Choosing the flex for snowboard boots will depend on a few things, namely:
- Your riding style (what you like to do on the mountain)
- Your ability level.
- Compatibility with snowboard and bindings
- Personal preference
Right, let’s look at each of these in more detail.
The following are the different recommended flex levels for a few different riding styles. Of course there will be some personal preference and these aren’t strict guidelines but are a good place to start.
Freestylers generally prefer softer flexing boots (just as they typically prefer softer flexing boards and bindings). Depending on the type of freestyle riding, will typically determine just how soft that flex should be.
The softer flex allows more give on landings and more movement for tweaking grabs, for butters and presses.
The flex for Freestylers could range anywhere from a soft flex (1 or 2 out of 10) to a medium-soft flex depending on your preference and purpose.
If you are doing more medium to large jumps then medium soft is probably better but if you tend to stick to butters, small jumps, presses, jibs etc then soft is usually preferable.
Though the term all-mountain is a broad one, typically all mountain riders prefer a medium flex. This typically ranges anywhere from a 4 out of 10 to a 7 out of 10.
Those all-mountaineers that prefer a more playful ride should go for a softer flexing boot and those that prefer a more aggressive ride should lean more towards a stiffer flex.
This will also depend on the terrain you prefer to ride and how much time you like to spend in the park and with freestyle riding in general vs how much time you spend on the groomers or in the backcountry.
If you prefer doing tricks as you ride the mountain, enjoy doing park laps from time to time and don’t enter the backcountry or more challenging or steep terrain too often then the softer side of medium will be more suitable to you. Probably a 4 or 5 out of 10.
On the other hand if you prefer to ride the steeper slopes, more tree runs, chutes and finding powder and the occasional trip into the backcountry then you should lean towards the stiffer side of medium. A flex of 6 or 7 out of 10 will be more suitable for you.
As a rule a stiffer flex will lead to greater response. Free-riders are usually looking for a maximum in response.
Freeriders/backcountry riders need a boot that will work well in powder, through tight spaces, down steep slopes and anything that the challenge of riding the backcountry, and challenging terrain within the resort, can throw at them.
Therefore a stiff flex rating is usually preferred by freeriders. This translates to a flex rating of around 8, 9 or 10 out of 10.
This section on ability level will focus on beginners and some intermediate riders. If you are a more advanced rider you have probably developed a riding style and can refer to the riding style section above.
As will be discussed below, it is a good idea to try to match the flex of your snowboard, bindings and boots so they are at least close to the same.
Since a medium-soft flex (3 or 4 out of 10) is a great flex for beginner bindings and beginner boards it is also the best choice for snowboard boots.
But the reason is not just to pair them with the bindings and board. A medium-soft flex is also great for beginners because the softer flexing boots will be more forgiving of errors and more comfortable – but still provide enough response for the purposes of a beginner.
Intermediate riders that haven’t really defined their style and aren’t sure what to go with in the riding style section above could also go with a medium-soft flex or a medium flex. But I wouldn’t go with anything stiffer than a 5 or 6 out of 10.
Compatibility with Snowboard and Bindings
As a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to match the flex of your boots to the flex of your bindings and the flex of your board.
This is of course not mandatory but it’s a good place to start.
At the very least it’s not typically a good idea to match a stiff flexing boot with a soft flexing board or a soft flexing boot with a stiff flexing board.
Taking all of that into account sometimes riders just have a flex feel that they prefer – maybe because it’s what they’re used to after having ridden for so long with that level of flex in their boots. And maybe for other reasons.
If you’ve tried boots with a different flex and keep going back to that personal preference or familiar feeling that’s all good.
But if you haven’t really tried anything different it might be worth experimenting to see if you can find a boot with an even better feeling flex for you. You might just find a new personal preference!
Some other things to Consider
Softer flexing boots are more forgiving and take less to ‘break in’. They will feel how they should fairly quickly.
Stiffer flexing boots on the other hand will take a bit longer to break in so you’ll need to be more patient with them at first. So don’t worry if they’re not perfect when you first ride them. They will take a bit of time to break in.
However, this shouldn’t influence your decision on flex. You flex should be decided based on your style and ability level as discussed above.
Thanks for Reading
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have learned more about snowboard boot flex so you can make a more informed snowboard boot choice.
Learn more about how to choose snowboarding boots (fit, lacing systems, shock absorption, traction etc) at the link below.
If you have any questions or comments you are very welcome to leave them in the comments section below. And if you liked this post please feel free to share it.
Photo Credits from Top
Photo by Snowticias.com [CC BY 2.0], via Flikr