The aim of this article is help you to learn how to choose the right size snowboard boots so that you can get the right fit for you.
As mentioned in the tips at the bottom of this page, it’s a good idea, more than any other snowboard gear, to try boots on in person if you can.
Even if you do try on in person it’s important to understand the fit that you should be looking for – and sales staff aren’t always that clued on with what to look out for, particularly if you are in a generic sports store that isn’t snowboard specific.
Let’s look at the specific things to look out for and we’ll take a look at some sizing tables later on too. To fit your snowboard boots right you need:
- The right length
- No pressure points
- Minimal heel lift
- The right width
To learn more about other things to look out for when choosing snowboard boots, including lacing system and flex, check out the link below.
The Right Length Boots
Choosing the right length (aka size) of snowboard boot is definitely important but do not assume that your snowboard boot size will be the same as your shoe size or that you should select the fit of your snowboard boot the same way as you would select your shoe fit.
Shoe sizes can fluctuate – there is some standard but there isn’t really a fixed standard. You might be a 9 and a half in one pair of shoes and a 10 in another.
Fortunately most snowboarding boots show sizes in not only traditional shoe sizes but also in a ‘mondo-print’ size. Mondo is essentially the length of your foot in either centimetres (cm) or millimetres (mm).
The mondo-print for a snowboard boot shows the size of foot that the boot was designed to fit. So if you have a 25cm foot and you see a boot with a mondo size of 25cm or 250mm then you know that the boot was designed to fit your length of foot.
So for example my foot is 27cm (270mm) so I should look for a boot that has a mondo size of 27cm or 270mm as that was the size that was designed to fit my foot. This translates to a snowboard boot size of a US Men’s 9. And this is pretty accurate – I usually fit into a size 9 or 9 1/2 snowboard boot whereas I’m usually always a size 10 in shoes.
As a rule of thumb your snowboard boot size will be half a size and up to a whole size smaller than your shoe size.
But more accurately you should measure your foot (you can do this at home, or using something like a brannock device in your snowboard shop or shoe store). See below for how to do this at home.
Once you have measured your foot compare it to the table below. Your foot length equals the mondo print. The table below shows foot sizes in inches & centimetres and translates those into snowboard boot sizes for US Men’s, US Women’s, UK & Europe.
|Foot length (cms)||Foot length (inches)||Men’s Boot Size (US)||Women’s Boot Size (US)||Euro Boot Size||UK Boot Size|
Measuring your feet at home
To measure the length of your feet, place your heel flat against a wall and measure along the floor from the wall to your big toe.
Alternatively, you can put your foot on a piece of paper and make a mark at each end of the foot and then take the measurement between the two marks.
The fit, or the feel, of your snowboard boot is not the same as you would fit your shoes.
Firstly when fitting shoes, at least this is what I have always been told, there should be about a thumb’s width gap between your toes and the end of your shoe. For snowboard boots your toes should just brush the end of the boot.
You definitely don’t want your toes crushed or having to bend to fit in the boot but they should touch when you’re standing up straight.
They should ideally just brush the edge or have as small a gap as possible when you are standing up straight. As you bend your knees and lean forward, as if leaning into a turn your toes will come back slightly from the edge.
Getting a boot with a mondo size the same as your foot size should get you really close or bang on.
Also everything should feel snugly wrapped around your foot. It shouldn’t feel too tight but you should be able to feel the boot around your foot and it should feel secure (see also heel lift below) but without any pressure points.
Another important point is to make sure that there aren’t any pressure points. So, as well as getting your toes right up to the edge (but without bending) you don’t want to feel any uneven pressure anywhere.
The usual culprits for pressure points are on your ankles and the tops of your foot. There are a variety of foot shapes so one foot in a snowboard boot may have no pressure points but take that same boot and put it on another foot and there could be pressure points.
So never go with a boot just because your mate said it was a great boot – their foot may well be different to yours.
This is also why you should try several boots before you buy to get it right.
Finally there should be as little heel lift as possible.
To test this stand with your boots firmly done up how you would have them on the mountain and stand in your snowboarding stance. Bend slightly at the knees as you would if you were riding and lean up onto your toes (as you would during a toe side turn).
If as you do this your heels lift up too much inside the boot then those boots aren’t a good fit. It’s important that you don’t try to rip your heel up – just lean up onto your toes naturally.
It’s likely that there will be some heel lift – if there’s none then awesome! (so long as the rest of the fit is fine) – but try to keep that heel lift to 1cm (1/3 inch) or less. You’ll have to try and imagine this but you should be able to roughly feel how much heel lift there is. And you’ll be able to compare this between the different boots you try.
Having trouble with Heel Lift?
If you can’t seem to find boots with no heel lift, or at least lift less than 1cm (which can often be the case for people with skinny ankles or skinny heels) then there are a few things you can try.
- Try a boot with an ankle harness which is a harness that wraps around the ankle area of the inner boot (but is usually controllable from the outer-boot so you can re-tighten throughout the day if you need to).
- Try to find boots with J Bar inserts. These are inserts that go inside the liner and are designed to help lock your heel down.
- Choose a boot that has a heat-moldable liner – these liners are heated and then molded to your foot for a more customized fit. These should help to keep your heel at home as well as providing an all round more comfortable and more secure fit.
You should only worry about width if you have wide feet.
If you know or suspect you have wide feet then there are special wide boots that some brands, like Salomon, do.
Some Tips before Buying
The best way to really know how well a boot fits is to try it on in person. If it’s all possible I really suggest going into a store to try on your boots before you buy. Even if you are buying online – which is usually cheaper – you should try on in store first to make sure you get the right fit and then go back online.
It’s hard to know which boots will fit you best in terms of heel lift and pressure points if you don’t actually try them on.
What if There Aren’t any Stores in my area or I none of them have the Boot I want?
If you don’t have any way of trying before you buy then try to follow these guidelines as closely as possible and try to buy your boots well in advance of needing to use them. If they don’t fit right then you can send them back and have something else sent out (or a different size if that’s the issue).
All online snowboarding stores that I know of (certainly all the stores that I ever mention on this site) will have a return policy that will allow this. It’s just good business I think – otherwise people would be less willing to shop online – especially for something like boots where fit is important and difficult to tell without trying them on first.
In my opinion snowboards, bindings and outerwear can all be bought without actually physically encountering the product – so long as you do your research (this site has done a lot of that research for you to make it easier to choose) but boots are the one thing that I highly recommend you try on physically before you make a decision if it’s at all possible.
If that’s not possible for you that’s not a problem – the process could just be a little bit longer if you don’t get it right on the first try. The aim of this post is to help you as much as possible to get it right the first time.
If you are new to buying snowboard boots then that could have been a lot to take in, so here’s a summary of the key points.
- Measure your foot and go for a boot that has a mondo print the same as your shoe size (in cm or mm) – see the table above for conversions in inches, and shoe sizes.
- Your snowboard boot size will likely be a 1/2 to 1 size smaller than you regular shoe size
- Your toes should just brush the edge of the boot (but shouldn’t have to bend at all)
- The fit should be snug
- Watch out for pressure points particularly on the top of the foot and the ankles
- Make sure heel lift is minimal – as a rule of thumb no more than 1cm (1/3 inch)
- If you have wide feet you might want to try some wide foot specific boots
Over to You…..
Hopefully you are now armed with better knowledge about how to choose the right sized snowboard boots.
To learn more about other factors for choosing boots such as; the different lacing systems, compatability with board and bindings, what flex is best for you and other considerations depending on your riding style and ability, check out the post below.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments you are very welcome to leave them in the comments section below.