Running a ski boot test is no small feat, but this year, thanks to an awesome team of testers, shops, and bootfitters, SKI was able to determine the best of the best for a variety of skiers. Like our Best in Test Skis for 2019, these boots represent the Best in Test selections, and all of the other boots that made it into the magazine were awarded as “Official Selections.”
Please keep in mind that these awards do not mean these ski boots are perfect for everyone. These selections are more of a way to start a conversation with a professional boot fitter to make sure you get your feet into the right boot for this season and beyond.
You can find 2020’s Best in Test Ski Boots here.
Men’s All-Mountain Utility Ski Boot: K2 Recon 130 MV
New for 2018/19, we’ve been keeping an eye on the Recon since it made it’s debut at SKI’s Product Intro Week in Vail last November. The hype was real, just like this boot’s on-mountain performance. Add in crazy-easy boot fitting features, and it took the top spot in this critical category.
- MSRP: $750
- Read the full review of the K2 Recon 130 MV
- See all of the Men’s All-Mountain Utility Ski Boot Official Selections
Women’s All-Mountain Utility Ski Boot: Nordica Speedmachine 115 W
The Women’s Speedmachine 115 W out-performed every other boot on the hill thanks to proven technology: rock-solid polyurethane shell construction, 3D Cork Fit liner, and a traditional design that works. For the lady testers, this boot was a clear winner, and the men’s version, the Nordica Speedmachine 130, is a great option for the dudes as well.
- MSRP: $699
- Read more about the Nordica Speedmachine 115 W
- See all of the women’s All-Mountain Utility Official Selections
On Amazon: Nordica SpeedMachine Boots
Men’s High Performance Ski Boot: Lange RS 130
While not new for 2019, Lange’s DualCore shells are tried and true. When paired with the brand’s World Cup Liner, a number of adjustability options, and a bomber power strap, the Lange RS 130 topped the charts over last year’s winner, the Head Raptor 140 RS (pictured in the page’s banner).
- MSRP: $850 (BUY NOW)
- Read the full Lange RS 130 ski boot review from the 2019 Gear Guide
- See all of the men’s high-performance ski boot Official Selections
Buy the Lange RS 130 ski boot on Amazon
Women’s High Performance Ski Boot: Salomon X MAX 120 W
This ski boot for slender-footed ripping skier chicks has gained a following over the past few years, and rightfully so. The boot’s snug fit and dominate on-hill performance is at the top of its class, or at least, that’s exactly what testers thought. Add in a mellow color scheme that doesn’t scream for attention, and it’s easy to see why ripping skiers love this boot.
- MSRP: $800
- Read the full review of the Salomon X MAX 120 W ski boot
- See all of the women’s high-performance Official Selections
Men’s Comfort Ski Boot: Nordica Sportmachine 110
Just because a ski boot is classified in the “comfort” category doesn’t mean it can’t ski well. This is best proven by the Nordica Sportmachine 110, a boot with a wide last but performance chops that keep it reliable and strong on the mountain. Nordica offers the same boot with a 130 flex as well, in case you feel the need for a bit more stiffness but the same last and overall performance.
- MSRP: $549 (BUY NOW)
- Read the full review of the Nordica Sportmachine 110
- See all of the Men’s Comfort ski boot Official Selections
On Amazon: Nordica SportMachine 100
Women’s Comfort: Lange SX 90 W
Lange is making a number of ski boots that work for more people than not, and the SX 90 W is a perfect example of that. The fit is on point for many feet with a 102mm last and heat moldable liner, but the on-hill performance is what testers appreciated the most, putting it on top of a competitive category.
- MSRP: $550
- Read the full review of the Lange SX 90 W ski boot
- See all of the Women’s Comfort ski boot Official Selections
How We Test Ski Boots
For the second year in a row, we worked with boot-fitting specialists from across the country to recruit testers to weed out the best boots from the rest. We ranked boots using a combination of bootfitter expertise and knowledgeable on-hill performance feedback from testers. Boot tests take multiple days to complete, and for this, we are greatly indebted to the testers, bootfitters, and especially the Official Test Centers for their hard work. For more info about these boots and the brands, check out SKImag.com/boots.
- SKI Magazine’s Official Boot Test Centers: Park City Boot Room, Park City, Utah, and Northern Ski Works, Killington, Vermont.
- Bootfitters: Max Ben-Hamoo, Tom Favro, Bob Gleason, Hal Karabots, Matt Schiller.
- Testers: Dana Alexandrescu, Chris Allen, Ben Attridge, Tracy Beers, Jeff Butz, Colleen Callahan, Cam Chin, Tom Favro, Sara Filskov, Mary Flinn Ware, Ryan Fray, Bob Gleason, Stephanie Humes, Jon Jay, Katherine MacLauchlan, Greg Peruzzi, Andy Ragala, Stephen Sebestyen, Chris Slade, Michael Strachen, and Jenny Wiegand.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ski Boots
What are the best ski boots for beginners?
- The best ski boots for skiers just starting out are what we classify as comfort ski boots. This year, the best ski boot for beginners according to our testers is the Noridica Sportsmachine 110 for men and the Lange SX 90 W ski boot for women. You can read more about the best comfort ski boots for beginners on our Comfort Ski Boot section.
How do you shop for ski boots?
- SKI Magazine highly recommends visiting a professional bootfitter when shopping for ski boots. The last thing you should ever do is buy a boot online, jam your foot in, and go skiing. Spend some time with a bootfitter and you’ll find out that if you’re in a properly fit boot, the best part of the day is putting your ski boot on—and everything that happens afterwards, of course.
More about bootfittting: If the Boot Fits…
What is Last Width for Ski Boots?
- The last of a ski boot indicates the width of the boot in the forefoot area. Last is measured in millimeters (mm). It is best to get your foot measured to make a more accurate choice. People with narrower feet will want a narrower last, while those with wide feet will want a wider last. Boots with larger lasts tend to have more overall volume, while ski boots with narrower lasts will have less overall volume.
What should my ski boot flex be?
- Ski boot flex is indicated by a number ranging from 50 (very soft) to 140 (very stiff). Lightweight, short and beginner skiers should start with softer flexes, while larger, taller and more aggressive skiers can use stiffer flexes. If in doubt, use a softer flex to prevent pain and practices better technique before using stiffer ski boots.
How Do I Choose Ski Boots?
- First, determine what type of skiing you prefer. Do you demand high performance, downhill specific boots? Do you want all-mountain boots with a walk mode? Or do you want the most comfortable boots available?
- Next, have your foot properly measured to determine the last of your foot and the volume. Use this information to narrow down boot options that best match your foot size and shape. Narrower, low-volume feet can shop for high-performance level boots, while wider feet might start with comfort options. Those in between can likely start in the all-mountain category.
- Figure out what your Mondo size is. Don’t know what this is? Ask a bootfitter!
- Determine your preferred flex. Smaller, shorter and less aggressive skiers should start with softer flexes (50-100), while larger, taller and more aggressive skiers can shop for stiffer flexes (90-130).
- Try on a number of ski boots that best align with the above listed criteria. When you first put on your boots, it should feel like a very firm handshake on your entire foot. Keep boots on for about ten minutes while walking around the shop, and see where discomfort starts.
- Pro tip: Shop for ski boots in the afternoon or evening, as your feet will be largest during this time of day.
Why are ski boots so uncomfortable?
Brand new ski boots should feel like a firm handshake on your foot and lower leg. After a basic heat-mold of a liner, the boot should remain tight. Adding a high-quality custom footbed will definitely help alleviate discomfort during the break-in phase. After about six days in your ski boots, they should start to break-in and become more comfortable.