Hardboot splitboarding has been gaining popularity for sometime now. Although its not for everyone it does have its pros…and its cons.
The upsides are you don’t have to deal with janky plastic ladder straps that snap when it’s chilly and cold war era ratchet technology. You have bindings that are MUCH more efficient with fewer moving parts. Your boots are tech toe compatible meaning touring is WAY more efficient than on a softboot setup. Your lateral stiffness (side to side wiggle) is superior, meaning on an icy skin track or bullet proof windslab you can more easily get some edge in.
Transition time is massively decreased and your uphill setup weighs less. The AT hardboot itself makes energy transfer so damn fast, you can basically go at lightspeed through the trees; dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!
Softboots are oh so comfy. So surfy. So warm. Softboot bindings are slowly advancing. Spark. Karakoram, and Voile, known for their splitboard bindings are finding some competitors such as the Union splitboard bindings. Pros for softboots are the comfort, warmth, and playful feel. Deeluxe makes several excellent split specific boots, as does Thirtytwo. Transition time may be a touch slower, edge control is definitely decreased. Uphill efficiency is significantly less than a hardboot setup, as the pivot point of the foot and the weight is less…good.
My favorite part of soft boots is the warmth, but I’m willing to wear heated socks to have the insane edge control that comes with a hardboot setup. I’ve been cat and heli guiding on a hardboot setup for the past 6 years.
Tracking down a softboot is easy, cause, you know…go to a snowboard shop. Want a hardboot? You may have to go to shops that sell skis. Make sure they understand it’s gonna be a boot for snowboarding. Go a full size too big. I’m a 26.5 mondo and I buy 27.5. They’ll try to convince you otherwise…they always do.
Now the juicy bits, what boot do you buy? Foot size and width dictate a bit of what works here, but here’s some non intentional snowboard or intentional snowboard boots (Hardboots…AT Boots)
Key Equipment Disruptive Boot
This one is cool. An intentionally designed hard snowboard boot. The Key Equipment Disruptive Boot. It’s a low weight hardshell splitboard boot. Specifically designed for snowboarding. Looks like a lot of elements of other great split boots were combined. It’s a company based out of France. I honestly can’t say much as I haven’t tried them but they look awesome! Minimal weight, no mods needed.
The other specific snowboard boot. The Phantom Slipper. Essentially a modded Atomic Backlands boot. Again, haven’t tried it, but I have wide feet and apparently its good for wide feet.
The boot the Phantom slipper emulated. Can get a link lever kit from Phantom to mod it to be more snowboardery.
What I use. Soft and easy to mod. Open up the ski mode metal block with a file or Dremel to make it surfy. They don’t last long, maybe 2 seasons. I’m on my fourth pair and I love em.
What matters is minimal buckles, easy flex and a relatively simple way to modify the ski mode so its got some play.
Remember, snowboarding is fun. Make sure you’re having some. Whatever boot and binding you run, if you’re stoked you’re using the right setup.
This article is for clowns . The TLT8 he recommended doesn’t even have a toe bail welt. You need that to use any hard boot binding. Recommending that LA Sportiva mountaineering boot is a joke too. That isn’t really a hard boot… Every splitboarder I know that has switched to hard boots says they’ll never go back to soft boots. Who ever wrote this clearly lacks any real experience using a hard boot set up and didn’t appear to do basic research like knowing what boots actually work with hard boot splitboard bindings…
Most of the split guides I know of in CO and WA all use phantom slippers. As well as serious chargers like Kris Kopala. I also agree with calvin, your snarky editors note just makes it sound like you’ve got an axe to grind with John.
I demo’d some last year, and it’s really a slick, well built setup. Really improves the tour and while the ride down takes time to get used to, the responsiveness is out of this world
Key equipment now comes with a dedicated hardboot design for splitboard. Have a look.
There are a lot of European brands doing cool things but I don’t know how many of them have US distribution.
When using the La sportive mountaineering boot Do you stay with a soft boot binding I was thinking about using my La Sportivas also due to quick conversion to crampons
I used a softboot binding. You’ll probably have a little toe drag if you have size 11 feet or bigger but you also maximize that surfy feel, and again don’t have to buy a completely new setup. It was my transition from soft to hard boot for big expeditions.
Hi Antwan, does UPZ make splitboard AT boots? On their site I only see Racing boots, which would make Phantom the only company which appears to be making a splitboard specific hardboot.
“ Do you see Jeremy, or Xavier or anyone for that matter riding hardboots?”
You mean riders sponsored $$$ to ride a soft boot/have a signature soft boot from a sponsor?
Tlt8 doesn’t work as a hardboot, no place to put the front bail.
Probably worth adding scarpa aliens, atomic backland, Fisher Travers,arcteryx procline. All boots that people use often for hard booting.
Might also be worth mentioning why someone would want to have a hardboot setup. Long ski traverses (generally lighter, better pivot point, better for side hills, keeps water out generally better), mountaineering (better for kicking in steps, takes and climbs well with an automatic crampon).
The article is pretty poor. I can see why phantom wouldn’t want to send you gear to test.
think you miss the point “real” hardboot (ie. alpine) for splitboard. Models you mention are for ski, but you may/should consider snowboard hardboots from UPZ and the like, then you get the best on the way up, the best on the way down with a precise control on the board at high speed with true carving ability.