10 Best Snowboard Boots for Winter 2017

Here's the complete guide on finding the best snowboard boots for the season.

Snowboard boots should be your first consideration when purchasing new gear. They can make or break your riding experience, and have a massive effect on your ability to learn and progress.

Since every foot is different, boots that work for one person need not necessarily work for you. You’ll be wearing your boots day in and day out during the season, so it’s important to get a pair that will fit your particular needs. Pressure points can create painful blisters that will not only have a detrimental effect on your performance but could even end your day on the mountain prematurely. Furthermore, boot flex rating that doesn’t fit your riding style might not provide you with enough response and comfort to enable you to fulfill your maximum potential.

There is a huge variety of snowboard boots out there, with different manufacturers offering a flood of various features that can be somewhat overwhelming and confusing. Additionally, you’ll find that size charts for snowboard boots are often ambiguous, corresponding to the size of your regular shoes only roughly, at best.

Different materials, lacing systems, safety features, flex rating and other specifics of snowboard boot functionality can have a tremendous effect on your overall snowboarding experience. The price of snowboard boots does not necessarily correspond to their quality, and there is a ton of excellent boots out there with a very affordable price tag. As we’ve said already, what works for one person might not work for you, which is why it’s important to find a pair that suits your particular feet.

To help you find the boot that is perfect for you, we’ve prepared a snowboard boot buying guide that will explain the most important features you need to consider when buying snowboard boots. Additionally, what follows is a list of top ten most popular and affordable snowboard boots for women and men on the market.

Due to the comfortable and lightweight design of their boots, DC is currently the most popular manufacturer, which is why you’ll find that a large part of our list is populated by DC’s snowboard boots.

PictureNameFlex RatingPrice RangeOur Rating
DC Women’s Search Snowboard BootMedium (6/10)$$$4.5
DC Men’s Phase Snowboard BootMedium (5/10)$$$4.3
DC Karma 15 Snowboard BootMedium (5/10)$$$4.4
DC Men’s Scout Snowboard BootMedium (6/10)$$$4.4
Thirtytwo STW Boa Women’s Snowboard BootsMedium (4/10)$$$4.2
DC Men’s Judge Snowboard BootStiff (8/10)$$4.4
Thirty-two Groomer Fast Track Snowboard BootsSoft (3/10)$$4.6
Burton Men’s 104361 Moto BootSoft (3/10)$$4.6
Thirty-two Binary BOA W’s Snowboard BootMedium (5/10)$$$4.3
DC Men’s Mutiny Snowboard BootMedium (6/10)$$4.5

1. DC Women’s Search Snowboard Boot

DC Search are versatile all-mountain boots capable of handling cliff dives and hard turns in the backcountry, as well as fun-filled strides through the park. Their lacing system allows them to be tightened and adjusted in a heartbeat, without having to take your gloves off.

Their DC Red Liners provide the highest comfort and will wick away moisture, keeping your feet dry and warm, while molded 3D j-bars hold your heel safely in place. UniLite outsoles are extra lightweight and provide excellent impact cushioning for those big jumps.

A stylish appearance, comfortable inline and highly versatile features make DC’s Search some of the best snowboard boots out there. They’re the perfect choice for intermediate and advanced snowboarders looking for a first-rate all-mountain boot.

Features & Specifications:

Flex Rating Medium (6 of 10). These all-mountain boots are comfortable while providing enough stiffness for fast riding and hard turns. They are suited for both untracked backcountry terrain and groomed ski slopes, while not being too stiff for occasional rail or grab tricks in the terrain park.

Lacing System Boa® H3 Coiler Closure System. The Boa closure system allows for both the upper and lower sections to be easily tightened with one twist of the dial and loosened with a pull on the dial. The mechanism contains a coil so that it will feed excess cable back into the dial for quick tightening and closer fit.

Liner DC Red Liner. The DC Red Liner features heat-moldable, multi-density EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) foam, which will mold to your feet and provide a supportive fit without pressure points. The thermal regulating fleece-lined interior will wick away moisture, keeping your feet dry and warm.

The liner has a quick-pull lacing system and 3D molded j-bars that will keep your heel from lifting.

