Some of the best snowboard boots on the market feature heat moldable liners that need to be baked in an oven for a custom fit. While you can bake your snowboard, ski boots, or snowmobile boots at home, understand that it’s easy to do it wrong and damage them. Boots are expensive, and no one likes tossing money down the drain when they can avoid it.
To avoid damaging otherwise perfect boots, either learn how to custom mold your boots at home, or pony up for an expensive boot fitter at your local ski shop. In this article, I handhold you through the snowboard boots liner molding process. Hopefully, I’ll save you money in the process.
But first things first…
Are Your Boots Heat Moldable?
But then there’s that powerful snowboard boot that just shipped in from Amazon or wherever. And the snowboard boot liners need to be heat molded. Now, it’s OK to bake such boot liners. What isn’t ok is mismanaging the process and ending up with useless liners. Be sure to check if your boots are heat moldable before you shove them into that little kiln. Product descriptions at Amazon normally state whether the boot you’re looking can be custom molded.
Why Heat Mold Your Boots in the Oven?
People bake all kinds of shoes in the oven, but why do they do that? Usually, the main reason is to eliminate the often tough break-in process. Avoid baking shoes unless the manufacturers says you can or should. How do you break in snowboard boots? Listen, friend: break in your shoes the hard way, like you’ve always done. I mean, hasn’t breaking in shoes always been a sweat, blood, and tears kinda thing?
Baking Snowboard Boots Compacts Them
Another big reason to bake boot liners in a home oven or snowboard boot-specific oven down at the snowboard store is fit customization.
When you custom mold boots, that makes roomier, and fit improves noticeably. It’s like broiling boots in a convection oven compacts the areas inside the boot liner, creating more room.
I once bought a pair of thermal-moldable boots from Burton, and while it fit ok, the toe box didn’t give my toes enough wiggle room. Afterwards, the shoes expanded a bit. and I toe circulation improved dramatically. Evidently, custom molding snowboarding boots helps.
Can I Mold Old Snowboard Boots?
You can, technically, but you probably shouldn’t. I once tried heat molding a pair of liners that still felt uncomfortable 2 years after I’d broken them in, and what happened? I ended up with much weaker liners that had me splurge on an option that not only fit well but also pampered my feet. I still have those terrific kicks, because Burton offers built-to-last boot models for skiing and snowboarding.
If you’ve been abusing your boots for 5+ years,I recommend that you show yourself some love and order a brand spanking new pair of the sickest kicks in your range.
What to Do Before Broiling Your Snowboard Boots
Baking boots isn’t some magic wand that resolves all fit issues. In fact, this heat treatment can end up worsening fit. Before you put your boots inside the microwave, make sure the liner and the outer shell have a perfect fit. The fit shouldn’t be too tight, nor should it be too loose. As you test to see whether the liners and the shell fit well, remember to include the specific footbeds or custom orthotics you’ll use.
If the inner and outer boot have a poor fit, DO NOT heat mold them, says Intuition Liners. If the heels or other areas are too loose, no amount of oven-baking will help improve fit.
But how do you know it’s a perfect fit? It’s easy. The toes fit in there nicely and comfortably. That means they don’t curl up or otherwise feel jammed into the end of the liner. But while the fit should be be snug rather than too sloppy or too tight, tight isn’t necessarily bad…
Remember: It’s easier to create more room than to shrink a boot.
How Do You Heat Mold Snowboard Boots in the Oven/Microwave?
Here’s how to custom mold your snowboard boots in the oven at home:
First off, collect the following items and resources before you embark on your little boot dry-roasting experiment.
(i) 3 to 4 lbs of uncooked rice. Not any rice, though. Make sure it’s short-grain rather than long-grain rice, uncooked. If you’re a size 9 or smaller, 3 lbs of rice should be enough. And if you’re bigger than size 9, have 4 lbs for the job. Intuition Liners say not to use instant rice.
