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Snowmobile boots: How To Make The Right Choice
Winter is coming soon, snowmobile enthusiasts! The degrees are already starting to drop in the thermometer and some regions of northern Quebec have already seen their first snowflakes!
As for me, I’m currently reviewing the clothes and accessories I’ll be refreshing for the upcoming season. You might also be wondering if you’re going to treat yourself to a new pair of boots this winter?
If so, here, without pretending to be a 3M Thinsulate or Gore-tex “pro”, are some tips and suggestions from a friend to help you with your shopping.
4 Things to consider before you buy
1. Your use
First of all, what do you intend to do with your snowmobile? Trail, off-trail, hybrid, etc. Make your choice based on your most common use. Also, evaluate the frequency of your outings, their duration, their location, whether you are usually a driver or a passenger, etc.
If you practice off-trail or hybrid snowmobiling, you should ask yourself if you have several kilometers to cover on the trail before going to your off-trail “spot”.
If so, you’ll need a boot that keeps you warm for the road, while keeping you dry during the effort. Otherwise, as some of you may have experienced, you will be heading home with wet feet… and quickly freezing!
All these elements will necessarily impact the model of boots you choose.
2. Your person and your type of driving
You should also ask yourself if you are a person who is always hot or always cold, in life, as well as on your snowmobile. It may seem trivial when you say it like that, but do the exercise! This will have to be considered in your choice.
Also, what type of riding do you do (more or less aggressive)? If you are a more aggressive rider, you may want to choose a boot that is a little cooler, breathable, stiffer (to protect your ankles) and with a durable sole (to avoid damage to the running boards of your snowmobile).
Do you usually ride sitting or standing? Some boots are designed more for standing and will be less comfortable when sitting.
Are you more or less active on your snowmobile? Normally, the more you move around, the warmer you will be and you will need a cooler boot that breathes more.
Everyone is different. Keep in mind that you may choose a pair of boots that don’t necessarily make sense for you based on who you are.
3. Your budget
Obviously, your budget will impact your choice. Unfortunately, you can’t expect to get a pair of competition boots for $100. Most quality boots range from $300 to $500. Of course, you can find pairs of boots that are below this price range.
However, you have to be prepared to accept a little less quality and less frequent and sustained use. If you only do a few outings during the winter without doing long rides, a less expensive pair of boots could do the trick.
A little budget tip by the way. Most companies now make boots with the “Boa” lace system. If you like a particular boot, check if it is also available with regular laces.
If so, it will definitely be cheaper in this version (sometimes you can see a saving of almost $100). Without a doubt, the “Boa” system makes your life easier while keeping your boots tight and adjusted throughout your outings.
On the other hand, the regular laces option allows you to have access to the same quality of boots, while paying less.
4. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good pair of socks
Too often, people neglect the choice of socks. They may think their boots are cheap, too warm or not warm enough, when in fact their socks are not suitable.
If your feet get wet easily in your boots, it may be because you chose socks that are too warm, not breathable and don’t allow moisture to escape properly. And wet feet mean frozen feet for the rest of the day around here!
Don’t hesitate to test with thin, good quality sport socks, rather than thick snowmobile socks. I also invite you to carry several pairs of socks with you. This way, you can change them as needed if they get wet or go from a warmer pair to a cooler one and vice versa.
On the other hand, if you tend to have cold feet, you might want to start by buying a good pair of warm socks adapted for snowmobiling before changing your boots.
The must-haves for your shopping; according to your needs and uses
1. Trail riding or hybrid; looking for ultimate warmth!
If your budget allows it, I recommend the Backshift boot by FXR. With 1,200 grams of insulation, this is the warmest boot FXR has ever made.
It has a durable sole that absorbs shocks. It is comfortable, waterproof and breathable (FXR’s HydrX Pro membrane), while providing excellent support for your ankles, unlike the traditional trail boot we all have in mind! Its booties are removable and replaceable; handy to put them in front of the camp’s wood stove!
Good news for those who may have found it bulkier than other boots, it was redesigned in 2021 with fewer panels to slim it down at the toe. While I recommend it more for trail riding (because it offers unparalleled warmth), you should know that many “cold-footed” riders still enjoy using it for hybrid riding.
