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As others have indicated: start with the boots.

As in: get a pair of hardboots that are the correct size for your feet, and do *all* the bootfitting you need to do to get your fit dialed so that you have HAPPY FEET.

There is a misconception among many snowboarders that hardboots are horribly uncomfortable, when in fact they tend to be vastly more comfortable than softboots *provided you have had them fitted/setup/molded correctly*. Don't think you can just buy a pair of boots and go straight to the mountain and be happy: you can't. Make sure you have the correct size boot, get a custom footbed made (expensive, but very much worth the money) and have a heat-moldable/wrap liner from intuition or Dalbello cooked around your foot in the boot for the perfect fit. Once you've got your boots worked out, they will serve you comfortably for a long, long time: don't skimp on this step. Ideally: find the best bootfitter in your area, that is preferably on the mountain (it helps to be able to take a few runs, and bring the boots back to the bootfitter to make necessary adjustments until all is comfy in the land of feet). Mountain Slope and UPZ seem to be the recommended way to go these days — if you want stepin bindings: UPZ is the way. 

A note on liners: I have no idea what the Mountain Slope boots come with. UPZ boots come with a liner that is uhh ... "controversial" at best? Most people opt to discard the UPZ liner (or burn it in effigy if you actually tried to ride with it).

I'm not sure if others have suggested this yet but, since you are already snowboarding on softies — it may not be a bad idea to ease into the alpine experience by spending a few hours getting accustomed to hardboots/bindings on a board you are already familiar with and then subsequently switching over to a full alpine setup. This advice works better if you have a more performance oriented board (tip-to-tail camber, ideally).

As others have stated, you will want to start with a damp, friendly board that is relatively tight-turning for a good learning experience. You will outgrow it, so I would go with one of the many used boards available here. An all-mountain carving deck with titanal + rubber dampening, and a softer flex pattern and tighter turn radius is ideal. As @dredman mentioned: Donek snowboards offers the Talon which seems specifically designed for new hardbooters.

I used to live in NYC and rode in Southern Vermont all the time. There are many *excellent* riders throughout New England that will be more than happy to help you get your bearings and build your alpine fundamentals!! Find people to ride with and get you started, you will progress so much faster and this is a very welcoming community that really loves to see people join the sport. Stratton, Wachusset, Berkshire East all have a contingent of carvers - take advantage of them and you will be ripping turns in no time!

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2 hours ago, Jack M said:

I strongly disagree with the (well intended) softboot comments. If someone wants to try hardboots, they should. Here is an athlete I am coaching. She is 16, about 120, 5’1”, riding UPZ RC11s, F2 Race Titanium’s, and a Kessler 150. (She uses an F2 WC 169 for GS) This is her 2nd season in hardboots. At the time this was taken, conditions were pretty mediocre.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CKY426SD2Qi/?igshid=1475o7eaaeop9

My daughter, with similar stats as @Jack M's athlete above uses nearly the same setup with a Donek Pilot (now "Talon") 152 & 157 .  Both are also great boards for that weight range.  She loves hard and soft setups depending on conditions (and who she's riding with) and carves like crazy in both.  For me hardboots opened a whole great world of snowboarding...@Aquarifaerigo for it!

Edited by rjnakata
Talon is the newer version of "Pilot"
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On 2/15/2021 at 6:22 AM, Deuxdiesel said:

Counter-opinion here;  Have you thought about trying a directional freecarve board with soft boots and stiffer bindings?  I have been so impressed with my Nidecker Concept, Nitro Pantera and Coiler BX boards with Flow NX2 bindings that I haven't reached for my race board yet this season.  My wife is in the mind set as me.  I give up about 10-20% carving performance, but gain a ton of versality and comfort.  Something to consider as a transition at least.  

I have considered it, I have been flirting with the idea of hard boots for over 7 years and I hate living a life with any regret. 🙂

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18 hours ago, Jack M said:

I strongly disagree with the (well intended) softboot comments. If someone wants to try hardboots, they should. Here is an athlete I am coaching. She is 16, about 120, 5’1”, riding UPZ RC11s, F2 Race Titanium’s, and a Kessler 150. (She uses an F2 WC 169 for GS) This is her 2nd season in hardboots. At the time this was taken, conditions were pretty mediocre.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CKY426SD2Qi/?igshid=1475o7eaaeop9

I just followed you on IG, I hope that's okay! 

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Wow, first of all - I want to thank everyone for taking the time to provide really thoughtful and detailed feedback in comments and messages. I came here not really expecting too much, but I am overwhelmed by the generosity! (I live in Boston, that should be explanation enough haha)

I have read all of the posts, and I am starting a list of things to be mindful of as I begin this new and exciting journey. I am really in no rush, and I want to do this right. I hope one day we will cross paths on the mountain and I can say thank you in person! I will keep updating on my progress and will be asking lots of questions over the next few years. Thanks again!! 

-Brianna

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2 hours ago, Allee said:

That Elan Ballistic on there would be a nice board for a lighter newbie. A couple of the women on here have run that board and really liked it.

