Editors’ Choice Splitboard Boots

It used to be that snowboarders had to wear their resort boots for touring and deal with limited stride length, but no more. Hard- and softboot manufacturers alike are leaning into the backcountry movement, and our Editors’ Choice winners do it best. Whether you want the uphill efficiency of hardboots or the surfy feeling of a traditional snowboard boot, we’ve got you covered.

Key Equipment Disruptive

key-equipment.com | $699 | 2,610g/pair | SIZES: 23.5-31

Hardboot splitboarding is a like a leaderless cult: Instead of a single proselytizer, small sects of converts habitually badger their friends to try it. “I never in a million years thought I would drink the hardboot Kool-Aid,” a Teton big-line rider said, “but here I am fully sold on hardboot life.”

A two-piece shell features tech inserts and low-friction pivot points, as per Key Equipment and confirmed by testers. “The walk mode and subsequent stride length is insane compared to soft boots,” our convert said.

On the descent, the boot provides a highback’s stiffness and a soft boot’s surfiness. A plush Palau liner lends support and comfort, said a longtime zealot who’s used Disruptives exclusively for two seasons. He liked the updated cuff, which features stiffer plastic than last year and better hugs the shin. “My first pair had a gap in the front, so I had shin bang and a loss of efficiency in turns,” he said. “Not anymore.”

Both testers applauded the Disruptive’s adjustability. Easily finetune-able Velcro straps with buckles on the cuff and ankle provide flex, while forward lean can be tweaked at home with tools and on the skintrack by popping the walk-mode lever into one of two positions. “That makes changing the aggressiveness of the forward lean ridiculously easy as terrain and subsequent style of riding changes,” our Teton charger said.

New cult inductees are often the most zealous, which proved true for the recent convert, who had few complaints. As for the longtime hardbooter, his one gripe was the 99-millimeter last, which “pinches my feet like Chinese footbinding,” though punching the shell released the pressure.

K2 Waive

k2snow.com | $550 | 2,352g/pair | SIZES: 5-13

With a best-in-class walk mode, crampon-compatible Vibram sole and freeride feel that can be tweaked for surfier descents, the K2 Waive is a skintrack stud. 

The crux all soft boot manufacturers face is walk mode. While none have scaled that hurdle perfectly, K2 fumbles less than the rest, at least according to a Wasatch boot nerd with a relatively narrow foot. “The best-feeling uphill boot I’ve ever used by a wide margin,” he said. Our test director agreed: “I’ve had some of the longest tours of my life in these boots—all blister and hot spot free.”

Such praise stems from a Boa-braced panel on the Waive’s calf that locks down for ride mode, providing the functionality of a mid-stiff freeride boot. When the Boa is disengaged, the calf panel expands outward, increasing range of motion. “It maintains solid downhill performance even with the emphasis on touring,” commented our converted Wasatch tester. 

The Boa system also controls the ankle harness, which does limit some adjustability—say, if you prefer a stiff backstay but looser ankle. Traditional lacing topped with a Velcro power strap offers ample external tightening. Our test director relayed, “Unless the objective is spicy, I keep both the Boa and power strap looser—it provides a surfy feel and shaves time off transitions.”  Testers were split on the backcountry validity of Boa—one unscarred rider found the system convenient, while another carries extra Voilé straps after busting five Boas in three seasons. Both agreed, however, the Waive’s uphill range of motion is unbeatable in the soft boot category.

Published here are 2 of 6 splitboard boots we reviewed in our 2024 Gear Guide. To check out the comprehensive range of boots we wrote about, or to learn about board profiles, how to choose a split and more, pick up a copy of the 2024 Gear Guide, available in print and PDF versions. For the rest of our 2024 Editors’ Choice reviews published online, visit our gear page.

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At Backcountry Magazine, we are committed to providing you with honest and informative gear coverage. To support our work and continue delivering quality content, we are including affiliate links in our reviews. Partnerships with retailers are separate from coverage, ensuring that our reviews remain unbiased. These links help us earn a small commission if you make a purchase through them, at no additional cost to you.

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