In this guide we’ll look at the best ski boots for beginner & intermediate skiers.
We’ve compared comfort, fit, flexibility and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Are The Best Ski Boots?
More Detailed Ski Boots Reviews
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Rossignol Men's Evo 70 Ski Boots Review
The best ski boot for a beginner & intermediate skiers, the Evo 70 is super flexible and has the widest last in the Rossignol range coming in at 104mm. This boot is ideal for anyone with a medium to wide forefoot and medium to wide shaft of the leg. It also means your toes won’t feel as cramped as they do in some other Rossignol models.
The boot comes with a strong outer shell which is made of polyurethane that’s designed to last the harsh conditions on the mountain.
Our testers loved the fact that despite it being a flexible boot the outer shell still felt secure and durable, even after a couple of solid days skiing hard. They also found the boot to be specifically comfortable around the ankle, providing much-needed support. They had zero issues when it came to putting on the boot and taking it off. It only took them a few seconds each time.
The insulation fared well and they found they didn’t need any additional boot heaters even on sub-zero days.
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Apex HP-L All Mountain Ski Boots Review
With the HP-L All-Mountain Boot, Apex claims to have developed the comfort of a snowboarding boot within a ski boot. When looking at it, it’s easy to see the similarities to a snowboard boot. The chassis shell is minimal and can be removed or loosened easily when you need to get from lodge to slope. It’s fitted with a BOA system which means your feet will be secured into place in a few seconds. Because of its design, I can confidently say this is the best ski boot for the backcountry.
Not only did one of our testers say that these were the easiest ski boots she’s ever walked in, she even managed a quick jog back to the lodge when she forgot something.
We did notice however that the boots can fit a little small compared to usual Mondo sizing, so it’s worth sizing up. However, it is ideal for someone who requires a narrow last and hates the usually uncomfortable feeling of ski boots.
We tested the boot in freezing conditions and on a sunny day and found our feet to be warm enough in both situations. With three levels of flex, they make the best ski boots for intermediate skiers.
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Salomon Men's X Access 70 Wide Ski Boots Review
If you’re conscious about price and want a soft flex boot with a nice wide last then Salomon Men’s X Access 70 Wide Ski Boots could tick all your boxes. It’s the ideal beginner boot to get you used to life on the slopes without feeling too cramped and the liner provided plenty of comfort and warmth for our testers.
The boot also seemed to do pretty well on intermediate groomers, however, that’s where the performance really maxed out. If you’re more accustomed to shredding the blacks then I would recommend a boot that’s a lot stiffer.
Despite their flex, once they were on a few of our testers did find that they struggled to get the boot on at first which could be a minor issue if you’re in a rush on a powder day.
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Apex HP All Mountain Ski Boots Review
The Apex HP All Mountain Ski Boot is the men’s version of the most comfortable ski boot from Apex. However, if you do have a wider last, you may find that once the chassis is on they can feel a little too snug. The good side to this, however, is that you do feel more of a connection to the slope when you’re skiing.
They work great for intermediate to advanced skiers and our older testers found the comfort to be the best they’ve felt in years and got them excited to head on the slopes again after many years of discomfort in ski boots taking its toll.
Despite them being completely different from a traditional ski boot and only having what can be described as half a shell, the boot really didn’t flounder in terms of performance. The price is on the high side but worth the investment if it means feet that don’t kill at the end of the day. The best all-mountain ski boot for beginners and intermediate skiers for sure.
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Technica Ten.2 70 HVL Ski Boots Review
The Technica Ten.2 70 HVL is another soft boot with lots of flexibility and a wide last ensuring comfort on the mountain. The forefront width actually sits at 106mm which makes it the best ski boot for wide feet and medium calf volume.
They were surprisingly comfy for a ski boot and a couple of the guys didn’t even need to loosen them at après.
