Best Downhill Ski Boots For Beginners & Intermediate Skiers (2020 – 2021)

The quality of your downhill skiing boots has the potential to greatly enhance your skiing experience or completely ruin the experience. 

After all, skiing is centered on the point of contact between skis and the snow. 

If your boots are uncomfortable or unreliable, you will find the downhill skiing experience much more difficult and unrewarding. 

Alternatively, if you were to invest the time and effort necessary to pinpoint the perfect new downhill skiing boots, you would get the most out of your time on the slopes. 

Let’s take a look at how to choose between the many different downhill skiing boots and gauge the merits and drawbacks of a couple different options.

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Best Downhill Ski Boots For The Money

Here’s a quick look at some of our favorite options for downhill ski boots this winter. If you’re just looking for recommendations, then we’ve got you covered.

For tips on what to look for in a new pair of downhill ski boots, just keep scrolling to get to our buyer’s guide.

1. Salomon Shift Pro 120 Alpine Touring Ski Boots – Men’s – 2020/2021

This snazzy looking downhill skiing boot performs at the same elite level as its design.  Though this boot is fairly expensive, it is nearly flawless. 

Salomon Shift Pro 120 Alpine Touring Ski Boots

Available in four different sizes with a Belluga black color complemented by eye-grabbing white text, this nifty alpine skiing boot is the cream of the crop. 

Carve some powder with these bad boys on your feet and you will agree they are versatile, warm, reliable and rewarding in nearly every regard.  The boots are built with Sensifit inserts that facilitate foot entry. 

The liners are pre-shaped and seamless, guaranteeing a comfy fit straight out of the box. 

Furthermore, the boots have an anatomical design pre-shaped through the My Custom Fit 3D Seamless pro liners constructed without internal/external stitches to enhance your comfort while on he slopes. 

The liners are carefully designed with soft areas that bend with ease, ensuring the leg’s natural movement is accommodated. 

Add in the fact that the custom shell HD/coreframe inserts are customizable and you have all the more reason to pick up these boots.  In fact, the optimal shell and liner fit for your unique feet can be achieved in as few as 10 minutes.

Pros:

  • Thin walls/shell materials to ensure your feet are close to the heels for the perfect feel and power
  • Enhanced terrain feedback/power through the coreframe inserts maximize downhill performance
  • The Surelock ski/walk design improves cuff mobility
  • 360-degree straps with three-dimensional riveted aluminum buckles along with two hiking hooks keep the feet secure within the boot
  • GripWalk outsoles enhance the fit and feel, empowering you to stand and walk with ease

Cons:

  • Comparably expensive
  • Some skiers might not like the nearly all-black aesthetic

Takeaway: You will be hard-pressed to find significant faults with these downhill skiing boots.  Give these boots a try for yourself and you will agree they are top of the line in nearly every regard.

2. Rossignol Alltrack 70 W Ski Boots – Women’s – 2019/2020

Though these are not the largest or fanciest ski boots, they certainly get the job done.  Featuring an artful design and a comfy fit, the Rossignol Alltrack women’s ski boots are certainly a crowd pleaser. 

Rossignol Alltrack 70 W Ski Boots

Available in four sizes, these boots are designed to enhance the downhill skiing experience.  The boots have releasable cuffs, ensuring you can enjoy an expansive range of motion wen walking. 

The shells are “Generative Design Grid”, meaning they are built to reduce the thickness of the boots’ walls to minimize weight while maximizing power. 

The Dual Core technology featured on the lower shells relies on a comparably hard plastic to enhance torsional rigidity at the point where power is transmitted.  Furthermore, there is soft plastic to enhance the entry/exit. 

If that weren’t enough, consider the fact that these boots were built specifically with women in mind. 

The cuffs are shaped like lovely tulips, proving both aesthetically beautiful and functional, eliminating pressure by the shins and calves for enhanced comfort. 

The 102mm last proves quite comfortable even if you spend the entirety of the day on the slopes.

Pros:

  • 50-degree range of motion when using the boots in walk mode permits optimal touring as you walk while also permitting max power when zooming down the slopes
  • Fully compatible with GripWalk rockered soles for elite versatility when hiking and skiing
  • Liners are OptiSensor T4 W for optimal warmth as well as ankle/foot support

Cons:

  • Not as tall as other boots
  • Some female skiers might not like the use of black as the dominant color
  • The liner’s fluffy section has the potential to gather dirt, dust, allergens and other particles quite quickly

Takeaway: If you are on the prowl for stylish downhill skiing boots and don’t want to make a sizable investment, these boots will serve you well.  Though the extra fluff within the liner is unnecessary, skiers have few other complaints with these well-made boots.

3. Rossignol Alltrack 90 Ski Boots – Men’s – 2019/2020

Specifically designed with downhill skiers in mind, these Rossignol Alltrack boots are built to near perfection.  The icing on the cake is the fact that they are available at a reasonable price. 

Rossignol Alltrack 90 Ski Boots

You are sure to catch the eye of fellow skiing enthusiasts when wearing these beauties on the slopes.  Available in half a dozen sizes, these sleek ski boots are primarily black with red belt buckles and artfully placed trim. 

The boots are built with releasable cuffs that greatly enhance your range of motion, ensuring you can hike with ease. 

These medium flex boots are built with OptiSensor T4 liner material, a last width of 102 mm and four belt buckles. 

The shells are dubbed “Generative Design Grid”, built to keep the thickness of the boot wall to a minimum, ensuring reduced weight along with sufficient power transfer. 