Inside the liners lies the EVA Snow Basic Insole, which features excellent impact absorption, comfort and a top layer made of moisture-wicking fabric.

Outsole UniLite™ Foundation Outsole. Made of 100% UniLite™, these are DC’s lightest outsoles. They provide durability, cushion the impact, smooth out vibration from choppy snow and heavily reduce the boots’ overall weight. The traction pattern is designed to allow for safe ascending and descending on slippery slopes.

True to the size chart

Boa® laces are simple to operate and will not cause pressure points

Warm and comfortable to wear

Very lightweight

Excellent impact cushioning

The boots stain easily, and the stains are somewhat difficult to clean off

The fabric on the outside gets quite wet. Although, the moisture won’t penetrate the boot

2. DC Men’s Phase Snowboard Boot

Reminiscent of DC’s skateboard shoes in both appearance and feel, Phase snowboard boots bring the same comfort to the mountain side.

Mid-level flex provides for a versatile boot that will perform well in the park and while cruising groomed ski slopes. Old-school lacing system allows you to adjust the tension however you want and alleviate any blister-causing pressure points. DC’s Red Liner will offer stability and comfort while keeping your feet dry and warm. UniLite soles act as excellent shock-absorbers for big jumps and provide plenty of traction when you need to sidestep uphill.

DC Phase boots are the perfect choice for an aspiring beginner or an intermediate all-mountain snowboarder looking to hone his skills.

Features & Specifications:

Flex Rating Medium (5 of 10). These are not firm nor soft; the DC Phase boots are an excellent choice for beginner to intermediate riders. These all-mountain boots will provide enough flexibility for park riding, without sacrificing much stability at higher speeds.

Lacing System Traditional Laces. The tried and true lacing system is reliable, easy to replace and provides a high degree of customization for alleviating pressure points.  A power strap section in the middle allows for vast tension separation between the upper zone and the forefoot zone, enabling you to firmly tighten your heel in place while leaving some breathing room for the rest of your foot.

Liner DC Red Liner. Like DC’s Search boots, Phase boots also feature the removable Red Liner. Moldable, fleece lined Red Liner will provide comfort and support while keeping your feet dry and warm. The double-layer EVA insoles will absorb impact and wick moisture away.

Outsole UniLite™ Foundation Outsole. The UniLite outsole is durable, exceptionally lightweight and great at cushioning the impact. An extra feature of the UniLite soles on DC’s Phase boots are ridges on the inner part of the boot, which provides added traction, making it less likely that you will slip while sidestepping on steep terrain.

The lacing system allows for a high degree of customization

Warm and comfortable to wear

Very lightweight

The outsoles provide excellent impact cushioning

Excellent traction while sidestepping

The size chart is a tad off, so you should go with half size or a whole size larger than your regular shoes

3. DC Karma 15 Snowboard Boot

DC Karma Snowboard boots are versatile, all-mountain boots, leaning towards the softer end of the flex spectrum. Their stylish appearance and soft flex make these boots feel as good as they look.  Fairly simple and durable design will offer years of reliable performance for a very affordable price.

Featuring DC’s Red Liner, these boots will provide your feet with warmth and comfort, while the EVA footbed and UniLite outsole do an excellent job of absorbing impact from hard landings. In spite of their low price tag, no sacrifices have been made for either comfort or performance, while their stylish appearance speaks for itself.

Somewhat softer than indicated by the manufacturer, DC Karma boots give you plenty of turning response, which makes them forgiving for rookie snowboarders, and an excellent choice for all-mountain riders who like to spend their afternoons in the park.

Features & Specifications:

Flex Rating Medium (5 of 10). Although labeled as a medium-flex all-mountain boot, DC’s Karma has a much softer feel to it, making it the perfect boot for a novice or park rider. As the speeds increase, the laces can be tightened to increase stiffness a bit.

Lacing System Traditional Laces. DC Karma’s traditional lacing system is simple and reliable. The locking lace hooks allow a different tension between the upper and lower part of the boot, effectively turning the traditional laces into a zonal system.

