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Looking for the absolute best ski boots to buy this season? After many hours of research, I’ve put together the ultimate skiers buying guide – for narrow or wide feet, beginners, and experts alike.
To get the latest price of each boot just click: check price. Below the reviews, I’ve put together a buyer’s guide to buying boots online.
Top 3 Best Ski Boots Reviewed (2020)
- Atomic Hawk Ultra 130 (Best Expert Boot – Narrow Fit)
- Tecnica Ten.2 70 HVL Ski Boot (Best Advanced – Wide Fit)
- K2 B.F.C. 90 Ski Boots (Best Women’s Advanced- Wide Fit)
1. Atomic Hawk Ultra 130
Best Expert Boot (Narrow Fit)
- Flex: 130
- Width: 98mm last
- Level: Expert
- Progressive fit with sculpted thinner and thicker zones for maximum power transmission to save up 25% more weight than similar boots.
- Heat moldable memory foam fit shell with a narrow 98mm last.
- Four micro-adjustable buckles for a precise fit.
- Thinsulate foam insulation that traps warm air.
- Energy backbone for improves edging and power transfer across all snow conditions.
The boot liner uses Thinsulate insulation for excellent warmth on very cold days. According to Atomic, this is their lightest boot weighing in at 1.68kg (size 26.5 per boot) which will reduce fatigue and make walking around the resort and carrying your gear that much easier. I love the lightness of this boot combined with the stiff flex and narrow last – make this the perfect narrow width expert boot.
Where to buy? – Check Price on Amazon
2. Tecnica Ten.2 70 HVL Ski Boot
Best Advanced (Wide Fit)
Designed for all-mountain use and will work well paired with all-mountain skis, from groomed slopes to off-piste.
- Flex: 100
- Rating: 4.9/5
- Width: 102mm last
- Level: Intermediate/Advanced boot
- i-Rebound Construction which improves the responsiveness of the boot by fixing the upper and lower cuff.
- 45mm Velcro power strap to lock your leg/shin into place.
- Designed for all-mountain use, from the park to backcountry skiing.
- Quick instep max which makes it easier to get in and out of the boot.
The Tecnica Ten.2 70 HVL comes in one flex of 100 – perfect for advanced intermediate skiers. It is a wide boot with a width of 102mm (size 26) – Best fits a wide forefoot and medium shaft of the leg. This ski boot is designed for all-mountain use and will work well paired with all-mountain skis, from groomed slopes to off-piste.
Where to buy? – Check Price on Amazon
3. K2 B.F.C. 90 Ski Boots
Best Women’s Advanced (Wide Fit)
It’s a magnificent boot with a 103mm wide last and an advanced intermediate flex of 90 for athletic skiers.
- Flex: 90
- Width: 103 mm last
- Level: Intermediate/Advanced Intermediate
- CushFit liner
- Apres mode for walking
- Hands-free entry
This is the Women’s specific version of the K2 (also my selection is one of my top men’s picks). It’s a magnificent boot with a 103mm wide last and an advanced intermediate flex of 90 for athletic skiers. The 103mm last best fits women with a medium to the wide foot shape and a medium to wide-leg shape.
It comes with K2’s CushFit liner for excellent warmth and comfort while optimizing for a tight it on average-wide feet. It features a 40mm Velcro power strap and cuff shape for lower calf muscles.
Where To Buy? – Check Price on Amazon
Ski Boot Buyers Guide
So your thinking of investing in your own pair of ski boots and you’re looking for a breakdown of all the key information? Great idea! I’ve written this 4,882-word guide for you. Before we delve straight into it, here are a few reasons people invest in a pair of boots over hiring them at the resort.
Reasons To Buy Your Own Ski Boots:
- You plan to ski a lot more.
- Rental boots hurt your feet.
- You want ski boots that are compact and break into YOUR feet.
- You want fresh ski boots that only you’ve worn.
- You want to pay once for a great pair of boots rather than pay each time you rent.
Choosing a pair of boots that are right for you is just as important, if not more, than the type of skis your ride. A great fit is the single most important aspect of choosing a new boot and it will allow you to efficiently translate movement and power into your skiing.
No two feet are the same, so each boot manufacturer tries to approximate the averages across a range of fits. Don’t choose a ski boot based on how it looks, but on how closely it matches your foot and skiing ability.
