Freedom of the Hills

Black Diamond Factor Ski Boot

    Photo: Photograph by Shana Novak

Can one boot serve you equally well at the resort and in the backcountry? Black Diamond's Factor comes pretty darn close. Thanks to its walk/ski mode and a liner that cinches like a snowboard boot (with a nexus of wire cables that ratchet down tight), the Factor dishes up friction-free hiking and skinning on the way up. And while it isn't nearly as stiff as an expert-level downhill boot, its alpine-boot-like overlap construction makes it stout enough to carve high-speed turns on firm snow. Even better, you get two sole options: the standard DIN soles, pictured here, for alpine bindings; or more hiking-friendly ones (sold separately) that are compatible with ultralight alpine-touring Dynafit bindings. If you're looking for one boot that can handle everything you ski, this is it. $730; bdel.com

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