The red herring of touring boot features. Many feel that they need the stiffest boot as possible for their needs. Whilst this is somewhat true for heavier / taller skiers who prefer to drive fatter / heavier skis at speed, a lot has to be said about the nature of the flex.
When talking about flex, we have to bring in the buzzword of the ski boot world – progressiveness. This term represents a flex that starts off relatively soft, then ramps up the deeper you flex into the cuff.
Boot plastics used within the boot has a big influence on the nature of a boot’s flex; heavier plastics like pebax and PU offer a markedly improved flex over that of lighter weight carbon fibre, which is frequently identified by a ‘brick wall’ feel to the flex. As always, there are always trade offs to be made in an effort to balance weight with performance.
We’re frequently seeing ski touring boots being compared to slippers, or walking boots Although these comparisons could be seen as a slight exaggeration, we get where people are coming from when they make these judgements – ski touring boot walk modes really have come a long way in the past few years.
The walk mode is simply how the boot disengages itself from a locked-out ski mode, to allow for free cuff mobility. We’ve stated the cuff mobility of each of the boots reviewed in the roundup. This is always a good indicator for how well the boot walks.
Typical downhill ski boots favour a fully-plastic sole unit. These plastic soles offer minimal friction between the boot / binding interface. This lack of friction becomes a problem on ski touring boots, where you can expect to be walking around icy / rocky features in order to reach the top of your descent.
This is where touring boot soles come into their own. Many boots come with a full Vibram (other brands are available) rubber sole that’s able to give you traction through this terrain, while other soles have a rubber / plastic mix that allow them to be compatible with alpine bindings featuring “Grip Walk” certification.
All of the boots we’ve featured in this roundup feature pin inserts. This means they’re compatible with all the pin bindings featured in our ski touring binding roundup.