Need to up your ski boot game? Looking for the best boot for your style? Choosing the right pair of boot can be intimidating and confusing. Never fear - we've researched the market's top 70 models and choosing the best 9 of the bunch to try out on the slopes. These are the best of the best all-mountain models and our testers put them through their paces on deep powder days, smooth corduroy, heavy crud and icy bumps. Our expert female skier team skied run after run to give them the shakedown. We assessed the super important areas of performance for how responsive and snappy these boots are as well as comfort - can we wear them all day, to shred the whole mountain? Putting them on, taking them off, fiddling with features, we did it all. This review is a great guide to choosing the right boots for you, whatever your skiing style and ability.
The Best Ski Boots For Women of 2018
We've updated our review this winter and spring to bring you the latest and greatest women's ski boots. The Technica Mach 1 remains our Editors' Choice, while the Dalbello Kyra is the Best Bang for the Buck. We've included models for each ski level, as well as niche boots that will fit that special place in your heart.
For two years running the Tecnica Mach 105 has blown its competition out of the water in the performance category. This super responsive, high-performance lady ripper boot is our first choice for any day on the mountain. We could feel the Mach 1's instant energy transfer and responsiveness in all conditions, and it always put a smile on our face. This boot is also warm and comfortable, and fully customizable for a perfect fit. We tested the MV (medium volume) version, but it also comes in an LV (low volume) version so ladies with a narrower foot can get in on the action, too. Tecnica's new Women to Women (W2W) initiative has most notably introduced a cool new liner material with Lambswool and Celliant micro crystals to make these boots warm and comfy. This technology uses minerals which transfer body heat into infrared energy, which is said to reflect back onto the foot, keeping your toes toastier. Tecnica also added merino wool to the toe box.
The only drawback we've noticed in these boots is that the MV version is very roomy, especially in the heel area and could use a footbed and some attention from a custom boot fitter. Our tester who does not have a low volume foot was wishing for the Low Volume version of these boots!Read review: Tecnica Mach1 105
It was unanimous among our testers that the Lange RX 110 LV are fantastic at making snappy turns, and they love going fast! With the RX 110 LV, Lange upholds their reputation for high performing, ultra sensitive, and responsive ski boots. When it comes to making those turns, these boots outperform nearly all the other contenders. These could be a great option for an advanced skier or ex-racer who is on the prowl for a snug, high-performance fit but still wants a step down from a racing boot. The updates for this year include A new molding process that enables two different plastics to be injected at once, allowing for stiffness where you need it and softer plastic in areas of the foot which can be more difficult to fit, and updated liners provide better contouring of ankles and heels.
This is a serious no-frills boot for serious skier ladies. The 110 flex of this boot felt softer than both the Tecnica Mach 1 105 and the K2 Spyre 110 so if you're looking for something burlier check those out. However, this boot skis excellent and fits like a glove out of the box.Read review: Lange RX 110
We were excited to hear that Salomon has upped their game in the stiffness department by adding a 100 flex to the X Pro lineup. This super comfortable boot is now a lot more fun to ski and is much more confidence inspiring than previous versions for the more advanced skier. We noticed immediately that the X Pro 100 is a great fit straight out of the box, unlike other boots we've tested. The profile of the cuff and the liner lock your heel in and hug your foot, so you don't feel any sloppiness or heel lift. That combined with the stiffer flex (that was a marked difference from the old 90 flex) created a smooth, easy to control ride. This boot could be a great boot if you don't want to spring for a boot fitter and comes in softer flexes for the less advanced skier.
We haven't noticed many downsides to this boot; it's just not quite as quick to transfer energy for a snappy ride as its big sisters the Lange RX 110 or the Mach 1's.Read review: Salomon X Pro 100 - Women's
The Nordica Speedmachine is built to drive advanced to expert skis and be driven by advanced to expert level skiers all while staying comfortable and warm. The SpeedMachine is a good all-around boot, and our testers enjoyed it. We think it performed well in all categories, keeping us on top of our skis in the bumps and driving stiff skis at speed. It did not quite keep up with its competitors in the performance and feature department and so is not the speediest machine of them all, but still a good all-around boot. They are comfortable and are very easy to get on and off, even when left in a cold car for hours. They have a 100mm last and feel somewhat wide in the forefoot, more so than the Head Dream 100 Women's that claims the same last width.
We noticed some shin bang when skiing the bumps, although it was minor and for those with lower calves, you may need to be strategic about how you buckle this pair.
