how to fix heel lift in snowboard boots (diagram)

How to Fix Heel Lift In Snowboard Boots [5 Top Tips]

by Ben

Fellow snowboarders, heel draggers, and cliff droppers, gather ’round! 

We’re gonna dive board-deep into an issue that’s about as annoying as that one guy who ALWAYS forgets his lift pass – heel lift.

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about, that feeling of your boots playing tug-o-war with your heels while you’re supposed to be slicing and dicing the slopes. 

No bueno.

Well, done are the days of screaming “stay put!” to your rebellious little feet. 

I’m here to arm you with the insider info and give you the down low on how to squish this little boot rebellion in its tracks. Welcome to my comprehensive guide on how to fix heel lift in snowboard boots

The Short Answer

To fix heel lift in snowboard boots, ensure they are the right fit, lace them tightly focusing on the ankle area, consider adding J-Bars for additional support, and invest in quality after-market insoles.

Still with me? Let’s get your heels back in line so you can focus on what really matters – tearing up the mountain.

What is Heel Lift in Snowboarding?

Okay, let’s start with the basics. Heel lift is when your heel makes a sneaky escape attempt out of your snowboard boot when you’re riding. This is particularly problematic when leaning forward on your toe-side edge. 

what is heel lift in snowboarding

Imagine your boot is a prison for your heel (a comfy one, don’t worry), and your heel suddenly has the bright idea to pull a Shawshank Redemption.

This annoying slip leads to a lack of control over your board, which can have you face planting faster than you can say “send help.” 

I mean, imagine trying to drive a car with your feet sliding all over the gas pedal – that’s heel lift for ya. 

Not fun, I know. But it’s solvable.

How Much Heel Lift is Acceptable in Snowboard Boots?

In snowboard boots, minimal heel lift is ideal, as a secure fit ensures maximum board control. However, a slight amount of heel lift, roughly up to a quarter-inch (or about the width of a pencil), can be acceptable.

heel lift in snowboard boots

You’ll never fully exclude heel lift, so don’t obsess over very minor wiggles!

However, excessive heel lift can lead to decreased control, increased fatigue, and a higher risk of developing blisters or hot spots. It’s therefore crucial to ensure a snug fit around the ankle and heel when selecting or adjusting snowboard boots.

What is Heel Hold in Snowboard Boots?

Heel hold in snowboard boots refers to how securely the boot keeps your heel in place, preventing it from lifting off the boot’s sole during turns or movements.

Good heel hold ensures that your foot doesn’t slide or move within the boot, allowing for optimal power transfer, control, and responsiveness when snowboarding.

Various elements in a boot, such as internal harness systems, anatomical padding, and lacing techniques, contribute to effective heel hold.

Why Does Heel Lift Happen?

You’re wondering why this heel lift fiasco even happens in the first place, right?

It’s kind of like when you leave a single sock in the dryer, and suddenly it’s nowhere to be found. It just… happens. 

But actually, there are some legit reasons behind heel lift.

1. Sizing Misadventures

It’s as simple as this – if your boots are too big, your heel is gonna have more room to wiggle around than it needs, like a fish flopping around in a puddle.

No one wants that. So it’s crucial to get the right boot size, or you’ll be playing a never-ending game of heel whack-a-mole.

2. Shape-shifting feet

You’d think your feet would have the courtesy to stay the same shape throughout the day, but nope, they’re a bunch of sneaky shape-shifters. They can swell, shrink, or maybe even conspire against you. 

This sneaky changeroo by your feet can cause a sudden case of heel lift madness.

3. Tired Old Boots

You love your snowboard boots, and you’ve been shredding together for years. But the truth is, even your most loyal boots will eventually give in to wear and tear, which might lead to the dreaded heel lift. 

Boots also pack-out by up to a full size over time. What was once a perfect fit can very quickly become a heel-lift nightmare. 

4. Brand Incompatability

Sadly, our feet don’t always play nicely with particular brands. Despite this, riders often become particularly drawn to a specific pair of boots (for me it was the Burton Ion). 

We will therefore buy and persevere with a pair of boots that will never fit well enough. I saw this time and time again whilst working in snowboard stores!

Choose the boots that fit, not the brand you want to fit!

What Next?

Now we’ve got a grip on what heel lift is and why it decides to crash our snowboarding party, it’s time to drop some knowledge bombs on how to fix it.

