We are finally ready to bring you the round up you have been waiting for. All the 2016 boots binding for kiteboarding. We have all of the 2016 collections from Ronix, Slingshot, Liquid Force, Double Up, Hyperlite and more.
Whilst showing you a huge selection of boots, we are also going to try and help you narrow down your choice and explain what makes a suitable boot for kitesurfing and why some makes and models are more popular than others.
Should you be riding in boots or not?
The first question you should be asking is if you are ready to be riding boots or not. If you are not sure then take our little quiz on the subject to find out. It is true the quiz is light hearted as well as informative, but assuming you have arrived at the conclusion boots are for you, read one.
The next question is about which boots to buy. Brand, model, weight, type and style. We will first address some of the most common questions we get asked and then show you what is available in 2016.
Closed toe or Open toe?
We are going to go out on a limb here (although there will always be people who disagree) and say closed toe for the following reasons.
Safety – No lines around toes, nothing swimming into the toes, no rocks on toes, no sea urchins on toes, no toe and even foot pushed out on hard landings.
Warmth – closed toes keep your feet snugger than open toes.
Sand in the boot – unless you put a sand covered foot into your boot, this has never been an issue for any of our team in their years of riding closed toe boots, however we would get sand stuck under our foot with the open toes contrary to popular belief.
Quality – The open toe boots tend to be the lower part of the product range and the closed toe tend to be the better quality boots for most if not all brands.
Why might you choose an open toe boot in that case?
The answer is usually one of two things.
1. They are cheaper.
2. They were available and I thought I would try before I commit.
We will share with you the benefit of our experience here and tell you that we went through 2 pairs of cheap boots each to ‘see if it was for us’ and the answer was never certain until we bought a high end boot, then the answer was clear. In our opinion high end closed toe boots are the way to go. If you want to save money then buy a 2014 or 2015 pair that your shop is trying to sell at a good price, just don’t buy cheap boots, you won’t like them.
Boys or girls boots?
If you are a guy and reading this, ..no, you can’t buy girls boots unless you have particularly narrow feet. Girls, …yes you can buy boys boots.
The female specific models have of course female orientated styling and often a slightly narrower shape, but as 95% of the girls on the pro tour ride with ‘mens’ boots we can tell you for sure that they are fine for our girly feet.
The only issue you will find is that they often start at size US6 / UK5 / EU37-38 …so just be sure to check a size comparison chart and remember that the sizes they are giving in US/UK are MENS sizes. If your feet are smaller than 37 then you will need women specific or even kids boots.
Of course fit and comfort is a very personal thing and not all boots suit all people. The advice as with many things is to try before you buy whenever possible and if not then ask those who you trust and whose opinion is relevant (don’t ask a guy if his boots will suit you, ask a girl who you see riding guys boots if she has elephant feet or normal feet).
What is it with the weight thing?
As with so many things in kitesurfing, weight is an important factor. When you add boots to a board you significantly increase the weight by 1-2kgs. Why does this matter. Quite simply that is an extra couple of kilos that you will need to compensate for in kite power when getting going and going up wind.
Where weight can be an advantage is inertia during a trick. This can actually add style during tricks, but as us girls are generally much lighter than the boys, avoiding a heavy boot is very important.
Don’t forget either that there is dry weight (the boot in your hand in the shot) and wet weight (they boot when it matters most, in the water).
Your Flexible Friend
For once it is not the credit card, but the amount of movement the boot allows, mainly in the ankle area. A stiff boot allows you to really hold the power of your edge for bigger pop and more explosive power, but a slightly more flexible boot allows you to tweak more during grabs and when pressing out the board on sliders.
We argue for both sides in the office. One half likes a much less restrictive flexible boot and the other half likes a stiff supportive boot. It comes down to riding style and preference.
One thing to remember is that flex increases changes with the life of a boot so if a brand new boot is a bit too flexible at first, go stiffer because it will get more supportive with time.
What is it with Ronix?
First off, we are not sponsored or endorsed by Ronix in anyway (unless they would like to give us some boots, in which case we are open for discussion) although all of the KiteSista team ride Ronix boots. You will also find that all but a small number of sponsored riders also ride Ronix boots and pay for the privilege (with the exception of those that must ride other boots for sponsor reasons, or personal preference).
