Hands-on Gear Review

Nordica Hell and Back H1 - Women's Review

Nordica Hell and Back H1 - Women's
By: Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 18, 2014
Price:  $599 List  |  $339.00 at Amazon - 43% Off
Pros:  Durable, warm
Cons:  Uncomfortable, heel lift, low performance
Manufacturer:   Nordica

Our Verdict

Our testers agree that these boots are aptly named "Hell and Back" because they are hellishly uncomfortable! We think Nordica's attempt at a high-performance women's boot fell short, and the Hell and Back H1s seem more suited to a man's anatomy. These boots did not appropriately fit any of our female testers. They were roomy in the heel and ankle area and created shin bang and pressure points on our legs. Multiple women noted that they had a hard time controlling the boots because their feet were moving around so much inside the boots.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Hell and Back H1s fit more like a man's boot, with extra room in the heel and a tall cuff height. Our testers found this boot stiff and uncomfortable.

Performance Comparison



We think Nordica's attempt at a high-performance women's boot fell short and the Hell and Back H1s seem more well suited to a man's anatomy. Author Jessica Haist here in the Patagonia Primo Down jacket and the Nordica Hell and Back H1's.
We think Nordica's attempt at a high-performance women's boot fell short and the Hell and Back H1s seem more well suited to a man's anatomy. Author Jessica Haist here in the Patagonia Primo Down jacket and the Nordica Hell and Back H1's.

Comfort and Fit


The Hell and Backs are the tallest boot we reviewed and fit the most like a men's boot  leaving too much room in the heel area. Unlike a men's boot  these Nordicas have ample room in the forefoot.
The Hell and Backs are the tallest boot we reviewed and fit the most like a men's boot, leaving too much room in the heel area. Unlike a men's boot, these Nordicas have ample room in the forefoot.
We immediately noticed that these boots do not fit well. The Nordica Hell and Back H1s are notably the most uncomfortable boot we tested. They fit the most like a men's boot, leaving too much room in the heel area rather than narrowing down for a feminine foot. Unlike a men's boot, these Nordicas do have ample room in the forefoot. These are the tallest boots included in our women's review, and perhaps because of this our testers found that they caused a lot of bang and pressure points in the shin area. One of our testers who has bigger calves couldn't wait to get these boots off, because the high cuff height and fit of the boot made her calves cramp.

Downhill Ski Performance


The Hell and Back H1s are designed to be a high performance, stiff boot with 105 flex. We agree that they are stiff, but we could not drive these boots very well because the sloppy fit allows the feet to move around too much inside the boot.
The Hell and Back H1s are meant to be a high performance  stiff boot. We agree that they are stiff  but we could not drive these boots very well because our feet were moving around too much in the roomy heel pockets.
The Hell and Back H1s are meant to be a high performance, stiff boot. We agree that they are stiff, but we could not drive these boots very well because our feet were moving around too much in the roomy heel pockets.
One of our testers noted "The extra [foot] movement in the boot allowed me to scrunch my toes out of fear of the total unresponsiveness of the boot". There are two flex settings, hard and soft. The H1s may be more forgiving on the soft setting.

Features


Nordica advertises these boots as being a "boot fitter's best friend". These boots have several customizable parts that can be tweaked to suit your foot and skiing style. This could help with some of the fit issues, but compared to the out-of -the-box fit of the rest of our boots in our test, we are still unimpressed. The Hell and Backs have a very generic boring look, but they do come with hand stitched, customizable, heat-moldable liners and micro adjustable buckles.
Nordica advertises these boots as being a "boot fitter's best friend". These boots have a lot of customizable parts that can be tweaked to suit your foot and skiing style.
Nordica advertises these boots as being a "boot fitter's best friend". These boots have a lot of customizable parts that can be tweaked to suit your foot and skiing style.

Durability


The Nordica Hell and Back H1s seem very durable. We did not notice any broken parts and their hard rubber soles seem burly.

Warmth


Because of their roominess and thick hand-stitched liners, the Hell and Backs are very toasty warm.

Best Application


Nordica's Hell and Back H1s come with hand stitched  customizable  heat-moldable liners that have inserts to create a more snug fit.
Nordica's Hell and Back H1s come with hand stitched, customizable, heat-moldable liners that have inserts to create a more snug fit.
The Nordica Hell and Back H1s are best suited for people with skinny calves and large heel and instep areas who want to cruise around on groomed runs.

Value


For the retail price of $599 we think you would be better off buying our Editors' Choice Award winner the Salomon X-Pro 90 - Women's for a boot that does it all and is just as customizable as the Hell and Back. Notably, these boots are the same price as the men's version of the Hell and Back, while all other women's versions are less expensive than the corresponding men's version.

Conclusion


The Nordica Hell and Backs are an aggressive boot with a tall cuff height and lots of room in the heel and ankle area. They are adjustable for boot fitters to work with, though we think that a boot fitter would have their work cut out for them to make these fit an average woman's foot well. These could be good for someone with slim calves and large heels — kind of like a man. It makes us wonder if Nordica put much thought into making this a women's specific boot. It has no feminine details and the shape and performance seems better suited for men.

Other Versions and Accessories


The women's Hell and Back's are available in three versions, the H1 (105 flex), H2 (100 flex) and H3 (95 flex).

Jessica Haist


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