SNOWBOARD BOOTS: THE ESSENTIAL PART OF YOUR EQUIPMENT
You spend lots of time in your boots, because you also walk in them when you are not on your board. To help you survive the winter in comfort, we have summarised all important information about snowboard boots for you.
- The right boot size
- The flex: the stiffness of the boot
- Lacing: different systems for every taste
- Liner for maximum comfort
- Sole cushioning: protection against impact
- Soft boot technologies
- How to get the perfect fit
1. THE RIGHT BOOT SIZE
The most important aspect when buying a new boot is the right size. The Mondo point size – the length of your foot – is a good guideline. When your legs are straight you should touch the front of your boot lightly. However, when you bend your knees this should not happen. Pay attention that your heel is snug in the boot and cannot move. Boots from different brands do not have the same length and width so keep in mind that the boot should also fit your binding. Some brands also offer half-size liners in their boots. If you have large feet and do not want to ride a wide board you can save a few millimetres in the toe and heel area by downsizing half a size. Burton also offers the Shrinkage™ Footprint Reduction Technology, which reduces the boot’s overall footprint by one full size, meaning a men’s size 10 fits like a size 10 but has the footprint of a typical size 9.
2. THE FLEX: THE STIFFNESS OF YOUR BOOT
Snowboard boots are available as hard and soft boots. For freestyle as well as freeride you use soft boots. They are available in different flex rates: softer boots (as low as 1 on a scale from 1 to 10) for freestyle and stiffer boots (up to 10 on a scale from 1 to 10) for freeride. Hard boots are solely for racing and carving. They are stiffer and, therefore, restrict movement inside the boot. This stiffness brings pressure to the edge more easily, even at high speed.
|Terrain|| Flex category ||Flex value|
|Park and freestyle||Soft||1 - 5|
|All-mountain||Medium||4 - 7|
|Freeride and backcountry||Medium - stiff||6 - 10|
Mathias WeissenbacherBlue Tomato Team Rider
3. LACING: DIFFERENT SYSTEMS FOR EVERY TASTE
The lacing of your snowboard boots is essential for the foothold. As a rule, you can distinguish three different lacing systems:
- Traditional lacing
- Quick lacing systems
3.1 THE TRADITIONAL LACING: CLASSICAL SHOE LACES
The classic among lacing systems is still the first choice for many riders. No other system can adjust the pressure as accurately as the old school method. The shoe laces have a solid core which prevents the knot from loosening. The soft coat gives the necessary grip to your fingers to fasten the laces tightly. If you ride really hard you’ll probably have to re-adjust them during the day.
3.2 QUICK LACING SYSTEMS: THE PRACTICAL SOLUTION WITHOUT TYING SHOWLACES
The quick lacing systems – speed lacing systems – have become an integral part of snowboarding. Nowadays, there is an incredible variety of speed lacing system from “twin lacing” to “speed zone”. The principle is the same for all of them but, depending on the price range, you get a system for the whole shoe, two divided speed lacing systems for the top and bottom of the boot or even a three-part system with extra lacing for more heel hold. With these systems you thread the laces through plastic or metal channels, tighten them to the desired level and finally tuck them in. This only takes a few seconds. The more zones the system has the more accurately you can adjust the boot to your foot and preferences.
3.3 BOA: A SPECIAL KIND OF QUICK LACING SYSTEM
Actually, BOA is a kind of quick lacing system. The only difference is that it uses wires and wheels. Depending on the price the BOA system may also offer one, two or even three adjuster wheels for the different areas of the boot and often even for the liner. Turning the wheel tightens the bootlaces evenly; pushing the button loosens the wire again. It’s a fail-safe system and adjusted in only a few seconds without having to tuck in the ends of the laces. You can also use this system easily while wearing gloves. When it comes to heel hold BOA is the first choice. It’s not the fastest system to tighten but it is number one to loosen: one push of a button and the wire is loosened!
4. THE LINER: FOR MAXIMUM COMFORT
The liner is an essential part and included in your snowboard boot. It increases the comfort of the fairly hard outer boot. Most of the models even come with a thermo liner which you can heat-mould to match the shape of your foot. If you are prone to pressure points or particular parts of your feet give you problems such a thermo liner may be the solution. You can get your thermos liners customised in many Blue Tomato shops; with some liners you can even do it yourself in the oven at home. For some boots, there are liners designed for park riding with integrated cushioning that dampens hard landings. This feature, however, is more common for the outer shell or sole of your boot.
5. SOLE CUSHIONING: PROTECTION AGAINST IMPACT
Boots have cushioning so you can survive hard landings without bruising your heels. Essentially, there are four types of cushioning:
- EVA – a particularly light and flexible plastic that is often used for cushioning. However, it loses its shape with excessive cold and, therefore, diminishes in quality.
- PU is a strong and durable plastic that doesn’t lose its properties even in icy temperatures, but costs more than EVA.
- Air cushioning in the sole absorbs high impacts. This works very well on the heel and forefoot areas but less with icy temperatures.
- Gel pads are usually incorporated around the heel and work in the same way as air cushions but are less susceptible to different temperatures.
6. SOFTBOOT TECHNOLOGIES
Burton uses their Shrinkage™ Technologyto reduce the overall length of the snowboard boot by a whole size. This means that if you have shoe size 11 it will fit like size 11, but the length of the outer sole corresponds with a “traditional” size 10. This technology often saves you from having to opt for a wide board. Burton also has special soles called Vibram® Ecostep™ Plus.They offer a lot of grip and comfort and are made of 50% recycled materials. The B3 gel in toe and heel area give extra cushioning. A special coating called Aegis™fights odour so bacteria don’t stand a chance – your friends and roommates will thank you.
K2 has the Boa® Conda. With this lacing system you can adjust your liner without having to open the outer shoe. K2 offers the Harshmellow™cushioning system against vibrations. The Endo Construction keeps the flex of your boot constant and prevents your feet from getting tired.
Deeluxe has a special liner called Thermo Flex Premium which can be heat-moulded and regulates moisture. Both ensure a perfect fit and a high level of comfort.D-Lug is a sole with dual cushioning for better protection against vibrations. Deeluxe’s Conweb soles use a hexagon-shaped shoe profile that guarantees optimal grip.
7. HOW TO GET THE PERFECT FIT
Even the perfect soft boot can’t unfold its potential when you don’t wear the right socks. Functional socks are knee high and made from durable materials. They come with reinforcements at critical points and maximise the fit of your boot. Normal socks are too thin, can chafe at critical points and, in the worst case, slide down, wrinkle and provide unnecessary pressure points that could become really painful. You can adjust the liner of many boots in the middle and upper price segment with the help of special fans and sometimes even in your own oven. If you bought such a boot this procedure is highly recommendable. You can find information about this kind of liner in the product description or on the boot itself. In case of doubt our customer service will be happy to help you.