When piecing together your ski-touring setup, there is no link more important than the plastic slippers on your feet. Below we have compiled a tried and true list of our recent favorites covering the full spectrum of ski-touring applications. Whether you’re looking to audition for the next TGR film, or you just want to bust out fitness laps at your local hill, there is something in here for everyone. Be advised though that no matter how great a boot is on paper, if it doesn’t feel good on your feet, you’re going to have a bad time. Here’s our quick and dirty analysis, with linked search results for more in depth information.
This list is by no means extensive but it captures a few key touring boot ingredients and boots that exemplify them. For all of our boot reviews, click here. And for more tips on boots, check out our Ski Touring Boot Buying Guide Part I and Part II from last season.
Best Freeride Ski Touring Boots: ‘Resort’ Boots That Will Also Tour
Scarpa Maestrale XT
Scarpa’s Maestrale and Maestrale RS boots have long been a staple in the ski-touring market and have been known to make appearances on resort slopes across the west. However, even the die hard fans will tell you that they leave something to be desired when pushing top speeds in variable conditions. Enter the Maestrale XT. With a few simple yet extremely effective tweaks this boot performs like a legitimate resort boot, while maintaining impressive uphill capabilities.
Favorite Features: Booster style power strap, overlapping upper cuff, best in-industry intuition liner, relocated upper buckle provides a more ‘alpine’ flex
Weight: 1536 grams (Size 27.5)
While the four-buckle design might resemble an alpine boot, don’t be fooled. The Tecnica Zero G is lightest in class and boasts a great range of motion for an overlap style boot. Couple that with its ability to drive any ski, and you have a boot worth talking about. We are big fans of the Double Blocking Mobility Cuff System which makes a difference in downhill performance by eliminating any ‘play’ from the flex of the boot.
Favorite Features: 55 degrees of cuff articulation, improved webbing-lock power strap
Weight : 1374g (Size 27.5)
Best All-Around Ski-Touring Boot: Obi-One Ski-Nobe, Your Only Hope
Ahhh, yes. The elusive one-boot quiver. Something that may have existed a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away- but remains an unattainable unicorn for us meager earthlings. In terms of performance, both on the up and the down, we will make a strong case for the innovative Hoji boot, covered extensively in our archives. In walk-mode, this boot feels fantastic with a snug cuff and impressive range of motion. For the ski down, simply flip the single lever Hoji Lock mechanism, and enjoy a boot that skis ‘beautifully’. With a stiff and progressive flex, you will feel confident skiing downhill without the nightmarish memories from the uphill.
The obligatory caveat, while this boot boasts many characteristics of the unattainable one-boot quiver – the ‘speed toe’ limits compatibility to bindings with a tech toe. If you’re looking for a comparable boot that can also be skied in a binding like the Shift or the Duke PT (alpine style toe)- check out the Scarpa Maestrale RS.
Favorite Features: The Hoji-Lock mechanism is a game changer allowing you to seamlessly change from walk to ski mode with the flip of a single lever
Weight: 1450 grams (Size 27)
There is a reason (actually several) that Scarpa’s flagship boots have topped the best seller list for the better part of a decade. They’ve got a great range of motion, a lightweight construction, and an industry leading Intuition Liner – review after review, our feet have been happy all day long on the skin track. When it comes time for the down, they offer a progressive and powerful flex capable of handling a wide array of conditions. For smaller or less aggressive skiers, this boot would even work as a daily driver for in-bounds skiing. For those deciding between the Maestrale XT or RS, Louie’s side by side comparo should help steer you in the right direction.
Weight: 1435 (Size 27.0)
Lightweight Ski Touring Boots – Best Bang For Your Gram
In the past few years, there has been a surge in popularity for sub-1000 gram boots serving as daily backcountry drivers. One of the leaders in that category was the Alien RS. Despite boasting a race style upper cuff and an ungodly range of motion, skiers consistently relied on this boot to drive wider skis with impressive aggression. While this boot was revolutionary in that it redefined what was thought possible in a light-touring boot, it’s usage was more than the designers at Scarpa had intended and durability issues followed.
For the 2020/21 season, Scarpa has made a few tweaks and upgrades to the Alien RS and rebranded it the Scarpa F1 LT (or should it be called a ‘super alien’). Regardless, this boot is more durable and skis better than its predecessor, while maintaining the same legendary uphill ability. For those of you weight weenies who are looking for the lightest weight boot that is still enjoyable for the downhill, this could be your ticket.
Favorite Features: New upper cuff features a power strap, new closure system, and an F1/Maestrale style lever, boot retains its remarkable 72 degrees of articulation with minimal friction
Weight: 1041 Grams (Size 27.0)
For those of you who want the range of motion of a race boot, but are willing to sacrifice a few grams for more downhill capability, this boot needs to be on your radar. Weighing in at just over a kilogram and boasting an ungodly range of motion, the Atomic Backland Carbon “can drive a ski surprisingly well for a boot with those specs”. We absolutely love the redesign from Atomic that not only improves on the function of the boot, but the simplicity. And for those of you who hate changing out of your ski gear before heading to a nice candlelit dinner – Aaron Rice says you don’t have to in the ultra stylish and svelte Backland Carbon.
Weight: 1110 grams (Size 27.0)
A few extra non quantifiable SPECs
Transition Ease — The gold standard for modern ski-touring transitions are ones that require a single motion to switch between walk/ski mode. The Dynafit Hoji and the Atomic Backland Carbon give you that luxury which means you won’t be fiddling around with buckles or straps when you’re transitioning atop a cold, windy ridge.
Progressive flex — When it comes to progressive flex, overlap construction is king. The Maestrale XT and Technica Zero G nailed the designs of their boots which translates to an alpine-esque ski performance.
Custom Fitting — In our opinion, the Intuition Cross Fit Pro Flex liner in the Maestrale boots are the best liners to work with when heat molding. The high-density foam completely forms to your foot after a mold, but maintains its strength and durability. As for shell fits, the Tecnica Zero G has ‘dimples’ in common problem areas in order to make punches and expansions a breeze.
Ski mode confidence — Have you ever thought you were in ski mode as you dropped into your untouched powder sanctuary, only to realize your boot wasn’t locked completely into ski mode? When you’re earning your turns, this can be the most frustrating scenario. With the Dynafit Hoji and the Atomic Backland Carbon the transition mechanism requires a full 180 degree motion which tells you unequivocally whether or not your are locked and loaded.
While most of the WildSnow backcountry skiing blog posts are best attributed to a single author, some work well as done by the group.