Boots are the most important piece of gear when skiing or snowboarding. Make sure they're working for you, not against you.
Boot Fitting 101
- Ski Boots
- Ski boots are not shoes and do not fit like shoes!
- A snug fit ensures control and efficient energy transfer. The more control you have the easier it is to ski.
- Flex is directly related to performance and comfort. One is usually sacrificed for the other. Finding the correct flex is as simple as putting on a pair of boots and flexing into the upper cuff as if you were leaning out over the tips of your skis. The amount in which you are able to flex the boots is dependant on the type of skiing you intend to do and your ability level.
- Last is the measurement of the width of your foot and refers to the tool used to form the boot during the production process. The wider the last the more room your foot has side to side. This measurement is easy and usually doesn't change. It is not dependent on skiing style or ability.
- Not all boots are made the same. Some are a traditional 2-piece with a lower and upper section. the second most common design is a 3-piece with an upper, lower and an independent tongue. There are multiple other designs that are less prevalent, but serve specific purposes.
- Ski boots are like most things, you get what you pay for. High performance and light weight boots are the target, but there are other features affiliated with performance that drive the cost up as well. This category is not where you want to compromise.
The number of buckles and their materials and placement will affect the overall boot weight and performance. The addition of a "power strap" can help offset the absence of a top buckle on the upper cuff, but can be added to a traditional 4 buckle boot as well.
Boots have gotten lighter and more comfortable. The level of comfort is directly related to the original mold and the ability to custom conform the boot to an individuals foot shape via the new heat mold-able materials.
Most manufacturers have some type of a "walk mode" now. Usually a lever like device that allows the upper cuff to articulate with a greater range of motion forward and rear to facilitate walking when not in ski bindings. Originally for touring, it is used widely by regular skiers in any situation that calls for a bit of walking.
Some boots come with "walk soles", others you have to purchase separately and some come with both alpine and walk soles right out of the box. A walk sole is curved for easy walking and usually have rubberized lugs on the bottom for better grip on slippery terrain.
- Snowboard Boots
- Snowboard boots are house slippers compared to ski boots, so don't complain!
- A snug fit ensures control and efficient energy transfer. The more control you have the easier it is to ride.
- Flex is directly related to performance and comfort. One is usually sacrificed for the other. However your riding style plays a large part in the flex rating you need. Softer for beginners
- Each boot manufacturer uses a different foot shape to make their boots. This creates different widths in the heel, instep and toe-box areas. A boot fitter can measure your foot and tell you which brands will work best for you. Some manufacturers offer a "Wide" version of specific models. Although ha wide model boot may be more comfortable, it should only be utilized where necessary.
- Most modern snowboard boot are comprised of two parts; the liner and the shell. The liner keeps your foot warm and comfortable while the shell creates the rigidity and responsiveness necessary to control a snowboard. Both layers will have different types of construction and materials used.
- Generally the more budget you can allocate toward your snowboard boots the better. There is a significant difference between the entry level price point and a more advanced model price, but the difference is worth it. Spend a little more and get a lot back while you're on the mountain.
Above is a diagram of the Ride Donna and its features. The Donna is a great example of a solid entry level boot. It's standard lacing system gets the job done and doesn't have as many bells and whistles compared to the more expensive Trident shown below.
There are 3 primary lace styles. 1) Regular 'ol laces. 2) The BOA system. 3) Manufacturer dependent Quick Lace systems. Each has its merits and downfalls. To make things more complicated the BOA and quick lace systems have sub-categories and styles. See our Buyers Guides for more information on these lace systems.
Leather and synthetic are the primary shell materials while most liners are made of a porous foam. The sole of the boot differs also. It can be anything from a light weight foam to a reinforced multi-layer rubber. Again, each has its pros and cons in different situations.
Over the last few years some manufacturers have implemented new ways to eliminate the ever dreaded "Heel-lift". By creating a cinch system over the top of the instep with a formed piece of plastic or the tongue of the shell itself, it helps hold the heel down and back into the heel pocket. In our opinion they're worth their weight in gold.
Above is a diagram of the Ride Trident and its features. The trident has more features and tech than most boots on the market. It's a good example of the upper end of snowboard boot technology.
- Foot Beds
- The words most commonly associated with foot beds are "Game Changer".
- Whether an off-the-shelf drop in or a fully custom foot bed, we guarantee you will see immediate results. You'll be able to ride harder, longer, and more comfortably. With a formed heel cup and reinforced arch support a good set of foot beds will make your feet happy.
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