How To Tell If Your Snowboard Boots Are Too Big: Sizing & Comfort

by Alaina Johnson | Updated: March 17th, 2023 |  Snowboarding

Snowboard boots are an integral piece of gear and having a pair that's too tight or too large can make or break your experience riding on the mountain. You don't want to have painful blisters at the end of the day, do you?

Snowboard boots should never feel too big. Instead, they should feel a bit snug on your feet, which helps to prevent heel lift. If you're concerned that your boots are too big, they probably are. Head to a local shop to be fitted for your correct size.


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Signs Your Snowboard Boots Are Too Big

There are a few typical indicators that your snowboard boots may be too large for your feet. Boots that are too large can cause painful movements and open wounds on your feet. You may also experience imbalance while you're snowboarding, as you can't control the board as well with boots that are too large.

When your boots are laced up tight and there is still moving while you're snowboarding, then this is a bad sign. Your feet should not be moving forwards, backward, or sideways.

Your toes should reach the front of the liner. In a pair of properly fitting snowboard boots, your toes will touch the liner but not to the point of discomfort or in a way that scrunches your toes. If they're not hitting the liner, the boots are too big.

girl snowboarding

While snowboarding, you don't want to experience any heel lift. A heel lift is a common sign that your boots are too large. Your heel should remain firmly planted inside your boot

Your feet should feel snug in your boots. In my experience, once you put on a pair of socks and lace your boots up, they should fit snugly around your feet.

If you're experiencing blisters once you remove your boots, this can be a clear sign that they're too large or too small. When your foot doesn't get enough support at the heel, arch, and toes, blister formations can show up.

For those experiencing any of the above signs, you should seek out a local snowboard and ski outfitter and ask for sizing advice. Any experienced skier will be able to provide helpful advice on what boots to get and how they should fit. This is often an issue with novice snowboarders, as they don't understand how snugly a boot should fit.

Should Snowboard Boots Be a Half Size Big?

Photo by Ludovic Péron licensed under CC BY 2.0

There is a theory that skiers and snowboarders should size up their boots to account for thicker winter socks. However, this is not the recommended advice. The boots should fit true to size, generally whatever size you wear in athletic sneakers.

Like any other pair of boots, snowboard boots will stretch a bit once they're broken in. If you size up by even a half size, you may end up with boots that eventually fit a full size larger than what you would normally wear.

Tip: When trying on boots, bring the pair of socks that you would wear with them.

This will provide you with a better idea of how the boot fits. If you wear your socks in a pair of boots that is your regular size and they feel painfully snug, then you can consider sizing up a half size.

Another tip is to take into consideration that feet naturally swell after being on them for hours at a time. If possible, visit the snowboarding store during the evening hours when your feet may be a bit larger. This will give you a better idea of how the boots will feel after hours on the mountain.

If you've already purchased a pair of boots a half size too large, then replace them if possible. If this is not an option, try getting a thicker pair of socks to make up for the excess space. You can also lace the boots tightly to try to compress them around your foot with more force.

Tip: Some aftermarket insoles can also ensure a better, tighter fit.

How Long Does It Take to Break In Snowboard Boots?

snowboarder 2

Many boots will have moldable liners, which can be heated and fit to your foot by a local shop. It's not recommended that you heat these liners by yourself, as the process takes a bit of practice to get down.

Before you head out into the snow, you can lace your boots up and walk around your home with them on. Any time spent wearing the boots is time spent breaking them in. Your feet will thank you later on when you avoid the painful blisters often associated with wearing unbroken footwear.

Key Takeaway: Many snowboard boots will feel a bit tight when they're new, as it takes some time for them to stretch and conform to their true size.

Snowboarding new Boots
Photo by Davide Costanzo under CC BY 2.0

Don't worry, as after a few days spent riding you'll have a more comfortable fit. The boots should never be so tight that they feel painful to wear.

If your boots are fitting tightly after you've first bought them, a pair of thinner socks may help provide some extra space. As your boots pack out after riding time, then you can increase the thickness of your socks to ensure they continue to fit well.

While heat molding is one of the more popular options, as it speeds up the process, you don't have to take this extra step. You can simply wear the boots and experience a moderate amount of discomfort for your first few days and after that, they should be broken in and ready to take on the season.

The more you wear the boots, the more comfortable they will become. The average pair of boots last for around two seasons or approximately 50-70 full days of snowboarding. For some less frequent snowboarders, your boots may very well last 4-5 seasons.

Do Your Snowboard Boots Feel Too Big?

If your boots feel too big, they likely are. For newcomers to the sport, it can be difficult to determine how the boots should fit if they're your first pair. It's recommended that you purchase the boots from a trusted outfitter where there are employees to fit and guide you through your boot purchase.

Snowboard boots that are too large can cause issues such as heel lift and lack of control on your board. The boots should fit snugly, without being too tight. This results in minimal to no heel lift, which keeps you planted on your snowboard.