Why, …quite simply because there is no other boot as light and comfortable as a good Ronix. Others come close and we can’t claim to have put our feet in all of them, but we have yet to find a lighter more comfortable boot.
It may well break after a years worth of riding (or less if you ride a lot) yet we just keep on buying them. We guess we could say that they are the iPhone of the boots world …you love them, hate them, have to have them yet often wish you could break free.
That is not to say that all the other companies are not making fantastic products, …but you wanted to know why so many kiters choose Ronix …that is why.
Now onto the boots themselves.
We are going to go through each brand and present the most popular boots in more details and then show you what else is on offer. We could go into detail on EVERY boot but we would be here all day and this is already not going to be the briefest article we have ever written.
Starting with of course Ronix, …and this year we are not disappointed. The first boot we will look at will be the Limelight. Why, because it is the only closed toe female specific boot they have in the 2016 range. It is quite simply stunning and is likely our recommendation to any female rider who asks.
that said we have not got it in our hands yet to tell you the characteristics, but we think it is somewhere between a One and a Frank in stiffness, will be extremely light, and is tailor shaped to the female foot.
This boot is top of the Christmas wish list for the other half of the editorial team (so this half was informed yesterday).
Next up we have the One. This one of the most popular boots from Ronix and is worn by both Annabel van Westerop and Annelous Lammerts (and this half of our editorial team). It is the lightest boot Ronix make and considered to be their ‘top of the range’. It is quite stiff and gives maximum ankle support.
Next up we have the Parks. This is the boot favoured by Gisela Pulido and Greta Menardo. Their characteristics are that they are very flexible and also quite low cut which is something that makes them appealing to the girls especially shorter builds. This low cut and low flex also makes them a very light boot which increases their appeal.
Next up we have the Frank. The Frank alongside the One is the other most popular boot from Ronix. The other side of our editorial team have been riding them for a year now and absolutely loves them. They are flexible but slightly higher cut and more supportive than the Parks, but not as stiff as the Ones.
Next up we have a new boot to the Ronix lineup, the Kinetik. It is hard to say more than we are told by Ronix, but these boots are marketed as having a very flexible inside and a more rigid outside which might provide a very interesting crossover between a Frank/Parks and a One. The point is to give you support whilst still enabling you to tweak and style your moves.
Another new boot to the Ronix lineup is the Cocktail. This is offered as a cheaper entry point into the Ronix market as a low cut flexible boot which retails at $180/€150 less that the high end boots we have mentioned so far. If you have to cut costs then this might be the way to go although personally we would like to try them on to see if the cost cutting can be felt in the boots and their longevity.
Next we have the Code 55. This is Ronix’s stiffest boot on the market and we think potentially too stiff for most kitesurfer and certainly for us girls. It is a great quality boot, but it is not one we would recommend to you unless you have tried all others and still demand more support and less flex.
Finally we have the Preston. We actually do not know too much about this boot although it has been around for a while as we have not seen anyone riding it to talk to. However the marketing says that it is a stiff boot, but with the stiffness and hold focussed below the ankle. It is also slightly cheaper than the top of the range boots.
The North Boot 2016 as it is known originally started life as a Ronix Frank a few years ago but has been modified and now in 2016 completely redesigned and improved to give a quality and light boot. It is the boot ridden by Aaron Hadlow and Craig Cunningham and you can be sure to get quality from North.
In terms of feel it offers a medium stiffness and a good amount of ankle support with a high cuff.
Now we move onto Slingshot who make some very tasty boots with a lot of years of experience from the wakeboard industry behind them. Although they make a number of different boots suitable for kiting, we are going to focus on what we consider to be the best two models for most riders.
This is the female specific model and is used by Karolina Winkowska and Katarzyna Lange to name a few. It looks amazing and is the first boot of this article to feature a velcro cuff. Whether you prefer the ease of velcro or the tight fit of laces is again personal preference but the boot itself is quite stiff with excellent support.
The Slingshot boots do come in about 400g heavier on average than the Ronix and this is down to the baseplate and construction which tends to be a bit more solid. That said, they last quite a bit longer too.
