Even the best snowboarding boots are a little awkward right out of the box. It’s inevitable. So let’s discuss how to break in snowboard boots…
Here are the 7 best ways to break in your snowboard boots:
- Ride In Them
- Wear Them Around The House
- Consider Heat Molding Your Boots
- Choose Proper Socks
- Start Walking
- Have Someone With Bigger Feet Wear Them
- Strap In
Fear not! In this guide, I’ll walk you through the process of breaking in your snowboard boots, so you can hit the mountain in comfort.
The Importance of Breaking In Your Boots
Breaking in your snowboard boots is crucial. Otherwise you’ll be wearing stiff and uncomfortable boots for longer than required – which could last weeks for my fellow weekend warriors.
And because snowboard boots can pack out a full size, how they feel in store is a helluva lot different to how they’ll ride.
I generally therefore recommend buying boots that are slightly on the tight side. Which makes breaking them in even more important.
By doing so, you reduce the risk of blisters, hot spots, and discomfort. A properly broken-in pair of boots will also provide better control, responsiveness, and flex.
How To Break In Your Snowboard Boots
1. Ride In Them!
The first and most obvious answer is to just get out on the mountain. Plan ahead and wear them on slightly shorter outings at first – not your bucket list 20 hour hike to an Alaskan summit.
2. Wear Them Around The House
Start by wearing them around the house or maybe even when running errands. This gradual wear allows your feet to get accustomed to the boots’ shape. It also gradually softens the materials.
Flex your ankles and move your feet in different directions to encourage the boots to mold to your unique foot shape.
Drop into riding stance without warning. Take the boots by surprise.
3. Heat Molding
Some boots come with heat moldable liners. This is by far the quickest and most effective method for breaking in your boots.
Most snowboard shops offer this service, and it’s worth considering, especially if you have particularly difficult-to-fit feet.
For more info, I’ve written a separate article on heat molding your snowboard boots.
4. Choose Proper Socks
Choosing the right socks is essential when breaking in snowboard boots. Opt for moisture-wicking, medium-thickness socks that provide enough cushioning.
Avoid thick socks, as they can create unnecessary pressure points and hinder the molding process. Make sure the socks are pulled up smoothly to prevent any wrinkles.
If you have a choice of socks, try wearing the thinnest socks initially before graduating to the big boys.
I tried going straight for my thickest pair and promptly lost my toenails. Ouch.
Here are the best snowboard socks of the season.
5. Start Walking
I wouldn’t normally recommend walking in your snowboard boots. It causes them to wear down too quickly. Of course, in this case – that’s exactly what we want!
Try walking around in them for a couple of hours. You’ll find they’re significantly softer than when you started. Repeat as needed.
6. Have Someone With Bigger Feet Wear Them
Not an option for everyone, but I had big foot (my brother) wear my super stiff boots for an hour or so before I wore them. Worked a charm.
In retrospect this wasn’t the best idea as boots are meant to shape to your specific foot shape. But if you’re desperate, it’s worth a shot.
7. Strap In
Get your setup together and strap in. Make sure you’re on a soft surface (like carpet) to avoid damage to your base and edges.
Now flex your board in every riding position you can think of – nose press, tail press, heel-side turns, tripods etc.
Wriggle your toes around a little too.
You’ll soon notice that the boots are flexing more naturally.
A Few Extra Pointers When Breaking In Your Boots
Don't Overdo It
Remember, your boots will progressively break in the more you wear them. You’re only trying to reduce some of the initial stiffness and discomfort.
If you go nuts and wear them to work all week, you’re just going to reduce the life-span of your brand new boots.
Be Cautious When Heat Molding Your Boots At Home
If your boots are heat moldable, and you decide to do it yourself, take it slow. It’s tempting to overheat them, or do it multiple times to get “the perfect fit”.
In reality, this risks breaking them in too much, damaging the lining and voiding your warranty.
I strongly recommend reading the article linked here.
Dealing with Heel Lift
The plight of the snowboard community.
Heel lift: when your heel lifts out of your heel cup on toe-side turns, ruining your boards responsiveness and ruining your day.
Most often, this is caused by poorly fitting snowboard boots. If your boots are too big, they stand no chance of holding your heel in place. No amount of heat molding or breaking in will change this.
To avoid this, buy boots that are a little snug, so that when they break in, they’re just right.
If it’s too late and you have major heel lift, the best solution is taking them to a professional boot fitter. Let them work their magic.
That’s how to break in snowboard boots.
Don’t overthink it.
Ultimately, most boots will soften over time even if you do none of the above. Heat moldable boots will even mold to your feet over time, without ever having them formally molded.
Once you’ve found the perfect boots and the perfect fit, never let them go!
You can extend the life of your boots by following our boot cleaning guide.
Answering your most frequently asked questions.
The time it takes to break in snowboard boots ranges from a few hours to several weeks.
This depends on boot stiffness, initial comfort levels and personal preference.
Heat molding can expedite the process, taking as little as 15 minutes, but it’s still recommended to wear the boots for a few hours afterward.
Follow the advice in this guide to speed up the process.
The fastest way to break in snowboard boots is having them professionally heat molded.
Other options include DIY heat molding, walking around in them, strapping into your snowboard at home and wearing thick socks to stretch them (not recommended).