snowboard boot lacing

Snowboard Boot Lacing: Boa, Speed, or Traditional Laces?

When choosing snowboard boots a significant decision you need to make is deciding between snowboard boot lacing systems.

In general, the three different types of snowboard boot lacing to choose from include:

  • Traditional
  • Boa
  • Speed

What is the best snowboard boot lacing system?

All of these systems are pretty good and reliable so the truth is it really comes down to personal preference.

But if you're reading this article you're probably trying to figure out which is the best snowboard boot lacing system for you.

In this article you'll learn how each system works and I'll go through some pros and cons of snowboard boots lacing systems.

By the end of this article at a minimum you'll understand the different types of snowboard boot lacing and hopefully have a good idea which systems you should try out for yourself.

Traditional Snowboard Boot Lacing

Traditional snowboard boot laces are reliable and familiar. They’re similar to the laces you find on work boots.

How do traditional snowboard boot laces work?

You tighten the bottom portion of the boot to where you like it. Then there are open eyelets on the upper part of the boot that you slip the laces into as you tighten. Finally, you tie a bow just like you do on your normal shoes. A final step is you’ll likely want to make a double knot to prevent loosening.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Snowboard Boot Laces

The big advantage of traditional laces is you can customize the adjustment of them very precisely over each portion of the boot. They’re fairly easy to replace if you happen to break them too. Modern laces use very durable materials, so this isn’t much of a concern though.

This system can take just a few extra minutes to lace them up compared to other systems. One concern is if you get them laced all up then decide the bottom isn't to your liking you have to undo everything and start all over.  So with a new pair of boots it may take some getting used to.  But after you get it down in my experience, it isn’t really that much extra time.

After you take them off you have long laces that you need to tie up or they flop all around. But this can be an advantage in that you can tie your boots together by their laces. After tied together you can drape them over your shoulder or gear bag to transport.

Traditional Laces

Like the laces on your favorite work boots

Pros

  • Customized adjustment across entire lacing area
  • Easy to replace if broken
  • Tie together and drape over shoulder or gear bag for easy transport 

Cons

  • Takes longer to get them adjusted just right
  • Redos likely with new pair of boots
  • Need to deal with long laces when not wearing

Conclusion:

Great for riders seeking a precise and highly customizable fit who don't mind a little extra fiddling the first few uses while working out a method to get them adjusted just right.

BOA Snowboard Boot Lacing

Boa is a branded and patented technology that is licensed out to various snowboard boot manufacturers and other sporting equipment as well.

How do BOA snowboard boot laces work?

With this system there’s a knob that you turn to reel in the laces and tighten the boots. A ratcheting mechanism keeps them tight. To loosen the boots, you pull the knob out and the tension is released. Push the knob back in and you can tighten them once again.

Check out the embedded video below to see how the Boa system works.

Pros and Cons of BOA Snowboard Boot Laces

This design is easy and quick to tighten and dial your boots to your desired tightness in small precise increments. They usually use braided stainless steel or very strong rope that are extremely durable.  But if they do break it is not an easy fix for the novice.

With Boa systems you will find single, double, and triple zone systems. These differ in how customizable the fit is across each zone.

Single Boa

A single zone system just has a single knob and one set of laces that tighten over the whole tongue area. You cannot adjust the upper and lower zones of the boot separately.  This works just fine if you like the tightness even in each zone.

Double Boa

Consider upgrading to a dual-zone double Boa system that has separate knobs for two zones that can be adjusted independently.  Most designs have a knob that controls the upper zone while another controls the lower zone.

Another dual-zone Boa design has one knob similar to the single zone that tightens over the entire tongue. Then a second knob is focused over the ankle area only to drive the ankle into the heel of the boot for heel hold adjustment.

Triple Boa

Then there's the triple Boa system which has three total knobs with each controlling various zones of the boots.

