Snowboard Bootfitting 101
Written By: Jennifer Sherowski
Your boots are probably the most important part of your setup! Your comfort, ease, technique and progression are all contingent on a healthy relationship with your boots. With all the different brands, styles and distracting color palettes to choose from, make "fit" your boot mantra. Trust your retailer to guide you along this boot journey, and don't be afraid to ask questions, walk around in them and try on a variety. The more you try on, the more certain you'll be when you find your pair. Here are some tips to help you secure the right ones.
Your boots should be snug around your foot and lower leg, even tight—just not painful. When trying boots on it's important to lace them up as you would on a regular day. The intricate lacing systems are made to help set your foot in the ideal position and keep it there. Walk around the shop for a few minutes to see how the boot holds your foot. There should never be any slippage. You can test this by practicing normal snowboarding actions. Depending on the materials, boots can loosen from ¼ to ¾ of a size bigger once they're broken in and this needs to be taken into consideration when you first try them on. This breaking in or "packing out" will take place the first few times you ride.
Snowboard boots are not street shoes. They're built to wear with yourknees bent and leaning in, not standing upright. The proper fit should yield the tips of your toes touching the end of the boot, but not curling. When you bend into a snowboard stance, they should move back slightly. Any space between your toes and the boot when you're standing upright means your feet will slide back and forth while you're riding. Not good! And no one wants to slam their toenails up against the boot upon a quick stop. Note: while you don't want room in front of your toes, you should be able to wiggle them up and down. Any loss of circulation when you're trying them on is a sign to try a different size and/or style.
Your heel needs to be locked down, gripped snugly and tightly by the boot. When you drive your knee forward during your riding, the boot needs to come with you. Try it out a few times in the shop. Remember-- the boot is connected to the binding which is connected to the board. For the least effort possible you want the boots to be as responsive as possible. Think of how much extra work you'd have to do if your heels slide out of the boot. The exaggerated movement necessary with ill-fitting boots increases your wipeout chances, yields painful blisters, and tires you out. There are certain accessories to help ensure the perfect fit if you feel like you're between sizes, have a narrow heel or if your boots break in a little more than you thought they would.
Does your navicular bone (that bone on top of your foot about halfway between your ankle and your toes) protrude a lot? Got any heel spurs? A "lucky" second toe that's longer than your first? Get a boot with a custom moldable liner. Have wide or narrow feet? Certain brands will fit you better – plus you can get orthoticsto help set your foot in the right position. Your local shop will mold the perfect fit for you so you don't experience any unnecessary pain in these areas.
Socks and Boot Warmers
Stay away from cotton socks - they keep the moisture in your feet. No one wants their feet to be both cold AND sweaty. Go for wool or manmade fabrics designed with this occasion in mind: neoprene, nylon and acrylic all do a great job. If you want natural, choose wool. Try to stick to one pair for the most ideal fit. If you have poor circulation and need boot warmers, use them between the footbed and the liner of the boot. The best fitting boot will also keep you the warmest.