Liner DC Red Liner. Another DC boot is featuring the Red Liner. As with the previous models, comfort and perfect fit is the name of the game.

Outsole UniLite™ Foundation Outsole. The UniLite soles are durable, ridiculously lightweight and, along with the EVA insole, provide excellent impact cushioning.

The lacing system allows for a high degree of customization

Warm and comfortable to wear

Very lightweight

The outsoles provide excellent impact cushioning

Very affordable price

The boots are much smaller than indicated. You should choose a whole size or two whole sizes larger than your normal shoes

4. DC Men’s Scout Snowboard Boot

Another DC boot on our list and yet another boot featuring the Red Liner and UniLite soles. DC Scout Snowboard boots are exceptionally lightweight, even amongst their DC peers. A staple of DC footwear, the proprietary UniLite soles make these boots some of the lightest currently on the market, while at the same time providing plenty of impact cushioning.

A flex rating of six makes these boots responsive, but still soft, allowing for a highly versatile snowboard boot that is suited for any situation. As always, the j-bars on the Red Liner will hold your heel safely in place when making toeside turns, while fleece lining wicks moisture away and keeps your feet dry and comfortable.

With a fairly low price and remarkable versatility, DC’s Scout boots are perfect for any skill level, from a beginner to an expert all-mountain snowboarder.

Features & Specifications:

Flex Rating Medium (6 of 10). A bit more stiff than average, DC Scout is a versatile all-mountain boot that provides forward flex for good turn initiation, while maintaining enough stiffness for hard turns on groomed ski slopes or backcountry. Suitable for all levels, from beginner to an expert snowboarder.

Lacing System Boa® H3 Coiler Closure System. Like DC’s Search boot, this model also features the Boa system. Containing a coil that will feed excess cable back into the dial, the Boa system makes tightening your boots a breeze. Just spin the dial, and you’re ready to go.

Liner DC Red Liner. A staple of DC’s snowboard boots, the moldable Red Liner will conform to the shape of your foot, providing comfort and warmth during long, cold days on the mountain.

Outsole UniLite™ Foundation Outsole. DC’s proprietary UniLite outsoles are exceptionally lightweight while providing excellent impact cushioning for hard landings.

Ridges on the inner side of the outsole will provide added traction if you need to sidestep on a steep slope.

Highly versatile

Boa® laces are simple to operate and will not cause pressure points

Warm and comfortable to wear

Particularly lightweight, even for a DC boot

Excellent impact cushioning

Some areas of the synthetic leather on the outer part of the boot have been known to peel

Dodgy size chart, as with many snowboard boots. Try half size or a whole size larger than your regular shoes

5. Thirtytwo STW Boa Women’s Snowboard Boots

32 STW snowboard boots are all about comfort. Their heat-moldable liners and STI Evolution Foam™ Outsoles make these some of the most comfortable and lightweight boots out there.

The single Boa® lacing system makes tightening your boots as simple as turning a dial, so there’s no need to waste time with lacing your boots on the parking lot. The liners offer out of the box comfort and can be heat molded for a super accurate, super comfortable fit. Boots are available in variants for men and women.

With a middle to soft flex rating, these all-mountain freestyle boots offer enough versatility for groomed ski-slopes and terrain parks, while high-density Evolution Foam Outsoles efficiently absorb impact from jumps or vibration from choppy snow.

32’s STW boots are suitable for most skill levels, from beginning snowboarders learning how to turn to experienced freestyle riders with a taste for jumps, tricks and aerials.

Features & Specifications:

Flex Rating Medium (4 of 10). Somewhat on the softer side, the 32 STW boots are versatile all-mountain boots, suitable for most skill levels, from beginner to advanced. However, softer flex and exceptionally light weight make these boots excel at freestyle snowboarding.

Lacing System Boa® Closure System. The single Boa lacing system allows you to tighten your boots in a matter of seconds, with no need for taking your gloves off. It can be adjusted very accurately and will not slip during the day.

Liner Intuition Level 1 Liner. 32’s Intuition Level 1 Liners are fully heated moldable, allowing them to perfectly match the shape of your feet using an artificial heat source. They are made of single density Intuition foam, which provides comfort, warmth and support, with no blister-causing pressure points.

