Your snowboard boots can make or break your day on the mountain. They need to be as comfortable as possible but also give you the control you need while shredding.
Your new snowboard boots should fit snugly without cutting the blood circulation off in your feet. It can be tricky to find the perfect balance, as snowboard boots can feel really tight. But can they be stretched?
Snowboard boots will naturally stretch and mold to the shape of your feet over time, especially with heat-moldable liners. You can customize the fit of some snowboard boots with the help of a snowboard boot specialist, who can stretch the liner of your snowboard boots to get the perfect fit.
In this article, I’ll go through how you can get your snowboard boots to fit you perfectly while giving you the right amount of control. I will also talk about the importance of getting the correct size snowboard boots in the first place.
Will My Snowboard Boots Stretch?
Many years ago, I went to buy a new pair of snowboard boots as my old ones didn’t provide the support I needed after they came undone, causing me to land on my face.
I tried a couple of pairs of snowboard boots in a local snowboard shop. One pair I tried was incredibly comfortable, and I decided they were the right boots as soon as I put my feet in them.
The liners, like many snowboard boots, were heat moldable, and this meant that they molded to the shape of my feet the more I wore them, making them more comfortable than ever.
They were like big slippers! However, after a few weeks, I realized that my feet were moving around inside the boots, which was becoming a bit disconcerting.
This is because snowboard boots pack out and stretch with use. My new snowboard boots had stretched slightly, reducing the amount of control I had when riding.
When I tried the boots on in the shop, I didn’t take into account the stretch; I was seduced by their comfort and plushness.
Why Did This Happen?
The thing is, you need a pair of snowboard boots to be comfortable on the mountain, not in the shop. The sales assistant in the shop wasn’t a qualified boot fitter.
Therefore, they didn’t measure my feet to ensure I got the perfect boots. Also, they didn’t go through the complete process of checking if my boots were the right size and shape for my feet.
So even though I bought some high-end snowboard boots, they soon became too big due to the natural stretch of using them.
Now, whenever I buy new snowboard boots, I make sure that I get proper advice from a qualified boot fitter to ensure that my snowboard boots will last longer and will provide me with enough comfort and control for the next two or three seasons.
Depending on the brand of snowboard boots and the model, they can take about 15 hours of riding in them before they break in, which causes them to stretch out half a size bigger.
A Note On Snowboard Boot Sizes
Each snowboard boot brand has its own sizing chart. If you buy snowboard boots online, you will cross reference your foot size with the chart.
This is a good starting point, but there’s always an element of luck involved. Like regular footwear, sizes vary between brands, so you can only be sure if your new snowboard boots will fit once they arrive.
The other thing about snowboard boots is that they are shaped differently, even if they are from the same brand.
For example, a boot fitter recommended that I ride with Burton Imperials, and I was doubtful about them, as I’ve worn Burtons in the past, and they have always been too wide for me.
But these snowboard boots taper to the shape of my feet pretty much perfectly.
Now I know I have found the best boots for my feet, so I can buy them again when it’s time for some new ones, as long as Burton doesn’t change the shape.
If you can, try on a pair of snowboard boots before you buy them. If you buy some online and they are not perfect, send them back. You really don’t want to put up with ill-fitting snowboard boots.
What Are Heat Moldable Liners?
Most higher-end snowboard boots have heat-moldable liners. This fantastic technology makes your snowboard boots much more comfortable and more quickly.
Heat moldable liners form to the shape of your feet while you ride. This takes a little time, but the more you wear them, whether at home, at work, or on the mountain, the more you can break your boots in.
However, you can get your boots molded to your feet using hot air in the snowboard shop. The heat makes your liner malleable, then you step inside your boots and stand in a snowboard position.
While you stand there, the liner cools down and molds around the shape of your feet, creating the perfect fit.
How Tight Should Snowboard Boots Feel?
A lot of new snowboarders complain that their snowboard boots feel too tight. But when you’re not experienced, deciding whether they are the perfect fit is challenging.
So how tight should your snowboard boots be?
When you try snowboard boots in a shop, they should have a snug fit, and your toes should slightly touch the front of the boot.
Make sure you lace them up tight, but not too tight, just like you would for a day of riding.
If they feel so tight, you feel immediate pain or constricted blood flow while standing in the shop; this is a bad sign, and you should ask for a different pair of boots.
If your feet feel numb or get pins and needles after wearing the boots for about half an hour, these boots are probably too small for you or the wrong shape for your feet.
When your snowboard boots are too tight, you can have problems with your circulation. This will cause lots of pain, almost like your feet are on fire.
It can also mean your feet are incredibly cold, causing discomfort and ruining your day on the mountain.
On top of this, when your boots are too tight, you can experience bruising and blisters. Which can prevent you from snowboarding for the rest of your trip.
How To Tell If Your Snowboard Boots Are Too Tight?
If your snowboard boots feel extremely tight, pull out the lining and put your foot inside the outer shell. If the top of your foot touches the shell under the laces, your boots are too small.
