Featured Image: Noah Wetzel
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.
Nordica Speedmachine 3 130 S
Nordica’s third generation Speedmachine alpine boot arrives with an array of customization features. The idea behind the new boot is to get a superior, locked-in feel between the ankle, liner and shell with a slightly relaxed forefoot. Nordica achieves this with the new 3Force liner, which uses a customizable black cork to fill in empty space around the ankle and strategically placed EVA foam inserts to dial in the fit. The liner also has an adjustable tongue height to keep the shin snug against the boot cuff. On the outside, the 3Force shell blends a hard honeycomb plastic structure with softer shell materials for improved lateral performance and feel, and can be set to a stiffer or softer flex. The updated Speedmachine is an adaptable all-mountain boot that can accommodate an array of skiers with its 100 mm last and variable-fit liner.
K2 BFC W 105 ♀︎
With a 105-rated flex, extra plush liner and 103 mm last, the all-new BFC W 105 alpine boot from K2 is dialed toward complete comfort. Its design is aimed at intermediate and advanced ladies looking for an accommodating fresh-outta-the-box fit, who prefer a roomier feel and place that as a priority. The Cushfit Pro liner and heat moldable shell can help tune the fit, and the more forgiving last and softer flex will easily accommodate a wide variety of resort riders. It has GripWalk soles and a walk-mode, or “après mode,” as K2 calls it, and will be just fine strolling through an icy parking lot, to the bar or up the occasional boot pack. The only thing that doesn’t come standard… an Aperol Spritz.
Head Formula RS 130
Head’s Formula RS 130 is geared toward the skier who used to ski in a race boot, is over the pain and trouble, but not ready to give up the power—and we know there are plenty of you out there. The RS 130 is an all-mountain alpine boot with GripWalk sole compatibility and a stiff, high rebound PU shell. The shell accommodates all the customization (grinding, punching, you name it) you’ve come to expect from a high-end plug boot and its 3D Pro Formula LF liner utilizes Liquid Fit, a gel-like material that is injected into the liner to fill voids around the ankle and heel. Every detail here adds up to a race-heritage product geared towards comfort and tuned for performance.
Scarpa Gea RS ♀︎
Scarpa’s Gea RS balances a lightweight stature, predictable downhill skiing and, now, an Earth-friendly build. Made with a bi-injection carbon-infused Grilamid shell and castor oil Grilamid Bio cuff, the newest Gea has an environmental twist that should help the responsiveness as well. The boot comes stock with a Pro Flex Ride touring liner made in collaboration with Intuition, which blends Intuition’s trustworthy thermo-formable foam with a women’s specific anatomical construction. The Scarpa Gea is a solid everyday touring boot that has exceptional heel hold—thanks to its instep buckle—and a great range of motion for the uphill. The Gea will fit medium to wide feet the best, and will please skiers who covet downhill performance and superior weight-savings in the backcountry.
Fischer Transalp Pro
Fischer’s Transalp Pro delivers off-piste performance with a slice of eco-friendliness. This uniquely constructed boot flawlessly toes the line of resort hybrid and rando slipper—which makes sense, since it weighs under 1300 g/boot. The sustainable Pebax RNew shell and cuff, made with castor oil, are built for burly downhill skiing, the two-buckle design with an oversized power strap cinches you tight and the adjustable forward lean ensures you’re on top of every turn. When combined with its phenomenal range of motion and simplicity, the Transalp Pro reveals itself as a lightweight boot not designed for lycra, but for skiing hard with no weight penalty.
Scott Cosmos Pro
Scott’s new Cosmos line of boots takes the cabrio hybrid design of its Freeguide Carbon and blends that with attributes of the older Cosmos, such as an external walk-mode and medium-to-wide volume lasts. This new piece from Scott offers a 60-degree touring stride while the heat-moldable liner includes a BOA system to tune the fit while touring and tighten up the shin and cuff for the descent. While the Cosmos line used to be associated with a higher volume fit, the Cosmos Pro’s thicker liner allows the shell to actually run narrower. Aimed at the everyday backcountry skier, the Cosmos Pro is a sturdy boot that isn’t going to stranglehold your feet.