The testers who had flatter feet found this boot to perform better for them and loved the heat-moldable liner which kept them warm all day (and it was pretty cold out). Everyone got the boot on and off really quick thanks to the Quick Instep MAX feature. The plastic around the top of the foot was softer to assist with this.
It comes in at a great price and would be a great starting boot for someone who’s not too used to skiing just yet.
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Ski Boots Buying Guide
Ski boots are one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll buy for the slopes. While we all want to look great on the mountain, finding the perfect ski boot is all about functionality; especially when you’re a beginner. An incorrect boot can be painful, make it more difficult as a beginner and even compromise your safety.
The Components of Every Ski Boot
Ski boots are actually more complex than meets the eye, there’s a lot to consider when picking the right one. I’ve outlined here some of the basics of what you should look out for and consider when buying a new pair of ski boots.
Types of Ski Boots
There are typically four types of ski boot; alpine boots, which can also be known as downhill ski boots, cross country boots, Telemark ski boots, and alpine touring ski boots. For the purpose of this article, we’re focusing on traditional downhill skiing so will only be looking at alpine/downhill boots.
Comfort & Fit
The fit of a ski boot is one of the most important factors as it can completely alter the way you perform on the slope. Obviously one of the biggest issues is that all feet are not made equal, especially if you’re as unlucky as I am and have one foot that’s about half a size smaller than the other. This, alongside a particularly skinny ankle, means purchasing boots can become a bit of a nightmare for me.
If you experience this, once purchasing your boot it would be worth your while to seek out a quality boot fitter to get some custom orthotics and heat molding; I discuss these later in the article.
Ski boots are measured in Mondopoint sizing, usually shortened to Mondo. You can check out a comparison table here to see what your Mondo size will be. Essentially, it is the size of your foot in cm so it’s always good practice to measure your feet and see if you get a similar size to what the chart is telling you.
Stiffness & Flex
The flex rating is represented by a number and depending on this, your boot will either be classed as soft flex, medium flex or stiff flex.
Soft flex boots usually have a rating of 80 or below for men and 70 or below for women. Boots with a softer flex are good for beginners or more experienced skiers who tend to stick to the groomers. This is because you have less control of your skis in this boot.
Medium flex boots have a range of about 85-105 for men and 70-80 for women. They’re designed for intermediate skiers and have a better response to the slight movements you’ll make on your skis. Most people are able to carve the slopes with medium flex boots and work well on moguls and ungroomed runs. If you’re a beginner but feel you’ll progress quickly, a medium flex boot could be the right choice for you.
Finally, stiff flex boots are super responsive and are designed for experienced skiers who want to ski aggressively on the slopes and provide added comfort for landing large jumps. Ratings for these boots are usually above 110 for men and 85 for women.
Width & Last
Next, you need to think about what width your boots need to be. The width and height in the part where your foot sits in the boot is known as the ‘last’. Narrower boots with less volume around the foot have a smaller last whilst wider boots have a larger last. With each different brand, the last can vary but they usually fall into the following categories; narrow, average and wide. Lasts are measured using something called the forefront width which measures the largest part of the front of the area of your foot. The volume of your foot is how high it rises in the midsection and the hindfoot is the back section of the foot where the heel is.
Narrow lasts usually have a forefront width of 97-98mm with a midfoot volume that is very slender. Average lasts come in at approximately 100mm at the forefront with a medium-sized midfoot volume and wide lasts are the largest, usually measuring at around 102-106mm in the forefoot with room for a high midfoot volume.
Footbeds & Custom Orthotics
Footbeds are insoles that go inside the liner of your ski boot to support your arch better. Even if it’s not something you notice on a day-to-day basis, once you start skiing, without the correct support you will notice it, especially if you’re a beginner. Personally, I have a high arch but I’d never worn insoles before I started winter sports. It was life-changing and I’m thinking of getting some custom orthotics designed for me for the upcoming season.
A good footbed will evenly distribute the pressure that’s put on your foot which isn’t just a game-changer for comfort, you’ll see the difference in terms of performance too as there’ll be more of a connection between your body, boots and skis.
