Gear Review: Black Diamond Prime/Swift Boot

When taking your ski boots on a long trip, you don't want you feet to hate you.

[best for big tours]

The ideal three-buckle boot skis with the responsiveness of a four-buckler but is more comfortable while covering ground. Mile for mile, turn for turn, the Prime (women’s is the Swift, pictured) was our favorite boot for extended multiday tours. It kept one tester’s legs fresh enough—even after an all-day skin with a 50-pound pack to a hut in the Tetons—that she still wanted to ski laps after dumping her pack. They also had enough power, stability, and stiffness to drive a dozen different skis in conditions ranging from windblown sastrugi to calf-deep mush. Assessing the Swift’s uphill performance, our tester raved about features like the pivoting cuff that provides 40 degrees of ankle movement, which allowed ample flex for skinning up steep slopes with the flick of the walk/ski tab at the back of the heel. She loved the plush, comfy liner and the rockered, rubber outsole, especially during a half-mile, skis-off bushwhack through downed timber, uneven rocks, and marshy fields. But she saved her biggest praise for the way the Swift performed when she tightened the buckles on the alpine-style overlap shell and steered into snow that was steep, crusty, and unpredictable. “As a recreational—but aggressive—skier, I can’t imagine needing more support, control, and performance than the Swifts deliver.” $600; 6 lbs. 11 oz. (Swift, 25); m’s 24-30.5; w’s 23-26.5;