What Type Of Ski Boot Should You Buy?
The type of boot you buy should be determined primarily by your level of skiing. Generally, the better skier you are the tighter your boot should be and the more you’ll get from a higher performance boot.
For new skiers or beginner skiers, a very expensive high-performance boot is probably not the best option and will make it harder to learn to ski rather than easier.
What Size Ski Boot Are You?
The first thing you need to do to start the process of narrowing down the perfect boot for you is to measure your foot size:
1. What is your Mondopoint?
Ski boots are measured on a scale called the Mondopoint which is basically the length of your foot in centimeters. To determine your Mondopoint, put your naked heel (no socks) against a wall with your toes pointing out and then measure the distance from the wall to your longest toe in centimeters.
If you’re foot measures 25.5cm then your Mondopoint size is 25.5. You can also check it against the shoe size to Mondopoint conversion chart I’ve included at the bottom of this article to check it matches up.
Although you can use just the chart to give you an idea, it’s worth taking the time to accurately measure your foot if you’re planning to drop a few hundred on new boots. Your shoe size is not as accurate enough on its own and plenty of folks wear shoes that are too big or too small.
With ski boots, the more precise you can be, the better fit you’re going to get and less chance you are of being in pain on the mountain.
If your a new skier or an early intermediate skier, then you’ll want to choose a boot that closely matches or is slightly longer than your Mondopoint length. If you’ve never tried a new ski boot on, then be aware that the liner will compact over the first week of use for a more comfortable fit. This is called breaking-in the boot and is part of the fun (or not!).
If you have a few seasons under your belt and you count yourself as a pretty good skier, then opt for a boot equal to or slightly shorter than your Mondopoint length.
If you’re an advanced skier with many years of skiing under your belt and you’re looking for optimum performance and almost no negative space in your boot, then you may want to choose a full size smaller than your Mondopoint length. This will be a very responsive fit and you’ll likely want to work with a professional boot fitter to get the boot comfortably fitting.
Going beyond length
There’s a bit more to get the perfect size ski boot than knowing your mondopoint. The mondopoint only tells you the length of your foot, but not the width, vertical height, or distribution of the foot.
2. Volume & Instep
Different boots (across the same size) will have slightly different internal volumes to match up with the most common types of feet.
Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t list volume as a standardized number which makes it challenging to get the right boot the first time if your foot falls outside the normal range for its size and width. For example, if you have a high arch and a narrow foot or vice versa. Adjusting buckles will go someway in adjusting boot fit volume, but not for everyone.
The instep height of a boot is the space on the top of your foot just forward of the arch. Too much pressure on your instep from a low volume boot will hurt and significantly impact your ability to ski. It can also reduce circulation, which will give you cold feet.
Too much height above a shallow arch will lead to foot slippage and a loss of control over your skis. The height of your instep usually goes together with the height of your arch. Those with higher arches are more likely to have a higher instep.
Try your boots for at least 15 minutes, (making sure to flex forward and back in your boot a few times) to see if the pressure builds on your instep. If it’s painful or sore in that short amount of time, you’ll want to try another boot.
Remember, while skiing you’ll be wearing your boot for 5-10 hours per day, so the more precise the fit, the more you’ll enjoy your days on the slopes.
3. Boot Width & Last
Ski boots not only come in different lengths but also a range of widths and vertical heights to fit people with narrower or wider feet. This is also known as the ‘Last’ of the boot. The narrower the last the smaller the width and volume of the boot interior.
While each ski boot manufacturer has its own formulas for working out the dimensions of their boot lasts, we can divide ski boots into these three main categories:
Boots with narrow lasts typically have a forefoot width of 97mm-98mm. These boots are narrow through the midfoot and have low volume and are designed for people with narrow or vertically short feet.
Boots with an average last typically have a forefoot width of 100mm. These boots have an average fit throughout and a more relaxed mid-foot. Designed for people with an average width and volume feet for their size.
Boots with a wide lasts typically have a forefoot width of 102-106mm. These boots have a wide fit throughout and a more internal vertical space over the foot. Designed for people with wide width and higher volume feet for their size.
Shoe Width vs Ski Boots?
