For some of us, winter is here. Once winter is here, one of the only ways to stay sane is to get out as much as possible. The popularity of backcountry skiing has taken off over the past couple of years with advancements in technology and the need to get outside.
It can easily be argued that your boots are the most important part of your entire setup. They not only take care of your feet but they also transfer all of your power into the skis and can make the skiing much more enjoyable, or a terrible time. The art of the backcountry boot has been for outdoor brands to find the balance between the up and the down. The best backcountry ski boot will be light and comfortable enough to skin up thousands of feet, but sturdy enough to charge downhill when the time comes.
Best Backcountry Ski Boots
1. Scarpa Maestrale RS
Weight: 6 lbs. 6 oz.
Flex: 100W, 110, 120W, 125, 130+
If you’re looking for an affordable boot that can help you cruise uphill and charge back down, Scarpa’s Maestrale RS is a fantastic choice. It’s truly the best all-around boot for the ways in which it can perform well in each and every aspect. Scarpa used the Intuition Crossfit Pro liner which delivers warmth, comfort, and can be heat molded.
All-in-all, this boot will perform well for anyone who rides right down the middle of resort skiing and backcountry. While it might not be the lightest on the list, it’s still relatively lightweight, and supremely comfortable. The flex in walk mode exceeds our own ankle’s capabilities, meaning walk mode performs well in this boot. Great choice for beginners, or even experienced skiers alike.
2. Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro
Weight: 5 lbs. 14 oz.
Flex: 105W, 110, 115W, 120, 130
Tecnica’s Zero G Tour Pro boots utilizes the best of the best technology out there today to make the lightest, and stiffest boot for backcountry pros. The shell itself is thin Grilamid, but the cuff has carbon fiber laid inside it in order to add to the stiffness without sacrificing on weight. The walk mode mechanism locks in two separate places, both at the top of the spine and the bottom which adds to the flex and keeps the boot from bowing out.
The Zero G Tour Pro ends up being the top pick for professional-level riders that aren’t afraid to spend extra money in order to get the top-tier of quality. If you can work around the ultra-thin liner that can be uncomfortable for some, this boot will out-perform most in any category.
3. Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130
Weight: 6 lbs. 15 oz.
Flex: 95W, 100, 115W, 120, 130
The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 stands out on this list as one of the most aggressive all-around backcountry ski boots out there. The boot utilizes a four buckle design, an aggressive stance, and a thicker, sturdier, liner, in order to become one of the best switch-over boots to crush down groomers on.
While this boot is perfect for the resort, it also holds a lot of value for the backcountry. Unfortunately, it’s just about the heaviest boots we have on our list, but it still shows up when you need it to. It mixes aggressive design with a decent range of motion so you can tour easily, but not worry about the downhill. Some may prefer other boots with a smoother walk mode, but the Hawx can’t be beat on the downhill.
4. Dynafit TLT8 Expedition CR
Weight: 5 lbs.
Our first ultralight boot on the list is the Dynafit TLT8 Expedition CR. The TLT (Tour Lite Tech) collection is made for one thing and one thing only, touring. The thin power strap and two-buckle system take off valuable ounces that can slow you down while travelling uphill. The design allows for you to switch between walk and ski mode with the top buckle, making for much shorter transitions.
If you’re in with the fast and light skiers, this is the boot that you may see quite often. The extreme lightweight design allows for you to go miles without feeling the extra weight on your feet. The downside here is that this doesn’t transfer over to resort skiing very well and you’ll probably want another set of boots just for downhill.
5. Scarpa F1 LT
Weight: 4 lbs. 6 oz.
Flex: 100, 100W
The Scarpa F1 LT is another touring-focused boot that comes in at the lightest weight on the list. These boots weigh a meager 4 lbs and 6 oz. When you put this up against most other boots on the market, it blows them all out of the water if you’re only looking at weight. While this boot is completely new for the season, it shows a lot of promise coming from Scarpa.
The boot utilizes a carbon Grilamid shell and cuff with a 3D Lambda Frame to give better stability and durability. The boot only gives a flex of 100, which can be a bit too soft for more aggressive skiers, but is perfect for those just getting comfortable on the slopes. We’ve included this boot simply for its promise and unique design, but it has yet to perform for an entire season.
6. Dynafit Hoji Free
Weight: 6 lbs. 13 oz.
Flex: 110, 130
The Dynafit Hoji Free is an updated and improved version of the Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour that came out a few seasons ago. This model allows for crossover capabilities and use with setups like the ever-loved Salomon Shift bindings. Where the boot fails to excel is in the category of weight. With the new additions, the boot pushes 7 pounds per pair. For some experts, this is going to be a bit too heavy.
If you’re looking for a new boot that is sure to become a true favorite by next season, this is it. All of the features make it easy to use and aggressive enough with a 130 flex to push just about any ski out there with ease.
Backcountry Ski Boots Buyers Guide
Backcountry ski boots have become complicated pieces of gear that you need to work to understand. Between the different variations that are available today, knowing what you’re looking for is a must. You can always ask a boot professional at the shop, but it’s hard to know if they’re just leading you towards a higher payout for themselves. Know your stuff by starting here.
One of the best parts about backcountry ski boots is their high level of versatility. For some, you can have a single pair of boots that double as your backcountry boot as well as your resort boot. With the right style of boot, you can rock the same boot for any type of skiing. For those of us with a budget, this is incredibly important.
If you’re hoping to get a do-it-all boot, you need something that has a toe lip as well as a decent amount of flex. Some backcountry boots are designed to be ultra-lightweight and they remove the toe lip and can sacrifice some amount of durability. If you want a boot that’s going to be more versatile and last longer, you may need to lug around a heavier pair. Fortunately, there are still tons of options for those who are on a budget and needing a single all-around boot.
Most of our boots on the list range between 6+ pounds and 4 pounds. This 2 to 3 pound difference can change your backcountry skiing a lot. The lighter boots will obviously make it easier to go for long mile days. The heavier boots will hold up better in the long run, feel more durable and secure, but might make your legs tired really quickly.
If you’re just getting into skiing and have no idea what the flex of a boot is, it’s okay, we were all there once. Flex simply describes the stiffness of the boot. The stiffer the boot, the more control you have in the ski, but the harder it is to transfer that power from your legs. Ski boot flex ranges from about 60-140, the higher number being the stiffer boot. Most backcountry ski boots will be above 100 and max out typically around 130.