Another test to see if your boots are too tight is with the liner removed. Push your toe to the front of the boot and see if you can fit a finger behind your heel.
If you can’t, you should try a larger pair of snowboard boots; it may only require you to go up half a size.
When standing upright, it’s okay if your toes touch the front of your snowboard boots as long as they’re not in discomfort.
The best way to work out if your snowboard boots are the perfect fit is to stand in the snowboarding position with your knees bent.
Your heels shouldn’t move from the backs of the boots, and your toes shouldn’t slip backward or feel constricted.
Can You Make Snowboard Boots More Comfortable?
If you visit a proper snowboard boot fitter, you will be able to take advantage of their knowledge and experience. They will select the perfect pair of snowboard boots for you.
Depending on the selection of snowboard boots they have in stock and their knowledge, they shouldn’t have to tweak the fit of your snowboard boots.
They may recommend replacing the inner soles with ones that suit the shape of your feet better or heat-mold them, but not much else.
This is because they will measure your feet, look at their shape, and be able to select the right pair of snowboard boots for you.
However, there are cases where improvements can be made to ensure your feet are as comfortable as possible. Here are a few ways you can make your snowboard boots more comfortable.
1. Break In Your Boots As Much As Possible
As we already discussed, the first thing you need to do is wear the snowboard boots for a while so they naturally mold to the shape of your feet.
You can start by putting your snowboard boots on at home, and it’s best if they are at room temperature or warmer while you walk around flexing your feet and bending like you would if you were riding.
At this stage, it’s worth remembering that unless you have bought step-on/in boots and bindings, the high backs and straps of your bindings will hold your feet in the right position inside the boot.
2. Wear Thin Socks
When you wear your snowboard boots, the first few times during the breaking-in period, wear a single pair of thin socks.
Some people will wear two pairs of socks, but this is a bad idea because they bunch up and rub, causing blisters and bruises.
It’s actually best to wear snowboard-specific socks made from synthetic technical material. These socks offer a good level of warmth and flexibility and are shaped to stay in place while snowboarding.
Often people overlook their socks, but they are more important than you may realize. Your socks are your first point of contact with your snowboard.
If they are too thick, your inputs are not as efficient, and you’re isolated from valuable feedback coming through your snowboard.
Snowboard-specific socks are expensive, but they make a massive difference to your experience, control, and comfort.
It may be tempting to buy that pack of 5 ski socks for $10 online, but investing in a good pair of branded snowboard socks will make all the difference.
A friend of mine came to visit me and, after three days of riding, revealed that his ankles were in agony.
He showed me some nasty blisters from wearing rough woolen hiking socks, and he still refused to buy some proper socks, even though he’s a well-paid IT consultant.
3. Consider Custom Insoles
Sometimes your feet can go numb from too much pressure on them while snowboarding. One of the reasons for this could be that the standard insoles are not best suited to your feet.
Therefore, you should consider replacing them with some custom insoles. If you get the right ones, they will completely change the fit and feel of your snowboard boots.
This is another time when a good boot fitter can help; they will have a selection of heat moldable insoles that they will cut to the shape of your feet and boots, creating a much better fit and level of comfort.
4. Eliminate Pressure Points
Sometimes when you’re riding, you can feel hotspots or pressure points within your snowboard boots. These could be on your ankle bones, leg muscles, or even veins across the top of your feet.
However, you can use heat to target these areas to stretch out the liner, relieving the pressure. You can visit a boot fitter who will be able to do this for you.
But, if you don’t have a good boot fitter nearby, you can do it at home.
You can heat up the problem area with a hairdryer and work the softened-up liner with a smooth-ended stick. This will manipulate the liner, packing it out in the area which is causing discomfort.
A great example of this is that snowboarders with large calves often heat up the back of the liner to stretch it out and roll it to reduce excessive pressure on their calves.
I don’t recommend heat molding new snowboard boots yourself. This is because it can void their warranty, which can be disastrous if you break something while you’re poking a stick around inside them.
Also, it could be difficult to explain why your snowboard boots have melted to the manufacturer.
5. Fill Up Space Inside Your Snowboard Boots
Sometimes you may feel that your heel feels loose inside your snowboard boots, and when you put pressure on your toe edge, your heels can lift.
This is not great for your control, especially when the snow is choppy. You can rectify this problem by installing a small foam device between the liner and the outer part of your snowboard boots.
Sometimes, these banana-shaped foam pieces come with a new pair of snowboard boots, so check the box before throwing it away.
You wedge the foam bananas just above your heel, which helps to push your foot forward, holding it in place.
This isn’t usually a problem with new snowboard boots, but if you have older snowboard boots that have packed out over time, you can eliminate the heel lift with one of these foam bananas.
Will snowboard boots stretch? Absolutely! Your snowboard boots will be at their tightest as soon as they come out of the box.
Over time, they will stretch and pack out, creating more room inside. With the information I have given you above, you will be able to avoid the rookie mistakes I made back in the day.
There’s no substitute for a good snowboard boot fitter; they are worth their weight in gold.