If your ski boots are older than your cat or dog, walk, run, or drive to your nearest ski shop. Seriously, though, ski boot models have changed dramatically over the years. “I believe the ski boot world is in a golden age,” says Adam Greenier, owner of Gravity Jones Orthotics, and certified pedorthist/boot fitter for Sport Thoma in N.H.. “The last few years have offered amazing new developments in boot technology including lighter plastics, AT capabilities, advanced customization options, and increased comfort.”
In order to find the best boot for your physiology and ability level, every industry pro recommends that you visit a qualified boot fitter. They will ask you about your ability level, where you like to ski, and whether you have any injuries. After they identify which category of boots to work with, they will start by finding the correct size, or the inner shape of the boot that best fits your feet. Narrow fitting boots have lasts around 96mm to 98mm and are usually the choice for experts who favor a tight fit and stiff flex for power and precision. Medium or average fitting boots have lasts around 100mm and wide-volume boots for high-volume feet have lasts that are 102 mm or above. Some companies offer the same boot model in two different last sizes to cater to higher or lower foot volume. Boot fitters also look at the instep height, heel anatomy and calf muscle position.
Bootfitters like Greenier have championed customization features in boot models because it allows them to work at a micro-level to improve comfort and performance between the skier’s body and their equipment. “We want to meet you and be a part of your skiing support team,” says Greenier. “It’s no longer about having the best gear; it’s about having the most appropriate gear customized to function most efficiently with the skier.”
Before you go into the store, however, educate yourself by reading the following boot roundup. You can learn a lot about categories, boot features, and offerings, which will help with your initial discussion at a shop. This 21/22 roundup features a wide range of boots in the All-mountain category. Skiers shopping in this category ski the entire mountain—frontside and backside—and need a boot that can handle a variety of snow conditions. Some of the boots lean toward the freeride side, with walk/hike modes, which offer freedom of movement in the cuff for occasional trips off-piste or out-of-bounds. Others have features that blend performance with comfort, including combinations of plastic density designed to offer power without adding weight.
Every boot manufacturer has a variety of boot models to suit a range of ability levels and snow conditions. Think of boot fitters as matchmakers—and the boot-to-foot match they recommend can result in a season full of great turns and happy feet.
Men’s All-mountain Ski Boot Roundup for 21/22
Atomic’s Hawx Ultra 130 S GW is designed for expert, all-mountain skiers with narrow feet seeking a lightweight yet powerful boot. The 98mm low volume last accompanies a slim profile, featuring Prolite technology, which reduces weight while reinforcing and stabilizing power transfer zones. The Mimic Platinum 3M Thinsulate liner can be formed to each individual foot shape. The Hawx Ultra 130 S GW is also available with the Mimic Professional foam liner, which offers even more stability for power turns, while still being easy to fit. Cantable GripWalk Pads make walking and hiking easier. “The next generation Prolite Construction in the new Hawx Ultra makes the boots about 25% more stable, by adding material in key power zones through the boot so they rip,” says Jake Strassburger, Atomic commercial manager.
DALBELLO Panterra 120 GW
Dalbello’s all-mountain Panterra 120 GW gets updated with Kinetic Response Tongue profile, which better matches the lower shell and the tongue for better fit and power transmission. The Panterra has a 3-piece cabrio wrap, which is designed for improved ergonomics and boot shell integration. A new liner design in the 100mm lasted boot gives more toe space in the neoprene toe box. “Known for being incredibly easy to get on and off, Panterra boots feature Dalbello’s Power Cage construction to improve energy transfer, a walk mode with a 50-degree range of motion, and an adjustable ramp angle for customizing the skiers fit and stance,” says Geoff Curtis, VP/Marketing for Marker/Volkl/Dalbello.
FISCHER RC4 the Curv GT 130
Fischer looked at thousands of foot scans when developing this narrow all-mountain boot model for a low-volume fit. The Fischer RC4 the Curve GT 130 has a 130 flex and a 96mm last, with an extremely lightweight shell. The shell has thinner walls where it wraps and thicker walls where power and stability are needed. The shell, made from Fischer’s proprietary plastic, is designed to be heated in a shop and formed to the contours of each foot. “The Curv GT gives the advanced to expert skier a snug, custom fit for all-day comfort, and the close shell fit also improves energy transmission for better ski performance and control,” says Mike Hattrup, US Alpine Product Manager.
