Ask the Gear Editor: What Type of Ski Boots Should I Buy?

Looking to make the jump from the lift line to the skin track? Go shopping with our gear editor.

Photo: Courtesy

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Q: Dear Gear Editor,

I’m a longtime resort skier who wants to get into backcountry touring this year. I plan on heading into the backcountry occasionally, but will probably spend most of my time doing laps in the resort. What kind of boot should I get?

– Jason, Colorado

Scarpa Maestrale XT
The Scarpa Maestrale XTCourtesy

A: Great question, Jason. Ski touring is a fantastic way to experience wilderness in winter, and hopefully get some good turns in while you’re at it. For folks who have a lot of resort experience—and who most likely won’t be knocking off monster ski tours yet—I recommend getting a boot that feels more like the alpine boot you’re used to. This means touring boots on the heavier and stiffer side of the spectrum; lightweight models for crushing vert, or ones with a ton of flex for uphill mobility, will probably feel mushy in the resort. Go with a boot that has a bit more mass (1500 grams per boot is usually a good place to start) and has three or four good-sized buckles, not the buckle-and-BOA system that some lightweight, modern touring boots have. These boots still won’t be as heavy as alpine boots so you can hit the skin track, but you’ll also be able to stay stable while ripping inbounds. You can also pair them with an MNC (multi-norm certified) binding in the resort for the feel and safety of an alpine binding.

Some good models in this category are the Scarpa Maestrale XT and the Dynafit Hoji Free. Remember, the right boot for you is the one that fits best. And make sure to carry your essential backcountry skiing equipment whenever you head out.

– Eli Bernstein, Gear Editor