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Nov

25

2016

2017 Alpine Ski Boots

Testers and bootfitters weigh in.

2017 Ski Boots

FISCHER TRAVERS CARBON

Tester: Rob Hudson

The Claim: High performance uphill touring boot that can handle the downhill.

Field Test: Unlike the other boots reviewed here, the new Travers Carbon is a pure backcountry boot, but it’s also one of the most intriguing designs of the year. The Travers cinched snugly around my foot and calf, via a brass roller-operated BOA lace system. In tour mode, it’s ultralight and efficient, with a huge 80-degree range of motion. And it’s strong enough torsionally—thanks to a carbon foot plate—that it powered a set of burly Völkl BMT 109s without throwing me in the backseat.

Why It’s Timeless: Paired with the right ski and binding, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more versatile boot for both up and downhill performance.

Bootfitter’s Take: “Though you can’t heat mold the Travers, there’s no need to. The liner sucks up volume, and the BOA crank system enhances fit.”  —Mike Marolt, 8K Peak Technologies, Aspen, CO

Fischer Travers Carbon

$1,000

ATOMIC HAWX ULTRA 110

Tester: Tracy Ross

The Claim: Superior comfort meets an aggressive mold in these ultralight boots.

Field Test: In the Hawx, the liner is pre-shaped, with a snug-fitting heel pocket and support from Achilles to forefoot. It’s also the lightest alpine boot I’ve ever skied, yet it took everything I gave it. I’m not the most aggressive skier, but the progressively stiffening flex let me rail through a variety of turn shapes. I could feel myself accelerating out of my old comfort zone thanks to the increased control. And thanks to the Hawx’s airy nature, I felt less fatigued at the end of the day.

Why It’s Timeless: They’re ridiculously comfortable out of the box, yet you can custom fit both liner and shell for more performance. 

Bootfitter’s Take: With a 98mm last, they’re “definitely for a narrow-footed woman.” —Shon Racicot, The Boot Pro, Ludlow, VT

Atomic Hawx Ultra 110

$725

DALBELLO DRS 130

Tester: Brady Newton

The Claim: A relatively neutral stance delivers incredible energy transfer for experts.

Field Test: I’ve spent years cramming my feet into super-stiff boots, yet sliding these on was no problem. I also lucked out with prime test conditions—powder and hardpack. From turn initiation to exit, the DRS’s neutral stance gave me ample feedback. Instead of feeling like my foot was encased in brick, I was able to flex the boot down and across the turn, pressuring it evenly, and pouring energy through a variety of shapes.

Lone Qualm: On warm days I occasionally maxed out the flex.

Why It’s Timeless: Even when you back off, the DRS keeps driving.

Bootfitter’s Take: Both liner and shell are heat moldable, making them adaptable to most foot shapes, says Hal Karabots of Northern Ski Works in Killington, VT

Dalbello DRS 130

$850

Nordica Speedmachine 130 

Testers: Greg and Marc Peruzzi

The Claim: Nordica calls the reintroduced Speedmachine the “perfect balance of performance and modern technology.”

Field Test: We ran the new Speedmachines in spring bumps at Killington and in midwinter snow at Loveland. They perform like simple, 130 flex fixed cuff boots, with strong lateral precision and a smooth progressive flex. At 100mm wide in the forefoot, the real story here is performance fit without the pain. Nordica’s custom cork liners naturally wrap the heels like old-school injected foam, and a unique Infrared customization system lets a bootfitter “pull” out the shell in trouble areas.

Why It’s Timeless: Most skiers should be in this class of boot.

Bootfitter’s Take: “The Speedmachine has an open fit that’s easy on the foot, but it performs like a rally car.”  —Bob Gleason, Masterfit University

Nordica Speedmachine 130

$799

LANGE XT 130 FREETOUR LV 

Tester: Dave Cox

The Claim: Legendary alpine performance meets touring capability.

