You could ride without ’em, but it wouldn’t be pretty.

Ah, your snowboard boots-they smell, they get mud on your carpet, and sometimes, sometimes when you’re really tired, they can be a downright nuisance. The truth is, however, you need them more than they need you. Boots are the first pieces of equipment to relay commands from your brain to your board, and thus they really do hold your entire setup together.

So what’s new in boot world this year? “Variety is what riders are looking for,” says Burton’s Boot Production Manager Michael Fox. “A few years ago, everyone rode the Ion because it was the best. Now we can choose between the Ion, SL8, Driver, or Sabbath-all of which could be considered the best by different riders and offer a wide variety of style, flex, feel, and performance.”

Buying into the soft-flex trend hitting snowboarding these days? Get yourself a pair of buttery, freestyle-friendly boots. Want extra support for dicing through the chopped-up powder debris? Track down a pair of stiff kicks for extra response. Is getting in and out fast important to you? Hook up a pair with BOA technology-most companies have a BOA model these days. Climbing up and down the decks of an icy halfpipe all day? You’ll need a boot with extra super-duper traction on the outsoles.

In other words, figure out what you need and make it happen. But whatever you do, just don’t underestimate the importance of your feet-they can and will fight back, if necessary.-Jennifer Sherowski