With greater adjustability comes greater cost. So, think about your budget and how picky you are with the precise adjustment of your boots.

The double Boa system usually works well for most riders. But those that want lower cost can try the single zone while advanced riders may find the added customization with the more expensive triple Boa is worth it.

One minor downside is the Boa knobs protrude out from the boot a bit. This can make it a little more difficult compared to traditional and speed lacing systems to get your pants gaiters over them after tightening or when lifting the gaiter up to make adjustments.

Occasionally you may inadvertently pull the Boa knob out during pants gaiter placement which releases the tension and requires you to readjust. But these are minor concerns for what is a very nice boot tightening system enjoyed by many riders.

BOA Laces

Turn the knob to tighten and pull out to release

Pros

  • Options for single, dual, and triple zone adjustability
  • Ratchets produce easy precise adjustments
  • Easy to release tension with quick pull out of knob

Cons

  • Each additional knob adds significant cost
  • Knobs protrude so pants gaiter placement is more challenging
  • Fixing broken cables can be challenging

Conclusion:

Riders favoring precise adjustments will enjoy achieving this with a few twists of a knob but should be prepared to pay more for multi-zone adjustability.

Snowboard Boot Speed Lacing

Speed lacing is a lacing style that is similar to Boa in that the boots are pre-laced all the way to the top.  But instead of knobs to turn there are two handles attached to the laces that extend out of both sides of the boots at the top where you slip your foot in.

How do speed lace snowboard boots work?

To operate them you pull on the handles and it tightens the laces. There’s a catching mechanism that bites down on the laces after you stop pulling. To loosen you pull the handles at an angle to remove the laces from the notch that holds the laces tight.

Pros and Cons of Snowboard Boot Speed Laces

After tightening the boot, the laces on speed lacing systems do require the extra step of pushing the pull handles into the small storage pockets on sides of the boot and tucking in the excess laces. This is not really a big deal though.

The big advantage of this system is it’s quite fast and easy to adjust. This system allows you to customize the fit of the upper and lower zones (dual-zone) of the boot to prefect the fit. In contrast to the Boa system, Speed Laces are low profile making it easy to get your pants gaiters over them.

The big concern with boots equipped with a speed lacing system is the threat of the laces breaking since they’re more difficult to replace and install than traditional laces.

A popular Speed Lacing system is Burton's Speed Zone™ lacing system.  Burton has been in the business a long time and has worked on perfecting their Speed Zone™ lacing system to minimize the chance of breakage. But if you're hitting it hard you should know that all snowboarding equipment wears over time.

The good news is the laces used by Burton, branded as New England Ropes, are covered by a lifetime warranty. Note that Burton defines the "Lifetime" to be the reasonable lifetime of the product but not your lifetime. It's a solid warranty but I don't want you to think that they're likely to replace the laces on busted up 10-year-old boots.

Speed Laces

Pull handles to tighten and loosen

Pros

  • Dual zone adjustability
  • Low profile design doesn't get in the way of pants gaiters
  • Easy to tighten with a quick pull of lace handles

Cons

  • Fixing broken laces can be challenging
  • Must store handles in pockets on side of boots and tuck in excess laces
  • Focus of tension over the ankle for heel hold not possible

Conclusion:

Best for riders looking for quick and easy dual-zone adjustability.

Hybrid Snowboard Boot Lacing

Although less common, there are also some designs that are hybrids of those described above. For example, you may find traditional or speed laces with a Boa knob that tightens the ankle area.

Conclusion

As I said from the start there is no best snowboard boot lacing system and it really is all about personal preference.  Each have their pros and cons but they all are quite effective at securing the boots with rather subtle differences in performance at the end of the day.

But since it comes down to personal preference hopefully you're equipped with the knowledge to decide which lacing systems you would like to try out for yourself.

Now that you know what the common snowboard boot lacing systems are all about you should check out our Best Snowboard Boots article for reviews and top picks from each lacing style.

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