Anatomy of a snowboard boot
The snowboard boot consists of four essential elements :
The shell is the outer part that protects the foot from shocks and ensures its support. The flex of a snowboard boot indicates the flexibility of the shell, which should guarantee the snowboarder maximum comfort while providing the necessary ankle support, especially in the event of a fall.
The thermoformable boot
Placed inside the shell, the liner plays an essential role in terms of thermal insulation and comfort. The thermoforming process consists of heating the liner beforehand with the sole heat of the foot so that it fits perfectly. Before buying, it is necessary to wear the snowboots by tightening the laces and then to take a few steps while the boots heat up and form on the foot, giving it a 100% guaranteed fit and optimum comfort.
The lacing system
The lacing system helps to effectively tighten the snowboard boots and thus ensure excellent foot support.
Both insoles: outer and inner
The outer soles serve to maintain good grip and sufficient adhesion on snow. They also guarantee the thermal insulation of your snowboard boots. The outer soles must be thick enough to adhere well to the board and provide perfect cushioning when landing jumps, especially big landings. The insoles also provide additional support for the foot in the boot.
Choosing the right size for your snowboard boots
Knowing the morphology of your foot arch and, more generally, the shape of your feet (length and width) is the key rule when choosing snowboard boots. To do this, simply take out the insoles and observe the positioning of the toes and heels, which should not protrude from the sole.
There is a risk of having narrow feet and curled toes. When trying on the shoe, the toes must be able to spread out correctly. Each size in centimetres corresponds to a size in Mondo Point (MD). It is usually no more than 1 cm above the actual size of the foot. For a foot of 25.7 cm, we generally recommend snow boots in size 26.5 MD. By removing the sole of the boot you can easily check whether the snowboard boots are the right size. Please note that a boot loses a little bit of foam thickness during use (about 0.5 cm). It is therefore preferable to choose snowboard boots that are slightly too small rather than too big.
Once the right size is found, there is still one essential step, continue trying on your snowboard boots while still standing upright and with your snowboard socks on. These socks are designed to limit friction and optimise comfort. The principle of the fitting consists of putting yourself in a situation and appreciating the feeling.
Check the fit of the snowboots on the foot
The toes should touch the shoe and be slightly in contact with it. To check if the boots fit, stand in flexion, resting on your shin (square front position) and spread your weight well over your toes. The toes should normally move backwards so that they no longer touch the toe of the boot.
If you exaggerate this position, your heel should not come off. If this is the case it is a sign that your shoe is too big. You risk rubbing the arch of your foot and losing your hold. If you feel your toes too far from the toe, try one size smaller. Remember that the foam loses about half a size with use, so snowboard boots may end up being a bit large. When you try on your pair of boots, don't hesitate to keep them on your feet for about fifteen minutes to feel whether or not the foam in the boot has gained space.
Tightening of the boot and the shoe
The slipper is tightened first, avoiding over-compressing the foot. It should only be wrapped around your foot so that it follows the contours of your foot. Then we move on to the outer tightening, that of the snowboots. Each boot must be held firmly as it would be on the slopes. The foot is positioned in the boot, well wedged at the heel. The toes must then be slightly in contact with the toe of the boot.
The comfort of the clamping system
There are three systems of tightening and lacing:
- Traditional lacing identical to the laces found on hiking or sports shoes. The laces are simple to tie and more precise in terms of tightening. The only drawback is that lacing takes longer to complete.
- The quick lacing system has two nylon laces that are tightened and locked by pulling on the upper part of the snowboots. This quick pull provides a secure fit.
- Lacing with a small wheel-like dial (Boa® system). Simply turn this dial clockwise to tighten the adjustment cables until the foot is ideally supported. This process allows you to put on and take off your shoes much more quickly. There are double or triple BOA® systems with adjustment cables for the upper and lower lining. To release the cable and remove the snowboard boots, simply pull the dial outwards.
The ankle joint and the different types of flex according to the level of practice
The ankle joint is another step to consider when choosing your snowboots. This part must be able to withstand the wear and tear for as long as possible while ensuring maximum flexibility in the practice of your activity and optimum support for the ankle in the event of a fall. When you turn your snowboard, you must be able to bend your knees above your toes.
Rigid flex or soft flex?
Flex represents the stiffness index, i.e. the resistance capacity of your snowboard boots. The lower the flex, the softer the snowboots will be and vice versa. Beginners who need maximum comfort and those who want to have fun in the snowpark will prefer a pair of boots with a low flex. It will be sufficient to turn and move the board.
Snowboard boots with low flex require less energy in turns and are more comfortable to wear. Experienced snowboarders, freestyle, jump and trick riders, speed and hardstyle enthusiasts will need to switch to a stiffer flex that will allow them to better control their board.
There is also an intermediate or medium flex that characterizes a large number of very versatile semi-rigid models. Ideal for off-piste freeriding because of the plurality it provides in foot movements, the intermediate flex can also be used in the snowpark. Apart from any consideration of level and type of practice, your height and weight must also be taken into account. At the same level of skill, a snowboarder who is taller or heavier than another will have to opt for stiffer snowboots if he wants to avoid them bending too much under effort and heavy landings.