Ski touring is hard work, but it allows you to reach untouched lines that other skiers only dream about. If you want to explore this fantastic on-snow experience, you’ll need boots explicitly built to handle the demands of the backcountry.
I’m Christine, and I created TheSkiGirl.com to share my love of the sport with other skiers all over the world. I’ve been on many amazing ski tours over the years, and I know what to look for in the best equipment and boots for touring.
The Scarpa Maestrale is my pick for the best ski touring boots. This model has been popular with serious touring skiers for years, and the latest model builds off an already great foundation. They are lightweight and effective going downhill as well.
I’ll give you a few other great options to choose from in this post. Every model you find here is built for the unique conditions and demands of ski touring and spending lots of time in the backcountry.
Time to skin up and get after it.
Who Should Get This
Alpine touring ski boots are designed for one thing – alpine touring. If you are after long adventures in the backcountry that involve hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and even rock climbing, with a great run as the reward, then these are the boots for you.
The shoes found here are very lightweight but still provide enough support to give you control over your skis. They are also designed for long-distance adventures in the snow and need to provide plenty of comfort and warmth.
If you only plan on skiing at a resort or have mild backcountry aspirations, you probably don’t need alpine touring ski boots. While they are great to have in your arsenal if you are a serious backcountry adventurer, these boots are not geared towards the amateur or beginner skier.
Do you need special ski boots for ski touring?
Getting ski boots specifically built for ski touring will help you go uphill a lot more effectively than using regular alpine boots. You can technically use regular boots for touring, but I would not recommend it at all.
How do ski touring boots work?
Ski touring boots give you a lot more flexibility than regular alpine ski boots. This is very useful when skinning uphill because you can get more power out of every step. Touring boots are also a lot lighter.
Can I use touring ski boots for downhill?
You can, but if you are only skiing at the resort. Touring boots are built to be lighter and more flexible, which comes with a tradeoff in downhill performance.
Can you use normal ski boots for touring?
Technically yes, but I don’t suggest doing so if you are going on a tour that is even somewhat strenuous. Standard boots are built for downhill performance and will hold you back when you want to skin uphill.
Are touring boots more comfortable?
Touring boots are a little more comfortable than regular boots. They are more flexible and lightweight, meaning they fit more like a hiking boot than a ski boot. This is intended to help you get uphill easier.
Can touring boots be used in Alpine bindings?
Usually touring boots will fit in alpine bindings, but there is really no need to do this unless you are in a pinch. Using touring boots in regular alpine bindings defeated the purpose of what they are built for in the first place.
Best Ski Touring Boots: Top Picks
Here are my picks for the best ski touring boots of the year. Every option you find here is built to handle the extreme conditions found in the backcountry while giving you solid downhill and uphill performance.
1. Scarpa Maestrale
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: Lightweight, comfortable, strong carbon fiber construction, 60-degrees of flex
- Flex: 110
- Last: 101 mm
- Cost: $$$$
The Scarpa Maestrale is my pick for the best ski touring boots, and these are built for the rigors of backcountry skiing.
These boots stand out because they give you the best of both worlds in terms of both uphill and downhill performance. 60-degrees of flex gives you the movement you need to get uphill easily, while a 110 flex rating provides downhill response and control.
The carbon fiber design means that these boots are lightweight but also sturdy and durable. They will hold up really well under heavy use and can handle everything the backcountry throws your way.
They are expensive and can be a little challenging to put on and take off, but those are my only negative remarks on an outstanding touring boot model.
2. Scarpa Gea
- Best for: Women’s Option
- Key features: Lightweight, comfortable, strong and durable construction, Wave closure system, Vibram Cayman PRO soles
- Flex: 100
- Last: 101 mm
- Cost: $$$$
The Scarpa Gea is the best women’s specific touring ski boots on the market. These are basically a female version of the Maestrale, and they offer excellent performance uphill and down.
The Gea comes with an Intuition Cross Fit Pro Flex touring liner that gives you a ton of comfort to keep your feet in good shape all day long.
They also have a 60-degree range of motion to give you plenty of flex when you are on long tours, providing you an easy way to get great traction with each step.
A Wave closure system is a unique design feature that helps provide a very secure fit without adding much weight. It uses two buckles and a cable to hold everything in place.
