You’ve scoured out the best location, got yourself the best snowboard clothes, you’ve got a great board, you could be tempted to save money on snowboard boots or borrow them from a friend of family member that don't quite suit you.
This is kind of like buying an amazing sports car with a great engine but not fitting it with tyres. You've got everything you need to get going, but things won't be as the could be and will be very uncomfortable.
You’re almost ready for the thrill of riding on the snow, throwing tricks and grabs as you leap over berms and bumps. But if you’re not prepared with the best set of snowboard boots, it’s not going to be a good day.
In fact, you’ll discover that your boots - and bindings - are so crucial to your snowboarding experience, that we have to ensure you know as much about them as possible, and to have the options of the best snowboard bindings readily available.
Read on as we show you how to buy the best snowboard boots and which ones are the best to buy.
Introduction to Snowboard Boots
If you’re usually a skier, or you’re brand new to snowboarding, welcome.
This will be a whole new experience for you, learning about the differences and similarities between snowboard and ski boots.
Hint: they’re very different.
Snowboard boots should serve at least three functions:
1: They should keep your feet warm.
You don’t need us to remind you that having cold feet during winter is the worst. It’s bad enough to be outside on a normal day with cold feet, but when you’re high up the mountain and you have freezing conditions chilling you to your toes, it can get much worse.
2: They should be comfortable.
It almost goes without saying that you depend on your boots to provide comfort. As you’re carving and shredding down the mountain, the comfort of your foot strapped into your boot is paramount. When you're making purchase, be sure to prioritise comfort over style. That’s what’s going to keep you out for longer on the slopes.
3: They should transfer power.
The boots are literally the meeting point between body and board. So, as you turn your waist, knees and feet, your boots transfer that movement to the board. The best snowboard boots will provide good transfer, meaning no slippage, no loosey-goosey turns, and no loss of power.
This has a lot to with your bindings as well, which is why we’ll be covering that extensively below. Your boot/binding combination will be the most important factor of your ride. The best board with an ill-fitting boot or a loose binding will absolutely ruin your experience.
You’ll also notice that snowboard boots look different to ski boots. Whereas ski boots are hard rigid shells, your average snowboard boot looks like a heavy-duty version of a trainer or reguar shoe. The rubber soles and softer exterior are necessary for the amount of movement you need in your foot.
We feel like we’re going to be using a lot of terminology to continue this guide. If you’re already familiar with terms like 'flex', 'boa', or 'liners', go ahead and skip the next section.
If you’re not, you’ll be caught with everyone else by the time you finish this, so don’t worry.
The Best Men's Snowboard Boots
We’ve done extensive research and we’ve collated the best boots we’ve found for beginners. Tip: measure your feet and use a boot fitting guide to find your size. Your snowboard boot size might not necessarily match your shoe size.
Starting off our list is this soft flex boot that we feel is perfect for beginners. The flex rating of 3 is good for those who are just starting out on the hill.
We feel the internal lacing system locks in your foot, so that you have movement, just no slipping or wobbles. It’s cradled in there snug so that you can feel secure on the terrain you choose. It’s aimed more at downhill riding, but the soft flex does allow some play for the parks and freestylers.
The bonus here is the heat-moulded liner, so that when you purchase it, you can get it shaped exactly to your foot.
Nearly 100% of reviewers agree that this boot suits the early stages of any rider’s snowboarding experience. It has the Boa lacing system, which is convenient for early riders as well.
The flex is a medium-soft rating that works well for beginners. We just adore the ease it gives you on the park. It’s definitely meant for freestyle riders, and works perfectly to absorb shocks and bumps.
It does leave no option, in our opinion, to downhill well, and it won’t convert to freeriding in deep powder. But you’re excited about urban play, long grinds, and some half-pipe runs; this is the boot for you.
Once again, we have a great Boa lacing system to make it easy to get in and out of the boot. Head does a good job of making a boot that suits beginner to intermediate riders. Develop your skill and try out your board with a boot that is stiff enough to respond, but loose enough to give you leeway to make it fun.
The Flex rating of 3 falls squarely in that sweet spot we love for beginners. The *claims* to be for parks and freestyle, but we think the flex is good for early downhill riders as well. It will suit anybody just trying it out, at the very least.
There seems to be a good transfer of power from heel and toe, so it’s great for turning and twisting the board. It’s super fun and feels secure on the foot as well. This is a great all-rounder boot.
With a Flex rating of 2, the Burton MOTO is an inexpensive snowboard boot option that is an ideal beginner boot.
The MOTO has a 'speed lacing' system that makes taking the boots off and putting them back on again simple, quick and easy, with a lifetime warranty.
Burton have designed the MOTO to be comfortable for beginners that might not be used to wearing snowboard boots. Available in a wide range of colours, be sure to check out the Burton MOTO range and find the colour that you like best.
