If you are a freerider and are looking for the right boots but not sure what to get then this page is for you. It will outline all of the key specs you need to know for choosing snowboard boots for freeriders.
Your boots are a very important part of your setup, and if you like your riding hard, fast and off the beaten track then it’s even more important. Boards and bindings get all the attention but boots are just as, if not more, important.
What are the Key Specs?
This page will cover the following.
- Reduced Footprint
- Heel Hold
- Shock Absorption
Some of these factors are more important for freeriders than others but all play some part in making up the best boot for freeriding.
Freeriders typically like a boot with a stiff or medium stiff flex. If you’re looking at a scale from 1-10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the stiffest, freeriders tend to go with anything from a 7/10 to a 10/10.
Most but not all boots will show a flex rating out of 10 (or sometimes out of 5). If not they will state something like medium-stiff or stiff.
This extra stiffness in the boot helps the boot to respond faster for sharper turns. The general rule is that the stiffer the boot the faster the response (and same applies to boards and bindings).
However, that stiffer flex also means they will be less forgiving of errors – so not for beginners – but then again if you are doing the things a freerider likes to do, then you probably aren’t a beginner!
Related: Snowboard Boot Flex
Freeriders need the most response out of any rider. Riding through narrow chutes, tree runs, interesting and unpredictable terrain means that you need to be able to turn sharply at a moment’s notice.
Whilst some responsibility for this lies with your board and bindings, the boots are the first point of contact to your body and any slowness in response from your boots will slow your whole set up down.
Response in your boots is mostly determined by a combination of flex and heel hold (and generally a proper fit) – though some boots with a softer flex can sometimes manage response that belies their softer flex.
Heel hold is all about securing your heel in place so that it doesn’t lift up inside the boot. This is important for all snowboarding boots but particularly so for freeride boots.
If there is any lift in your heels inside the boot it delays the engagement and slows down response.
It also makes the boots less predictable and will lead to more fatigue as you constantly fight for those turns.
You may not be able to eliminate heel lift altogether but if you can get it as minimal as possible it is going to be a big help as a freerider.
Reduced footprint, shrinkage, is when the outside of the boot is the equivalent of a smaller sized boot.
So, if you have a reduced footprint boot and they are a size 10 (fit a size 10 foot) the outersole may be the size of a size 9 ½ or a size 9 or sometimes even smaller depending on the amount of shrinkage.
What this does is allows you to ride a narrower board if you choose, which opens up more board choices.
More importantly, it also reduces the chance of boot drag. This is particularly important for freeriders who like doing hard carves which really push the limits of boot drag.
Check out my top 12 low profile snowboard boots list at the link below.
Shock absorption is important in freeride boots because it helps to dampen the ride when plowing through rough snow and ice, is nicer on your body when landing from jumps off lips and the likes, and just makes for a more comfortable ride.
Shock absorption isn’t as important as it would be for freestylers but some cushioning is still good.
There is a balance that needs to be reached between cushioning and traction (see below) though, so sometimes freeride boots will sacrifice a little bit of shock absorption for more traction.
That’s why I recommend getting bindings that have a good bit of shock absorption if you are a freerider, so that your boots don’t need as much.
As a freerider the chances are you are going to be doing a bit of hiking – and if you are going to be hiking then you’ll want a bit of traction on the soles of those boots.
It’s difficult to have a soft cushiony sole that is also really grippy so, as mentioned above, sometimes a little bit of shock absortption needs to be sacrificed so you can have more traction.
Some freeride boots manage to get a really good balance of shock absorption and traction.
This is important for any snowboard boot and freeride boots are no exception. You want enough adjustability in those boots to get the right fit and the right amount of pressure – and pressure that is even across the foot so there are no pressure points.
Fortunately, when it comes to freeriding most boots are pretty high-end. You need top performance in freeride boots. The downside is that they aren’t the cheapest but you should have no trouble finding really highly adjustable boots.
Which means you shouldn’t run into any single boa systems or speed lace systems that only have one thing to adjust the whole boot. There should be independent adjustments for inner boot and for the upper section and lower section of the outer boot.
Every rider wants comfort, freeriders included.
And in some ways it’s even more important for freeriders due to the pressure that is exerted from your feet, ankles and legs into the boot when you are riding more extreme terrain at a faster pace and with sharper turns.
Not only that, but often the runs are longer and if you are doing a fair bit of hiking then comfort becomes even more important.
So look for freeride boots that:
- have high quality plush liners
- fit really well and have no pressure points
- have some decent cushioning in the sole (keeping in mind the balance between that and traction)
- have highly adjustable lacing systems (the more you can adjust them the more likely you can get them fitting perfectly)
- have great heel hold (this will reduce fatigue)
- have a molded footbed (these are removable footbeds that wrap around your foot and support your arch
Right, so that was probably a lot of info to take in so here’s a summary of what to look out for when buying snowboard boots for freeriding.
- Flex: Medium stiff to stiff (7-10 out of 10)
- Heel hold: Superior – as good as you can get it
- Reduced Footprint: Not a deal breaker but if you can find something in reduced footprint then that’s a good option
- Shock absorption: Look for boots that have decent cushioning in the soles (balance with traction)
- Traction: Good traction is important for hiking
- Adjustability: Go with a good double boa, double speed lace or traditional lace boot. Forget single boa and single speed lace options.
- Comfort: Go for a nice plush liner, cushioning in the sole and boots with a molded foot-bed. Other factors such as the right fit, good heel hold and adjuatability also play a role in the comfort of the boot.
Over to You
Thanks for reading and I hope this post has helped you to learn the important specs to look out for when looking for boots for freeriding.
Any questions or comments are more than welcome in the comments section below. To learn more about making sure you get the right fit with your boots check out the link below.
Finally, check out my top 5 freeride boots. These are what I consider to be the 5 boots that do the best job at fitting all of specs above.