The Best Ski Boots for Women Review
What is the best women's all-mountain ski boot? We tested seven top-of-the-line boots on the slopes, putting each boot through extensive field testing to figure out which ones are the very best. We skied these boots on hundreds of runs in a variety of conditions, looking for the boot that does it all better than any other. We also enlisted a group of dedicated skier ladies for a day of back-to-back round-robin testing of all the boots, and polled them to see what they thought. We evaluated theses boots on comfort and fit, downhill ski performance, features, durability and warmth. What we discovered is that there is a boot out there for everyone. Whether you're looking for a low-volume race boot or a comfy all day cruiser, you will find it here.
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Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Analysis and Test Results
Ski boots are the most important piece of gear in your downhill ski set-up, and they require the most money, patience, and knowledge to select. Selecting a pair that is right for you could mean a world of difference to your skiing. If you get a boot that doesn't fit properly or is too stiff, it could actually make you a worse skier. A boot that is too stiff can create fatigue and make you less confident and in control. But find one that fits like a glove and allows you to control your skis, and you will be amazed at how it improves your skiing. The right selection will come from considering a combination of factors, including your skiing ability, the terrain you like to ski, as well as your foot and calf shape.
Once you select your boots, be sure not to miss our review of Women's skis so you can choose the right pair to get you sliding on snow.
Types of Downhill Boots
The women's boots we tested all fall into the all-mountain category of ski boots. All-mountain downhill boots are the jack-of-all-trades models. They let you go anywhere and do anything at the resort, from skiing the corduroy groomers to big powder days and off-piste runs through your favorite stash. All-mountain boots are not going to be the best boot if you're looking to jib and jump in the park or whack gates in races all day. Race boots and freestyle boots are in a different category.
The boots we tested have two predominant types of construction that are used in modern day ski boots, with each manufacturer creating variations on the two themes, adding features to enhance performance and fit. The first is called overlap construction, consisting of two parts: a lower shell and an upper cuff. Boots with overlap construction are typically seen mostly at the ski resort. They make for a snug, stiff boot that can be difficult to get on and off. Most of the boots we tested are some type of overlap construction. Our favorite overlap boot was the Lange RX-110 Women's.
Dalbello Kyra 95 ID. The company Full Tilt exclusively makes 3-piece construction boots, and we tested their Soul Sister models.
Other important components of a ski boot are:
Criteria For Evaluation
Comfort and Fit
Fit is one of the most important factors when choosing a ski boot. If you have a boot that fits you well, it will also be comfortable. The shape of your foot will determine which boot will fit better than others. If you have a wide foot, you should look for a boot with a medium to wide last (100-106 mm) like the Dalbello Kyra. If you have narrow feet, look for a low volume boot like the Lange RX-110 in a low volume version. Because everyone's feet are different, we tried to look objectively at the different fit characteristics of each boot. How adjustable are the boots? Features like micro-adjustable buckles and heat-moldable liners help to make a boot more customizable for a better overall fit.
All that being said, some boots are inherently more comfortable than others, and some fit better than others. We really like the fit of the Dalbello Kyra 95 ID. The Intuition liners hug the ankles and forefeet, and they are soft and cushy. Our testers with wider feet like the Rossignol AllTrack Pro 110 - Women's because it has a lot of room in the forefoot and a soft faux-fur lining. Our testers agree that the Salomon X-Pro 90 - Women's fits like a glove, and love the soft micro-fleece lining. If you want to know more about how to properly size and fit a ski boot, reference our Buying Advice article.
Women's Specific Fit
We know we can keep up with the guys, so why not get a men's boot, right? Wrong. We are entirely different creatures and therefore we should have entirely different boots. Over the last few years, manufacturers have come leaps and bounds in designing great women's specific boots. The main anatomical difference is in the shape of our lower legs and feet. Men generally have longer, skinnier legs, and their calf muscles sit higher, so they need a narrower fitting cuff. Conversely, women have shorter legs and lower calf muscles (and no, we're not talking about cankles here), so we need a boot that will accommodate this shape with a wider and lower cuff. Men also have wider feet that extend all the way through to the heel. Women need narrower heel and ankle pockets to keep their feet snugly in place, allowing them to confidently drive the ski. The Lange RXs have a great narrow heel, and the Dalbello Kyras seem to have the lowest, woman specific cuff. If you are looking for a boot that has a fit that is more similar to a men's fit, the Nordica Belle Pro boots seem to have a slightly narrower, taller cuff and more room in the heel like a man's boot. This could be a good option for a taller woman with slim calves.
Women are also generally lighter than their male counterparts, and therefore have less weight to throw around. This affects women's ability to flex into boots, and ladies tend to have a harder time driving very stiff boots – so an expert women's boot will have a lower flex rating than the same model in a men's version (like 110 vs 130). Manufacturers also use lighter weight materials in women's boots so the haul from the parking lot to lift is a bit easier. The lightest boots in this review are the Full Tilt Soul Sister.