This is another expensive touring boot, and they have a somewhat tight fit.
3. Dynafit TLT8 Expedition CR
- Best for: Ultralight
- Key features: Lightweight, 60-degrees of flex, good downhill performance, one buckle system
- Flex: 120
- Last: 102 mm
- Cost: $$$$
If you are looking for a very lightweight option, check out the Dynafit TLT8 Expedition CR. These boots shed grams while still giving you excellent touring performance.
They have a very lightweight construction that still provides a lot of power transfer and control when you need to head back downhill.
60-degrees of flex gives you the ability to get uphill quickly, which adds a lot of comfort for long days on the trail.
A lighter weight does come with some sacrifices concerning performance, and these boots might not be the best for very technical conditions.
4. K2 Mindbender 120 LV
- Best for: Budget Option
- Key features: Affordable, fast fit entry, heat-moldable, PrecisionFit liner, Powerlock Spyne
- Flex: 120
- Last: 98 mm
- Cost: $$$
Touring boots are really expensive, so if you want a more budget-friendly option, take a look at the K2 Mindbender 120 LV.
These come in at a price that is several hundred dollars cheaper than the other options on the list while still giving you excellent touring characteristics on the mountain.
The boots have a fast-fit entry that makes them easy to get on and off and are fully heat-moldable to give you a customized fit.
They are a little heavier than the more expensive options, but they still do a great job in the backcountry.
5. Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130
- Best for: Versatility
- Key features: Versatile performance, comfortable, memory fit, Prolite construction, GripWalk sole
- Flex: 130
- Last: 98 mm
- Cost: $$$$
The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 is the most versatile touring boots on the list. These will give you outstanding downhill performance in any condition that comes your way.
The boots are lightweight enough to easily be used on long tours while still having a performance-focused stiffness that translates into serious power transfer and response when going downhill.
They have a memory fit design that lets you get a customized fit in a matter of minutes, adding increased levels of comfort and performance. A Prolite construction helps to keep the weight down without sacrificing strength.
Versatility does come with a slight trade-off in uphill performance, and these aren’t the most flexible touring boots around.
What to Look for in Ski Touring Boots
Here are some essential factors to keep in mind when looking for ski touring boots. Pay close attention because you won’t have easy access to a lodge or ski shop deep in the wilderness on a ski tour.
Alpine touring ski boots should be light. You’re not going to want to hike or climb for miles upon miles in any regular pair of bulky ski boots. Good ski touring boots will range from light to ultra-light.
That can pay off in the long run because added weight can slow you down. If you plan on tackling some serious ski touring, you need to consider the weight of your gear. That starts with your boots. Anything in the 5-6 pound range (per pair) is lightweight.
When alpine touring, you need to keep your feet warm and dry. You’re sure to encounter many variable conditions out in the backcountry, including hiking through waist-deep snow, crossing frozen streams, or climbing up a rock face.
If your feet or toes start to get cold, that can lead to a potentially dangerous situation such as frostbite. Make sure to find a boot that has ample warmth for your feet and also wear good socks.
The demands of alpine touring require you to use your feet more like normal boots than ski boots. This means that any touring boot needs to be flexible enough to perform under any circumstance that could occur out there.
Alpine ski tours can last hours, days, even weeks. You need a boot that you are comfortable wearing for extended periods.
While the other factors listed here are very important, comfort is a definite concern while touring because you won’t have a warming hut or lodge to visit if your feet start to hurt. And if your feet get cold in the backcountry, they can be difficult to warm back up.
Useful Tips & Resources
Alpine ski touring is a great experience that I would recommend to anyone who loves skiing, hiking, and nature. That being said, it is not for the faint of heart. Serious safety precautions should be adhered to during any tour.
Take a look at these backcountry safety tips so you can remain out of harm’s way whenever you are ski touring.
If you want to learn a bit about the essential equipment required for touring, check out the video below. For some other general tips to ski touring in general, take a look at this.
The Scarpa Maestrale is my pick for the best overall boos for ski touring of the year. These are a great pair for anyone who wants excellent flexibility in a lightweight package without sacrificing a lot of downhill performance.
If you plan on doing any serious ski touring, you need to have quality equipment. Every boot you find on this list will provide you with just that, and they all come recommended for amateur and experienced backcountry skiers.