Freeride skiing is an incredibly fun and exhilarating experience. There’s simply nothing like venturing off-piste and blazing your own trails. However, it is also a strenuous activity that comes with a range of potential dangers. As such, you need to be prepared.
When picking out freeride gear, you must get a solid pair of boots. Though choosing one option from the bloated market is never easy, this guide analyzes the best freeride footwear on a range of different specs to help explain what makes them so great. If you’re looking to go into the backcountry, the following options are for you.
- Freeriders know the importance of being able to walk in your boots, and that is where the Dynafit TLT7 excels. This boot is light, has a low-friction cuff, and comes with a great range of motion. It also has a special, sturdy construction that helps it stand up to every element you’ll encounter on the slopes. Skiers looking for extra versatility in their freeride boots, or those who plan on spending a lot of time going uphill, should pick the TLT7.
- If you’re looking for a solid freeride boot that expertly balances both uphill and downhill performance, the Scarpa Maestrale RS is the shoe for you. This boot can be used in a variety of situations and is backed by a great fit. Those who want sturdy footwear will appreciate the strong strap and numerous buckles, while the carbon fiber and Grilamid construction will stand the test of time.
- The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120 is a free ski boot built for those who care about downhill performance. These boots are incredibly responsive, allowing you to zip around with ease. They are also sturdy, making them the perfect option for skiers who value stronger footwear. The fit is solid, the insulation stands up to chilly weather, and the construction is some of the best on the current market.
Who Should Get This?
Every single freeride skier needs a pair of well-made boots. Not only will they stand up to the elements, but they also protect your skin and offer excellent insulation. No matter what skill level you’re at or where you like to ski, if you freeride in any capacity the following models will give you great results.
As nice as these boots are for freeriding, they are not necessarily made for other disciplines. If you like to ride on groomed runs or hit the park, there are better options available. Racers will want something different as well. That does not mean these are only good for freeriding, but that more specialized models exist.
Best Freeride Ski Boots: What to Consider?
When getting a ski boot, always pay attention to the flex. Flex measures a boot’s stiffness and denotes who should use it. Simply put, the higher the flex, the more advanced the boot. A beginner should get a flex of 80 or lower, while an intermediate skier should look for a flex between 80 and 100. Advanced skiers should look for anything past 100. That is not a concrete rule, but it is a good place to start.
It doesn’t matter how many features or advancements your boot comes with if it isn’t comfortable. An uncomfortable shoe doesn’t just take away from your time on the mountain, it can cause lasting discomfort that stays with you for days at a time. Always ensure you have the right size and do what you can to get shoes that come with special padding or quality liners.
It gets cold in the backcountry. So much so that your gear must absolutely keep you warm at all times. Though many people overlook insulation when choosing their boots, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your feet nice and toasty. Once you have a good fit and flex, prioritize boots that come with fleece or warm liners. Snug-fitting options also help keep the heat in.
Best Freeride Ski Boots: Our Picks
1. Dynafit TLT7
The Dynafit TLT7 is a versatile freeride ski boot that you can easily use for both uphill and downhill excursions. Not only does it have a great range of motion, it is also flexible, easy to use, and is incredibly durable. It can switch between multiple modes and is one of the lighter freeride boots around. If you value moving uphill, or if you want a boot that won’t weigh you down, this is the best way to go.
What We Like:
- Extremely light
- Easy to use and operate
- Great going both up and downhill
- Versatile, different usable modes
What We Don’t Like:
- Doesn’t have the best insulation
- Basic look
With a lightweight shell and strong carbon fiber construction, the Scarpa Maestrale RS is the best freeride boot for skiers who want a more durable option. These boots are not just sturdy, they are also soft and comfortable thanks to their Intuition Cross Fit Pro Liner. In addition, they are flexible, offer a great range of motion, and comfortably fit most foot sizes. They work on both uphill and downhill as well.
What We Like:
- Lightweight carbon fiber construction
- Offers great range of motion
- Intuition Cross Fit Pro Liner
- Unique strap and buckle design
- Last fits most foot sizes
What We Don’t Like:
- Split boot design makes it hard to put on and take off
Sturdy and attractive, the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120 is a boot every freerider will love. This model, while not the lightest boot out there, is one of the best downhill options around. The unique construction allows for quick, efficient power transfer that gives you better response time and more control. In addition, the boots also have a good flex, and the thick interior liner both fits well and provides you with plenty of warmth.
What We Like:
- A great downhill option
- Sleek, attractive design
- Sturdy, built to stand up to the elements
- Solid fit
- Thick, warm liner
- Can heat mold the shell
- Great cuff articulation
- Works well for walking
What We Don’t Like:
- Smooth sole
- A bit heavy
Useful Tips and Information
When picking up solid ski boots, you need to make sure they fit. That may seem it’s easy, but it’s much more involved than it first seems. If you want to learn more about sizing, check out the tips listed in this quick video.
Freeride skiing is an extremely fun activity, but getting into it is not always an easy process. If you typically ski on groomed runs, the backcountry can seem quite intimidating. However, if you’re properly prepared you’ll have no trouble braving the white, uncharted slopes.
No matter where you ski, you need a good boot. The above options give you the durability and toughness needed for freeriding, while also coming with extra aspects like premium construction, great flex, and warmth.
Picking a ski boot is never a quick process, but narrowing it down to the above models makes the search much easier. No matter what you’re looking for or what type of freeriding you do, the above boots will provide you with excellent results.
Do you freeride ski? If so, what boots do you use for it? Let us know in the comments below!
Joseph Scalise is an avid writer, editor, and snow sports enthusiast who loves to spend his time outdoors. He began his love of writing early on in life and continued to pursue it as he grew older. While his time behind the computer doesn’t get him into the wild unknown as much as he would like, he never misses a chance to head up (or down) a mountain, across a river, or through a lush forest. When he’s not planning new trips, you can always find him typing away on his next project.