Best Overall Backcountry Ski Boot
Dynafit TLT7 Performance
Excellent freedom of movement
Easy to use
Limited crampon capability
Not the warmest of warm
The Dynafit TLT 7 Performance
wins our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice for best alpine touring boot because it combines nearly the best uphill performance with downhill performance that exceeds expectations. The TLT 7's 55 degrees of cuff touring mode range of motion, lowest weight in our test, and low friction flex helped make it one of our favorite touring boots. Combine that with ski performance that will get most skiers through most terrain in most conditions, means it's worth everyone's consideration. Icing on the cake for the TLT 7 is the ease of transitions. In a rare move, we granted two Editors Choice awards. As we compared boots and agonized over the scoring metrics, it became clear that two boots would share the highest scores, well ahead of the rest of the pack. Interestingly, these two boots are fairly different from one another. As you compare the TLT 7 to the Salomon Mtn Lab, consider your own apprehensions about your backcountry boot purchase. Are you concerned for the uphill performance, primarily? If so, the TLT 7 is your call. The TLT 7 tours almost as well as a randonnee race boot and skis downhill as well as your average, "typical" AT ski boot. That is high praise and a testament to how far BC ski gear has come.
Read full review: Dynafit TLT 7 Performance
Best Overall Backcountry Ski Boot
Salomon Mtn Lab
Serviceable touring performance
Overall, the Salomon Mtn Lab
comes awful close to the performance scores of the TLT 7. Essentially, they are tied for the top mark. With AT ski boots, compromise is the name of the game. The ideal shoe would climb like a trail runner and descend like an alpine race boot. These attributes, however, are mutually exclusive. In optimizing one, the designers have to compromise the other. As technology advances, and with the best products available, these compromises are ever reducing. In the case of the Salomon Mtn Lab, it skis almost as well as an alpine, resort boot and tours as well as your average AT ski boot. This is unheard of, and oh-so-appreciated. Consumers apprehensive about compromising downhill performance now have a touring boot choice that performs well on the way down while serving very very well on the way up as well. The MTN Lab tours like an average touring boot, and skis downhill like the best around. The TLT 7 skis downhill like an average touring boot, and tours like the best around. You have great choices.
Read full review: Salomon Mtn Lab
Best Bang for the Buck
Dynafit Radical CR
Easy to fit
Decent tour mode
Heavy on the up and flexible while skiing downhill
With the uphill performance of Dynafit's much more expensive boots and serviceable downhill performance, the Dynafit Radical CR
is a great entry to the field at $550. You can buy other AT boots for similar price but those do not tour nearly as well as the Radical. Like Dynafit's other boots maybe the biggest downside is there is a little more "fiddle factor" to get used to these boots, but also like the rest of their line, after a few days of touring you'll get it figured out. The Radical CR is also quite heavy, as compared to boots with this level of downhill performance. At this downhill performance level, for instance, the La Sportiva Spectre 2.0
is a pound and a half lighter, but $200 more. In the end, for new consumers looking for a good deal, the Radical has a great range of cuff motion, durable construction, and serviceable up and downhill performance.
Read full review: Dynafit Radical CR
Best AT Boot for Ski Mountaineering
Atomic Backland Carbon
Light and excellent touring mode
Thin materials are cold and require balanced skiing skills
The best boot for huge days and ski mountaineering objectives. The Atomic Backland Carbon
is a slipper among ski boots. It feels improbably light and nimble with more range of motion than we think most folks have flexibility for. The Backland Carbon, in some respects, is similar to the Editors Choice Dynafit TLT 7 Performance
. When looking at our entire test roster, they both fall into the ultra light category. The TLT 7 skis downhill better, and is a little lighter. The Atomic, though, has a lower-friction uphill mode, has components that can be stripped off for lower weight, and can be used with normal step-in automatic crampons. For these reasons, it steps away from its close competitor when the objectives are more in the ski mountaineering realm. Lastly, setting it apart but narrowing its appeal, the Backland Carbon is the widest fitting boot we tested. Of all the lightweight backcountry ski boots we've ever used, the Backland Carbon has more internal volume. For those with wide feet, this is a good place to start your boot selection and fitting process.
Read full review: Atomic Backland Carbon
Top Pick for Hard Charging Downhill Performance
Lange XT Freetour 130
Excellent downhill skiing
Limited uphill and foot-travel performance
The Lange XT FreeTour 130
was our Top Pick for best downhill-optimized AT boot. For someone who spends most of their time riding chairs or other mechanized access it is a more comfortable boot for short tours, boot packs and sidecountry touring. It is one of the only boots available that will work with tech style touring bindings AND with resort alpine bindings (the resort bindings must be WTR compatible). Even certain human powered users should consider the Lange. Our lead test editor and full-time backcountry ski guide is considering them for day-to-day guiding, where comfort, downhill performance, and warmth have great value. We chose the Lange over the similarly constructed Tecnica Zero G Guide
because the Lange skis downhill a little better and has a more forgiving fit. The Lange seems to fit many feet straight out of the box, while the Tecnica seems to require work for more users.
Read full review: Lange XT FreeTour 130