Dalbello Panterra 120 Review

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The Dalbello Panterra 120 is a well-designed and effective all-mountain alpine boot. The latest edition features a walk mode that makes it a preferred option for skiers who like to explore hike-to terrain. It’s a good choice for intermediate and experienced skiers who want serious power transfer as well.

Quick Summary

  • Where to buy: Amazon, EVO, REI
  • Best for: Intermediate to advanced skiers who want solid performance, good power, and a comfortable fit. Suits those who like to access hike-to terrain as well.
  • Pros: Sits right in the middle of performance and comfort, making it an ideal sweet spot boot for many skiers. Advanced features like the walk mode and GripWalk soles make the boots excellent for hiking and the fit is roomy in a way that accommodates wide or large feet.
  • Cons: The boot may cause some sizing issues for those who have a normal fit. The roomy limits the Panterra 120 from reaching a true high-performance standard.
  • The Alternatives: Dalbello Panterra 130, Technica Mach1 HV 120, Atomic Hawx Prime 100

Why Trust Me

Born and raised in the mountains of Colorado, I’ve been skiing almost as long as I’ve been able to walk. I’ve skied all over the world and have decades of experience skiing on, testing, and reviewing different skis and skiing equipment. I demoed the Dalbello Panterra 120 for a few days last season. Below you will find my detailed review.

Detailed Review

The Dalbello Panterra 120 is a boot that blends both performance and comfort. If you’re searching for that mix, or if you have wider feet, it can provide you with what you’re after. I found the comfort-based fit sacrificed performance and limited what the boots have to offer, but there’s no doubt that they’re built with some additional features, including the flexible and effective walk mode, that add value in the right circumstance.

Fit and Feel

This boot is pretty roomy for an option that’s built for experienced skiers. It has a comfortable fit that can be dialed in when you take advantage of the heat-moldable Ultralon foam liners. Boot liners are a recommended starting point for getting a precise and accurate fit, so take advantage of that feature if you want to use the Panterra 120s to their full potential.

The medium-stiff flex gives the boots a stiff feel without too much rigidity. This is another build consideration that leans towards comfort, and the 120 flex is a good middle-ground for any skier who wants a boot that isn’t as tight as more high-performance options. You can also adjust the forefoot last from 100-102mm thanks to VVF technology built into the front buckle.

There are a few other design elements that stand out in regards to comfort and creating a more personalized fit. They have relief contours at four specific points along the heel and come with adjustable cuffs that give you the ability to change the inclination to meet your preferences. Such adjustments can be subtle, but they give you hands-on control over how your boots fit. That’s always a nice feature.

On-Snow Performance

In the world of ski boots, comfort can result in compromised performance. While the Dalbello Panterra 120 can certainly give you quality on-snow performance, they do fall short of being a high-performance model. However, that’s what they are built for. They hit a niche with skiers who don’t want to deal with the hassle of high-performance boots that can be tight or hard to get on.

For me, performance is always a priority, so I didn’t have much interest in keeping these boots around after my 3 days of demoing them. They are decent at what they do, but I wanted more in situations where quick response and power transfer were needed. I felt like they were slow to react in bumps and at high speeds when I was pushing hard and moving quickly.

While many of the additional features and functions built into this boot are pretty sweet, they do add some clunk and bulk to the boots that I disliked. If you’re looking for a streamlined, high-performance option, these boots will have too many bells and whistles. As an all-mountain option, they do offer decent performance across the board.

Stand Out Features

The Dalbello Panterra 120 comes with some cool features that make them an alluring option for anyone with an affinity towards comfort and creativity. Chief among those is the excellent walk mode that allows for increased flex when you want to head uphill to reach some untracked lines. That hike mode gives you a 50-degree range of motion and you can easily use it to your advantage.

The boots switch from ski to hike mode by means of cuff lock buckle in the back of the boot. Flip it up, and you’re ready to hike. Secure it down and you can get to skiing. The Gripwalk soles are also awesome when it comes to hiking. Whether you’re just walking from the parking lot to the lift line or have your sights set on hike-to terrain, these soles offer plenty of grip and bite to help you reach your destination.

