The Best Women's Ski Boots
Top 5 Product Ratings
The unicorn of ski boots, the Rossignol Pure Pro Heat is the boot you always wanted to exist but thought was a thing of fairy tales. The integrated heating system was enough to get our attention, but it has much more to offer. It's a quick responsive boot with a very smooth, progressive flex. It will ski anything you ask it to and would like to do so at speed. At the same time, it is subtle enough to perform for finesse skiers. For that reason, this boot can work for anyone from a confident intermediate skier to an advanced or even expert level ripper. You can adjust this boot's flex. And, in its highest settings, it feels much stiffer than its advertise 100 flex.
It's not immediately obvious how to charge the batteries for the boot's heating system, but once you figure it out, it's pretty amazing. The price tag may initially induce sticker shock, but considering the cost of aftermarket boot heaters, it's actually quite reasonable. If you're a hard charger and suffer from chronically cold feet or ski in conditions when mere mortals hide in the warmth of a ski lodge; this is your boot! Toasty toes with no-holds-barred performance, this boot is a game-changer.
Read review: Rossignol Pure Pro Heat
Have you ever experienced that moment of zen on the mountain? That time the stars aligned, your feet were warm, you chose the perfect goggle lens, the perfect pair of skis for the day, and you can perfectly envision your line spooling away from you down the fall line? We felt like this every run in the Nordica Speedmachine 105. This easy to flex boot provides a quick transfer of power from the front of the boot to the front of the ski. We found this boot to be quite lively and energetic. They are so responsive that, at times, we almost felt at one with our skis. The 110 flex felt softer than both the Tecnica Mach 1 105 and the Rossignol Pure Pro Heat so if you're looking for something burlier check those out. However, this boot performs excellently and fits like a glove out of the box (with a footbed of course).
This boot is built for the intermediate Goddess, or for chill advanced skiers. Our heavier and more aggressive testers found this model to be a little soft in steeps and rough terrain. However, when we reined in our bull in a china shop mentality and came back to zen, the SpeedMachine had our backs. The Speedmachine is for the woman who likes to take a read of her terrain and line choices and then proceed with precision over urgency.
Read review: Nordica Speedmachine 105
All our testers agree, the new Lange RX 110 LV boots are fantastic at making snappy turns and love going fast! With the RX 110 LV, Lange upholds their reputation for high performing, ultra sensitive, and responsive ski boots. This year's updates include a new molding process that utilizes two different plastics. They are strategically placed to provide stiffness and torsional rigidity when you need it and leverage and flexible plastic when you have to get into the boot. We also love the smooth, plush liner that contours nicely to our ankles and heels. An asymmetrical tongue facilitates excellent power transfer from our shins to our skis. This updated boot is a much friendlier, more comfortable version. This is a great boot and is ready to accommodate a wide range of skiers.
The 110 flex feels softer than expected. But, using the adjustable flex screws, it's possible to tailor the cuff pressure to your ability. This very much felt like a twin sister to the Nordica Speedmachine 105 with one exception, this model has a shorter cuff, making it a more natural fit for smaller framed skiers.
Read review: Lange RX 110 LV
This burly boot from Tecnica has always been a top scorer in our reviews. If you're the type to ski a boot that feels like driving a race car, this could be the boot for you. It strongly favors groomers, skis with a high-performance feel, and begs to be pushed further and faster on the corduroy. It's smooth and fast, and oddly enough, comfortable. Tecnica has found a very balanced blend of performance and comfort, and we're not complaining. We shredded the gnar and spent days sending it hard, concluding that this is a boot that wants to be pushed. Attention hard chargers who like to stay on-piste, this may be your new best friend.
If you're not accustomed to a stiff boot, this 105 may be a little spicy. It's not the best in choppy, bumpy or off-piste conditions, where it can buck you around. But it's earned its place among the best in an advanced to expert boot category.
Read review: Tecnica Mach1 105 LV
We were all super excited to give this boot a try. Some of our testers are ski instructors and felt like this could be a good option for beginners or students who lacked mobility through their ankles. We were intrigued by the concept and design. Unfortunately, the boot fell short on its promises of comfort and performance.
Apex touts the comfort of this boot, but we actually found it to be less comfortable than most, even after having it custom heat molded. The soft boot is pretty easy to put on, but getting it into the hard plastic exoskeleton is like fighting an octopus. After such a struggle, it was disappointing that it performed so poorly on skis. We say, kudos to the innovation, but this boot gets a thumbs down.
