The holidays are gone, and now your ski area is tracked to smithereens. Moguls the size of Volkswagen's threaten to devour small children—and your knees. Your go-to stash feels like an empty Christmas tree lot: Just a sprinkling of pine needles with nothing to show for it. The resort tries to brighten things up a bit by calling it "packed powder." What is that, sarcasm?
Time to hit the skin track. But leave those beefy plastic buckets under the stairs. Because today there is a wide variety of lightweight, comfortable, high-performance boots designed specifically for the backcountry. (To be sure, just because a boot has a walk mode doesn't necessarily make it fit for touring.) The eight boots listed here all weigh less than 1600 grams per boot—about 3.5 pounds. They all have supreme cuff rotation for taking long strides; and tough rockered soles for scrambling around on rocks and ice. Together, they represent the best options for skiers who want efficient maneuverability on the way up, and power on the descent. Yes, some tour better than others, and some are purposefully built to deliver more strength on the downhill. But what they all have in common is a goal to ease your suffering as you leave the ropes behind to seek out what seems like a distant Christmas memory: fresh powder.