The best ski boots (2019) – the ultimate guide with 10 purchase criteria

The Best Ski Boots (2019) – The ultimate guide with 10 purchase criteria

No matter how good you are, beginner or professional, comfortable ski boots are absolutely necessary. Nothing ruins a good day in powder snow faster than cold or aching feet.

Quick decision support:

  • Good all-rounder for experts – Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S (now on Amazon)
  • Cheap ski boots for beginners and newcomers – HEAD Fx Gt (now on Amazon)
  • For advanced users – Salomon X Pro 100 (now on Amazon)
  • For experienced skiers – Moon Boot Tecnica 101 ski boots (now on Amazon)

The best ski boots

1st recommendation All-rounder for experts – Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S

Atomic Hawx Prime ski boots have always been the primary choice for medium-legged skiers and high standards.

For this season, they have maintained this great fit, but Atomic is constantly working to improve their ski boots and weight.

Importantly, this does not compromise on comfort: the memory foam liner, adjustable forward tilt, and sturdy 4-buckle system are still available.

The Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S requires no additional shoe adjustments at your local ski shop.

With a flex of 120, this is a stiff shoe and therefore less suitable for beginners and occasional riders.

With three different Forward Lean settings and the ability to change the Flex value at the touch of a button, these boots are versatile. They will quickly appeal to advanced skiers who prefer a stiffer and more aggressive stance.

2. Cheap ski boots for beginners and newcomers – HEAD Fx Gt

HEAD’s Fx Gt ski boots are a popular choice for those who like to be on the slopes regularly. A low flex index of “only” 60 makes it easier to enter the world of alpine winter sports.

The ski boot is pleasantly soft, which should be used by beginners and occasional riders. Experienced skiers who need to contact the ski boot and need more stiffness will not be happy with the HEAD Fx Gt. These are better served with models from Atomic (# 1) or Tecnica (# 3).

3. For experienced skiers – Moon Boot Tecnica 101 ski boots

Many brands allow a lot of settings on the ski boot, but only a few go as far as the Tecnica ski boots do.

Her Mach1 boots are a good example.

They adapt anatomically to the shape of your foot and provide a highly customizable lining and an outer shell that can be punched, sanded and fully adapted in a ski shop.

The alpine power of the Mach1 is also not to be despised: with a natural posture and an outstanding power transmission in the models with a cast iron value of 130 or 120, these ski boots are attractive for experienced skiers.

The Mach1 130 is offered in the following models:

  • Low volume – 98 mm,
  • average volume – 100 mm,
  • High-volume strips 103 mm.

4. For advanced – Salomon X Pro 100

Salomon’s X Pro alpine ski boots offer everything we expect from a mid-range model:

  • Comfortable inner shoes,
  • solid support,
  • and supple forward flex.

Advanced or high performance alpinists may want to upgrade to the improved 120 or 130 Flex versions. But above all, the X Pro 100 and the X Pro 90 are a great choice for advanced skiers. It’s no surprise that this is one of the most popular designs on the market.

Thermoformable bowls are one of the latest innovations in the ski boot world, and Salomon is one of the best. It offers 90% of the fit and comfort that used to require a lot of manual work, now it just needs a ski shop with a stove.

Or you do it yourself:

Salomon’s model is called a 360-degree custom shell, so the X Pro can be moved around the foot in all directions.

Ski boots test and 10 purchase criteria

With badly fitted ski boots, there is a risk that the movement will not be properly transmitted to the skis, thereby impairing performance.

But next to all the black painting there is good news.

Ski boots were never more foot friendly than today.

Most new shoes have customizable inner shoes and some even have customizable outer shells. Below you will find our selection of the best ski boots of this year.

Further information can be found in the following purchase recommendations.

1. Ski boot – Flex value and performance

You should start to search for your ski boots Pay attention to the choice of the right flex. Almost every downhill shoe on the market has a flex index number of about 60 to 140.

What is the flex value of the ski boot??

Increasing the stiffness on medium and advanced models will give you a shoe that is not so comfortable, but transfers your power to the bindings and skis more efficiently. Less energy is wasted to bend the shoe forward and the reaction begins instantly.

A preferred stiffness is also related to your body weight, which is why women’s shoes have a lower flex score relative to performance.

Below are general recommendations that give a good overview.

ski experience Beginner Advanced expert
of skiing Carefully For sure Aggressive
exit speed Slowly Medium – Fast Very fast
piste Carving, cross-country skiing Carving, cross country skiing, off-piste Freeskiing, deep snow,
Flex for women 50 – 60 60-85 85 and more
Flex for men 60 – 80 80 – 110 110 and more
Comfort soft – medium medium – stiff stiff – very stiff

2. Ski boot size

The ski boot size is one of the hardest things that you can tackle online.

