The most important equipment purchase you will make, ski boots demand your time, consideration, and maybe a little bit of pain. But it's worth it to find the right boot. To help your quest, we asked skiers Crystal Sagan and Kenzie Morris to test the year's new crop of boots over the course of the winter to determine the best women’s boots of the year.
Crystal Sagan: Based in Boulder, Colorado, Sagan, who alternates between resort and backcountry, has a low volume, narrow-ish foot and often throws an extra shim under the footbed to take up a bit of space.
Kenzie Morris: From Tahoe City, California, Morris prefers a 98mm last and enough space to fit a medium to high instep with narrow ankles. With a background in racing, she'll happily take performance over comfort.
(Click on boot to skip down to review):
LANGE XT 110 Free W LV
TECNICA Mach1 MV Heat 95 W
ROSSIGNOL Alltrack Elite 100 LT
ROXA R3W 105 TI
ATOMIC Hawx Prime 105 S W
DALBELLO DS 110 W
DYNAFIT Hoji Pro Tour W
HEAD Nexo LYT 110 W G
K2 Luv 110
NORDICA Promachine 115 W
The Lange XT Free 110 W LV stole the show in women's boots this year. Lightweight and powerful, the XT Free is a well-rounded hybrid, combining power for downhill skiing and tourability with a walk mode providing 43 degrees of cuff rotation. Construction consists of Lange’s Dual Core technology and an ultralight Grilamid, which incorporates two different durometers of plastic (hard and soft) allowing for more rebound and flex control.
The softer plastic on the instep is intended to make easier to get your foot in and out, while the more rigid plastic transmits power to the skis. Still, this boot was a bit harder to get on and off than other boots but the unparalleled performance made this a non-issue once we were on snow.
Measuring a 97mm last, the fit is surprisingly seamless around the foot, with a superior tight hold around the heel while the rest of the foot felt comfortable. This tight but comfortable fit translated to an outstanding performance and responsiveness. The flex and lateral support was even from the top to the bottom of the shin, making the boot feel great with a good amount of consistent and powerful pressure throughout the cuff.
Weighing in at only 1500 grams, the XT Free felt very light with a user-friendly walk mode offering 43 degrees of cuff rotation. Coming with Dynafit certified inserts, this boot will work with both downhill and backcountry setups with no compromise to either.
The strongest feature of these boots is the performance and ability to rip in any conditions. When testing this boot, I felt like it skied confidently anywhere on the mountain and snow conditions were not an issue. If there were any concerns, it would be how firm the boot felt during a small landing through the sole. The Lange XT Free 110 W LV is a clear choice for any confident female skier whether they use this boot in the resort or the backcountry.
With a combination of performance, fit, and warmth, the Mach1 Heat will be a top option for aggressive skiers who get cold feet. With a thermic heating element built within the customizable liner, the Mach1 Heat means no more frigid toes, even during the coldest days.
This heating system is a full integration heating unit built into the liner. In skiing this boot, I could barely feel the impact of these additional elements. The liner felt seamless with an exception to a more dense region in the upper calf, which caused a slight pressure zone, but was never uncomfortable.
The easy to use heating control components are hidden away in the upper corners of the liner: an on/off button, including three heat settings on one side, and a hideaway USB charger and battery in the other. Specifically designed for women, the liner is composed of Celliant and Lambswool. This converts body heat into infrared energy increasing circulation, oxygen, and blood flow, therefore improving performance and thermal regulation for quicker recovery.
After skiing this boot for a few hours it was hard to stop.
Utilizing C.A.S. (Custom Adaptive System) technology, the shell’s anatomical shape matches the foot allowing for a better fit out of the box. The fit felt secure with no pressure points incorporating a nice rounded toe box. There is an even grip around the calf and shin with a solid hold on the ankles translating to a high level of control on skis and a power transfer increasing downhill performance.
Specifically for women, an additional 3 millimeters get added to the height of the spine, and an altered forward lean is designed for a natural balance translating to better performance while decreasing fatigue. The stance felt natural and the boot pressured well through turns feeling as good on the first run as it did on the last. With women-specific integrations and the added ability to warm cold feet, the Mach MV Heat 95 W proves to be a strong option that not only skis well but allocates for longer days on the hill.
The unique design and standout color choice makes this boot a fun and strong choice for any female skier. The AllTrack offers the minimum shell wall thickness for reduction of weight with the most effective power and support. Weighing in at 1690 grams, the boot is light but not compromised on the downhill.
