Alpine boots, aka downhill boots, have changed dramatically over the years. The ski boot you’re trying on at a ski shop is a far cry from the ski boots your parents had. “I believe the ski boot world is in a golden age,” says Adam Greenier, owner of Gravity Jones Orthotics, and certified pedorthist/boot fitter for Sport Thoma in N.H. “The last few years have offered amazing new developments in boot technology, including lighter plastics, AT capabilities, advanced customization options, and increased comfort.”
How to pick the right ski boots
First things first is ski boot sizing. In order to find the best ski boot for your physiology and ability level, every industry pro recommends that you visit a qualified boot fitter, as we discuss in our guide to buying boots. They will ask you about your ability level, where you like to ski, and whether you have any injuries. After they identify which category of ski boots to work with, they will start by finding the correct size, or the inner shape of the boot that best fits your feet.
Narrow-fitting ski boots have lasts around 96mm to 98mm, and are usually the choice for advanced skiers who favor a tight fit and stiff flex for power and precision. Medium or average fitting boots have lasts around 100mm and wide-volume boots for high-volume feet have lasts that are 102 mm or above. Some companies offer the same boot model in two different last sizes to cater to higher or lower foot volume. Boot fitters also look at the instep height, heel anatomy and calf muscle position.
Bootfitters like Greenier have championed customization features in boot models because it allows them to work at a micro-level to improve comfort and downhill performance between the skier’s body and their equipment. “We want to meet you and be a part of your skiing support team,” says Greenier. “It’s no longer about having the best gear; it’s about having the most appropriate gear customized to function most efficiently with the skier.”
The top men’s alpine ski boots
Before you go into the ski shop, however, educate yourself by reading the following downhill boot roundup of the best men’s ski boots. You can learn a lot about categories, boot features, and offerings, which will help with your initial discussion at a shop. This roundup of the top men’s ski boots features a wide range of boots in the all-mountain category. Skiers shopping in this category ski the entire mountain—frontside and backside—and need a boot that can handle a variety of snow conditions. Some of the boots lean toward the freeride side, with a hike/walk mode, and which offer freedom of movement in the cuff for occasional trips off-piste or out-of-bounds. Others have features that blend performance with comfort, including combinations of plastic density designed to offer power without adding weight.
Every boot manufacturer has a variety of boot models to suit a range of ability levels and snow conditions. Think of boot fitters as matchmakers—and the boot-to-foot match they recommend can result in a season full of great turns and happy feet. As such, you’ll find a variety of ski boot categories below, including all-around, lightweight, intermediate, comfort, beginner, and hybrid boots for men. Without further ado, let’s get to our list of some of the best ski boots for the upcoming season.
Tecnica Mach1 MV 120 (All-around)
The Mach1 MV from Tecnica has stood out amongst the pack of alpine boots for being an excellent ski boot geared toward a high level skier. The shell is constructed out of C.A.S. Polyester and designed with an Asymmetric Power Transmission, creating more lateral power transmission and a quicker edge grip. “The Mach 1 MV 120 TD is a high-performance ski boot designed for advanced level skiers with medium-volume feet who are looking for all-mountain performance, a comfortable but precise fit and a high level of customization,” said Christian Avery, North American Product Manager. “The C.A.S. shell and liner provide for the best out-of-the-box fit and industry-leading customization capabilities and the T-Drive—a unique shell to cuff connection technology—allows the boot to function in a much more efficient way, resulting in a smoother more consistent flex, better performance and less energy required to ski at a high level.”
K2 Recon 120 Boa (All-Mountain)
That’s right, Boa ski boots. The Boa Fit System you likely know from snowboard boots now comes to ski boots. The K2 Recon 120 Boa boot delivers a precise adjustable fit while enhancing performance. As K2 writes on its website, “Gone are traditional pain hotspots caused by overtightened buckles, the Recon 120 Boa boots are outfitted with a micro-adjustable fit, even pressure distribution and an unmatched heel hold.” It fits a wide variety of feet, and eliminates the need for a low volume and mid volume fit. Other features of this great all-mountain boot include a heat-moldable liner, integrated internal and external J-Bars to ensure heel hold, and a Harshmellow insert for impact absorption. The K2 Recon 120 Boa is the ski boot reinvented.
Salomon S/Pro Alpha 100 (Intermediate)
The Salomon S/Pro 100 is a medium-stiffness ski boot that can cater to both powerful and playful skiing, great for the all-around intermediate skier. This boot is not overly aggressive, but still has enough umph for hard cuts and carves on groomers, while rebounding and absorbing shock in choppy terrain. The S/Pro 100 features a fiberglass Coreframe that increases lightness, sensation, and power. Salomon also boasts that this is an easy-on and -off boot due to the soft PU Sensifit inserts. The My Customfit 3D seamless liner is built without any seams or stitching, which improves your foothold and boot insulation.
Nordica Speedmachine 3 130 S (Comfort)
The Speedmachine 3 130 is the epitome of an aggressive, high-performance boot that is also wildly comfortable. Nordica’s 3 Force Technology optimizes the transfer of energy from the foot to the liner and shell of the boot, maximizing the level of control. They’ve also designed the boot with a 3 Force EVA reinforcement just above the heel for more comfort and support. Finally, the stiff 3 Force Honeycomb shell provides a better fit as well as an impressively responsive ride. For long days of aggressive skiing, the Speedmachine 3 130 S will help you to ski your best without cramping and crushing your feet.
Rossignol Hi-Speed 80 HV (Beginner)
The Rossignol Hi-Speed 80 HV is a great ski boot for newer skiers who are looking to get out of those uncomfortable rentals. It features a high-volume fit for comfort, as well as a forgiving low-stiffness flexibility. This super comfy ski boot allows you to ride all day and dial in your technique. In addition to being a comfortable pair of ski boots, these are still a performance boot that will help you ride better. The Dual Core technology provides targeted power transfer, providing solid response and control.
Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 CT GW (Hybrid)
Atomic boasts that the Hawx Ultra XTD 130 CT GW is “Blurring the line between all-mountain and freeride touring.” This hybrid boot can rip groomer laps all day, but doubles as your best friend out-of-bounds as a versatile touring boot. It features Prolite construction that gives support right where you need it, providing ultimate power and control on any terrain. The Free/Lock 2.0 ski-to-walk mechanism and tech binding compatibility allows you to ski uphill to reach those steep and deep backcountry turns. In addition to being an all-around solid boot anywhere in the mountains, the Mimic Platinum Liner and Achilles Flex Zone molds to your foot shape for idyllic comfort.