed Dial boot. With this system you can simply turn the Speed Dial until you find your ultimate tightening position. Pull up on the tab above the tongue to release. If you need to loosen the dial just turn it in the opposite direction to micro-adjust your fit- it’s that easy!

 

Speed Zone™

If you’re looking for something more adjustable try out the Speed Zone™ System as pictured above. Speed Zone™ utilizes two pull laces that allow you to loosen and tighten the upper and lower zones of your boot independently of each other so you can get a more customized fit.

PRICE

Last but not least price is going to play a factor. The more expensive the boot doesn’t always mean the better it will be for you. As you go up in price so does the quality of the materials used, as well as the technology that goes into the boot. These technologies are often designed for more advanced riders who have a good understanding of what type of riding they’re doing and where they need extra support or functionality. If you fall into this category you may want to invest in some of these higher-end boots. However if you’re newer to snowboarding or ride only a few days a year, find a good boot that meets your needs and your budget. It’s never a bad thing to invest in the right boot for you especially because the boot is the most important piece of equipment for your kit so make sure to get the right one!

Pictured here from top left to bottom right are all Burton women’s boots in order of lowest price to highest

HOW TO FIT

You’ve determined a few boot models that fit your needs.  Now it’s important to get fitted properly before you try on anything. Here are some things your sales person or rental tech may do to help you find the proper fit.

GET MEASURED

Every shoe company sizes a bit differently. For instance my running shoes run a half size smaller than my daily sneakers. Don’t assume you know your size. Allow a rental technician (if you’re a beginner,) or a sales representative to measure your foot before trying anything on. Often times they’ll have a device such as the Brannock used in the photo above. Don’t be surprised if you’re not the size you thought you were.

Greg Reagan, Burton’s Advanced Product Developer for Footwear, uses a Brannock device to find my proper fit.

SOCKS

Buy a pair of snowboarding socks if you don’t own them already, because you do not want to be wearing your every day socks for your snowboarding experience. A good pair of snowboard socks is just as important to comfort as your boots are. Cotton socks get wet from sweat and allow your feet to go cold. You want a warm sock that wicks away the moisture so your feet stay dry and comfortable. Which takes me to my second reminder — never wear more than one pair of socks! Too many socks will cut off your circulation in a boot which will actually make your feet feel cold, not to mention cramp up or go to sleep.

A good pair of snowboard socks can make your riding experience more enjoyable

Besides, snowboard socks come in the best patterns and colors now, you’ll find you want to wear them all the time. I know I do!

 

TRY IT ON

Now that you’re in proper socks, have been measured and received the right size pair of boots, it’s time to try them on. The rental tech or sales person will show you how the lacing system works as well how to loosen everything up to easily get your foot inside.

INNER LACE

Start by tightening the inner lace, located on the inside of your boot. A snug fit here is important, especially for heel hold. Make sure to lock the inner lace in place. If the system isn’t locked it can back out during the day while you’re riding which can lead to heel lift and your foot sliding around in your boot.

An inner lace being tightened and locked into place

 

OUTER LACES

You’ll want to tighten the outer lace system. Remember, you want a snug fit but you don’t want to over tighten and cut off your circulation. Every person is difference and some people have preferences for how tight they like certain parts of their boots.

Tightening my outer Speed Zone™ laces

FLEX AND TEST

It’s not always immediately obvious if the fit is comfortable or not. If the boot is too tight or really uncomfortable right away, try another style or ask for another size. Make sure to try boots on both feet because one foot is usually larger than the other. Stand up and flex in the boot by bending your knees over your toes or rocking from your heels to your toes.

Greg shows me how to flex in the boots to make sure they fit properly

 

Here are some questions to consider:

Do I feel any uncomfortable pressure points?

Do my toes just slightly brush the end of the boots or are they starting to curl?

When I walk or flex does my ankle stay securing in place or does it lift out of the boot?

How does the flex feel when I flex in the boots- stiff, soft, just right?

