Top 10 Best Ski Boots of 2020 (Tested & Reviewed)

In need of new pair of all-mountain ski boots? We tested more than 30 different pairs and below are our 10 top picks. This article also contains an in-depth buying guide and FAQ.
Best Overall
K2 Recon 130 MV
K2 Recon 130 MV
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Best Premium
Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S
Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S
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Best Value
Nordica Cruise 80
Nordica Cruise 80
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Table of Contents

Introduction

Ski boots form the essential connection between your feet and your skis. For this reason, it is important to have a pair that properly mold and contour to your feet while still being protective and comfortable. Besides considering style and size, there are several important considerations that go into finding the best ski boots for you. These include looking at the outer shell, the interior material, and even how heavy the footwear is.

Read on for a brief overview of the features you should consider when shopping ski boots. Before that, let's jump into the top 10 picks.

Top 10 Best Ski Boots (Our Picks)

1. K2 Recon 130 MV Ski Boots

Best Overall
K2 Recon 130 MV Ski Boots
Width: Medium
Instep Height: Standard
Calf Volume: Standard
Flex: Very stiff
Intended Use: All mountain
Warranty: 1 year

Out of all of the ski boots examined, the best overall pair for men is the K2 Recon 130 MV. This pair comes with plenty of stellar features that make them excellent for individuals at a variety of different experience levels. They have medium width, standard instep height, standard calf volume, and a medium to stiff range in flex. These boots are best suited for skiers who are advanced, experts, or pros on the slopes.

Besides these basics, the K2 Recon 130 MV Ski Boots have a PrecisionFit Pro Liner, Powerlite Shell, TPU Heat Moldable Shell, and a comfortable fit around the foot and leg. They are available in several men’s sizes like 27.5, 28.5, and 29.5. The standard model is a striking gray and orange with stiff and reliable buckles. The flex rating is 130, and a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty is included with all products to cover basic wear and tear.

Overall, these men’s boots top the list because they are the most comfortable and practical for regular skiing and trying out new routes on the slopes. They do not wear down easily and remain well-fitted even after months of (ab)use, making them excellent for long term or experienced athletes.

2. Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S Ski Boots

Best Premium
Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S Ski Boots
Width: Medium
Instep Height: Standard
Calf Volume: Standard
Flex: Very stiff
Intended Use: All mountain
Warranty: 1 year

Sometimes you want to spend more money in the hopes of getting a higher quality product. If you are willing to invest to receive something long-lasting and durable, then you can’t go wrong with the Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S Ski Boots. These black and green boots are sturdy and reliable, and they are currently available in sizes 28.5 through 32.5.

Compared to other options, the Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S Ski Boots are of medium width with an average instep height, medium calf volume, and very stiff flex. They are suitable for professional or aggressive athletes who want maximum control on the slopes. Beginners should not wear these boots, but should aspire to the level of control wearers of them have. The official flex number is 120.

Some of the greatest advantages of these boots include:

  • Prolite Technology
  • Energy Backbone
  • True Flex
  • Memory Fit Shell
  • Power Shift
  • 3M Thinsulate Insulation
  • Memory Fit Platinum Liner
  • A 50mm Velcro Strap

Wearers also get to take advantage of a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty which covers basic wear and tear and damage experienced through regular use. However, you would deliberately have to try to damage these as they are tough and downright indestructible.

3. Nordica Cruise 80 Ski Boots

Best Value
Nordica Cruise 80 Ski Boots
Width: Wide
Instep Height: Standard
Calf Volume: High
Flex: Medium
Intended Use: All mountain
Warranty: 1 year

A major issue many individuals have with skiing is it has often been considered an activity for the wealthy. Equipment can be expensive, and this is often an obstacle for those who are middle or lower class. If you want high-quality ski boots without an extravagant price tag, the Nordica Cruise 80 Ski Boots are right for you.

