No matter how much experience you have with snowboarding, you need to get quality gear. A good snowboard is essential, but it’s only one part of the complete setup. You need strong, reliable clothing items to make the most of your season and improve your skills on the mountain.
Boots are a critical component for every snowboarder. They play an important role in your ability to control your board and keep you comfortable. There are a large number of snowboard boots available and if you don’t know what to look for, it can be overwhelming. This article will break down some of the best snowboard boots on the market to help you decide which option makes the most sense for your individual needs.
- Quick Summary
- Who Should Get This?
- Best Snowboard Boots in 2020: What to Consider
- Best Snowboard Boots: Our Picks for 2020
- 1. Best Overall Snowboard Boots – Burton Swath Boa
- 2. Runner Up – Vans Aura Pro
- 3. Best Park/Freestyle Snowboard Boots – thirtytwo 86
- 4. Runner Up – DC Control
- 5. Best Budget Snowboard Boots – DC Phase
- 6. Runner Up – System APX
- 7. Best Backcountry Snowboard Boots – K2 Aspect
- 8. Best Women’s Snowboard Boots – thirtytwo TM-2
- Useful Tips & Resources
- Final Words
- The Burton Swath Boa and the Vans Auro Pro are two versatile snowboard boots that are sure to meet the needs of riders who like to explore a variety of different conditions.
- The thirtytwo 86 and DC Control are two of the best options for park boots and freestyle riders. They both have a softer flex and plenty of cushion. That allows for excellent performance no matter where you are in the park.
- The DC Phase and the System APX are two budget options that manage to give you great features despite their low price. These boots offer plenty of comfort and performance, and they are much more affordable than high-end options.
- Backcountry riding presents unique challenges. You want a boot that can live up to the task if you like to ride away from the resort. The K2 Aspect is one of the best backcountry snowboard boots.
- The thirtytwo TM-2 is an awesome model for female boarders. Women riders can use the other options on this list, but for a gender-specific option that will hold up under high-performance conditions, it’s hard to do better than the TM-2.
Who Should Get This?
Every snowboarder needs boots. Experienced riders know how important boots are to the riding experience. They make a huge difference in how you perform and feel out in the elements. You need to get a quality pair to go with your board or you might never be able to push your abilities to the next level. The boots listed here will meet the needs of many different riders, and they all come highly recommended for different reasons.
If you’re a beginner rider, you might want to try a few different types of boots out before renting them. You can rent snowboard boots at the resort instead of purchasing them straight away to get a feel for how they fit and help you become a better rider. Once you have a boot you like, you can then look back at this list for some suggested options.
Best Snowboard Boots in 2020: What to Consider
Flex is an important initial consideration when choosing a snowboard boot. The term refers to the amount of movement the material and construction of the boot allows for once you lace them up. Most boots are rated on a scale of 1 to 10 for flex with 1 being the softest (most flexible) and 10 being the stiffest (least flexible).
Your flex choice comes down to your ability level, preferred riding style, and personal preference. Softer boots are generally better for beginners because they are more comfortable and allow for easy maneuverability. Park riders usually like a softer boot as well. Stiffer boots are better suited for experienced riders who want high-end performance as well as increased power transfer from their legs to their board.
Flex tends to be in the middle range of the scale rather than on either end. A softer boot for the park or beginners sits between a 3 or 4 while a stiff, high-performance boot sits between a 7 or 9. Also, there is no universal standard here. Flex can vary from brand to brand.
Your preferred riding style also comes into play when deciding which snowboard boots to buy. This isn’t as big of a consideration if you’re a true beginner, but once you start to realize your riding habits and tendencies, you want to get boots to match. Experienced riders might want to get different boots for different styles and conditions as well.
All mountain boots are the most common. The style is for people who like to venture all over the mountain and ride through changing terrain. They are versatile and perfect for riders who need medium flex shoes that can perform in various conditions.
Freestyle boots are for riders who love to catch big airs, learn new tricks, and spend a good amount of time in the terrain park. They are durable, come with plenty of cushion, and are fairly soft for this style.
Freeriding boots are more about tackling big lines and exploring snowboarding away from the resort. They need to be high-performance in order to allow you to utilize your snowboard to its fullest capacity. Freeriders need a stiff boot that’s warm and durable.
Liners, the removable insert that goes inside the main shell of a snowboard boot, are another important snowboard boot aspect. They provide you with a lot of warmth and plenty of extra comfort. They come in standard options that have a more universal fit or can be customized to perfectly fit your foot.
Custom liners are common for experienced riders who want a precise fit. Such options are more expensive, and you will need the help of a boot fitter, but they do help you perform better on the mountain.