Women have a different center of gravity that is lower in the hips. This makes it more difficult to stay forward and out of the back seat when skiing. Manufacturers acknowledge this and typically increase the ramp angle – the angle under the boot sole – so that it is easier to stay forward on skis.
As mentioned in our How to Choose a Women's Sleeping Bag article, women generally feel colder than men. Many women's models have added insulation and fun features like faux-fur lining to keep the toes nice and toasty. Manufacturers also usually make women's versions more attractive with colors and flashy extras that can be appealing, like on the Rossignol Alltrack or the full tilt Soul Sister.
Ladies, if you're thinking about going with a men's boot, we entreat you to change your mind, for all the reasons we mention above. And if that doesn't convince you – maybe the fact women's boots seem to be less expensive will be the kicker.
Downhill Ski Performance
The process of turning your skis starts in your brain, which triggers your legs, which instruct your boots and finally move your skis. Having a high performance ski boot can help speed up this process. Depending on your skiing ability, you may want a boot that is more or less aggressive and therefore performs differently. Advanced to expert skiers look for a boot with a tighter fit so their foot does not move around at all inside, and they prefer a stiffer flex so that their movements are more immediately transferred from the boot to the ski. Your weight will also affect your ability to drive a stiffer boot, if you're on the lighter side, you may want a softer boot. The boots we tested are all in the 90 to 110 flex range, which is more suited for advanced to expert level skiers. If you are a beginner or intermediate level skier, you will want a boot that is not as stiff, and will allow you to control and stay on top of your skis with greater ease – although they may not be as responsive. All of the models we tested are available in softer flexes for more intermediate skiers.
When scoring for this category, we looked for boots that we could drive easily, that were responsive with predictable flex, without throwing us in the backseat where we had less control. We tried all the boots on different types of skis, from skinny carving skis to fat rockered skis, to see if they could control the gambit. We skied them on and off-piste to test their performance on varied terrain and in all types of snow. We discovered that some boots, when tested back to back, had stiffer or softer flexes than advertised. The Lange RX-110 felt much softer than the advertised flex, more in the 95-100 range, and the Nordica Belle Pro felt stiffer than the advertised 105 flex – somewhere in the 110-115 flex.
Testers unanimously agreed that the Lange RX 110 is the highest performing, most responsive boot we tested. We love carving tight turns, bumping over moguls, and skiing off-piste in these boots. The Lange RXs are also the lowest-volume, tightest fitting boots, which would often cut off circulation to toes, so they are not the boot for people with constantly frozen toes. We are disappointed in the Full Tilt Soul Sisters, they have a very relaxed, roomy fit that feels like we can never get them tight enough. We feel out of control when skiing these boots, and think the flex is extremely soft and sloppy.
More ski boot manufactures are getting into the all-mountain adventure category, creating boots that have great downhill performance as well as features that make them better for side-country forays. Typically these boots are lighter weight, come with good walk modes, and have interchangeable soles so you can use them with alpine bindings or a tech binding. The only boot currently in this review with this design is the Atomic Waymaker. The Atomic Waymaker Carbon 100 boasts a walk mode, interchangeable tech soles, as well as a carbon spine to add stiffness. We think the Waymakers fall short as a side-country boot. They are quite heavy and the walk mode does not add much ankle mobility. The word carbon is usually associated with lightweight, but the Waymakers are in the middle of the pack in terms of weight, and we would not want to hike long distances in them. Carbon can also be associated with stiffness, but we didn't find them to be all that stiff either. These all-mountain adventure boots are great for short walks out of bounds, but we would not recommend them for longer backcountry travel.
The liners a boot comes with are an important piece of the ski boot fit puzzle. Our favorite liners were found the Kyra's and Soul Sister's fully moldable Intuition liners. We also really like the Salomon Custom Shell 360 liner because it has many adjustment options and already has areas that are articulated, such as around the ankle bone.
You spend a lot of money on these boots, so you want them to last. Most of the boots we tested were very burly and durable, but we noticed a few things that may be problematic over time. We checked the boots for dents and dings, the soles for wear, and other parts and features that seemed to be lower quality. We think the Nordica Belle and the Lange RX seem to be the most durable, whereas the Rossignol AllTrack Pro's flashy appearance and soft faux-fur seems less durable. We have noticed that boots with white shell materials like the Salomon X-Pro or the Lange RX will show scuffs more easily, but these are superficial marks and will not affect the performance of the boot. We worry that boots with cable buckles like the Soul Sister and Kyra are less durable than traditional buckles, but they seem to be relatively easy to replace if one does blow out.
Selecting the right pair of boots can make quite a difference in your skiing experience, not to mention your ability level. Ultimately, the correct pair of boots will leave you comfortable and in control of your skis. With this review, we intend to explain the differences in boot models available to guide you in the direction of a pair that will work for you. Consult our Buying Advice article for additional help finding the appropriate fit and size.
— Jessica Haist
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