Did you know that your new snowboard boots will pack out (stretch and expand) a little after wearing them? This is the little-known key to finding boots that fit well throughout the season. But how much do snowboard boots pack out?
Most snowboard boots will pack out about half a shoe size at most. It will take around 5 to 10 days of riding before they start to fully expand. This is very important to consider when deciding which size of boot to choose.
Let’s dive right into how to size your boots correctly and how to manage their pesky tendency to pack out. There are some hidden gem’s in this article so stick around!
Understanding Snowboard Boots
To understand why your snowboard boots pack out, you first need to understand the basic structure of your boots.
- Support: This is the part that determines the stiffness or flexibility of the boot. Softer, more flexible boots aren’t as responsive but are better for beginners and for doing tricks. Stiffer boots are more responsive and better for making turns.
- Lacing systems: There are several lacing systems available, including traditional, BOA, and quick pull. The BOA and quick-pull lacing systems are easier to navigate and can be managed even with a single gloved hand.
- Footbed and outsole: Footbeds and outsoles are generally made from EVA foam. The density of the footbed will vary depending on your needs. Outsoles may have additional support to absorb impact.
- Liner: This is the internal part of a snowboard boot. It is usually made with EVA foam and provides your feet with insulation, stability, and cushioning. It is generally removable, allowing you to air it out after a day spent on the slopes.
It is the liners in your snowboard boots that cause them to pack out!
Why Do Snowboard Boots Pack Out?
The weight of your foot and your natural body heat cause the liners in your snowboard boots to stretch. Your boots therefore mold to the shape of your feet, essentially creating a custom fit over time.
Most brands therefore offer a thicker liner than necessary, enable a nice snug wrap around fit once packed out.
What's The Most My Boots Will Pack Out?
As we’ve determined, the average snowboard boot will pack out by around half a shoe size. In a worst case scenario though, they may pack out by a full size. This only really happens in boots with particularly thick liners.
If you cram your feet into boots that are too small – you’ll notice more packing out – your feet will be squishing the liner!
Can You Make Your Boots Pack Out Quicker?
Some brands have heat moldable liners to reduce the time spent waiting for your boots to pack out.
This involves using very hot air to soften the EVA of the boot liner. This is done while the liner is inside the outer shell.
Once the EVA foam is determined to be soft enough, you will step inside the boot and move into a typical snowboarding position. This allows the liner to mold to the shape of your foot as it cools down.
Heat molding allows you to buy “pre-broken-in” boots. They’re commonly offered by higher-end brands, though many other brands have also started to explore the option.
What If They're Not Heat Moldable?
When wearing new boots, some snowboarders recommend consciously pushing out your toes more than is natural.
This can be done whether you are breaking-in your boots manually or using heat molding. This creates extra space and makes your snowboarding boots more comfortable.
When trying them on in store, press your toes forward. This gives an idea of how the boots may fit once they have packed out. Packed out boots will give an extra few millimetres in the toe.
The choice is ultimately yours – while some riders swear by this technique, others find a tighter fit gives them better control over their board.
These riders will often tell you to make sure your toes permamently touch the front of the new boots when standing upright. Your toes should then pull away from the front slightly when dropping into snowboard stance.
How To Tell if Your Boots Are Too Small or Too Big.
Well-fitting snowboard boots should offer a snug fit but shouldn’t be so tight that they cut off circulation. You should check if your snowboard boots fit true to size before buying them.
Here are some tips to consider when fitting your snowboard boots:
- If your boots feel too tight, remove the liners and try on the boots without them. If the tops of your feet touch the boot, they’re too tight for you!
- Your boot is too tight if you cannot slip a finger behind your heel.
- If your heel is slipping out of position or sliding out of your boot, it is too loose.
- Your boots are too big if your toes don’t reach the front of the liner.
- The boots are a perfect fit if you can bend your knees and settle into an active snowboarding stance comfortably – preferably with your toes pulling away from the end of the boot.
If pressure points make your foot uncomfortable, squeeze the boot around the point and see if the discomfort eases.
If it does, it’s a sign that your boots need time to be broken in so they can pack out. However, if the discomfort does not ease, there’s a good chance the boots are too small for you.
My Boots Are Too Small, Help Me!
Waiting for your boots to pack out can cause discomfort in itself, especially if you went a half size down in anticipation of them stretching out.
If this is the case, try these options:
- See if a local snowboard supply store offers heat molding services. Some boots are even heat moldable at home with a hairdryer – but check before you do it!
- Wear thin socks with your snowboard boots. While thicker socks may seem ideal, they can actually cause blisters as they take up valuable space and force your feet into tighter confines.
- Replace the insoles with thinner varieties to give your feet some extra space or use a heat gun to target areas with excess discomfort while you wait for the rest of the liner to pack out.
Once the boots have packed out more, you can always revert back to your old socks and insoles.
What If My Boots Pack Out Too Much?
If your boots pack out too much then they’ll feel sloppy and reduce your board control.
This is a major problem.
Not everyone can afford to invest in a replacement right away (myself included). For this reason, tread carefully with boots that fit perfectly right out of the box. They will almost always get bigger!
If you’re already stuck with overly packed out boots, the easiest and most affordable solution is to invest in a good set of heel wedges (like these on amazon). These small pieces of foam are placed between the shell and the liner and help raise your feet and make the fit more comfortable.
To learn more about using heel wedges, check out this YouTube video:
Hopefully you can now estimate how much your snowboard boots will pack out.
To recap, your boots will pack out about half a size. It will take a few days of use before they do so, so don’t be surprised if your boots stretch after your first few sessions.
One way of reducing the wait for your boots to pack out is to get your liners heat molded. However, if your boots do not have heat-moldable liners, wear thin socks to reduce the discomfort until they expand sufficiently.
Hopefully that was helpful?
Let me know in the comments!