While each boot manufacturer has a different method for creating their last categories, you can roughly estimate the width of boot you should try based on your shoe size.
Shoe Width 👟
Ski Boot Last 🎿
Historically it has been impossible to find high-performance expert boots in wider lasts and difficult to find narrower lasts in beginner or early skier boots.
There is a wider selection on offer, but there is usually less of a choice for an expert skier with wide high volume feet or for new skiers with narrow, low volume feet.
Feet Shape vs Boot Standards
If you’re picking an off-the-shelf boot then your feet must find their place among the average size categories. For some people, the average is too far away from their foot shape to be comfortable out of the box.
If your feet have unusual proportions (long toes, protruding bones or bunions, etc) then getting the right foot in ‘average’ size is going to be much more of a challenge. I’d advise trying on a range of different boots from different manufacturers to find a boot for you.
You may need to work with a boot fitter to stretch your ski boot in specific areas to relieve pressure and get the perfect fit. If you’re interested I wrote a whole article on getting your boots stretched.
Another but a more expensive option would be to get a custom-molded boot that is shaped specifically for your feet. Expect to pay over $1,000 / €1,000 for custom boots.
4. Cuff shape
The cuff of the boot is the backside area where your lower leg sits. The shape and height of the shell and how it sits around your leg is an important consideration if your calves are big and/or site low on your leg.
Women tend to have calf muscles lower down their leg than men and so the cuff shape of a boot should be more of a concern. If the cuff digs in too much to the calf it can cause muscle cramp and restrict blood flow to the feet as well as being uncomfortable.
In fact, this is one of the major differences between men and women-specific ski boots.
If you are a woman or a man with a lower calf then pick a women-specific ski boot or a boot with a low cuff angle. If you are a woman or man with a higher calf, pick a men’s specific ski boot or a boot with a higher cuff angle.
If you were blessed with long, thin legs, you still may want to consider a men’s boot to optimize your leverage. There is no rule against mixing and matching women’s and men’s equipment. No matter which gear you ultimately choose.Kayte Suslavich.
5. Ramp angle
The ski boot ramp angle refers to how tilted or flat your footrests within the ski boot relative to a flat plane. This is is different from the angle at which the boot sits on the bindings.
Traditionally a ramp angle of between 11-18 forward from vertical was normal. Nowadays a flatter ramp angle is more common, but each ski boot manufacturer uses slightly different ramp angles across their ranges.
Ramp angles are fixed, but can sometimes be adjusted by boot fitters by putting a wedge between the base of the boot and the liner. Most skiers don’t need to concern themselves much by ramp angle and can simply rely on the default angle of the boot
How Should New Ski Boots Feel?
When you put your ski boot on for the first time it’s should feel very snug. Before making a quick decision, you’ll want to make sure you are inside your boot correctly with your heel all the way at the back of the boot and your legs upright with a slight forward knee bend so you’re flexing into your boot as you would while skiing.
While you’re in this position, your toes should not be squashed up against the end of the boot. Touching is fine but there should not be any pressure that makes your feet scrunch up.
If you feel lots of pressure on the sides of your foot or a tight squeeze, try loosening the buckles slightly. If that doesn’t solve it your boots may be too narrow for your feet.
Conversely, if your boots feel roomy or you feel that your feet have lots of internal movement (beyond a toe wiggle) with the buckles fully done up, then they’re too big for you. Skiing in boots that are too big will lead to a loss of control over the skis and the increased possibility of causing blisters or shin bangs to choose the next size down.
The perfect fit is where the boots feel tight but comfortable. No pain or intense pressure. Your foot shouldn’t be able to move, but there should be just enough room for you to wiggle your toes and feather touch the ends of the boot liners. The perfect boot may feel slightly too tight the first few days of skiing while you break in the boot, compact the liner and it has a chance to settle within the shell.
The Shell Fit:
There is another popular method of helping you decide if the ski boots are the right size for you based on how much excess room your boots have to accommodate the boot liner.
It’s quite straight-forward:
1. Take out the boot liner and put your foot into the shell of the boot.
2. Once your foot is in, slide your foot forward so your longest toe is touching the end of the shell.
3. Reach down and slide your finger into the back of the boot, put your finger in between the heel of the shell and your heel and measure the gap with your fingers.
