Snowboard boots. How are they supposed to fit? Which boots are right for you? Why do mine continually smell like the inside of tuna can left out in the baking sun? These are questions that have plagued the Snowboarding industry and consumers alike for years. Fortunately for you, we decided to get off our lazy asses and write a scientifically-backed (not really), professional (debatable), and quick (also, debatable) guide to how your snowboard boots should fit and why buying boots online is the devil.
First let’s talk about the Fit of the Boot:
- Yes, when you first put on a fresh, out-of-the-box snowboard boot, it will be tighter than security for the Pope’s visit in NYC. Don’t think that they don’t fit. They’re brand new and they have yet to be broken in.
- Your toes should be grazing the top of the boot but not crunching. If you think you need the half inch rule here, get out. Having someone try to feel the top of your boot to find your toes is like trying to find water in the Sahara. It’s nearly impossible. You are the only person who knows where your toes are.
- Your heel should be sitting nice and proper in the back of the boot; especially when you lean forward. Any heel lift is a big red flag for an improper fitting boot. Just make sure you have laced up or tightened up the boot before you go ahead and start leaning forward.
- Socks. No, those nice Banana Republic dress socks aren’t what you are going to be wearing when you go out on the mountain. You’ll be wearing a medium weight acrylic or wool sock, possibly a compression sock that will fill out the boot more.
What kind of Snowboarder are you:
- What kind of Snowboarder you are and how often you go will determine the kind of boots you should get. Are you a park rat? Are you an all-mountain rider, slaying groomers and hitting park on the way down? Are you new to Snowboarding? Are you an OG who still has one of the first Sims boards?
- If you’re going to be riding 10+ times during the season, you’re going to want to invest a little more cash into your boots for the sake of durability. Considering the national average of how many times the typical US citizen goes snowboarding is like 4.5 (don’t quote us).
- Let’s say you’re new to snowboarding or a park rat that doesn’t go all mountain, you’re going to want a boot on the softer flex side. It’s comfortable, tweakable, and quick to break in. Like a Kardashian.
- Going all mountain, big jumps or backcountry? Something stiffer is in your future. A stiffer boot gives better response, support, and durability throughout a season. It may take longer to break in the pair of boots but they’ll last you the 10-50 times you’ll go from mind-numbingly helping your little cousin on the bunny hill to the pristine, powdered covered Wasatch Mountain Range of Utah.
- Seasoned vet like a vintage Bordeaux? Depends if you’re casually ripping or going full steam ahead on the mountain. Comfort is going to be your number one priority. Lean on the side of stiffer for better response though. Chances are, the benefits will outweigh the time it takes to break in.
Lacing or Boa? Jam or Jelly? Mimosa or Bloody Mary?
- Life hands us decisions on a regular basis and it all depends on personal style, preference, and attitude that influence our choices.
- Lacing? Traditional as lukewarm hot dogs and flat beer at a Bills game. You can get a customized fit with laces with a tighter upper, looser lower or tight all around. Downside of laces, if it’s below freezing out, can be rough on those soft hands of yours and you may have to re-lace during the middle of the day. However, most snowboarders prefer lacing. Who doesn’t enjoy tradition?
- Welcome to the world of Boa and Zonal Lacing. Convenient, easy-to-use and can be done wearing gloves, mittens, and those yellow cleaning gloves your mom uses to clean the bathroom and kitchen. The fast tightening systems of Boa and Zonal Lacing gives you an all around snug fit without the ability to customize (unless its Zonal, which means forget what we just wrote). Negatives? Boa steel lacing can break in frigid weather but fortunately this issue has been researched and developed by companies like Burton, who have partnered with New England Ropes, so that any below freezing weather does not affect the Boa lacing system. Sidenote* – do not sit with your board on top of your boot because the edge can cut into both laces and the boa lacing system.
- Boa system with lacing? Take both descriptions above and combine them. Customization with convenience.
- Stock, Moldable and Heat Moldable.
- Pretty straight forward. Stock is padding that will conform to your foot over a period of time.
- Moldable liners offer better materials but an increase in price. Constructed to mold to your foot like your favorite pair of Levi’s that fit to you perfectly after that Phish concert tour you decided to follow around the country without bathing. Get a job hippie.
- Heat Moldable. The Rolls Royce of foot liners. Comes with a complementary bottle of Rémy Martin..if only. But seriously, heat molding offers the best custom fit and there’s no doubt about that. Just be prepared to devote some of your rent money to paying for those kind of boots.
And now we come to the most debated topic within Snowboard Boots, Sizing. You might as well call CNN, get a stage, some podiums, and a moderator because this may need political backing. Do you go true-to-size? What about half-size smaller?.. “I have wide feet so I need extra big boots..”. Our professional, scientifically-proven response below will answer all your past, present, and future questions about Snowboard Boot sizing. No, shhh, we know exactly what we’re doing.
- Traditionally, go a half size smaller. “But..but, they hurt my feet!” Yes they might but did you think Snowboard boots are going to feel and fit like slippers made of puppy ears? I hope not. Snowboard boots break in and pack out. This means that over time they will become roomier and ultimately be the perfect size you need.
- If you decide, god forbid, to go your actual shoe size or bigger, you will end up with a clown shoe that gives you less response and heel lift, which may or may not lead you to falling on your face. Does this sound like ‘fun’ or ‘happy’ time for you?
- Companies manufacture a variety of boots that have different fits. It’s called capitalism and it’s what Adam Smith pioneered, what this country, and most of the Western world depends upon for economic growth. Don’t like it? Take you and your Commie ass to Russia , North Korea or Cuba.
- On a serious note, boots will fit differently depending on the company that makes them so open up yourself to a variety of sizes that may fit you. You may be a 10 in a pair of ThirtyTwo’s but a 10.5 in a pair of Burton’s.
- Also, boots have different profiles. Some are low and more park or urban oriented like the Maven from ThirtyTwo or are aggressive and meant for big mountain riding like the Burton Driver X or Salomon Synapse. You have to account for this when trying boots on and what kind of board you have as well.
- Low profile can mean a more narrow board. Conversely, a bigger, sturdier boot may mean a wider board.
- If you got some Shaq-sized feet, you may need to look around for a boot that will fit but don’t worry, here at Phatman, we cater to all sized people. Just be aware you’ll need a wider board.
Some ending notes you should take into consideration.
- Boots are the most important part of your setup. If you have shit boots, you’ll have a shitty day. Easy as that. Sure price is a concern for many people but really take the time to get a great fitting and comfortable boot that you know you’ll enjoy for multiple seasons.
- DO NOT BUY A BIGGER SIZED BOOT.
- Boots are like cars, some may look cooler than others but it comes down to the driver of the car. Get it? Buy on size and fit, not just on colors or how great it will match with the rest of your set up. If it happens to match, wonderful, if not, so what. That’s why snowboarding pants were created so they cover the boot and keep snow out.
- Don’t buy online. You can’t actually try a boot on over the internet. Technology isn’t quite there yet and even if you did, your credit card number will be snatched up faster than your girlfriend at the Ultra Music Festival in Ibiza. Those spaniards know how to swoon a woman…But in all seriousness, buying online hurts local businesses (aka us), doesn’t give you the customer service you deserve, and may lead to a difficult return policy.
- Oh yeah, don’t showroom us either. We know that game.
Any questions or concerns? Contact us or call the shop at 716-837-8743.
Disagree or have a complaint? You can fill out our complaint form below.
PS – If you mention you read this article while you are shopping for boots at the shop, we’ll give you 10% off.