Read review: Nordica Speedmachine 105 - Women's
The Dalbello Kyra is an accessible boot for intermediate to advanced skiers at an accessible price. We think it is warm, comfortable, and fun to ski, and it has enough adjustment features to tailor-fit many women. It has even, predictable, progressive flex that turns shaped skis with ease. In the adventure/freeride category, this model has a walk mode to facilitate access to side-country and hike-to terrain. These boots have a "soft" and "hard" flex setting. They feel relatively soft for a 95 flex, especially when dialed down to their soft setting, but we still found them pretty responsive and easy to turn. When we turned up the flex setting to hard, we noticed an increase in responsiveness, especially on steep off-piste runs. This could be a good choice for someone looking for a boot that can grow with them in ability.
Dalbello prides itself on its unique and functional three-piece Cabrio design and cites this design as the reason for the excellent performance and comfort of these boots. With its shell, cuff, and tongue, the Kyra's components encapsulate warm Intuition liners, and the tongue creates good power transfer from the boot to ski without distorting or bulging the lower shell.Read review: Dalbello Kyra 95 ID - Women's
The K2 Spyre 110 is a stiff boot for an advanced lady skier. It has a lot of very customizable features in its lining and shell material, both of which are moldable. Our testers think this boot could use some attention from a skilled boot fitter. Our very average feet swam around a bit in the 100mm last version; they also come in an LV 97mm last which may be a good choice if you want a snug fit.
This is an expert's boot, and the 110 flex felt genuinely beefy. You'll need to be forward in these boots to stay on top of your ski. The most remarkable thing we noticed about these boots is the beefy price tag of $750, the most expensive of this bunch.Read review: K2 Spyre 110 - Women's
This cushy cruiser of a boot is built for a woman who is looking for a comfortable ride with a stiffer flex boot. The Head Dream is packed with features and is super customizable. The Dream is not a top performer or the most responsive of the bunch, but it provides an easy, comfortable ride that our testers enjoyed. If you prefer to stand up and let your skis take you for a ride down the corduroy or cruise around in groovy powder like you're in a dream, the Dream 100s may be the boot for you. The shell does not come as high up as other models allowing for a more comfortable fit than some of the other taller boots for those of us whose calves sit lower on our legs.
Performance is not the area where the Dream 100 shined. Our testers think they are okay in the performance department. The Dreams have a "soft and stiffer" flex adjustment. With the stiffer flex setting the boot had a more rigid feel but we didn't notice a significant difference in responsiveness or performance.Read review: Head Dream 100 - Women's
If we had to use one word to describe the sleek Atomic Hawx Ultra boot, it would be Svelte. This super lightweight, low profile, low volume ski boot is extremely svelte and would be a great choice for a more svelte rider. This is why we think it is the best choice for lightweight skier ladies. For some of our harder charging women who are used to a beefy nine-pound boot, the Hawx feel like we're going to break them if we get too far forward. However, we think they are a great choice for a woman who is an expert skier and is on the lighter side, still wants to drive expert skis and wants a boot with a stiff flex, but not as much heft. These boots feel light and nimble, and our testers described them as "springy." They have a narrow, low profile fit and your heel feels locked into place. We think this is a great all-around boot, but better for a lighter rider.
The low profile nature of this boot makes it neither the warmest or most comfortable. Its liner materials seem thinner - so less insulation for warmth, and the liner doesn't protect your feet from the pressure points the shell plastic creates as well and creates pressure points.Read review: Atomic Hawx Ultra 110 - Women's
The Rossignol Alltrack Pro 110s are by far the best looking (or at least most noticeable) boots we tested and even though Rossignol has toned down the crazy colors of previous years the bright blue and pink still stand out. But as our fathers used to tell us girls, looks are not everything. These boots are super comfortable and stay warm all day, but don't perform as well as we would like. This pair feels wider than the advertised 100 mm last, so testers with wide forefeet loved them. For ladies with medium to narrow feet, the Alltrack Pros were too large and felt sloppy, causing us to have to cinch down the buckles to the max.
They also feel softer than their advertised 110 flex, which makes them easy to drive for intermediate to advanced skiers. If you want to stand out while lounging on the deck, these might be for you.
