Do Snowboard Boots Stretch? (Useful Tips)

Man holding up two snowboard boots, one white, one black.

Buying a new pair of snowboard boots can be a tricky process and there are several key factors to take into consideration when purchasing a new pair of boots, such as the break-in period and knowing whether or not the snowboard boots will stretch.

Snowboard boots will stretch approximately 1/4 of an inch to 3/4 of an inch wider and longer during the break-in period, the break-in period lasts 10-14 days. It is important to factor in snowboard boot stretch when buying a new pair of snowboard boots.

In this post, we’ll cover what you should do while trying on your new boots. We’ll talk about how the boot liners will change during the break-in period and we’ll discuss how to best break in your boots, and mold your liners. Finally, we’ll go over some tips and tricks to further dial in your snowboard boots. 

Getting the Right Fit for Your Snowboard Boots

Snowboard boots stretch in width and length during the initial break in period. 

Riding in your boots will cause them to form to the shape of your foot. The heat created during boarding molds the inner liner to your individual foot dimensions. 

While initially trying on your boots, make sure they fit snugly but are not painful or overly tight. Try on different size boots to your normal shoe size to get the right fit as some boots will come up bigger or smaller.

Lace them up as you would normally, which is tight, but not over tightened. Any immediate pain while trying them on at your pro shop is a bad sign. Make sure you do not lose circulation or have any tingling sensations upon first wearing them. 

Lean forward, and bend at the knees while standing in your boots to determine if your foot fits properly. Your toes should just graze the inside of the boot liner. They should not be curling your toes or feel stuffed into the boot in any way. Your boot liner and shell will not stretch lengthwise, as much as they do widthwise. 

Your heel should feel snug and held down when you lean forward as if you were performing a toeside turn. The boot liner and boot shell will stretch after the break-in period, so this area should feel close-fitting to avoid any heel lift down the road. 

The width of the boot liner and shell will stretch significantly. Because of this, your foot should feel firmly squeezed inside the liner if it is the appropriate size. 

The majority of snowboard boots these days come with heat moldable liners. Riding in your boots will naturally heat mold them to your foot. Another option is to have your local shop professional heat mold your boots for you. 

Factors to Consider When Buying Snowboard Boots

Knowing that your boots will stretch there are several things to consider when trying on your boots in the store and breaking them in after purchase. 

Boot Size 

First of all, you’ll want to choose the correct size to try on. You should start by trying on boots that are a size smaller than you wear in everyday shoes. The liner inside the boot should hug your foot quite snugly, without cutting off your circulation in any way. 

If you feel any numbness or tingling while still in the store you need a larger size. Wearing boots that are too tight could result in blisters. Try going up a half size if that’s an option. 

The boots will pack out anywhere from one quarter to three-quarters of a size. So if you do need to go up a size, make sure the boots still fit quite snugly to your foot. 

Toe distance 

You’ll want to test if the boot accommodates your toes. Try on the boots, and lace them up as you would normally. They should be laced tightly, but not so tight that they cut off circulation, and you can’t feel your feet. Stand up in the boots, and lean forward bending your knees in order to simulate your riding stance. 

Your feet will shift slightly in the boots as you lean forward. Your toes should be comfortable in the boot at all times. If your toes are cramped in any way you should go up in size. They should not be curling under. 

If your toes feel too squashed toward the front of the boot then you should try the next size up, and repeat this process until you find the right size.

The boots will stretch wider, so if your toes feel a bit cramped width-wise this will likely resolve itself. However, your boots will not stretch lengthwise as much. 

If you have time you should walk around the shop for ten to fifteen minutes to make sure your toes feel comfortable in the boots. If not wear them around the house and if they’re not right you can always return them.

Heel lift 

Heel lift is one of the most annoying feelings when your snowboarding. As you turn onto your toeside edge, if the heel cups are not hugging your heel it will lift up in the liner. This will cause some disconnection between you and the board, negatively affecting your performance. 

To avoid this make sure you test out your boots in the shop. Begin by trying them on, and lacing them up tight. Lean forward onto your toes with your knees slightly bent, and simulate a toeside carve. Observe whether or not you experience heel lift. If not great, this is the right size boot for you. 

If your heels do lift up when you rock forward, try a smaller size to see if it will better hold in your heel without cramming your toes. 


The width of your boot will pack out significantly. You should expect the width to stretch a quarter to three-quarters of a size. Knowing this you’ll want the boot liner to squeeze your foot rather snugly while trying them on in the store. 

Again you do not want to experience so much discomfort that your feet go numb, or your circulation is cut off. You just want the side of your feet to feel secure and snug inside the boot liner. 

Breaking in your boots 

The best way to break in your new snowboard boots is to use them. Most snowboard boot liners are heat-moldable. The heat generated from your feet will warm the liners and make them moldable. This will cause the liner to form to your foot while you are snowboarding. 

It will take about four to ten days of riding for them to break in, and mold to your foot. In the meantime, they should not be causing numbness or tingling as this would be evidence that they are not the correct size for you. 

If you’d like to get a jump start on breaking them in, your shop will be able to heat mold them for you. They will remove the boot liner from the outer boot. They will also remove the foot bed. Then the boot liner will be placed into a machine that heats them up so that they will become pliable. 

You will need to walk around in the liners for ten to fifteen minutes. During this time the boot liner will mold to your foot’s dimensions. After this, any riding you do will further break in the boot liners and fit them to you precisely. 

All of the stretching will occur during this break-in period. If you tried them on as outlined above they should not stretch so far that you have heel lift. 

What to do If You Experience Heel Lift in Your Snowboard Boots 

Heel lift negatively affects your riding as it reduces the control you have over your snowboard. It can also result in foot pain as there’s added pressure on the forefoot.

Luckily there is a part that usually comes in your box with your pair of snowboard boots. It’s called a J-bar. It’s a small L-shaped piece that fits between the boot shell, and the boot liner. 

If there is no J-bar in the box then your local pro shop can custom make one for you. Luckily, It shouldn’t cost more that $25. They will fit it into your boot for you. 

Why You Shouldn’t Heat Mold Your Liners Yourself

It’s not recommended that you heat mold your boot liners yourself. First of all, you could void your warranty, and if anything breaks or malfunctions you’ll want to be able to get a new pair. 

Also, using a blow dryer or other means to heat your liners could warp, or melt your boots destroying them completely. 

Your local pro shop usually doesn’t charge to heat mold for you. 

Best Socks for Snowboard Boots

Getting the right socks is often overlooked and is crucial for getting good fitting snowboard boots.

The best socks for snowboard boots should be a thin pair made from wool or acrylic. Acrylic sock fabrics can wick away moisture, and the acrylic does not stretch out as much as cotton fiber.

This creates a snug fit to prevent any chafing. The fiber technology used to make some acrylic socks gives you benefits that increase wear and comfort to keep your feet dry and healthy.

These are much better than cotton sports socks which will absorb sweat and make your feet cold.

You should always wear snowboard specific socks. Buy a pair in advance and wear them when you go to try on your boots, this will help ensure you get the right size first time.

Ski and snowboard boots are designed to be warm, so avoid the common mistake of wearing multiple socks. Thick socks or multiple socks will only give you blisters.

Thin socks are can actually be warmer than thick socks, so don’t worry about your toes getting too cold. 

If you’ve followed these guidelines above then your boots should stretch, and mold to your foot like a glove. You’ll have precise board control and excellent comfort during all your sessions. 

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