Like DC’s Red Liner, Intuition Level 1 Liner also features a quick-pull lacing system and j-bars to hold your heels safely in place.

The footbed is made of EVA with a Sherpa fleece top sheet, providing warmth, comfort, and plenty of impact absorption.

Outsole STI Evolution Foam™ Outsole. High-Density Evolution Foam Outsoles are extremely lightweight and provide better cushioning than traditional foam materials. 32 boots with STI STI Evolution Foam™ outsoles are the lightest snowboard boots currently available. Light weight coupled with pristine impact absorption makes 32’s STW the perfect boot for freestyle snowboarding.

The aggressive traction pattern on the outsoles will provide excellent traction for most conditions you are likely to find yourself in.

Exceptionally comfortable

Extremely lightweight

Excellent shock absorption and traction on slippery snow

Boa® laces are simple to operate and will not cause pressure points

Significantly smaller than indicated. Go for a size and a half to two sizes larger than your regular shoes

6. DC Men’s Judge Snowboard Boot

DC’s Judge Snowboard Boots feature high performance and exceptional comfort. These freeride, all-mountain boots will provide excellent response for hard turns on ice show in the backcountry and plenty of cushioning for huge jumps and leaps off of cliffs.

The heat moldable Black Liner will snugly conform to your feet while keeping your feet dry and warm and your heel safely in place. Double Boa lacing system features separate lacing zones for the forefoot and upper part, allowing for a high degree of tension customization, and providing plenty of support for maximum energy transfer.

Although too stiff for a novice snowboarder, these comfortable and responsive boots are a pristine choice for intermediate and expert riders who like to try their luck on steep and dangerous slopes.

Features & Specifications:

Flex Rating Stiff (8 of 10). DC Judge is an excellent freeride, all-mountain boot. Stiff flex provides plenty of weight transfer for hard turns on both backcountry and groomed slopes. Perfect for experienced snowboarders looking for speed and precision.

A bit too stiff for rookie boarders, though.

Lacing System Boa® Focus Closure with H3 Coiler. The Double Boa lacing system features two separate dials for adjusting the forefoot and upper part of the boot. That allows for complete separation of tension between the two lacing zones, providing a highly customizable system that can be accurately adjusted for the perfect balance between comfort and support.

Additionally, the focus Boa system uses stainless steel retention cables to prevent corrosion and lessen wear and tear.

Liner DC Black Liner. DC’s Black Liner is made of multi-layered EVA heat moldable foam that can be molded using an artificial heat source to quickly and snuggly conform to your foot. The liner is tightened using a 360° Velcro power strap, which wraps around your foot, providing additional support for your heel and ankle.

Side parts of the liner feature lateral support beams and j-bars to eliminate heel lift and keep your heel in place when making toeside turns.

The heat of the Liners is regulated by the Aerotech Ventilation™ system, which pulls the moisture away from your foot while preventing cold air from entering.

Outsole Contact UniLite™ Rubber Outsole. The outsole is made of lightweight UniLite, with rubber areas on the toes and heel sections. The combination of UniLite and rubber sections adds durability and traction while retaining the exceptionally light weight characteristic of DC snowboard boots.

Double Boa lacing system allows for very precise tension customization

Durable outsole provides excellent traction and impact absorption

DC’s Black Liner is exceptionally comfortable

Somewhat smaller than indicated. Try half size or full size larger than your regular shoes

The boots are fantastic at first but tend to go soft relatively quickly. Depending on how often, and how hard, you ride, they probably won’t last more than 2 to 3 seasons for an average snowboarder

7. Thirty-two Groomer Fast Track Snowboard Boots

32 Groomer FT are versatile freestyle, all-mountain boots leaning heavily to the softer side of the flexibility spectrum. Their flexible shell provides comfort throughout the day and makes initiating and controlling turns much easier. These boots are available in variants for men and women.

Heat moldable Intuition Level 1 Liners will conform to the specific shape of your foot, while j-bars keep your heels safely in place to prevent that dreaded heel-lift. Dual quick-pull lacing system features separate tension zones for the forefoot and upper area, providing a high degree of customization and comfort.

