Boots

How to choose the most important part of your snowboarding arsenal.
Forget shiny new snowboards and ignore the newest technology that bindings offer for a moment and let's concentrate on the piece of equipment whose fit is essential you get right – your boots.
The act of snowboarding, and the environment it is performed in, exerts all kinds of forces on your body. Going hard into a fast carve or landing a ten set of steps can exert tens of times your body weight of pressure in specific areas, and your feet – as the only part of your body that comes in direct contact with the forces being exerted – are right there on the frontline.
What this means in practical terms is that it is absolutely essential that your boots fit correctly, snugly and above all, comfortably. You might think that all you need to do is buy the most expensive, most advanced boots available and you'll be set, but in reality it's more complicated than that. Put simply: cheap boots don't cause pain, but the wrong boots do. There's no such thing as the 'best' set of boots – while there's all kinds of technological wizardry that goes into today's snowboard boots, none of it means anything if they don't fit correctly. Snowboard boots are constructed on what is called a 'last', which is a mould of a 'standard' foot shape. The thing is, every manufacturer uses different lasts so some boots will have been built on a last that is similar to your foot shape and some won't. There's no way to tell in advance which boot will fit you best, so it's time to heading to your local snowboard shop is the surest way to make sure that you get the right boots for your feet – the best thing you can do is try a load on! If possible try boots from 4 or 5 different brands and get a feel for which are the most comfortable with the least foot movement inside the boot. A full-on jibber will need a very different boot to one that a backcountry freerider will. Remember that there's not a 'right' or 'wrong answer, just an honest one -– they're simply trying to help you make an informed choice. Don't be afraid to ask questions – you're spending your hard earned money and if you're unsure, ask.
Snowboard socks
As the first point of interface between foot and boot, it's worth considering buying snowboard-specific socks – an old pair of football socks just isn't going to cut it. You will find that the right socks provide padding where it's supposed to be, wicking properties to aid moisture transportation to help keep your feet dry, and ultimately more comfortable.
Choosing a pair of boots
There are many different types of boots available – softer flexing boots are more forgiving which will suit novices and jibbers, while stiffer flexing boots are more supportive and will suit powerful freeriders and advanced freestylers who need more support when landing bigger tricks.
There are all manner of wide boards out there to deal with the toe drag issue, but it's also worth remembering that the boot you choose can have an effect. Many manufacturers now build their boots with a short shell length, which can bring the external size of a boot down by a full size of more, while keeping the internal size correct. This is true of the Salomon Fusion Series Boots, Burton Boots that have 'Shrink Fit' listed as a feature and also some 32 Boots.
Insole Check
The process of insole checking is a simple but effective way of ensuring the boot will fit correctly. First the footbed is removed and your foot is placed on it with snowboard socks on and the heel snugly in the heel cradle. From this you can actually see where your toes are in relation to the end of the liner. If the toes overhang off the front of the foot bed it's worth trying a size up. With the boots on your feet and laced up, your big toe should just brush the end of the liner. Once you bend your knees you'll feel your big toe come away from the end of the boot. You are mirroring the position you'll be riding in. Someone that rides for long periods, ie a seasonnaire, may benefit from selecting a pair that fit as snug as possible without discomfort, whereas someone that rides a week a year isn't going to break the boot in as quickly.
Heel Lift
Once the boot is fitted correctly and secured, they are tested for heel lift by bending at the knees, and rocking back and forth from heel to toe. A common mistake is to literally stand up straight and pull the heel up, which does not reflect the movements you'll be making on a snowboard. You may have to try a few different pairs to find ones that give you minimal heel lift, but this is common and no reflection on either the shape of your foot or the quality of the boot.
Heat Moulding
Most boots, with the exception of the very cheapest and those that use memory foam have heat moldable liners, which will fine tune a near-perfect fit into a perfect one. Most will mould perfectly well from your body heat when riding, some other like 32 Boots do benefit from being heated up in-store and standing in for 10 minutes or so until they cool down. Any heat mouldable boot can be re-moulded a few times if necessary, but don't put your liners in the washing machine or on a radiator!
This guide is brought to you in association with SS20 and Whitelines.
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