Snowboarding is a popular activity that is enjoyed by seven million people each year. If you have ever been snowboarding, you know how exhilarating it can be, and you also understand how annoying it can be if your equipment is not working or fitting correctly.

If you notice that your snowboard boots are hurting your feet, there is a chance that they are not yet fully broken in. Another cause of foot pain from snowboard boots is an improper size or fit. In addition to size, different styles can make a difference in comfort and fit. 

In this article, you will learn why your snowboard boots may be hurting you as well as what you can do to remedy the problem. 

Why Would Snowboard Boots Hurt?

While it may not surprise that snowboard boots are uncomfortable or that they are hurting your feet, you may be wondering why this is happening. There are two reasons your boots may be hurting your feet: they are being broken in, or they are not fitted correctly.

When Boots are Broken In

Like any other shoes you may choose to wear, snowboard boots also need to be broken in. If you choose not to break your snowboard boots in before using them, you will experience very sore feet at the end of your snowboarding session. Unlike typical shoes, snowboard boots consist of a hard outer shell and moldable insoles. 

Breaking in Snowboard Boots

The process of breaking in snowboarding boots is not as simple as wearing them around the house for a few days or hours before hitting the slopes. It is, in fact, a process that needs to be carefully executed to ensure damage to the boots does not occur. However, most snowboard boots have what is referred to as a heat-molded insole, which makes breaking in quite easy if the proper steps are followed. 

Machine Heat Molding: Most stores that sell snowboard boots will also offer the choice of in-store heat molding. This process involves the heating of the liner before placing your foot in. After 15 minutes, the liner will take the shape of your foot. (Source: Snowboarding Profiles).

Molding at Home: This procedure is often chosen by individuals who are not rush to hit the slopes. To mold the liners at home, you have a couple of different options. Both options, while workable, will take time to work. Therefore, you need to plan if you are completing the process at home.

  • Put your ski socks on with the liners and boots and wear them around the house for several hours over a week or so. 
  • Use a hairdryer to heat the liner before placing your sock-covered feet in and standing stationary for 10 minutes or so. 

Both options will work to shape your liners; however, they may be a bit uncomfortable and will take longer than machine heating at the store. If you are using a hairdryer, you need to use caution to ensure you do not overheat the dryer or burn the inside of your liners. 

Boots with an Incorrect Fit

You have tried breaking the boots in, but they are still hurting your feet. If this is the case, there is a good chance they are not the proper fit for your feet. When choosing snowboard boots, you need to have three areas of your feet fitted for the boots. 


The fit of your snowboard boots should be firm around your heel. This means there should not be extra room for your heel to lift in your boot. While some movement is to be expected, it should be extremely minimal. (Source: Burton)


Finding the correct fit around your toes can be challenging. Your toes must have space to breathe in your boots. You do not want your toes to be touching the front of your snowboard boots. While this may seem cozy when you try the boots on, it will become increasingly painful as you use the boots. While you do not want an excessive amount of space, you want to ensure your toes barely touch the front of the boot. You may need to trim your toenails for comfort.


You will know that your snowboard boots fit well around the ankle if you can comfortably flex your foot forward in the boot. When flexing forward, you should not feel your foot wiggling or rising in the boot. The flex of your ankle should be controlled yet supported. (Source: Snowboard Selector)

You have checked all the boxes regarding the proper heel, toe, and ankle fit, but the boots are still incredibly uncomfortable. If this is the case, the boots you have chosen may not be a good choice for you.  It seems strange, but not all snowboard boots fit everyone the same way. 

How Do I Choose Boots?

If you are struggling to find the best boot for you, you may be wondering if there is a special formula for finding the perfect boot. Unfortunately, there is not a specific formula, but there are things you need to keep in mind when searching for boots. 

  • Ankle size
  • Heel size
  • Foot width
  • Arches

Just like choosing regular shoes, you will need to consider similar foot characteristics when choosing snowboard boots. 

Ankle and Heel Size:  Everyone has a different physiological makeup regarding the size of their frame. Some people have extremely skinny heels and ankles, while others have more stocky features. If you have skinny ankle and heel features, you will experience a significant amount of heel lift in your boots. This means you will need guidance with the best fitting boots or socks and lifts to go into your boot. 

Foot Width: The width of your foot can directly affect the fit of your snowboarding boots. You will need to find boots that comfortably fit around your heel and ankle while still supplying enough space for your toes to move in the front of the boot. 

Arches:  The arches of feet differ among individuals. It may be challenging to find snowboard boots that fit correctly around your entire foot if you have high arches. You may need to invest in custom-made snowboard boots if you cannot find a commercial brand that fits well. 

(Source: Backcountry)

Where Can I be Fitted?

If you go to an authorized snowboard equipment dealer, you will find the proper fit of the boot. However, if they cannot outfit you with the proper boot for your foot type, they may be able to direct you to a brand that would be appropriate. 

How do They Measure Your Feet?

When you go to a retailer to get fitted for snowboard boots, the first thing they will do is measure the length of your feet with a special measuring device called a Brannock foot measurer. (Source: Snow  Gear Tracker) This is an important step because it is quite common to have two different-sized feet.  The length of your feet will determine the total fit of the snowboard boot. 

Once the length of your feet is measured, it will be easier to find the proper boot. Although the length is super important, you must remember this is not the only determining factor in comfort. You will find as you try on boots, not all brands fit the same. If you have a distinct difference in the length of your feet, you may need to purchase two pairs of boots or have a pair custom-made. 

Final Thoughts

Snowboarding is a fun winter hobby that requires minimal equipment. The most important piece of equipment you will buy, except a snowboard, is your boots. To enjoy your time on the slopes, you will want to have properly fitted boots that keep your feet warm, dry, and comfortable after hours of recreation.  By purchasing boots with the proper fit or taking time to break them in, you will have cozy feet when you hit the slopes.