Oh, the importance of snowboarding boots. Is it even possible to count the ways?
A nice pair of boots turns your day into a heavenly montage of cozy lines and cushy pow turns, underscored by warm, toasty feet. A crappy pair creates a horror sequence of frozen toes, cramped ankles, and smothered circulation — not to mention that aching band of ankle numbness known only to snowboarders, especially those who’ve ridden with cheap or ill-fitting boots.
Bottom line: It’s imperative your boots kick ass. And not only to the general population, but to you specifically — your foot shape, fit preference, and riding style. If you’re sending it off giant cliffs, for example, or slaying stacked pillow lines, you want something stiff enough to absorb those landings. If you’re lapping the park or buttering the groomers, you want flex that feels playful and offers solid connectivity. If you’re charging through choppy terrain or speeding over chunder, you want soles that can absorb chatter and smooth your ride. And if you’re hiking ridge lines or scurrying along icy traverses, you want traction you can trust with your life (literally).
Above all, you want a comfortable boot that’s cozy enough to wear in the lodge, over to après, out to the tailgate, and possibly even to bed. That said, there is an infinite number of boots on the market with many different styles, features, and technology. Here are 10 we thought blended these elements perfectly.
Ride The ’92
New for the ’16/’17 season is the Ride ’92, which packs all the features imaginable from the top of the food chain without the stiffness. Even the staunchest of believers in traditional laces should give the ’92 a look with its Tongue Tied Boa system, which utilizes two independent dials for a custom fit. The top dial adjusts the top, outer section of the boot, while the side dial connects to the tongue to operate the lower portion and pull your heel into the heel cup.
If you want an even more customized fit, the ’92 has a heat-moldable Intuition liner — just take it into the shop and you’ll walk out with a pair boots that are tailor-made for you. Michelin even provided the Peak Sole, which will keep you surefooted anytime you’re not strapped into your bindings.
The K2 Ender is one of those “best of both worlds” type of boots. On top of being playful — yet solid, lightweight, and supportive — it features a blend of traditional lacing on the outside with a Boa Conda on the inside. This combo lets you dial in an uber-customized fit, depending on your foot shape and preferred snugness. The inner lacing on the liner also allows you to pop the Boa when you’re on the chairlift, thus giving your feet a break in between rides.
K2’s Vibram outsole and Harshmellow midsole technologies fight together like soldiers in battle to destroy shock, delivering stellar dampening control. The heat-moldable Intuition liner boasts a soft-fleece interior for comfort and coziness, offering a form-fitting, mid-flex boot with an awesome feel. This is a great all-around boot for intermediate and advanced riders alike.
DC Travis Rice
Travis Rice is a legendary backcountry rider, so it’s all but given that his boot yearns for big lines. An award-winner and industry favorite, DC’s Travis Rice added traction beads under the heel and footbed, making its backcountry grip even grippier. Moreover, the boot’s asymmetrical design features a reduced footprint, meaning it allows wearers to lean deeper into edges without the risk of drag and catch. This model is known for having a comfy, broken-in feeling on Day 1, resulting in a soft, cozy feel while still maintaining a stiff, aggressive flex.
The double Boa — aka DC’s “H3 coiler platform “ — delivers micro-adjustability at three key contact points, including mid-shin, ankle, and top-of-foot. It’a equipped with dryness technology called Aerotech, which uses vents inserted into the shell and liner to suck out moisture while you ride, keeping your feet warmer and less prone to end-of-day stink. Add to that a storm flap overtop which prevents snow from piling up on your laces, and you’ve got a toasty, snug ride.
Calling all skaters and park rats: We’ve found the ultimate snowboarding boot for you. If you love the flexy feel of your everyday skating kicks, as well as its high-level responsiveness, the Adidas Samba is one of best boots on the market for this niche. Not only does it boast a playful feel, the Samba has a skate-inspired aesthetic which scores big on style points. Traditional laces offer flexibility and customization when dialing in your fit and the firm, while a 3D-molded tongue wraps your shin and leg, offering enhanced stability. Paired with the solid, heat-moldable liner and articulating technology in the ankle zone, your toe-side turns will feel sound and supported.
The drawback to all the extra connectivity is that the struggle’s real when it comes to chatter. These boots don’t offer awesome dampening features so avoid them if you’re someone who wants to plow through chunder or stomp big landings with total ease. However, if you’re looking for a pair of buttery, skate-like kicks that make you feel one with your boot and board, the Sambas are definitely worth checking out.
Head Six Boa
Just when you thought the Six Boa Focus — a longtime classic among shreddy, all-mountain riders — couldn’t get any better, Head gave its liner a makeover, upgrading it with Perfect Fit technology. This means the liner is not only heat-moldable but DIY to boot: Just take that bad boy out of the boot, stick it in your oven for a few minutes, stuff it back inside, and insert your foot to give it a shape. The custom fit gives the boot an out-of-the-box feel, which allows you to charge hard from the beginning without that achy, breaking-in-my-boots feel at the end of the day.
The double Boa dials in the ultra-perfect fit and the new liner has an adapting toe box as well as extra heel padding. All this combines to give you added blood flow, keeping your feet warm and cozy while warding off that “holy hell my toes are frozen” sensation.
Head designed the boot with 9 degrees of internal forward lean, so beginners may find this boot a bit too aggressive. That said, the mid-flex makes up for some of that aggressive feel and lends a degree of forgiveness. On top of the liner upgrade, it also revamped the sole with extra grip to let you scurry over sketchy side-terrain with confidence, or charge over chop with smoothness and ease. This is a fantastic boot for all-mountain riding, park shredding, or pretty much wherever you decide to take it on the hill.
Thirtytwo Jones MTB
If you’re looking for a basic snowboarding boot to cruise around in-bounds (or lap corduroy) this is probably not the boot you’re after. This boot, like the indomitable Jeremy Jones himself, lives for the backcountry — and the burly backcountry at that. Every feature of Thirtytwo’s Jones MTB boot yearns for advanced-level split-boarding or serious side country riding. The durable Vibram outsoles are crampon-compatible with an extra-bulky back lip meant to keep them from popping off in gnarly terrain. The soles mercilessly drown out chatter and feature a durable, rubber toe guard as well.
Furthermore, the Jones MTB features “Walk Mode” which allows you to loosen the top of the boot and lengthen your stride by up to 30 percent. This means faster hiking and more time for shredding. A sturdy cover on the laces prevents them from freezing in the cold and howling winds, adding icing on the cake of an already impressive set of boots. Although designed primarily for the backcountry, there’s no doubt hard-charging, big-sending resort riders will love this aggressive boot by Thirtytwo.