I have seen many discounted packages for below 300. I was just wondering what are some setups with good reviews. Plus, I mentioned that its not a hard budget.
Whoops... sorry, when I PM'd you, I didn't realize you wanted to get an entire setup for $300 (I just thought you wanted a board). No... I would say 99.99% of the board, boots, and binding packages under $300 are not very good.
For once thing... your boots are REALLY important and they MUST FIT
. I can safely say that it is ignorant or foolish to buy a boot that doesn't fit you well. Note I'm not saying that you have spend a lot money for a good fitting boot... my friend found boots for 93 cents (yes less than a dollar!) at an REI used goods sale that fit her great (best. buy. ever.) I'm just saying that out of 100 boot models, say only about 10 of them fit you well... what are the chances that exact boot is going to be in a snowboard package AND be in a snowboard package for less than $300. I'd say you have better chances buying a lottery ticket.
Since everyone's foot is shaped different, it is difficult/impossible to know what boot will fit you a priori. I like Nitro boots because I have super skinny ankles and my heel lifts in any other brand boot (Burton, Salomon, 32, etc)... so Go to a store... try a lot of boots
... find the one that fits you perfectly
. It should be snugly touching every part of your foot (no roomy areas) including the front of your toes (touching, but not curled/knuckled). The liner will pack out half a size with a few days use and your toes automatically receded a bit if you are bending your knees properly. Flex the boots (squat in a snowboard stance) and make sure there are no areas that pinch or pressure point you (it will be 100 times worse when you are snowboarding... so if you feel it in the shop, that boot is not for you). Ok... now buy that boot what model, cost, lacing system, etc it has... nothing else is as important as fit (go ahead and see if you can get the boot cheap online as well... but you have to go to an actual shop and try boots first).
If you have money leftover... buy a cheap board (152-156 length) and bindings (anything that can fits your boot well)... as the boots are the most important factor in giving you good performance is your boots.
If you don't, rent a board and bindings... Seriously... I understand you want to have great equipment and not spend a lot (who doesn't?)... but you admit that you've been "stupidly" (quoting your own post) wasting hundreds of dollars renting your gear, don't be stupid and try to skimp on buying the properly fitting boots. So pay now... or your feet will pay on the mountain.