Read review: Apex HP-L
Why You Should Trust Us
Our Expert Panel of reviewers consists of internationally recognized ski coach Meagan Jones and outdoor educator and guide Jessica Haist. Meagan holds both a Level III certification through the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance and a certification through the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation. Additionally, she achieved her Level III Examiner's status with the Professional Ski Instructors of America after moving to the United States. Jessica holds a Master's Degree in Adventure Education from Prescott College in Arizona. Also with a Canadian background, she moved to the US from her native Toronto and now resides in Mammoth Lakes, CA, where she can be found climbing, backpacking, and mountain biking, in addition to skiing.
The first step in testing these boots was deciding what to look for. Three criteria were identified as essential to properly judge a ski boot - fit, ease of use, and performance. Next, it came down to extensive use on the mountain. We went to a lot of effort to examine how well each boot met the requirements of its stated purpose. For example, all mountain boots were skied on every type of terrain the mountain could offer up, while intermediate boots were skied on intermediate runs, but also advanced and beginner runs to look for where their limitations are.
Related: How We Tested Ski Boots for Women
How to Choose Women's Ski Boots
Choosing the right ski boot can be frustrating and time-consuming, but it's well worth the work. This process is vital because a boot is the foundation of everything that happens in skiing. Finding the balance between comfort and performance is paramount. Some of the first steps to determine what type of boot you want is to be realistic about your abilities and to figure out what features are essential to you.
Don't underestimate your knowledge and understanding of your own body, skiing style, and preferences. Sometimes we assume that a stranger who works in the industry knows more about what we want than we do. Arm yourself with the how to knowledge and trust your instincts, there's the perfect boot out there for everybody.
In this article, we will empower you with specifics to help know what to look for when shopping for a ski boot. We're going to dispel myths and make buying a new boot straightforward and simple. We'll also 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.
When we tested these boots on the hill, we didn't pay attention to price, just performance. Their scores reflect this. But we know that price matters, a lot. That's why we point out good values when we see them, awarding a Best Buy Award to the boot that provides the best performance to cost ratio. The Nordica Speedmachine 105 ran away with this prize, offering outstanding value. Just remember to account for the features that are most important to you.
How to find YOUR boot
Trust us — no major ski brand makes a bad boot. What's more important is which company makes a boot that fits your foot and best suits your skiing ability. If you can, demo boots before you buy one. Pick your top three choices and try them all in the same weekend.
If you don't have the time or geography to demo, try to get your feet in a pair. Your fit is a top priority! Ski boots should not feel like a comfortable pair of slippers. If they do, the boot is most likely too big. What feels good right now will likely pack out after a few ski trips and your feet will be swimming around inside those once wonderful new boots. A good fit should feel like a tight hug from your mum.
Mondo Point System
Ski boot sizing is measured on the mondo point scale. You mondo point number 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. 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 snug, 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 sounds weird, but it is easier to hollow out your liner to accommodate your foot than it is to pack it well enough to hold your foot. Your liner will also pack out over time regardless, so rounding down is recommended.
Be sure you invest in an actual ski sock. They are smooth to help your foot slide into the boot and are very thin to keep from packing out your boots any faster than you have to.
Last width refers to the widest part of the ski boot at your forefoot. Ski boots come in low (93-98mm), medium (100-102mm), and wide volume lasts (102-106mm).
This number is not arbitrary, but it is a generalization. Manufacturers do not quantify the volume of their boots. They 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. Some boots are available in multiple volumes, denoted by LV (low volume), MV (medium volume), and HV (high volume). So if you're interested in a boot that seems too wide or narrow, see if the manufacturer makes another version.
Now is the time to realistically assess your skiing ability and style. The flex rating of a boot indicates how hard it is to push the front of the boot forward, and the flex you need or want usually correlates to how advanced or aggressive you are. Height and weight can also affect the flex you choose. Heavier and taller skiers will flex a boot faster than those who are lighter and smaller-framed.
Flex ratings range anywhere from 30 to 130. Unfortunately, these numbers are NOT standardized across the industry. This is frustrating because a 90 flex in one brand may feel like 70 in a second boot and 110 in a third.
Beginners should choose a softer flex boot that will be more conducive to learning a new movement pattern. Learning how to articulate your ankle and pressure the ski from the front of the boot takes time and practice. Even most expert skiers could use training in this area. Beginner boots' flex ratings range from 60 to 70 and below, but again this is a generalization. If you are a little heavier, you may find yourself needing something with a higher flex rating.
