Backcountry skiing can be an unreal experience. Skiing far away from the resort crowds and liftlines will leave you wondering if you ever want to be inbounds again. You need good ski boots if you’re going to take advantage of every backcountry opportunity.
I’m Christine, the founder of TheSkiGirl.com. I’ve been skiing for nearly my entire life and have tried most of the different styles. I’ve been on many backcountry trips over the years and know what to look for with high-quality ski boots and other equipment.
The Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro is my pick for the best backcountry ski boots of the year. This model has everything you’ll need for extended tours and gives you the best of both worlds with uphill and downhill performance.
In this post, I’ll give you a handful of other great options for backcountry boots. Each model is designed with the specific needs of backcountry skiers in mind, and they will help you find fresh tracks deep in the wilderness.
Let’s skin up and get out there.
Who Should Get This
Backcountry ski boots, including all the ones listed here, are designed and engineered for the backcountry. This type of boot is typically a bit more flexible and forgiving from a walking and hiking perspective to allow backcountry skiers to hike, skin, and mountaineer to any location.
That being said, they are not for skiing inbound groomers and are pretty specific to the backcountry. If you plan to ski in-bounds, you will want to look for a different ski boot style.
While it’s possible to use this style on more mellow skiing pursuits, straight alpine skiers or racers need a stiffer design with better response underfoot than backcountry-specific models.
Are backcountry ski boots different?
Yes, backcountry ski boots are different than regular alpine ski boots. Backcountry boots are built to be more flexible to allow you to hike or skin more easily to access backcountry terrain. They are also a lot lighter.
Can you use regular ski boots for backcountry?
Technically, yes. But I would not recommend using regular boots if you want to venture into the backcountry often. Regular boots can work in a pinch or on a small tour, but you need the right equipment if you’re going to get deep into the wilderness.
Top Picks of Best Backcountry Ski Boots
Here are my picks for the best backcountry ski boot models currently available. Every option here is highly recommended.
1. Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: Great backcountry performance, CAS shell, light-fit liner, forward lean adjustment, lightweight magnesium buckles
- Flex: 130
- Weight: 1320 grams
- Cost: $$$
The Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro (review) comes in at the top of the list for backcountry ski boots. Overall, this is a great model and offers supreme performance on uphill ascents while still giving you plenty of downhill response.
The boots are built utilizing a CAS shell that is designed to match the natural shape of your feet for a custom fit that moves with you when you are skiing uphill. It also makes them pretty comfortable.
They also have a Light Fit liner that is both comfortable and supportive. It comes with laces to give you extra support and has a breathable membrane that helps keep your feet dry when working hard in the backcountry.
The Zero-G has lightweight magnesium buckles and a Vibram rubber sole to help you get a good grip when hiking or skinning.
These boots are really expensive, but if you want the best backcountry option, it’s the price you’ll pay.
2. Atomic Backland Pro Women’s
- Best for: Women’s Option
- Key features: Women’s specific cuff, memory fit, 3D Platinum light liner, Prolite construction, Energy Backbone
- Flex: 95
- Weight: 1030 grams
- Cost: $$$
The best backcountry ski boots for women is the Atomic Backland Pro Women’s. These feature a women’s specific cuff that is designed to create adequate calf support for enhanced performance.
The boots also come with a Memory fit that uses heat-moldable tech to give you a fully customized shell shape. This is great for advanced levels of performance that will pay off in technical situations.
A 3D Platinum light liner enhances customization and comfort to another level and is also very breathable to help your feet stay supported and dry.
Prolite construction keeps the Backland Pro very light, and this is important because every ounce counts when you are headed uphill.
They also have an energy backbone that helps to add response and power transfer while keeping everything flexible and light.
With a flex of 95, these are not quite stiff enough for expert-level performance, but they should still have you covered in most on-snow situations.
3. K2 Mindbender 120 LV
- Best for: Wide Feet
- Key features: Good for wide feet, solid performance uphill and down, fast entry fit, PrecisionFit Pro liner, Powerlite shell
- Flex: 120
- Weight: 1675 grams
- Cost: $$$
If you have wide feet, you’ll want to take a look at the K2 Mindbender 120 LV for all of your backcountry pursuits.
These have a slightly wider last than the average backcountry option, making them extra roomy without sacrificing much performance.
They also have a Fast Fit Entry that lets you get into and out of the boots with minimal effort, another feature that is good for wider feet.
