Snowboarding is a fun and rewarding hobby, but it can quickly become an expensive hobby if you don’t know how to pick the right equipment. Between snowboards, bindings, helmets, clothes, and boots, you have to invest in lots of equipment. With all the necessary expenses, is it okay to skimp on the boots?
Expensive snowboard boots are worth it if they’re good, warm, supportive, fit your board, take care of your feet, and provide you with balance and stability for snowboarding. However, not all great boots have to be super expensive. Most mid-range boots work well for a snowboarder’s needs.
Because snowboarding boots can cost up to $600, we decided to examine whether these crazy expensive boots are worth the cost. This article will discuss that and give you some pointers on finding the right snowboard boots for you. It’ll also cover how much you should be spending on them.
What To Look For in Good Snowboard Boots
There are several different things to examine when looking for the best pair of snowboard boots, and the most important factors have nothing to do with style or appearance.
Let’s examine each factor in a little more detail.
Boot Size and Style
The way your snowboard boots fit your feet is one of the most important factors to examine. Ill-fitting snowboard boots can be more than uncomfortable, as well as dangerous. Snowboard boots that fit well should be snug but not too tight. Your toes should go right to the end of them.
They should also be relatively flat. You don’t want boots with a lot of lift in the heels, as they’ll throw off your bindings and give you an uneven, unbalanced stance that can hurt your overall boarding performance. If you have some odd foot characteristics, such as narrow or wide feet, skinny ankles or heels, or high arches, check out Back Country’s guide for boot solutions for specific foot characteristics.
Your snowboard boots shouldn’t just fit your feet; they also need to match your board. You don’t want your feet hanging too far off the edges of the board. That goes for both toes and heels. If you have large feet, you may not be able to help your boot size. However, if they’re hanging too far off either side of the board, you may have to adjust your board size to accommodate the larger boots.
The type of sole you need primarily depends on the area you spend most of your time snowboarding. For example, if you’re snowboarding in remote locations that require a lot of walking or hiking to get to them, you’ll want boots with firmer, rougher, and tougher soles that are durable and give you more traction when you’re trudging through the snow.
If you spend most of your time boarding and very little time walking to get to your spots, this isn’t as important. Furthermore, if you’re doing a lot of jumps, you’ll want soles that add a little more cushion for the landings. Soles with airbags or gel padding work well for boarders like this.
To some extent, the flexibility of the boots is up to you and your specific tastes. However, you don’t want your footwear to get too soft and flexible too fast. Once they do, they offer no support, and you’ll have to replace them. Stiff boots always last longer than ones with a lot of flex in them.
On the flip side, however, beginner snowboarders may need more flex and range of motion so they can move more freely and learn to control their boards. If you’re new to boarding, we’d say go midrange between fully flexible and super stiff. That should give you enough freedom of movement but won’t require you to replace your boots in a couple of weeks.
If you’re an experienced boarder, we’d recommend going with stiff boots because you already know how to move and don’t need the extra flexibility. Plus, you won’t have to replace your shoes as often.
Different snowboard boot brands have different lacing styles. There are plenty of options from which to choose. Check out several and find the style that works best for you. Back Country also has an incredibly helpful chart that outlines the different lacing styles.
There are three main categories of lacing systems:
- Speed Lace
- Boa (Single or Dual)
However, Back Country breaks them down even further into the following categories, including hybrids:
- One Dial
- Dual Dials
- Speed Zone
- Speed Lacer
- Lock Down
- Rapid Lace
- Super Lace
Their chart is awesome, and we’re not going to steal their thunder by quoting all their info here. So, if you want more information on the different lacing styles and which types of boots use them, go check out the Back Country chart. It has all the info you’ll need.
Snowboarders often don’t think about this when buying new boots because they assume all snowboarding boots will be warm. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Most of your mid-range to expensive boots will be warm, but the cheaper boots don’t always use the warmest materials.
We mention warmth for one simple reason: If you find a pair of snowboard boots that seem otherwise perfect for the unbelievable price of $30 to $50, check the materials. Chances are you’re going to freeze your feet off before your first downhill run.
How To Find the Right Snowboard Boots for You
Finding the right boots for you is a simple matter. Consider all the different aspects listed above and find the shoes that check as many boxes as possible. You’ll also need a pair of boots that fits within your budget and has the durability that matches the price.
There’s nothing worse than shelling out hundreds of dollars for a pair of boots only to find out you need to replace them three weeks later. The good news is that most boots that cost several hundreds of dollars shouldn’t tear up in a few weeks, but still, finding the balance between durability and price is important.
Are Expensive Snowboard Boots Worth It?
The honest answer to this question lies with you; we can’t answer it for you, not really. If you find a pair of Burton Ion Men’s Snowboard Boots that fit you like a dream, have the perfect amount of flex, are laced precisely right, and even look great, then spending top-tier prices on them may be worth it to you.
However, in our experience, we’ve never had to pay more than $400 for a pair of boots that are pretty near perfect, and $400 is quite a bit more than we usually spend. We usually keep ours between the $180 and $320 range, so for us, no, crazy expensive snowboard boots aren’t worth it.
We prefer to buy a good mid-range pair of boots and save our money to invest in new boards later on down the line. The less we spend on boots, the more money we have for other, more exciting things.
However, you don’t want to go too far in the other direction either. You don’t want to spend very little money on snowboard boots, thinking you’re getting a steal. Nine times out of ten, you aren’t. Actually, if you’re paying less than $120 to $150 on snowboard boots, then we’d almost say ten times out of ten, you aren’t getting a deal.
The boots are going to be low-quality and ill-fitting, and chances are you’ll have to replace them much sooner than you’d like. In the long run, you’ll be spending more on replacing low-quality boots than you would if you paid more upfront for ones that are well made.
How Much Should You Spend on Snowboard Boots?
As we’ve already mentioned, the sweet spot for us seems to be between $180 and $320, but we usually only get down to $180 if we get lucky and find a great sale. More often, we’re spending between $230 and $320. We like to stick to well-known brands that we’ve used before and still trust today. This means we’re usually buying one of three brands (all links are to the brands’ Amazon stores):
Their boots are well-made and fit our budget. They’re durable, and have plenty of options in terms of fit and flex. They also tend to last; we don’t have to replace them nearly as often as we’ve had to replace cheaper, lesser-known boot brands that we’ve caved and bought in the past.
If your budget will allow it and you want to go for the more high-end boots, more power to you. There are some excellent snowboard boots available in the $500 and $600 range. However, we can usually find great ones that work well with our feet for under $350.
There are excellent boots out there with high price tags, and we wouldn’t knock them at all. If you can afford them, then yes; some of the expensive boots are worth the money. That said, you don’t have to go straight to the $600 shelf to find high-quality snowboard boots that’ll work for you.
Worry less about price and more about the boots’ fit, feel, and flex. We’d be shocked if you couldn’t find the perfect pair for significantly less than $400. Just remember, don’t drop down too low. Boots under $120 aren’t usually worth what you pay for them.