Read review: Rossignol Alltrack Pro 110 - Women's
Women's Ski Boot Buying Advice
Choosing the right ski boot can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. This process is important because boots greatly affect your performance and your comfort, and therefore your enjoyment of the sport of skiing. Some of the first decisions you face are determining what type of boot you want, being realistic with your abilities, and figuring out what features are essential. Finding someone you trust to help you in a store is important — do they know what they're talking about, or are they just trying to sell you the most expensive boot in the store? Unfortunately, this is a particular problem for us ladies. A lot of ski shop dudes assume we don't know much when we enter their store, and we've heard from more than one ripper woman that she has gotten sold something she did not want because she listened to some bad advice.
In this article we want to help you become more informed about what you should be looking for when you are shopping for a ski boot, to help you sort through the flashy marketing slogans to find the essential features that will make a difference for you. Read on to get you started on your epic boot buying journey.
We've included a range of ski boots for the ladies out there - beginner, intermediate, and advanced picks. We've also awarded a Best Buy Winner for the wallet-friendly shoppers out there. The chart below highlights all of the models in our review, but the ski boots with the highest performance to cost ratio can be found toward the bottom right of the graph. Hover over each dot to find out which boot it represents, with award winners being marked in blue.
Types of Ski Boots
The first task is sorting out what kind of skiing you will be doing. Are you going to be jibbing at the park all day, or just cruising down the corduroy? Do you want a boot that is lightweight with a walk mode for side-country skiing, or are you an aspiring racer? Here is a break-down of some of the different types of boots on the market.
Alpine Touring Boots
This category of boots is specifically for people who want to get out into the backcountry, climbing up and skiing down mountains on an alpine touring setup. These boots are meant to be lightweight and have very flexible walk modes. Often performance takes a back seat with these boots because they have been stripped-down for greater mobility and weight savings. There are sub-categories of boots within the alpine touring category, including randonee racing and ski mountaineering styles. We did not test any alpine touring boots in this review. Many companies have been coming out with "freeride" or "sidecountry" boots that are meant for folks who like to venture out from the resort on short tours off the "backside".
This category has many sub-categories, but they are all meant for going exclusively downhill on lift-accessed ski resorts. There are three main categories that all manufacturers have some incarnation of race, all-mountain, and freestyle. Race boots are specifically designed for performance. They are stiffer, have an aggressive forward stance, and have a narrower fit for extreme responsiveness. They are not meant for all-day cruising on the mountain.
All-mountain boots, however, are meant for the average all-day downhill skier. All of the boots we tested in our women's review fall into this category. These boots are for anyone from beginner to expert ability and of all ages and foot types. Some boots lean more towards the race spectrum, and boots that have features meant to make them better for "side-country" adventures, which include a walk mode.
If you are more interested in skiing in the park all day, hucking your meat off of big jumps or sliding rails, you should look into freestyle boots. These boots often have Cabrio construction and extra features for shock absorption. Manufacturers have categories like freeride or big mountain for boots with specialty sport-specific features.
Sizing and Fitting Boots for Skiing
Fit is arguably the most important factor when deciding on a boot for skiing. If your boots don't fit properly, then they won't perform properly --, and you won't want to have them on your feet for long. Depending on your level of ability and what type of terrain you ski, you may want a more relaxed, all-day cruiser fit, or a more snug, aggressive, performance-oriented fit. Below we address some things to consider when fitting your all-mountain boots.
Mondo Point System
Ski boot sizing is measured on the mondo point scale. Basically, mondo point is the length of your foot in centimeters. If your foot is 24.5 cms long, your mondo size is probably 24.5. Shops and boot fitters use a Brannock device to measure your feet accurately. If at home, you can also trace your foot on a piece of cardboard, keeping the pen vertical against your foot to leave a slight border. Then, measure the length from the heel to the longest part of your foot and round off to the nearest half centimeter. If you are an advanced to expert skier, you may want to size down for a performance fit. Most manufacturers make their boots available in half sizes like 27.5 and 28.5. If you fall in between these sizes, remember that it is much easier to make your boot bigger than smaller - it is easy to make modifications to your liner to accommodate your foot, so rounding down is recommended.
The widest part of your foot (the forefoot) is also important to determine. Ski boots come in narrow or (low volume), medium, and wide lasts. Narrow last boots are typically 97-98 mm, medium is usually 100 mm, and wide range anywhere from 102-106 mm. We found in our testing that this number is somewhat arbitrary because some boots that claimed to have a narrow last felt wide and sloppy. These last numbers are generally a representation of the volume of the boot around the ankle and forefoot as well — but not always. Manufacturers do not quantify the volume of their boots so that you can use the last width as a general guide — but the best thing to do if you're not sure about the volume of a boot is to try it on.
