Featured Image: Evan Williams
The disparity between a perfectly tuned ski boot and one that’s, well, imperfect… is akin to the difference between being nestled in a cozy, plush sleeping bag on a cold, stormy night and crammed into a medieval Iron Maiden torture device.
Your ski boots are the mission control center of your perfect ski day and a great deal of fine-tuning is required to ensure you’ll perform at your best. Everyone has different feet, so refining your boots’ fit is beyond essential.
We highly recommend seeking the assistance of your local bootfitter, who will be the guiding light in finding your very own glass slipper like Cinderella. To start, read up on the vital information needed to take your ski boots from zeros to heroes.
The Ranger Free 130 is Fischer’s response to the demands of skiers everywhere for a boot boasting tech inserts, a wide range-of-motion walk mode and low weight, all packed into a boot with a true 130 flex rating. On the skin track and bootpack, a 55-degree cuff rotation improves striding efficiency and rubber GripWalk soles ensure stability when ascending slippery couloirs or ridgelines. The use of Grilamid gives the Ranger Free 130 an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio (1,540 grams per boot), ensuring you can flex the boot to high heaven without compromise and still move briskly up, down and around the mountain.
The call has been answered for all of you Full Tilt loyalists out there—and we know there are a certified army of you—who have been pleading with the company to produce a touring boot. The new Ascendant’s shell and tongue are made of Grilamid, which bestows it with a lightweight yet strong character, while a polyurethane cuff provides the dampness needed to hold on during burly backcountry descents. The boot features a hike mode with a 60-degree range of motion sans tongue (40 degrees with the tongue attached), as well as the brand-new Intuition Tour Pro liner (complete with a flexible notch in the heel), two elements that, combined, translate to über-efficient uphill striding. The boot comes standard with alpine ISO 5355 soles but is shipped with rockered Michelin ones, too.
Sleek, sexy and chock full of innovative design features, the QST Pro 110 TR W is here to take your skiing to new heights. Salomon’s EndoFit tongue is the biggest highlight of this boot. Inspired by Salomon running shoes, the plastic tongue attaches directly to the liner, and overlapping plastic in the cuff cinches down across the tongue via a single buckle-powerstrap combination. This provides better wrapping of the foot, an easier step-in process and a smoother flex when charging down the mountain. In addition, the boot’s liner and shell are both fully moldable, yielding a truly magnificent fit. Its hike mode with a 40-degree range of motion and tech inserts make the QST Pro 110 TR W a dependable backcountry or sidecountry boot, too. Note: It comes with Alpine soles in the box for inbounds days.
4. HEAD KORE 1
Like it did with the construction of its KORE skis, HEAD infused stiff, lightweight Graphene into the plastics of its new KORE 1 boot to yield a product that’s rigid enough for the most aggressive skiers without dragging them down. HEAD also utilizes lightweight aluminum buckles to shed more mass and combines that with a ski-walk mechanism with a 45-degree range-of-motion, GripWalk soles and tech inserts that make uphill travel a dream. One of the coolest features of the KORE 1 is its Liquid Fit Customization System. The liner has pockets in the heel and ankle that can be injected with paraffin. The material doesn’t compress, but will conform to the bony, prominent parts of your ankle and Achilles, offering a comfortable fit and precise performance.
5. K2 Recon 130
While the lightweight boot trend began in the backcountry sector, the shaving of weight has crossed over to inbounds. The new K2 Recon 130 is a prime example of a resort-specific boot that isn’t bulky but can rip a huge bite out of a ski area’s most extreme lines. The boot weighs in at a slender 1,650 grams (at size 26.5) and boasts a 130 flex rating. K2 utilizes its Powerlite Shell in the Recon’s design. This consists of an all-TPU construction that’s stiffer in the spine and chassis, softer over the instep and medium in the foot wrap. Those elements are combined with strategic thicknesses of the shell wall to produce a weight decrease with a stiffness increase. The unique TPU build results in a boot that’s ultra-stiff and damp but won’t wear you out and is easier to step into. Consider the Recon 130 your very own easy button.
While the new Hoji Pro Tour’s 1,450-gram weight per boot, low-profile nose, 55-degree walk-mode range of motion and 11 degrees of forward lean are all highlights, it’s the innovative Hoji Lock System that’s the true standout. A sliding mechanism between the upper cuff and shell allows both upper and lower cuffs to function independently from one another in walk mode. And, when the lever on the spine is switched up, a system of cables automatically loosens the tension of the upper buckle. Together, this negates the need to unbuckle while touring, which is often a tactic that allows for better freedom of movement. When the switch is in ski mode, the buckle reverts to optimal tension, ensuring a strong hold on your foot during the descent. Legendary pro skier and gear tinkerer Eric “Hoji” Hjorleifson is behind this boot’s design, and we back his efforts 100 percent.
Just like the headbanging members of Pantera, the band, the Panterra 130 ID boot is way into heavy metal. With a stiff 130 flex rating, 40 mm powerstrap and polyolefin plastic build, these bad boys are well-prepared to rip around the resort with the ferocity of the “Cowboys from Hell.” Dalbello’s Contour 4 technology—anatomically correct mapping of the shell to the typical skier’s foot—provides an excellent out-of-the-box fit, while the option to mold both the liner and shell ensures even more precise foot wrapping. To round it out, the boot’s Alpine soles can be swapped with a set of GripWalk ones, which combined with the boot’s integrated hike mode allows for easy movement should you choose to “Walk” from the lifts to the closest heavy metal joint for some après thrashing.
Brand new from the legendary boot-makers at Nordica, the Promachine takes the low weight and downhill power of the Speedmachine (100 mm last) and Sportmachine (102 mm last) and implements them into a lower-volume 98 mm last shoe. The boot features the Tri Force Shell Construction, which sheds weight, maintains downhill performance and ensures better wrapping of the foot. The Promachine also employs the brand’s Infrared Shell Customization technique and 3D Custom Cork liner, which, together, produce a snug, stiff, performance-oriented fit. If you have skinny dogs and seek a slender, stiff boot geared towards breaking the speed limit on every run, take a gander at the Promachine.
In order to provide the best out-of-box fit possible, Tecnica’s Mach1 boots come in three different lasts—98 mm, 100 mm and 103 mm—with the Mach1 Pro W LV catering to women with narrower feet. To further improve your foot accommodations, the boot’s customizable upper cuff allows for a 10-percent increase or 5-percent decrease in volume. The boot features a 12-degree forward lean, and its spine is 3 mm higher than previous Tecnica models in order to accommodate a woman’s natural stance, thus improving balance and reducing fatigue. With a 115 flex rating, the Mach1 Pro W LV is definitely geared toward skiers that seek a stiffer, high performance fit for their alpine pursuits.
One look at the spicy 80th Anniversary paint job on the Scarpa F1, and you’re bound to start shouting in Italian and book a ticket to the Dolomites. Seriously, dayum those look fast. In terms of purpose, the F1 is an aggressive yet weight-conscious backcountry skier’s dream. The boot weighs in at 1,219 grams while maintaining a 95 flex rating, which is rare for such a light boot. Scarpa achieves this with a carbon fiber frame that goes under and around the sides of the boot, running the length of the foot and providing stiffness without bulk. A BOA closure on the lower boot and dual power straps help cinch the boot tightly, too. On the ascent, a 62-degree range of motion in walk mode makes even the longest slogs a breeze. Note: The regular gray colorway is available for $699.