How Tight Should Snowboard Boots Be? 12 Tips To Find Out

Last Updated on 30/11/2022

How Tight Should Snowboard Boots Be

In this guide on how tight should snowboard boots be, we explain how to tell if your snowboard boots are too tight or too loose. You will learn how to tighten your snowboard boots the correct amount so that they don’t rub or cause an ankle injury.

Ensuring your snowboard boots are the right size and tightness can make the difference between a fun day in the mountains and a fun day cut short by pains or blisters.

Whenever I put my snowboard boots on for the first time of the season I always think my feet must have grown or maybe the boots got tighter. But they soon stretch out once you tighten them up and walk around a little bit. It doesn’t help if they have been kept in a garage all year.

This article is about how tightly you should fasten your snowboard boots and how they should feel on the different parts of your foot and lower leg.

How Tight Should Snowboard Boots Be?

Snowboard boots should be as tight as possible without snapping the laces or causing pain. This means pulling your laces as tight as you can on every lace hook and keeping the pressure applied until they are tied.

The boots should feel snug all the way around. From the toes to the sides, tops, and ankles, the boots should feel supportive and tight without feeling like they are restricting the blood to your feet. If you are wondering how tight should snowboard boots be because your boots feel uncomfortable then you should read our guide on how to test them (further down).

Brand-new snowboard boots should be especially tight because of how they will stretch out as you wear them. Most of the time, the shoe size below what you normally buy is the right tightness in the long run. Heavily used snowboard boots may start to feel loose over time which can be helped with an extra pair of thick socks.

Snowboard boots tight or loose

Should Snowboard Boots Feel Tight on Your Toes?

When you try on a pair of snowboard boots for the first time your toes should almost be touching the bottom of the boot. You do not want a lot of wiggle room. They should not be pressing against it but if you wiggle your toes and they don’t touch the inside of the boot then they are potentially too big for your feet.

When you tie up your laces this shouldn’t really bull the boot in from the tip and so will not tighten the boot around your toes very much. Your laces will pull your boot in from the sides of your feet though so be mindful of how the snowboard boots feel on the width of your toes.

Because snowboard boot lacing systems don’t tighten the boot lengthways it is super important to get a good fit around your toes. It should feel tight all over without having any points of acute pressure that cause discomfort.

Snowboard Boots too Tight

Should Snowboard Boots Feel Tight on the Sides?

When you initially begin tightening your snowboard boots, the sides of your feet should be compressed slightly. To ensure you get a tight fit all the way around the sides of your feet, make sure the boot laces are tight from the very bottom and that you do not lose any pressure as you work your way up the boot.

As someone with very wide feet, the sides of my feet are often where I get the most problems. It is absolutely crucial that you get a wide-fitting pair of snowboard boots if you have wide feet. The same goes for narrow feet – you need to try as many different rands as possible until you find the one that just feels right.

While it is important for your snowboard boots to fit snugly on the sides, if you feel that the boot is physically squashing your feet in, they are too narrow. But the best way to know if your snowboards are too tight on the sides is to walk 100 feet or so in them. If you feel any rubbing or pinching after such a short time, you can almost guarantee it will get worse.

Should Snowboard Boots Feel Tight Around the Ankle?

Snowboard boots should not feel too tight around the ankle until they are fully fastened up. You want to be able to easily slip your foot in without having to force your ankle the last inch. But then when you fasten them up your ankle should feel completely locked in and unable to come off your foot no matter how hard you pull.

One of the significant improvements snowboard boots have had in recent decades is dual tightening. The addition of a BOA lacing system is the best way to secure your foot tightly in your boot. We explain more about the different lacing systems further down if you want to learn what BOA laces are.

If your snowboard boot isn’t tight enough around your ankle, your feet will try to compensate by using your toes to keep your feet locked in. The problem with this is that it is very strainful on your foot muscles and ligaments and surprisingly the place where you will feel sore is your lower calf.

Should Snowboard Boots Feel Tight on Your Lower Leg?

Snowboard boots should feel tight right up your leg, otherwise, why would they put so many lace loops? Some boots are more flexible than others but even if your snowboard boots are firm, you should still tie them equally tight.

You don’t want them so tight that they cut off the circulation of blood to your feet but you should not be able to wiggle more than two fingers inside. Throughout the day you may find that your socks slip down and the tightness of the boot around your calf begins to fade. At this point, it is worth taking the time to re-tighten them.

Remember not to wear your ski pants on the outside and not tucked into your boot as this would not allow you to get a proper tight fit and would also be uncomfortable, let alone impractical.

testing snowboard boots for tightness

How to Test if Your Snowboard Boots Are Too Tight or Loose

When you are testing the tightness of your snowboard boots, there are a few things to remember. First of all, you want to replicate the conditions you will be using the snowboard boots as much as possible. This means wearing the same socks to test your boots as you will be wearing on the slopes. It also means adopting a snowboarding stance by bending your knees slightly with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Once your boots are fully tightened you can try a few different things to see how tight your boots feel in different places.

