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Snowboard Boots: How Should They Fit?

Posted May 3, 2018 @ 4:29pm | by Jack Worth

Jack Worth Ski Monster Boston

If you snowboard, you probably wear boots. Snowboard boots, specifically. You might have questions regarding how the boots should fit, which is perfect because this blog has questions too...and answers. 

  • ‘It’s really tough getting my foot in and out of the snowboard boot – is the boot too small?’

-Not necessarily. A well-fitting snowboard boot can definitely be difficult to put on and take off, especially at first. Just because it’s a bit of a struggle to get on/off does not mean it’s the wrong size. While snowboard boots can definitely be more comfortable, they can be much harder to put on than ski boots. Don’t worry though, as you wear the boot more the liner will pack out and it will get easier to take on and off. The first couple times will be the hardest.

Tips for putting on your snowboard boots:

  • Make sure your socks (wool or synthetic socks are best – no cotton!) are dry and not bunched up – if they’re bunched up they’re too big.
  • Open all the lacing systems on the boot. Lots of people will untie their laces or undo their Boa, but leave the inner liner of the boot laced up; there’s no way you’ll get the boot on with that still tight.
  • The ground is your friend, use it. Place the heel of the boot down on the floor, with the toe angled up at about a 45 degree angle, if you’re putting on your left boot, pull the tongue out to create space with your left hand, (Make sure you’re putting the left boot on your left foot) and then slide your foot in until your toes hit the footbed. Once your toes touch the footbed, drive your heel down and shift your weight forward to get into the boot. (see images below)

How to Put on Snowboard Boots Step 1How to Put on Snowboard Boots Step 2How to Put on Snowboard Boots Step 3

  • ‘My toes can feel the front of the boot and feel a bit cramped when I’m standing up straight, is that ok?’

-Yep that’s totally all right. When you first put the boot on your toes should feel the front of the boot, but not feel like they’re physically being curled back. The first thing you can do to make some room is to kick your heels back against the floor. Then once you get the boot laced up, drive your weight forward like you’re making a turn onto the toeside edge of your snowboard. When you’re actually snowboarding, you’re almost never standing up straight, and when you’re in an athletic position your toes should feel like they have a bit more space. If being comfortable when you’re standing around waiting for the lift is your main priority then this doesn’t apply, but for the boot to do its job when you’re snowboarding, it should feel pretty snug.


  • ‘Should I buy a boot in the same size as my sneaker size?’

-That can be a risky proposition. Most people (especially men) buy shoes that are bigger than the size of their foot. That makes sense for sneakers because you want to be comfortable walking around so it’s okay if there’s some space between your foot and the shoe. Sneakers though, aren’t asked to have to turn a 10-pound wooden plank attached to your feet. That’s why in a snowboard boot, you want to make sure the size of the boot is the same size as your foot, which means that your toes should be able to feel the front of the boot. For a lot of people that means that the size of their snowboard boots is smaller than their sneaker size.

  • ‘I can feel my heel lift up when I stand on my toes, is that a bad thing?’

-Everyone’s always concerned with ‘heel lift’ in snowboarding, and while you really want to make sure your heel is locked in, if you can feel your heel lift up when you stand up on your toes – that’s not a huge deal, you’re not doing calf raises on the hill – save that for the gym, Jonny ‘Drama’ Chase. (If you don’t get that joke, you need to watch Entourage) When you’re in your snowboard bindings, you won’t be able to lift your heels off the ground as easily. What you want to do is to keep the heel of your boot on the ground and then flex forward. If your heel is locked in place now, great. If it’s still lifting up then you’ll probably want something with a tighter heel pocket. Honestly though, minimizing heel lift is really just about being in the right size boots. If you get a ton of heel lift and the rest of the boot feels “comfortable” – your boots are probably just too big and possibly too soft.  


  • ‘I switched from skiing to snowboarding to be in more comfortable boots. How do I know if the boot is too big in the store?’

-The reason snowboard boots are more comfortable than ski boots is because the outer shell is a softer material, closer to what you would find in a regular pair of shoes rather than the hard plastic shell of a ski boot. The softer material will have more ‘give’ to it, which will feel more comfortable. However, if you feel your heel slipping around, too much room on the sides of your foot, or that your toes are way off the front the boot might be ‘too comfortable’ and you should go with a smaller size. Again, figure out your priorities; if you care about the boots being comfortable to walk around the bar in or dance on top of tables while you sabre champagne, then there is no ‘too comfortable’, but if you prioritize performance over après-ing then make sure your foot is still locked in place.

  • ‘I get a lot of pain underneath the arches of my foot after a day of riding, is something wrong with the boots?’

- George touched on this on our ski boot fitting blog.

The same holds true for snowboard boots, this isn't talked about much but skiing/snowboarding are sports that require a large amount of foot strength and ankle mobiilty, if that's something you're lacking then giving this a read will help you out a ton. 


  • ‘Is there a specific binding that my boots are going to be compatible with?’

-Unless you’re rocking Burton’s new Step-On Boots, your boots are going to be universally compatible with any kind of binding. Binding sizes are compatible with a range of boot sizes, so just make sure your boots are within the range your binding can accommodate, questions send us an email call us in Boston.


  • ‘How long are my snowboard boots going to last?’

- 20 to 100 Days... (Big range, I know) But honestly, it depends on a couple of factors, but the most relevant factor is going to be the quality of your boot liner. A nice snowboard boot is in the $300 – $450 range and will typically have a denser foam liner that will take a bit longer to break in, but it’ll also last a lot longer than a liner in a $160 snowboard boot. Keep in mind the liners pack out as well.  Like the fit though, finding the right boot is just about locating where you want to be on the spectrum of performance vs. comfort. If you want the most rippin’ snowboard setup, make sure you’re in the size you measure, are on the stiffer side (stiffer boots are more responsive) and north of $300. If you just want something comfortable that will be better for the walk from Vail Parking Garage to Vail Village, then a slightly bigger boot than your exact size and lower price point would work fine – see you at the bar.

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