Field Test: With a neutral stance, beefy construction, and grippy, rockered soles, the Freetour made me more confident  both uphill and down. Credit the “motion control” liner, which withstands friction while climbing, and the Grilamid shell coupled with a metal-on-metal locking mechanism that made me feel cheetah-agile while descending. I skied everything from wide, cambered skis to thinner touring models with equal aplomb. And so far, the liner has resisted packing out.

Why It’s Timeless: Traditional alpine boot makers have missed the mark on touring models because of weight. This one shaves whole ounces and got it right. You might not want to tour 100 days a season in it, but for shorter outings on fatter skis it’s worthy.

Bootfitter’s Take: “The Lange Freetour and the Tecnica Cochise are built for roughly the same foot shape, but the Lange has lower volume with a lower instep and a narrower forefoot.”   —Larry Houchen, Larry’s Bootfitting, Boulder, CO

LANGE XT 130 FREETOUR LV

$950

ROSSIGNOL ALLTRACK PRO 130 

Tester: Shawn Edmondson

The Claim: True 130-flex performance in a walkable design. 

Field Test: Built for the downhill, the AllTrack crushes. It comes with wider and more comfortable lasts—100mm and 102mm—but still skis with precision. A diagonal grid in the polyether shell makes it sensitive to pressure. They also feature a releasable cuff, good for walking. I’d never take them on a daylong backcountry tour—they’re too heavy—but that’s not their function. They’re for resort skiers who bootpack inbounds, lap the resort-accessed backcountry, and occasionally hike out to a car shuttle.

Why It’s Timeless: All alpine boots should be this easy to walk in.

Bootfitter’s Take: “The AllTrack fits medium- and wide-width feet best, though it’s a bit generous through the instep, which offers more volume from your arch through the top of your foot.”  —Mike Messer, Telluride Bootdoctors, Telluride, CO

ROSSIGNOL ALLTRACK PRO 130

$850

Tecnica Cochise PRO 130

Tester: Marc Peruzzi

The Claim: Tecnica says the redesigned Cochise 130 is the “first walkable boot to offer uncompromised downhill performance.”

Field Test: I’ve never skied in a walkable boot with tech fittings for ski touring that even approximated the performance of a narrow last fixed cuff boot—until now. The Cochise is billed as a 99mm wide last, but out of the box it’s so anatomically dialed that it fits more like a fully ground and blown out 97mm boot. Meaning it grips the ankle and heel, but the forefoot is free to articulate. It’s also stiff enough laterally and forward to earn the 130-flex claim.

Lone Qualm: They’re actually light enough to ski tour in, which takes some getting used to in-bounds where mass is your friend.

Why It’s Timeless: Like the best all-mountain skis, you can rip groomers and hike for a powder lap without second-guessing your gear.

Bootfitter’s Take: “There’s a lot of power lurking under the hood, and lateral strength is well suited for tipping and ripping.”  —Corty Lawrence, Footloose Sports, Mammoth Lakes, CA

Tecnica Cochise PRO 130

$840

SALOMON QST PRO 130

Tester: Jason Sumner

The Claim: A do-it-all boot that can crush bumps and tour.

Field Test: Breaking these in on an all-day slog to a backcountry hut could have been ill inspired. But touring, and a fair bit of walking, in the new QSTs was surprisingly comfy. They offer a 40-degree range of motion, but more importantly, the upper cuff moves easily in tour mode. On backcountry laps by Crested Butte, these progressively flexing three-buckle boots smoothly drove my skis.

Lone Qualm: The sole’s tech fittings lack guide channels, making getting into bindings tedious.

Why It’s Timeless: Salomon knows how to build a last. Half of our 11-mile “skin” involved walking, but I didn’t get a single blister.

Bootfitter’s Take: With less liner padding than other boots in this category, the QST is roomier than most, especially in the forefoot.  —Greg Louis, evo, Seattle, WA

SALOMON QST PRO 130

$850

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