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The Beginners Guide to Choosing Snowboarding Boots

February 02, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 137

As the connection between your body and board, snowboarding boots are one of the most important pieces of snowboarding kit to consider. Properly fitting boots will allow you to perform to your potential over longer periods of time, whereas ill-fitting boots will quickly become uncomfortable and painful reducing the amount of time you can spend out on the slopes. As such you should spend a fair amount of time researching and trying on a variety of boots to ensure you get the perfect fit for your foot size, riding style and budget.

Snowboard boots are available in two formats, soft boots and hard boots. Soft boots consist of an outer section and inner bladder with the outer typically constructed from leather and canvas uppers and a rubber sole. The inner bladder is designed to keep your feet warm, dry and comfortable, protecting it from heavy impacts and has dedicated lacing allowing you tighten it independently of the outer boot. Soft boots offer large amounts of flexibility in most directions and as such are ideal for both FreeRide and FreeStyle snowboarding. Hard boots resemble traditional ski boots with the outer being made of a hard plastic shell but with the addition of lateral ankle movement capabilities. The fit is adjusted by external buckles and they usually attach to the board via a plate binding which allows precise control and power transfer making them popular with Alpine Racers. Like soft boots, hard boots also have an inner bladder for comfort and a snug fit. Hard boots are not suitable for FreeStyle or FreeRide use as they do not offer the required flexibility.

In terms of fit, the most important factor of any snowboarding boot is the heel holding power. The boot needs to fit snugly around your ankle and hold your heel firmly down in the boot with no upward movement. When trying on snowboarding boots lace them up fully to completely eliminate any heel lift. If the boot is a proper fit its heel will lift off the ground when you stand on your tip toes as this indicates that your own heel is firmly held in place. If required there are devices available to get an even better fit. A butterfly is a device that wraps around your ankle to prevent heel lift, a tongue pad fits under the tongue of your boot and ankle straps wrap around the ankles of your boots with both pushing your heel down and back into the heel cup. The flex of the boot is also an important consideration and the amount of flex required varies according to your particular riding style. Freestyle boots tend to have increased flexibility due to the loose, molded inner liners and lower cut. Freeride boots on the other hand provide increased support due to their stiff upper and have a lace-up inner that can be used to adjust the flexibility. For those of you that favour Alpine Riding a hard boot is recommended to provide the support required for racing or carving on compacted snow.

Your boots work in combination with the bindings to ensure a secure and comfortable connection to the snowboard and not all boot and binding combinations work together. As such it is recommended that boots and bindings are fitted and purchased at the same time to ensure they work well together. Currently the most popular boot/binding combination is the soft boot and strap in/flow in binding. Soft boots work with any strap on or flow in bindings and this system offers flexibility and manoeuvrability as well as off board comfort. Step in bindings are less flexible as they must be used with step in boots of the same binding system and although they do offer greater ease of getting on and off the board, cheaper step in systems often provide less board control. Hard boots can also be used with plate lever bindings with this combination offering the most solid and direct control over your snowboard. With little padding, all your movements are directly transmitted to the board and for this reason the hard boots and plate lever binding combination is popular with FreeCarvers who require the highest level of control when executing high speed turns.

Overall, though whichever type of boots you opt for, your comfort should be the primary consideration. Uncomfortable boots will cut short your time on the slopes and reflect in your abilities to perform to your best. That said comfortable boots do not necessarily have to be the most expensive pair in the shop, find the pair that support and hold your heel and ankles securely and that you find the most comfortable. This will give you the best platform with which to hit the slopes and not have to retreat twenty minutes later with sore feet and dented pride.

Ian Meakin is a snowboarding and extreme sports enthusiast who writes for SurfSnow snowboarding clothing, surf wear and skate apparel website.

Source: EzineArticles
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