Thermo-formable liners will mold to the shape of your feet over time. As such, once these liners are broken in, they can be quite comfortable and provide a somewhat customized fit and feel. These are more affordable than fully custom options.
Standard liners have a basic universal fit that will work for most riders, especially beginners. Even though they don’t offer any sort of custom fit, that doesn’t mean the liners don’t perform well or offer decent comfort. They are also budget friendly.
You also need to keep your boot’s laces in mind. There are several different types of lacing styles used across the industry and each has slight variations in fit and function.
Standard laces are the most basic option. They act as the same lacing system you would find on any regular shoes. A snowboard boot with a standard lace will tighten up and secure by crossing the laces. These are cheap and easy to replace, but they can also loosen or come undone.
Boa laces are a more complex lacing system. This is a popular, innovative way to secure your feet into your boots and gets its name after the Boa Constrictor snake. These laces use a dial on the outside of the boot to both tighten and loosen. Some boots have separate dials for your ankle and foot area.
Quick laces are another option that works by using a single cord or pull tab. This is an easy-to-use option that allows you to easily tighten your boots with your gloves on. Like the Boa laces, some quick-lace boots have to separate laces to customize the fit of your ankle and foot independently from one another.
Even though performance should always be your main concern when choosing snowboard boots, looks also come into play. There are many different ways to customize your style, and many boots come in a range of colors to choose from. You might want to match your boots to the rest of your equipment or get a unique pattern that stands out in a crowded lift time.
It’s good to remember that almost all new snowboard boots will have a break-in period. This means that they might feel too tight or even be uncomfortable when you wear them out for a few days. This is normal and they will become better formed to your feet as time goes on. Your feet also need to get accustomed to the boots, which can cause some slight initial discomfort.
If your boots don’t feel right or are giving you considerable discomfort after 3 to 5 full days of riding, you should take them back to the purchaser and see what can be done to improve the fit and feel.
Best Snowboard Boots: Our Picks for 2020
1. Best Overall Snowboard Boots – Burton Swath Boa
One of the top all-around best snowboard boots is the Burton Swath Boa. This is a comfortable, durable, and lightweight option that comes from one of the top snowboard brands in the world. The boot has a sleek, minimal design that packs plenty of punch when it comes to performance. A solid, all-mountain boot that’s built to handle an array of conditions, the Swath is a top choice for many riders.
These boots feature a dual Boa lacing system to perfectly adjust both the ankle and foot areas independently. They also come with a medium flex that allows for responsive control and great power transfer from boot to board. An Imprint 3 liner will keep your feet warm and comfortable and the snow-proof internal gusset adding extra protection from the cold. The boots also feature ReBounce cushioning and sleeping bag reflective foil for extra comfort and warmth.
- Great all-mountain option
- Trusted brand name
- Boa lace system works well for a custom fit
- Imprint 3 liner
- Comfort enhanced by ReBounce cushioning
- Simple looks
2. Runner Up – Vans Aura Pro
Another great option is the Vans Aura Pro. This boot can handle a little bit of everything, and it looks great while doing it. The Auro Pro combines high-performance quality and design with a sleek modern look to give you the best of both worlds. This is another comfortable-but-versatile option that will meet and exceed the needs of any average rider.
These boots are comfortable due to the dual-Boa lace system that allows you to subtly adjust both the ankle and foot. A custom slide guide heel enhances performance by keeping your foot in place to aid the response while carving. In addition, there is a thermoformable liner that plays a big role in both comfort and performance.
- Dual control Boa lacing
- Thermoformable liner
- Appealing looks and style
- Slide guide heel adds performance
- Very comfortable
- Leather around laces can fade
- Liner needs to be broken in
3. Best Park/Freestyle Snowboard Boots – thirtytwo 86
If you love to spend your snow days in the park, you need boots that love to be there too. The thirtytwo 86 boots are some of the best for park and freestyle riding, and they will add another element to help you perfect new tricks and stomp more landings. These boots also have a throwback look that will stand out anywhere on the mountain as well as a fully supportive fit that will increase your confidence to go big.
These boots come with a traditional lacing system on top of a performance rubber outsole that allows you to have comfort and support combined with vintage looks. The 3D molded tongue and built-in internal lacing makes for a solid fit, while a softer flex shell gives these boots the performance attributes park rats love. The Grip & Rib heel hold will keep your feet secure on all takeoffs and landings, while the extra traction on the sole helps you hike back up to do it again.