Now here is how you determine the shell fit:
- -- Less than one finger is an expert /racer level fit
- + One to one and a half finger fit is considered a good fit.
- + Two fingers or more is too big for an optimum fit.
Although a finger measurement is not very precise, we can think of one finger as measuring around 1.7 centimeters (0.7″) (measures your fingers if you think they’re particularly thin or fat).
Although ski boots are advertised in half sizes (i.e 27.5), ski boot shells are only made in full sizes. To make up the difference the manufacturer may use thinner and thicker boot liners, but for many ski boots, 27 and 27.5 are the same boot.
If you tried on a 27 and it was too small, then try a 28 rather than a 27.5. If you want confirmation of whether your boot actually comes in half sizes, contact the ski boot brand directly.
Here’s How To Put Your Boot on Properly
1. Pull up your ski trousers, open up the tongue of the boot and put your foot into the boot, and flex your knee forward to make sure your heel is firmly at the back the boot.
2. Pull up your ski socks so the material is flat and not rolled up in a knot with your thermal base layer.
3. Do up all the buckles with an emphasis on firmly locking in the heel buckle (the buckle closest to the heel) so your heel can’t rise up in the boot.
4. Once this is buckle is tight you can release the lower buckles to the last or second last notch (these buckles should not be too tight or they can cut off blood circulation, give you cramp and cold feet).
Beginner Tip: If any buckle is too loose on one notch but too tight on another notch, open up the buckle and see if it rotates to micro-adjust the fit.
Need more help? Read my full guide on exactly how to put your ski boot on.
What Does Ski Boot Flex Mean?
The flex of a boot refers to how easy or hard it is to flex the boot forward while you skiing with your knee or ankle. The higher the flex, the stiffer the boot, and the more you’ll need to lean into the boot to get it to flex.
Stiffer boots allow you to transfer more power through the boot and are more precise at higher speeds but offer less feel and control at lower speeds or with decreased body movement.
Better skiers will prefer and benefit from a stiffer boot while new or early skiers will want a softer boot that’s easier to bend and flex forward with less pressure and body movement. A new skier learning to ski on a stiff boot and ski will find it very difficult to learn and progress.
Skiers should move up in boot stiffness only as they feel their control and comfort start to diminish (typically when they ski steeper, faster terrain and body movement increase.) or if they grow stronger or heavier.
The stiffness of a boot is measured by the flex index and is usually a number between (soft) 40-130 (very stiff) and is often written on the outside of the boot cuff.
Each manufacturer uses its own definition of flex, and although the boot flex across different boots may be similar, they don’t correlate precisely with one another. The final flex depends on the type of plastic used, the number of buckles, and the design. An 80 flex on one boot may not match up with an 80 from another brand.
The key thing to know is whether the boot is a soft, medium, stiff or very stiff flex. Women and men tend to suit a slightly different level of flex as men on average tend to be heavier & taller. When deciding between boots, if your a heavier, stronger, or taller women then tend toward a man’s flex rating. If you’re a lighter or shorter man tends towards a women’s flex rating.
Don’t choose a stiffer boot for your level of skiing, because you like the look of it. If your boot is too stiff, it will limit your body movements and your skiing will suffer!
The main factors affecting boot flex choice:
- Personal preference
- Height (Taller = higher flex)
- Weight (Heavier = higher flex)
- Leg power (Stronger = higher flex)
- Skiing ability (Better skier = higher flex)
Women's Flex Rating
Men's Flex Rating
Source: HEAD ski boots.
Beginner or early intermediate skiers are skiing at a slower speed and with reduced body movement. While you’re working on the building blocks of skiing, you need a boot that responds without too much pressure or weight movement.
For early or intermediate skiers, a boot with a soft flex is much better suited for the style of skiing on green and blue slopes:
- For men looking for a soft flex ski boot between 60-80.
- For women looking for a soft flex ski boot between 50-60.
If you’re a very good skier with more movement in your turns and you’re skiing steeper terrain more often, then you may benefit from a stiffer boot that allows you to put more pressure onto your boot.
For intermediate to advanced skiers, a boot with a medium flex is likely going to suit you:
- For men looking for a medium flex ski boot between 85-100.
- For women looking for a medium flex ski boot between 65-80.
