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December 3, 2021

How to Buy Used Snowboard Boots

It’s tough getting through another shift at work knowing the mountain is waiting. I spend 8 hours a day on the line at the internet factory, poking at queries that have been clogging up the tubes like tourists on the chair lift. 

A lot of the questions that come down the conveyer belt are the same, so I thought I would share a conversation from my totally real and not at all fake friends Quentin and Andrea. Hopefully, this will lighten load and get me out on the slopes that much faster.

Please feel free to skip to your question of interest while you enjoy this scene in which Quentin, who has loved learning to snowboard but wants to own some gear of his own, asks my other totally real friend Andrea, an avid snowboarder and gear expert, for advice. 

Quentin: I want to have some gear of my own. I got a good deal on a board, but can I buy boots used? Did you see the new Dune movie? 

Andrea: *texting* You can totally buy used snowboard boots. Although the liners inside a pair of boots mold to the shape of the feet that are in them, a lot of people sell boots
that have barely been worn. Yeah, I liked Dune. Not enough snow, though. 

Q: Are older used snowboard boots ever worth buying? 

A: The biggest factor in whether a pair of used snowboard boots are right for you is the fit. If the boots have no visible damage beyond cosmetic wear, you’re good to go, so long as they fit. 

Q: How do I find the right size snowboard boot?

A: I would try one or both of the following things. 

Number one: find your mondo-print. It can be difficult to tell how big a snowboard boot is on the inside; the boots are thick, so unlike a regular shoe you can’t just hold it up to your foot and tell. If you place your heel against a wall and mark the end of your longest toe, then measure that distance in centimeters, you have your mondo. If your foot’s mondo-print is 24.5, for example, a boot with a mondo-print of 24.5 is made for your size foot.

Number two: go to a snowboard shop and try on boots, especially used boots if they have them. Wear a pair for at least 5 minutes, preferably more, and walk around in them. See whether your mondo size is right, or if you need a slight adjustment. Used boots may be roomier because of compaction. Your toes shouldn’t curl like in climbing shoes, but they also shouldn’t have tons of open space because it reduces your control over the board. 

Q: Wow, it’s that simple?

A: No. 

Feet come in all different shapes, and boots come in a variety of styles that all have characteristics that affect fit. I can tell you about the types of snowboard boots so you can find a deal on a pair that’s good for you.

Q: What are the types of snowboard boots? 

A: Snowboard boots offer varying amounts of flexibility and cushion. 

The more flexible your boots are, the less likely you are to accidentally catch the edge of your board. The stiffer they are, the more responsive the board will be. 

For your first pair of boots, soft snowboard boots, also called beginner boots, are probably what you’re looking for. They have support for your ankles and calves, but are flexible and cushioned enough to be forgiving as you learn to control the board.

All-mountain boots are stiffer, offering greater control to more experienced riders and support for more intense runs. 

There are also boots for freestyle, tricks and jumps on courses and packed snow, and for freeriding, boarding on loose, back-country powder. 

Used boots lose stiffness over time so think about wear and tear when deciding how much stiffness is right for you.

Q: Should I Buy Snowboard Boots a Size Bigger?

A: You may need to size your boots a half size up or down, but probably not more than that. Like all footwear, snowboard boots fit differently by brand and type. Like all people, you have your own feet. Start with your mondo-print, or try on boots to get an idea for how your size relates to the fit you get. 

Q: What if I find a pair of boots in my size but they don’t quite fit right? 

A: The insides of most snowboard boots have moldable liners. 

Thermoformable liners use your body’s heat to mold the boot to the shape of your foot. The longer you wear these boots, the better they’ll fit you. 

Heatmoldable liners are heated in a special oven at a snowboard shop (or with at-home tricks) and then worn in the boot to immediately fit you. 

Q: What are the types of laces? I’ve seen boots with weird knobs on them, like they were reverse engineered
from the kicks of a space marine.

A: There are three main types of lacing systems for snowboard boots. 

Traditional laces, or standard laces, work like the fasteners you’d find on lots of boots. They offer the benefit of manual control over tightness in each area of the boot, and are familiar to anyone who knows how to tie their shoes (no judgment if you don’t). 

The downsides are that they take time to lace up, and are hard to adjust while wearing gloves, and are possibly even harder to operate with your bare and likely rapidly numbing fingers. 

Traditional laces are great if you’re buying used boots because they’re easy to replace, and can be adjusted the most to eliminate pressure points. 

Speed lacing, or quick-pull laces, are designed to be used with gloves. Pulling a single handle tightens the whole boot. They are fast and easy to tighten on the go, but take some strength to get tight. Some quick-pull laces have multiple handles and what’s called zonal lacing, allowing different regions to be adjusted. 

BOA® closure systems use one or more knobs to tighten wires which run through loops along and across the boot. They can be adjusted zonally depending on the number of knobs, and are easier to tighten than quick-pull laces or traditional laces. The downside is that they can cause pressure points, and they’re more difficult to replace. 

Q: Do you have other tips for buying used snowboard boots? 

A: Shop around! If you’ve rented boots, looking for the same style and size as you rented is a good place to start. 

Check out rerouted’s selection of used boots

Q: Thanks, Andrea! I feel like I’m ready to buy used snowboard boots.

A: [clocking out early] then my work here is done.