There is a significant difference between the best ski boots with a perfect fit and a pair that are a little off from that wanted perfection. Regardless of your level of ability, a comfortable boot is necessary to have the best time on the snow. There is very little that can ruin a great time on the powder than feet that are freezing or painful.
The same problem comes into play if you are wearing a ski boot which does not fit well. It can make it harder to transfer your energy into the skis and cut down on your potential performance. The good news is that the best ski brands out there are making better ski boots than ever before.
These foot friendly ski boots often come with customizable liners and some even feature heat-customizable shells. However, it can sometimes be challenging to decide which skiing boots are perfect for a specific person. That’s why we’ve done the work to find the best ski boots.
We’ll share some information about each of these boots and why they might fit your individual needs. We are also going to delve into everything you need to know when browsing the ski boots that you are considering. By the end of this article, you will be ready to make a purchase and get out into the snow where you want to be.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Ski Boots for 2020
- 2 Rossignol Evo 70 Ski Boots Men’s
- 3 Salomon QST Access 70 Ski Boots
- 4 Salomon X Access 80 Wide Ski Boots Men’s
- 5 Roces Idea Free Adjustable Ski Boot Black-Lime Green
- 6 Salomon X Pro 100 Ski Boot Mens
- 7 Tecnica Ten.2 70 HVL Ski Boots
- 8 Nordica Sportmachine 65 W Womens Ski Boots
- 9 Rossignol X2 Cross-Country Ski Boots Men’s
- 10 Apex Ski Boots Antero XP Ski Boots Men’s
- 11 Atomic Hawx Magna 110 S Ski Boots Men’s
- 12 Things to Consider When Searching for the Perfect Ski Boot
- 13 Different Types of Ski Boots
- 14 Stiffness of Ski Boot Brands
- 15 Sizing of a Snow Ski Boot
- 16 What to Know About Boot Liners
- 17 All About Buckles and Strap Systems
- 18 Choosing the Right Boot Soles
- 19 Weight of Your Ski Boot Choice
- 20 Concerning Walk or Hike Mode
- 21 Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping for Ski Boots
- 22 Wrapping Up
The Best Ski Boots for 2020
|Rossignol Evo 70 Ski Boots Men's||104 mm||70||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|N/A||Salomon QST Access 70 Ski Boots||104-106 mm||70|
|Salomon X Access 80 Wide Ski Boots Men's||104 mm||80||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|Roces Idea Free Adjustable Ski Boot Black-Lime Green||Adjustable||N/A||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|Salomon X Pro 100 Ski Boot Mens||100-106 mm||100||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|Tecnica Ten.2 70 HVL Ski Boots||106 mm||70||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|Nordica Sportmachine 65 W Womens Ski Boots||102 mm||65||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|N/A||Rossignol X2 Cross-Country Ski Boots Men’s||N/A||N/A|
|Atomic Hawx Magna 110 S Ski Boots||99-103 mm||115/125/135|
|Apex Ski Boots Antero XP Ski Boots||102 mm||110|
Rossignol Evo 70 Ski Boots Men’s
The Evo 70 Ski Boot by Rossignol is a boot specifically made for entry-level skiers. This makes it a fantastic option for anyone who is new to the sport but wants an easy to use and comfortable boot to head down the slopes. It is also completely reasonable for use by an intermediate skier.
This boot offers a three-buckle system with an oversized buckle on the top near the cuff. The top buckle has been created to make it simple to adjust the width at the top of the boot, which means it will easily fit calves of all different sizes. Leather material is used for the back of the liner and features saddle stitching that helps prevent uncomfortable pressure points and allows easy entry.
The rest of the liner on the Evo 70 is created out of a soft, comfortable fleece which provides a high amount of warmth. However, it is a rather basic liner. It has a design that offers a wide fit which offers an excellent angle for the bottom of the calves. It also has a firm heel cup and an asymmetrical toe cup.
