No one really makes bad ski boots anymore. In fact, there are so many quality boots on the market it’s hard to decide which boots are best for our intentions. To begin with, it makes sense to find out what kind of feet we have. Do I have a foot that’s high volume? Low volume? Wide? Narrow? Sixth toe? Low arch? All these little variables get the attention of bootfitters who have learned over time what are the best-case scenarios for matching the best boots to our anatomy.
Go to a trusted shop and get to know an experienced bootfitter. This will better give you and the fitter an idea of what the best boots are to pair you with. And because ski boots are an investment—way more than skis—it pays to take the time. People tend to complain more about their boots than their skis.
Below is a cross-section of inspired boots that accommodate a wide variety of foot types, experience and expectations. It doesn’t matter whether you start your powder days in a lift line or at a trailhead, at least one of these options will satisfy your cravings for the snow, keeping you comfy, warm and confident no matter where you lay your tracks.
Lange XT 130
Lange’s new alpine-inspired freeride boot has four buckles and a 130 flex rating for precision performance at the resort, but that fully rubberized sole and walk mode give it 4x4 versatility for bootpacks, skin tracks and hiking to make it a valuable universal soldier. Also, toe and heel pieces are removable, allowing for greater boot longevity.
Salomon Quest Max 120
This boot's full custom shell is made with a special plastic with a different malleability temperature, which means it can be molded to your foot from the outside-in as well as from the inside-out. That makes it the ultimate chameleon boot, able to accept a much greater variety of foot widths and shapes. The singular, albeit large, upper cuff buckle does the work of two, saving bulk and extra weight.
Full Tilt Seth Morrision
Redesigned with a slightly bigger toebox, the Morrison is still a 99mm lasted width boot, but with more wiggle room. It’s also got a rubber sole for scrambling over rocks. The ribbed tongue articulation is natural from the tip of the toe to the middle of the shin for optimal cuff flex consistency. And because it’s sold with two tongues and three settings, it provides six different flex patterns, allowing you to find the perfect stiffness for your kind of skiing.
Dalbello Kr Two PRO
The new Krypton shell looks like it’s been “pre-punched,” providing a slightly wider expanse over the metatarsals as well as the ankle bones. Paired with light Intuition liners, they will accommodate a greater variety of foot types with minimal post-fitting woes. Like the Full Tilt Seth Morrison, the Krypton is sold with two tongues (with three settings apiece) to help dial in the flex consistency that works best for you.
Tecnica Cochise 130 Pro
This boot's 130 flex, walk mode and tech fittings work in concert to allow serious alpine performance that can venture far from the lifts. Three buckles with augmented powerstrap provide a substantial but stiff flex, and the lug sole will provide all the traction you need on your way from the parking lot, up the bootpack or scrambling toward ridgetop glory.
The Vulcan is a lion in a cheetah’s body. Light and fast for superior touring, the carbon-cuffed Alpine Touring Vulcan is stiff and strong while driving bigger skis, but still content with lighter touring. Three streamlined buckles are enough to hold the foot in its position of maximum control. The fore-aft articulation of the walk mode is as good as it gets, which is a dream come true in hike-heavy environments, or within earshot of the lifts.
Nordica Hell and Back Hike Pro
The three-buckle Pro is best suited for resort-based adventure, but still allows for the occasional backcountry tryst with a helicopter. Like so many other alpine boots with a “relaxed” three-buckle build, the Pro doesn’t lose power, just baggage. The quick release of the top buckle puts the Pro into walk mode, and replaceable toe and heel bits provide additional lifespan to a boot without compromising power transfer.
Atomic Tracker 130
The Tracker 130 was designed for performance, with a high cuff, four buckles and a beefcake powerstrap specific. Its lateral responsiveness is second to none for snapping turns on a dime in glades or similar situations where agility is key. The Power Control System, (i.e. walk mode) can deal with the occasional bootpack, lift line and bar table idling, while its rubberized sole helps tackle rocky terrain.
Fischer Soma Vacuum Ranger 12
Fischer, too, joins the freeride fray with their fully vacuum moldable Ranger boot. The vacuum technology allows the entire boot to mold to the specific anatomy of your foot, thanks to a specialized air compressor that fits over the shells themselves. This also allows the user to dial in the forward lean during the molding process for a customized cuff angle. Vibram soles and walk mode provide additional versatility.
Rossignol Experience SI 130
A traditional four-buckle boot with overlap construction and a clean look, the Experience has a not-so-obvious asymmetrical toebox for superior foot/boot interface (think comfort with benefits) for a better overall skiing experience. With user-friendly buckles, rubber soles and stiff flex, the Experience has an enviable relationship between performance and universality enjoyed by moderates and the swarthiest of jaded ski bums.