The EVA and rubber outsoles are lightweight yet durable, and will nicely absorb impact while testing your skills in the park.

Comfortable and versatile, the 32 Groomer FT are the boots of choice for a novice snowboarder still learning the ropes.

Features & Specifications:

Flex Rating Soft (3 of 10). With a fairly soft flex, these boots are perfect for a novice snowboarder still learning to turn.

Lacing System Quick-Pull. Dual quick-pull lacing system tightens the forefoot and upper part of the boot with simple pulls on the knobs, which are then tucked away nicely behind the tongue of the boot. The two lacing zones are locked by pressing on knobs on either side of the upper part of the boot.

The system is simple and can be used with your gloves on, while the separate lacing zones allow for customization of tension and alleviating any pressure points.

Liner Intuition Level 1 Liner. Like 32’s STW, Groomer boots also feature the heat moldable Intuition Level 1 Liners. These liners are warm and comfortable and can be molded to conform to your feet. They feature quick-pull laces, j-bars, and contain EVA footbeds with Sherpa fleece lining to keep your feet dry and comfortable and absorb impact from hard landings.

Outsole Rubber Outsole With EVA Cushioning. The outsole has rubber in areas that contact the surface and EVA cushioning across the entire foot. That makes for a durable outsole, which remains lightweight and retains good impact absorption.  The aggressive traction pattern will make sure you don’t slip on icy snow.

Exceptionally comfortable

Extremely lightweight

Excellent shock absorption and traction on slippery snow

Dual quick-pull lacing system is simple to tighten and can be customized to alleviate pressure points

Smaller than indicated. Try half size or full size larger than your regular shoes

8. Burton Men’s 104361 Moto Boot

Burton’s Moto Boot is backed by the reputation of being the world’s best selling snowboard boot for 15 years. It is the boot of choice for anyone looking for a soft, comfortable boot in a decently affordable price range.

Speed Zone laces with a lifetime warranty feature separate lacing zones for the forefoot and upper part, providing substantial room for customization to eliminate any pressure points without having to take your gloves off. Heat-moldable Imprint™ 1 liners, along with Sleeping Bag Reflective Foil in the outsoles, will keep your feets warm even in the coldest winter conditions.

The DynoLite Soles keep the boots exceptionally lightweight without sacrificing cushioning or traction. They feature Shrinkage™ Technology, which will ensure you will never suffer from toe drag again or heel drag, regardless of the size of your feet.

This soft-flex beginner-friendly boot will be forgiving for novice snowboarders learning to turn, but remain responsive enough for cruising the groomed slopes as your skills progress. Intermediate freestyle riders will also appreciate its mellow flex and exceptional comfort.

Features & Specifications:

Flex Rating Soft (3 of 10). An all-mountain boot with a forgiving soft flex perfect for beginner snowboarders and freestyle riders. It is comfortable pretty much out of the box and doesn’t need to be ridden a lot to pack out.

Lacing System Speed Zone™ Lacing System. The double quick-pull lacing system features separate tension zones for the forefoot and upper part of the boot. That allows for super fast lacing and a custom fit. The knobs used to pull the laces are tucked away in pockets on either side of the boot.

The laces are made from New England Rope and feature a lifetime warranty.

Liner Imprint™ 1 Liner. Burton’s Imprint™ 1 liners are fully heated moldable and feature a quick-pull lacing system. J-bars on the sides will keep your heel from lifting for safety and comfort.

The liners contain the Level 1 Molded EVA Footbed, which is remarkably lightweight and excellent at absorbing impact.

Outsole Dynolite Outsole. The outsoles of Burton’s Moto boots are made entirely of a cushioning compound resistant to freezing temperatures and repeated impacts. The insides of the soles are covered with Sleeping Bag Reflective Foil, which reflects heat back at your feet, keeping them warm and comfortable in freezing conditions.

The Outsoles are EST® Optimized, which makes them a bit thinner, lowering your center of gravity and giving you a better feel of your board. Thanks to gel inserts, this does not sacrifice cushioning.