When I said earlier to make the right choice for you, here is an example! This boot is considered very warm for off-trail snowmobiling. However, with my little feet freezing at the end of September and thawing the following June, this boot keeps me warm and dry all winter long.
However, I wear a very thin sports sock that wicks moisture well inside. So it’s a less common pairing, but one that works very well in my case!
2. Trail or hybrid riding; with a little less heat please!
Also from FXR, the Helium boa boot is to be considered for off-trail or trail riding (more aggressive), if you are looking for a nice warmth. It’s less warm (with 800g of insulation), a little less bulky than the Backshift and lighter. Equipped with the same FXR “HydrX Pro” membrane, it will keep you warm and dry with the same durability.
In fact, FRX is one of the only companies in the industry to clearly display a 3-year warranty on their boots. Consider that this boot is among the stiffest manufactured by FXR. It is also higher to ensure a better protection of the ankle. Some may like it, some may not, depending on the use you make of it. You also have to be prepared to put in the budget.
Still in the same category, I couldn’t pass up the Klutch GTX boa boot by Klim. With 800g of “3M Thinsulate” insulation, its “Gore-tex” membrane and its resistant “Michelin” soles (yes, like the tires!), it is enough to make other pairs of boots jealous.
Thanks to these assets, it provides exceptional breathability and water resistance to the wearer.
Its price is still reasonable ($379.95) if you compare it to other boots in its category available on the market (quality/price ratio). It is a little lighter, narrower and thinner at the toe and less stiff compared to the Helium boa boot from FXR. It all depends on what you are looking for.
Another good thing is that Klim has developed the same boot specifically for women’s feet, the Aurora GTX boa boot. It seems that this is the only boot in its category that is specifically adapted to women’s feet. I tried it out, ladies, and it is super light and comfortable!
3. Off-trail or hybrid riding; looking for even less heat!
First, how can we not recommend the Adrenaline Pro GTX boa boot from Klim. This boot doesn’t even need to be introduced in the industry, as it has made its name. With 600g of “3M Thinsulate” insulation and a “Gore-Tex” membrane, it ensures that you stay dry despite hard work. It’s durable and designed for the aggressive driver who never stops. It currently retails for $469.95.
Another budget-friendly option is the Raid Boa boot from 509. It features 600 grams of “3M Thinsulate” insulation, offers rigid soles and has an interior designed to be water repellent and breathable.
It is also less rigid (more flexible) than other boots in its category. Obviously, you will not find the same exceptional quality of the boot offered by Klim. However, if you are an active rider and are looking for less heat, while saving your wallet, it may be an option to consider.
4. Hybrid riding; looking for a good value
If you’re looking for a good value boot that allows you to enjoy your favorite sport without breaking the bank, the TEC + boot by Ski-Doo is for you.
Currently priced at $299.99, it offers comfort, flexibility and durability. Featuring a removable moisture-wicking liner, 600 grams of Primaloft insulation and a water-resistant outer membrane, it allows you to ride on and off the trail.
5. For the passenger; looking for a good quality/price ratio
I’ll end with a boot that deserves to be considered by any passenger; the Taiga – Snowmobile boot by CKX. This boot is super light, warm (up to -85 degrees Celsius) and comfortable.
It is also offered at a very low price, $144.99 for the adult. I wouldn’t recommend this boot for aggressive snowmobiling, because the sole tends to get damaged on the running boards over time and it doesn’t offer much support for the foot and ankle. However, for the static passenger who is looking for absolute warmth without breaking the bank, this is definitely a nice option.
They can also be useful for your other winter activities such as quad riding for example. They are also available in a version that is a little more resistant in terms of the sole (Taiga Evo – Snowmobile model) which costs $154.99. However, I have not yet had the opportunity to test this last version.
Remember that there is no perfect pair of boots for every purpose. There is also no pair of boots that is completely wrong. All companies offer interesting boots in their range. It’s just a matter of finding “the” right pair of boots for “the” right person. We are all different to the tips of our toes! All I have to do is wish you a good shopping experience!
I would like to thank the team at Lapointe Sports de Joliette who allowed me to try the many brands of boots offered in their store (Ski-Doo, FXR, Klim, 509, CKX and many others) in order to write this article.