Somebody also has a couple of Ballistics for sale here in the Vintage section (they're circa 1999-2000 boards).  He says one is a 161, but I believe Elan only made a 163 and 171.  I still use my 171.  It's a very snappy board, tight turning and quick from edge to edge, lots of fun.  I recall a post years ago where somebody said the 171 feels like the "legendary" Madd.  The 163 could be even more so.  But of course, they pre-date metal construction and the better damping that brings.  Being that old, a Ballistic could probably be had for a really good price.

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On 2/15/2021 at 8:10 AM, Wolf said:

 I have some used Deeluxe Track 225 boots that might fit you.  

This is a long shot, but your later posts make it sound like you might not be rushing into buying gear.  If you're still looking this summer, I could bring the size 22 boots with me to coastal Maine.  If you have any reason to come up that way, you'd be welcome to try them on.  No pressure to buy - it's just a chance to try your feet in a boot size that's not too common.  So If you're still looking then, and if you feel like taking a three hour drive north, just let me know by early June.  (Like I said, long shot!)

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1 hour ago, Wolf said:

Somebody also has a couple of Ballistics for sale here in the Vintage section (they're circa 1999-2000 boards).  He says one is a 161, but I believe Elan only made a 163 and 171.  I still use my 171.  It's a very snappy board, tight turning and quick from edge to edge, lots of fun.  I recall a post years ago where somebody said the 171 feels like the "legendary" Madd.  The 163 could be even more so.  But of course, they pre-date metal construction and the better damping that brings.  Being that old, a Ballistic could probably be had for a really good price.

That is me- I bet you are correct, it is likely a 163.  Way too stiff for a 130 lb rider.  The Elan 157 Speedball was what my 130 lb wife used.  Actually, I'd really like to hear more about the skill level and experience of Aquarifaeri.  Lots of recommendations for equipment here without knowing all the facts.  What I can tell you is that my wife rode race boards and hard boots for 20 years and can lay down a pencil line in the snow as well as anyone, and now does the same on freeride boards with (stiff) softies.  It's all about the driver.  

Edited by Deuxdiesel
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Just now, Deuxdiesel said:

That is me- I bet you are correct, it is likely a 163.  Way too stiff for a 130 lb rider.  The Elan 157 Ballistic was what my 130 lb wife used.  Actually, I'd really like to hear more about the skill level and experience of Aquarifaeri.  Lots of recommendations for equipment here without knowing all the facts.  What I can tell you is that my wife rode race boards and hard boots for 20 years and can lay down a pencil line in the snow as well as anyone, and now does the same on freeride boards with (stiff) softies.  It's all about the driver.  

My experience: 

I've been snowboarding on soft boots since around 12 years old. I would only go two or three times per season while first learning. I lived on the South Coast of MA so didn't have a lot of close access. I started going more consistently in my early twenties, by that time I was already intermediate/advanced. I'm in my mid-thirties now. I was never a park rider, I really enjoyed groomers and glades. I have had the same v-rocker board since 2010. I'm not an expert rider by any means, but ride mostly blue and single diamonds. I hope that's helpful!

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2 hours ago, Aquarifaeri said:

Wow, first of all - I want to thank everyone for taking the time to provide really thoughtful and detailed feedback in comments and messages. I came here not really expecting too much, but I am overwhelmed by the generosity! (I live in Boston, that should be explanation enough haha)

I have read all of the posts, and I am starting a list of things to be mindful of as I begin this new and exciting journey. I am really in no rush, and I want to do this right. I hope one day we will cross paths on the mountain and I can say thank you in person! I will keep updating on my progress and will be asking lots of questions over the next few years. Thanks again!! 

-Brianna

Hey I live out in western mass 1.5hours outside of.boston and just got into hardboots beginning of this season. Best ever decision I made regarding winter sports 🙂

We have a small.crew out at berkshire east more or less every week and everyone is super helpful. Feel free to.join the local berkshire east sub forum and join up. If you find some boots you can try out one of my boards (I have some built for 130-160lb)

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Hi Briana,

welcome to the alpine snowboard world.

Actually I am also a beginner on alpine snowboard, start from this season. Just as all the previous comments, boots is the 1st priority and I had painful experience about it. I accidentally chose the Deeluxe 425 pro as my 1st hard boot, even though Sean suggested me the other options, I thought the stiffer boot would last longer without thinking about the comfort of my feet (big regret!). It was way too stiff that I even posted a thread to ask about how to initial toe side turn with it ( I was pretty good on toe side with soft boot). My personal experience is to go with a more flex boots and got it boot fitted with an expert. Good luck and you will feel in love with carving on those beasts!

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One boot to consider is the UPZ XC-12.

The flex is reminiscent of a soft boot except you would be driving with your knees rather than heel/toe. It also comes with a good spring system and you can interchange flex tongues or add step in if you want. 

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I can recommend the UPZ XC-12...  I have the UPZ RC-11's and have changed the stock springs to the Free-flex springs.  These springs have made the boot much more comfortable...

Do not go for a stiffer boot unless you are already a professional racer with access to perfect snow...

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  • 1 month later...

I am local to Wachusett and ride in VT as well. We have a small crew that races at Wachusett on Monday nights. PM if you want to ride locally before our season comes to a close. 

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