Vans Mantra Review

From $105 Best

This boot from skate shoe brand Vans, which makes both men's and women's versions, has a soft flex that suits beginners and freestyle riders who do tricks in terrain parks. The Mantra comes with a heat-moldable liner, and experts and users rave about how comfortable it is, especially for the price.

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Burton Invader Review

From $130 Best

Snowboarders find this men's boot from the powerhouse Burton brand very comfortable and warm, even when covered in snow. Superlative features include a heat-moldable liner, and experts say the traditional lacing system offers good adjustability.

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Burton Grom Review

From $60 Good

This youth boot is extremely basic but appeals to parents with an attractive price point and features that promise to extend the life of the boot. Velcro straps make the Burton Grom easy for children to take on and off.

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ThirtyTwo Summit Review

From $100 Good

This entry-level boot is available for both male and female riders, who laud its comfort, warmth, and value. Like our other top picks, the Summit offers a heat-moldable liner. Opinions of the brand are somewhat mixed, particularly when it comes to customer service.

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DC Phase Review

From $87 Think Twice

This skate-shoe-inspired boot comes in both men's and women's styles and satisfies some riders. However, it seems to suffer from inconsistent fit and can't compete on features.

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Buying Guide

If you're new to snowboarding, you might assume the most important piece of equipment is the board itself. On the contrary, experts say: It's the boots that are most crucial to comfort and performance. An uncomfortable pair of cheap snowboard boots can discourage you from riding at all, and the money you spend on gear will have gone to waste. Experts actually recommend buying snowboard boots before the rest of your kit, so you can concentrate your spending there and use what remains of your budget on the board and bindings.

Cheap Snowboard Boots Buying Guide

Companies that make cheap snowboard boots range from skate shoe brands (such as DC and Vans) to snowboard apparel brands (such as ThirtyTwo) and general snowboarding brands (including Burton, K2, Ride, and Salomon). Note that buying a certain brand of boot doesn't lock you into a snowboard or binding by the same brand.

The best cheap snowboard boots on our list are the men's Burton Invader (starting at $130) and the Vans Mantra (starting at $105), which is available for both men and women (there's also a Mantra for kids but no reviews that we could find). Reviews indicate that both these boots offer superior comfort for boarders on a budget. The ThirtyTwo Summit (starting at $100), a good cheap snowboard boot for men and women, earns praise for being warm and lightweight. The Burton Grom (starting at $60) makes our list as a youth boot that promises parents good value for relatively little money. Think twice about opting for the men's or women's DC Phase (starting at $87 for select sizes and colors). The boots lack certain features, such as a heat-moldable liner, and reviews raise questions about quality.

Choosing the best cheap snowboard boots is somewhat problematic because everyone's feet are different and a boot that suits one rider may not fit another. However, online reviews from experts and users indicate that the boots on our list are generally warm and comfortable and offer a lot of bang for the buck. We've confined our picks to current models, but savvy shoppers can also find higher-end boots from previous seasons at bargain prices.

Cheap snowboard boots tend to be soft and flexible, making them ideal for beginners and freestyle riders who perform tricks in the park. They also suit frugal all-mountain riders who enjoy many different types of terrain. More expensive boots are stiffer and more responsive, translating a rider's every move to the board quickly and efficiently. Compared with upscale models, cheap snowboard boots have more basic liners and lacing systems and generally fewer bells and whistles.

Be sure to try on plenty of cheap snowboard boots inside a store before settling on your favorites. Comfort is the primary consideration. A proper pair of boots should be snug -- especially in the heel -- but not constricting. Your toes should no more than graze the front of the boot. Cheap snowboard boots will "pack out" after a couple of weeks of riding and become a bit roomier, so choose a pair that feels good and tight. Perhaps most important, your heels shouldn't lift when you shift your weight to your toes. As you would with a regular shoe, try walking around a bit in the boot to get the feel of it and to test overall comfort. (Keep in mind that the walking motion is different from the way your feet move on a snowboard.)

Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

Snowboard Boots Reviews

There isn't a ton of feedback online about inexpensive gear, but the snowboard boots reviews we did find reflect positively on our picks. It's tough to gauge the comfort and performance of a boot based solely on reviews, because any given boot will fit some people better than others. That said, snowboard boots should be comfortable, warm, and water resistant -- lift tickets cost too much to waste the day de-thawing in the lodge. We also looked for indications of quality and durability.

Snowboard Boot Comfort.

Experts and users alike find the Burton Invader (starting at $130) a very comfortable boot, thanks in part to features such as the 3D molded tongue, which is designed to create fewer pressure points, and a snow-proof gusset that keeps wetness from seeping into the lower portion of the boot. Users posting snowboard boots reviews at online retailer TruSnow marvel at how warm the Burton boots keep their feet, even when covered with ice and snow. Comfort also is a major selling point for our other top pick, the skate-shoe-inspired Vans Mantra (starting at $105). A snowboard boots review at The Good Ride likens the experience of wearing the Vans Mantra to snowboarding in sheepskin Ugg boots.

The DC Phase (starting at $87 for select sizes and colors), another boot from a skate-shoe brand, doesn't provide such a comfortable ride, according to The Good Ride's snowboard gear experts. Female employees of retailer find the women's DC Phase flat-out uncomfortable and the fit inconsistent. On the other hand, female riders posting snowboard boots reviews at Sierra Trading Post call the Phase warm and comfortable. Others find the boot too tight, and recommend ordering at least a full size larger. This underscores the importance of trying on boots in a store before you buy.

Users posting snowboard boots reviews at TruSnow appreciate that the ThirtyTwo Summit (starting at $100) has a fuzzy cuff and foot bed for added comfort and warmth. Experts warn that ThirtyTwo boots tend to run wide, so they won't fit people with narrow feet.

The Burton Grom youth boot (starting at $60) features Thinsulate lining designed to keep feet warm even when wet. Consumers posting snowboard boots reviews of this model tend to be parents who can't comment on comfort firsthand, but they report no complaints from cold or uncomfortable kids.

Quality and Durability.

The Burton Invader and Burton Grom are among the cheapest snowboard boots from an industry leader with a reputation for high-quality gear -- and high prices to match. Experts say riders can count on the brand for durability and, failing that, for excellent customer service. Riders posting comments about Vans at Snowboarding Forum report that the Mantra and other models hold up well and recommend Vans boots to other users.

The gear enthusiasts at The Good Ride are devotees of ThirtyTwo boots, having found the quality satisfactory. However, they criticize the brand's customer service, noting that the website offers only an email form for complaints, and suggest that riders might have a hard time getting a product fixed if they have a problem. Users, too, call out the brand for failing to provide a phone number for customer service. DC at least has a call center, but the customer service isn't on par with Burton's, according to The Good Ride. At Snowboarding Forum, a veteran relates having the stitching blow out on a higher-end DC boot after only 30 days. He waited weeks for a replacement under the warranty, and the new pair, too, lasted only a month. Another rider commenting on the same thread complains that after a few weeks the DC Phase boots developed pressure points that made riding painful.

Women's Snowboard Boots

Like snowboards themselves, cheap snowboard boots are often rated on a 10-point scale, with 1 being the softest and most flexible and 10 being the stiffest and most responsive. Manufacturers assign the boots these numbers, so they aren't standard across the industry, but they provide a general indication of what to expect. The boots on our list fall toward the softer end of the spectrum. Soft boots, like soft boards, are best for freestyle/park and beginning riders, as well as all-mountain riders on a budget.

Women's snowboard boots are typically softer than the corresponding men's models, making them easier for women with smaller, lighter builds to manipulate. For instance, the Vans Mantra men's boot is rated a 2 out of 10 and the women's snowboard boot is rated 1 out of 10. This is a little too soft for The Good Ride reviewers' liking, because it sacrifices responsiveness. The ThirtyTwo Summit men's boot receives a 3 rating, while the softer women's snowboard boot gets a 2 out of 10. Women's snowboard boots also tend to be shorter and narrower than men's boots.

