Boots should be considered as THE most important part of your equipment.
On average you will be wearing and riding in your boots in excess of 6 hrs a day. No matter how good your board and bindings are, if you feel any discomfort, rubbing, tightness, cold feet while riding, chances are you will not enjoy the sport, lack concentration and potentially ruin an expensive trip.
Everyone’s feet are different, it’s not just a case of foot size, you will also need to take the following into consideration:-
- Width of foot (wide or narrow)
- Instep (flat foot, low arch, high arch)
- Size of ankles (wide or narrow) - see heel lift options below
- What type of riding am I predominantly going to be doing ?
- Compatibility with bindings
- Do you have a preference on fastening option ?
Boots WILL feel fairly tight when new. In a good fitting boot your toes will gently touch the toecap, but you should be able to move your toes inside the boot.
Boots will need several days of riding for them to pack out properly and form to their true size.
DO’S and DON’TS
- Find a local snow sports shop and have your feet PROPERLY measured (take your prefered riding socks with you)
- Listen to staff recommendations based on your foot size and profile
- Try as many different brands as possible - this may mean visiting additional shops to try different brands ( Different outlets will stock different brands)
- Try half sizes above and below your usual size
- If you have already purchased Bindings, take these with you - Heel cup sizes and baseplate dimensions vary, check the boot fits the binding. Be prepared to change the binding if not suitable for your chosen boots.
- Once you think you have found a boot, you will need to fully fasten both boots and walk around, apply toe and heel weight transfer (as if you were riding) spend as much time as possible wearing them before purchase. Shops will understand, but don’t overstay your welcome.
- If the boots come with heat moldable inners - have this done in the shop (it’s usually free when purchasing boots)
- Select a boot based just on recommendations of a friend
- Select a boot based on Brand (having Burton bindings does not limit you to Burton Boots)
- Buy based on colour and style (they match my board so must be right!)
- Buy off the internet in sales, just because they have 50% off doesn’t make them right.
- Buy Second hand boots (some exceptions - see below)
- Assume all boot sizes are the same, and will be the same as your shoe size (different brand sizes can vary)
- Take advantage of shops free foot measuring and guidance, and then buy cheaper online (UK shops are gradually decreasing in numbers due to the pressure of internet sales - support your local shops)
How much should I spend ?
- Spend as much as you can afford on boots - comfort and fit are paramount.
- Many brands will offer different fastening options at different price points, select an option you are happy with. Remember a proper fitting boot should only need to be fastened and unfastened once a day.
- Boots can vary from £120 - £400 so choose wisely.
Why shouldn’t I buy secondhand Boots ?
- Boots used over a prolonged period will have moulded and packed out to the original owners feet - they WON’T be the same shape as your feet.
- Manufacturers can change fit and factory of manufacture, just because you’ve owned ‘Burton Rulers’ doesn’t mean all years of ‘Burton Rulers’ will fit.
When is it Okay to buy secondhand Boots ?
When they have only been used for a few hours (not packed out), and you KNOW they will fit (identical to boots you already own)
General Boot Characteristics
- Soft Boot - More forgiving - suited to freesyle / general Dome Use
- Med Range Boot - Middle ground slightly stiffer, but still forgiving - Dome and Mountain use
- Stiff Boot - More responsive, generally suited to controlled mountain riding and Carving
Heel Lift or Loose Fit when Riding.
- Don’t panic, this is common as new boots start to pack out.
- Ask your shop for Heel anchors (‘L’ shaped inserts that can be stuck to outside of the inner boot to help lock your ankle.
- Some manufacturers now provide adjustable heel slings that help reduce lift (can also be used in conjunction with the above)
- Try custom footbeds to help reduce the liner volume
Taking care of them
How long should boots last ?
Dependant on where, how often, type of riding and general care and maintenance.
- Try and dry the liners after every use, nothing worse than putting damp boots on the following morning - also helps keep the odour levels down.
- Resorts will generally have drying rooms or even wall mounted boot dryers (turn the toe upwards to ensure proper airflow)
- If the above is not available stand them upside down on a radiator (if very wet remove liners and dry both boot outer and inners)
- Don’t pack them away damp for prolonged period of time
- They WILL smell - respect your room mates - Use balconies overnight.
- Carry out visual checks on a regular basis, for fraying of laces, boas etc. unattended these may cause further damage later on.
- Apply waterproofing spray as necessary (Scotchgard or similar)
- Carry spare laces, Boa cords for those emergency repairs
See the other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)