Welcome to a special Buyer’s Guide feature from FREESKIER. Here’s a close-up look at the best ski boots of the year. Click here to explore the entire 2021 FREESKIER Buyer’s Guide.
Full Tilt Sammy Carlson Ascendant
Sammy Carlson skis in this boot—need we say more? Full Tilt enthusiasts have a whole new storyline to rave about this year with the 120-flex SC Ascendant, fine-tuned for big-mountain approaches and rowdy downhill descents. The Intuition Pro Tour wrap-style liners kicks things off, with a cinch-fit lacing system, removable J-bars (to really lock your heels in place) and Intuition’s quintessential comfort. The three-piece Evolution shell is redesigned to take a beating, too. The lower shell is made of TPU—an extra durable material—and stiffened by a full Grilamid tongue, which is removable for uphill travel. Full Tilt puts comfort at the forefront of its designs, and the 102-millimeter last here certainly checks that box.
Salomon Shift Pro 130 AT
All-new from Salomon, the Shift Pro 130 bridges the gap between the brand’s alpine models and the ever-popular MTN Lab touring series. Basically, Salomon’s designers wanted to put the downhill experience at the forefront while providing all the necessary tools for getting up to the next objective. These boots are jam-packed with freeride-focused features: a race-inspired liner with built-in walk functionality, a traction pad on the mid-sole for enhanced grip as you hike through rocky terrain, Coreframe construction in the shell to enhance power transmission along with terrain sensitivity and a no-frills walk/ski mechanism to instill a solid connection between the upper and lower shell. Most importantly, the 100-millimeter last will fit most feet right out of the box; if it doesn’t, the shell is heat-moldable for a guaranteed good fit.
Atomic Hawx Prime XTD 130 Tech GW
Atomic’s award-wining Hawx series of boots just became more accessible, specifically to skiers with a wider forefoot. The all-new Hawx Prime XTD 130 builds on the success of its narrower predecessor (Ultra XTD), with a roomier 100-millimeter last. Atomic’s Free/Lock hiking mechanism enables up to 54 degrees of flexion when hiking or skinning while the lightweight shell built with Prolite construction keeps the weight down. Inside, Atomic’s new Mimic Platinum liner offers a snug, pre-shaped fit right out of the box but will really cradle your foot after it is heat molded. Atomic also claims that you can get four (or more) moldings out of the liner before you start to see any sign of deterioration. Skiers who couldn’t quite cram their feet into last year’s Prime Ultra XTD should keep this new addition to the Atomic lineup top of mind.
Fischer Ranger 130 Walk DYN
Balancing alpine rideability and featherweight specifications, the Ranger 130 is the latest evolution in Fischer’s acclaimed Ranger lineup and is a mid-volume, one-boot-does-all product. Compared to the 101-millimeter-lasted Ranger One 130, the Ranger 130 is slightly narrower, with a 99-millimeter last. The sleek walk mode is activated by the pull of a lever just under the top buckle and pairs with Dynafit tech inserts to enable 55 degrees of motion as you stride uphill. Rockered Vibram GripWalk soles will help you move through the mountains with confidence—providing traction on snow, ice and rock—and a pre-shaped liner enhances the comfort factor. This is one of the best ski boots on the market this season.
Head Kore 1
Head’s Kore 1 is an all-in-one solution for lightweight freeriding making it one of the best ski boots of the year. Aligning with the trend of all-mountain/backcountry-capable boots, this one comes with a 45-degree range of motion, pin-tech inserts and GripWalk soles. The shell is constructed of Graphene—a rigid material that Head utilizes across multiple product lines—to provide ample rebound without adding weight. But, what really sets this boot apart, is the Head’s Liquid Fit. This is a process in which a paraffin wax-like material is injected into pockets inside the liner on both the medial and lateral sides of the boot (in English, that’s “inner and outer”) to fill gaps and provide the snuggest fit possible. This material never fully hardens so every time you put the boot on you get a completely fresh, customized fit around your heel and ankle.
Lange XT3 130
Boot-making is Lange’s singular focus so it should come as no surprise that the XT3, the newest men’s freeride boot in its fleet and one of the best ski boots of the year, encompasses all the technology you’ll need for multi-situational riding. Its processes rooted deeply in racing, Lange employs a performance-focused construction that’s marked, specifically, by a Dual Core Construction that features a softer plastic sandwiched between harder plastic. This plastic compresses and expands as you flex through the boot, providing increased absorption, energy and rebound. A completely customizable, three-density liner comes standard, too. When it comes time to jaunt out of bounds, a metal-on-metal locking mechanism keeps you committed to walk or ski mode and a 53-degree range of motion enables lengthy strides on the skin track.
K2 Anthem Pro
The all-new K2 Anthem Pro, one of the best ski boots on sale this winter, is a women’s-specific boot that’s tuned for aggressive resort skiers. Race-like responsiveness is derived from a combination of features, namely, a reinforced rear spine and a friction-reducing pivot on the ankle called the Energy Interlock. The PowerFit Pro liner on the K2 Anthem Pro employs dense foam around the ankle and heel and is heat-moldable, along with the 120-flex PowerLite shell, for a fully customized fit that will cradle your foot as you carve up the mountain. Inside, the boot sports a 98 millimeter last and around the cuff it boasts K2’s Ripcord power strap which enables you to cinch it down as tight as you need and then simply pull the cord when it’s time for après.
Scott Freeguide Carbon
With backcountry freeriding at the core of its design, this all-new boot, one of the best ski boots of the year, is fully-loaded with features. Among these inclusions, two things really stand out. The first is the two-piece tongue incorporated into the cabrio shell that serves to increase your range of motion when touring, offering 60 degrees of flexion. Second, the heat-moldable liner features BOA technology—the well-known dial-in closure system often used for snowboard boots—and provides a reassuringly tight fit with just a twist of the knob. Finally, the combination Grilamid and carbon shell with a minimalist, two-buckle design and additional powerstrap buckle makes this boot a proper featherweight while retaining a notably stiff flex rating.
Dynafit Hoji Free 110
The biggest complaints about Eric “Hoji” Hjorliefson’s original Pro Model boot from Dynafit were the omission of a toe-bail (for alpine binding compatibility) and that it was too damn stiff for many recreational skiers. Well, the all-new Hoji 110 Free answers the call on both counts. Built with a toe-bail, a forgiving 110 flex rating and offered in a 102-millimeter last, the latest iteration of Hoji’s namesake slippers are built for everyday skiers who want venture deep into the backcountry but also spend some time at the resort. The best part? The “Hoji Lock System” offers no-nonsense switching from alpine to touring mode (where you’ll get a 55-degree range of motion) and the Ultra Lock powerstrap ensures a snug fit on every mission.
Dalbello DS Asolo 130 GW
There’s been an increased focus in recent years on boots that can go up and down, but Dalbello knows that many skiers just want to pillage inbounds terrain. If that sounds like your cup of tea, the all-new DS Asolo 130 GW will be right up your alley. This performance-driven boot is aimed at advanced and intermediate piste-focused skiers and features Dalbello’s Powercage—a reinforced skeleton around the rear and lower of the boot—for increased power transmission from boot to ski, as well as GripWalk soles for better footing as you hike to inbounds terrain or around the resort base area. For added comfort and a precise ride, “relief contours” in the toebox, heel-cup and atop the foot provide an ergonomic feel right out of the box but Dalbello also offers its MyFit system here to heat-treat both the liner and shell.