The Burton Invader is another very soft boot with a support rating of 2 out of 10, although consumers who have posted reviews at TruSnow actually find it a bit stiff. Gear enthusiasts at The Good Ride acknowledge that the Invader isn't as responsive as boots made for more advanced riders, but the soft flex makes it one of the most comfortable boots available for beginners. The Grom youth boot comes in at the softest end of the Burton spectrum, at 1 out of 10, making it very forgiving for young riders.

Specs for the DC Phase list a medium flex -- 5 out of 10 -- for both the men's and women's snowboard boots. However, the team at The Good Ride notes that DC boots have unusually soft forward flex, despite that rating.

Snowboard Boot Design.

Colors and graphics have no impact on performance, of course, but let's be honest: Design may play a role in your buying decision, especially if you want to coordinate your boots with your board and bindings. Inexpensive snowboard boots don't offer much in the way of flash. For the most part, the boots on our list come in black or white, with black and white accents. Some of the women's snowboard boots incorporate lavender or teal.

The Burton Grom youth boot breaks the black-and-white mold with a multicolored pattern. Consumers looking to get more for their money by passing down the boot to a younger child appreciate that the gender-neutral design is equally appropriate for a brother or sister.

Snowboard Boot Lacing Systems

Snowboard boots generally use one of three methods to secure your feet. The most straightforward is traditional laces, which are common on cheap snowboard boots. Riders can pull the snowboard boot lacing tight or leave it loose on different parts of the boot for a customized fit, and broken laces are easy to replace or temporarily repair, so you don't have to cut your day short. Speed lacing systems typically employ thin laces and a sort of drawstring that you simply pull up to tighten the laces quickly -- no need to even take your gloves off. Boa systems take after their namesake and squeeze the boot with stainless steel "laces" at the turn of a dial. Riders can quickly and precisely tighten their boots using only one hand. Models with this snowboard boot lacing system tend to be more expensive. If you do find a discounted Boa boot in the budget range, it's likely to have a Boa Coiler system, with only one dial, rather than a Boa Focus system, which has separate dials for the upper and lower sections of the boot to provide a finely tuned fit.

All the adult boots on our list have traditional laces. The Burton Grom -- like many other youth boots -- uses Velcro straps. Most consumers posting reviews at TruSnow appreciate how easy it is for young riders to get the boots on and off, noting that children may have a difficult time tightening traditional snowboard boot lacing. However, one reviewer reports that kids' feet kept slipping out of the boots and a strap broke when the user tried to pull it tight.

Snowboard Boot Liners and Foot Beds.

Most snowboard boots have removable liners with separate lacing systems to help keep feet warm and stable and provide some extra cushioning. Most come with their own separate lacing systems. The best liners can be molded to your feet using a specialized heater at a store or simply the heat of your foot as you wear the boot. (Other DIY methods involve a conventional oven, clothes dryer, or hair dryer -- proceed at your own risk.) All our picks for adults have heat-moldable liners. An expert reviewing the Burton Invader for notes that the heat-moldable Imprint 1 liner is seldom available at this price point, and an expert at The House declares that ThirtyTwo makes some of the best heat-moldable liners. The DC Phase has an antibacterial, antifungal liner, so it may not be as smelly as other boots. However, the liner is not heat-moldable, and The Good Ride warns it may not be as comfortable as those found in other boots. Retailer has a helpful guide to exactly what to look for in a liner based on the shape of your foot, whether you have high arches or skinny ankles.

The Burton Grom doesn't have a separate liner, although it boasts Thinsulate lining and a Room-to-Grow foot bed, which can be removed when it starts to constrict growing feet, leaving the boot a full size bigger. This lets children get more use out of the boot and parents get their money's worth. Similar technology is available in youth boots from other brands such as K2, which calls it Grows-A-Long. Consumers looking for a higher-end youth boot with a separate liner can opt for the well-regarded Burton Zipline (starting at $110), which also features the Room-to-Grow foot bed.