 

If you’re feeling any pressure points, give it a few minutes of walking around or flexing in the boot to see if they last. Some times our feet aren’t use to the shape of the boots and need a moment to adjust. If you still feel uncomfortable pressure in certain points of the boot, you may want to try out a different style or change to a new size.

Reference the above boot fit poster for the best way to fit and tighten a Speed Zone™ Burton Boot

These are very important things to remember when finding proper fit. If you’re boots are too loose or long in the toe area you’re going to find your foot sliding while you ride; which can make things very uncomfortable. If you’re toes are starting to curl at the end of the boot they’re too tight. You should just barely be able to feel the ends of the boot with your toes. Most of us wear our sneakers loose so this will be a new sensation for you. This is why it’s important to know how to be properly fit for snowboarding boots because they work differently than your sneakers.

If you’re feeling any lift in your heel try to secure that part of the boot tighter with your laces. If you find you’re not successful, you may want to try a different boot.

If you flex in the boots and feel they are too stiff or too soft for your level of comfort you may want to try another style. Let the sales representative know what you think and they can make suggestions on other boots to try.

I take my time shopping around while I test out the fit of my boots

Make sure to spend some time in each pair of boots you try on. A good 15-20 minutes to make sure you’re buying the right pair of boots is a good use of your time! Once you have an idea of the boots you think will work best for you, here are a few other things to consider.

 

HEATED LINERS – Heated boots will change your life!

Some boots in the Burton line come with heated liner capabilities. The battery pack (shown above) attaches to the tongue of your boot and connects to your liner, which sends heat throughout. While some other boots in the line don’t have the battery operated heat pack, they do have pockets in the liners for placing disposable heat packs. Many women find they have poor circulation in their feet; this is very common. Heated liners and heat pack compatible liners are helping many women who have had their days cut short in the past now enjoy comfort and the mountain all day long. If you find your feet have a tendency of going cold, you should talk to a sales representative about these options.

Above pictured is the Burton Heat pack system for heated boot liners available for many Burton boot models

 

FOOTBEDS

Some people really need custom footbeds to have the best fit in their snowboard boots. Footbeds often are good for people with very unique foot shapes such as extremely high arches or very flat feet. If you have needed custom footbeds in the past or know you struggle with foot problems this might be something worth looking into. Footbeds often help evenly distribute load and pressure over the whole foot, and support the arch. Custom footbeds help fill in the gaps your feet create. Many times custom footbeds are used for people with injuries to help compensate issues that exist. Many sales reps can talk to you about custom footbeds or may refer you to a doctor for proper fitting.

PERSONAL PREFERENCE

Now the fun part! You know which boots fit well and works for your riding style and fit your budget. Usually that means you’ve got a few models to choose from that work. Now you can decide based on which ones YOU like the most. Always wait until the end to fall in love with a boot style because you may love the way it looks early on but you might not love them when you’re at the top of a mountain on a beautiful bluebird day with your in feet pins and needles forcing you to leave early. Now that you’ve narrowed the choice down to the ones that fit — have fun finding the one that fits your personal style!

MY FAVORITE BOOT

I’ve gone through lots of different styles of boots over the years but my current preference is the Burton Axel. The reason I love the Axel has a lot to do with the way it fits and flexes. I like to do a little of everything — ride in trees, a little bit of park, groomers on less snowy days and of course I love riding powder. I’ve had some knee injuries over the years that have made me move to softer flexing boots, and I have a tendency to make my boots extra tight and secure around my ankle area. However I like my upper boot area loose because I have bigger calf muscles that hurt when my boots are too tight.

The Axels allow me to use Speed Zone™ at the sweet spot around my ankle (which ironically is how we refer to this unique lacing system for this boot) to lock my heel in for a secure fit, while the velcro upper lets me leave my boots loose up top. A looser upper partnered with a softer flex makes for a  comfortable all around fitting boot for my riding style.

Have fun finding your own TRUE FIT! And if you plan to ask for snowboarding gear this winter, don’t forget about a great pair of boots!

 

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