The Best Resort Boots for 2017

Save the hike for another day. These ski boots are about the down

Marquee Image: No walk mode necessary, especially on fast descents from Big Sky’s Lone Peak Tram. PHOTO: David Reddick

For the past several years, ski boot trends have followed the backcountry movement. Nearly all innovation was dedicated to producing boots that included a walk mode for hiking to powder stashes while incorporating stiff performance features for the descent. Those efforts are still being refined–in exemplary new models such as the Lange Freetour series and Tecnica’s Cochise Pro 130–but many skiers have realized that uphill capability carries undeniable downhill consequences, especially when they’re banging chair laps all day. That’s where all the boots below come in.

If you don’t hike, or simply prefer zero forgiveness on the descent, these boots are the top offerings for expert skiers in 2017. Each carries a robust stiff index, high-performance last, fit customization, no walk mode, and a lean toward freeride–meaning the masochists can still find stiffer, more uncomfortable plug boots. But if you’re looking to charge in all conditions, look no further.

Atomic-HawxUltra130

Atomic Hawx Ultra 130
MSRP: $850
Weight: 1,650g
Flex: 130
Last: 98-104

These feather-light ski slippers stole my heart—and my feet. The new addition to the popular Hawx family is 25 percent lighter than its medium- and wide-volume siblings. The shell uses the Memory Fit plastics that are found throughout Atomic’s successful Hawx family, and allow the bootfitter to heat up an entire boot for an easy customized fit. The 98-millimeter last can give way to fit up to 104 millimeters midfoot. Besides the fantastical shell, the liner is worth a strong mention as well. It uses a pre-shaped, thermoformable heel and ankle area that molds to fix any pressure points and creates an incredible foot hold. Mark my words, this boot is a game changer. —Ryan Rubino

Nordica-Speedmachine130

Nordica Speedmachine 130
MSRP: $799
Weight: 2,030g
Flex: 130
Last: 100mm

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Nordica brings back one of its all-time heavy hitters, now improved with Nordica’s proven 3D custom cork liners and new infrared heating system, which allows the bootfitter to target only the areas that need work without compromising the rest of the boot. The fit options are incredible and the performance is solid, but not groundbreaking. I found that for a medium-volume boot that has ample toe room, things got a bit tight over my instep and a bit loose in the back. Heel hold is important when looking down those double black diamonds, and I was left wanting a bit more. —Ryan Rubino

Head-Hammer130

Head Hammer 130
MSRP: $750
Weight: 2,378g
Flex: 130
Last: 98mm

The Head Hammer, back this season unchanged, is built off a powerful three-piece shell design that is custom-moldable with heat. Head is one of the leading companies when it comes to vibration and impact absorption, qualities found in their skis and in this boot. The liner is padded six ways from Sunday so you can be sure that toe-bang and bruised heels won’t be an issue when you send it straight into the parking lot. All of that comes at a cost, however—the boot leans a bit on the heavy side compared to others on the market. –Ryan Rubino

Rossignol-AllspeedElite130

Rossignol Allspeed Elite
MSRP: $850
Weight: 2,040g
Flex: 130
Last: 98mm

The Allspeed Elite, unchanged from last season, features an out-of-the-box anatomical fit appropriate for the low-volume foot. The mono-injected Polyether shell is all about the precision and power some recognize from the Lange family. When you slide your foot into the boot you notice the liner has a consumer-friendly feel but the flex is something you can really lean into and rely on when the Ptex hits the snow. –Ryan Rubino

FullTilt-Descendant8

Full Tilt Descendant 8
MSRP: $750
Weight: 1,941g
Flex: 8 of 10
Last: 102mm

The Descendant 8 sits at the top of the totem pole in the FTE or Evolution shell, which embodies Full Tilt’s rich history of performance and comfort in a wider shell. This three-piece design also comes with an Intuition liner that can be cooked and fit to perfection. Some strong and tall skiers may wish that it had a taller more powerful upper cuff but many skiers will find a comfortable home in this resort boot. –Ryan Rubino

Atomic-HawxUltra110W

Atomic Hawx Ultra 110 W
MSRP: $725
Weight: 1,480g
Features: Flex: 110
Last: 98mm

This high-performance women’s boot is Atomic’s lightest alpine boot yet, by a whopping 25 percent. The significant weight savings is in part a result of the progressive design that keeps the shell of the 98-millimeter boot noticeably lower-volume than other boots in the same category, making them feel extra nimble. The slender design also allows for a better snow feel, meaning my spidey-senses came into play when driving skis through variable snow, giving me a slight head start to digest changing conditions. —Crystal Sagan

Dalbello-DMSW100

Dalbello DMS W 100
MSRP: $750
Weight: 1,815g
Flex: 100
Last: 98mm

Known for their three-piece freeride boots, Dalbello introduces their all-new four-buckle, overlap design for their newest high-performance women’s model. The DMS offers similar lateral stiffness as seen in their three-piece cabrio designs but has a stiffer fore and aft flex, resulting in more direct power transmission to the ski and a snappier performance. A slightly more upright and neutral stance makes them comfortable to stand in all day. With a women’s specific last, the DMS has a smaller heel pocket and wider forefoot area to help it fit well right out of the box. —Crystal Sagan

Nordica-SpeedmachineW

Nordica Speedmachine 105 W
MSRP: $599
Weight: 1,960g
Flex: 105
Last: 100mm

The new Speedmachine was built to give you (and your boot fitter) options, such as a fully customizable cork liner and PU (the same material used in many World Cup boots) shell. A mix of pre-molded 3D laminate and moldable natural cork extends the life of liners, and, since cork is known for being an efficient transmitter of energy, helps the Speedmachine feel responsive on groomers. Relieve specific hot spots in the shell with an infrared heat-molding system, allowing small areas of the shell to become malleable for fitting without heating the whole boot. An adjustable spoiler at the top of the cuff offers some options for larger calf muscles, and can help make sure you aren’t too far forward, keeping balance on point. –Crystal Sagan