How We USUALLY Test Boots

We start the boot test process in early winter by working with our brand partners to determine which boots will be tested in each of five categories: Frontside, All-Mountain Traditional, All-Mountain Walk, All-Mountain Freeride and Backcountry. Virtually every boot brand participates in our boot test as it remains the only one like it, worldwide.

Unfortunately, that’s as far as we got this year since the pandemic shuttered ski areas, including our test site at Silver Mt., ID.  Instead we were forced to use DATA and reviews from previous years on holdover models as well as our impressions from skiing new models at on-snow demos held in January and February.

Normally, our test team is comprised of a core group of Masterfit University trained bootfitters and boot sellers who know boots inside and out (and who also are good skiers and have been testing boots for many years). We also invite ski industry professionals like coaches, instructors, patrollers, rental technicians and resort administrative staff to test boots–these are folks that spend long hours in ski boots for many days throughout the season and know what skiers are looking for in terms of fit and performance. On top of that, we have testers that are avid skiers that come to us from outside the industry–doctors, photographers, marketing folks, moms and dads.

Testers on lift with app

Boots are tested using a phone app unique to Masterfit for a variety of elements in five key parameters: Anatomical Fit & Initial Feel, Dynamic Balance, Edge Power & Fore-Aft Support, Quickness & Agility and Convenience Warmth & Features. Within each of those broad parameters testers consider many factors. For example, Anatomical Fit and Feel is broken down into specific sub-sets, like entry-exit, stance, flex feel, closure system and individual fit tension scores for toebox, forefoot, navicular, lateral column, ankle, heel, instep and calf. Good boot testers can evaluate all these elements fairly, even when a boot isn’t necessarily right for his or her foot—and they enjoy it. Yes, strange indeed.

Test board with notes

This year we reduced the total number of boots in the test to offer reviews of only a select crop of new and unchanged models, and as such, we’ve awarded each of these boots our 2021 Editor’s Choice award. To be as fair as possible, we present them in alphabetical order within each category and width. Thanks for checking them out here and be sure to click the link on any model of interest back to its complete review at where you’ll find loads more info as well as which America’s Best Bootfitters dealers close to you will have that boot.

–Mark Elling

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