The Dual Core tech added to the lower shells relies on a comparably hard plastic for torsional rigidity reinforcement at the point of power transmission.  Comparably soft plastic is also used to facilitate entry and exit.

Pros:

  • The regular fit has a 102 mm last for a truly anatomical fit that proves forgiving even if you have a unique foot shape
  • There is also a 50-degree range of motion in walk mode that permits efficient touring as you walk and optimal power as you ski
  • Built for use with GripWalk rockered soles to permit easy, comfy and rewarding hiking and skiing
  • The liners provide ample ankle and foot support while proving quite warm

Cons:

  • Built specifically for men as opposed to unisex
  • Those who are aesthetically picky might not like the large Rossignol brand name at the top of the boot in all caps
  • The upper portion of the lining is an ugly grey that is sure to fade over time
  • The buckles could be of higher quality

Takeaway: These are comfortable, functional and affordable downhill skiing boots.  Hit the slopes with these boots, keep them on when hiking/walking and you will be satisfied. 

How to Choose Downhill Skiing Boots

Do not fall into the trap of assuming most or all downhill skiing boots are exactly the same or similar enough to another to the point that in-depth research prior to purchase is unnecessary. 

Choose downhill skiing boots without performing your due diligence and you will jeopardize the quality of your ski vacations and other getaways. 

The bottom line is skiing boots are the sole link between you and your skis so they better be top-notch. 

This means the unique shape and size of your feet matters a great deal when selecting new downhill skiing boots. 

Do not stop searching until you find skiing boots that are perfectly sized and shape for your nuanced feet.

Consider the Skiing Boot Construction

You need a well-constructed skiing boot capable of withstanding considerable force and pressure while zooming down the slopes. 

It is better to err on the side of caution by spending a little more than originally expected to enjoy high-quality skiing boots built to stand the test of time. 

The skiing boots’ outer shell should be hard to provide ample support.  The interior lining of the skiing boot should be soft and thick to keep your feet warm and properly cushioned. 

The Design

The majority of adult downhill skiing boots have a front-entry overlap design.  This means the skiing boot opens in the front similar to hiking boots, secured through upwards of four buckles. 

The alternative is the rear-entry design, typically used for kids’ skiing boots.  This type of boot is accessible through the back, ensuring optimal comfort.

The Right Fit

The downhill skiing boots’ fit is of the utmost importance.  The proper fit makes you comfortable as you traverse the slopes, ultimately helping you perform to the best of your ability. 

Consider the ski boot flex index that gauges the boots’ flexibility.  This evaluation differs by brand. 

However, in general, the greater the flex index, the higher its number and the stiffer the boot is. 

Certain boots are soft while others are comparably firm.  A particularly rigid and stiff boot will facilitate the transfer of power to the inside edge of the skis.

So don’t restrict the entirety of your shopping to the internet.  You should try on several pairs of downhill skiing boots in a store before committing to one. 

Find the perfect fit for your unique feet prior to forking over your hard-earned cash and you will be happy with your purchase.

In general, those who are new to skiing typically prefer a soft flex.  Those who have a little more experience typically prefer medium flex. 

Those with extensive downhill skiing experience usually opt for stiff flex. 

Mind the Liners

The majority of skiing boots have material that is heat-moldable within the liners.  Boots that are on the higher end of the price spectrum tend to have that much more of this material. 

Certain liners even have down-filled toe boxes for enhanced warmth.  There are three primary liners to choose from. 

Thermoformable foam liners rely on the heat of the foot to create a customized fit.  It usually takes about a day of skiing to break in a thermoformable foam liner. 

Custom moldable liners rely on artificial heat to generate an individualized fit.  You can mold your own skiing boot liners at home on your own or have the work done at a ski shop. 

The non-moldable liner is less pliable than other liners.

This variety of liner provides basic padding along with an average level of stability to keep your feet adequately supported while skiing. 

As time progresses, the pressure of your body weight will gradually lead to the forefoot portion of the liner adjusting to the shape of your foot.

Consider the “Last” (Width)

There is a common misconception that the boot length is of the utmost importance and the width is either unimportant or the same in all skiing boots. 

The width of the boot, also known as the “last “really does have the potential to ruin the boot’s comfort or make it feel just right. 

The typical skiing boot manufacturer makes at least a couple models with unique “lasts” to accommodate feet of various widths. 

In general, these widths are grouped as either wide, medium or narrow.  Those that are of the wide variety have expanded interior volume to accommodate particularly wide feet. 

Narrow lasts are built with a forefoot width typically between 97 mm and 98 mm, proving quite narrow through the midfoot.  Such boots are ideal for those with comparably narrow feet. 

The average-sized “last” downhill skiing boots are constructed with a forefoot width of around 100 mm, give or take a few mm. 

Such boots are suitable for feet of average width, providing a relaxed fit across the midfoot as well as the heel.

Boots that are wide last are ideal for downhill skiers with feet that are particularly wide and large in terms of volume.  These downhill skiing boots typically have a forefoot width between 102 mm and 106 mm.

Consider the Buckles

It was not long ago when the general assumption was that all downhill skiing boots should have exactly four buckles. 

Indeed, it is certainly true that the majority of performance overlap boots are built with four buckles.  However, this is not an indication that a boot with four buckles is better than a boot with three buckles or fewer. 

If your foot can be stabilized within the boot with as few buckles as possible, there will be less weight and access will prove that much easier. 

However, opting for a design with four buckles will pay off in the sense that it provides that many more options to loosen and tighten the boots as necessary. 

When in doubt, opt for the downhill skiing boot that provides the optimal fit as opposed to the most number of buckles or buckles that are aesthetically pleasing.

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