Words by Tom Copsey
Finding the ultimate foot-boot romance is easier said than done. What’s most important is a good fit that works well with your feet, gives you proper response and generally supports your riding. We put together an overview of the different features you should look out for in a boot.
How to choose a new pair of boots
There’s a lot of choice out there for all kinds of riders and styles on the market. We’ve highlighted a few things you should consider before spending your euros on a new pair:
First up, you should feel as comfortable as possible in your boots; by that we don’t mean while hanging out at the aprés chugging down Jägerbombs but rather they should compliment your anatomy and style of riding. Beginners and people who mainly cruise the slopes will be happy with softer boots because they’re forgiving and work well at low speeds. They also give a good feel, so a lot of jibbers go for these too. Stiffer boots are ideal for when you need precise control, response and support at high speeds – things that mostly benefit more advanced riders.
As they directly surround your feet, these need to be comfortable and match your foot shape to avoid pressure points and enhance foothold. All liners will take the shape of your feet after a while; many models are heat moldable, which means they’re broken in by heating them before your very first ride. You can either do this at home in your oven or at the store. Footbeds are another way to individually tailor the boots to your feet. To get individual info on your boot model and adjustment options it’s best to ask directly at your local shop.
Some people favour the look and feel of a good old-fashioned lacing system, while others prefer the ease of speedlace or the dial-up Boa system. Speedlacing gives you the option to just pull the laces until you feel they’re tight enough and lock them off just there, and mostly you also have the option to independantly crank the upper and lower part of your boot. With Boa you turn a dial to tighten, and pop it open to exit. Boa also come in different parts of the boots like for example double- or triple Boa for a maximised custom fit. Another option is a combination of regular laces with Boa for an old-school look with improved heel hold.
A snug fit with the minimum amount of heel lift you can get is what you should look for. All boots fit differently, and as everyone’s feet are different too it pays to try a few on to see which work best for you. In store crank ‘em up how you would on the hill and your toes should just touch the liner when standing straight; bending into a riding position they should come slightly back – they will get more volume over time. Flexing onto your toes, ideally, you would have zero heel lift for maximum response, but a centimetre or so is acceptable.