Check Your Toes

When your snowboard boots are fully tightened, how do your toes feel? You should be able to wiggle your toes slightly and the tips of your toes should be just touching the end. If you can wiggle your toes freely and you can feel lots of dead space then tighten your boots some more or get a smaller size. Also, test by arching your foot with your toes on the ground to see how it feels.

Test the Sides

When your snowboard boots are the proper tightness at the sides, walk about in them for a hundred feet or so. If you are trying them on for the first time do this indoors so you can return them if they aren’t right. Once you have walked around for 3 minutes or so you will know if the sides are too tight. Also, test by arching your foot on your toes to see how it feels.

Test the Heel

To properly test the heel you need to make sure your foot is right at the back of the boot and pulled in tight as much as possible. You can achieve this by giving your heel a tap on the ground. Then place your toe on the ground and press down so that your foot now slides towards the tip – notice how much movement there is in there. Too much movement is a bad thing and will lead to blisters on long days. Also, test by arching your foot with your toes on the ground and rocking your foot onto your heel to see how it feels.

Test the Ankle

To properly test the heel you need to make sure your foot is right at the back of the boot and pulled in tight as much as possible. You can achieve this by giving your heel a tap on the ground. Then have a friend try and physically pull the boot off your foot while you hold onto something solid. If they can’t get the boot off you know that the ankle of your snowboard boots is tight enough.

Tips for tightening snowboard boot

12 Tips for Trying on Tight Snowboard Boots

Here are some tips to help you m know how tight should snowboard boots be:

    1. Ensure you are wearing the same thick socks you will be using to snowboard in
    2. Always sit down to tie your boots when possible
    3. Make sure your socks are pulled up
    4. Don’t lose any pressure as you work your way up your laces
    5. When standing, make sure your knees are bent in a snowboarding stance
    6. The liner will stretch out. It can also be heat-stretched by a snowboard shop for a truly custom fit
    7. You will gain around a half-seize to 1+ whole American shoe size over time
    8. Good snowboard boots have something called forward lean – this is so that when you are snowboarding in the bent knee stance they are angled the right way for comfort and performance
    9. Stiffer snowboard boots with less flex are more responsive and they will soften over time
    10. Most issues are from the boot being too big not too small
    11. Take the liner out of the boot to have a look at how it’s made
    12. You can get an aftermarket product called Strapins that can help improve the tightness of your snowboard boots

DC Phase BOA Pro Mens Snowboard Boots Wheat/Black 11.5


4 Different Types of Lacing Systems for Snowboard Boots

There are a few different types of fastening systems for modern snowboard boots but the four most common are laces, laces with a BOA system on the side, single BOA system, and a dual BOA system.

What is a BOA system? A BOA tightening system is a special type of boot closure mechanism that you only find in the best snowboard boots (because licensing is expensive). It works by twisting a knob that ratchets a super strong cord tighter than most laces can achieve.


Snowboard boot lace configurations are just like hiking boot laces in that they usually have a lower half threaded through holes and then an upper half that can easily be undone by using lace hooks. The reason for this is so you can save time and easily get your boot off without having to struggle.

Laces are great and work perfectly fine but you often have to put a lot of pressure on them to get them tight. This is not a problem it just takes more effort and is less effective than other methods.

Laces and BOA Tightener

Having an additional BOA lacing system alongside your laces that can crank up the tightness around the ankle and top of the foot is absolutely worth it. Dual lacing systems for snowboard boots are a good sign of quality in general but their true purpose is to hold your ankle in place. If you like the way your red laces look on your boots but want the benefit of a BOA system then this is your best combination.

Single BOA Tightener

Snowboard boots with a single BOA tightener at the top are fairly rare these days as most have got two to really lock your foot in. Still, the benefits of a single BOA lace system has over a pair of snowboard boots with just laces are somewhat apparent once you have used them both. That being said, I still like my Vans snowboard boots which don’t have a BOA system.

Dual BOA Tightener

A dual BOA system is probably the best option out there for snowboard boots. It allows you to get the maximum tightness with the least amount of effort or time. You way it wraps the boot around your foot is amazing and really gives you the best fit. Dual BOOA systems are often fairly pricy but absolutely worth it if you snowboard often.

Minus33 Merino Wool Ski and Snowboard Sock Azure Blue Medium

Using Thick Socks in Tight Snowboard Boots

We recommend you wear at least one pair of thick socks when snowboarding, simply to stop your feet from getting cold. Another reason to wear thick socks is to prevent blisters., although, wearing two pairs of socks is often the best way to solve that.

The other reason to wear thick socks is if your snowboard boots have been well-used and the liners have started to pack out too much. So if your old snowboard boots have started to feel loose even when tightened beyond their capacity then the only way to prolong them is to layer up on socks to fill the dead space inside the boot. This isn’t ideal but it will save you from having to get a new pair of boots or replace the liners.

We hope you found this guide on how tight should snowboard boots be, useful. Let us know how you like to wear your boots, Tight and stiff or tight and loose?

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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