Stand up and look at your feet: In your natural stance, they’re likely abducted—that is, heels in, toes out. Fischer builds that natural stance into all its Soma boots. It makes it easier to get on edge more quickly and more solidly. The effect is more pronounced in the stiffer X-120, but the 110, with its 100-mm forefoot width, is simultaneously balanced, sensitive and forgiving.
Abandon your preconceptions. Dalbello, the champion of high-volume, comfort/value boots, jumps with both feet into the narrow-lasted, high-performance category. The Scorpion 110 is an all-mountain version of the race-ready 150. Its 98-mm width holds your foot accurately and drives a ski with authority. An impressive newcomer, and the best Dalbello we’ve ever tested.
Midfoot flexibility is the hallmark of the Hawx. Relief cuts in the shell walls allow it—and the skier’s foot—to flex in a way that feels natural and improves balance. The fit is generous, yet sufficiently snug in the heel, and the stance is upright, ideal for centered skiing over modern sidecuts. Overall, it’s comfortable and connected to the snow and won’t fatigue your foot.
If you buy it for the graphic alone, we understand. But be ready for precise, powerful performance that demands aggressive input. The Jah is a stiffer version of the Spitfire 120 (see Men’s Speed). Both are based on the venerable Dobermann shell. A shock-absorbing bootboard smooths the ride, and yes, the liner is “fur.” But it’s basically a race boot: quick, sturdy, aggressive.
If you’re not ready to rock the Jah Love (below), the HR Pro is the same boot with a nominally softer flex and more subdued graphic. Both are cousins of the Spitfire (see Men’s Speed). Compared to the Jah, there’s no difference in fit or skiability; testers couldn’t even detect a difference in flex. As with the Jah and the Spitfire 120, there’s no cuff-alignment adjustment.
The Blaster, introduced last year, belongs to the new category of backcountry-compatible alpine boots. It’s roomier than the RX and easier to hike/tour in, thanks to good traction and a walk mode. Unlike walk mechanisms of the past, there’s little compromise in rearward stability. The Super is the stiffest Blaster, and despite the roomy fit, its lateral quickness is excellent.
Like the RS series of race-inspired boots, the RX series is new this year. If the RS series is narrower than you can deal with, the RX features the same new designs as the RS (less forward lean, less ramp, tight ankle/heel but roomier forefoot), with flashier colors and a grippy, hike-ready sole. It’s sensitive, well balanced, quick and way easier to get into and out of than the RS.
Compare to RS 130 (see Men’s Speed). The 110 Wide belongs to Lange’s new RS race series but gets the wider forefoot width of the RX freeride collection. (There’s also a wide fit in the RS 130.) It’s nice to see wider versions of stiff-flexing boots for expert guys with meaty feet. The 110 Wide has all the attributes of the RS130 in a less brick-like flex. A tester favorite.
Inferno is Tecnica’s new high-end narrow-width power plant. The 130 has two cool features: A carbon-steel frame embedded in the sole dampens vibrations and adds edginess, and a section of softer plastic makes it the easiest race boot to get on and off. The stance is noticeably more upright, the heel-hold is excellent, and it’s as laterally quick as any boot. Great looking, too.
The top-dog race version of the Falcon series has what testers generally considered the best performance-to-comfort ratio of the category. It packs incredible power and quickness in an extraordinarily light, tight and powerful construction, with uncommonly aggressive forward lean. And you don’t have to suffer in a “race fit”: Salomon’s Custom Shell allows easy expansion.
The WC 130 is identical to the Lange RS 130, and the co-owned French brands make little secret of the fact that their boots are co-developed—different only in paint and minor details. The WC 130 is every bit as successful in design, as capable in all-mountain terrain, as refined in its balance of no-compromise performance and reasonable all-day comfort. Note: It’s $110 cheaper.
It’s a notch down in flex from Nordica’s 130-flex Dobermann Pro, but it still has a powerful, racy feel, and it’s more versatile in terms of terrain preferences. As with all the 98-mm-lasted Dobermanns, its bootboard is bolted down and metal-reinforced for extra edge-power and stability. The Spitfire is a race-inspired performer that skis with surprising comfort.
The new RS collection preserves the best of Lange quickness and precision and fixes the shortcomings that Lange-heads were always willing to live with. The stance is more upright (11 to 14 degrees)—a significant departure from the classic forward-leaning Langes. The new shell shape works beautifully with a fine new liner, and the old touchy edginess is pleasingly muted.