A PrecisionFit Pro liner gives you heat-moldable customization that provides plenty of comfort and support when you are fully strapped in.
The PowerLite shell helps to keep the boots in the lightweight category, even though they are a little bulkier to accommodate wider feet.
These are the heaviest option on the list, which is a downside for anyone looking for ultralight backcountry equipment.
4. Scarpa F1
- Best for: Lightweight Option
- Key features: Very lightweight, Grilamid shell with carbon core, good range of motion, Boa fit system, Vibram UFO sole
- Flex: 95
- Weight: 1260 grams
- Cost: $$$
The Scarpa F1 is the best option for anyone looking to keep everything light when going deep into the backcountry. This is the lightest model on the list and one of the lightest backcountry boots you can find.
This is made possible thanks to a Grilamid construction with a carbon core that gives you enough stiffness for downhill performance while shedding grams so you can excel uphill.
These boots also have an impressive 62-degrees range of motion, so you can hike or skin for hours without them holding you back.
A Boa fit system gives you plenty of control when it comes to a customized fit. With the twist of a dial, you can adjust the tension in seconds.
The F1 also comes with a Vibram UFO sole that offers excellent grip and traction in the snow or on your skis. It’s also another lightweight feature.
The 95 flex rating is on the soft side, so these do sacrifice a bit of downhill performance to stay lighter in weight.
5. Dalbello Lupo AX 120
- Best for: Hybrid Performance
- Key features: Versatile performance, Contour 4 design, Kinetic response tongue, low cuff hinge point, 67-degree range of motion
- Flex: 120
- Weight: 1780
- Cost: $$$
The Dalbello Lupo AX 120 offers impressive hybrid performance that will allow you to venture into the backcountry while holding up at the resort as well.
They also have a stiffer flex of 120, which is great for skiers who want advanced downhill performance characteristics. And they still give you a 67-degree range of motion when you want to head back downhill.
A Kinetic response tongue helps increase performance to another degree, while the Lupo air liner keeps your feet comfortable and cushioned wherever you ski.
A low cuff hinge point helps the boots stay flexible when walking or skinning, despite having a higher flex. This is a key aspect of the versatile performance that the Lupo AX 120 offers.
The boots are also equipped with GripWalk soles to help you hike or skin without slipping and sliding around.
This is the heaviest option on the list and will also be too stiff for some intermediate skiers.
How to Choose Ski Boots for Backcountry
Here are some critical considerations to keep in mind when shopping for the best backcountry ski boots to meet your needs on the mountain.
If you’re looking for a backcountry ski boot, flexible design and construction are highly important. Backcountry situations require long periods of hiking, climbing, and other activities where your boots need to function more like regular boots than anything else.
Flexibility is key in allowing a balance between skiing and other activities. It is also more comfortable. A stiff backcountry ski boot can lead to long days with painful feet.
Since you’ll spend large amounts of time in backcountry ski boots when you’re not skiing, you’ll need to make sure they are comfortable. A moldable liner is a great step towards reliable comfort, and many backcountry ski boots add more comfort than their alpine counterparts.
You want a boot that feels snug and secure, but it should also offer more comfort than a regular alpine ski boot.
You should also consider weight when choosing a backcountry ski boot. The heavier the boot, the more taxing it will be to hike in. Modern backcountry ski boots have improved their technology and materials to create lightweight options that don’t sacrifice performance.
One thousand grams is an excellent lightweight boot, with around 1500 grams being the top-end of what most backcountry skiers consider light.
Useful Tips & Resources
Backcountry skiing is an amazing and unique way to experience the sport, but it does come with added safety concerns that you will not see at a ski resort. You need to make safety your number one concern in any backcountry skiing situation to prepare for any variable conditions.
In general, you never want to go out into the backcountry alone, and you want to be ready for shifting conditions. Here are some other safety tips that you should be aware of if you aren’t already.
Also, avalanches are a real danger in the backcountry. You should be informed on the basics and know how to avoid or navigate potential avalanche dangers. Check out this video for more avalanche safety information.
The Tecnica Zero G Pro is my pick for the best backcountry ski boots. This lightweight and flexible model will let you go deep into the wilderness while still providing high-end performance characteristics when you ski back downhill.
All of the models on this list will give you solid backcountry performance. You need to be well prepared whenever you head into the wilderness on skis, and having quality equipment is essential for every backcountry skier.