To be fair, nothing can really beat the feeling that the good old winter sports provide you with. Skiing and snowboarding are some of the favorite activities for both casual enjoyers and professional athletes of all kinds. And, of course, they require their own specialized equipment, including a special type of footwear that not only enhances the performance but also keeps boarders and skiers safe.
But one of the common questions that arise among beginner and intermediate snowboarders is whether one can use snowboard boots for walking, be it a casual walk or a hike. Well, the question can be answered with a simple “yes,” although it’s not something that would be recommended.
Although soft snowboard boots allow much more movement compared to hard ones, they’ll still limit you to the point where walking won’t be as functional and comfortable compared to conventional footwear. The limitation of movement can potentially injure you in the longer run, which is why it’s not recommended to use them for casual wear.
With all this said, we’ll be exploring this topic and going deeper into snowboard boots and what you can actually do with them.
Table of Contents
What Are Snowboard Boots?
Although not a completely new sport, snowboarding is younger than skiing and is often an activity that younger generations prefer. It includes an individual standing on a specialized board going down a slope. And almost exclusively, snowboarder’s feet are attached to the board itself. For this purpose, the activity requires specialized boots that are designed to fit the designated slots on a snowboard.
Snowboarding boots can vary, although the most often division is on soft and hard ones.
Soft boots are way more common, which are what regular casual snowboarders use. They allow more flexibility and are generally regarded as more comfortable ones, at least for casual use. Additionally, they are often used for freestyle snowboarding as they provide users with more mobility and flexibility in these kinds of settings.
Meanwhile, hard boots are designated for professional competitive snowboarding and are also referred to as “Alpine snowboard boots.” They might feel a bit more rigid and uncomfortable, but are actually more useful for faster boarding, ultimately enabling you to react faster. This is exactly why they’re used for classic competitive snowboarding, like racing and carving.
We can make a further division here based on different stiffness levels. This brings a fuller spectrum based on the experience level and overall intended use. For this, we have the standardized, rating and it goes something like this:
- Rating 1 and 2: Softest – For absolute beginners
- Rating 2 to 5: Soft – For park and freestyle snowboarding
- Rating 5 to 7: Medium – All-mountain snowboarding
- Rating 7 and 8: Medium stiff – Backcountry and freeride snowboarding
- Rating 9 and 10: Stiff – Racing and carving
What Are Snowboard Boots Made Of?
Although the materials used for making snowboard boost, as well as skiing boots, have changed over the years, we have some “standard” configurations at this point. But once again, we have a completely different formation for soft snowboarding boots and hard snowboarding boots. So let’s see, what are they actually made out of?
Soft Snowboard Boots
For soft snowboard boots, you’ll usually find really flexible material. This includes relatively softer composites, as well as fabrics and other soft materials. These soft materials can either be leather or synthetic leather. This way, the boots get that much-needed flexibility that they’re well-known for.
Hard Snowboard Boots
With hard snowboard boots, you can usually find materials similar to those of classic skiing boots. With a stiff hard-plastic shell and liner (which is the inside part of the boot), leaning towards one side becomes much more stable, and even more comfortable for classic racing and carving settings. Additionally, you’ll also find much thicker foam used in them, as well as some other composite materials which modern models might come with.
Both hard and soft boots will have additional materials within their liners in order to make your experience not just more comfortable, but also much safer. Your feet should feel pretty firmly in them, without much room to wiggle around, which is thanks to various gel-like materials. This way, they’re also designed to keep you as warm as possible.
Walking In Snowboard Boots: What Does It Feel Like?
Now we get to the most important part: is it actually possible to walk in snowboard boots. To answer this in simple terms – yes, you can walk in both soft and hard snowboard boots. However, the main question here is whether it’s worth it.
If you’re already here, we’ll assume that you’re thinking of using softer “casual” snowboard boots and whether they can be used for walking. As far as hard boots go, these are almost like classic skiing boots and are pretty stiff. But with this kind of build, hard snowboard boots can only allow you to walk a short distance, basically from your hotel room to the nearby ski slope. And yes, you can technically walk longer distances with them, but it’s not actually going to feel good and you’re risking potential injuries, as well as one massive frustration.
On the other hand, softer snowboard boots are much more comfortable for walking. Going from your accommodation to any nearby ski slopes will be a much easier task as they’re far more flexible, and even feel pretty close to regular winter boots. In this sense, they’re much more “forgiving” and can even allow you to walk longer distances without feeling that much stress. Even if you walked a few miles in them, it won’t be as nearly as bad as using harder boots.
Should You Walk In Snowboard Boots?
As the old saying goes – just because you can, it doesn’t mean that you should. Yes, it is technically possible to walk in softer snowboard shoes and to feel relatively comfortable. However, they’re not designed for walking, and there are two main things to think about here:
- You’re risking potential long-term injuries
- You can easily damage these boots since their soles are not designed for walking
Walking to a nearby hotel, cafe, or restaurant and back to the slopes won’t be an issue here. But at the end of the day, they’re simply designed for snowboarding and not walking. So we’d rather recommend that you stick to their intended use and have normal regular boots for walking.
In case you’re looking to save money, bear in mind that walking in snowboard boots will eventually cost you much more as you’ll damage them over time and will have to buy new ones.
Limitations of Movement
One of the main problems when wearing any kind of snowboard or skiing boots is the limitation of movement. Even with softer types of snowboarding boots, your walking or running just won’t feel the same.
One of the main purposes of snowboarding boots is safety. This means that they’re supposed to secure your ankles as much as possible in order to reduce risks of any potential injuries, as well as to help you maneuver the slopes much easier.
Sure, you can walk in snowboard boots from one spot to another until you go out there and strap yourself to a snowboard. However, this is not really a way to go as these boots would not exactly make your longer walking or hiking routines exactly comfortable.
Can You Snowboard In Regular Boots?
But let’s switch these things the other way around. It’s not uncommon for absolute beginners or casual snowboarders to wonder whether it’s possible to snowboard in your regular winter boots. What’s really interesting is that some snowboarders actually do this, although it requires some tweaking of your equipment, as well as already having experience with snowboarding.
For this purpose, you’ll have to use specialized hiking or mountaineering boots as they provide much more support compared to other types of footwear. But at the same time, they’re too flexible, even compared to soft snowboard boots, allowing for too much movement of your ankles.
For this purpose, you’ll have to adjust the highbacks in order to match the boot’s angle. The point here is to achieve as much forward lean as possible. For this purpose, you can use mini-cell foam for padding.
Overall, it is possible to make them feel close to regular snowboarding boots. However, you’ll have to do a bit more squatting due to a different forward-leaning position.
There’s a Good Reason Why We Have Specialized Sports Equipment
When we’re talking about any kind of sports equipment, be it running, hiking, or even snowboarding, there’s always a good reason why that particular piece is designed the way it is. And this is especially the case with an activity like snowboarding where even the slightest change can give you completely different results.
While you can definitely use snowboard boots for walking, it’s not recommended to have this as a long-term solution. As we said, even if you’re looking for a way to save money, you’ll end up spending more if you start using soft snowboarding boots as walking boots as you’ll damage them and will have to buy new ones after a while.