Boot Fitting

Shin Bang
Heat Molding


Back to The Carver's Almanac

There are two key things to know about hard boots: how to find the correct size, and how to adjust them for the best fit.


When buying snowboard hard boots, do not order a size based on your street shoe size, or the boots will wind up being the wrong size. Instead, measure the mondo point of your foot, which is the distance in centimeters from the back of your heel to your longest toe (using the same measurement technique as the guy in the shoe store). All hard boots are sold in mondo point. Order the size that you measure. Round down to the nearest size or half-size - it's easier to pack out the liner or punch out the shell than it is to deal with a boot that is too big. Another reason to round down is that when you put your foot on a flat surface to measure it, it tends to flatten out and get a little longer. Just to emphasize:

Don't size a boot based on how it feels when you try it on at the store. If the boot fits great in the store, it will wind up being way too big after it packs out. Sadly, a lot of hard booters ride in boots that are too big for them.

Measuring feet

You will likely discover that your correct boot size is much smaller than what you intially anticipated, because your foot shrinks in length when you have the right foodbeds and the right snowboard stance. When measuring feet, stand straight up with your knees bent and your feet on your footbeds. This will allow you to measure your foot in a non-pronated state which is how your feet should be when you are riding. If you don't alreday have your footbeds this is somewhat of a catch-22, but you can simply make sure you are not pronating at all. Have someone else help you by dealing with the measuring tape or ruler. You may find a significant different between this measurement and what you get being flat-footed, and bending over to read the ruler, with no footbeds.

Other details:

Bootfitter Paraphernalia. Top left is the ankle wrap pad from Tognar that goes around the ankle of the liner to prevent heel lift. Shown at the bottom is the V pad that comes with Burton boots, which does the same thing. On the right is a Bontex shim that goes under the liner, in an attempt to make the boot have a tighter fit.

There are a few boot sizing guidelines on the web, which basically repeat all the information presented here:


Footbeds (also called insoles) are the inner soles that come inside boot liners. The cheap footbeds that come with new boots are useless. You should immediately throw them away so that you don't accidentally use them. The two lower footbeds in the photo show these "stock" footbeds. You should replace them with either generic footbeds (10× better than what comes with the boots - the footbed shown at the top of the photo), or get custom footbeds molded at your local bootfitter (5× better than generic footbeds). Custom footbeds will make sure that the bones in your legs are in proper alignment when you ride. Even snowboard boot manufacturers recommend replacing their crappy footbeds with custom footbeds.

There are several methods of making custom footbeds:

Also of note:


Intuition heat-moldble liners.

Fully heat-moldable liners are highly recommended for any brand of boots: The bootfitter first heats the liners in a convection oven until they take on the consistency of jello. Then, the liners go into your boots, and you wear the liners on your feet. As the liners cool, they mold to your foot. It works great. There are several brands:

In addition to the Thermoflex liners, DeeLuxe also offers boots with a Thermofit liner and a classic liner:

Other liner issues:

Bootfitting Techniques

Shin Bang

Shin bang is a condition where your shin rubs or pressures against the cuff every time you flex forward. As a carver, shin bang is your nemesis. Once shin bang starts to happen, the pain will increase exponentially over time. In order to recover from severe shin bang, you may need to avoid carving for several weeks. If you get shin bang and your shin becomes bruised, it will continue to hurt for a week or two even if a bootfitter fixes the problem immediately. Which means you won't know if a bootfitter's modification works until you go carving after the bruise goes away, which could be a week or two. If you start to get a bruise, ice it every night. You must eliminate shin bang as soon as it starts, using several remedies:

The most diabolical of scourges is phantom shin bang, which inflicts unspeakable pain while carving, but then completely goes away when you get off the slope and walk into the ski shop. You will be unable to locate where the pain was coming from, while the bootfitter will look at you like you're a nitwit.

And finally, acute shin bang causes the hair on your shin to wear off.

Heat molding liners

These instructions apply to liners that can be heat molded in a convection oven, such as the Raichle/DeeLuxe Thermoflex liners or Intuition heat-moldable liners. Do not use these instructions for liners that are meant to be hose-heated, such as Raichle Thermofit liners, or the liners that come with Head boots. The newer Virus UPZ boots can be heat-molded, but not the older UPZ boots.

Warning: The liners will have their greatest uncompressed thickness before they are heat-molded for the first time. Which means that even if you have the correct size boot, you probably won't be able to get your foot into the boot until after you heat-mold the liner. You have to take the leap of faith that you will have a good fit after the liner is heat molded. Once the liner is heat molded, you can't return the boots.

Do not use a hard boot specific heat moldable liner for soft boots, otherwise the liner will get torn apart from all the flexing of the soft boot. Instead, use only a heat moldable liner specifically designed for soft boots, such as the one sold by Intuition. The ThirtyTwo Forecast soft boot comes with such a heat-moldable liner.

It's not a good idea to heat mold Thermoflex liners without a footbed. If you mold the liners without a footbed, the liner is not going to provide enough rigidity for your foot, and your foot is likely to twist inside the liner.

Here are the unabridged instructions for heat molding liners. After molding the liner at a bootfitter, make sure you get a bag containing all the boot fitting paraphernalia that was used (foam patches, etc) so that if you wind up needing another molding, you can bring back all the stuff and resume from a known starting point. You can re-mold the liners up to 6 times (and probably even more than that). Every time you heat mold the liners, the liners shrink a little bit, they get a little stiffer, and it takes a little more heat to do the job. The HPD Thermoflex liner is thicker, stiffer, and for the same size will take up more space than either the regular Thermoflex liner or the Intuition liner. If you have weird shaped feet, or need to fill a lot of volume around a skinny ankle, go with the HPD liner.

Getting the toe cap and footbed in place:

Liner molding:



There are other guides on the internet that advise how to heat mold liners:


Are you suffering from shin bang, pressure points, rubbing, aching? Then

You may require the services of a bootfitter for such things as heat molding, shell punching, custom footbeds, custom liners, etc. The good news is that you don't have to seek out a "hardboot-specific" boot fitter. An expert at fitting ski-boots will be just as effective with snowboard boots. If you need something simple like Thermoflex heat molding, sometimes a 6-pack of beer is the only currency you need. However, a lot of carvers find that they need to keep going back to do follow-up fine-tune heat moldings. A lot of bootfitters at ski resorts charge a one-time bootfitting fee that includes any number of tweaks over the course of as many days as necessary until your boots fit. Some bootfitters even provide lifetime tweaking - they put stickers on your boots (that don't come off) to identify them. You should avoid, if possible, bootfitters that charge per hour.

Bootfitter issues:

Several bootfitters are recommended:


Lake Tahoe:

East Coast:



Pacific NW:

Back to The Carver's Almanac