They also feature Shrinkage™ Footprint Reduction Technology, which makes the boots’ footprint a whole size smaller than the actual size. If you have bigger feet, this technology will prevent your toes or heels from dragging when making turns.

True to the size

Doesn’t need a lot of riding to pack out

Very warm and comfortable

Reduced footprint eliminates toe drag and heel drag

Excellent shock absorption

Dual quick-pull lacing system is simple to tighten and can be customized to alleviate pressure points

The soles don’t provide enough traction on icy snow

9. Thirty-two Binary BOA W’s Snowboard Boot

32’s Binary Boa is a highly versatile, highly comfortable snowboard boot suited for a large range of riding styles.

The exceptionally comfortable Intuition Level 2 Liner features a neoprene toe cap and keeps your feet securely in place. It is fully heated moldable so that it will conform to the shape of your feet for maximum comfort. Custom molded Level 2 EVA footbed features a heel cradle complete with arch support. It adds to the overall comfort of the boots, and will remarkably cushion hard landings.

Dual Boa lacing system is quick to operate, allowing you to fine-tune the pressure on your forefoot and upper sections separately. The boots can be tightened in a matter of seconds with no need to take your gloves off.

32 Binary Boa is the perfect for anyone looking for a comfortable boot that can handle hard turns on steep slopes, as well as fun afternoons in the terrain park.

Features & Specifications:

Flex Rating Medium (5 of 10). A medium flex makes the 32’s Binary Boa a highly versatile all-mountain boot capable of handling a wide variety of riding styles. It will provide enough response for hard turns, but remain soft enough for park riding.

Lacing System Dual Boa® Closure System. Dual Boa closure system features lacing zones for tension separation between the forefoot and upper part of the boot. Quick and easy to operate, with no need for taking your gloves off.

Liner Intuition Level 2 Liner. 32’s Intuition Level 2 Liner is an upgrade of the level 1 liner we’ve discussed previously. It features heat-moldable dual density intuition foam, which provides comfort and warmth to your feet. Integrated j-bars will hold your heel safely in place, and the liner contains pockets that can hold additional support elements if required.

The liners are closed with dual Velcro power straps and feature neoprene toe caps for added comfort.

The footbed is Level 2, and features an EVA molded heel cradle and arch support for comfort and cushioning.

Outsole STI Evolution Foam™ Outsole. The extremely lightweight STI Evolution Foam™ Outsole provides excellent cushioning for heavy impact.

Exceptionally comfortable

Highly versatile

Excellent shock absorption

Smaller than indicated. Try half size or full size larger than your regular shoes

10. DC Men’s Mutiny Snowboard Boot

Comfort is the focus with DC’s Mutiny Snowboard boots. Although their flex rating of six provides plenty of response for hard turns, Mutiny boots will feel like you’ve wrapped your feet in pillows. Highly versatile mid-flex makes for a boot suited for riding anywhere on the mountain.

The tried and true traditional lacing system provides for tension adjustability for a comfortable fit, free of any pressure points. Heat-moldable White Liner will perfectly conform to the shape of your feet while holding them safely in place. 3D molded footbed adds additional comfort to the boots and provides excellent cushioning for heavy impact.

Comfortable, warm and highly versatile, DC Mutiny Snowboard Boots are an excellent choice for all skill levels. From the novice snowboarder to a freestyle expert, everyone will appreciate the comfort and versatility offered by these boots.

Features & Specifications:

Flex Rating Medium (6 of 10). Medium flex rating makes DC’s Mutiny highly versatile all-mountain boots with a freestyle-oriented feel. It can handle groomed slopes, as well as tricks in the park.

Lacing System Traditional laces. Tried and true, the old school traditional lacing system allows for a high degree of customization to achieve the perfect fit. Power strap allows for tension separation between the forefoot and upper part.

Liner DC White Liner. DC’s white liner is a heat-moldable EVA liner, providing the perfect fit and comfort. It has external j-bars to keep your heels safely in place and is closed with a Velcro power strap.

Impact S 3D molded footbed inside the liner features a heel cradle and arch support for added comfort and impact cushioning.

