Backcountry snowboarding can be absolutely amazing. From deep powder to endless expanses of wilderness, it’s an experience all snowboarders should have at some point. But you’ll need the best gear to venture outside of the resort, and boots are a big part of that.
I’ve been snowboarding for decades and have been a certified instructor over the last ten years. I’ve taken multiple trips into the backcountry and know what to look for in boots and other equipment built for rugged conditions and elite performance.
The DC Travis Rice Boa is my pick for the best backcountry snowboard boots. These are a high-performance boot that is built with difficult terrain and extreme weather conditions in mind.
In this post, I’ll show you several other backcountry boots that all come recommended when you want to venture outside of the resort boundaries.
Time to head uphill and get after it.
- Who Should Get This
- Top Backcountry Snowboard Boots
- How to Choose Snowboard Boots for Backcountry
- Useful Tips & Resources
- My Verdict
Who Should Get This
Backcountry snowboard boots are built for riders who like to venture far off into the wilds and ride where most others would never go. To pull this off, they need to meet the demands of the backcountry, both on long hikes in and steep, challenging lines back down.
The boots on this list are all designed with backcountry conditions in mind and are strong enough to meet the technical parameters of this snowboarding style.
If you don’t plan on venturing into the backcountry, you don’t need to get a backcountry-specific boot. Any snowboard boot can technically be used in the backcountry.
Top Backcountry Snowboard Boots
Here are my top picks for the best backcountry snowboard boots.
1. Best Overall: DC Travis Rice Boa
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: High-performance, very responsive, storm proof flaps, Aerotech Liner, articulated construction
- Flex: Stiff
- Lacing Style: Boa
- Cost: $$$
The DC Travis Rice Boa is my top choice for a backcountry snowboard boot. They are built to handle challenging and rugged terrain and will keep you warm in any weather condition.
The stiff flex is perfect for getting excellent response and power transfer when charging through big lines or fresh powder.
You’ll get serious support and comfort thanks to a Black Aerotech liner that is heat-moldable for a specialized fit. There’s also a layer of memory foam in the insole to help cushion your feet if you want to go big.
3M Thinsulate insulation will keep your feet warm, and this is further enhanced by a Stormproof Storm Flap that’s highly effective at keeping away snow and wind.
These boots are meant for aggressive and experienced riders, so they are not suitable for beginners.
2. Best Splitboarding: Nitro Incline TLS
- Best for: Splitboarding
- Key features: Comfortable, effective for uphill ascents, Hike n Ride system, grippy sole,
- Flex: Stiff
- Lacing Style: Twin lacing system
- Cost: $$$
The Nitro Incline TLS is the boot to use if you want to splitboard your way up into the backcountry. These boots are built specifically for that purpose and deliver going uphill and riding back down.
They come with a flex link design that gives you an even response throughout the ankle no matter how you are using the boot.
A Cloud 9 liner is exceptionally lightweight and has a Thermacell construction that is very comfortable from the start with a minimal break-in period.
A dual-density Ortholite footbed will keep your feet extremely comfortable for long days in the backcountry. At the same time, the Vibram Ecostep outsole provides you will the grip you need to charge straight up into remote locations.
These boots are warm but can be a little too much during the spring when conditions are warmer.
3. Best Women’s: K2 Haven
- Best for: Women
- Key features: Intuition liner, Boa coiler system, responsive, warm, Harshmellow dampening
- Flex: Medium
- Lacing Style: Boa
- Cost: $$
For a women’s specific backcountry boot, the K2 Haven takes the crown. These boots are solid overall and will provide you with quality and comfort in remote situations.
The Intuition liner is very comfortable and won’t pack out when putting the boots to the test. They have J-bars built-in for increased heel hold and ankle support.
An H4 Boa Coiler lacing system ensures that your fit stays tight, so you’ll get response and power transfer at all times.
Harshmellow dampening provides a lot of cushion and impact absorption for those big, jarring runs through the backcountry.
These are on the flexible side for a backcountry boot, which might not be a preference for some riders.
