Snowboard boot designs have come a long way over the last twenty or so years. Boot companies made a lot of advancements in making boots more comfortable and accommodating to a wide variety riding styles. Smaller shell profiles and lower outsoles have cut down on excess bulk and given riders better board feel and response. But one area that has branched out a lot is in boot lacing systems. You can find an endless variety of snowboard boot lace systems on the market today that are made to make your boot fit your particular foot profile and riding style. Let’s take a look at a few of the more predominant lacing systems and how they might benefit you.
Snowboard boot lacing systems have a number of advantages that keep them strong on the market year after year. The first is that they really inexpensive and very easy to replace if one breaks. Most people will keep a lace in their jacket pocket and if need be they can have their boot laced up and ready to go in several minutes. Other lacing systems take much longer to replace and may require returning the boot to be repaired.
With laces, you can also dial in exactly how tight or loose you want your boots in very specific areas. For example, if you want good heel hold but also want a lot of freedom of movement you can tighten up the middle section of your boot and keep the upper section very loose. This holds true also if your feet are getting a little sore in a particular spot then you can easily loosen the laces there while keeping the rest of the boot tight.
The down side to laces is that they may take a little longer and be harder to lace up for some people. But time is relative and getting the right fit is often worth the time and effort. Also, some people may find it annoying that they need to take their gloves off to secure them.
There are many different types of speed lacing systems but all involve a pull-and-cord system. One end of the cord is attached to the inside of the boot and then strung through a series of grommets leading to the top where there’s a pull handle. Some speed lacing boots have one cord that tightens the entire boot but most have two cords that tighten different sections of the boot. Once you have the boot tightened there is a locking mechanism that you engage to keep the cord from loosening and then the pull handles and remaining cord slide into pockets locate on the cuff of the boot.
Speed lacing systems are easy to use and fast. They are also really good at targeting specific zones on the boot allowing you to get a custom fit. Many speed lace boots (as well as traditional lace boots) have support mechanisms on either side of the ankle that when tightened pull your foot back into the heel hold and keep it securely in place (you can read more on heel hold and snowboard boots here). Speed lace boots can be adjusted on the fly quickly and easily with a simple tug or flick of the locking mechanism to loosen them up a bit. And you don’t need to take your gloves off to adjust them.
The down side to speed laces is that if they break or wear down it will take a fair amount of time to re-install new ones and it can be really difficult. Also, if the locking mechanisms break or fail they will need to be replaced. Some manufacturers include a spare set as part of the package, but not all do.
Boa is a propriety mechanism that has been on the market for over a decade now. It consists of a thin, flexible wire that serves as the lace and wheel, usually located on the tongue or side of the boot, into which the wire lace wraps around. Some manufacturers have put more than one Boa on a boot so that the rider can tight the boot zones independently for a customized fit. There are even boots that use Boa to tighten down the inner liner from the outside of the boot.
The nice thing about Boa is that it’s really simple to use, quick and you can keep your gloves while working it. Once, you have your foot in the boot simply turn the wheel clockwise until you are at the tightness you want. To loosen, just pull the wheel out and the lace will be released.
Boa systems are great for kids or folks who want an ultra simple and fast way to get into their boots and start riding. The down side is that if the wire breaks or the wheel mechanism fails you will need a new system or be able to fix the mechanism. The Boa system has improved a lot over the years but some people still find the wires can cause undue pressure in certain areas when tight.
So that’s the three snowboard boot lacing systems available today. As with boots, the only way you are going to know which one you like best is to go to shop and try them on. Walk around for a bit and see which will make your days on the hill most enjoyable.