(iii) A pair of stockings/tube socks
(iv) A rubber toe cap (Or use some duct tape to improvise)
(v) Cutting board
(vi) Some plywood (if your floor is something special)
(vii) Power supply
Different Methods to Heat Mold Shoes
There are different custom molding methods out there including using a dryer or heating the shoes directly in the oven. But I don’t want you to waste your money, which is why I’ve only described what I believe is the best method of custom mold boots. Follow the steps below to custom mold your snowboard boots:
Put all the rice into one of the nylon stockings. Once done, make a sturdy knot on the opening.
Place the stocking with the rice on a flat surface, maybe on a table or plywood. Work the rice until it’s spread evenly in the stocking. You should end up with a sausage-like or tubular form/shape.
Take the sausage and put it in the microwave oven.
Turn the power on and keep it that way for how long? What determines how long the baking process takes is the wattage of the oven as advised by the manufacturer. Don’t know the wattage of your oven? Check its back panel. and if you don’t see the wattage there, fetch the product’s user manual. Don’t have the user manual? Ask your fave search engine.
For most ovens, the wattage hovers between 800W and 3,000W. The higher the wattage, the faster and more evenly your boots cook. For 100W to 900W, cook for 7 minutes; between 1,000W and 1,100W, make it 5 minutes, and for 1,200W to 1250W, 4 minutes should be enough time.
And what’s the best temperature level to run your micro oven? 150, 200, 250, 300, 350 degree Fahrenheit? You’re going to get a different answer every time you ask this question, but it’s about time you got an accurate answer. I’ve seen once site say 350 degrees, and that’s too high. Most skiers and snowboarders who’ve always baked their boot will tell you that 200 degrees is adequate for pretty much any kind of boot. Wait until the timer turns off, until you hear that familiar ding sound.
As the rice roasts, grab the the toe cap and fit it over the first foot.
Take the free stocking and place the same over the fitted toe cap. Make sure to smooth out all the wrinkles /folds from the stocking,
Once the timer goes off, hold the rice stocking by its knotted end and remove it from the microwave oven. It’s a little hot, take care, ok?
Put the stocking with the rice inside the first boot, fitting one end into the toe box and the other into the heel. At this point, the footbed isn’t inside. Hold the boot and tap it as hard as you can on the floor, preferably over some plywood to avoid damaging the floor.
Tap the heel first and then toe box. Keep tapping, back and forth, until the stocking finally settles as deeply as it can into the liner. Afterward, let the rice remain in the boot for as long as recommended by the manufacturer. The duration typically ranges from 4 minutes to 12 minutes.
Be sure to check the manufacturer’s liner heating chart so you don’t over-heat the kicks. Here’s a heating chart for intuition liners so you can understand what I mean. The recommended heating period is a range with a 2 minute difference between the higher and lower number. If you want a really aggressive boot, go with the upper heating limit.
At this point, slide inside of the heated liner (with the toecap) and stomp the hell out of the floor with the heel. Don’t stop until your heel and the liner around it lodges itself comfortably into the heel pocket. Then, lace up or fasten the buckles normally and stand with your knees somewhat bent for roughly 5-7 minutes. Be sure to keep your heel pressed down hard enough to avoid heel lift.
Step 10: Finally, remove the stocking (and rice) and repeat the exact same process for the other liner.
What’s the Cost of heat Molding Boots at a Ski Shop?
Cost varies from ski shop to ski shop, but most fitters charge in the $100 to $500 range depending on how involved the fitting process gets and whether they’ll add a custom insole for you. If you bought your boots from the shop, their people should advise you regarding the right model and size. More important, most ski shops do it for FREE for skiers and snowboarders who buy from them. Heck,some really nice ones do it for free even for folks who bought their boot online or wherever!
How to Custom Mold Snowboard Boots at Home: Final Word
Heat molding a boot is a great way to create a custom fit so you can enjoy more comfort and support while flying over the slopes. Now that your boots fit like a glove, get the board and bindings right. Then, head out into the season and experience the warmth and performance that all the custom fit, padding, ankles support, and snowproofness of the tongue deliver.