The last on this boot is 104 mm in both the men’s and women’s version. This makes it best suited for those who have wide or average sized feet. With a flex rating of 70 for men and 50 for women, this is a light flex that is best for those who are beginners or more experienced skiers who want to cruise down easier hills.
All in all, you can expect this to be an easy to use and flexible ski boot that offers a great responsiveness for someone inexperienced with the sport.
- Fantastic boot for beginners
- Works well on all sorts of terrain
- Offers a flexible toe
- Comes in a wide fit
- Provides a strong clamp
- Does not come with a walk mode
Salomon QST Access 70 Ski Boots
These QST Access 70 Ski Boots come from Salomon, a well-known brand in the world of skiing. They are a great choice for a beginner or an intermediate skier looking for a quality pair of boots. With a last width of 104 mm, this is a comfortable boot for any shape of foot. The 70-flex rating also provides reasonable speed while being forgiving.
The addition of a hike and walk function adds something extra to this boot if you tend to spend a large amount of time walking in your boots. It offers a ThermicFit liner which is created from anatomical foam. This liner will keep your feet comfortable and warm while out in the cold.
The hike system is patented and offers a backbone release with a V-cut shape on the back of the lower part of the shell. This creates the opportunity for wide rear cuff opening when out and hiking but a genuine alpine forward flex when heading down a mountain. That is because the backbone fits specifically into the lower shell’s V-cut.
The magnesium part that links the cuff to the shell of the boot is from X3 Lab and offers a solid rebound and back support as well as a progressive forward flex when it is fully locked. When unlocked, the cuff can be released to create a wider opening and a better heel to toe transition.
This boot comes with two aluminum buckles and a cloth buckle. It has an oversized 24 mm pivot for a better level of precision and more reliable power transmission. As many of the mountain skis in our modern world are wider than they used to be, the additional torque helps you ensure a great time skiing each time you are out.
- Features TwinFrame technology
- Comes with hike and ride technology
- Easy to buckle and use
- Widely considered to be comfortable
- May not be the best choice for an advanced skier
Salomon X Access 80 Wide Ski Boots Men’s
A new skier needs a boot that is comfortable straight out of the box so they can place all their focus and concentration on learning the sport, not stressing out about boots that make their feet hurt. The Salomon X Access 80 Wide is a boot that is designed for those with higher volume and wider feet. It also works well for those who aren’t used to the tight feel of ski boots.
These boots offer a 104 mm wide last, special cuff, and liner, and include flex zones in the calf and toe box area, which makes it exceptional for those with large calves and wide feet. Those who want a quick introduction to skiing without any pain will find this is an excellent place to start.
The 104 mm last is great for those who find even the 102 mm is a bit too tight on their feet. It also features an intuitive shell that has integrated sliding tabs, so it’s easy to open your boots even in the coldest temperatures. It also has a specific cuff design that is made for use by men with a higher cuff than women’s boots.
The soft flex at only 80 is a great choice for beginners or intermediate skiers. It also does well for those who are interested in less aggressive skiing. The flex calf zone features a V-shape that helps adapt to the shape of your specific calves for the best possible comfort.
The flex toe box is made from an easily formable neoprene to fit your feet and includes a comfortable liner designed to be extremely easy to wear for beginners. It also has a TwinFrame technology where rigidity is provided where needed, but the rest of the shell is a bit softer for comfort and easy entry.
This ski boot offers a 24 mm pivot, four micro-adjusting plastic buckles, and a 28 mm power strap. It’s best used by a beginner or someone moving into intermediate territory.
- Soft flex is excellent for a beginner
- Wide boot width will appeal to many
- High arch design offers a stable platform
- High boot calf volume with a large opening
- Not the best option for those who are experienced
Roces Idea Free Adjustable Ski Boot Black-Lime Green
If you are interested in taking your children on ski trips, you will need to ensure they have a comfortable set of ski boots to guarantee the whole family has a great time. Roces offers a few options for children who are interested in skiing and the Idea Free is one of the best options out there. Not only are they inexpensive, but you won’t need to upgrade every time your child’s foot grows and moves into a new size.
