While the term "hardbooting" is often used to describe the setup, Phantoms are designed to use lightweight alpine touring (AT) ski boots, not traditional hardboots designed for snowboard carving or racing. Hopefully the day is coming when there will be a true splitboard-specific plastic shell boot, but fortunately there has been a big push in the ski touring industry to make lightweight, 2-buckle boots in recent years (scroll to the bottom for our top recommendations). With a few simple boot modifications, your Phantom setup will flex, ride and feel like a traditional snowboard binding setup.
The advantages of using plastic shell boots in the backcountry are many.
Boot & Boot Mod Recommendations
Pairing Phantoms with the right boot is crucial in replicating that surfy feeling we all love about snowboarding. Below are our top boot recommendations. Unfortunately we do not have experience riding every compatible AT boot out there, but as long as you go with a tech compatible, 2 or max 3-buckle touring boot with toe and heel welts, the boot should work with the Phantom system.
Don't overlook how critical it is to dial in your boot fit! Spending a little bit of time with a professional bootfitter will go a long way and should result in happy feet for many seasons to come. If you do nothing else, you should at least replace the insole with one that fits your foot's shape and have your liners heat molded.
Dynafit TLT6 Mountain
2017/18 UPDATE: Dynafit has stopped producing the TLT6s so they are going to be increasingly harder to get your hands on. Note that the TLT7 doesn't have a toe welt at all, meaning they WILL NOT work with Phantom bindings! The new - and cheaper - Dynafit Speedfit (see below) is the closest thing to the TLT6.
We have long stood behind Dynafit TLT boots, and still believe that the TLT6 Mountain is pretty hard to beat. Our Boot Mod Kit is designed specifically for use with the TLT6 and bare minimum mods to this boot can be done by just about anyone: remove the power strap, leave the removable tongue at home, and slot the forward lean plate. Unlike the older TLT5 which had a three piece lower shell, the TLT6 has a one piece lower shell which can be easily expanded by any professional bootfitter. As the TLTs do run a bit narrow, this has opened the door for more people to get the fit they want. This boot is also available in a women's version for the lady shredders.
The Speedfit, from our perspective, is the new TLT6 at a better price point. If you're finding that all of the other recommended boots are beyond your budget, the Speedfit is the answer. With the exception of a fixed tongue this is pretty much the same great boot and should still work with our Mod Kit (we will be confirming this soon).
Arc'teryx accidentally designed a splitboarding boot called the Procline, and all reports we received from Phantom riders who rode them last year are that they are awesome, especially in terms of lateral flex. They do have a similar fit to the TLT6/Speedfit (narrow for some people), and there is one mod that needs to be done because of the shorter than average toe welt. ACMG splitboard guide and Phantom rider Joey Vosburgh made a Splitboard.com post describing this mod here, and we plan on providing longer nylon screws to replace the stock screws on the toe levers to assist with this mod. That said, the recommended mod has not yet been tested in depth by Phantom and so performing this mod is AT YOUR OWN RISK!
The Atomic Backland offers more foot volume out of the box so this is the answer for anyone suffering from the narrow fit of the TLT6s, Speedfits or Proclines. Another selling point for the Backland is that the upper cuff stays tight around the calf in walk mode, as opposed to the loose cuff walk mode of the Dynafit boots. Atomic has also introduced what they're calling MemoryFit Technology, meaning these boots can be heat molded and shaped to your foot at home, in your oven. The only exception is the Backland NC - not made from the same moldable materials, so needed to be fitted/punched by a professional bootfitter. From a modification perspective, another great thing about the Backland is that most of the hardware - buckles, etc - are attached with screws as opposed to rivets, so are much easier to work with. If there's a negative to point out, it's that softening the forward flex isn't possible due to the design of the cuff lock lever, and from this perspective, the Backland may not be the best choice for smaller/lighter weight riders.