I'm searching for my first pair of boots and don't have a lot of chances to spend time at stores trying on pair after pair. So I ordered three brands in my price range at my favorite online shop and tried them all on. I was surprised by the results. Here were my observations and thoughts, from a noob's perspective. But first about me:
Weight: 145 lbs
Regular shoe size: 8.5
Experience: beginner, just want to do groomed slopes and maybe park
Looking for: best value and quality in an entry level boot
DC Phase 2014, size 8.5, Grey Wash
MEN'S PHASE SNOWBOARD BOOT - DC Shoes
Thoughts: Decided to try these on first since I wasn't expecting much from them and only ordered them for comparison. But I liked them! Very comfortable. Straight-forward, didn't seem like it was trying to do anything fancy but looked and felt like a quality product. Light-weight, liked the look. Laced up nicely and I was hurrying through it. Inner and liner felt comfy. The fit was good, about what I expected from an 8.5, snug but not tight, didn't feel any heel lift and I could have done a better job lacing.
Burton Invader 2014, size 9, Black/Grey
2014 Invader Snowboard Boot | Burton Snowboards
Thoughts: Since the DC's went well, thought the Burtons would blow me away. They didn't. First thing I noticed, no inner lacing system. Just velcroed to the tongue. Then I put them on and ouch, the top part of my foot (instep?) was super tight and uncomfortable. Okay fit length wise. Laced them up and just didn't feel supportive. Read good things about these so perhaps I need to take my time lacing these up and maybe they perform awesome on the mountain. But trying them on just didn't feel right. Light-weight though and the styling is cool. Like the green accents and little details. Just didn't dig them.
Forum Tramp 2013, size 9, Black
Forum Tramp Snowboard Boots Black Gummer | 2013
Thoughts: Also read good things about these, expected to really like them but unfortunately, I didn't. The size 9 fit snug, a little tight even. The inner lacing system was kinda weird, like it only tightened in the middle near my ankle. Plus, the pull strings and the lock felt flimsy and unreliable compared to the DC's. Also, the front piece of the inner lining was narrow compared to the DC's which was really fat and wide. I didn't like that it velcroed together. The inside of the heel has this ridge at the back which I guess promotes your foot to be lodged in which felt okay but maybe that's what made it feel a little too snug. It looked nice in photos but in person, I didn't like the style as much. Personally didn't like the front toe part where they are stitched upward together. Little details lacked quality which was disappointing. Maybe they take a lot of adjusting to feel right? And maybe they perform better than they initially feel and look? Without being able to actually use them, it's falling short of what I expected.
Bonus for size comparison: Forum Tramp, size 8.5, Grey Wash
Forum Tramp Snowboard Boot - Men's | Dogfunk.com
Thoughts: Super tight. Was expecting this when I felt how snug the size 9 already was. I like this color better. Couldn't wear it though.
So, in my quick try-ons in my living room, the DC Phase is the winner. Am I missing something? Would I be totally wrong if I was able to get out there and try all three out on the board? Does your experience differ? I'd appreciate any thoughts and advice. Thanks!