These top ski boots can adjust from U.S. size four through size seven. The boots feature an adjustable dial so you can alter the size whenever needed. This means you won’t be stuck replacing the boots a season from now when your child has larger feet. It also means you can spend less money on rebinding and replacements.
These ski boots utilize a 6-in-1 technology to allow parents to adjust the size of the boots on still growing feet. In addition, the boots feature three micro-adjustable plastic buckles to ensure a good fit on a skiing trip. There is a power strap, and the entire design of the boot prioritizes flexibility and comfort.
The sole length of the boot remains the same length even when switching out the boot size. That means you don’t have to deal with rebinding even after a growth spurt. The shin strap is also designed to be extra secure for comfort and safety reasons.
Since the footbed stays the same size even when adjusted, it has the possibility of adding extra heel space at the larger sizes. It should also be known that these boots tend to run a bit large, so be careful about sizing for your child.
- Specifically designed for children and those with smaller feet
- 6-in-1 technology allows boots to fit even during growth
- Easy to adjust and comfortable to wear
- Great price for the features
- Only available for children or those with small feet
Salomon X Pro 100 Ski Boot Mens
The X Pro 100 by Salomon ski boot is created to offer an option that will accommodate a large range of skiers. Unlike many of the other ski boots on the list, it’s also best for those who are intermediate to advanced in terms of skill level. Those who are beginners or only moving into intermediate territory may find this isn’t the right product for you.
As with some of the other ski boots on the list, an authorized dealer can customize the fit of the boot onto your foot using heat. This means that you get the top comfort since the boot will fit your calf and foot completely. It blends together comfort and performance well, so you can make it down the mountain without any pain.
This boot features a TwinFrame 2 construction to create the best responsiveness and energy transfer. This is a feature that is sure to appeal to anyone who wants to speed through the powder or skiers who may come upon difficult terrain. It has a medium last which will fit most feet. Unless you have very narrow or wide feet, these will suit you well.
The adjustable flex allows you to choose the stiffness that you most prefer. This also makes it a boot that suits people of many skill levels. It also is the best option for those who are versatile in terms of their skiing since different flexes tend to do better for specific paths and trails.
There is an adjustable strap to keep your leg in place. Those who are gunning for extra speed will appreciate that your legs and shins won’t start shifting when you make a turn. While this product isn’t the cheapest one, we’re showcasing, it is an example of getting what you paid for and more.
- Excellent combination of performance and low price
- Features a heat-moldable shell
- Solid support, smooth forward flex, and a plush liner
- Ideal for intermediate skiers
- Does not feature a walk or hike mode
Tecnica Ten.2 70 HVL Ski Boots
Those who have a wider foot and want to find the perfect ski boot to fit you well, the Tecnica Ten.2 70 HVL might be the right ski boot for your needs. These ski boots boast a high instep and are versatile enough for any skier to get use out of them. Whether you are just beginning or a bit more experienced, this is a wide boot that will do what you need it to do.
HVL mentioned in the boot name refers to the boot being a high volume one, which also lets you know that they are ideal for those with wider feet than average. This boot has a 106 mm maximum last on the male version, which is more than enough space for most people with larger, wider feet. It also features a wider forefront, a square toe box, and a higher instep than other boots in the price range.
One complaint about these ski boots is that the liner is a bit thick and can be bulky. However, it is quite comfortable and warm. Those who find it too bulky can choose to replace the liner with one of a lower profile or can heat mold it to create a better fit overall.
Tecnica uses a soft plastic over the top of the boot, which is called Tecnica Quick Max. This adds extra height over your foot, which makes it easier to get into and out of your ski boot. The buckles are metal for durability and micro-adjustable for the ability to customize them to your needs.
All in all, this is a boot that will work well for any beginners or intermediates who want to step up their skiing game. The boot is versatile and will handle various trails and mountains without any trouble.