Trim-to-fit footbeds are ideal when you’re first starting out. If they work then perfect, there’s no need to upgrade. I have found Superfeet to be my preferred brand in this instance. If you end up looking for something that’s more custom fitted to your foot, you can get heat-moldable footbeds for less than $100 in most cases. However, prices can go all the way up to $250 or more when additional customization is required such as adding cork and foam layers to the initially molded footbed.
Heat Moldable Ski Boots
The best ski boots will come with the ability to be heat molded. The great thing about this is, even if you buy your boots online, you’ll be able to take them into most ski shops and they will mold them for you for free.
It’s the liners inside the boot, not the shell, that gets molded. But what exactly is the purpose of it? Well, not only is it more comfortable, it gets rid of the empty space in your liners meaning your feet will stay warm even in the coldest of environments and your foot will be held in place much better than with older styles that aren’t able to be molded.
Nowadays, a lot of ski boots have a walking mode which makes getting from your hotel room to the gondola and getting up and down steps that little bit easier. There’s usually a switch at the back of your boot which can loosen the cuff area making it much easier to walk. I highly recommend getting boots with this feature. If you’re thinking of venturing off into the back or side country too, having a walking mode will be really beneficial.
Common FAQs Surrounding Ski Boots
How Should Ski Boots Fit?
When you first try on your new ski boots they should fit snugly. Though there’s a fine line between that and being completely uncomfortable and unwearable. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to wear thin ski socks when trying them on and your toes should touch the end of the boot without curling over or being crushed. If this is happening, then they are too big. They will feel a little odd, and won’t be as comfy as normal shoes, but once you’re in your skis you will find the discomfort eases.
How to Put on Ski Boots
Putting on ski boots used to feel like an Olympic sport in itself. You’d have to wrestle for several minutes to try and get the boot on your foot. Nowadays, however, they’re much easier to put on.
The easiest way to but them on is stand up and ensure your ski socks are pulled up high. Then insert your foot into the boot on a 45-degree angle; this method should involve minimal wrestling time. When fastening, do the top first (the ones around the shin) and then fasten the velcro strap. Next, fasten the bottom. The bottom fastenings don’t need to be as tight as they’re there to This video should help if you’re struggling.
How to Break In Ski Boots
When you first buy ski boots they may feel a little uncomfortable and you’ll need some time to break them in. It’s good practice to walk around the house in them before your first trip to the slopes and when you do put them on, try to tighten them a little more than you normally would. Experts have mixed opinions on how long you should try to wear them for around the house but I visited a boot fitter recently who recommended around 10 hours; obviously not all in one hit.
After your first 4 or 5 days on the slopes, you will have become accustomed to them and they’ll feel much better in action.
How to Store Ski Boots
After everywhere it’s good to air your ski boots out so they don’t get too smelly. If you have a proper boot dryer that’s best. If not, place them by the fire to dry out and if it’s easy to remove your liners do this too. Once they’re dry, store them in your boot bag.
At the end of the season, it’s a good idea to wash the shells with some mild detergent and wipe down the liners with a warm cloth. Once they’re fully dry, and put them in your boot bag and put them in a cool dry place.
The Verdict: What’s the Best Ski Boot?
All the boots we listed here were more tailored to the beginner or intermediate skier, apart from the Apex HP All-Mountain, which was tried and tested by some of our more advanced skiers. Nevertheless, the flex was still pretty low on that boot and if you’re looking for something much stiffer and super-advanced, I would consider getting a boot we didn’t feature on the top 5 such as the Salomon X-Pro.
The award for the best all-rounder boot has to go to the Rossignol Evo 70. For beginners and intermediates, it comes in at a great price and is flexible and comfortable even after long, cold days on the mountain.
The best women’s ski boot from this list has to the Apex HP-L just because of the comfort and the BOA technology making it quick and easy to fasten. It’s changing the way women ski the slopes and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the brand.