The boots included in this review will suit a wide range of intermediate through expert skiers. Although many of these models come in softer and stiffer flexes, we tested mid-range models that are appropriate for the broadest range of women we can help.
Pro-Tip for Finding the Right Flex
The best way to find what flex you need? Put a boot on in a warm room or ski shop. Buckle the boot and the power strap. Now, press the tongue of the boot toward your toes. (This is very important as it pulls your heel back into the heel pocket). If you feel like the boot is flexing as if there are hinges at your ankles, then it's probably a good flex for you. A boot is too stiff when you have trouble pushing the tongue toward your toes and too soft if you feel like it collapses forward rather than letting you press it forward.
The Mighty Power-strap
The power strap. What is this?! It's the most underappreciated performance-enhancing part of the ski boot. I often see folks walking around and (gasp) even skiing with their power strap loose or even undone. This is a critical missing piece of finding your ski boot nirvana. The power strap should hold the tongue of your boot firmly against your shin. This gives you an instant transfer of power from the moment you flex your ankle forward into the front of the boot and prevents you from banging your shin on the front of your boot.
If you want a little extra comfort and performance (or suffer from chronic shin bang), adding an aftermarket Booster Strap to your boot is an excellent idea. This wonderful addition comes in various models, from beginner through expert. They are very easy to install, and most ski shops will do it for you if you don't feel like using a screwdriver.
10 Steps to Get the Perfect Fit
This advice comes directly from boot fitters and ski instructors — people who have likely put more boots on more people than any other humans on the planet. Ski boots used to be hard to put on, but this just isn't true in modern skiing. If you struggle to put a boot on (providing it hasn't been in the deep freeze of your car overnight), it isn't the boot for you. Try again.
A warm boot is a soft boot. If it's hard to flex a boot forward in the ski shop, it's likely too stiff for you. It's unlikely that you will be skiing anywhere with temperatures matching that of a cozy retail store.
- Step 1: Open all the buckles.
- Step 2: Grab the tongue of the boot and pull it OUTSIDE the shell, or at least the side the buckles are on. This opens up the boot, and you should be able to see whether or not there's a footbed inside.
- Step 3: Remove the manufacturer's footbed because it's probably garbage, and put in your own. They're available at most ski shops. They don't have to be custom made, but it's nice if you want to splurge.
- Step 4: Point your toes like a ballerina, and slide your foot into the boot while holding the tongue out of the way as described above. P.S. this is much easier to do standing up.
- Step 5: Adjust the tongue so that it fits around your shin and isn't all jacked up on the plastic.
- Step 6: Starting at the top, close both buckles to the loosest position. Your leg should not feel like it's in a vice.
- Step 7: Grab the power strap and snug the tongue of your boot to your shin so you can't see any room between your sock and the padding.
- Step 8: Now your top two buckles will feel loose, tighten them, but they should still be finger tight (meaning that you're not wrenching on them).
- Step 9: Stand up. (No we didn't forget about the other two buckles, we'll get to those.) Now press the tongue of the boot toward your toes. This pulls your heel back and makes room in your toe box.
- Step 10: Close the two buckles on top of your foot.
You're done! Remember, always tighten your boot top to bottom. You should get the power-strap tighter than any other part of the boot. If this is not the case, this boot probably doesn't fit you. Consider trying on boot with a different last, or widest point.
Customizing Your Boots
Enlist the help of a professional boot fitter. They're geniuses, and we don't know where we'd be without them. All the boot liners in this review (minus the ones wired with heating systems) are meant to be baked in a special oven and heat-formed to your foot.
Professional boot-fitters have been known to work magic. They know all the customizable features of your boot and liner, including canting and micro-adjusting buckles, inside out and can make your boot fit like a glove.
P.S. Consider adding an aftermarket footbed to EVERY ski boot. Most companies assume the consumer will do this and they supply a flimsy, useless piece of foam that gives you zero support.
Buying new ski boots can be an expensive, time consuming and confusing process. Trust your instincts and own up to what you like and where you want to ski. If you don't love skiing bumps or off-piste, take that into consideration. If you do, make sure you get a boot that does too. After all, maybe you're not looking for an all-mountain boot. Maybe you want on on-piste machine that's great at groomers. Regardless, there IS a boot out there that will suit you perfectly. And we want to help you find it.
— Meagan Jones and Jessica Haist