- Excellent ski boot for those with wide feet
- Offers great performance on any terrain
- Made of highly durable materials
- Plenty of technical and comfort features
- Liner is a bit bulky and thicker than normal
Nordica Sportmachine 65 W Womens Ski Boots
The Sportmachine 65 W is a women’s ski boot from Nordica. It is built for beginner and intermediate skiers who want a comfortable boot that can handle the snow. This boot features a comfortable liner, a stylish design, and an advanced shell construction which makes it one of the most popular ski boot models on the market today.
This ski boot has four buckles and a design that is stylish while being simple and sleek. While many people believe that ski boots cannot help but be uncomfortable, these boots have a modern design and will feel great on the feet. The liners are specially made to fit the shells for an excellent fit. There are also soft materials at the areas where they are most needed, such as the cuff, to make them feel nice on the skin.
Many female skiers, especially those with large calves, have an issue with boots that pinch that area of the body. The Sportmachine 65 takes care of that issue using a soft liner. As a boot with a 65 flex, it works quite well compared to the competitors.
This boot is large enough to accommodate some wider feet but isn’t so extremely wide that a medium volume foot will feel lost in the boot. It’s a secure ski boot that will meet the needs of most beginners and those moving into intermediate skiing. With a flex of 65 and a last of 102 mm along with a dual upper cuff adjustment and a four-buckle overlap design, this boot is likely to fit the needs of many.
- Created especially for women’s feet
- Offers a four-buckle technology and simple design
- Wide enough to accommodate a range of feet
- Comfortable even for full days spent skiing
- May not be the best choice for experienced skiers
Rossignol X2 Cross-Country Ski Boots Men’s
The X2 Cross-County ski boot is made by Rossignol and is ideal for beginners to backcountry skiing. This Nordic touring boot offers a high level of responsiveness and control without taking away any of the much-needed comfort. These boots are designed for newcomers to the sport, rather than experts or those on the higher level of intermediate.
There are a tall cuff and lace cover which prevents you from getting your feet damp, no matter where the trail happens to take you. While you are out exploring in the wilderness, the lateral heel reinforcement added to the boot offers you additional stability and power as you work to get up to speed. It also has Thinsulate insulation which will keep your feet nice and warm even when it’s super cold outside.
This boot is compatible with NNN bindings and weighs only a little over two pounds. One thing to be aware of is that some buyers have noted the boots can be a bit smaller than expected, so you may end up needing to move up a size beyond what was expected. Once you get a pair that fits well, you can expect ultimate comfort any time you use them.
Rossignol is known for putting out a large selection of popular boots that handle terrain well, and that’s just what you will get with a pair of these X2 cross country ski boots. They are high quality, high performing, and extraordinarily comfortable to use even on long treks in the backcountry. You will have access to a great pair of boots that will last you a good long time.
- Features top ankle stability due to plastic heel support
- Offers a lightweight and durable construction
- Lace cover adds extra breathability
- Comfortable and easy to use
- Best used for only cross-country skiing applications
Apex Ski Boots Antero XP Ski Boots Men’s
The Apex Ski Boots Antero XP are an excellent pair of ski boots for those of any experience level. This boot features a unique inner area that is separated from the chassis to offer the best comfort and walkability while still providing enough power to get you through the snow. These boots are made for advanced users who prefer downhill skiing.
For experts, having the most power is something that is a must. Dual Boa closure zones along with 20 different points of formfitting closure help you dial your fit to the ultimate level. This assists you with keeping the maximum power transfer so you can rush through the powder without even thinking about it.
These boots feature a special Serpentine lacing system which acts like a pulley system. That means that the tongue of the boot is pulled down over your instep rather than it being pushed down as it would be with typical cross lacing systems.
There are a few different flex rating systems of 115, 125, and 135, each of which offers responsiveness for confident skiers. You can channel your aggressiveness and speed on even the most challenging and steep terrain that stands in your way. The boot also offers an adjustable flex arm which you can adjust based on where you are going to ski.
