You’re only as strong as your weakest link, or so the old saying goes. And while snowboarding is no World War II battle, the credo still applies. Just as a snowboard is your link to the snow, bindings are your link to the board, and boots your link to the bindings. Any weakness betweenlinks, or within a link, compromises your whole ride-and nothing can sabotage an epic powder day likeblisters or a broken strap.

Performance has come along way since Sorels doubled as snowboard boots, butthe combination of high technology, mega-marketing, and the proliferation of choices bewilders manyconsumers come buying time. In addition, not only have the choices between categories grown from two tothree-step-ins have joined soft boots/strap bindings and hard boots/plate bindings-but choices withincategories have also multiplied.

Ultimately, all this is good; specialization increases the likelihood of finding agood match between you and your equipment, and competition lowers prices. There are a multitude of newfeatures and improvements in today’s boots and bindings-the key is to take time to explore some options andtry out different styles. Another good measure to take once you’ve purchased your boots is to custom-fitthem using a special liner or footbed. Comfort is one of the joys of snowboarding, so no matter what yourtaste on the mountain-spinning, carving, steeps, whatever-find a setup you’re happy with so your mind’s onwhat’s in front of you, not what’s on your feet.