In my adult life I’ve always worn size 9, 9.5 (US Men’s) shoes. Mainly due to comfort because I have wide feet and can rarely find wide shoes that I like.
So when I walked into Boarderline in Bellevue in the late 90s and Teak / Dave tried to get me into size 8 boots, I hesitated. Boots from that time period weren’t as comfortable as they are today. I remember they were a used pair made by Airwalk (similar to the ones pictured), and had a lot of rubber so my foot wouldn’t just slide right in.
My reaction after having my foot measured was likely, “I haven’t worn size 8 boots since middle school.”
I walked out, went to an REI where they had boot boxes everywhere I could try on, and walked out with a pair of Vans in a size 10, and thought, “Well, I can just wear an extra pair of socks.”
The Struggle – Wearing a size 10 boot was comfortable, for walking. But not much else. I had trouble turning, holding an edge, and felt like the entire board would fall off my foot while on a chairlift.
And here’s the thing about snowboard boots that many newbies may not know; they pack out. Meaning they start to feel like a larger and larger boot size. Most people I know seem to get about 30-40 days of riding in before they think about upgrading boots. Whether that’s 4 seasons or 1, that’s really dependent on the individual.
The Experimentation – Most snowboard salespeople will tell you that the boots are the most important part of your equipment, then the bindings, and then the snowboard. I agree with that 100%. Boots need to be comfortable. Bindings need to be secure at times, and easy to get off at times. Snowboards are mostly interchangeable. I could borrow a friend’s board for a day, but I likely couldn’t borrow boots.
So I should have listened to the salespeople when they tried to get me into size 8 boots.
But I didn’t. The next boots I bought were made by Northwave and were size 9. I thought they were the most comfortable boots I had ever worn. Until they packed out and started feeling like size 10s again.
After that, I wore a pair of Salomon boots in 8.5 for a few seasons. I found them on eBay and just gave them a shot because they were cheap. And they fit even better (notice a trend?). For years, I wore size 8.5s and I thought that was the right size for me. I had worn Burton Rulers, a new pair of Salomons, and even a pair of Ride boots. All in size 8.5.
Then about 6 seasons ago when I interned at Burton, I was given a pair of Burton Rampants in a size 8.0. They were the lightest pair of boots I had ever worn, and the size 8 fit like a glove. (I won’t get into the BOA versus lace-up conversation here, that’s personal preference).
All of a sudden, I felt that I could have been a better rider all those years when I was wearing the wrong boots! (Obviously I have no idea if that’s true or not).
This year, I got a hold of a pair of Burton Ruler boots in size 7.5 Wide. That’s right, finally found a wide boot! But it’s 1/2 a size smaller than I normally wear.
I gave them a shot, and bam, on the first run I took a small spill and my toes started throbbing. Later that afternoon, I realized that I bruised both toes and that I’d likely lose both toenails (which is pretty common for me during snowboard season).
After 2 days wearing the boots though, they’re broken in and feel great!
These days, I’m wearing either the Burton Rulers in 7.5 Wide, or the Nike LunarEndor snowboard boots in size 8.0 that I stocked up on when Nike shut down their snowboarding division. I still wear size 9 or 9.5 street shoes though.
Bottom line: Stop by a shop, listen to the pros, don’t get offended like I did when they offer up advice and suggestions.
* All sizes mentioned are in U.S. Mens.
* US Men’s 8.0 is considered a size 26.0 on the Mondo Point scale.