Ski_Mag and Yahoo may earn affiliate commissions on some items promoted through links in the article below. This article originally appeared on Ski Mag
"Backcountry skiing" means different things to different skiers. Backcountry purists log serious miles and thousands of feet of vert to access the best views and most technical lines. These skiers need ski boots that are on the same page: lightweight alpine touring boots that feature tech inserts in the toe, burly Vibram soles for bootpacking and scrambling, and above all, walk-modes that give you ample fore-aft range of motion so you're not killing your ankles and calves on long, steep tours.
Other backcountry skiers are in it for untracked powder--they head out of the resort's backcountry gates to ski and skin lap after lap of pristine snow just beyond the resort boundaries. These skiers don't care so much about how light their equipment is so long as it crushes the downhill. It's for this type of skier that the hybrid backcountry boot category was born.
Hybrid boots bridge the gap between the downhill performance of alpine boots, and the uphill performance of alpine touring boots. They may also feature tech inserts in the toe and walk-modes with an acceptable range of motion for longer tours, but they tend to be heavier because they're made with burlier plastics and materials that increase downhill performance. These boots also often feature GripWalk or Multi Norm Compatible (MNC) soles that may be compatible with the bindings mounted on your resort skis, meaning they can be great one-boot quiver options that you can ski in and out of the resort.
Because we all have different backcountry agendas, we've included 2024's best backcountry boot options in both the hybrid and alpine touring categories. If you're looking for one boot to use inbounds and in the backcountry, peruse our top-rated hybrid options. If you're a dedicated backcountry skier who's looking to shave grams to make big backcountry missions more doable, check out the boots labeled under the "Alpine Touring" category. Whatever you choose, make sure you carefully consider and research your boot/binding compatibility.
For exclusive access to all of our fitness, gear, adventure, and travel stories, plus discounts on trips, events, and gear, sign up for Outside+ today.