Advanced skiers have much more movement in their skiing and are more efficient with their power, so a stiffer boot allows them to ski steep slopes at speed and not buckle under pressure.
- For men looking for a stiff flex ski boot between 110-120.
- For women looking for a stiff flex ski boot between 85-100.
Expert skiers or racing skiers need a very stiff boot to resist forces at high speed, high-pressure skiing.
- For men looking for a very stiff flex ski boot above 130+.
- For women looking for a very stiff flex ski boot above 110+
Flex & Weight
- If you are over 90kg (200lb) consider moving up a flex level.
- If you’re under 50kg (115lb) consider moving down a flex level.
Flex & Movement
Although better skiers tend to move more and have greater angulation (body bend) through their turns, if you have decreased mobility or don’t ski as aggressively as you once did, you may want to consider moving down a flex even if you are a great skier.
Flex for Kids
Kid's Flex Rating
Stiff or Very Stiff
Can I Change the Flex of My Boot?
Some ski boots will allow you to adjust the flex of the boot within a small range (+ or – 10), but the overall flex is created by the plastic used, which makes it more difficult to make large flex adjustments on the same boot.
Some ski boots like Full-Tilt have a removable tongue and allow you to swap out different flexes depending on the snow conditions or type of riding you want to do that day.
Ski Boot Liners
Liners are the soft inner boot that you put your feet into and sit within the hard shell of the boot and come as standard as part of the new ski boot.
Ski boot liners are there to insulate your feet, protect them from the hard casing and provide a comfortable fit within a rigid frame.
Liners are typically tight new out of the box and require a few days of skiing to pack out and compress into the shell and around your feet for an improved fit. That’s one of the main reasons to buy your own boots vs hiring them. Instead of wearing a liner that has packed out to a hundred plus feet across a few seasons, your own boots will only be compacted to you.
Some models of ski boots allow you to put the boot liners into an oven to soften the materials, so they can be molded more precisely around the contours of your foot.
What Boot Features Matter?
The power strap is the large velcro strap above all the buckles, at the top of your boot. The strap allows you to secure the cuff around your leg for a better fit. This reduces negative space and improves your ability to transfer energy through your boot and into your skis.
Too tight and it can restrict movement and place too much load onto your knee and reduce ankle mobility, too loose and it can make the top of your boot feel roomy. Undo it to pull the tongue out and put your feet in, then re-strap once your buckles are done up.
The buckles on your boot, tighten the shell around your lower leg and foot. Most boots have three-four buckles, but the most important buckle is the heel buckle (the buckle closest to the ankle) which locks your foot and prevents it from rising or falling as you ski.
1. Number of Buckles
Choosing a boot with more buckles is not necessarily the better option. Although more buckles may give you a greater range of fit for tightening or loosening around your foot, a boot with fewer buckles has its advantages. It makes for a lighter boot with a smoother profile and easier access for boot fitters (source).
2. Micro-Adjustable Buckles
Look for a boot with micro-adjustable buckles, which allows you to fine-tune the pressure on each notch. Usually, this works by opening up and rotating the buckle handle clockwise (shortens the buckle tension and makes for a tighter fit) or anti-clockwise (increases the buckle tension and makes for a looser fit).
More often than not, one notch may be a tiny bit too loose and the next notch just that bit too tight or too hard to push onto. Micro-adjustable buckles allow you to fine-tune the leverage of the buckle and have a more secure fit.
The fit of the back of your ski boot is just as important as the front and the cuff shape, height, and ankle all play a vital role in matching up with the variety of leg shapes that skiers have.
1. Boot Cuff Spoiler
This is a removable spacer that you can position between the boot liner and shell. It sits behind the calf and is used to increase the forward lean of the boot by a few degrees. It can also be installed for skiers with thinner legs, so the gap between the back of the leg and shell is reduced. Spoilers can be added to the boot using screws or a velcro strap that sticks to the liner.
If you have thin legs for your height or prefer to ski with a more forward bend, then look for a boot that allows you to easily add a rear spoiler.
2. Cuff Alignment
If you feel that the shape of the back of your leg wants to travel in a different direction than the shape of the cuff, then you can adjust your cuff alignment to improve the fit of the boot and more evenly distribute your weight over your skis.
