Growing up in Alaska, skiing was a regular weekend activity during my young childhood. But I don’t remember really bonding with my ski boots. Truth be told, I’m super sensitive about the way shoes and boots fit, and I definitely have my favorites for warm-weather and gym wear. Hello, Birkenstock Gizehs and New Balance 574s, I will unabashedly buy you over and over again.
So while I loved skiing as a little kid and have actually been pining to hit the slopes again recently, I sympathized while editing a recently published article on why travel expert Melissa Klurman tried skiing in the Swiss Alps but will never do it again. For one, getting her boots on was painful, just as it had been some 40 years ago when she had a traumatic ski accident. The boots make a difference!
Whether you’re a regular skier and already know all this or are planning a first-time ski getaway and would prefer to invest in your own ski boots, we’ve rounded up five well-loved and highly rated pairs that are worth your consideration. We also share a buying guide that details the specs that will help you get the best ski boots for your needs.
The Best Ski Boots
These new-age-looking boots come at a premium -- and with a lot of fancy features. In addition to the three-ratchet-strap-plus-hook-and-loop-band closure they have in common with the Rossignol boots we’ve featured, these ski boots are lined with highly moldable foam and have a hinged cuff, which allows for their unique “hike mode.”
They’re also made of a softer shell material that contributes to them being lighter and more forgiving. The liner, in addition to its moldable foam, leverages “woolmetal,” a wool and metallic polyester blend that promises warmer feet for the duration of your outdoor time. Like the Rossignol Kelia 50 women’s ski boots, SALOMON’s QST Access 60 boots have what SALOMON calls their Women’s Specific Low Cuff, which more comfortably accommodates the calves and is less likely to irritate the shins.
Finally, these boots are made by SALOMON, a trusted French sporting equipment company. While they have very few reviews, they’re backed by SALOMON’s history, plus its commitment to imagination, espirit de famille, and simplicity in its designs and beyond.
- Made by a well-established French sporting equipment company
- Moldable foam liner
- Extra warm woolmetal used in lining
- Flex and last not listed
- More expensive than other featured options
- Wool might be a deterrent for some buyers
- 3 ratchet closures
- My Custom Fit Comfort foam liner
- Hinged cuff that allows for unique hike mode
- Brand: SALOMON
- Sizing: Women’s
- Currently available in: 23 to 27.5
Ski Boots Buying Guide
You could just rent ski boots when you get where you’re going. But then, remember that boots can make or break a skiing experience. Having your own boots ensures a trusted fit and a new relationship. Each time you put them on, you’ll remember that last time on the slopes. Ideally, you’ll grow in confidence with this same pair of boots for years to come. Of course, that possibility is predicated on getting the best ski boots for you. Here are a few things to consider as you make your selection.
Most modern ski boots close with ratcheting straps plus a hook-and-loop (often called Velcro, even if it’s not the name brand) band around the top. There’s little variety here, but what can change from boot to boot is the number of ratcheting straps. More straps mean more control over how loose or tight your boots are from spot to spot. If you want to have greater control over your fit, consider a boot with more ratcheting straps rather than fewer.
A higher boot cuff means a more locked-in feeling. Many women’s-fit boots have lower and wider cuffs to more comfortably accommodate the calves and avoid irritating the shins. Of course, this also means less support on the slopes. While ski boot sizing has its own numeric system which isn’t gendered, and some ski boots are unisex, cuff height may be a good reason to opt for gender-specific boots.
Most ski and snowboarding boots are assigned flex ratings. These address how stiff or flexible the boots are. Stiffer boots are more supportive and are typically worn by more experienced skiers taking on more challenging slopes and runs. More flexible boots are more comfortable but aren’t as supportive and could actually be unsafe for the feet and ankles.
Note that flex ratings are not streamlined across brands, so they are essentially suggestions or guidelines, not scientific measurements. All the boots in our roundup are on the more flexible side as they’re best suited to recreational skiers.
Ski boots’ last measurements indicate, in millimeters, how wide they are at their widest point. Typically, the wider the last, the more comfortable the boot will feel. Of course, a too-wide last will result in a sloppy fit, which can be equally uncomfortable and actually unsafe for the feet and ankles. More experienced skiers may train their feet to boots with narrower lasts, but recreational skiers will want boots with wider lasts that will accommodate socks and a bit of movement.
A quality liner will keep your feet warm, and the best ski boots often boast liners that will mold to your feet thanks to high-tech foam. Some liners have wool, which can definitely hold heat, but will be a deterrent for buyers who don’t want animal materials in their boots. Also consider whether you want boots with removable liners, which can speed drying.