The buckles on the boots are also micro-adjustable to add for a more customized fit. While that’s almost an industry-standard these days, it’s still worth mentioning. The shoes also have a flex control feature that can be adjusted to match your ability or weight.

Price and Value

The Dalbello Panterra 120 is a moderately priced performance ski boot that comes packed with features that further the comfort. If you’re looking for something that will give you a lot of capability all over the mountain, they’re great. I’d recommend them the most for intermediate skiers who haven’t quite discovered the benefits of a tighter fit.

The same traits that make these boots good value for skiers who want comfort and decent performance can hinder their appeal for those searching for high-end performance. If you want a boot that’s built to match the needs of an experienced skier who knows what they want out of a boot, I’d keep shopping.

What I Like

The thing I like most about these boots is their hike mode and other walking features. I’ve been doing the ski boot shuffle since I was a kid and don’t have any problems walking around in stiff skiing contraptions, but when the Panterra 120 was set into hike-mode, I found the effect and experience to be quite enjoyable. I took them up on a ½ mile hike to the top of a bowl with ease.

The Gripsoles more than do their job, and the extra 50-degree of flex you get when in hike mode is apparent. While I wouldn’t want to use these exclusively as a backcountry or touring boot, they are great for any sort of inbounds adventure that you can’t access from the chair lift.

The Panterra 120 is also comfortable and hits a sweet spot between cushion and performance. They have a partially customizable liner that lays the foundation for a quality fit as well as a few other features that work well in combination with one another. If you want a boot that closes in on the best of both worlds, these certainly make a run for the title.

What I Don’t Like

From a high-performance perspective, these boots leave something to be desired. I wanted more out of them under demanding situations and they never quite gave me the feeling that I was in ultimate control of my skis. Sure, I’m picky when it comes to my gear, but I’ve skied in plenty of high-performance boots over the years and I just can’t quite give that distinction to these.

I also found the Panterra 120 to be bulky. While that doesn’t affect the overall performance, it does seem to get in the way of power transfer and response. The wider fit also has something to do with that. Even though it’s all adjustable, I still found my feet moving around inside the boot more than I would have liked.

The Alternatives

If you’re looking for comparable or alternative options to the Dalbello Panterra 120, take a look at the options listed below:

  • Dalbello Panterra 130 – My biggest gripe with the Panterra 120 is that it doesn’t quite live up to the high-performance standard that I prefer. However, the 130 works to close that gap. You still get plenty of comfort and all of the awesome features that cater to hiking, but they also offer more power transfer as a result of their stiffness.
  • Technica Mach1 HV 120 – This is another boot that works for those with wider feet. It’s similar in design, comfort, and performance to the Panterra 120 and has a similar flex and feel. Another solid choice if you want to blend performance and comfort.
  • Atomix Hawx Prime 100 – These boots are a beginner-focused option that will work for skiers who aren’t quite up for more advanced footwear. They have a nice fit right out of the box, and while they won’t instantly improve your abilities on the hill, they will give you a great foundation to build on.

FAQs

How do you switch from ski-mode to hike-mode on the Dalbello Panterra 120?

It’s as easy as flipping a switch. You’ll find a buckle on the back of the boot that you lift up when you want to hike and that you secure down when you’re ready to ski.

Are the liners of the Panterra 120 heat moldable?

They are not completely customizable and are only partially heat moldable. They fall more into the thermo-moldable category of boot liner.

Are these boots good for wider feet?

Yes. These are a great ski boot option for anyone with wider feet. That’s because they have a fit that caters to comfort over performance.

Final Verdict

The Dalbello Panterra 120 is a solid ski boot for those who want something with decent performance and comfort. They come with a great hike-mode system and the comfort they provide is customizable on several different levels. They are also affordable, great for riders with wide feet, and make a good option for intermediate skiers who want to get to the next level.

That comfort does come at a cost, however. The boots will not give you the high-end performance that many advanced skiers seek. They can get you all over the mountain, but if you want the best of the best to aid in your abilities, I’d recommend something else.

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