Other great features of this boot include Vibram Icetrek soles which offer the best grip on snow and ice when in walk mode, a Nanolite Carbon chassis that cuts down on the weight of the external frame, and foam liners designed to mold perfectly to your foot.
- Offers a fantastic fitting ski boot
- Walkable boot is perfect for versatility
- Features an adjustable flex for various lean positions
- Thinsulate material for plenty of warmth while using
- Does not offer the best ventilation compared to other boots
Atomic Hawx Magna 110 S Ski Boots Men’s
The Atomic Hawx Magna 110 S is a ski boot that isn’t ideal for those who are beginning to ski or those who are only moving into the intermediate level of the sport. The boots are made to fit the needs of a very experienced skier. They offer a flex of 100, which means they have high performance and will best suit those with plenty of prior experience.
The Magna offers something called Memory Fit Technology, which means it’s one of the ski boots that certified dealers can add heat to in order to mold the shell and liner to fit your feet perfectly. This level of customization means that the boot can offer the best comfort and performance possible by fitting your specifics.
Another useful feature of this boot is Power Shift Adjustment. This allows you to get a fit that is ideal for your calves and ankles. You can adjust your forward lean at the same time. Having boots that are tailored to your shape gives you the best chance of getting what you want out of a ski run.
This is another boot which features Thinsulate insulation for superior warmth, which means your toes will stay nice and warm when you are out. You never have to worry about the cold ruining a great day out. The boots also offer a medium last that will fit most individuals with an average sized calf and foot.
This top ski boot comes with a yearlong warranty, so you know that it’s well-made and durable. The boot is a high-performance option, so it might not be the most inexpensive option, but it gets the job done. If you are a fairly strong skier and want to push beyond, this is a great boot to add to your arsenal.
- Extremely customizable to fit your skiing style
- Top of the line downhill performance
- Medium volume fit perfect for most skiers
- Features flex that can be turned up or down
- Best used by experts rather than beginners
Things to Consider When Searching for the Perfect Ski Boot
The ski boots that you use are likely one of the most crucial pieces of equipment to consider when you’re about to hit the slopes. However, you need to ensure you choose boots that suit your exact needs. The ski boot that is perfect for your needs may not be right for the next person.
Someone who is a beginner or intermediate skier isn’t going to need a boot that is extremely stiff. Those who are moving over from resort skiing to more challenging environments may want to choose a boot that offers a walk-mode feature.
You also must think about what your budget looks like and how often you plan to ski in the future. If you only plan to head to the slopes a few days each year, a super expensive boot might not be needed. Many affordable narrow and wide ski boots offer excellent features, may fit your feet just as well, and offer plenty of performance for your experience level.
We’re going to dip deeper and look at all the most important factors to consider when choosing your new pair of ski boots.
Different Types of Ski Boots
There are several major types of ski boots which you will find on the market. All-mountain boots are the most common type you will run into, and there is a good reason for that. This sort of ski boot is extremely versatile and can be used with any type of ski conditions and on all sorts of terrain on the mountain.
Unlike freestyle skiing or ski racing boots, these boots are not made for a single type of skiing. On the other hand, race boots are made for one single environment, which is a racecourse. As such, race boots are very responsive and stiff to do their job right.
All-mountain boots are made to adapt to a large range of conditions on the slope. They come in various flex ratings and a large range of sizes. Many of them have an assortment of last width options, which can be a huge positive if you have quite wide or very narrow feet.
Some all-mountain boots can be broken down even further into freeride or adventure skiing shoes. These are boots that are a hybrid between backcountry boots and in-bound boots. They offer the inclusion of a walk-in mode along with soles that are created to be capable of walking over uneven terrain for longer distances without getting fatigued.
These boots are not appropriate for dedicated backcountry skiing because they can be a bit more clunky and heavier. However, they are perfect for those who need to step outside the resort’s boundaries for a short distance. They are also stiff enough to be great for all your in-bound skiing excursions.
