If anyone is thinking of making their first purchase in the world of snowboarding, buying snowboard boots is where I’d suggest they spend their hard earned money.
Get the right pair and friends or family will be hard pushed to wrestle them off your gnarled, sweaty feet, even after several seasons and multiple lace replacements.
Six seasons on I’m still only in my second pair; people are going to have a fight if they think I’m throwing them out!
So, before you book next season’s snowboarding holidays, here are a few tips to buying some kick-ass boots, and what features to look for, and some trends and innovations for this season.
Nothing is quite as personal as a snowboard boot, that extension of your foot from where all the magic happens.
Saying that, make a bad choice and buy the wrong pair for whatever reason – you loved the colour of the less comfortable ones too much, or you actually bought a pair without trying them on because they were such a good deal online – then I guarantee they won’t last a winter.
In case you haven’t guessed by now, there is no real science behind which boot is going to fit you best. More expensive boots will have better features, plusher materials and so on, but the only way to know how they fit is to try them on.
Some people find some brands fit better than others; it all depends on the size and shape of the foot. Don’t settle on just one shop either; try out many as not every shop will house each brand. And whatever you do, don’t go buy the same pair online, after hours of waving your cheesy feet around in some hardworking snowboard shop retailers face. Not cool!
Now perhaps you are one of the lucky ones, with the ‘normal’ shaped feet, finding everything fits, wondering what to go for? Then here are some top considerations to, well consider.
Quick tying cords and cables definitely rule this side of the pond, as apposed to the slower, yet ultimately more adjustable, lace-up systems preferred by our North American counterparts. Who ever said they were the lazy ones?
Thankfully boot manufacturers have not heeded our demands, and this year especially there’s some innovative lacing solutions from all top brands.
With Salomon’s new Sure Lock system “just one pull and a flick of a switch you’re totally locked in”. Apparently very fluid, easy to use, strong and secure. Vans new mountaineering inspired Infuse Boot uses a ‘smart hybrid lacing system’ that puts the boa cable in the instep area, effectively keeping the heel locked in place.
Each system is designed slightly (sometimes very) differently, so again, it should be up to you to try out several different systems until you find what you prefer. And if you’re jetting away on snowboarding holidays, do yourself a favour and email the company to see what boots they provide. Always pays to be prepared.
Trying not to get too technical here, but there are some space-age materials that are cropping up for this season. Northwave have begun using Vibram on some of their boot’s soles, along with their new carbon reinforced nylon, after it had been such a big hit for Burton, Deelux and K2. A less scary sounding material, and one that will stand the test of time if taken care of properly, is leather. Popular with all brands this year, expect to see it in many forms and on many boots.
This is a vital piece of the boots engineering and it’s good to see companies such as Northwave investing heavily in it.
Anything that will decrease the likelihood of having our knees prematurely blow out is a good thing, we think. As to who’s top in the technology stakes with regards to this right now it’s hard to tell.
Northwave’s Crossbow outsole apparently feels like double suspension for the heel, and DC’s bouncy Impact G gel is resistant to temperature fluctuation. 32 and Forum also have equally impressive sounding techs, with their Sol Tech System Gel and FGel respectively, however it was Forum’s Glory Sole with Simmer Down technology that really grabbed our attention.
Finishing on a more practical note, whilst some boots used to be as hard to get on as looking cool wearing a onesie, many have now been designed to eliminate this problem. Smooth linings from Nike and Northwave let your foot simply glide into the boot; whilst over at Head extra wide collar tops solve the problem, as do Forum’s InSlick entry points. Not exactly sure what these last entry points entail, get down to your local snowboard shop to find out for yourselves!
For more snowboarding guides and blogs, check out: The best freestyle snowboards of 2012 / Skiing and Snowboarding Holidays on a budget / Snowboarding Italy: The 10 best winter holiday destinations
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