Whether they are turning tricks in the halfpipe or cruising the mountain, most snowboarders have relatively soft boots, and unlike skiers, travel at least partly sideways down the mountain.
A minority of snowboarders practice a form known by various names, including “hardbooting.” As you might expect, they wear boots with a hard plastic outer shell, much like downhill skiers. This page offers a brief introduction to hardbooting.
(The following information was written by Patrick Moore. Pat is a champion slalom racer on both skis and snowboards, and webmaster at Suburban Sport of Connecticut.)
If you’re perusing this forum you’re likely a snowboarder with more years behind you than the typical park and pipe habitue. You derive your boarding pleasure more from cruising the groomers than attempting aerials. Maybe it’s time to try a different approach to the sport. Riding a hardboot board (alternatively known as alpine board, race board, riding plates, etc.) opens up a new world by enabling you to experience carving in a manner you’d be hard pressed to achieve on a softboot setup.
With longer, narrower boards, hard boots, and bindings angled more toward the nose of the board, you can lay down trenches and really make heads turn. The more proficient practitioners have perfected Extreme Carving in which the rider can lay out his body completely in the snow, toeside or heelside. Some videos can be viewed at a Swiss website called Extreme Carving.
Used hardboot gear can be tough to find but the classified sales section of the forum found at Bomber Online can steer you to some deals. Bomber makes excellent bindings as does Catek. Quality boots are available from Head and Deeluxe. (No, “Deeluxe” is not a typo.) There’s a fair number of board manufacturers as well.