Do you really need a walk mode?
By now, we are all aware of the benefits of having boots equipped with a walk mode—they get you up the boot pack and are generally more comfortable, especially at the bar. But as we have also learned, sometimes the hard way, this millennial trend of walking in ski boots also comes at a price. They tend to be softer and wider, meaning your downhill muscle just isn’t going to be what it is in a fixed-cuff four-buckle variety with a narrow last. As the industry focused on making boots more efficient for the uphill—such as the Salomon MTN LAB, one of the best new examples of how a boot can offer touring efficiency and downhill performance—the options for skiers grew more varied. They also got a lot better. From lightweight elf shoes to burly freeriders, fit and performance are largely dependent on you, your foot, and, lest we forget, your bootfitter. And yet, if you’re purely concerned about alpine performance because the only walking you do is form the parking lot or to the bar (and there’s nothing wrong with that), there are boots for that, too.—John Clary Davies
Here are the best ski boots for hot lapping in a ski resort, given the Skier’s Choice seal of approval by the Powder Union. Some of these boots have a walk mode, which means they’re good for the boot pack to the backcountry stash beyond the boundary, too. (And for walking across that parking lot). Some of them don’t. For more ski boots—including the Skier’s Choice picks for the ladies and for the backcountry—head on over to the 2016 Buyer’s Guide.