HEAD Formula 130 RS
The Formula 130 RS is part of a completely new boot series by HEAD, designed to offer race boot technical features with customization technology such as Form Fit and Liquid Fit liner, which injects liquid material into pockets in the boot lining to support the critical area around the ankle and heel. The low volume 98mm last provides a snug foot while the 130 flex offers performance for aggressive skiers. “The new plastic formula of the all-new HEAD Formula boots results in an extremely progressive flex and smooth rebound, keeping the skier in a centered position no matter how aggressive the terrain,” says Andrew Couperthwait, HEAD alpine product manager. “This new plastic also allows for a very damp feel eliminating vibrations that can emanate from under the foot, traveling up the leg and fatiguing the leg muscles. The result is a super smooth ride that keeps the skier fresh and in the best position to tackle any type of terrain.”
K2 Mindbender 130
The K2 Mindbender 130’s shell design is fully heat moldable with a strategic variation of thickness in the shell wall where power is needed combined with thinner areas for weight reduction. The 130 flex locks into ski mode with K2’s Powerlock Spyne, but when in walk mode, the boot has a 50-degree range of motion for ski touring or hiking. The low volume 98mm last provides a performance fit and the boot’s tech fittings give skiers binding choices. “The Mindbender 130 is the versatile freeride boot you need for both chairlift-assisted and human-powered endeavors,” says Matt Miller, global marketing manager for K2 Skis.
Lange RX 130
The new RX 130 was redesigned from the inside out, starting with a new Reactive Boost Tongue, which like athletic shoes, compresses and expands to give the skier a feeling of power, rebound, and control. The RX line retains a Dual Core shell, which sandwiches softer plastic with more rigid plastic to increase power transmission in the 130-flex boot. The Dual 3D Liner and 100mm last offers a mid-volume fit for, what Matt Farness, alpine category Manager for Lange says are “everyday resort skiers of all abilities who demand both comfort and responsiveness from their boots.”
Nordica Speedmachine 3 130 S
“The Speedmachine 3 redefines what an all-mountain boot can be with innovations that bring a new level of power and comfort,” says Sam Beck, Nordica’s director of marketing and communications. Nordica’s Force Shell has triple injected materials that combine a load-bearing, hard plastic honeycomb construction with a less rigid soft plastic for support as well as weight reduction. The Force Liner has an asymmetrical design to improve lateral support, while thermoformable cork around the ankles and tongue allows for a precise fit in the 100mm-lasted boot.
Rossignol Alltrack Pro 130 GW
Rossignol designed the Alltrack Pro 130 GW to bridge the gap between freeride and free touring. That is to say, it’s designed for skiers who ski both inbounds at a resort as well as desiring some touring capabilities. For downhill performance, the boot has Dual Core molding technology, which allows for an injection of a thicker and thinner plastic at strategic places for both power ease-of-use. For uphill performance, skiers have access to walk mode and tech inserts. “Increasingly we’re seeing backcountry gear show up at the resort,” says Jake Stevens, Rossignol alpine category manager. “The Alltrack Pro 130 is a resort-minded boot ready for backcountry touring so if you’re only going to have one pair of boots and you’re in the backcountry less than 50 percent of the time, the Polyester shell and Polylefine cuff create a higher level of confidence in skiability.”
Salomon S/Pro 120 GW
The S/Pro 120 GW sports a newly-designed, anatomically correct liner, constructed without internal stitches, but with the addition of cushy foam and an elastic toe box that adapts to extra space. A soft Sensifit insert is placed on the external side of the boot for better wrapping and ease of entry. With a 120 flex, the mid-volume boot is designed for precise fit and customization. “The S/Pro 120 allows for an instant fit, providing superb boot feel immediately combines with personal customization to create an extremely comfortable set up and reliable performance,” says Chris McKearin, Salomon alpine commercial manager.
Tecnica Cochise 130 DYN
“The Cochise 130 is about achieving the level of power and downhill performance you’d get from a stiff, all-mountain boot, combined with the versatility that comes with a walk mode,” says Jed Duke, Tecnica director of product marketing. The Cochise’s blend of performance and versatility is supported by Tecnica’s new walk mechanism called T-Ride, which integrates a low-profile cuff design and strong spine with a lock-mode designed to reduce any plan inside the boot. The 99mm anatomically shaped last provides a low-to-mid volume fit while the shell material offers a progressive flex and vibration absorption.
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