Dalbello Krypton 130 T.I. ID
Many freeride skiers favor three-piece cabrio boots: They are stiff but flex just-so, giving enough rebound to zip you through variable terrain. A longtime leader in the cabrio category, the Krypton gets even better this season, receiving GripWalk soles and, more importantly, tech inserts. Its 98 mm last and MyFit wrap ID liner offer a precise fit, while the instep buckle locks in the heel and the PU plastic shell and cuff offer elastic energy while skiing. Maybe your ski area has quick hit stashes where you’ll skin for less than an hour. Perhaps you work patrol or guide where you need an occasional tour option but don’t want the full rig. Adding tech inserts opens the door of possibilities without sacrificing the performance of a riveted spine. We’re guessing more companies will follow suit.
Tecnica Cochise 130 DYN GW
Tecnica flipped the switch on ski boots when it added tech fittings to the first-iteration Cochise. Now, this legendary boot is getting completely overhauled. The most notable improvements are a beefier and more customizable C.A.S. liner which has a distinct alpine sensibility, and an overall reduction in weight. It also utilizes a softer instep material to make entry and exit easier. But the biggest news is that Tecnica updated the Cochise’s walk-mode: The external T-Ride system has a lock-out feature that bolts the spine to the cuff with the turn of a dial, just in case you find yourself spending more time in-bounds than touring. The width is moderate and should fit a lot of folks right out of the box. It’s a one-boot quiver for the modern day freeride skier.
Dynafit Radical Pro
Dynafit’s new Radical Pro is aimed directly at the common ski touring crowd. It is a roomier, slightly softer version of the Hoji Free 130 that has all the benefits of the Hoji Lock Mechanism—one of the best walk-modes in the industry for its simplicity, effortless glide and uncompromising performance on the descent. The newly designed, wider Grilamid shell will fit a variety of skiers; the ankle instep is wider and taller; and it features a new tongue which provides more leverage and feedback. While it’s geared toward powder touring, the toe-lugged design can an also fit into Multi-Norm certified alpine and hybrid bindings for everyday alpine use.
Salomon S/PRO GW
Salomon’s S/Pro boots are all-mountain freeride focused—they don’t have a walk-mode but have GripWalk for easier walks to the chairlift and bootpack stashes. The primary difference between the S/Pro (featured here) from S/Max is the last width, with both offering energetic power transfer; but, this year, Salomon differentiates the S/Pro with the new MyCustom Fit 4D liner. This customizable liner layers comfort foam next to the ankle with a thermo-formable TALYN fabric on the outside of the liner, which allows it to be spot-heated for a better fit. It also has an elastic toe box, since crammed toes tend to get cold and make your day miserable. The S/Pro’s liner and moldable shell provides a wide accommodation in last from 100-106 mm ensuring it will fit a slew of skiers. Seeking a comfortable, performance-minded alpine boot? Look no further.
Full Tilt Soul Sister 100
Full Tilt’s Soul Sister arrives with an updated, anatomically shaped cuff to meet the demands of ripping female skiers. Like all Full Tilts, it blurs the line between high-performance and comfort, the three-piece design easily rolling into turns. The Soul Sister 100 comes stock with a progressive flex delivered by its cabrio design, heat-moldable Intuition Pro Wrap liner and GripWalk soles in a 99 mm last that will fit most feet. It’s narrow enough for demanding skiing, wide enough for premiere comfort and features Full Tilt’s QuickFit System, allowing the shell to be molded to fix hot spots. With an ease of entry and slightly more open toe it will slip on effortlessly and stay comfy till last chair—or the final stomp of the day.
Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 S GW
The Hawx Ultra 130 S GW is a fully customizable boot that brings racecourse performance to the resort skiing masses. Its narrow, 98 mm last is more forgiving than it sounds: When combined with the redesigned, heat-moldable Memory Fit shell and Mimic Liner the boot easily adapts to each skier’s specific geometry. This new generation of Hawx Ultra retains the series’ lightweight characteristics thanks to its minimalist ProLite construction but is reinforced to prevent deformities, eliminating the notion that its weight might inhibit its performance. It’s an all-mountain boot built to handle all conditions and won’t crimp your feet.