When you go snowboarding, snowboard boots are one of the most essential things in your gear, second only to the snowboard itself. You want snowboard boots that are the perfect fit so that you can have a great time riding and avoid injury or discomfort.
You may not be sure what to look for if you are new to snowboarding, and you may be asking some of the questions below.
What Is Boot Size vs. Shoe Size?
You are probably familiar with standard shoe sizes. While snowboard boots may be the same measurements as your regular shoes, the size numbers may be different. Some snowboard boots prefer to use mondo point or mondo size.
“Mondo” literally means “world” – mondo point refers to a standardized worldwide size. It is based on a simple measurement of the foot in centimeters. Most snowboard boot size charts include the mondo point size along with standard US sizes.
How Do I Size My Snowboard Boots?
Finding out your size for snowboard boots is quite simple. Measure your feet.
One option is to use a tape measure to measure from the tip of your big toe to the back of your heel. The other option is to set a piece of paper against the wall and stand on it, with your heel tight against the wall. Draw a line with a pen or pencil at the end of your toe, then measure the paper to the line in centimeters to get your boot size.
Be aware that you need to measure both feet, as most people have some difference between their left and right feet. We recommend you choose a size that fits the smaller foot, as you can stretch a boot slightly to fit a larger foot but you cannot fit smaller feet into a larger boot.
How Do Snowboard Boots Fit?
You want to be comfortable, but you also want support. Snowboard boots should be snug but not tight. However, the interiors of snowboard boots have a packing that adjusts to your feet. When you first purchase boots, they may feel a little tight. After you wear them a few times, they will fit as expected.
How Do I Get the Best Fit?
- Make sure you have on the socks you will wear when riding. If the socks are not the same, the snowboard boots will not feel the same when you wear them later.
- Stand up and see where your toes end. They should only slightly touch the liner.
- The boots should be snug but neither tight nor loose.
- Make sure no parts are rubbing on the ankles or the tops of your feet.
- If your heel lifts, make sure it is less than a third of an inch (about ¾ of a cm or 7.5mm).
- Flex your knees to see if your toes move away from the boot’s front. They should only move slightly, and the same for your heels.
- Walk around in the boots for a while to make sure they are comfortable and not painful.
- The later in the day you try them on, the better the fit will be, because feet are largest at the end of the day.
Do Snowboard Boots Run Big?
Since sizes are based on actual measurements, snowboard boots don’t run big, but if you convert your regular shoe size to the equivalent mondo size, the boot may be too big. This is because most people tend to wear dress shoes or sneakers that are larger than their actual foot size.
Since we grow up in shoes slightly too big so we can wear them longer, it makes sense that many adults continue to do so. Snowboard boots need a more precise fit than sneakers due to how they work when you’re riding. Guiding a snowboard can be rough on the feet if they do not fit properly in the boots.
What Is Flex?
How far a snowboard boot will move at the ankle is called flex. Boots have three levels of flex: stiff, medium, and soft.
A stiff boot has almost no movement, which provides more control and power when riding. This is good for major turns and suitable for mountain terrain.
A medium flex snowboard boot moves a little but not a lot, which aids in tweaking maneuvers in the learning process.
A soft flex boot is good for freestyle and allows a lot more movement, which means less rigid control.
What About Lacing?
Keeping the snowboard boot in place and adjusting the fit are both done with the lacing. There are three commonly used systems to secure the boots: traditional, quick-pull, and BOA.
The traditional lacing system is just like what you use on your trainers or sneakers. They are popular both because they are familiar and because there is little that can break – and what can break (the laces) is inexpensive to replace.
The quick-pull system is built-in for many snowboard boots. It makes it easy to tighten by just pulling the ends. Some have it separated by top and bottom for better customization of fit. It is easy to use and fast, and you don’t have to take off your gloves to do it.
The BOA system uses dials to fit the boots perfectly to the rider’s feet. Though the company doesn’t say whether “BOA” stands for something, I think it’s a reasonable guess that it refers to constricting like the snake of the same name. The BOA system is easy and adjustable. This level of convenience does cost a little more than the others, but many riders say it is worth it.
What’s the Deal with the Liner?
The boot liner is usually made of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). It cushions, stabilizes, and insulates your feet. These can be removable or permanent, so you may want to decide which you prefer before purchasing.
If the liner is removable, you can check the fit by removing it and seeing how the outer boot fits. If you have 2 centimeters behind your heel with your toes at the front, it’s good. If you have less than 2cm, it’s not big enough, and if you have more, it’s too big. The sides of your feet shouldn’t touch the sides of the outer shell at all without the liner inside.
Snowboard Boot Sizing Tips
- Measure your feet. Having a precise measurement is the best way to get a perfect fit.
- Remember flex. It may not affect the size significantly, but it will affect the experience.
- Lacing allows a little bit of adjustment as well.
- Ordering online is convenient, but to be sure you get a size and fit that is perfect, you may want to visit a physical store to try the boots on first.
Standard Snowboard Boot Size Chart
|Mondo cm||Mondo in||US Men||US Women||US Children||Europe||UK|
Keep in mind that different brands of snowboard boots may have different sizes, though all mondo sizes should be the same since they are based on centimeters. Most brands will have their size chart available on their specific website or product listing. Still, whenever possible, you will probably want to consider trying on the boots to be certain they fit your foot the way you expect.
Snowboard Hole Patterns and Binding Compatibility
There are four traditional binding hole patterns, although two of them are rarer than they once were. These are known by short names: 2×4, 4×4, 3D (Burton), and Channel/EST (Burton). The usual method of connection is to attach a disk that connects the snowboard boot binder to the board, though the channel option connects to a binder directly without a disk.
The 2×4 layout is the most common. It has 2cm between adjacent holes lengthwise on the board and 4cm between the holes widthwise. It usually has 24 total holes in the board.
The 4×4 is similar, except it has 4cm between adjacent holes lengthwise as well as widthwise.
The 3D pattern is patented by Burton. It has eight holes set up in a double diamond shape, with four down the middle lengthwise and four in a square surrounding the middle two.
The channel version is made so an EST binding can be attached to it. Some other companies offer a compatible option, but the channel is a Burton exclusive system.
The only snowboarding boots that cannot be used with other bindings are the Step-On Boots made by Burton.
How Long Do Snowboard Boots Last?
The longevity of the snowboard boots will depend largely on the liner quality. Realistically, if it costs more, it’s likely to be better quality and longer-lasting.
The lowest quality boots may work for as little as 20 rides, while the best quality boots can last 100 or more rides. Since much depends on the liner, a pair of snowboard boots with removable liners may be a better option, since you can replace them when they get old and uncomfortable.
Getting the best snowboard boots for your ride is a great plan. It’s easy to find out your size, and remember to check the brand for any size adjustments before purchasing.
If possible, try on the snowboard boots and wear them for a while to verify their comfort and fit. Remember that even if they feel tight when you first put them on, they will probably not stay that way as the liners will mold to your feet.