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Choosing the right type of snowboard boot can be tricky at the best of times. Snowboard boots are generally divided into type based on their intended usage. Park boots, resort or all-mountain boots, and backcountry specific boots are likely the three types you’ll encounter, and are categorised by their stiffness, their features, and their ability to perform in specific environments. Park boots will be more forgiving and less supportive, in order to offer better freedom of movement and comfort, while backcountry boots will offer maximum support and stiffness to deal with the strains of powder riding. All mountain boots will offer a mix of support and comfort, and are designed to ride everything.
Stiffness and flex within snowboard boots is one of the key factors, and affects not only how the boot feels on your foot, but also how the board reacts beneath your feet. A stiffer boot will provide more precise handling of the board as it translates even small movements, while a soft-flexing boot will be more forgiving, and will require more exaggerated movements to move the board. Stiff boots also offer better support to your ankles and feet, but restrict movement more, meaning more energy expenditure, but also more precise and responsive handling. A softer flexing boot will offer less support, more movement and mobility, and will create a loose and ‘surfy’ feel, perfect for park riding.
Lacing styles on snowboard boots not only alter convenience, but also affect how the boots feel. Traditional laces offer reliability, as well as the ability to customise the feel of the boots through what’s known as ‘lacing zones’. The lazing zones are divided into three segments: the foot, the ankle, and the shin. Being able to tighten one and loosen another for the perfect fit is what keeps traditional laces a choice for many top riders. BOA systems offer total convenience and the ability to dial in fit throughout the day without untying and retying laces. And with zonal lacing options now, too, BOA systems are becoming more and more popular. Some boots are opting for a combination BOA and traditional lace setup, which combines the customisability and aesthetic of a traditional lace with the convenience and rock-solid feel of a BOA.
Cushioning is key in snowboarding boots, and is created through a combination of outsole, midsole, and insole technology, as well as within the lining of the boot. The insole and liners are usually a separate insert which can be removed from the shell of the boot, and are made from heat-moldable foams which conform to the shape of your foot to offer a perfect fit, helping to reduce foot movement and impact and ‘chatter’. The midsole and outsole of boots is usually made from EVA foam, which is shorthand for closed cell ‘ethylene-vinyl acetate’ copolymer, a type of plastic foam with lots of trapped air pockets, which provide superior dampening for its weight and size. A mixture of foam densities and stiffnesses between the midsole and outsole of a boot helps to protect against both large and small impacts for continued performance all across the mountain.
When choosing the right snowboard boots, looking at both your current, and future riding style will be important. If you’re just starting out, then a soft-flexing pair of boots is the right choice. The extra cushioning and comfort offered will make your time on the slopes more enjoyable, and the forgiving flex will help cut down on edge-hooking, which can be painful when you first start out. Park riders or those looking to get creative on the mountain should also look for a softer flex, while those riding faster and more aggressively will need a stiffer flex to accommodate the energy they’re putting through the board. Backcountry riders should opt for a stiffer boot to make sure they have the most control and support while riding off the beaten path. But whatever you choose, you’re sure to find it here at Ridestore.