Best Ski Boots 2013-2014

Best Ski Boots 2013-2014

Boots are a make it or break it component of your ski gear kit for this winter. You can be in love with a certain brand or model of ski boot, but if they just don’t fit your feet, they aren’t going to love you back. The ski shop experience is still important here—different brands fit quite differently and even after you settle on a model, it’s an excellent idea to find an experienced bootfitter near you. Certain alterations (shell punches, heel wedges, aftermarket liners, etc.) can mean the difference between discomfort and blissful turns. Many of the 2013-2014 ski boots come with customizable features like thermoformable liners and moldable sixth toe regions.
 
Editor’s note: We’ve selected the high-end boot in each manufacturer’s range. These are the stiffest models. Less aggressive or lighter weight skiers should look at the “similar options” in the details for models that are similar in most cases, but with a softer flex.
 
 

Men's Ski Boots

Launched last season, from bombing laps in-bounds to skinning deep in the backcountry, the Tecnica Cochise Pro 130 is one of the best all-around high performance boots on the market. It looks and functions much like a traditional 4-buckle boot, but the top buckle is actually linked to the power strap. Functionally, this is the same as a forth buckle, allowing you to fully loosen the upper of the boot for hiking or skinning while still keeping everything together. And the walk mode (or touring mode) on the Cochise Pro 130 is built to withstand abuse from active skiers with a metal-on-metal connection that locks in solidly and won’t blow out after a long season of use. The Tecnica Cochise Pro 130’s come with traditional alpine sole blocks, which can be easily switched out with AT sole blocks (sold separately) that are fully-lugged and compatible with a tech (Dynafit-style) binding.
Flex: 130
Last Width: 98mm
What we like: Proven performance and fit. 
What we don’t: Tech-compatible sole blocks sold separately.a
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The Waymaker is a big-mountain bomber of a boot that is built around performance and comfort. With a traditional two-buckle 50mm power strap set up on the upper of the boot, Atomic went with a modern, simple single buckle closure on the lower that pulls wide over the top of the foot and toe. The asymmetrical liner is 100 percent thermoformable and molded in boot to provide, along with a nice Sidas footbed for support, a comfortable out of the box fit. The alpine soles on the 2014 Waymaker Carbon 130 are nicely lugged for traction while scrambling over rocks or through an icy parking lot, and the walk mode offers comfort while skinning to the goods or après dancing Euro-style at the end of a proper day on the hill.
Flex: 130
Last Width: 101mm
What we like: Solid option for skiers with wider feet.
What we don’t: Boot flex is noticeably softer in very-warm (40-50 degree) spring weather.
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Often called “the best freeskier in the world,” Sean Pettit built specific features into his pro model boot to suit his style of skiing, mainly accessing lines in big terrain. The 2014 Lupo S.P. is Dalbello’s first Krypton boot with a walk/ski mode that allows the cuff to be unlocked for skinning, hiking, or riding a snowmobile to get to backcountry lines. The midsole is rubberized to further enhance traction in these scenarios, and the grippy soles are replaceable if they get worn down after a ton of use. The Kryton uses a unique cuff system with removable tongue that provides excellent lateral stiffness and a smooth forward flex for absorbing bumps and powering the ski through the turn. Finally, the wrap-style Intuition liner is 100 percent thermoformable and excellent for dialing in fit.
Flex: 130
Last Width: 98mm
What we like: Three-piece shell design has ultra-smooth forward flex. 
What we don’t: Intuition liners usually require heat-molding to get a really comfortable fit.
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Seemingly a newbie in the ski boot game, K2 actually has a pretty deep history. They produced ski boots in the 1970s, and in 2006 K2’s parent company revived the Raichle Flexon in the form of Full Tilt ski boots. After two years of development and testing, K2 is launching their own boot line, again, this season with the Pinnacle 130 as their flagship model. A 3-buckle design with the fourth on top being a buckling power strap, the Pinnacle 130 (and all K2 boots) use a proprietary rivet-less construction to connect the cuff and shell that allows for more natural flex during impacts and while using the walk mode. K2 also eschews the sole-swapping trend and simply built tech fittings into this otherwise alpine-style boot for those who want to use it with a Dynafit-type binding. The Pinnacle 130 comes in a 97mm or 100mm last option for different foot types, and K2 rounded it out with a fully thermoformable Intuition liner.
Flex: 130
Last Width: 97mm (LV), 100mm
What we like: No nonsense solution to swappable soles for versatility.
What we don’t: Soles can’t be replaced if worn down too much from use. 
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With some of the best out-of-the-box fit available on the market, Lange gives skiers with different foot shapes two last width options in the Lange RX 130: a 97mm “low volume” last and a 100mm last for wider feet. Lange uses a high-density, thermoformable liner in the RX 130 that feels great and will mold to your foot with use. This is the most classic boot in our list, as it does not come with a walk mode for hiking, which can be a superfluous feature for many skiers anyway (The Lange XT 130 is similar and has this). But what it lacks in features it makes up for in performance and comfort. If bombing laps all day at the resort is your cup of tea—and you want powerful performance with comfort—give the RX 130 a look.
Flex: 130
Last Width: 97mm (LV), 100mm
What we like: Great fit and solid heel retention out of the box.
What we don’t: Not the easiest to get on and off.
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Finding a boot that is at home both beyond the resort ropes and in-bounds is becoming easier these days, but not too many of these boots have performance (narrower) last width and tech binding compatibility. Fortunately, Salomon is filling this niche with the Quest Max BC 120 with a 98mm wide last. With a unique three buckle design—the top buckle has a wide pull across cuff to replace two separate buckles—it has an impressive 30-degree range of motion when walking or touring. Locked in, the Quest Max BC 120 will work with any binding system: AT-specific sole blocks are available and sold separately.
Flex: 120
Last Width: 98mm
What we like: Narrow fit and skinny price for a high performance boot.
What we don’t: Tech-compatible sole blocks sold separately.
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Women’s Ski Boots

