Proper fitting boots and well selected bindings are essential for a good ride. Boots and bindings come in both male and female specific designs and fit.
Let's start with bindings. Bindings are your connection to your board, and without a proper fit, you won't be able to snowboard to the best of your ability. You may have taken the time to research and review snowboards, so take the time in finding the most appropriate binding for you.
There are some main points to look at when purchasing snowboard bindings.
Snowboard bindings come in different sizes. You want to make sure your boot fits snugly in the binding, or you won't have great control of your board. Bindings come in small, medium or large. Each manufacturer will have a fitting guide to aid in choosing the right binding size for your boot but aim to be near the middle of the range of sizes they offer. If a binding comes in UK6-9 then a 7 or 8 shoe size would fit perfect allowing easy entry but still locking you down well in to the binding.
Most snowboard bindings come with a disc insert to screw into your board which is composed of four screw holes. This is a standard binding set up, and can be used with most boards. However, be aware that Burton bindings are a little bit different. Their Non-EST line of bindings come with interchangeable discs to allow them to fit all other brands of Board. The biggest thing to look out for however is the Burton EST binding set up. The EST binding will only fit with a Burton EST board for 2015 (other brands are getting on board with it for next season). What makes the EST set up unique is the channel system. This channel system gives you infinite options for your binding placement as well as allowing for more natural flex of the board under your feet as the binding has very little solid material under the sole of your boots.
Bindings are created with various materials to allow for flex, different combinations of plastic, aluminium,fibre glass or composite are used. Generally speaking softer bindings are easier to ride, (good for beginners, and those who enjoy riding and jibbing in the park) whereas stiffer bindings offer greater response for the rider that needs more control and advanced freeriders. However, a binding's flex can also be personal preference.
Generally every binding is created in a similar way. However different brands have little tweaks that make them unique. From the style of the highback, materials used, and closure systems.
Straps vary in terms of thickness and the amount of padding, higher the price, the more plush and comfortable the straps get. The majority of all bindings now have a toe strap that fits over the end of your boot. This gives a snugger fit.
The majority of bindings have the traditional entry system of two straps which are both tightened with ratchets. However, a few brands have a folding highback which allows you to step into the binding (like Flow and K2 Cinch - see above). A step in system is a faster entry, however it has some added weight, and the two-strap system may give you a snugger fit and a lighter feeling set up.
Certain models have a tool free adjustment setting on the bindings, so you don't need to carry around a screwdriver to make adjustment on the strap or highback.
Made of various materials the highback controls the heelside edge of your board and your forward lean. The highback can be adjusted according to your riding type and skill level. There are also a few bindings out that come with a removable highback for that surf-like feel. The high back is the main area that a bindings stiffness rating comes from along with the baseplate.
Baseplates are made out of various materials which will give you either the cushioning needed for your type of riding, or the stiffness to enable the boards response. Certain baseplates also have small amount of tilt for a more natural stance.
An ill-fitting boot will ruin a great day on the hill. Your boots are the closest thing to your body and a piece of kit you don't want to take lightly. Not only do they provide support and warmth, they give you greater control of the board, protect your ankles and link your body to your board. Some key things to look out for when buying a boot are fit and flex. We offer a full in-store fitting service which is free of charge and covers everything from sizing you up to moulding the liner using heat to the shape of your foot.
The stiffer your boots are, the more responsive at high speeds. Freeriders and high speed riders tend to wear a stiffer boot, whereas beginners, freestylers and jibbers lean towards the mid to softer boot.
If your snowboard boots don't fit right they will be doing you more harm than good. Snowboard boots should feel snug everywhere- around the heel, toe and instep. Your toes should lightly touch the front of the boot, but toes should also wiggle freely. When you stand up in the boot and lean forward, this should take the pressure off your toes. Make sure you are wearing snowboard socks as they were created for added comfort in your boots and really do work. If your heel is slipping out of the boot, or the boot is too loose around the ankle, try a different size or lacing style. Certain boots also are created for a wider or narrower foot.
It will take you a few days to get used to a boot, and they may feel quite stiff the first time you use them but all boots soften up or 'break in' after a few uses.
Heat moulded boot liners: nearly every snowboard boot liner is heat mouldable these days. This is where the liner is heated to approx 60 degrees and it activates the foam in the liner to soften and swell. You place your foot in to the boot and let it cool and set to the shape of your foot. This takes approx 30 mins in-store and is always free of charge. (all boots can happily be used without this being done as the heat of your foot over a longer time period will shape the boot for you anyway - look at this service as an instant break in for your boots!)
Snowboard boot manufactures use tradition shoe sizing, however sizes vary from brand to brand, and you may find your boot size differs from your everyday shoe size. We recommend you get measured up at an established snowboard retailer. Ski retailers can also be good as their technical boot fitting knowledge transfers well to snowboard boots
The size of your boot can also affect the compatibility with your snowboard. If you are wearing a size 10.5 boot or higher you may have to choose a wider board.
Boots also come in different widths and different boots suit different foot shapes. We suggest getting a boot fit with one of our technicians, as they will make sure you are wearing the right sized boot, and best width for you.
When shopping for a snowboard boot, you will notice a number of different lacing styles available.
Standard lacing: Standard lacing is the traditional way of lacing your boot. Laces are easily replaced if they get damaged, and many prefer this traditional way of tightening up their boots.
Speed lacing: This is becoming a very popular option as it has evolved in to a system the really works as well as being fast. Brands such as Burton and 32's lead the way in the technology. Normally each lace acts independently of one another to tighten a different part of the boot.
Boa Lacing: This system utilises a dial to wind up the metal laces. It has been around for nearly 10 years now and is incredibly durable and comfortable. K2 use this system a lot and have boots with one, two or three boa systems on them controlling different parts of the boots lacing. The main advantage here is that it gives you very even pressure from the laces and is also very easy to use with your gloves on whilst on the mountain