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Best Ski Touring Boots 2019 – 2020

Stiff yet comfortable and lightweight. Ski touring boots have a tricky balance to strike – we've done our pick of the best

Given you can expect to be wearing these boots for touring missions lasting up to 12 hours, covering 2,000 metres of ascent – over distances of up to 30km, you’ll soon realise that ski touring boots are one of the most important bits of kit that you’ll be purchasing for your touring setup. 

The next issue with touring boots is that the “best ones” are always subjective. Fit, for example, is often the most important issue when it comes to what a person’s favourite boot is. And fit, as you might expect, can vary widely from brand to brand; due to the different moulds brands use to form the shape of the boot.

“Ski touring boots are one of the most important bits of kit that you’ll be purchasing”

It’s therefore vital for me, at this point, to rehash the time-old cliche that you should get yourself down to a brick and mortar store to try on a wide range of ski touring boots before you go and lay down your hard-earned cash on them. The last thing you want is for a boot to be unbearable after a couple hours of use. 

Proper ski shops will carry a wide range of boots, giving you as much choice as possible. They’ll also have the ability to customise to customise the shells to fit the unique shape of your foot. 

Aside from fit, here are some other things to consider when trying to choose the right touring boot for your needs.

Flex

The red herring of touring boot features. Many feel that they need the stiffest boot as possible for their needs. Whilst this is somewhat true for heavier / taller skiers who prefer to drive fatter / heavier skis at speed, a lot has to be said about the nature of the flex.

When talking about flex, we have to bring in the buzzword of the ski boot world – progressiveness. This term represents a flex that starts off relatively soft, then ramps up the deeper you flex into the cuff.

Boot plastics used within the boot has a big influence on the nature of a boot’s flex; heavier plastics like pebax and PU offer a markedly improved flex over that of lighter weight carbon fibre, which is frequently identified by a ‘brick wall’ feel to the flex. As always, there are always trade offs to be made in an effort to balance weight with performance.

Walk mode

Pictured: Dynafit Hoji Free

We’re frequently seeing ski touring boots being compared to slippers, or walking boots Although these comparisons could be seen as a slight exaggeration, we get where people are coming from when they make these judgements – ski touring boot walk modes really have come a long way in the past few years.

The walk mode is simply how the boot disengages itself from a locked-out ski mode, to allow for free cuff mobility. We’ve stated the cuff mobility of each of the boots reviewed in the roundup. This is always a good indicator for how well the boot walks.

Sole

Typical downhill ski boots favour a fully-plastic sole unit. These plastic soles offer minimal friction between the boot / binding interface. This lack of friction becomes a problem on ski touring boots, where you can expect to be walking around icy / rocky features in order to reach the top of your descent.

Pictured: Atomic Backland Carbon

This is where touring boot soles come into their own. Many boots come with a full Vibram (other brands are available) rubber sole that’s able to give you traction through this terrain, while other soles have a rubber / plastic mix that allow them to be compatible with alpine bindings featuring “Grip Walk” certification.

Binding Compatibility

All of the boots we’ve featured in this roundup feature pin inserts. This means they’re compatible with all the pin bindings featured in our ski touring binding roundup.

 

Scarpa Alien RS

Flex: 95 (approx)
Weight (per boot): 890g (27.0)
Price:  £600

Website: scarpa.co.uk

The boot in our roundup that’s been most compared to a slipper, and quite rightly so – it’s definitely the closest thing to a slipper in this footwear selection. The Scarpa Alien RS though is actually so much more than something your Grandad’s put on every evening, without fail, since 1978. Lock it down into ski mode and you’ve got yourself a 890g boot that’s able to offer a pretty stout 95 flex rating. Impressive stuff.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Scarpa Alien RS here

Atomic Backland Carbon

Flex: 110
Weight (per boot): 1100g (27.5)
Price: £547

Website: atomic.com

Similar to the Scarpa Alien RS, the Atomic Backland Carbon is able to hold its own despite its impressively low weight; underlining again just how far touring boots have come. The Backland Carbon achieves its high level of performance by making use of a carbon cuff which is locked down through the Free / Lock 2.0 lever (taken from the much-loved Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130).

