When buying snowboard boots, most riders make a decision based on marketing statements and brand allegiances. This is an ineffective way to shop for boots. In this scenario, no attention is paid to rider style and what type of boot that style demands. While personal preference certainly plays a role (as does foot shape) in boot choice, generally speaking an all-mountain boot requires more stiffness than a freestyle boot; a splitboarding boot requires flex in some places, but a stiff sole to tackle anything that the mountain can throw at you. We break down the best boots, based on riding style, that you should have your eyes on this season.
All boot stiffness measurements are based on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the stiffest.
Best Freestyle Boot: Adidas had been flirting with entering the snowboard market for a number of years and they finally broke in during the 2013/2014 season. Their Samba Boot, based on the design of the über-classic Samba soccer shoe, hits all of the points that freestyle snowboarders are looking for — good style, good support in the ankle and a soft, forgiving flex for tweaking grabs.
Best All-Mountain Boot: Sliding your foot into the Ion is like slipping into a low-slung performance car except instead of carbon fiber bits and roaring horsepower, you have molded EVA and reflective heat foil — designed to reflect heat back up from the bottom of your foot. They also feature speed zone lacing, making it quick and easy to get just the right fit. The ropes for the speed zone laces are made by New England Ropes and come with a lifetime warranty.
1:1 Lasting: No
Boot Stiffness: 7
Pros who Ride It: Xavier de Le Rue
Best Backcountry/Splitboarding Boot: The XVe is the pro model boot of highly touted backcountry snowboarder Xavier de Le Rue. Deeluxe labels it an expedition boot on their website, and it certainly lives up to the name. The forefoot of the boot features a snow cover to protect your laces from gathering snow. It also features a plastic back welt, to help keep crampons secure, and a Vibram sole to give you traction no matter where the expedition takes you.
A little-known consideration when buying snowboard boots is the lasting that each company uses to produce their liners and shells. Some companies won’t make half-size shells — in other words, if you are a size 9.5, your snowboard boot will have a size 10 shell. Inside the larger shell, they put a liner with increased volume to take up the extra space in the larger shell. Over time, that extra volume (in the form of padding) packs out until your foot no longer fits and the boot feels too large. If you wear a half size, it’s best to get a boot with 1:1 lasting. Meaning if you’re a size 9.5 you get both a 9.5 liner and a 9.5 shell. This provides better fit and better wear over time.
1:1 Lasting: Yes
Boot Stiffness: 5
Pros who Ride It: Ikka Backstrom
Best Beginner Boot: Just because you’re a beginner doesn’t mean that you can’t have a high-performance and high-quality boot. DC’s Mutiny is just stiff enough to provide support where you need it while also being soft and forgiving when you’re linking your first S-turns. It also transitions well from beginner to intermediate for when you start gaining confidence and venture into the terrain park.
Best Time-Tested Favorite: ThirtyTwo claims the Lashed is the best-selling snowboard boot in the world. It’s definitely one of the most popular — and for good reason. The Lashed is a quality all-around boot with a comfortable fit that will perform well all over the mountain. Its price point also makes it a very accessible boot for many riders.
Editor’s Pick: Last year, Vans’ snowboard boot manufacturer shut down without warning, leaving them out of last year’s market. This year, Vans hasn’t missed a beat. Sharing much of the same DNA with the Andreas Wiig pro model from seasons past, the Infuse is a high-performance boot that will crush everything in its path. It features a traditional lace system with the addition of a Boa closure system to lock in your ankle.