4. Best for Comfort: Burton Tourist
- Best for: Comfort
- Key features: Total Comfort Construction, adjustable flex, TuffCuff for ankle support, DryRide lining
- Flex: Adaptable
- Lacing Style:
- Cost: $$$$
If you want to be comfortable while exploring the backcountry, the Burton Tourist is a boot well worth checking out.
Total Comfort Construction means you will get a precise and comfortable fit right out of the box. This is designed to nearly get rid of any break-in period.
The adjustable flex is excellent for the backcountry because you can slip it into touring mode when heading uphill and then firm things back up when cruising back down.
DryRide lining keeps your feet warm and dry and helps wick moisture away while retaining body heat.
The downside to this impressive set of features is that you’re going to pay for it. The Tourist is an extremely expensive snowboard boot.
How to Choose Snowboard Boots for Backcountry
Be sure to take the following consideration into account when you look for backcountry boots.
Backcountry boots need to cover a lot of ground, both literally and figuratively. Once you’re out of bounds, you will be at the mercy of mother nature.
You need your backcountry snowboard boots to be both warm and breathable because you’re going to encounter some seriously cold conditions as well as generate a lot of body heat when you’re climbing or hiking to the top of your line.
The boots on this list are all made with high-quality materials that ensure warmth and comfort in changing temperatures.
Flex is another critical consideration in the backcountry because you want a stiff boot that’s flexible enough to move freely when you’re hiking.
A medium-stiff flex is standard for backcountry boots, but you might also find you have a personal preference in this regard.
I would steer away from a really soft or stiff boot when braving the backcountry. There’s a sweet spot to be on the lookout for here.
You will be doing quite a bit of hiking in the backcountry. Often, you’ll spend far more of your day off of your board than on it. This is just the nature of the backcountry, and it means that you need to have boots that function like, well, regular boots.
A sturdy and thick grip is essential for a backcountry boot because it will give you extra traction and stability when you’re hiking. You don’t want to slip. A nice tread/grip is crucial for safety and function.
You should always consider comfort when looking for a backcountry boot. You will spend more extended amounts of time in a backcountry boot than you would a resort one, which means any discomfort is going to be amplified.
A custom boot liner, or at least a heat-moldable one, is recommended for the many needs of the backcountry. It might cost a bit more, but it’s a must for additional comfort.
You should also make sure your boots are well broken in before taking them on big backcountry adventures. You will not be able to take off your boots or warm up inside while off-piste.
If you use boots that aren’t broken in, it could lead to some on-mountain issues that can turn your entire trip into a miserable experience.
Here are a few answers to some common questions about backcountry snowboarding.
Do you need special boots for backcountry snowboarding?
You can technically venture into the backcountry with any pair of quality snowboard boots. But boots that are backcountry-specific will give you better warmth, grip, and performance and are recommended if you want to ride this style often.
Can you use regular snowboard boots for backcountry snowboarding?
Yes. But if you plan on doing backcountry snowboarding more than a few times a season, I would suggest getting a dedicated pair of backcountry boots.
What do I need for backcountry snowboarding?
You should be prepared for any type of weather, and that means having layers. You also need to have avalanche safety gear in case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to have backcountry-specific snowboards and boots.
Useful Tips & Resources
Whenever you head into the backcountry, you need to pay extra attention to safety—both for yourself and anyone riding with you. A wrong decision or sketchy snow conditions can easily lead to an avalanche or injury.
If you don’t know proper backcountry safety, you should familiarize yourself with the topic before heading out.
Take a look at this video for some good tips and suggestions in the backcountry, as well as this avalanche safety guide from the National Ski Patrol.
Backcountry snowboarding is amazing. And if you want the best boots to help you take advantage of this riding style, the DC Travis Rice Boa is highly recommended. These are top-performing boots with extra features that cater to backcountry riding.
There is truly nothing quite like fresh powder turns in wild and remote locations. Having the best equipment can help you ride hard and stay safe when you dive into the backcountry.
The boots listed here are all great options that will help you easily hike uphill and then tear it up downhill when you reach the top.About Lorraine