Outsole Contact UniLite™  & Rubber Outsole. The outsole is made of UniLite, with rubber sections at the front and back. It is pristinely lightweight and shock absorbent while giving you plenty of traction for hiking on icy snow.

On top of the soles, inside the boots, is a sheet of Sleeping Bag Reflective Foil, which will reflect heat back at your feet, keeping them warm in cold conditions.

Highly versatile

Exceptionally comfortable and warm

Excellent shock absorption

Highly customizable lacing system

Smaller than indicated. Try half size or full size larger than your regular shoes

How to Choose the Perfect Snowboard Boot?

The boots should have a comfortable but snug fit, provide the right amount of flex to suit your riding style, cushion the impact from jumps and absorb vibration from the uneven show.

Here are the most important points you should consider when buying snowboard boots:

Flex

Boot flex is the most important factor to consider when choosing your snowboard boots. Although a point of personal preference, how stiff your boots roughly correspond to your riding style.

If you’re a freeride snowboarder, who often rides untracked backcountry terrain or steep slopes, you would want stiff boots that offer plenty of weight transfer and precision for hard turns on the icy show. However, if you prefer freestyle, park-oriented snowboarding, then maneuverability provided by softer boots will make your jumps and grab tricks much easier.

Manufacturers will often give a number rating for flex of the boot, ranging from 1 to 10, 1 being the softest and 10 the stiffest. Flex is grouped into three categories: stiff (8-10), medium-flex (4-7) and soft-flex (1-3).

You should note that the flex rating is largely a subjective evaluation by each brand, so boots with the same flex rating can vary in stiffness from one brand to the next.

Stiff – Boots on the stiff side will usually be labeled as freeride, all-mountain or backcountry. They provide little lateral flex and will transfer weight nicely to allow for an instant response while executing hard turns. They are the choice for more advanced riders looking for speed and precision.

Stiff boots will not be so forgiving of bad technique, so if you’re a novice snowboarder, you should choose softer boots.

Medium-Flex – Medium-flex boots fall in the middle between soft and stiff boots. They are a versatile option, as they offer enough flex for the occasional ride through the park while providing enough response for riding elsewhere. Snowboard boots labeled as all-mountain will often fall into this category since they can be used on any surface suited for snowboarding.

Most snowboarders are all-mountain riders, so most will choose boots somewhere in the medium-flex part of the stiffness spectrum. Novices should choose softer medium flex or soft-flex boots.

Soft-Flex – These boots are perfect for freestyle and park riders. They are usually more comfortable to wear and offer plenty of lateral mobility for rail tricks and grabs. Soft and forgiving of bad technique, they’re an excellent choice for new snowboarders who need flexibility when learning how to turn.

Soft-flex boots will not provide as much weight transfer when leaning into sharp turns, so if you plan on speeding down a steep slope, you should choose stiffer boots.

Lacing System

The lacing system on your snowboard boots is important, as it should hold your feet securely in place, while simultaneously comfortable and not create pressure points that can cause blisters.  It comes in three forms: traditional laces, quick-pull laces and Boa® laces. Some boots have a combination of different lacing systems, one type being for the liner and the other for the outer part of the boot.

The choice of the system is a point of personal preference since no system significantly outperforms the other. However, there are advantages and disadvantages of particular systems that you should consider when buying snowboard boots.

Traditional Laces – Traditional, sneaker style lacing is a tried and true system. By manually lacing your boots, you can fine tune the tension between forefoot and shin and eliminate blister-causing pressure points. If the laces break, they are easy to replace and can be bought in almost any ski shop.

As for the cons, they can’t be tightened with the gloves on, which can be rather harsh on your hands in cold winter weather. Additionally, traditional laces tend to loosen over time, requiring you to adjust them a few times a day.

Quick-Pull Laces – The quick pull system falls in between traditional laces and Boa® laces. It can be tightened by pulling a handle and locking the laces with some locking mechanism. It’s quicker and easier than the traditional system and can be tightened while wearing gloves.

Some boots will offer separate zones of lacing so that you can adjust the tightness of the forefoot part and the ankle independently. Quick-pull laces offer a degree of customization to help you avoid pressure points, although they’re not as adjustable as traditional laces.