Misaligned cuffs relative to your legs can result in too much weight being put on your inside or outside edges and affect your progression as a skier (source).
Most boots allow you to change the cuff alignment, but it will require either an Allen wrench or a boot fitter to help you out.
For more on cuff alignment, watch this video.
The footbed sits inside your boot liner and supports the bulk of your weight. Most stock footbeds provide little arch support and are contoured towards the ‘average’ foot.
Many skiers will benefit from finding an aftermarket footbed that more closely matches their foot shape. A better footbed will give you improved balance, alignment and warmer toes.
Boots with adjustable flex are not an essential feature, but they are a nice to have. On boots with the options for variable flex, it is usually a switch at the back which releases the tension on the shell and lowers or increases the flex by 10-15.
All ski boots have some form of padding, but if you’re planning to learn jumps and tricks then look for a boot with thick tongues and heavily padded areas. Park-specific boots will be comfier, typically have a lower flex, and are built to protect you more from impacts like toe, calf, and shin-bang.
Choosing a new boot, especially if it’s your first can be a daunting process. Now that you’re armed with all the key information you need, hopefully, you’ll be able to narrow down your choice. Remember: focus on fit and flex, not just looks.
- Precisely measure your foot length and width.
- Know your last (narrow, average, or wide).
- Know your flex range for your weight, strength, and ability.
- Try as many boots as you can.
- Wear thin ski socks! (warmer and more responsive).
Can My New Boots Be Stretched?
If your new boots are putting uncomfortable pressure on certain areas of your feet, then the good news is that a boot fitter may be able to help you out. Some boots (mainly intermediate to high-end boots) can be stretched by a boot fitter in specific areas to relieve pressure and mold the shape of the shell to a better fit.
If you want to know if your boot can be stretched and how much it costs read: Will my ski boot stretch?
Do Ski Boots Fit All Ski Bindings?
Most downhill (alpine) ski boots are compatible with downhill skis but the bindings will usually need adjusting at a ski shop to fit properly
How Long Does It Take To Break in New Ski Boots?
In the first few days of skiing in your new boots, you will start to compact the boot liner and bed into the shell. As a rule of thumb, it takes about five to six full days of skiing to break in your ski boot liners.
How Long Do Ski Boots Last?
Ski boots will typically last 5-6 years (or 50-200 skiing days) but can last much longer or much short depending on the frequency of use and care (source).
Cosmetic scuff is fine, but when the boots toe or heel is worn and no longer secures to the bindings it’s time to replace your boots. If your boots start getting stuck in the bindings or struggle to attach then they have likely worn down too much to be safe.
Similarly, if you notice any cracks to the shell, then the overall integrity and flex of the boot are compromised and it’s time to consider a replacement.
I wrote a whole article to help you decide when to replace your ski boot: When to replace your ski boot.
When Should I Replace My Boot Liners?
Boot liners are often the first part of a boot to wear out. Over repeat use liners become fully packed out, roomy, and lose shape.
Boot liners that no longer mold to your feet or fill the internal space of the boot shell in the right way will limit your ability to transfer power into your skis and cause your feet to slip internally.
If your shell is fine but your liner knackered, you can consider doing a boot liner upgrade first. To properly care for your boots and liner, always take the liner out at the end of the day and allow it to dry, without getting too close to a heater.
How To Keep Your Feet Warm?
- Wear thin ski socks!
- Don’t over-tighten your lower buckles.
- Wear the correct size ski boots
- Don’t clench your feet
Read my full guide on staying warm.
Ski Boots Size Chart
This chart will show you what size ski boot you need for your shoe size. This is a comfort fit ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers (rather than expert skiers who usually prefer an even tighter fit that can be stretched out.)
Ski Boot Size
The ski boot size uses the ‘Mondopoint’ measurement system. This is the length of your foot in centimeters (CM).
For a more accurate fit, put your bare foot on a sheet of paper and draw around it with a pencil.
Then grab a tape measure and measure the length of the drawing in CM.
NewToSki.com is where over 1 million people a year come to learn more about skiing. I share everything I wish someone had told me when I was learning to ski. My name is Simon & I've been skiing since 2005. This winter, our family is taking a 3-month camper ski trip across the Alps. If you enjoy our articles, please join the free email club. We'd love to have you.
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