Open-toed or closed-toed? Stiff or soft? Choosing the best wakeboard boots for you!
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good pair of boots.
Just like in skiing, snowboarding, or simply walking down the street, if your feet aren’t happy when you’re out on the water, chances are the rest of you won’t be happy either. The good news is, boots have continued to improve and these days, you have a bunch of great options to choose from – each with unique features and benefits that appeal to different types of riders.
But, how do you even begin to pick through the wide selection of wake boots? Here are a few main considerations to help you decide what style boot is best for you:
Open-toed or closed-toed?
The main benefit of open-toed boots is that they allow for use by riders with different size feet. Open-toed boots are a great choice for youngsters with growing feet, or casual riders and families who are hoping to share. Generally featured in size ranges small/medium, medium/large and large/XL, one pair of boots could potentially work for multiple riders with feet three to four shoe sizes apart. If you want to have one versatile setup that can be used for multiple riders, an all-around board and a pair of open-toed boots is the way to go.
Keep in mind though that while open-toed options have plenty of features built in, they’re generally not as high-performance or as secure of a fit as a pair of closed-toe boots. They tend to be a softer fit (beneficial in accommodating a range of feet sizes) and aren’t as warm in cold water.
For a boot in this category, the Slingshot Option is one-of-a-kind. It features a unique Gummy Strap closure system that squeezes tight as you ride and will never loosen. Check it out!
For performance-oriented riding, a super secure fit, and more direct feel/control over your board, closed-toed boots are the way to go. They’re a little more expensive, but what you give in price, you get plenty back in performance. You can usually share with riders about half a shoe size up and one size down – but anything more than that isn’t very comfortable or functional.
Within the closed-toed category, there are a variety of Slingshot options to choose from. Soft, medium, or stiff? Inner laces or not? Removable, walkable liner or not? Check out our 2018 boot lineup for an overview of each.
The general rule of thumb is that a softer boot will be more comfortable and forgiving for casual or entry-level riders. If you’re not riding super hard, or if your form isn’t dialed, having more flex underfoot will give you a bit more margin of error and a little slower response in your board. Stiffer boots generally translate to higher performance, with a more direct and immediate reaction from your board, and more ankle support for aggressive riding.
An exception to this is in the cable parks, where many high-performance riders prefer a softer booth for tweaking out tricks and grabs, and leaning father into presses.
In the Slingshot lineup, flex ratings are as follows:
Softest flex- The Option: Open-toed design and soft flex make it a comfortable, forgiving, and user-friendly choice that can accommodate riders of all shapes, sizes, and skill levels behind the boat.
Medium flex- The KTV: THE KTV and the RAD are built from the same shell, just with different closure systems. The KTV features a three-zone gummy strap closure that maximizes custom flex control by allowing the rider to tighten the lower, middle, and upper parts of the boot independently. Gummy Straps provide a dynamic riding experience. Unlike static closures, Gummy Straps flex with your movement and squeeze your boots tight while you ride. It’s the perfect balance between support and mobility.
Medium flex- The RAD: THE RAD and the KTV are built from the same shell, just with different closure systems. The RAD features both a syncing lace closure over the top of your foot that can be pulled tight and locked down, AND a gummy strap closure over the ankle that squeezes tight as you ride. Flex can be controlled by loosening or tightening the dual closure zones. Thanks to its simplicity, the RAD has been a popular choice for boat riders for years.
Stiffest flex- The Shredtown: The Shredtown is a boot within a boot. It has an inner liner with hard “walking soles,” which is a big bonus for cable riders and winchers who don’t have feet like cavemen. The liner syncs tight with a full lace-up closure and slides into the outer boot, which has the same three-zone gummy strap closure as the KTV. The Shredtown is built for superior support and stiff board control.
What are Gummy Straps and why are they taking over wakeboarding?
Wakeboarding needed a new technology to solve old problems.
We introduced Gummy Straps to solve a problem that has afflicted wakeboarders since the very beginning. Velcro (the worst offender), laces, and the BOA system all loosen over time, come untied, blow out, break, fray, flap around your feet and often don’t provide the support you need even when they are functioning “properly”.
Introducing Gummy Straps…
Made of super strong, high-tension, Thermoplastic Poly Urethane (TPU), gummy straps stretch firmly to fasten, then squeeze tight as you ride. Set the tension level by how much you stretch the straps before fastening them, and once they’re set, they’re set. No slipping, loosening or getting ripped off, and no leftover laces to dangle around your ankles. As an added benefit, gummy straps are inexpensive, and they’re practically indestructible (see video above). They also come in a rainbow of colors, so you can switch them out to customize your look. Check out the video below to learn how you can easily interchange your straps!