Hike and huck, slash and stomp – take your big mountain game to the next level with the best new men’s and women’s freeride boots for winter 2021.
MEN’S FREERIDE BOOTS
Atomic Hawx Prime XTD 130 Tech GW
The Hawx Prime XTD is really something of a hybrid, bringing the snow feel that you would expect from a Hawx-inspired clog, but mated with the Backland’s long cuff travel and beefy freelock 4.0 ski to walk system.
Atomic’s Hawx models have always been a boot fitter’s favourite; out of the box they fit lots of feet well. This year things have improved with the new 100mm last Platinum Mimic liner, pre-shaped to fit before it goes into the oven for final customisation. The liner is also built with flex zones so it moves with you when the cuff is released for a long skin up and uses its 54° of travel.
The ultra-lightweight shell with its friction-free hinge feels quick and agile on the way down with a real short-turn-snap underfoot.
Bottom line: a medium-fitting boot that can cope with just about anything on the way up or down.
SIZES: 24-32.5 | WALK MODE: Y | VOLUME: M | LAST: 100 | FLEX: 130 | WEIGHT: 1668g
Lange XT3 130
Lange has always been known for building high-performance, alpine-orientated boots with a race, or race-like snowfeel, a painted-on fit and the power of a supercharger.
Though Lange has produced freeride boots in the past, the XT3 is almost certainly furthest the designers have even ventured under the ropes.
Lange says that this is the boot engineered to go up and built to ski down. There’s a lot of engineering in there with a unique metal-on-metal cuff lock that mimics the feel of Lange’s bolted cuff on the way down but allows a 53° range of movement for climbing.
With GripWalk soles and tech inserts this may look less like a Lange of old, but it retains the powerful trench-cutting feel of its race-orientated siblings. It’s best skied from the centre with its upright stance.
Bottom line; a bipolar boot, climbs like a tourer, carves like a racer.
SIZES: 24.5-29.5 | WALK MODE: Y | VOLUME: M | LAST: 100 | FLEX: 130 | WEIGHT: 1800g
Salomon’s Shift Pro 130 doesn’t fall wholly into the full-on touring category, but it is a boot for skiers who prefer to earn their turns; and one you’re more likely to find covered in untracked snow than carving on ripplechip groomers.
The Surelock ski/walk mechanism, means you have plenty of cuff travel for the climb up. However it uses much of the core DNA of Salomon’s race-orientated S/Max models with the lightweight Polyolefin|Polyamid shell wrapping a composite insert.
The Coreframe insert cradles the foot and allows the boot to be made light, without the risk of the shell deforming when your speed cranks up to 11 or you’re making crisp short radius arcs.
The Shift Pro also uses the 3D Seamless Race liner which is dense and when heated offers a close to foam quality of custom fit, without niggling from stitches around the toe box.
Bottom line: versatile and light with an alpine feel.
SIZES: 22-31.5 | WALK MODE: Y | VOLUME: M | LAST: 100 | FLEX: 130 | WEIGHT: 1670g
WOMEN’S FREERIDE BOOTS
Head Kore 2 W
Made using the wonder spacedust that is graphene, the Head Kore 2 W is a lightweight freeride boot with a slightly more on-piste feel than some others in this category.
It feels precise and has a broad sweet spot that’s helped by the new cuff design, which uses an integrated power plate, increasing its height and combined with a 50mm power strap gives a bucketfull of power in the middle and end of each arc.
The Kore uses Head’s trademark LiquidFit liner, a system where a gel can be injected, or removed, to fine tune the fit after the liner and shell have been heated.
It’s as close as it’s possible to get to a custom, aftermarket liner without shelling out for one.
A neat trick, borrowed from race boots, is the locking buckles, so that when you’re hiking up it’s impossible to catch and unintentionally open a buckle, leaving you with a nasty shock on the first turn.
Bottom line: light, powerful, lots of clever details.
SIZES: 23-27.5 | WALK MODE: Y | VOLUME: M | LAST: 100 | FLEX: 110 | WEIGHT: 1616g
Lange XT3 90 LV
As with the mens’ XT3 boots, Lange has aimed for a boot that gives more of a nod to getting under the ropes than in the past, yet still retains the powerful snowfeel associated with the brand.
It uses the classic Lange V shape last with a narrow heel and wider forefoot. The shell blends a dual core polyurethane clog with a featherweight Lyftran cuff, sculpted to fit a lower calf muscle.
The two are connected with a metal-to-metal cuff lock and the polyurethane shell retains the ride-the-rails feel that comes with a boot that still carries a race heritage.
The friction-free hinge means that even a lighter skier can press though the full range of movement of the cuff.
It feels strong, powerful and stable on the way down.
Bottom line: Lange with a backcountry twist, but still a Lange.
SIZES: 23-27.5 | WALK MODE: Y | VOLUME: L-M | LAST: 97 | FLEX: 90 | WEIGHT: 1800g
Rossignol All Track Elite 110 LT GW
It’s pink, get over it, there’s more to this boots than its looks.
This is a boot for a strong female skier who wants to ski the frontside and the backside. She wants 50° of cuff travel so she can climb and plenty of ooomph when she tilts onto the edge.
The Alltrack uses Rossignol’s trademark spiders’ web-like Generative Grid construction with material pared away in key areas to slash weight but not performance. The cuff is low and the tulip-shaped rear spolier easily accommodates a woman’s natural calf shape.
With a 98mm last and 110 flex this is a boot for someone serious about precision and more interested on the descent than the climb. It feels quick yet powerful and stable, a hard blend to find.
Bottom line: a boot for someone who can handle just about anything on the hill.
SIZES: 22.5-27.5 | WALK MODE: Y | VOLUME: L | LAST: 98 | FLEX: 100 | WEIGHT: 1530g
Salomon Shift Pro 110 W AT
Salomon’s Shift Pro replaces the quirky QST Pro and it’s fair to say that the freeride design team must have sneaked into the company’s race department with a camera when sketching it out.
It picks up on many of the great ideas pioneered in the S/Max collection.
The composite coreframe stabilises the clog so that when the ski is tilted on its edge power transmission is direct.
It feels quick and agile with none of the compromises that can come with a design that has to work on the way up as well as down.
The seamless liner is dense, but the lack of any stitches means that the foot feels evenly wrapped with no hotspots.
Add to that the oven-ready customisation option and you have a close-fitting freeride boot with a stable feel underfoot and lots of support from the cuff.
Bottom line: responsive and versatile.
£460 | SIZES: 22-27.5 | WALK MODE: Y | VOLUME: M | LAST: 100 | FLEX: 110 | WEIGHT: 1600g
GRAB A COPY OF OUR 2021 GEAR GUIDE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THESE SKIS AND ALL THE OTHER TOP GEAR FOR THIS WINTER.
* It’s a mega 168 page PRINTED AND DIGITAL issue – our biggest yet!
* It features all the best gear for winter 2021 including our EDITORS’ CHOICE and ONES TO WATCH award winners
* There’s BUYER’S BETA GUIDES, INTERVIEWS AND GEAR INSIGHTS from some of the biggest names in the industry
* IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE SKIS – there’s boots, bindings, backcountry accessories, snow safety kit, splitboards, telemark gear, goggles, helmets, poles, packs, avy bags, kick-ass clothing, kids gear and much, much more!
MORE AWARD-WINNING GEAR:
2021 GEAR GUIDE – EDITOR’S CHOICE FREERIDE SKIS
2021 GEAR GUIDE – TOURING BOOTS OF THE YEAR
2021 GEAR GUIDE – EDITORS’ CHOICE BACKCOUNTRY SKIS