Whilst a lot of focus and attention is placed on the snowboard and bindings, the boots also play a crucial role – in some ways even more important – in a freestyle setup.
The Key Specs for Freestyle Boots
The following specs are what I have considered to be important for freestyle riders looking for boots. Some of the factors below are more important than others but all of them play a part in making for a great freestyle boot.
- Heel hold
- Shock Absorption
O.k. let’s take a look at some details for each of these.
Though I would recommend going with board and bindings that have a similar flex – and in the case of freestyle riding that is usually around a 3 or 4 out of 10 (1 being the softest and 10 being the stiffest) – the boots are something that some freestylers prefer to be a bit stiffer.
So I would say that the freestylers boot flex range would be anywhere from a 3 to 6 out of 10 – so anywhere from a soft-medium to a medium flex.
Freestyle riders that are more likely to engage in large jumps or ride in the pipe will likely go for something slightly stiffer – 5 to 6 out of 10 and freestylers who prefer more jibbing, butters, presses, small jumps and tricks etc might opt for something slightly softer.
Response isn’t as important to freestylers as it is for all-mountaineers or freeriders. However, some response is definitely needed.
However, a freestyler probably also doesn’t want their setup to be too responsive.
The flex of the boots will have the biggest impact on response but there are some other factors (such as heel hold).
I wouldn’t buy a freestyle boot based on its response personally – which is why I am generous when rating response in freestyle boot reviews – anything from a med-slow to medium response will get a 4 out of 5 – simply because this level of response is fine for a freestyle boot.
Also response is not given much weighting in my freestyle boot ratings – only contributes to 5 out of the 100 points.
No matter your style of riding you don’t want there to be too much delay (as little as possible) between your muscles doing their thing and the feet engaging the boots. Too much heel lift will result in a delay in this process.
For example, when executing an Ollie you want your board, bindings and boots to flex on your landing – but you don’t want there to be any delay in engaging the take-off of the Ollie (which might be the case if there is too much heel lift).
In addition to this too much heel lift can make riding all day hard work which adds to fatigue and may mean less laps of the park – and nobody wants that!
Freestyle riders are always air borne – which means they’re also always landing (damn gravity!). And all that landing can take its toll without good shock absorption.
Boots with good shock absorption make it way more comfortable landing jumps/tricks and hitting jibs. Not to mention making it easier on your body in the long term.
Boots that are more adjustable make them easier to get a better fit – which is going to be better all round – for both comfort and performance.
Particularly important is being able to adjust the inner and outer portions of the boot separately and being able to adjust the lower and upper portions of the boots separately.
Most high-end boots have this ability but some lower end boots won’t.
That adjustability can help with a better fit but can also be helpful for other things.
For example, a lot of freestyle riders like to have a good snug fit in their lower boot but a bit more give in the upper boot – so they might want have the top half looser than the bottom.
A traditional lacing system is fine for this – as are double or triple boa systems or speed lace systems that have separate tighteners for separate sections.
Single boa and single speed lace systems don’t allow this kind of adjustability.
This isn’t exclusively important to freestyle boots – and arguably not as important for freestyle boots as it is for all-mountain boots and freeride boots as often freestyle runs are shorter.
However, no one wants to be uncomfortable on the mountain!
Snowboard boots can be more or less comfortable depending on a number of factors:
- Fit: How well your boots fit will be the single most important factor for your comfort. If they fit well with little to no heel lift and they’re nice and snug with not much movement but no pressure points then they should feel comfortable.
- Padding in the sole: EVA padding or gel (or whatever a boot manufacturer puts into the sole to make it more cushy) is not only great for shock absorption when landing jumps – it’s also just nicer on the body for standing in all day.
- Footbed: A nice molded footbed that cups your feet will make for a better fit and also reduce fatigue in your feet.
- Liner: A nice plush liner that molds to your foot will have a big impact on your comfort.
- The right height boots: O.k. so this comes under fit but I though it deserved a special mention. For guys this isn’t too much of an issue but for women, whose calves tend to sit a bit lower, the wrong sized boots can lead to some mean calf bite. That’s why it’s important for women to go for a women’s specific boot – that and because in general women’s boots are designed differently to better fit the shape of a women’s foot.
Over to You
Thanks for reading and I hope this post has helped you out in terms of choosing freestyle snowboard boots.
If you have anything to add that you think I’ve missed or something you think is unimportant please feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below. All other comments and any questions very welcome also.
If you want you can also check out what I think are currently the top freestyle boots on the market.