Best Snowboard Boots for Women
Ladies, you require something that’s tailored to your unique shape. The calves and feet on women are different to men, and require a boot to suit.
Here are our top recommendations for women’s snowboard boots.
This is a medium flex boot, great for downhill riders. It has enough support to make your board turn the way you want it to. And it’s soft enough to allow a few errors without catching an edge.
It ideal for women’s heels and creates a nice hold on the foot. In fact, most snowboarders talk about how it responds much like it does on a skateboard. It has that similar approach.
The Samba has a good articulated joint that seems to flex well. The shock absorption is there, but probably best suited for mainly downhill riders.
Without a doubt, the number one brand most mountaineers know is Salomon. It’s been the go-to name for the top gear when out on the hill, skiers and snowboarders alike.
So it’s no surprise that we’re including this boot on our list. The Salomon Pearl is one of the best women’s snowboard boots that we’ve found.
At first glance, it does look a little basic, with a minimal approach and little exterior detail. But that hides a great system of shock absorption and power management. The flex is very soft, perfect for freestylers and park riders. It has the technology included as well for more extreme play.
As your ability advances, this boot stays with you. The quick-draw Boa lacing system is easy to cinch up and keeps your foot secure no matter the trail you take.
We’re confident you’ll be happy with this boot for a few years.
We didn’t cover this before, but this boot has a unique feature called Zone Lacing. It’s a different lacing system over the top of the foot and over the ankle. This individualises your ride to the point where this boot will fit you like a glove.
The Burton brand is all about snowboarding, and they understand it well enough to craft a boot that works well. This is a very soft flex boot, freestyle inclined, and has enough give and allowances for a nasty landing or two.
Pick a boot that does better in the park, we dare you. This is the freestyle boot that will keep you on the park longer and spur you to go harder.
Key Snowboard Boots (and Bindings) Terms
So you can't know what makes a good pair of snowboard boots if you don't understand the words used to describe them or what the different parts are, right? With that in mind, here's a list of the key terms you'll see when shopping for snowboard boots and biding, and what they mean.
Liner: This is the inside layer of your boot. It’s usually removable to help you get your boots on faster. It’s also going to be the warmest part of the part, giving you the insulation needed to protect your feet against that nasty cold wind and snow.
Internal Harness: This is a separate lacing system that tightens the liner to your foot, making it snug and warm with no slippage.
Boa: This is one style of tightening that can be used to do up your boot. Rather than the traditional laces, you can use just one cable that cinches up with a dial to tighten the boot. It’s not better or worse than laces, as they both do the exact same task.
Soles: Your soles are there for two reasons: dampening and support. The soles dampen the blows from large jumps or rough landings. The support helps your foot stay comfortable all day long.
Flex: Because boots can be soft or hard, each boot is given a flex rating from 1 (baby soft) to 10 (like stiff concrete on your foot). Easier flexes are better for beginners who still need plenty of foot movement. Stiff flex boots are favoured by experts who demand control and power from their boots.
Backstay: The hind part of the boot, responsible for a lot of the power and transition in a boot. It’s essentially the spinal cord of the boot.
Cuff: The cuff, or articulating cuff, is the joint between your foot and your ankle. It allows independent movement in the two sections.
Outsole: This is the bottom of the boot, directly in contact with your board.
Different Snowboard Boot Styles
If you're a beginner, we want to steer you in the right direction, but it requires that you understand the styles available.
If you know what type of ride you want (downhill riding, freestyle…etc.), we can direct you. But there are styles that can accommodate those who want to try out a bit of everything.
One bit of advice though: As a beginner, if you make a slight error, you could end up catching an edge (of your board) and taking a tumble, sometimes even being flipped over. No matter what style of boot you choose, aim for a really soft flex. That way, when you mess up (and it will happen), you’ll have a freedom to make that mistake without the board punishing you for it.
Start here if you’re unclear where you want to ride. The all-mountain style boot is perfect for downhill runs where all you’re doing is turning back and forth. It’s also ideal for jumps and parks with all those twists, landings, and jostles.
This style of boot is like butter on your feet. Soft, flexible, and extremely forgiving on the crashes. If you’re taking to the park and pipes, stick with a freestyle boot. Otherwise, you’re going to have a bad time.
Freeride (for advanced riders)
This is a very stiff boot that's preferred by rider who love the deep snow of backcountry trails. If you're a more advanced snowboarder and are skilled enough to have control in your movements, the stiff freeride will respond better the way you want it to.
Snowboard boots are the often-neglected part of the snowboarder’s experience. But in our experience, you can’t spend enough time understanding how they work to improve your ride.
The right boot and binding combination will significantly better your day; just as not paying attention to it will make you throw in the towel too early.
Look after your foot, and they will look after you and your next shred. See you on the pipes.