Stick with me through the next section and put an end to this slippery nightmare once and for all!

Tips and Tricks to Fix Heel Lift

Time for the reason y’all are here, the real meat and potatoes (or tofurkey and sweet potatoes for our vegan shredders out there)… the lifesaving, game-changing, say-goodbye-to-heel-lift-forever tips and tricks!

1. Proper Sizing

Hold up a second and look at your snowboarding boots. Are they the exact size of your feet? Are you shoehorning your tootsies into boots meant for hobbits or letting them swim in cavernous boots designed for Bigfoot? 

The answer, my friend, might be the root of your trouble. Here are some goof-proof ways to tackle it:

a) Don't play the guessing game

Make sure you get the right size boots from the get-go. I know, I know, it’s not rocket science. But y’all would be surprised by how many people mess this up. 

Consider being fitted in-person, in-store. 

Getting professionally sized is like having a GPS to your perfect boot. No detours, no wrong turns, just sweet line-drivin’, face-shreddin’ perfection.

b) Wear Proper Snowboard Socks!

Before you ask, no it’s never okay to wear two pairs of socks instead of buying specialized snowboard socks! 

Snowboard socks are padded in the right places and slimline in others. This avoids friction, bunching and heel slippage.  

Make sure you own a respected pair of snowboarding socks and wear them when trying on new boots, 

c) Adapt to the Changes

Remember that feet-shape-shifting thing we talked about? Keep a check on your boot fit, especially as the day wears on. You might need to tighten a buckle, adjust a strap, or give your feet a break. 

The aim is to keep ’em snug but not squashed, like a soft taco – full but not bursting.

2. Tighten Your Boots and Bindings

Securing your snowboard boots and bindings is pivotal for adequate heel hold. Snug boots eliminate heel lift, enhancing control, while tight bindings anchor your feet, reducing risks and boosting responsiveness.

But remember, it’s a fine line: too tight can cause discomfort, while too loose compromises stability. Always aim for that sweet spot – a secure, comfortable fit. 

Pay particular attention to your boot’s lower zone. Cinching in your ankle is key. Same goes for your binding’s ankle strap – make sure it’s centered over the boot and strapped down tight. 

3. In-Boot Adjustments

So you’ve got the right size, but your heel is still trying to moonwalk out of your boot? It’s time to bring in the big boys: in-boot adjustments.

a) Insoles and Footbeds

Standard insoles in snowboard boots? They’re okay, but custom footbeds? Absolute game-changers.

Think of them as the superhero cape for your snowboard boots – they might not enable you to fly, but they’ll sure help you fight off heel lift.

A good footbed can keep your feet more aligned, reducing slippage and giving you a comfy, secure feel underfoot.

I use (and highly recommend) the Remind Medic Impact Insoles

b) Use Your Inner Harness

The inner harness is the unsung hero of foot security. 

This internal lacing system cradles your foot and ankle, providing a secure hold and ensuring there’s minimal movement inside your boot.

internal harness snowboard boots

Tightening the inner harness properly means you’re locking down your heel, eliminating lift, and boosting overall boot responsiveness.

Sadly though, not all boots have one – check yours now!

c) J-Bars

For those persistent cases of heel lift, these small additions can do wonders (although sadly, not for everyone). 

J-Bars stick to the inside of your boots, adding extra padding around the ankle, enhancing heel hold. 

j bars

Sadly, Burton no longer issue them free with their boots… but they’re pretty cheap regardless. You can get some here

d) Heel Pads

Pads can be the duct tape solution to your heel lift problem – a little bulky, sure, but it WORKS. Slap a couple of these bad boys into your boots, and you’re golden.

4. Advanced Fixes

If all else fails, it might be time to amp up your heel-lift defense strategy with some advanced solutions.

a) Custom Liners

Custom liners are like a designer dress but for your foot. They’re crafted to match your unique foot shape, making them a killer (not literally!) solution for skedaddling heels. They do come with a hefty price-tag though. 

b) Heat-Moldable Liners

Every foot is unique, and with heat moldable liners, you can achieve a fit that feels tailor-made for you. These liners use your body heat (or an external heat source) to conform perfectly to the shape of your foot.

The result? Enhanced comfort, reduced pressure points, and a suction-like heel cup.

