For most of us this is where backcountry skiing begins and ends. This style of resort-accessed backcountry goes by many names: slackcountry, sidecountry or simply off-piste. Whatever you call it, bootpacks and skinning time (if indeed there’s any skinning involved) are short, so downhill performance trumps weight.
Boots for walking
Do-all ski boots designed for walking into the backcountry, but with performance for the frontcountry, remain one of the hottest categories in skiing. For skinning and hiking, they have a walk mode, grippy soles and tech fittings. For turning, they’re stiff-flexing and loaded with features. Highlights from this year’s harvest include:
Head Kore 1: Graphene is a super-fibre Head is now using to stiffen up its Kore 1 boot. It also added a Kore 2 that’s a little softer. From $750; headskis.com
Dalbello Lupo: Dalbello adds three new models to the popular Lupo family: a carbon composite 130C, a Factory with a carbon spine, and a super-light Air. From $849; dalbello.it
Tecnica Cochise: The Cochise was a pioneer in this category. To up its game—again!—this year Tecnica gave it a new, more comfortable, lighter and more breathable liner. From $350; tecnicasports.ca
Atomic Hawk Ultra XTD: Buckles never stay done up while skinning and hiking so Atomic added locking buckles to the XTD, a middle ground between all-mountain and backcountry. $899; atomic.com
Rossignol Alltrack: Anyone can find the right boot in this family, with more than a dozen options of varying flexes and features and, unique in the niche, two last widths, 102 and 100mm. $350; rossignol.comalpine boots, Atomic, backcountry, Dalbello, Head, Rossignol, slackcountry, Tecnica