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Nordica Hell and Back H2 Review

Nordica Hell and Back H2
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Price:  $599 List
Pros:  Removable soles, shell design, simple design and features
Cons:  Roomy fit
Manufacturer:   Nordica
By Mike Phillips ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 18, 2014
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65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 30% 6
  • Performance - 40% 7
  • Features - 10% 4
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Warmth - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Nordica Hell and Back H2 receives our Best Buy award for its value as a decent performing, well-designed boot that is less expensive than other boots featured in our review. It's sleek, all-black look earns some fashion points (not a measurement in this review but let's face it, it counts). This boot can be difficult to find at major retailers; if you find this is the case, check out our Ski Boots Review to compare all of the models that were tested.

The Hell and Back is easy to take on and off and was initially comfortable out of the box. The shell design of this boot allows for a secure wrapping feel from tightening the buckles, and testers agreed this is an asset in the fit department. On the slopes it has a comfortable upright stance, and is responsive and stiff for its 110 flex rating. Its roomy fit forced our medium-volume-footed testers to crank down the buckles all the way in order to maximize its downhill ski performance, but this fit would accommodate larger volume feet well. However, for those with lower volume feet we feel like this boot is a little boxy, and would require some professional boot fitting before skiing the Hell and Back everyday would be comfortable. If you have low-volume feet or want the most performance for your dollar, we suggest the Editors' Choice winner, the Lange RX 120.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Nordica Hell and Back H2 is our Best Buy Award winner because it skis well and features a simple design, which we appreciate for function and durability. This is a good boot for upper-intermediate to advanced skiers with a medium-width foot.

Performance Comparison



The micro-adjustable buckles on the Nordica Hell and Back are easy to operate with gloves or mittens due to their large size and articulated ends.
The micro-adjustable buckles on the Nordica Hell and Back are easy to operate with gloves or mittens due to their large size and articulated ends.

Comfort and Fit


We like the big buckles and canting adjustment on the Hell and Back H2.
We like the big buckles and canting adjustment on the Hell and Back H2.
The shell design of the Nordica Hell and Back H2 allows for a secure wrapping feeling, which is a bonus considering how much the narrow-footed testers needed to crank down on the buckles. Overall, the boot feels roomy for its size the 100 mm last, and has a boxy, higher volume fit. An aftermarket footbed would take up some room and improve the fit for people with narrower feet. We like the upright stance of the boot and found that it feels comfortable all day. The boot features canting adjustment for perfect alignment with the assistance of a boot fitter.

Downhill Ski Performance



The Nordica Hell and Back H2 cruising soft south facing groomers on Lincoln Mt.  Mammoth Mountain  CA.
The Nordica Hell and Back H2 cruising soft south facing groomers on Lincoln Mt., Mammoth Mountain, CA.

The flex adjustment did not provide additional stiffness to the Hell and Back H2.
The flex adjustment did not provide additional stiffness to the Hell and Back H2.
The Nordica Hell and Back H2 feels stiff for its 110 flex rating, stiffer than some of the 120 flex boots we tested such as the Tecnica Cochise 120 and Atomic Hawx 120. We feel that this provides extra support and makes the Hell and Back feel more responsive than expected. The flex adjustment on the back of the boot allows the user to turn the boot from S to H (presumably soft to hard), though we did not feel a noticeable difference while skiing when we tweaked this adjustment.

The upright stance of the boot is comfortable for skiing all day, and when skiing in hard, chattering snow, the Hell and Back H2 has a damp feel to it thanks to their "Full Shock Eraser" shock absorbing feature in the footboard.

Features


Hex head screws are easy to remove. Nordica boot soles slide off on a track once screws are loosened.
Hex head screws are easy to remove. Nordica boot soles slide off on a track once screws are loosened.
The Nordica Hell and Back H2 features a relatively simple design, focusing on a traditional overlapping 4 buckle shell made from lightweight materials. Their aluminum micro-adjustable buckles are easy to use with gloves and mittens on thanks to their large size and easy to grab, articulated ends. The replaceable soles are a useful feature for anyone who skis a lot and wants their boots to last more than a couple seasons. Nordica uses nuts and hex head bolts to attach the soles. We find the hex head bolts easier to change than the typical phillips head screws found on the Lange RX 120 because the hex heads seem to hold up to wear better. The bolt/nut system provides a very secure attachment and does not run the risk of stripping the plastic of the boot like other replaceable sole systems.

Shock Absorbing boot boards from the Hell and Back H2 and the Tecnica Cochise 120.
Shock Absorbing boot boards from the Hell and Back H2 and the Tecnica Cochise 120.
The Full Shock Eraser shock absorber works well to dampen the vibration from hard packed snow conditions. An adjustable rear spoiler and cuff canting will allow a boot fitter to easily dial in the perfect alignment for your legs entering the boot. As noted above, we did not feel a noticeable difference while skiing when we used the flex adjustment going back and forth between Hard and Soft. It is advertised that this feature can change the boot from 100 flex to 110 flex, but we don't think it does much.

Durability


We had no issues with the durability of the Hell and Back during our review. The replaceable sole system of this boot is excellent, and by replacing worn soles, the user will prolong the life of their boots and increase the safety of the boot/binding interface. Using nuts and bolts reduces the possibility of stripping the plastic material of the boot when changing soles.

Warmth


The small slit on the bottom of the liner will accommodate the wire and heating element for an aftermarket boot heater.
The small slit on the bottom of the liner will accommodate the wire and heating element for an aftermarket boot heater.
This boot is warm, even on long, cold chair rides on storm days. We attribute this mainly to the relaxed, non-constricting fit of the boot and the thick liner. The liner also comes prepared to accept an aftermarket boot warmer. These battery powered units have a heating element that is inserted into the sole of the liner with a small wire that runs to the cuff of the boot where a small battery pack/control is hung on the outside of the boot for easy access.

Best Application


The Nordica Hell and Back H2 is a good choice for skiers with medium-wide feet who are looking to enter the world of stiff, high-performance all mountain ski boots.

Value


The Nordica Hell and Back H2 was awarded our Best Buy Award. We were impressed with the performance of this boot overall and think that it is a good value for the price.

Conclusion


The Nordica Hell and Back H2 is a decent performing, simple, all-mountain ski boot. If you have medium-wide feet and like a stiff, upright boot, this may be the ticket for you to break into the next level, performance-oriented ski boot. It is comfortable, drives big skis, and handles aggressive skiing well. The flex of the boot, although burly, is predictable and left us feeling quick on our feet and well supported. The lightweight material is nice for long days where heavy gear can start to take a toll on your legs when dangling from the chair lift or walking out the ridge for that next lap away from the crowds. Slightly less expensive that some of the other high-end performance boots in this review, we feel it deserves the Best Buy Award for all around value in the Men's All-Mountain ski boot category.

Other Versions


The Hell and Back series is available in 3 options, H1, H2, and H3, with 120, 110, and 100 flex respectively. You can also find this boot in a women's version, the Hell and Back H2 - Women's.


Mike Phillips