Another helpful Sporting Goods guide by "The Coach"
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Selecting A Snowboard Boot
Boots are essential for snowboarding. Together with your bindings, Boots connect your body to your snowboard in a secure way. How you are able to control your snowboard largely depends on your boots and bindings. There are different kinds of snowboard boots and different riders using different riding styles prefer different kinds of boots. This guide will help you through the basics of selecting the correct boot.
A Detailed Look At Snowboard Boots
As explained in the bindings section, snowboard boots and bindings form a combination that keeps your body attached to your snowboard. Good snowboard boots should give you maximum control over your board, protect your feet and ankles from the pressures of high speed turns and keep your feet warm and breathing in all weather conditions. A good fit between your boot and binding is essential for good snowboarding.
Soft boots are the most comfortable and can be used with highback bindings and flow in bindings. They consist of two parts: an inner bladder and an outer boot. The inner bladder is padded to keep your feet warm, dry and protected from heavy impacts. It usually has its own lacing so you can tighten the inner bladder independently from the outer boot. The outer boot has a sturdy upper part that allows for ankle movement. The outer lacing allows for further tightening the boots.
In contrast to hard boots and skiing boots, softboots are relatively comfortable for walking when not on the board. They are preferred by freestylers and freeriders. Softboots are most popular among riders at the moment.
As explained in our Binding Buying Guide, will be the most important question you will need to answer. Boots and Bindings are often a combination where not every boot is suitable for each type of binding and vice versa. These are the different kinds of boot - binding combination available:
Soft Boots and Strap On/Flow In Bindings. This system is the most flexible. Any soft snowboarding boot can be used with the strap on system. FreeStylers and FreeRiders often prefer this system as it gives more flexibility and maneuverability. It is also the most comfortable combination when not actually on the board.
Soft/Hard Step-In Boots with Step-In Bindings. If you are going to choose step in bindings for your snowboard then you will also need to choose step-in boots to go along with the bindings. The Step In systems need to be the same on the boot and binding. Step In systems make getting on and off your board very easy. There is a price to pay: Step Ins offer less alternatives for boots and often cheaper step in systems give less board control.
At this moment, Soft Boots and Strap-On Bindings are the most common as they provide both a flexible way of adjusting the boot and binding for a perfect fit and are most comfortable when not on the board. Step In bindings and boots are used by many riders for their ease of getting on and off the board.
How To Fit Snowboard Boots
The way the boot fits, holds and supports your feet and ankles is the most important part about selecting Snowboard boots.
To try on snowboard boots do the following:
Put on snowboarding socks or at least the thick socks that you would wear when you would go out snowboarding. Do not try your boots with regular socks. You might not think so but the added thickness of the socks matters a lot when it comes to the size and fit of your boot.
Loosen the outer (and inner if available) laces of the boot and insert your foot. Make sure the heel of your foot is locked into the heel of the boot.
Tighten the inner lacing first (again if available). Make it pretty tight but make sure your feet can still breath and you do not cut of circulation. Now tighten the outer lacing. Again pretty tight without cutting of circulation to your feet.
Walk around a bit and get a feeling for how well the boot is strapped around your foot. Make sure you do not feel isolated painful or stressful areas.
Now the most important test: strap into (or step into) a binding attached to a snowboard. Take on a riding position and move your weight to the front and the back of the board. Check to make sure the boot is securely keeping your feet on their place, that they are not slipping to the back or front and that you are not experiencing painful or stressful places on your feet. You should feel both comfortable and securely strapped in at the same time.
Lean forward and make sure your heel is not lifted but that the entire boot, binding and board are making the forward move without your heel slipping out of the heel of the boot. Heel lift is one of the most important things to check for when buying boots so make certain that your heel is not slipping out of the boot's heel!
When you try on boots, try to take into account that as you use the boots more often, the inner bladder will get more compact because of the pressure that the bladder will be exposed to. As a result the boot will become less tight as you use it more. Try to anticipate this by buying boots that are slightly tight.
You should notice that snowboard boots come in all regular shoe sizes but you will also notice how different boots of the same size can differ in the way they hold your feet and ankle. Make sure you try on many boots and only buy one that you are 100% sure of. Good snowboard boots can last you a long time so you will want to take your time and spend some money on them.
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