Which snowboard boots are best?
Although they can vary in size, type, materials and design, the primary purpose of snowboard boots is to help protect your feet while safely attaching to a snowboard. With so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which pair of snowboard boots best combines function and safety with style.
If you’re a beginner snowboarder and want something sturdy, check out the Burton Men’s Ruler BOA Snowboard Boots.
What to know before you buy snowboard boots
There are two main types of snowboard boots: alpine snowboard boots and snowboard soft boots.
Alpine snowboard boots: Sometimes called hard boots, most Alpine boots have a sturdy plastic shell. They also have an inner liner, which is softer than the outer shell and provides the necessary cushioning for the wearer’s feet.
Soft boots: Made from leather or fabric, soft boots are more flexible than hard boots, allowing for more movement. Soft boots have different flex ratings from stiff to soft.
Nearly all snowboarding boots fall into one of three categories: soft, medium and stiff flex. Hardshell snowboarding boots tend to have less flex and more stiffness. Soft boots usually have a range of flexibility and stiffness.
Flexibility and stiffness are measured on a scale from one to 10. Boots with a 10 rating are the stiffest, while boots with one rating are the softest, most flexible option.
Novice snowboarders or those who plan to do all-mountain snowboarding should shoot for a softer pair of boots with a flex between one and seven.
Softer boots are often more forgiving and flexible. Plus, they allow for better course correction. However, if you’re going fast, ease of movement and flexibility offer fewer benefits.
Advanced snowboarders or all-mountain racers may prefer a stiffer boot for better edge control since this allows them to get through tougher snow with ease.
Size and fit
Every snowboard boot has its own lacing system, flex and liners. These components all contribute to the right fit for a snowboarder.
Snowboard boots should fit snugly around the wearer’s feet. The snowboarder should not be able to lift their heel while the boots are secured in place on the snowboard.
However, finding the right size snowboard boot can be tricky. Some snowboard boots follow standard shoe size measurements, but others use a “mondo-print” size chart instead. The mondo-print uses either centimeters or millimeters to determine the right size boot.
Choose a snowboard boot that fits snugly around all parts of your foot, from toe to heel to the instep. Your toes should just reach the front end of the boot. Keep in mind that even if one brand fits your foot, that doesn’t mean another brand will have the same fit, even if the size is identical.
Experience and terrain
Experience and terrain both play a major role in determining the best snowboard boot. Beginners or those who need more support may benefit from a snowboard boot that provides a greater level of control over the board without restricting movement. Snowboard boots for beginners are usually softer in construction than boots made for more experienced athletes.
For free riders or mountain riders, stiffer boots are better because they offer precision without sacrificing speed. Snowboarders who perform a wide variety of professional tricks may benefit from a softer, more flexible pair of snowboard boots, however.
Consider your personal preference, skills, experience and terrain when choosing a pair of boots.
What to look for in quality snowboard boots
Liners serve the important role of keeping the wearer comfortable while adding to the overall sturdiness of their boot while out snowboarding. There are several types of liners, including:
- Modern, thermoformable liners, which contour to the wearer’s foot when heat is applied. This creates the additional sturdiness needed to keep the feet and ankles safe
- Regular stock liners, which provide fundamental padding and conform to the wearer’s feet through frequent use
- Customized liners, which are designed specifically for the individual’s feet
Liners form tightly around the contours and curves of the wearer’s feet and prevent the ankle from moving from side to side while snowboarding. This ultimately decreases the chance of injury. Some liners are removable.
Each snowboard boot has its own lace system. Some boots follow a traditional design, while others use cables instead of laces.
The BOA system uses a cable and a dial that twists to tighten up the boot. Although this is more expensive than the traditional lace-up design, the benefit is that you can tighten the boots with the turn of a dial without removing them.
Another notable design is the quick-pull. This design takes advantage of a pulley system to tighten certain areas of the boot without impacting others.
Bindings are what attach the boots to the snowboard. There are three types of bindings: strap-in, rear-entry and Burton step-on.
Strap-in bindings are the most common and are easy to use. Simply slip your foot into the binding and adjust the straps to tighten it.
Rear-entry binds have a strong, high-back section. This section is the part of the binding that goes against your ankle up to your calf to secure the back part of the boot. These binding pops open so you can secure the boot.
The Burton step-on binding is common in Burton snowboard boots. This is a specialty type of binding. With it, you can slip your boot in and snap your heel into place.
Bindings come in a range of sizes from small to extra-large. Cross-check the snowboard boot size with the manufacturer’s binding chart for the right size.
How much you can expect to spend on snowboard boots
Snowboard boots cost $100-$500, on average. Most entry-level boots are around $250 or less.
Snowboard boot FAQ
Will regular snow boots work for snowboarding?
A. No. Snowboard boots offer the necessary ankle support to prevent injury when making sporadic movements or traversing terrain. Regular snow boots don’t offer this support, so wearing them could result in serious injury.
Are children’s snowboard boots different from adult snowboard boots?
A. Many of the same principles apply to adult and youth snowboard boots. In both cases, the boot should fit snugly so the foot doesn’t move around.
What’s the best snowboard boot to buy?
Top snowboard boot
What you need to know: These boots offer a medium flex and don’t require constant adjustments, making them easy to use even during all-mountain or free riding snowboarding.
What you’ll love: The double BOA lacing system allows for easy adjustment in both the upper and lower portions of the boot with the turn of a dial. These boots have a snow-proof gusset to keep out moisture. Plus, they’re comfortable right out of the box.
What you should consider: The boot liner may be a little loose, so be prepared to use the lacing system for additional sturdiness.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top snowboard boot for the money
What you need to know: These snowboard boots are soft and flexible, making them perfect for beginners or casual snowboarders on a budget.
What you’ll love: With a comfortable liner and a single BOA lacing system, these boots offer a sturdy, no-fuss snowboarding experience. They also come in several colors.
What you should consider: They may run a little small.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: These high-quality women’s snowboard boots are made with a snow-proof gusset meant to keep snow out and your feet warm.
What you’ll love: The speed zone lacing system allows for quick adjustment to the size and fit of different areas of the boot, which is perfect for on-the-fly adjustments. The ropes are also nearly indestructible and don’t kink.
What you should consider: These boots may run half a size small.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.