This is long, I tend to elaborate alot, though this describes where I'm coming from with this. If you can't stand to read it all, just skip to the last paragraph, thanks!
Hey all, need some advice about purchasing my first pair of boots, and I plan on going Nike. I've been boarding for 9-10 years now, but I live in SC and only get to go a few days a year (less than 5 most years). So as funds are tight, I haven't been able to justify getting my own setup, and haven't been able to progress much beyond just basic riding. I'm fairly experienced at that, but still a n00b at anything airborne, though I would classify myself as all-mountain/freeride since that's where I'd like to be if I ever had the opportunity to go more often.
Anyway, after a particularly bad experience with some beat-up, packed-out Salomons last year with 3.5 inches of heel lift, I swore I would save up and get my own boots, and a good pair at that (I don't buy "entry/beginner-level" products for most anything, as they're typically a waste of money). Anyway, I've kept up with and lusted after alot of different gear for years, and see that many people feel that Nike boots are the best. I've studied the technologies they employ, read lots of reviews, as well as threads on here, easyloungin, and elsewhere, and I've been extremely satisfied with every pair of Nike's I've owned. I can believe that they really are the best, as not many people know how to make shoes as well as Nike, and they have a ton of cash to throw behind serious R&D. I don't care that they're "big corporate", I care about getting the best fitting, best performing, longest lasting boots I can for the money, and it seems like Nike will deliver.
I don't have much money on hand for this, but am willing to spend what I need to get a good pair. Still, $200 is about my limit, and I'd love to spend a good bit less than that if possible. I have not had the opportunity to try on a pair, or take advantage of in-store deals, as there is only one store in the area that carries any snowboard gear. They're a great, locally-owned store that staffs knowledgeable employees, but they carry mostly Burton gear with just a few other additions (686, Forum, Ride). After talking with them briefly, they highly recommended that I get the Nike boots where I can. So brownie points for them for putting my experience above their sales numbers. Anyway, I have no way of trying a pair on, comparing stiffness/support/comfort of the different ones, or seeing any local sales. So I need help making a decision.
I typically wear 10.5 in street shoes, with a few 11's. I can wear 10's, though my feet are a little wide up front so I tend to prefer 10.5's and just have a bit of space in the front of my toes (3/4" or so). I'm talking Nike sizes here, and confirmed today with a few pairs of running/training shoes. I tried on some Burton Invaders in size 10, and they were quite snug all around but no pressure points, and weren't cramping my toes. I know Nike's don't tend to pack out much, and run true to size, and I've never had a pair of sz 10 Nike shoes of my own, so I first need to know which size I should get, 10 or 10.5.
Also, I'd like some advice on which boot. It's looking like I'll just get the Vapens, since they look to be more than enough in terms of features for my needs, and they're the only ones I can afford to buy the 2012 model, unless someone knows where 2012 zf1's or dk's are $200 or less. People say the Kaiju is super-comfy, and they're apparently based on it, which is good, and I admit I love the varsity red/black colorway, since its my school colors (South Carolina Gamecocks). I just worry that it may be too soft, or that something else may be better for my needs? I've seen a few places where I could get last year's ZF1's for a bit less than $200, and 2011 DK's for just a hair more, but it would be hard to track down my size by next weekend (when I'm going), and I'd rather have the extra year of warranty if there aren't any major advantages with a different boot.
Sorry that was so long, but to wrap up, $200 is my limit, and even that is a bit higher than I feel like I should pay, but I want a good product that will be comfortable and durable. I simply don't have the ability to try any Nike boot on, or even see them in person, anytime before I go, and am not even sure what size I need. I like the Vapens, but don't want to be disappointed in the flex or lack of a feature or something compared to a higher boot. And it goes without saying that the lowest price possible is a huge plus. So what would you people recommend in my situation?
Thanks again, especially if you took the time to read the whole thing!