The walk mode offers 50 degrees of rotation in walk mode and has the increased benefit of metal-on-metal locking mechanism to keep it from noodling through the mank. The walk mode felt efficient for uphill travel, but after a while the liner did feel as if there was a bit of movement in the shell.
Coming with Dynafit Certified tech inserts it is ready for tour or alpine bindings. Like the Lange (Rossi and Lange are owned by the same company), the Alltrack Elite has Dual Core construction with two different deurometers of plastic supplying more rebound and flex control. The softer plastic around the cuff and over the forefoot makes for easier in and out while the more rigid plastic in the key support areas transmits power to the skis.
The 98 last is comfortable and, though it's a skinny fit, felt a bit roomy over the forefoot, a positive in my book. This offered a relaxed fit and had little pressure points right out of the box.
I loved not only how comfortable the liner was but also the unique floral pattern along the inside of the liner. Lined with Thinsulate Platinum insulation, it is a warm choice for any female with slightly colder feet. After some runs through varied conditions, the boot felt a little soft, making them an ideal boot for the gal who prefers a slightly more forgiving flex and feel.
With the versatile three-piece construction and great uphill performance, the Roxa R3W proved to be an excellent touring boot with surprising skiability. The three-piece construction--known as Ultralight Caribo incorporating the shell, cuff, and tongue--offered a smooth flex that's hard to get in a two-piece overlap.
In walk mode, the range of motion was outstanding in a supportive and lightweight shell. The liner is composed of a heat-moldable I.R. Intuition Power Tongue. Integrated into this liner is a hinge feature around the natural bend in the ankle to improve the hinge point during uphill exercises.
For those longer boot packs, rocky ridgelines or, yes, parking lots, GripWalk soles allow for more support and traction. The top buckle and booster strap are operated as one to secure the upper cuff and tongue. The lower two buckles are a combination of ladders and cables to decrease weight and wrap the shell. The cables proved to be a bit tricky to assemble, but once in place, they held solidly with a latching clip over the ladder.
While skiing, the boot had even pressure across the shin and enabled a natural, balanced stance. It held a consistent forward pressure through the turn as well as maintained a good level of lateral support. Utilizing Biofit technology, the shell is pre-formed to relieve pressure points in the common trouble areas, and it had sufficient wiggle room in the toe box. However, the area over the forefoot did feel more pressure, especially while riding the chair.
This increase in downward pressure, however, did translate to good control and a precise transition of power to skis. The secure ankle grip comes from the 45-degree heel lock buckle that functions independently to secure the heel in both hike and ski mode. Coming with Dynafit and Kingpin certified inserts, the Roxa R3W is a great option for the backcountry-minded skier.
At 25 percent lighter than its predecessor--the Hawx Ultra--the Hawx Prime brings the fit and performance you'd expect from a high-end 100mm last boot without the weight. Starting with a slim profile, Prolite Technology cuts the weight by adding reinforcement only where strength is needed, allowing for a thinner shell in areas where energy is not transferred.
The resulting boot is streamlined and efficient, finding the perfect balance between power and comfort. An asymmetrical backbone runs along the spine of the boot and acts as a lightning rod for energy, sending power to the ski's edge for increased responsiveness. Forward lean is easily adjusted with the turn of a screw (13-, 15-, or 17-degrees), and a removable shim at the calf adapts fit to larger or smaller calves as needed.
Constructed of TrueFlexPU (unique to Atomic), the shell keeps a consistent flex despite varying temperatures and holds modifications better than traditional PU. Customize the fit of MemoryFit 3D Platinum liner and praise the warmth of their 3M Thinsulate Insulation on cold days. The fur-like liner is soft to the touch but let's be honest, not really necessary (and by no means the worst offender). Still, these boots are perfect for long bell-to-bell days throughout winter and the price is right.
The DS 110 is the standout of this season's Dalbello lineup, thanks to an overall low weight and some of the most efficient power transfer of this women's boot roundup. Right out of the gate, the DS's power stood out, sending a noticeable burst of energy right down to the ski's edge.
A PU upper cuff and lower chassis provide a strong foundation, further enhanced by the four-buckle, overlap design, and beefy 40mm power strap, while the bi-injected Power Cage of the lower chassis (a hard PU frame is later combined with a second injection) creates a lighter, stronger boot.