It is not easy to convert your shoe size into a Mondo size (nomenclature for the ski boot size). The length, width, volume (here measure the clamping height) and the profile must be adjusted so that a ski boot sits properly.

For this reason, we recommend going to a local store to get the size. If this is not possible, find a reputable online retailer and order a few sizes with the expectation that they will probably not fit as you might expect.

The following are the key terms and considerations for ski boot size, so that you get a good basic knowledge:

Mondo or Mondo Point

The boots for men and women are in unisex sizes of Mondo (or Mondopoint) indicated:

Calculate the moon point size – example

You can measure your foot by tracing the outlines on a piece of paper or by marking the bottom of the heel and the tip of the toes.

If your foot is 30 inches long, you have a Mondo size of 30.

Measuring in a ski shop is preferable, as this is just a rough method that can be used at home.

Each manufacturer or retailer offers a size chart that fits the shoe sizes to the ski boot sizes.

Here is an overview of Salomon ski boots:

Adults children
Mondopoint Size (EU) Size (UK) Mondopoint Size (EU) Size (UK)
20.5 33 1 15 24.5 8.5K
21 33.5 1.5 15.5 25.5 9K
21.5 34.5 2 16 26 9.5K
22 35 2.5 16.5 27 10K
22.5 36 3 17 27.5 10.5K
23 36.5 4 17.5 28.5 11K
23.5 37 4.5 18 29 11.5K
24 38 5 18.5 30 12K
24.5 39 5.5 19 30.5 12.5K
25 39.5 6 19.5 31.5 13K
25.5 40.5 6.5 20 32 13.5K
26 41 7.5 20.5 33 1
26.5 42 8th 21 33.5 1.5
27 42.5 8.5 21.5 34.5 2
27.5 43.5 9 22 35 2.5
28 44 9.5 22.5 36 3
28.5 45 10 23 36.5 4
29 45.5 11 23.5 37.5 4.5
29.5 46.5 11.5 24 38 5.5
30 47 12
30.5 48 12.5
31 48.5 13
31.5 49 14
32 50 14.5
32.5 51 15

However, the actual Mondo size may be one or two sizes smaller than indicated in the table.

This is because ski boots are recommended for a tight fit.

Why should new ski boots be tight??

Therefore, it is best if you start with a very tight fit and register.

shoe lasts

The footbed width, also referred to as a shoe last, is another important purchase criterion when Wachlt the right ski boots.

This measurement is based on the width of the forefoot and is expressed in millimeters.

Most manufacturers make ski boots with different last for narrow, average and wide feet.

Some models are available with multiple shoe last options.

It is important not to neglect this part of the fit as there is lateral movement on the downhill and a too loose shoe on the sides will affect performance.

  • Narrow feet – 97-98 mm shoe last
  • Average feet – 100-102 mm shoe last
  • Wide feet – 103 mm + shoe last

Anyone with narrow feet or those looking for more powerful shoes should look in the 97-98mm range.

The average groin length is between 100 and 102 mm for men and 100 mm for women.

These work well for most skiers with normally wide feet.

For people with broad feet, choosing the right pair can be challenging. However, there is an increasing number of shoes made in 103 mm or wider strips.

3. shoe soles

Shoe soles are quite common for alpine use.

They must be DIN certified, which means that they must be able to disengage properly on a downhill descent should you suffer an unfortunate fall.

In addition, they have a uniform shape suitable for all downhill bindings (listed under ISO 5355). Only downhill skiers should avoid shoes that have a rocker sole and are compatible with touring binding. These settings are intended for the description of deep snow settings and do not work with many standardized departure ties.

In your search you will inevitably come across alpine shoes, which are suitable for both touring and Abfahrtsindungen.

If you’re into skiing and want to save some money, you can buy a shoe with a removable / replaceable sole. Remember, though, that this shoe is not optimized for uphill riding. He is heavy and does not swing so naturally when walking.

Multipurpose equipment can be fun, but it’s often worth buying a second or premium model specifically designed for off-piste use.

Replaceable footbeds / insoles

Regardless of choosing the right fit, you may experience discomfort during a full day’s skiing.

This is where the last piece of the puzzle comes into play: interchangeable insoles.

Most downhill boots have a removable insole, similar to hiking boots. Replacing these with a high quality aftermarket sole that better matches your foot profile can really make a difference.

Sidas soles winter 3D

Why buy? Universal insoles for skis, snowboards and every type of downhill.

New insoles provide better back support, more or less volume, and a heel cup that wraps your feet better. Good aftermarket soles can be found at Specialist brands like Sidas.

Another alternative is to have a custom footbed made by a shoe maker (which requires you to be on-site).

This is a costly process, but worth it for people with unusually shaped feet or anyone who drives hundreds of miles every year.

You can call your local ski shop and ask if they make bespoke footbeds.

