In a previous post, we said that fit is everything in ski boots. In particular, we mentioned the fact that shell hardness is essential to transfer movement to the skis. If you are new to winter sports, you may wonder if tight-fitting is crucial in snowboarding too. The short answer is yes, absolutely. Yet, sometimes you can not get the fit you need (e.g., when you have to rent gear). What to do then? Have no fear: today, we will provide tips to solve a common issue. Specifically, we will tell you how to stop heel lift in snowboard boots.
You may have noticed that, from time to time, we include in our articles subtopics to provide the whole picture. Yet, this time we are talking about a specific problem. Thus, we will have a different approach and go straight to the possible solutions.
What is Snowboard Boots Main Job?
We bet you answered “providing comfort.” Yet, snowboard boots primary goal is to secure your feet to the board and prevent accidental movements. In other words, they have to keep your feet from rocking back and forward or shifting from left to right. More importantly, they must prevent the heel from lifting. All these movements, in fact, could make you lose grip on the board. Which means you have to put more energy into performing tricks.
For example, if your heels lift, you may experience difficulties in turning because your movements are less powerful. And this results in stressing your ankles. Would you like to check if you have total control of your board? Get on your toes. If your feet slide forward and your weight shifts to the feet ball, you have a problem to solve.
Even though heel lift may depend on many factors, we decided to summarize four common causes. Heel lift may occur when:
- Your boots are too big.
- You have thin ankles.
- You have not tightened your boots right.
- Your liners do not fit anymore.
How to Fix Heel Lift in Snowboard Boots?
Tighten Your Boots
The first thing you should do to prevent the heel from lifting is tightening your boots.
A Few Information Before Putting Your Boots On
You can’t do things right if you do not have enough information. Thus, this is the moment to provide an in-depth view of snowboard boots. Our goal? Help absolute beginners distinguish this kind of footwear from ski boots.
There are two things that ski boots and snowboard boots have in common:
- They are waterproof.
- They consist of two parts, liners, and shells. The first, the inner part, has a thermal function and is made of foam. Although people use the same materials for snowboard boots and ski boots lining, there are still some minor differences. For example, in snowboard boots, liners are adjustable.
Yet, to make a proper comparison, you have to focus on the shell. In ski boots, this part is made of hard plastic. This is crucial because stiffness helps you control the movement of your knees and calves. Besides, the ski boots fastening system is peculiar because it features buckles. Snowboard boots, instead, look very much like hiking boots. The shell, in fact, is made of soft materials, and to tighten it, you only need regular laces. Well, in some cases, you need metallic wire, but that is a peculiar lacing system.
Time to Lace Your Boots!
Let’s have a look at how to lace snowboard boots. As we mentioned, liners have a locking system. This usually consists of laces with a lockable slider that can be adjusted to get the desired fit. We suggest tightening liners to your leg as much as possible because they have to support the ankle.
Shells are easy to tighten too. Actually, there are different kinds of lacing types, but all of them are pretty simple. In particular, snowboard boots shells can feature:
- Traditional lacing system
These are boots with classic laces. To tighten them up, you can proceed as with regular shoes.
- Quick-pull system (also called speed lacing)
Definitely more comfortable than the traditional one. Especially when you have to lace your boots in the snow; and you are wearing gloves. In the quick-pull system, you still have laces. Yet, you do not need to tie them together because they are held by a handle. To tighten the snowboard boots, pull the tab and lock it in place.
- BOA system
In the BOA system, laces are replaced with metal wire. Moreover, on the side of the boot, you can find one or more dials, which serve to adjust the fit. To lace your boots, you have to push the dial in and turn it clockwise.
How to Tell You Tightened Your Shells Properly?
The lower boot wraps around your ankle. Thus, if you lace it tight, your heel should not lift. Yet, as a general rule, you should never tighten the lower boot too much. Are you asking yourself why? Well, if you do it, you could cut blood flow, and this causes cramps. The upper boot is crucial as well because it controls your movements. Once you laced the upper part up, squat. If your heel lifts only a little, you did great.
Also, if you stand up and do not feel any pressure on your feet, this means you did a good job. Finally, you should check your toes. If you can wiggle your toes a lot when you are standing, you should tighten shells more.
Tighten Your Bindings
If tightening your boots did not help, do not despair. In fact, there are a few other things you can do. For example, the real problem could be that you did not tighten the bindings right.
About Snowboard Bindings Types
Once again, we need to make comparisons with skiing gear. When you put on skis, you place your toe on the toe cup and push your heel down. This way, you’ll press the brake pedal, which triggers the locking mechanism. As you can guess, this operation is so simple that you can do it while standing up.
In snowboarding, instead, you have three different kinds of bindings:
- The classic one; called strap on bindings;
Compared to the previous type, they are similar. Yet, rear-bindings feature a highback that you can bend backward;
- Step on bindings
The simplest but currently the less popular one.
Exceptions made for the step on kind, snowboard bindings are complex and require more effort than the ski ones. In strap-on and rear bindings, there are two straps that you have to adjust manually. In particular, you need to fast one to your ankle and another one you wrap around your toe. Moreover, you have to make sure that your heel snugs on the highback. Finally, to prevent heel from lifting, your ankle strap has to be as tight as possible.
If Your Feet Still Rock Forward And/Or Your Heel Lifts
If your feet are still sliding forward, it could depend on different reasons. Specifically, you may find out that:
- Bindings are not set correctly on the board
Even though ski bindings look very simple, they have to be set on skis by professionals. In snowboarding, instead, you can install bindings on your own. If you don’t feel secured to the board, you may need to adjust the width stance or the foot angle. Need suggestions about how to set bindings? We believe this video can help you out
- Bindings are not your size
Yes, you can make some adjustments. Yet, if you notice they are too big, our suggestion is buying new ones.o
- Bindings are worn out.
Buy New Boots
You tightened your boots and your binding, but you noticed the heel is still lifting? Then this is proof they are completely worn out. You should wave your beloved boots goodbye and buy a new pair.
Some More Methods To Prevent Heel Lift
If our tips about how to prevent heel lift in snowboard boots did not satisfy you, keep reading. We still have some suggestions for you!
A few lines above, we told you what to do with worn-out boots. Let’s leave this behind and focus on a different scenario; that is when you discover your new boots are big. Most of the time, the problem is that the sole is wide or that you have thin ankles. To solve this, you can use specific soles designed for your foot shape.
This kind of soles is extra comfy because it provides your foot extra support. For this reason, you may perform even better when you use them.
Another nice hack is the custom insertion. These are pieces that have to be put under the insoles of snowboard boots. They create a thickness under the heel, and by pushing it up, they keep it from lifting.
Even if you don’t have issues with boots, you should use them. Having support on your heels, in fact, offers your foot more stability and is definitely more comfortable. You can’t always find custom insertions that fit the shape of your foot. Yet, they are cheap and help performance, so it’s worth a try.
J bars are small pieces of foam cut in the shape of a j. Snowboarders place them on the outside of the liner at ankle level. Their function is to fill in any gaps so that your foot does not move. Are you wondering about the reason for choosing this solution? Foam pieces are cheap and grant a flawless result.
Like the J bars, they are small pieces of foam that need to be applied to the liners. What makes them unique is that they are rather large. In fact, butterfly wraps are so big they can wrap the whole ankle up.
Recently, we decided to perform research on how to stop heel lift in snowboard boots. And we found out that, except for a few blog posts, there was not much information about it. Thus, we decided to write an article that could provide beginners and experts all the tips they needed.
Did our post about methods to stop heel lift intrigue you? Then stay tuned because we are going to post other articles about snowboarding soon!