For many people, boots will be the first piece of snowboard gear they buy. There are many potential benefits to having your own boots, but also there are many reasons to rent.
In this article, I’ll weigh the pros and cons of buying vs. renting.
Reasons to buy your own boots.
Rental boots can be gros!
One of the main reasons people want to get their own boots is that they don’t want to put their feet in stinky old snowboard boots. I used to work in a snowboard shop and on a Friday afternoon, when all boots came back, the shop would smell like the cheese fondue restaurant next door.
Rental boots do get sprayed with disinfectant and dried out but they still can be a little bit gros!
Get boots that properly fit.
Rental can be busy, and oftentimes, the staff don’t have time for you to try on five different pairs of boots to find the perfect fit.
To speed things up, rental shops will often give out boots that a little on the big side. While this will prevent your toes from getting squashed, boots that are too big give you less support and control over your snowboard.
If you buy boots, you will be able to get the exact size and fit that suits your feet best.
Heat Moldable liners
As well as getting the right size, owning your own boots means they can be custom formed to your feet. Heat moldable liners take the form of your feet, either by heating them up or by wearing them for a few hours.
Rental boots typically come with a standard liner, or if they are heat moldable, they will be formed to the feet of the person who was lucky enough to rent them fresh ou the box!
Rental boots can be tired and worn out
If you only go riding for a week a season, then you can keep your boots relatively fresh for a load of seasons. With repeated use, boots lose their rigidity and responsiveness. They can also become less waterproof and less warm and comfortable as the liner starts to wear out.
Rental boots can easily have had 10 weeks of use before you slide your feet into them.
Tired old rental boots will not offer the same support and performance that a new pair of boots will.
Get better boots!
For me, the main reason to get your own boots is that you can buy a more high-performance boot than you can normally find in the average rental shop. For more advanced riders, a good pair of boots can offer more support and allow you to ride at a higher level.
If you want to really progress at snowboarding then you need your equipment to feel the same day in day out.
You don’t want to spend the first half day, getting used to the feel of another different pair of boots, and then spend the second half of that day wandering whether your should swap them or not!
With your own boots you get used to the feel and repeonsiveness of the boot. Even if that boot is not the perfect fit for your foot and your riding.
Reason to rent your snowboard boots
Renting a pair of snowboard boots will cost you around $20 a day. So for a 6-day snowboard vacation, you will spend around $120 on renting boots.
A decent pair of boots will cost upwards of $300, meaning you’ll need to do more than 3-weeks of riding to break even.
So for beginners or very occasional riders, it makes more financial sense to rent.
Rent a more recent model of boot (maybe)
Depending on how long you would keep a pair of boots if you bought, you can often rent a more recent model.
You can actually rent your boots direct from Burton (but they only do their Step-On models).
A good rental shop should replace their stock of boots every 2-3 seasons, although you may pay a little extra for this. This means you will be able to rent boots with more recent technology and design features than your old pair of lace-up boots that have been in the garage for the last 10 years.
You don’t need to transport them
Whether you are flying or driving to the mountains, snowboard boots take up a lot of space! Flying with boots could mean you need to pay extra for another bag of checked luggage. Driving could mean having to pack the trunk that little bit tighter.
You don’t need to store your boots at home
If like me, you live small, then your boots can take up a significant amount of loft space!
Why bother keeping them stuffed into your closet for the majority of the year when you can just hand them back at the end of your trip?
As someone who snowboards 100+ days a year, I can’t imagine snowboarding in a pair of rental boots. As the interface between you and your board, boots are the most important part of my equipments, and once I’ve found a pair of boots I like (Burton Ions) I ain’t changing! Infact, I don’t even like buying new boots, because they feel totally different to my old, worn-out pair!
However, I would definately recommend renting for some people:
- If you are a beginner and don’t know if you like snowboarding yet (you will!)
- If you only snowboard a few days a year so, don’t have a chance to get comfortable with a pair of boots, and it doesn’t make sense financially.
- If you really don’t have the space to store them at home.
If you don’t fit into any of the categories here then I would splash the cash and invest in a pair of boot. For more info in choosing a pair of boots, check out my boot buyers guide.