The Instant Fit liner is designed to be skiable right out of the box, and a snug-fitting heel cup keeps the fit dialed--ensuring energy is not wasted--while a roomier toe box gives you a bit more space for circulation (aka warmth) in the forefoot. We found the DS to be better suited to medium volume tootsies but had no problem shoring up the fit for a lower volume foot with an extra shim underfoot. Bottom line: The DS instilled confidence from the first turn.
The brainchild of big-mountain skier Eric "Hoji" Hjorleifson and Fritz Barthel, inventor of the Low Tech Binding, the Hoji boot takes all of your wildest (touring) boot dreams and delivers them in one precise, 1450 gram package. The business in the front (a stiff 120 flex), party in the back (tour mode) philosophy comes alive when pushed hard and delivers big time on Hoji-inspired adventures.
A Grilamid shell, cuff, and spoiler keep the Hoji light but stiff for an impressive downhill performance and efficient energy transfer, with the perks of a better snow feel and more skier confidence. On the uphill, a V-shaped spoiler and 55-degree range of motion allow for a more natural walking motion and plenty of agility on climbs, helping conserve energy for long days.
The transition between walk/ski modes with the flip of one singular (patented) switch that saves time and general hassle. Boasting a roomy 102 last, the Hoji is comfy on the climb but you'll more than likely need to crank down on the adjustable buckles in ski mode. The Hoji is compatible with tech bindings only, as the design swaps out the traditional toe for a 'Shark Nose.'
The concept puts direct pressure to the ski where you need it (underfoot) but places an obvious limit on your binding options. Getting into spicy terrain? Check out the new fully integrated Salewa crampons that attach directly to the boot via hooks and inserts on the sole for precise, stable fit (sold separately).
Head is taking fit in a whole new direction--liquid. Designed to form an optimal custom fit around your heel and ankle (a crucial fit area when it comes to boot performance), Head's Liquid Fit liner allows your boot fitter to inject paraffin directly into the liner, which features an already padded heel pocket to help lock it in.
Once injected into the liner, a near-perfect fit is created in just a few minutes. (Worth mentioning: Material is also removable should you care to make an adjustment later.) The Nexo's shell is equally impressive, with a graphene-infused PU to help hold shell shape as well as modifications. The 96mm last (in 24.5) fit great on low-volume feet without major modifications, and larger-footed ladies will be happy to know the progressive last increases with mondo size (26.5 features a 100mm last).
On the flip side, we found the upper cuff to be a bit on the softer side unless the Nexo's top buckle and unimpressive power strap were completely cranked down, which the 28mm of range on the top buckle helped dial in. Either way, the Nexo's new technology is worth exploring.
Last: 98, 100mm
The K2 Luv 110 make you feel so light on your feet you'll want to do a happy dance before you even leave the parking lot (we did). The Powerlite shell is designed to maximize your boot fitter’s options for customization while cutting out extra weight where it isn't needed. The result is a boot that is extra agile and allows for good snow feel.
Performance is optimized thanks to a mix of four types of Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), each with varying degrees of stiffness and thickness depending on their location in the shell. The Powerfuse Spyne boasts the stiffest TPU for maximum flex control and power transfer, followed by the lower chassis which uses a similarly stiff plastic to aid in power transfer and torsional rigidity.
A super soft version covers the top of the instep, making getting into and out of the boot a piece of cake. Adjust calf height as needed for a better fit and more drive, or have your bootfitter examine as part of an overall fit. (Worth it.) Ding: On extra-warm spring days we noticed some softer parts of the shell feeling, well, soft. But it didn't make our corn skiing any less fun.
The Promachine is inspired by Nordica's race boots, bringing a high-performance fit and power to non-racers looking for a boot they can charge in. The beauty is the Pro Machine is still comfortable. At a 115 flex, these are the stiffest women's alpine boots we tested, and they don't mess around when it comes to power transfer.
A higher cuff allows for increased support and leverage while extra-stiff polyurethane plastic along the spine ensures that the power you're driving into the boot finds its way to the ski. Out of the box, the 98mm last was great for this tester's lower volume foot. But for those with fit issues, the Pro Machine has a completely customizable 3D Cork Fit liner and easily modified (by a boot fitter) Infrared Polyurethane shell.
Michelin GripWalk soles kept us right side up in a slippery parking lot and offered extra traction on rocky spring boot packs, and the performance delivered by the boot was everything we were hoping it would be with a precise responsiveness and intuitive feel that made us forget we were even testing boots to begin with.
Eco-Perk: Primaloft liners are made with 55 percent post-consumer recycled materials.