It's been quite an eventful year. While lock-downs have everyone wondering what this ski season will look like, there is a growing consensus that backcountry skiing may reach an inflection point. Backcountry skiers get to skip the lift lines, work their cardio and stay safe on the slopes. As far as the new normal is concerned, backcountry skiing is the ideal activity.
Every upcoming season brings with it a new line of gear, eager to replace parts of your trusted backcountry package that may be ready for retirement. If you are contemplating a new pair of backcountry ski boots that will mold perfectly to your sole (and your soul), you need not look any further. Here is our list of the ten best backcountry ski boots for the 2020 - 2021 season.
If you are looking for the best backcountry boots, why not combine them with a pair of world-class skis? Renoun is the first ski manufacturer to bring non-newtonian materials to stabilize skis and reduce chatter. Renoun has developed VibeStopTM technology which adapt instantly to snow conditions and ski style. Check out this year's line of up award winning skis by Renoun.
Why not start with the best foot forward. The Atomic Backland Series has long been worshipped in the ski community as a formidable line of boots built to last. The Atomic Backland Carbon is no stranger to this design and represents the best of the backcountry touring models, emphasizing the downhill experience. Touring boots can often sacrifice aspects of downhill durability to incur optimum uphill comfort. The Backland Carbon balances both.
This boots key features include a washable, secure liner, a Frictionless Pivot to allow optimum uphill movement, and a carbon spine that allows secured control without adding unnecessary weight.
Who better to trust with your gear than a company who lives, breathes, and regurgitates fresh powder. The award-winning Zero G collection delivers the ultimate backcountry touring performance and focuses on the design details that fuel the powder obsession in us all.
With a ski boot designed for experienced backcountry skiers, the Zero G Tour Pro provides some of the best weight-to-performance value on the market. With a 55° range of motion, the Tour Pro provides a comfortable and efficient hike to the peak. Once there, the four buckle lockdown allows for a sturdy, secure, and confident descent. With so much attention to detail put into this product, it’s no wonder why experts in the biz put all their trust into this boot.
Arc’teryx has done it again, and come through with what could be a game-changer of a product in the backcountry ski circles. The new Procline Carbon AR touring boot sports a patented and unmatched 360° rotating cuff for the ascent and a rigid yet responsive Ultramid shell for the descent.
The Procline Carbon AR is designed for alpine environments, focusing on agile flexibility in movements and waterproof protection from the elements. This is a beast of a product that is sure to make waves, and anyone looking to stay one step ahead of the off-piste tech should keep their eye on this boot.
With the release time-stamped for November of this year, Scarpa fanatics are awaiting the new F1 LT backcountry touring boot’s unveiling. This anticipated new model combines elements of the world-class Scarpa racing boots with a sturdy and secure backcountry design to produce an ultralight boot perfect for technical skiers wanting to maximize productivity.
Some design elements to be admired on this ski boot are the speed lock ski walk system, a waterproof gaiter system to ensure protection from the elements, and a 3D Lambda Torsion Frame to increase stability and improve downhill performance.
For those who are looking for a boot that combines durability and downhill performance with ultralight tech to ensure comfort, this model will be sure to delight.
The Dalbello Lupo Pro HD has thought of everything and has provided avid backcountry skiers with a formidable ski boot competitive in all aspects. It strives to provide top-notch durability along with unmatched flexibility and comfort.
Some of the great features of the Dalbello Lupe Pro HD are the quick removal tongue allowing maximum forward lean movement (67° motion) while hiking uphill and the thermoformable ID liner quickly customizable for active off-piste enthusiasts. As with most Dalbello ski boot models, the GripWalk co-polymer sole system can be added and tuned to allow for more ease and safety while traversing icy areas.
The Dalbello Lupo Pro HD is packed full of features that backcountry experts have long been asking for and is worth a closer look for those needing an upgrade.
La Sportiva has become a household name in the backcountry ski boot business, with products that guarantee durability and credibility. The Skorpius CR model continues to carry this torch and comes packed with desirable touring features that can’t be ignored.
Similar to previous models, La Sportiva provides a carbon-reinforced shell providing lightweight durability for downhill performance. Its patented “SWING-LOCK Closure System” ensures minimal mechanical impact while sustaining a secure closure to the boot. The EZ Flex™ overlap tongue allows for broad and comfortable ankle movement, and the La Sportiva Grip Guard Sole™ ensures non-slip traversing.
The Lange XT3 Pro ski boot is “engineered to go UP, and built to ski DOWN.”
Its patented ACTIVE POWER V-LOCK delivers an 11° increase in forward-motion flexibility when put into hike mode, allowing for more speed and agility on skins or alpine surfaces. When added to the friction-free hinge, this free-touring technology allows for more natural movement on the ascent and a secure lockdown on the descent.
Additional features include a customizable dual 3D liner, an ultralight bootboard, and GripWalk™ mounted soles for added security.
Now compatible with all frame bindings, the Hoji Free 130 ski boot just became more versatile. With its ultra-durable design, the Hoji Free 130 allows for necessary stiffness on the descent and essential flexibility for the ascent. With a V-Shaped tongue and a 55° cuff rotation, it does well to ensure an adequate range of motion on the ascent.
New to this model is the thermo-moldable Hoji Free Liner, available exclusively for this boot. Like other products on the market with this feature, a moldable foot liner provides maximum security and foot positioning to ensure comfort and safety.
No backcountry ski boot list would be complete without an appearance (or two) by Atomic boots. The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 sets another standard for off-piste enthusiasts, sporting new features and designs geared for technical curiosities.
Its asymmetrically reinforced “energy backbone” provides extra strength and security for the descent, while its frictionless pivot aims to emulate the most natural movement on the ascent. To ensure optimal fit and structure, the pre-shaped inner ankle and tongue lining can be softened in an oven and molded directly to the skier’s foot.
The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 sets a standard for versatility in touring ski boots and is an excellent product for enthusiasts to look at for a needed gear revamp.
Last but not least, the Salomon S/Lab MTN touring boot provides an excellent option for the backcountry or freetouring enthusiasts who are looking for quality over quantity of technical specs. This product focuses on three main benefits.
With its Custom Shell HD, a precise foothold is ensured within minutes, and thinner wall materials allow the foot to have more directional authority. For the descent, a carbon spine support offers power and structure. For the ascent, a 47° range of motion paired with a lightweight design makes the climb easy and even comfortable.
I hope you found this article helpful. Good luck choosing the best backcountry ski boot for your needs.
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Cam Hookey grew up in the mountains of Canada and is an avid skier, snowboarder, and adventure sport enthusiast. He’s a ski instructor, SCUBA instructor, freediving instructor, and certified outdoor guide. When he is not enjoying the crisp mountain air or the salty ocean breeze, he is writing about it.