The downside is that quick-pull laces can sometimes cause pressure points that can’t be avoided. Furthermore, if the laces break, this usually means your day on the mountain is over since they can’t be simply replaced on the spot.

Boa® Laces – Boa® laces are tightened by turning a dial that pulls on a thin cable. They are the most convenient of the three since they can be easily operated with one hand while wearing gloves. To release them, you simply press or pull the dial you used to tighten.

Boa® laces often come as a double or triple system, allowing the forefoot, ankle and liner to be adjusted separately.

In the case of a single-Boa® system, the cable tightens around your whole boot at once. That makes it difficult to alleviate any pressure points. Also, as with quick-pull laces, if the laces break, they can’t be easily replaced, which means that riding is over for that day.

Liner

The liner is the inner part of the boot, commonly made of light, moldable EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) foam. The liner provides cushioning, stability and insulation needed to ensure comfort during a long day of snowboarding. Liners can have extra features like ankle harnesses, stretch zones, heat reflecting materials, and so forth.

Snowboard boots can have either fixed or removable liners. Removable liners can be taken out of the boot for faster drying than fixed liners.

Liners fall into three basic categories: non-moldable (stock), moldable and heat-moldable.

Non-Moldable (Stock) Liners – Generic liners that will provide base stability. Sustained pressure will over time cause them to conform to the shape of your feet.

Moldable Liners – Moldable liners use your body heat to mold to your foot’s shape. This process takes a day or so of snowboarding.

Heat-Moldable Liners – Premium liners are molded using an artificial heat source to achieve a custom fit. Trained personnel best performs this process.

You should note that heat-moldable liners don’t necessarily need to be heat molded. You can use them straight out of the box and will provide your feet with plenty of comforts. If you don’t choose, get your liners heat-molded, they will behave exactly like stock liners, and conform to the shape of your feet eventually.

Snowboard boots ready for snowboarding.

Comfort and Fit

Snowboard boots should fit snuggly, but not to the point of causing pain to your feet. Most boots take a few days of riding to pack out, so they should be relatively tight when brand new.

Your toes should barely graze the boot’s toecap, and be able to wiggle inside the boot. If your toes feel squished inside the boot, you’ve got the wrong size and should choose bigger boots. That is most important because when you make toeside turns, you want your board, not your heels to lift.

As for the sizes, although they roughly correspond to the size of your regular shoes, size charts for snowboard boots can be quite inaccurate. Be mindful of the fact that the sizes for different brands, or even different models within the same brand, don’t fully correspond. Two pairs of boots of the same size may not be same sized.

The fit of the boots is the point that differentiates women’s, kids’ and men’s boots. Women’s boots are customized to specifics of the female anatomy, such as narrower heels and smaller footbeds, while kids’ boots have layered footbeds that can be peeled away as the foot grows. The majority of women’s snowboard boots will be in the soft to medium range.

In any case, you should try the boots on before taking them snowboarding and make sure your toes are comfortable and your heels don’t lift too much. If you follow these simple guidelines, you should have no problems with the comfort of your boots while snowboarding.

Appearance

Although not an aspect of functionality, appearance should be your final consideration when buying snowboard boots. Since you’ll be spending whole days wearing them, you might as well get some that will look cool, and with a plethora of options to choose from, this point should not pose a problem.

Keep in mind, however, that functionality should come first and appearance second.

Conclusion

Here you have all the information needed for choosing the best snowboard boots.

Whether you’re a novice snowboarder still learning the ropes, or an experienced backcountry enthusiast tempting faith on jagged, untracked mountainsides, there is an affordable boot that will match your style and provide comfort for your feet.

We’ve seen how important boots are for your performance, so take your time to study the different features and find a boot that will perfectly suit your particular feet. Once you’ve matched your new boots with the appropriate bindings and snowboard, you’ll be stoked at how well your gear performs once you try it out on the mountain.

So, take your time and mind the features we’ve discussed in our buying guide. If you stick to the guidelines, you should have no problem in finding a pair of snowboard boots that will suit your riding style and the shape of your feet.

Snowboard boots should be your first consideration when purchasing new gear.

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