Stiffness of Ski Boot Brands
You may have noticed that in our table, we mentioned the flex of the boot. This flex rating applies to how easy or challenging it may be to flex the boot forward. This number gives you an excellent idea of how stiff your ski boot is going to feel.
Everything from your skiing style to your ability, size, weight, and personal preference will have an impact on which flex of boot is right for your needs. Flex rating is expressed as a number. Most of the men’s models you will see rate from around 50 to 130.
If you see a higher flex number, that means that ski boot is going to be harder to flex forward and will be stiffer than a boot with a lower number. Someone who is just starting out with skiing will often get the most out of a softer flexing boot while someone who is more aggressive and capable of advanced skiing will likely appreciate a boot with harder flex.
When you move into boots with less flex, your energy is better translated into the skis and their bindings. You get a faster response time and energy isn’t wasted. As the preferred level of stiffness relates to body weight and size, many women’s boots will have a lower flex rating in terms of performance.
A basic idea of what flex rating to choose includes:
Men’s Flex Ratings:
- Beginner: 60 to 80
- Intermediate: 80 to 110
- Advanced: Over 110
Women’s Flex Ratings:
- Beginner: 50 to 60
- Intermediate: 65 to 85
- Advanced: Over 85
Sizing of a Snow Ski Boot
One of the most challenging things to home in on when shopping online is sizing of a ski boot. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy as knowing your shoe size and using that to translate to a ski boot size on a chart. The truth of the matter is that the width, length, underfoot profile, and volume all need to be considered to ensure a boot fits just right.
Because this can be a complicated process, going into a local shop to get sized is the best solution. However, if this isn’t possible, you want to choose a retailer online who allows returns. You may want to order a couple of different sizes with the realization that the boots may not fit exactly as you expect.
In order to be prepared for this, there are a few pieces of terminology that you should know, which we’ll explain below.
When you look at the sizes for both men’s and women’s ski boots, you will find that they are typically listed in a unisex size called Mondo or Mondopoint. The length is measured by your foot in centimeters. Measuring your foot can be as simple as tracing the outline on a piece of paper or marking the bottom of your heel as well as the top of your toes.
While getting measured at a ski shop is the better option, this method works well at home. If you measure the tracing you made and come up with 35 centimeters, that means your Mondo size is 35. It’s as easy as that.
Each retailer and manufacturer should offer you an easy way to view a size chart that matches your typical shoe size to a ski boot size. However, you may find that your boot size is smaller than what you see on the chart because ski boots do best with a tight fit. The boot liners are typically made of foam and can mold to your feet, so a snug fit that you wear in over time is the best choice.
Also, on our chart at the start of this article, we mentioned the last of each ski boot we talked about. Last refers to the footbed width, which is another extremely important thing to consider when choosing a boot. Thankfully, most manufacturers create ski boots with various lasts in order to accommodate average, narrow, and wide feet.
Just as the Mondo size is important, so is getting the last fit right. When you are skiing down a hill, side-to-side motion happens, but a boot that is a bit too loose on the sides of your feet is going to affect your performance in a negative way.
Narrow: 97 to 98 mm
Average: 100 to 102 mm
Wide: Over 103 mm
If you have particularly narrow feet or want high performance with a great fit, something between a 97 and 98 mm range is best. Average lasts are typically between 100 and 102 mm for men and 100 mm for women. Those with wide feet are most likely to have trouble finding boots with a large last.
While the total length of the boot is measured in millimeters, the external length from toe through heel can vary even among boots that are the exact same size. You should look at the sole length of your current boots before you jump into your bindings with a new pair of boots. Having your bindings checked every season with the boots you plan to use is an excellent idea to ensure everything fits.
Even if you choose the absolute perfect fit for your ski boots, you may find that your feet are uncomfortable after a long day on the slopes. That is why it is important to consider replaceable insoles. Many downhill boot liners are removable just like with a hiking boot.
