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Home > Tips > Snowboarding > Boots and Bindings

Learn more about
 Riding Gear
 Different Snowboarding Styles
 The Basics of Snowboarding
 Boots and Bindings
 Getting down the Slope
 How to Build a Snowboard Kicker

Snowboard boots hard and soft by SKILEB.comThe chocolate-versus-vanilla choice in footwear is between soft and hard boots. Most riders prefer soft boots, resembling Sorel-type outdoor models that are closed with laces and perhaps a Velcro strap. They are multi-purpose boots, good for free-riding as well as freestyle riding and tricks. Because they are comfortable to walk in, backcountry boarders who hike to the snow prefer them. Hard-shell buckle boots look like slimmed-down Alpine ski boots. They are best suited to racing and high-speed free-carving on groomed runs. Cross-over skiers often feel more secured in a hard-boot, plate-binding set-up, while hardcore riders are just fine with soft boots in soft-bindings. One thing is for sure, soft boots are more comfortable to walk in, and they'll keep your feet warmer on a frigid day.

The soft snowboard binding goes with the soft boot. It looks a little like a calf-high plastic sandal. The boot is inserted into the binding, which is closed with ratchet buckles. The plate binding, designed to be used with hard boots, is made of rigid metal and hard plastic and is closed by positing the foot against the toepiece and latching the binding shut. This means that the rider must sit down to get into the binding, and many snowboarders also sit down to unbuckle. In either case, snowboard bindings are not designed to release.

Snowboard bindings by SKILEB.comWhen you start snowboarding, you'll probably like the security of a friction pad mounted between the bindings. Before you buckle your back leg into the binding, you'll place that foot on the pad when practicing some of the early exercises and getting off the lift.

Step-in bindings, which require special boot soles, are the newer, more convenient, technologically advanced plate bindings and are especially prized by beginners. Snowboard bindings are not designed to release, so there no such thing as snowboard brake. There is, however, a leash that must be wrapped around the lower leg to prevent a run-away board.

Many snowboards are manufactured with holes predrilled for mountaing the bindings. Riders can select the binding position and distance they prefer. Positioning the binding in various ways changes the angle of the feet in relation to the board, ranging from virtually perpendicular to the board for free-riding and tricks to closer to toe-forward for maximum carving.