4. Liner or Boot Liner

Most all-mountain ski boots consist of two independent parts:

  1. one Outer shell made of hard plastic, which provides structure and strength
  2. and a removable liner (boot liner), which offers comfort, support and insulation.

The liner is filled with varying amounts of foam, depending on the type of ski the shoe is intended for.

The right padding in the ski boot

Of the softer foam Does not keep your foot and shin firm during carving and may not adapt to your feet as well over time.

“Firm, but at the same time comfortable” – This strength is preferred by most intermediate and advanced skiers.

As mentioned above, your liner adapts to your feet. So do not be too worried if it feels tight at first (but make sure it’s not too restrictive or your toes do not touch the hard outer shell)..

5. Thermoformable liners

In a ski shop that has the necessary equipment, thermoformable insoles can be adjusted to your feet (styles and equipment may vary by shoe brand).

This is a nice way to make the liner so that it fits right out of the box, even if this is not mandatory for many people.

You can get much of the same fit by wearing the liners in your home or on a few ski days during the preseason. However, it is a useful tool that allows you to set comfort comfortably and quickly.

6. Buckles and belt systems

It is good to know that buckles and harness systems do not vary widely between brands.

The buckle systems of most downhill boots usually follow the same method:

  • two buckles on the foot,
  • one at the bend near the ankle
  • and one on the tibia.

Plastic is cheaper, but more prone to breakage.

Some shoes try to save weight by removing the buckle on the ankle.

However, if you do not necessarily care about the overall weight of the shoe, the supportive four-aluminum buckle design is better.

The powerstrap

Sometimes referred to as a power strap, it is ideal for enjoying the full potential of your shoes – with less weight and more comfort than adding a 5th buckle.

A full range of buckles and a high-quality Powerstrap also help you choose your fit, making it easier to adjust to different leg and calf sizes.

7. Skischuhgewicht

Until recently, the weight of a downhill ski boot was largely ignored (on many websites it is often not even listed by retailers as a specification).

But with the dramatic increase in off-piste and off-piste skiers, and a generally increased focus on the weight in the outdoor equipment world, the resort market is also starting to focus on lightweights.

The benefits of lighter footwear for hill climbing and bootpacking are obvious: you have to move less weight with each step. But also for those who ride the chairlift, this facilitates the control of skis in narrow areas, such as bumps and trees.

The big question mark in this trend towards ultralight equipment:

How much does the lower weight affect longevity?

In the past, lighter shoes required more maintenance, and occasionally there were problems with unpacking the inserts too quickly.

However, if the latest powder snow shoes are an indication, the new departure models will hopefully have a long life.

8. Walk / Hike mode: bauble or worthwhile?

You will see a number of downhill shoes that offer a Walk or Hike mode.

In reality, these modes are best used on the way from the car to the resort because they do not have the freedom of movement and flexibility to really be comfortable for long distances.

In addition, downhill boots are heavier than specialized deep snow and randonee shoes.

Positive is the walk feature for people who mainly ski, but want to have the opportunity to make easy climbing or hiking. If you need more than a few minutes to go uphill then you just have to make a larger turn.

9. Hybrid Downhill / Deep Snow Shoes

It’s no secret that off-piste skiing is on the rise, with many downhill riders adding their skills to an alpine tour.

To make your job easier, there are a growing number of crossover parts that perform well on days at the resort and on tours.

However, if you prefer to use them primarily at the resort, you must make some compromises.

The lightweight construction is much less precise when carving on slopes and the flex is not as smooth as a shoe like the downhill shoe Lange RX. But they are still a great option for those who only want to buy a pair of shoes.

10. Shoe warmth and ski socks

Modern ski socks reflect the improvements in liner technology.

You do not need a thick, durable sock anymore and the market is currently full of reduced options.

Modern shoes insulate better and are far more comfortable, which together contribute to a more pleasant experience.

The best socks are made of either merino or synthetic.

If you do not mind the extra cost, then the Wolloption is our preferred option to prevent odor and regulate the temperature.

Also take enough ski socks – your feet in fresh ski socks will thank you!


Shoes are perfect for getting started with putting together your ski gear.

Firstly, it means hopefully that you get the pair that suits you best. It should also help guide the rest of your purchase considerations.

Quick decision support:

  • Good all-rounder for experts – Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S (now on Amazon)
  • Cheap ski boots for beginners and newcomers – HEAD Fx Gt (now on Amazon)
  • For advanced users – Salomon X Pro 100 (now on Amazon)
  • For experienced skiers – Moon Boot Tecnica 101 ski boots (now on Amazon)

If you choose an advanced shoe, you should choose a suitably aggressive binding and a ski that can deliver the performance the shoe offers.

A stiff shoe transmits the power very efficiently as long as binding and ski can respond to these inputs.

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Christina Cherry
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