When the lift lines open, who doesn’t want to be the first person out on the slopes, poles in hand, boots locked in, and ready for action? You yearn for that first turn through fresh powder, and your mind settles on a one-track path. At the same time, you want to be there at the end of the day, carving out the remnants of untouched snow.
Because of this desire to ski from sunup to sundown, the ski boots you sport are going to be a critical limiting factor. Like the best ski jackets, comfort, stability, and warmth are essential components. Still, you’ll also need a combination of dependable support for making sharp turns through powder, plush lining for comfort, and a proper fit to help you avert rubs and hot spots. Perhaps your feet get cold? For that, maybe you would consider a heated option. To help make the process of buying new boots a breeze, here are our top picks for the best ski boots on the market.
Best Ski Boots for Men
When you’re first starting, you want a forgiving ski boot that doesn’t put you in the poorhouse right off the bat. Your life isn’t a ski movie, after all, you’ll need time to learn. Rossignol’s is a good option that answers the call here. With an affordable price and a soft flex, this is a great boot for beginning skiers and can help you progress quickly. The low price means you lose a few features that you will likely end up wanting later, like a heat-moldable liner and ski/walk modes, but we think this is a fair trade-off.
This said, the boots are easy to use and are comfortable even without the moldable liner. The only potential negatives we see with this boot is a basic plastic shell and a fairly generic shape, but these are compromises Rossignol had to make it order to make the boot as cheap as it is.
More ambitious beginners and intermediate skiers will be better served by the This boot has replaced the popular X-Pro for the 2019-20 season, with a slightly modified design but the same great performance as its predecessor. With a middle-of-the-road flex, the S-Pro is flexible enough to allow more confident beginners to continue to progress while giving solid intermediates the stiffness they need to navigate more challenging trails.
A whole host of features are available with the S-Pro, including a heat-moldable shell, plush liner, and adjustable flex. We recommend beginners use this early on. Build quality is also noticeably better than cheaper boots, although there’s still no walk mode which is a bit disappointing, which the X-Pro lacked too, unfortunately.
Those looking to dominate whatever the mountain throws at you should take a long look at the The boot’s stiff flex makes this the perfect performance boot for slaying the backcountry and the double-blacks — although you may find these boots a bit too stiff for use on less challenging terrain. The Krypton features Dalbello’s unique Cabrio construction, where the tongue, cuff, and shell are all separate pieces. According to the company, this offers “smoother power transition, dynamic rebound, and excellent shock absorption.”
The boot shell and inner liner are both heat-moldable, and you can adjust the flex, forward lean, canting to your needs — what advanced and expert skiers need in a boot. While this boot is not cheap, at this level performance should be your concern — and not many boots can match what the Krypton offers.
Best Ski Boots for Women
At first glance, you might think the 50 flex of the far too forgiving, however we’d argue this is the perfect flex for beginning female skiers. As a general rule, you’ll want to step down about 10 or 20 in flex from the male to the female version of any boot, and for all intents and purposes, the Kelia 50 is the women’s version of the Evo 70. You’ll get the same low-cost no-frills boot that should last you a couple of seasons as you progress.
As we said with the Evo 70, there is no heat moldable liner nor is there a ski/walk mode. However, these boots are sufficiently comfortable and well-constructed to allow you to focus on what’s really important on the hill: Having fun and becoming a better skier.
Like our beginner’s boot, our recommendation for intermediate skiers is also essentially the same for both women and men. We’d recommend the here. The S Max is a step down from the S Pro, which is hard to find (there is a women’s version if you’re curious), but all you lose is a little bit of comfort in the process in return for better performance. The result is a boot like the S Pro, yet not as ungodly expensive.
Like the S Pros, the S Max’s are the replacement for the X Max’s which were discontinued last year. The S Max’s feature an improved construction for 2020, making them better than before. One of the nice features of this boot is its customizable shell, which actually can be expanded to fit wider-footed skiers (its standard 98-millimeter width might be a bit too narrow for some).
On the high end of women’s ski boots, we’d direct you toward the for its versatility. While 120 is definitely on the stiff side for boots and the Pure Elite is intended for advanced and expert skiers, a flex adjuster on the cuff allows you to dial back the stiffness for more easygoing runs. Everything you would expect out of a top-tier boot is here, including head moldable lining, and interchangeable soles allow you to walk easier in these boots or hike better to those prime backcountry spots.
The Pure Elites get high marks for their comfort, which is hard to find in performance boots. We’re also a fan of the construction and buckling system, which feel secure and durable enough to keep you in your boots securely on those most challenging trails. While we would strongly recommend beginner and intermediate skiers look elsewhere, if you’re comfortable anywhere on the mountain from the greens to the double blacks, give the Pure Elites a shot.
How to pick the right ski boot
Choosing the right ski boot isn’t easy. There are several considerations to keep in mind before making your decision. Here are a few things to look for.
Know your size
Unlike most snowboard boots, ski boot sizes come in what’s called ‘Mondopoint’ sizing, which is the length of your foot in centimeters. Unlike the standard shoe size system you’ll see with the best shoes for men, these sizes are much closer together — essential in skiing. While you want a comfortable ski boot, you want it snug as possible to ensure the best connection between your body mechanics and your skis. You may want to consider a professional boot sizing to ensure you’re picking the right size boot.
Remember that most ski boot inner linings (except the cheapest ones) mold to the shape of your feet over time. Your boots will initially fit much more snugly as you “break them in.” Foot width is also an essential factor — too narrow of a boot and you will be uncomfortable very quickly. Knowing these two measurements will make boot shopping easy, even online.
Moldable inner liners and shells are better
If you intend to keep a pair of boots a long time, you may want to see a boot fitter to have them adjusted after purchase. The boot fitter will help you mold the inner liner to your foot, and as long as the shell is heat-moldable, even change the plastic shell to help the boot fit better.
Most beginner boots will not have this functionality, unfortunately. But in your second pair of boots, you want this functionality. Higher-end boots also will keep your feet a whole lot warmer, and in some cases, have accessories that can add heating to your boots for those cold winter days.
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