As conversations with my female colleagues and friends in snowsports confirmed, the quest to acquire well-fitting and high-performing women’s ski boots is an uphill battle from the get-go. If you are reading this article, chances are that you are only too aware of the issues preventing women from finding their perfect ski boot match.
With that being said, recommending the best women’s ski boots didn’t sit comfortably with me without noting that the range on offer is disappointingly limited.
Women’s Ski Boot Design
First off, it’s worth clarifying what the difference is between a ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ boot. Aesthetics and marketing jargon aside (that’s a problem for another day), ‘women’s’ boots are specifically designed to accommodate women’s limb and foot shapes. They often feature lower and wider boot cuffs, narrower heel pockets, and roomier toe boxes. They also start in smaller Mondopoint sizes and at lower flex ratings to account for smaller-footed and lighter weight skiers.
We’re all in favour of women’s-specific features, but as Wombcork’s recent memes delightfully highlight, brands appear to think that women simply don’t require the support and power delivered by boots with higher than a 110 flex. Consequently, many women’s-specific ski boots currently available don’t account for high-performing female skiers.
The Options For Women
The unwritten rule seems to be that women looking for higher performance – whether in terms of flex rating or technical features that permit access to challenging terrain – should simply grab a men’s or a unisex boot. Not only does this convey an inaccurate and damaging message (women = recreational skiers; men = performance skiers), it is also often a practical impossibility.
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Women are all for getting hold of a pair of high-flex boots, but swimming around in knee high boots isn’t going to cut it for shorter or smaller-footed women (men’s boots typically start in a Mondopoint 24.0/UK 5 without lower cuff options).
Conversely, women who fit a ‘men’s’ or ‘unisex’ boot or require a larger size, frequently require modifications to, for example, create roomier cuffs or to prevent heel slip. Instead, women are left conjuring up boot modifications whilst enduring stunted comfort and performance.
“This season looks set to offer the most impressive range of versatile and performing women’s boots”
Of course, ski brands can’t invent a one-boot solution to every woman’s ski needs. Any skier’s ideal boot depends on a variety of factors – foot shape, volume, size weight, ability, and end goals to name a few. But finding the perfect match requires options. Options that have, until recently, been lacking to women (and in particular, compared to the wealth of choice available to men).
Thankfully, this season looks set to offer the most impressive range of versatile and performing women’s boots to date. It’s exciting to see the results of brands’ increased willingness to collaborate with and listen to their female athletes’ and clientele’s feedback. So, to streamline your boot quest, we’ve selected the best women’s ski boots that deliver quality fit and performance.
We’ve selected a range of women’s-specific and unisex boots here, but a boot is a boot, and we recommend going with whichever option best suits your body, ability, goals and makes you stoked to ski – be it ‘men’s, ‘women’s’ or ‘unisex’. Always visit a boot-fitter to ensure your boot matches your foot shape and to make any necessary adjustments.