Now is the time to realistically assess your skiing ability. The flex rating of a boot indicates how hard it is to push the front of the boot forward, and is usually an indication of how advanced or aggressive a skier is. Flex ratings range anywhere from 30 to 130, though unfortunately these numbers are not standardized across the market, and can vary by brand. If you choose a boot that is the right stiffness for you, you will have lots of fun on the slopes, instead of battling with your boots all day.
Beginners should choose a softer flex boot that will be more forgiving when they make errors, as well as more comfortable and easier to get on and off. Beginner boots' flex ratings range from 30-60. If you are an advanced skier or a little heavier, you may want to go with a boot that has a stiffer flex level and will be a bit more responsive, anywhere from 70 to 110.
Luckily, all the boots we tested come in a range of flexes for most abilities — although they probably start off at intermediate. Reference our chart below for a general gauge of your ability and where you might fall for stiffness.
Tips for Trying on Boots
Downhill boots are inherently difficult to get on. If you are a first-time buyer or are used to an alpine touring boot, do not be immediately discouraged if it feels like you can't get them on. It takes a bit of muscle to get your foot in there — open all the buckles - pull up on the tongue loop, and spread all the wraps of the plastic open — then shove your foot in there. Once the boot is on, tap your heel on the ground to move your foot to the back of the boot and secure your ankle into the heel pocket. Then buckle them up, starting with the lower cuff buckle to lock your heel down and doing up the power strap last.
Stand up — as counter-intuitive as this may seem - your toes should be touching the end of the boot. Once you lean forward and press your shins into the tongue, your feet should move back in the boot, pulling your toes slightly away from the front. It's ok for the toes to lightly brush the front, but they should not be pressing into it. You should also be noticing if your heels lift at all when you lean forward. Heel lift = lousy performance. Your boot liners will pack out a little over time, but it is much more difficult to make them smaller. If your boots are too big already, you may need to size down or try a different style of boot.
Customizing Your Boots
We highly recommend working with a professional boot fitter when choosing or modifying your boots. Or if you order them online, visit a boot fitter in your area to get your boots dialed in. As downhill skiing has become more popular to the general public, boots have become more adjustable and customizable. A professional boot fitter will know all the ins and outs of how to tweak them right for you.
All of the boots in this review have heat-moldable liners. Some are made to provide a great fit right out of the box, and others may need a little more attention to fit your feet just right. We think heat molding capability is an essential feature to look for when buying a ski boot; it will help your boots be much more comfortable. There are a few aftermarket boot liners you can purchase for even more customization, such as SureFoot and Intuition liners.
It is now standard practice when working with a boot fitter to get a custom footbed as well. Custom footbeds will change your boot for the better, providing more support and a snugger fit. They help with comfort, fit, and ultimately the performance of your boot. Manufacturers have started anticipating their customers buying aftermarket footbeds, and as a result, usually, include flimsy place-saving footbeds that we don't recommend using.
Most boot shells have customizable features including different grommets to adjust the position of buckles, adjustable boot boards to change your ramp angle, and flex level adjustments for different skier abilities. If you have strangely shaped feet that are extra wide or have any bone spurs or other issues, a trained boot fitter may be able to "punch" out your boot's shells in problem areas.
Some boots, like theSalomon X-Pros and the Dalbello Kyra ID 95s already articulate problem areas like the navicular and ankle bones to save you a step at the boot fitters.
Other features that can come in handy to enhance comfort, fit and performance include ways to tweak the fit of your boot such as micro-adjustable buckles and flex rating adjustment. Ski/hike modes also come in handy for those long walks across the parking lot, but don't forget to get back into ski mode before you start heading down! Cuff and spoiler adjustments can change the forward lean of your boot, making it more or less aggressive. Some boots also come with cuff alignment or "canting" adjustments meant to correct for either knock-kneed or bow-legged individuals. These are best tweaked by boot fitters for the most accurate adjustments. For a more beginner boot, the number of buckles and cuff height may be less and shorter. Less buckles generally equal less stiffness and more comfort, which is more conducive to learning.
Buying new ski boots is an expensive, time consuming and confusing process at times, but stick with it. Once you get those powder crushing, corduroy cruising, speed demons on the mountain you'll be so happy you put the time in to find the right pair!
— Jessica Haist