Sometimes, swapping the included boot liner for an aftermarket option that matches the profile of your foot can make a huge difference. These might provide more or less volume, better arch support, and a heel cup that holds your foot in place. Some of the top brands for boot lines include Sole and Superfeet.
Another option, albeit a more expensive solution, is to go to a boot fitter in person to have a custom footbed made. This will often cost quite a bit but may make a huge difference for someone who has stubbornly sized feet or for those who ski a lot throughout the year. Call up the nearest local ski shop and inquire about whether they offer custom footbeds.
Tips for Sizing
It’s best to try on ski boots in the afternoon as your feet may swell at higher elevations and later in the day. When you try on boots in the evening or afternoon, it is less likely that you will end up with ski boots that are too small on the powder.
You should also try on the boots while using thin synthetic or wool socks, which can wick away moisture, provide a better fit, and are more resistant to bunching up. Thick socks, on the other hand, may restrict circulation and result in your feet feeling colder than normal.
When you have a great boot fit, it will make you more comfortable, increase your performance, and reduce your risk of a foot injury. A professional boot fitter will help you find the perfect boot and make any adjustments that are needed.
What to Know About Boot Liners
In most cases, a ski boot is made up of two separate pieces: a removable liner for support, insulation and comfort and a hard plastic outer shell for strength and structure. The liner is filled with a certain amount of foam based on the type of skiing that a boot is to be used for.
While it might seem best to choose the plushest liner, this isn’t always the case. The extra soft foam is not able to hold your shin and foot as well when carving through the snow and may be less likely to mold to your feet as time goes on.
For intermediate and experienced skiers, you likely want to choose a liner that is comfortable but still supportive. As we mentioned earlier, the liner will adapt to your foot so it if feels a bit snug, don’t worry too much. However, make sure it’s not overly restrictive or that your toes aren’t pressed up against the hard shell.
All About Buckles and Strap Systems
The first thing you should know about buckles and strap systems is that they don’t vary to a large degree between brands. Most downhill ski boot buckle systems have a similar method used: two buckles run across your foot, one is at the bend by your ankle, and one is along the shin.
The best buckles are going to be made of aluminum, which offers a higher degree of durability. There are a few boots out there that look to cut some of the weight by removing the ankle buckle. However, if you are going to downhill ski, having more support and a bit higher weight is the better option.
The strap you notice on the top of the boot near your cuff is also an important facet of the boot itself. This is often called a power strap and locks in the top portion of the boot, so you get the best performance from your ski boot. This can also be more comfortable and lightweight than an additional buckle. Having the requisite number of buckles along with a power strap will help you ensure the best fit on your boot.
Choosing the Right Boot Soles
Assuming you are going for an alpine setup, boot soles are pretty standard. You want one that is DIN-rated, which means that if you take an accidental tumble, they can easily release from your downhill bindings. Most also have a standard shape that will fit any downhill binding listed as ISO 5355. Those who ski at resorts only want to avoid boots with a rockered sole or those listed for touring bindings.
One of the types of boots you will find when searching for the right one is a boot that accommodates both AT and downhill bindings. If you want to give a shot at skiing in both ways, one with a replaceable sole can save you a bit of money. Just keep in mind that these are not optimized for travel uphill. They are heavy and don’t pivot as naturally as other soles.
Weight of Your Ski Boot Choice
It has only become normal in recent years to pay much attention to the weight of a downhill ski boot. In fact, some manufacturers and retailers don’t even list this information on their website. However, due to growth in the side country and background skiing world, ski boots that are more lightweight are starting to become more common.
For uphill travel and boot packing, the benefits of a lightweight boot are fairly obvious. There is less weight for each step you take, but it can also help you control your skis when in a tight space with trees and bumps. However, it comes into question how much a lighter weight of boot will impact its durability over the long term. This used to be an issue, but it seems that this has changed in recent years.
