Field tested backcountry boots for 2014. Stay safe, have fun.
Scarpa Freedom SL
An impressive 27 degrees of articulation in walk mode makes for easier ups, and then it locks down, metal on metal, for solid downhill performance. A carbon-fiber frame underfoot helps keep the weight down but doesn't impede power: this 120-flex brute ($769) is capable of driving the biggest boards. 7.9 lbs.
Dalbello Panterra 120 ID
Like the AT boots of yesteryear, the Panterra ($750) is a classic three-piece, or cabrio, design. You’ll notice the difference as it flexes. The boot is softer initially, with a gradual stiffening that testers either loved or hated. The lack of tech-binding compatibility is a bummer, and it's not quite stout enough for the fattest skis. 9.1 lbs.
Black Diamond Push
BD’s second-stiffest telemark boot ($659) is no pushover. It was the rare boot that ranked as well for touring performance and walkability as it did for driving powder skis at top speeds, which is why one tester called it "the perfect mix of power and flex." The liner's Boa retention system makes it quick and easy to dial in fit. 8.6 lbs.
La Sportiva Spectre
This über-light boot ($599) features a clever four-buckle system that employs small adjustable cables and mounting posts to shave weight. A huge 60-degree fore-aft range in tour mode makes it the comfiest uphill boot here. While not exactly stiff, it gets an extra bit of rigidity from the stout nylon upper cuff. 6.6 lbs.
Dynafit TLT6 MTN
With a new thermo-moldable liner, larger toe box, and roomier instep, the TLT6 ($750) drew praise for comfort, a luxury historically missing from Dynafit's boots. There’s enough oomph here—especially laterally—to drive lighter-weight fat skis. Switch to tour mode, though, and the ergonomics are unmatched, thanks to a new steel cable closure. 5.4lbs.
K2 Pinnacle 130
Most testers agreed that K2's designed-from-the-ground-up Pinnacle ($850) has the best upper-lower cuff interplay in the business. "No dead spots when I hammer," said one tester. "Easy mode changes." Others cited the Pinnacle's top power strap/buckle, which allows for a wide range of motion. Available in two last sizes (97 and 100 millimeters). Great fit out of the box. 10.1 lbs.
Next Up: The Best Backcountry Ski Boots of 2015