The Nordica Cruise 80 Ski Boots are one of the most affordable budget options on the market but they do not sacrifice quality for a lower price. Instead, they are durable and well-suited for intermediate to advanced athletes looking to improve their skills on the slopes. The overall fit is as follows: medium to wide width, medium instep height, high calf volume, and medium flex. They are designed to allow you to have a natural foot stance with minimal strain on your feet, ankles, and calves.

Some notable features include:

  • An ACP (Adjustable Cuff Profile)
  • A Precision Fit Liner
  • 4 Micro Adjustable Buckles
  • The aforementioned NFS (Natural Foot Stance)
  • High Traction Soles

The actual flex is around 80 and there are four buckles for fitting. A 1-year warranty is included with the footwear so you have extra protection for your feet.

4. Dalbello DS AX 90 All-Mountain Ski Boots

Dalbello DS AX 90 Ski Boots
Width: Medium-wide
Instep Height: High
Calf Volume: Medium
Flex: Medium
Intended Use: All mountain
Warranty: 1 year

Do you want a pair of ski boots that'll remain useful even once you progress past a certain skill level? If so, then the Dalbello DS AX 90 Ski Boots are right for you. This model is suitable for individuals at a broad range of experience levels, including intermediate to advanced skiers. There is sufficient flexibility to accommodate different skill levels and styles and it ultimately feels very comfortable on the feet. The exact flex number is 90, which is about average.

When it comes to fit, these orange and gray boots are once again right in the middle of the standard range. They are medium width, have a high instep height, and medium calf volume. They are available in many different sizes and have durable padding for the interior which keeps the balls of the feet comfortable.

Some notable features include:

  • A My Fit Shell
  • A Power Cage
  • 3D Grip Texture
  • Contour 4 Technology
  • A Bi-Injection Cuff
  • Dura-Grip Replaceable Toes / Heels
  • F4 Aluminum Buckles

As with many other boots, a 1-year warranty is available.

5. Rossignol Speed Rental Ski Boots

Rossignol Speed Rental Ski Boots
Width: Wide
Instep Height: Standard
Calf Volume: Medium
Flex: Medium
Intended Use: All mountain
Warranty: 1 year

Despite the name, you can buy these boots instead of renting them. The Rossignol Speed Rental Ski Boots are a comfortable, versatile option suitable for beginner to intermediate skiers. The design is straightforward and the interior of the boots is reinforced and lined with extra padding to reduce blisters and bunions. The exterior is orange/red and black with modern buckles and a basic appearance.

When it comes to fit, the Rossignol Speed Rental Ski Boots run wider than normal, making them great for individuals with larger feet. The instep height is standard while the calf volume is medium. The actual flex is 90 and a 1-year warranty is included for wear and tear.

Because these boots are so simple, they are affordable and do not include many special features. The only one worth mentioning is the use of Sensor Matrix Shell Technology for the exterior.

If you want to be comfortable while you learn, these are the boots for you.

6. ROXA Element 90 Ski Boots

ROXA Element 90 Ski Boots
Width: Medium-wide
Instep Height: Medium
Calf Volume: Medium
Flex: Stiff
Intended Use: All mountain
Warranty: 1 year

The ROXA Element 90 Ski Boots are made for all-mountain use and feature a sporty gray and orange design that stands out in the snow. One of the most notable features of the pair is the Shock Absorbing Bootboard, which will dampen out vibrations and deliver a smooth ride down the mountain at any speed. These boots are great for intermediate to advanced skiers and they have an actual flex rating of 90. They should not be worn by beginners or experts.

For sizing, the ROXA Element 90 Ski Boots are average across the board. They have a smooth forward flex and great edge to edge rigidity for better control. Some other characteristics worth mentioning are:

  • The I.R. Insta-Wrap Liner
  • The Inverted Toe Buckle
  • A 3 Piece Cabrio Design

The Cabrio design simplifies the process of slipping your feet into the boots while the inverted toe buckle creates a better fit and more stability. A 1-year warranty is available and included with the boots, so don’t worry about having to pay extra when checking out.