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Atomic Backland Carbon here

Salomon S/Lab X-Alp

*The boot pictured is the softer and heavier S/Lab X-Alp Explore. This review is for the stiffer and lighter Salomon S/Lab X-Alp.

Flex: 100 
Weight (per boot): 1150 g
Price: £675

Website: salomon.com

The Salomon S/Lab X-Alp is another touring-focused boot for those of us who spend more time going up than down. This boot is suited towards big ski touring and ski mountaineering objectives, where you might be tackling rocky scrambles in an effort to reach the top of your descent.

A 3D rotating cuff allows for internal and external lateral rotation, similar to that of a walking boot. Get these boots on your feet and you’ll soon see how this lateral rotation gives the boot a very natural stride. They’re also able to hold their own when latched down in walk mode, with a decent flex of 100 on offer.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Salomon S/Lab X-Alp here

Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro

Flex: 130
Weight (per boot): 1320
Price: £625

Website: tecnicasports.com

By shedding weight from the liner, designing a cable buckle system and bringing in a new ski/walk lever, Tecnica have managed to get the Zero G Tour Pro down to a weight of 1320 while still uploading an incredible flex rating of 130. We’d say the flex is similar to that of the 120 flex Salomon S/Lab MTN – certainly nothing to turn your nose up at, given the weight of these boots.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro here

Salomon S-Lab MTN

Flex: 120
Weight (per boot): 1570 (26.5)
Price: £500

Website: salomon.com

A simple boot that skis well, and walks well, all at a fairly light weight of 1,570g? What more could you want from a boot? A great single quiver boot for those who spend a lot of time in and out of the resort. For 2019/20, the Salomon S/Lab MTN is able to comfortably fit a wider range of feet with the introduction of Custom Shell HD.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Salmon S/Lab MTN here

Scarpa Maestrale RS

Flex: 125
Weight (per boot): 1450g
Price: £520

Website: scarpa.co.uk

Scarpa has taken what could possibly be the most popular touring boot in the market, in the original orange Maestrale, and given it a good old beefing up for those looking for a little more support whilst skiing at high speed or with fatter planks. Scarpa have added weight to the Maestrale RS for 2019/20, but we’re not fussed at all as this comes with an improvement in performance.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Scarpa Maestrale RS here

Atomic Hawx XTD 130

Flex: 130
Weight (per boot): 1430 (26.5)
Price: £580

Website: atomic.com

The Atomic Hawx XTD 130 has quite rightly taken its place as the benchmark 130 flex touring boot on the market. It’s a boot that many are compared to but that few are able to match, especially at the low weight of 1,430g. The flex here is partly thanks to the simple, yet effective, Free / Lock 2.0 lever found on the Hawx XTD 130 – which offers a near frictionless walk mode and a locked out ski mode.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Atomic Hawx XTD 130 here

Dynafit Hoji Free

Flex: 130
Weight (per boot): 1550g
Price: £675

Website: dynafit.com

The original Dynafit ‘Hoji Pro Tour’ fell short of the mark, due to Dynafit’s shortsighted decision to make the boot incompatible with downhill focused touring bindings, like the Shift and Kingpin. For 2019/20, Dynafit have made this stunning boot compatible with these bindings by including a toe and heel welt. Aggressive skiers will now be able to make use of that brilliant flex and oh-so-easy ski / walk mode transition.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Dynafit Hoji Free here

Head Kore 1

Flex: 130
Weight (per boot): 1500g
Price: £550

Website: head.com

Make no mistakes. The Head Kore 1 is an out-and-out downhill focused boot that’ll be more than happy driving some of the stiffest skis out there. What this boot makes up in downhill performance, it falls short slightly in touring capabilities – with a slightly restricted mode, at a commendable weight of 1,500g.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Head Kore 1 here

Dalbello Lupo 130 C

Flex: 130
Weight (per boot): 1765 g (walk mode) / 1920 g (downhill mode)
Price: £625

Website: dalbello.it

The classic three-piece boot manufacturer take aim at the touring boot market, with the production of their Lupo series of touring boots. These boots take the shape of the hard to beat Krypton, adding in a ski / walk mode and a removable tongue for touring efficiency. While the touring mode isn’t anything to write home about, the downhill performance of these boots makes it all worthwhile.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Dalbello Lupo 130 C here

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The Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide

The Best Backcountry Skis 2019 – 2020

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