- Awesome park boot
- Throwback looks
- 3D molded tongue
- Soft flex
- Grip & Rib heel
- Comfortable and well-cushioned
- Not the most durable option
- Vintage looks not for everyone
4. Runner Up – DC Control
The DC Control is another great boot for park and freestyle riding. These boots manage to be well-cushioned and comfortable while still offering a soft flex with a still-solid response. The Boa H3 Closure System with two separate dials increases customization and makes it easy to find a right fit. This is a lightweight, flexy option that has a comfortable, modern design.
A Contact UNILITE rubber outsole provides added traction for controlling your board or climbing to perfect a new trick. The included liner gives the boots excellent performance and is made from a multi-layer construction to enhance comfort. An Impact S insole adds to the cushion and this really helps when you want to go huge. These boots stand out in the park, but are versatile enough to venture to other places.
- Versatile, park-leaning flex rating
- Impact S insole with Swedish massage bumps
- Contact UNILITE Outsole
- Dual-zone Boa lacing
- Can run cold
- Not a great beginner boot
5. Best Budget Snowboard Boots – DC Phase
Not all high-quality snowboard boots cost a ton of money. The DC Phase is a great budget option that manages to be affordable without compromising much in the way of performance. These boots have a simple design that looks similar to the sneakers the brand offers. If you like to skateboard or want a more relaxed design, you will love the way these look.
These boots come with a standard lace system on top of a lightweight Unilite Foundation outsole that’s quite durable and adds extra cushion where you need it most. These boots also feature a performance liner made of EVA memory foam surrounded by a layer of thermal-regulating fleece to increase warmth. You won’t get ultimate high-end performance out of these, but they will hold up for most other applications.
- Classic look
- Performance liner
- Lacks high-end performance
- Standard laces can loosen up fairly easily
6. Runner Up – System APX
The System APX is another good option for boarders on a budget. Even though these are cheap, they still offer plenty of comfort and performance in a way that consistently delivers well above their price tag. These boots are durable and come with a thermofit liner for a somewhat customized fit. They also feature reinforced traditional laces that stay tight. The 3-year warranty on manufacturers defects is icing on the cake.
- Thermofit liner
- Durable outsole
- Sizes can run small
- Lacks some high-ankle support
7. Best Backcountry Snowboard Boots – K2 Aspect
Backcountry riders will love everything that the K2 Aspect has to offer. These boots are extremely tough, stiff enough to perform at high levels for even the most aggressive riders, and offer plenty of warmth and grip to handle it all off-piste. They are intended to be used with split boards that have compatible step-in style bindings. Their grippy Vibram rubber outsole also aids in their traction.
These are not just for the casual boarder. They can handle the serious conditions that the backcountry calls for. They are made with durability in mind and are constructed with thick leather and reinforced lace attachments for those who like to adventure away from lift lines and lodges.
- Great backcountry boot
- Stiff flex for high performance
- Crampon compatible
- Tough and durable
- Ankle strap for added support
- Boa fit system
- Not for resort riding
- Designed for step-in bindings only
8. Best Women’s Snowboard Boots – thirtytwo TM-2
A great women’s specific snowboard boot is the thirtytwo TM-2. These boots are comfortable, stylish, and have plenty of performance-enhancing characteristics built-in. A dual Boa lacing system allows for customizable comfort while a performance rubber outsole adds cushion and provides plenty of grip. These boots have a minimal-but-modern look and are also available in a few color options to match your needs.
- Good women’s specific boot
- Boa lacing system
- Performance rubber outsole
- Several color options
- Not many, solid all-around
Useful Tips & Resources
The performance and quality of your snowboarding boots has a lot to do with how they fit. You can spend a ton of money on some of the high-end options listed here, but if you don’t have a proper fit, you won’t be able to utilize the boots as they are intended. Snowboard boots should be tight-but-comfortable with your toes just barely touching the front of the boot when they are fully laced up.
Beginners might want a more comfortable fit while intermediate to advanced riders should go for a tighter fit for increased performance. Also, remember that almost all boots have that initial break-in period I mentioned earlier in the article. Here are some more tips to help you learn how to properly size and fit your boots.
Good snowboard boots are a must for anyone, regardless of their abilities on the snow. Without quality boots, you simply won’t have as good of an experience on the mountain. If you’re an experienced rider and want to get the most performance out of your setup, you need high-quality boots.
The options listed here are some of the best boots available for a variety of needs and riding styles. As you get more familiar with snowboard boots, you might find that you have certain styles or preferences that you like in terms of comfort and performance. With all of the options out there, it’s easy to find the perfect boot for your needs.
What are your favorite snowboard boots? Are there any that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!