7. Rossignol Allspeed 80 Ski Boots

Rossignol Allspeed 80 Ski Boots
Width: Medium-wide
Instep Height: Medium
Calf Volume: Medium
Flex: Medium
Intended Use: All mountain
Warranty: 1 year

The Rossignol Allspeed 80 Ski Boots are a good choice for beginners and intermediate skiers because they are flexible, easy to adjust, and can be heated and molded for a custom fit. The boots are designed to grow with the wearer and adapt to your skills, as seen by the included flex adjustment feature.

For fit, the Rossignol Allspeed 80 Ski Boots run average across the board with medium width and medium instep height. The cuff is higher than expected but still comfortable, and the actual flex has a measurement of 80.

Some other features worth mentioning include:

  • Sensor Blade Shell Technology
  • OptiSensor Liner
  • Flex Adjustment
  • Thinsulate Insulation

The insulation is a significant asset since it keeps your feet warm but takes up little space, so you have more wiggle room while wearing the boots. Plus, a 1-year warranty is included, and you can adjust the amount of flex as needed to accommodate your athletic progress.

8. Dalbello DS MX 65 Ski Boots

Dalbello DS MX 65 Ski Boots 2021
Width: Wide
Instep Height: Medium
Calf Volume: Medium
Flex: Soft
Intended Use: All mountain
Warranty: 1 year

The Dalbello DS MX 65 Ski Boots are a personal favorite for intermediate to advanced skiers because of their rigidity and durability. While they are not the most comfortable, they have adequate padding and feature great support. Plus, the Hyperlite material will reduce the weight to give you more riding fun with less leg fatigue. The boots are excellent for all-mountain skiing and remain versatile and dynamic after months of constant use.

When it comes to fit, you will be pleasantly surprised. The Dalbello DS MX 65 Ski Boots are wide with a high instep, making them excellent for larger athletes who have trouble finding the appropriate size. The actual flex rating is 65, and these are one of the only pairs of ski boots that were made to be walkable.

Some other great features are:

  • Overlap Construction
  • Contour 4 Technology
  • Dura-Grip Replaceable Toes / Heels
  • Super Comfort Liner
  • A 1-Year Manufacturer’s Warranty

9. Salomon QST Pro 120 TR Backcountry Ski Boots

Salomon QST Pro 120 TR Ski Boots
Width: Medium
Instep Height: Standard
Calf Volume: Standard
Flex: Very stiff
Intended Use: Side Country / Backcountry
Warranty: 1 year

The Salomon QST Pro 120 TR Ski Boots are a great choice for advanced to expert skiers who are willing to invest more money to receive a quality product. These boots are durable and long lasting with significant comfort features like motion fit and the patented EndOfIt Tongue.

The fit of these boots is standard across the board with a high single cuff. The actual flex is 120 and these are once again one of the only pairs of boots which are suitable for walking in addition to skiing.

Some more notable features include:

  • 360 Degree Custom Shell
  • TwinFrame2
  • My Custom Fit 3D Pro Liner
  • Motion Fit
  • 24mm Oversized Pivot
  • 40 Degree Range of Motion in Walk Mode
  • Premounted with Touring Pads
  • DIN Soles are Included in the Box

Wearers should note a 1-year warranty is included from the manufacturer.

10. Nordica Speedmachine 120 Ski Boots

Nordica Speedmachine 120 Ski Boots
Width: Medium
Instep Height: Medium
Calf Volume: Medium
Flex: Very stiff
Intended Use: Side Country / Backcountry
Warranty: 1 year

The Nordica Speedmachine 120 Ski Boots are a beautiful green and black pair of footwear designed for advanced to pro level skiers. They include some special features like Nordica’s Tri-Force Construction which reinforces the spine and sole of the boot to improve responsiveness and control. Although expensive, you cannot find boots which allow greater flexibility, range of motion, and control when hitting top speeds.

When it comes to fit, the Nordica Speedmachine 120 Ski Boots are average across the board. The actual flex is 120 and the design features a dual cuff. You will receive a 1-year warranty with the footwear.

