Though it’s equipped with both a hike mode (free-ranging and effective, testers said) and tech fittings, the Cochise doesn’t try to be an ultralight touring boot. Downhill performance is its strong suit, thanks a solid alpine sole, sturdy flex, and a snug, accurate fit. Testers were awed by all the little things Tecnica does to make the Cochise easy to customize. And as is usually the case, great fit means great skiability. “Love it,” said Tischendorf. “So snappy for its class. Nice ankle grip and overall secure feel.” Read more about the Tecnica Cochise 105 W here.
Flex: 105; Width: Narrow (99 mm).
For serious, long-range touring, maybe look elsewhere. For lift-served, all-mountain, all-conditions ripping—with the added nicety of a releasable cuff for off-hill mobility—the Alltrack Pro is hard to beat, testers said. They skied the Pro version, with its medium-fit, 100-mm width. (Rossi also makes roomier 102-mm versions for wide feet.) The best thing about the cuff mechanism was that it had minimal effect on rearward stability. Backseat recoveries? No Problem. “Fits the category well,” said Gleason. “Quick and energetic. Goes anywhere. Hike function is nice for après comfort.” More about the Rossignol Alltrack Pro 110 here.
Flex: 110; Width: Medium (100 mm).
Hike modes are nice for getting around and hanging out in bars. But if you’re already pretty good at walking in ski boots and you want all the on-hill performance you can get, nothing beats a fixed cuff. The Speedmachine has best-in-class precision and support, thanks to its rigid spine and accurate fit. And its stance puts you in a position to succeed. No, it’s not interested in earning turns. But if you stick to the lifts, it promises to help you be a better skier. Mogetz: “The only boot in the category that made you feel like you had access to the entire edge.” Read more about the Nordica Speedmachine 105 W here.
Flex: 105; Width: Medium (100 mm).
Game for something different? Go ahead, give Roxa a spin, testers say. They knew little about the Italian brand, which specializes in three-piece shells and ultralight constructions, but were almost unanimously shocked by how much they liked the R3. The fit was refined and sculpted. The overall lightness, together with an easy/effective walk mode, made it exceptionally agile. And the weight-to-ripability ratio was “stunning.” Tischendorf: “Who are these guys? This boot rocked. Quick to the edge, fits like a glove, exceptional agility.” More info about the Roxa R3W 95 here.
Flex: 95; Width: Narrow (99 mm).
If Atomic is gaining marketshare (and it is), its Hawx series has a lot to do with it. The Hawx Prime succeeds both on the hill, where testers say it drives the ski with enthusiasm from an aggressive but well-balance stance, and in the shops, where dealers find it to be an easy sell. Testers loved its initial fit. Atomic’s Memory Fit shell molding process takes just 12 minutes, from oven to fully personalized fit. And the Prime’s Thinsulate liner keeps feet warm and happy on the coldest days. “Atomic has come on strong, and the competition better take notice,” said Gleason. Read more about the Atomic Hawx Prime 100 W here.
Flex: 100; Width: Medium (100 mm).
Solid and reliable performance is the hallmark of the Vector Evo series. No gimmicks: Its fixed-cuff shell provides sturdy rearward support uncompromised by a hike mode. Testers tried it with alpine soles, but those can be swapped out for easy-walk rockered ones (or even canted ones). Head’s version of bake-and-buckle shell customization, called Form Fit, ensures a snug, comfortable wrap in less than half an hour. “Solid but still playful feel with an upright stance,” said Mogetz. “Quick to edge, and it readily made any turn I wanted.” Read more about the Head Vector Evo 110 W here.
Scarpa’s got a great reputation for touring and telemark boots. And testers have long admired the more traditional support and skiability of the Freedom series. But as AT/alpine hybrids go, it’s still more AT than alpine. On the descent, it’s the most powerful and quickest to edge of any Scarpa women’s boot, but testers said the best-in-category touring performance is still where the Freedom shines. “Fantastic hike mode with good range of motion,” said Tischendorf. “Nice grippy soles, secure on any walking surface.” More info about the Scarpa Freedom SL 120 W here.
Flex: 120; Width: Medium (101 mm).