Full Tilt ski boots are amazing in their simplicity. The classic three-piece design—with a removable tongue that makes getting in and out of the boots a breeze—gained a cult following over the past 25 years and Full Tilt has kept it very relevant today by modernizing and improving the toe box, adding grippy rubber to the soles, and including a fully thermoformable liner that would be an aftermarket purchase for most other boot brands. The three-piece shell makes the 2014 Full Tilt Soul Sister one of the smoothest forward flexing women’s boots on the market and is great when making quick turns through bumpy terrain. It’s also on the lighter side of things for overall weight: a welcome advantage for those who ski from first chair to last.
Flex: 6 of 10 on Full Tilt’s scale, roughly equivalent to 100.
Last Width: 99mm
What we like: Excellent performance combined with all-day comfort.
What we don’t: No walk mode for hiking or parking lots.
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The AllTrack series from Rossignol is built around the idea of combining a high level of downhill performance with a lightweight boot that is deft at hiking and touring to zones beyond the ropes. Hitting all those marks, the Rossignol AllTrack Pro 110 is the stiffest flexing women’s boot in this list and should really appeal, performance-wise, to any intermediate-to-expert level skier. It has a medium-width last and will accommodate a variety of wider foot shapes, and Rossignol built in some nice comfort features, like softer zones in the ankle and instep, while still retaining a solid heel cup so you don’t move around in the boot over difficult terrain. The walk mode is simple and engages easily, the soles feature nice, big lugs for traction when hiking over slippery surfaces, and the faux fur liner is a nice touch of luxury for cold, harsh conditions.
Flex: 110
Last Width: 100mm
What we like: The faux fur is chick and makes getting in and out of the boot easier.
What we don’t: Last is a bit wide for narrow feet.
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A women’s-specific version from Tecnica’s award-winning Cochise line of resort/backcountry hybrid ski boots, the 98mm Cochise 105 is a solid choice for any skier who wants versatility from their ski boot. It has a comfortable, consistent flex for all-mountain exploration and a wide array of comfort features. The heat-moldable liner has a neoprene toe box to lend comfortable and it adds an extra little bit of warmth for colder days. Tecnica equipped the Cochise 105 to be able to accept an aftermarket boot heater system without needing to make any modifications to the shell as well. Performance is proven in the Cochise 105 whether you are flashing a run in bounds, or popping the cuff into walk mode when hiking ridgelines or touring out the gates.
Flex: 100
Last Width: 98mm
What we like: Available (sold separately) AT soles work with tech (Dynafit-style) bindings. 
What we don’t: Stock liner packs out a bit faster than others.
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