Some key features include:

  • An Infrared Customizable Shell
  • 3D Cork Fit Liner
  • Primaloft Insulation
  • Weather Shield
  • Extra Grip Sole

Ski Boots Buying Considerations

Ski boots are not like regular boots and should not be treated as such. Instead, they are more complex and have several features that need to be considered if you want to ski in comfort and style.

In particular, pay close attention to the size, fit, length, width, and stiffness of the footwear. If you are struggling to find a pair that meets your needs, it is possible to visit a professional boot-fitter for feedback and recommendations.

Boot Size

Ski boots are measured on a scale called Mondopoint, which is based on the length of your foot in centimeters. Individuals coming from a country that does not use the metric system need to pay extra attention to make sure they get the proper size.

You can determine your Mondopoint size by using a vertical surface like a wall. All you need to do is press your heel against it with your toes flat and pointing out. Using a ruler or tape measure, measure the length of your foot in centimeters. This will be your indicated Mondopoint size.

Below, you'll find a table that'll help you find the right size for you based on your US, Euro or UK shoe size.

ski and snowboard boots size table

Beginner/Intermediate Skiers 

If you fall in this category, you should generally choose a boot close to your Mondo length or slightly longer, even if it feels small. Keep in mind the liner of ski boots compresses after the initial use and will often get wider once you take them on the slopes.

Intermediate/Advanced Skiers 

Individuals here are close enough to beginners that they need to follow the same advice. Pay closer attention to the width and flex of the boots and do not be afraid to get shoes which are slightly smaller than expected.

Advanced/Expert Skiers 

Individuals in this category need a shell size 1/2 to a full size smaller than their indicated size for a super precise and responsive fit, and a stiff or very stiff flex. Try to not buy boots which are too large as this will affect flex and can affect your performance on the slope. People at this level often work with boot fitters for the best results.

Ski Boot Fit

Ski boots width/last sizing guide

Ski boots should have a snug fit without cutting off circulation in your legs and feet or causing painful pressure points, especially around the toe box. It is normal to feel slight to moderate pressure on your longest toes when the boot is buckled and your leg is in an upright position. In fact, this is usually an indication that the boot will be the right size after some use.

It is also normal and expected for ski boots to be looser after a few days on the slopes. This means if you want the perfect pair of boots, it is best to choose ones which are a little too small at the shop. You can make the boot stretch, but you cannot make them shrink. For the best fit, wear a thin sock. All ski boots have internal insulation which will keep you warm, so don’t worry about sock thickness.

Last or Width

One element of ski boots which often surprises the inexperienced is how length is not the only measure you can use to find the best fit. Many people choose their boots based on width, also called last. The last of your boot is based on the width of your forefoot and can be found by measuring on a slight diagonal across the heads of your metatarsals. Many boot manufacturers sell based on last and divide their measurements into three separate categories: Narrow, Average, and Wide.

Narrow

Narrow lasted boots normally have a forefoot width of 97 mm to 98 mm, and are quite narrow through the midfoot as well. These boots are best for people with narrow and low volume feet.

Average

Average lasted boots have a forefoot width of around 100 mm (give or take a millimeter). These boots fit average feet well out of the box, and have a more relaxed fit through the midfoot and heel than narrow lasted boots.

Wide

Wide lasted boots are best suited to skiers with wider and higher volume feet, and typically have a forefoot width of between 102 mm and 106 mm.

Volume and Instep Height

Volume usually is proportional to forefoot width. Boots with a narrow forefoot generally have less volume while those with a wide forefoot typically have more space. This is true for the entirety of the boot. Boot manufacturers don’t list volume as a number since it is difficult to measure, so the best way to tell if a boot’s volume is right for your foot is to try it on. This can make shopping online for boots difficult if you do not have experience finding the right fit for you.

Instep height (the bony area on top of and slightly forward of your arch) is another key fit area. Your foot is sensitive and the instep height can determine how well you control your skis. You want to measure your instep and see if it is short, average, or high. Most manufacturers will list their measurements for each category on their website. If they don’t, you don’t have to be too concerned. Instep height is one of the least important measurements and often does not impact comfort or performance.