You can even heat mold your snowboard liners at home. Remember, though, for the best results, it’s probably worth visiting a professional.

c) Boot Fitting Service

If you’re at your wit’s end, don’t despair – there are professionals out there who live for this stuff. A boot fitting service might be a bit more pricey, but the feeling of footing security outweighs the blow to your billfold.

d) Consider Your Technique

Could you be putting more pressure through your toes than necessary? This could in theory contribute to heel lift. 

Tommie Bennet has a great video discussing how to address this. I’ll drop it below. 

5. Quick and Dirty DIY Fixes for Heel Lift

Fixing heel lift doesn’t always mean raiding your piggy bank. Here are some quick, easy, and cheap hacks to keep that heel snug.

Get Knotty with Your Laces

Think lacework is just for grandmas? Think again.

  • The Over-Under move: Instead of going vanilla with your lacing, mix it up. Try alternating over and under with each eyelet. This will tighten the liner around the ankle and heel like a ninja grip.
  • Ankle Fortress: Make the middle of your boot a fortress for your ankle. Lace it up snug and tie it off, before continuing north to distribute the tightness evenly.

Stuff It Up with Paddin’

Adding some extra fluff can give you a snug fit:

  • Tongue Talk: Slot some padding between your boot’s tongue and liner.
  • Donut Delight: Fashion some foam into a round donut shape and stick it around your ankle in the boot. 

Socks Can Be Your Secret Weapon

Give your feet a good sock hug:

  • Thickness Check: Go for Goldilocks here – not too thin, not too thick. Just right.
  • Material Matters: Say “No!” to cotton and “Yes!” to moisture-wicking materials like Merino wool or synthetics.

Temporary Fixes for the Slopes

Caught in a bind on the slopes? Use these tricks:

  • Velcro to the Rescue: Carry a Velcro strap. Wrap it around the ankle section of your boot for a quick heel lockdown.
  • Duct Tape Magic: When all else fails, wrapping duct tape around the outside of your ankle works. It’s a quick, albeit highly temporary fix, to secure your heel.

Remember, while these DIY hacks help, they can’t replace proper boot fitting or professional services. So, give these a try and conquer that heel lift one step at a time.

Tried Everything? Nothing Works?

Sadly, if you’ve tried all of the above, there is only one answer left for how to fix heel lift in snowboard boots…

New boots. 

It’s expensive, but it’ll save you a lot of grief. If you had laces previously, I recommend opting for BOA this time around.

Frequently Asked Questions

Heel lift is a common issue for snowboarders. It describes when the heel of the foot pulls away from the bottom of the snowboard boot, especially when trying to initiate a toe-side carve. 

This reduces the rider’s control over the board, compromising comfort, and potentially causing accidents.

A snug, well-fitted boot is essential for optimal snowboarding performance. Heel lift can compromise your control, create discomfort, and further result in decreased performance or potential injuries. Fixing this issue improves your overall riding experience on the slopes.

Absolutely! Boots that are too large can result in excessive room, allowing the foot to slide, leading to heel lift. Similarly, overly tight boots can create pressure points pushing your heel upwards. Always aim for the “just right” fit!

Footbeds or insoles are inserts placed inside the boots. They not only provide additional comfort and cushioning but also help align the foot correctly inside the boot, reducing the possibility of heel lift.

The Remind Medic are among the best-rated snowboarding insoles available.

While not always necessary, it’s highly beneficial, especially for beginners. A professional fitter understands the specifics of different boot brands and can guide you towards the best fit for your foot type.

Get it right the first time, and you can avoid many of these issues altogether.

If standard adjustments still result in heel lift, custom liners tailored to fit your exact foot shape can be a fantastic solution. They provide a perfect wrap around your foot, offering better control and reduced slippage.

If you’ve tried the tips and tricks but still face heel lift issues, it might be time to consider a boot fitting service. Professionals can provide targeted solutions that can significantly improve your snowboarding experience.


So there you have it, folks – the ultimate, no-nonsense tips and tricks to fix that heel lift. Begone, sneaky heel escape attempts. This mountain ain’t big enough for the two of us!

Time to let your boots do the job they were made for and let yourself focus on the tasty business end of snowboarding – shredding those slopes like tomorrow’s snowmageddon! 

Stay frosty. 

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