The other boot we want to feature from Slingshot is the RAD. This is the high performance kite specific boot as in characteristics is like a male version of the Jewel. If you have larger feet or prefer the colour and styling then this is a great boot, but we would recommend the Jewel for most female riders over the RAD.
Now onto Liquid Force, another brand with wake boarding heritage and experience behind them. Liquid Force were among a couple of female wake boots in the Melissa and Team, but however amazing the Melissa looks …
…we told you …the only Liquid Force boot a kitesurfer should buy is the LFK. Released in mid 2015 it is incredibly light and durable and from what we have herd from those riding this boot, it is 100% up there with the Ronix and also looks fantastic. The 2015 female version is white and Pink whereas the 2016 version is white and Turquoise, plus the mens model comes in a very tasty Black and white with orange highlight, so something to please all tastes.
Double Up (or DUP for short) have soared in popularity this last year as we see them more and more on people boards. The boots are said to be just as light as Ronix and those who we have spoken too are all very very happy with their boots.
The girls model is called the Heritage Fi and based on the men’s Heritage model. they are fairly low cut but offer medium flex and good support.
The Heritage mens boot is also an excellent boot and offers the same characteristics as the Fi but in a slightly larger build.
The other notable boot from DUP is the Mojito. The lightest and most flexible boot they make and with full velcro closure system. Provided you like the Camo styling.
Humanoid broke into the kitesurfing scene last year in a collaboration with Best and some of their riders and have been getting some excellent review and feedback. They offer two models, the Howl and the Legacy with the Howl being the lighter more flexible boot and the Legacy offering more stiffness and support.
The official 2016 boots will not be out for a couple of months, but we really like the styling of the current models.
CTRL is our little secret. Very hard to come by in Europe unless you order from Germany however very very nice boots with an interesting attachment system that makes them lightweight and very adjustable. The company is based in Seattle and for 2016 they have have two boots that we would like to get our hands on.
we have been told by a reliable source that they are very very light and comfortable with a unique attachment system that both saves weight and allows for a lot of variance in the boot angle and position on the board.
The Backstage is their women’s specific boot which offers good support and flex with a medium level of stiffness.
The Imperial is their men’s boot which offers greater stiffness and support than the Backstage.
Airush first came out with a boot in 2o15, but for 2016 have refined their range and released two additional models. Although the marketing material does not talk too much about the weight and flex we have a pretty good idea from our experience and seeing the models. Although none of the boots are female specific provided your are at least a US6 then you should fit into these with no problem.
The AP is the signature boot from Alex Pastor. It has all the features you would expect from a boot designed for a world champion and looks to be light with both strong support and stiffness. It has a double lace entry system so it can be done up nice and tight too.
The Reefer from Airush appears to be a much less stiff and more flexible boot. With fairly unique styling it offers good support but with slightly increased mobility.
The Core is a full velcro boot that offers the same support as the AP boot but with the easy of entry and exit that comes with a full velcro system.
Last year Cabrinha came out with the H3 and took everyone a bit by surprise. It is marketed as an ultra lightweight boot with both good flex and support, however there is a downside, it starts at a US8-9 (EU40-41) so for most of us girls it is not going to be a size option.
Finally, not review would be complete without taking a look at the Hyperlite systems bindings. These are much more like a snowboard binding than a wake binding however they are becoming more and more popular and do offer some advantages for kiters.
The base is attached to your board and this year they have come out with low back bases to offer more flex than the previous high back models. So you choose your base, and then you choose your boots. The advantage of course that you can change your boots without changing your base and vice versa, and another advantage we see is protection for your feet if you kite anywhere other than a perfect sandy beach as you can wear the boots when walking the water and launching your kite.
That said they will always come in a bit heavier than the lighter bindings, but not heavier than some of the other bindings we have featured here such as the Slingshots.
First off we will look at the base plates which come in two different colours for both the Pro and the Plowback models.
Then we have the boots. Hyperlite do make a female specific boot called the Brighton. We are definitely going to try and get hold of these to see how they match up against all the other boots.
Now the men’s boots.
So there you have it. The complete round up of what is available in 2016. Of course as we said earlier, with 2016 ranges all released it is a great time to grab yourself a bargain from the 2015 and 2014 ranges.
We hope you enjoyed the article and will pass it onto anyone you know who might benefit from the information.