Flex and Stiffness (For Men)

Ski boot flex rating fit guide

Flex is one of the most important features in ski boots and should not be overlooked. The amount of flex refers to how difficult it is to flex the boot forward while on the skis. The numbers range from very soft to hardcore race stiffness, and they are based on a scale that runs from 50 to 130.

You can determine how much flex your chosen pair of ski boots possesses by looking for a number written on the outside of the boot cuff. However, it is important to note measurements are not standardized across manufacturers. So while one company might claim their boots have a flex of 100, that same amount of flex might be considered an 80 by another. Even more confusing, some businesses will actually use a 1-10 scale to determine flex. This is why it is important to look for descriptive words like soft, medium, stiff, or very stiff.

How Is the Flex in Men’s Ski Boots Different?

When shopping for ski boots, it is best to remember that the flex ratings for men and women are not the same. In general, women’s boots have lower flex ratings because women, on average, are less muscular. For men, a good beginner-intermediate boot will range from 65 to 80 on the flex index. If you are intermediate to advanced, you can expect to buy boots rating from 90 to 100.  Advanced-Expert boots normally are in the 110 to 130 range. There are some race boots which have numbers from 140 to 150, but these are not comfortable for regular use and are reserved for professionals.

Height and Weight

Finally, your height and weight contribute to which flex is right for you. Someone who is short and lightweight will need a lower amount of flex because they lack leverage. Using a stiff boot will impede the natural movement of the body and can be extremely uncomfortable. If you are larger than average, go for a stiffer shoe.

Warranty

One final feature to consider is whether or not the boots come with a warranty. While it might seem strange to take out a warranty on your shoes, ski boots are a deeply personal item and are prone to excessive wear and tear during regular use. If you are a frequent skier, it is best to have at least a 1-year warranty so you do not have to replace your boots on a frequent basis. Even if something does happen, you can get a new pair for free instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ski Boots

Cross country ski boots lined up

1. Can you walk in ski boots?

A common concern for beginners is whether or not they will be able to walk in their ski boots. While many movies and TV shows show people being able to take off their skis and walk down a mountainside, this is often not the case. Unless your boots have been given a ski/walk rating by their manufacturer, you will most likely struggle to walk normally.

2. How do I tell if my ski boots are compatible with my bindings?

Downhill ski boots and ski bindings are universal between the manufacturers, and this statement is true for other types of skiing. For example, if you purchase cross country ski boots, they will be compatible with bindings made for cross country skis (Also read: cross-country skiing equipment). Do not try to cross boots and bindings as they will not fit properly and you put yourself at greater risk of an accident. Most of the above-selected ski boots are used for all-mountain riding so you should match it with a pair of all-mountain skis.

3. How stiff should ski boots be?

The flex rating of your ski boots is the number which tells you how stiff the boots are. People of different experience levels will require varying levels of stiffness. In general, a beginner or intermediate individual needs a flex rating of 60-80. These boots will be soft and more malleable. Someone who is experienced can use boots with a rating of 110-120, which are stiff and allow for greater control.

Conclusion

closeup of ski boots and bindings

The best ski boots are not a spur of the moment decision. There are several key characteristics that can determine whether or not your chosen footwear are right for you. Out of all of the men’s options reviewed here, the best ones are the K2 Recon 130 MV Ski Boots because they are comfortable and durable. They do not wear down easily and can survive even the toughest abuse, making them great for hardcore skiers.

If you want something premium, an excellent choice would be the Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S Ski Boots. Although expensive, they offer great control and rigidity and are excellent all around the mountain. If you are an athlete on the budget, then you can do no wrong with the Nordica Cruise 80 Ski Boots.

James Shaffer

James Shaffer

James is a veteran snowboarder and skier. His passion for snow sport dates back to his early life growing up in Colorado. He spent his early adulthood as a ski instructor around popular locations in Europe but is now back in Colorado.
Published June 25, 2020
Last updated October 15, 2020
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