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The number one best thing ever about my vans is the boa lace system. the boa, if you never saw one, is a little plastic wheel, which replaces tying laces on your snowboard boot. The boa wheel is attached to the super strong steel wire laces, and to tighten them up, you just twist the wheel, and it locks. i have found i can get my boots much tighter with a lot less effort. The laces don't slip or loosen as you ride either, but if you feel like you want them a little tighter, you just twist the wheel. It takes seconds, you don't need to move your pants or take your gloves off. you can even do it on the lift. Tightening your boots takes seconds, undoing them is even faster. You press the button in the middle of the boa and it unravels right away. It's pretty tough to click so you don't need to worry about the boa coming undone by accident. I've been wearing these for years now and i've never had a problem with my boot coming undone. for me the best thing about being able to undo and redo my laces so fast is waiting in lift lines, i can loosen my boots right off, let the nice warm blood flow to my feet and never worry about freezing toes ever again!
on the subject of cold toes, vans boots have loads of layers of materials including some heat reflective layers. I've not noticed these keeping my feet any warmer than any other type of boot.
I've been wearing my current pair of vans for the past 2 seasons. They look a little shabby but they are structurally very sound still and perfectly serviceable. I expect I'll get another season out of them yet. They are also brilliantly comfortable. They didn't take much breaking in at all and now I don't understand people who moan about board boots being uncomfortable!
My boots are pretty flexible but this doesn't give me any problems with control. I can carve just as well in the boots as I can in any others. I actually took an instructing exam that required advanced carving and sharp turns in these boots, they allowed me to preform to my best. The flexibility of these boots is also a real bonus for freestyle and more 'informal' riding.
I have been riding snowboards for several years and I'm no expert, but I do like to be comfortable. Having good fitting snowboard boots is essential, as you are wearing them for long periods they need to be comfortable and they must be able to suit your riding style/needs (whether you want to cruise down the slopes or try jumps/tricks).
My first pair of boarding boots were a pair of Vans 'Re-Entry' boots with a triple lacing system. The boots were great for me learning, the downside was the time it took to get ready in the morning and if you over tightened them you end up with pain almost everywhere from the back of your legs, to your toes and bridge of foot. This meant having to loosen and re-do on the slope, not ideal in normal conditions but even worse in blizzard conditions. I did get used to them and they ended up great to ride in and I have been known to still use them at the indoor slope/dry slopes here.
My partner had invested in a pair of DC 'Boa' technology boots a couple of seasons back and last year I was in Andorra I tried on the Vans 'Cirro' this has a 'dual boa technology' closure system. What this means is rather than having normal laces the boot is closed by tightening dials to control a mechanical cable system around the liner of the boot. The 'Cirro' has 2 for complete control of upper and lower of the boot. The boots were comfortable walking around the shop, but I was not 100% convinced, as I thought they be a bit to stiff for my riding style.
Now at the end of the season I was in my local board shop to spy any bargains in the sale and I spotted a pair of Vans 'Encore' boots. They were my size and sported a very cool red rising-sun design on a black & white boot, I had to give them a try. The difference to the 'Cirro' is the 'Encore' only have a single dial to close the cables round the liner. I knew that Vans had been producing this boot for about 6 seasons and it has been very popular with riders, being one of their best sellers. Comparing them to the 'Cirro' boots I found them a little bit less constrictive, more flex therefore a little bit more forgiving for my control on the slopes. I picked them up at the bargain price of £90 instead of the usual £140, next bit was to see how they would perform on the slope.
Before I tried them out on my board, I wanted to wear them in a bit, so I was wearing them at home. The liner is a 'Trifit Aysm-X Thermal Liner', sounds complicated but all it means is the liner is a customisable heat mouldable liner to get the best fit around your foot and leg in the boot. This teamed up with Aysm-X heel hold technology and comfort flex means you have a really comfortable top end boot at a decent price.
With the recent snowfall we had in the North East I didn't have to travel to far to give the boots a go on my board. I have a decent enough slope at the end of my street, and there was plenty of the white stuff to keep me happily boarding for a while. The walk down was really comfortable, normally with my lace up boots I just wait until I'm back at the hotel or sitting in the bar before I loosen the laces, but the 'Boa' all I did was pull the dial forward and leaned/flexed my leg to slacken off the cables, pushed the dial back and it was liking walking in my trainers. On the board I found the response between my actions and transfer to my board edges to be very good. The 'Boa' system works very well as the tension is uniform around the foot, giving a better fit for longer riding and improved control. I had no heel lift at all when completing turns and putting my weight onto my toe edges.
I highly recommend anybody starting out in snowboarding or who has never tried them before to definately give them a go. My boots will be well worn in before my honeymoon to Whistler, Canada in January 2011.
If you need advice before purchasing your boots or just checking out deals, speak to a member of staff in your local board shop or try 'the snowboard asylum'!!!
New Vanslite Snowaffle Sole
-Trimfit Asym-X thematic liner
-Vans H2 BOA Coiler Closure system
-3D molded tongue
-Internal web harness