Concerning Walk or Hike Mode
Many of the best ski boots are advertised offering a hike or walk mode. However, those modes are likely to be best used when going from the car to the resort since they do not have the flex and range of motion needed to walk long distances comfortably. These boots also tend to be heavier than other ski boots.
However, that doesn’t mean these boots have no place in the world of skiing. Those who prefer to downhill ski but also enjoy light hiking will find these boots offer the features they prefer. However, if you do any hiking uphill, this might not be the best solution.
Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping for Ski Boots
Now that you are aware of the basics needed to purchase a great pair of ski boots, there are a few other tips that might be helpful. There are a few mistakes that you want to avoid making when choosing the right ski boots to add to your closet. We wanted to share a few of these so you can be sure to purchase the best ski boots without any mistakes.
Choosing the Wrong Flex Level
Years ago, most skiers with narrow feet would end up using oversized, soft boots or a stiff and narrow boot designed for racing regardless of what kind of skiing they planned to do. Nowadays, there are a huge number of flex levels to choose from. We went over this above, but remember that the larger the number is, the stiffer the boot is going to be.
If you have a boot fitter near you, they can assist you with finding the perfect flex based on your ability level, size, weight, and style of skiing. That said, those who want the most speed and who may be larger are most likely to want the stiffest boots possible.
Selecting the Boot Someone Else Loves
If you have a friend, spouse, or family member who is pushing you toward a certain pair of ski boots, it might seem reasonable to purchase that specific boot. The problem is that even if that boot is absolutely perfect for someone else, that doesn’t mean that it will provide what you need. What matters more is which boot best fits you and has the features that will come into play while on the snow.
Ski shops, both online and offline, offer a huge number of brands and many of them are good. However, they all offer different fits, flexes, lasts, and extra characteristics. It’s better to decide on your own, based on all the factors we’ve talked about, which ski boot is right for you rather than taking someone else’s opinion and running with it.
Selecting a Boot that is Too Large
If you listen to the experts, nearly ¾ of people purchase a ski boot that is one or even two sizes too large for them. Having boots that are too loose, too large, or too wide can decrease the amount of skill that you have while out there skiing. For those who are new to the sport, having the right size can make a huge difference in how skiing feels.
Those who are more experienced with skiing may notice that boots which run too large can lead to cold feet, pressure points, shin bang, and skier’s toe, all things that you don’t want to deal with when having fun on the slopes. It’s worth it to be sure the boots you choose fit you if you want to ensure you have a great time.
Focusing Too Much on Aesthetics
There are a huge number of ski shoes out on the market, which means you are going to see all sorts of styles, colors, and shapes to choose from. On the one hand, this is a great thing because you are likely to find a boot that you enjoy looking at. However, you also need to keep in mind that aesthetics are not everything.
If the boots you choose look great but don’t fit your ability, feet, needs, or budget, they are not the boots you should invest your hard earned money on. While many people choose boots based on the way they look, you want to find a boot that properly fits you and then choose based on the options available to you.
Not Paying Enough Attention to Last
We mentioned above that the last size gives you the width of the boots at their widest point, which is located at the ball or forefront of your foot. Years ago, most racing and high-performance boots were created with narrow lasts between about 95 and 98 mm while intermediate and beginner boots have a wider last at 102 to 106 mm. The problem with this is that even expert skiers who had larger feet were forced to buy boots that were too big in order to accommodate the wideness.
Nowadays, things have changed. You can get racing and high-performance boots in a huge variety of lasts so anyone can choose a boot that fits them well. Rather than going up a size to get a roomier boot, you can choose the correct last and avoid the problem altogether.
Now that you have all the information you need to buy a great pair of ski boots you can decide if the ones on our list meet your needs. If they do not, you can easily peruse other options while knowing how to be sure they will stand up to the type of skiing you plan to do. Consider all the features and how you will be using the boots and then select based on those factors.
Once you peruse the boots here, you will likely find one that fits your needs and style. Take your time and have fun with it while checking out the most important features. Have a great time on the slopes!