PHOTOS: JP Van Swae
From bootpacking in the Sierras to traversing knife-edge ridges in the La Sals and ripping sled laps in Alaska, we took a trove of the top boots slated for 2017, cinched them up, and rode them in all types of terrain, through various scenarios. With no time for foot fatigue or wimpy, soft boots, these models stood above the rest.
Vans Ferra – $240
This new model wowed our testers with its perfect mix of flex and support. The dual-lacing system secured in a snap to create a custom fit, and testers found the rubber sole with geometric tread cushioned hard landings and provided stable footing while bootpacking. Mid-level flex prevented feet from cramping and offered reliable support for hard-charging carves. Heat-moldable liners were plush, and the leather outer was waterproof and warm.
ThirtyTwo TM-Two – $310
A staple in ThirtyTwo's line, testers loved the versatility the TM-Two offered in both the park and backcountry. Testers hiked with these boots to the top of the Highlands Bowl at Aspen Highlands in Colorado and also surfed through spring slush with these at Squaw Valley in California. They deemed these boots responsive enough to link fast turns and appreciated the lateral stability for slightly off-balance landings. A foam outsole offered superior cushioning for big stomps and also helped when shredding through chop. The TM-Two's straightforward internal lacing system locked heels down nice and in place, and kept ankles feeling snug and secure. A solid choice for freestyle-oriented freeriders.
Nitro Faint TLS – $300
Boasting a burley Vibram outsole, the Faint features gecko-like traction that boosted riders' confidence when hiking icy ridges. Our testers took these boots out on a couple big missions in the La Sal Range outside of Moab, Utah, and were stoked on how they performed on the multi-mile hike and skin to the summit. Then, when they finally switched to ride mode, one tester said the cushion absorbed chatter when they pointed it through frozen slop. Also a standout feature is the liner, which testers thought was warm and supportive. This boot had testers feeling like they could rally laps all day without achy feet. The beastly boot had a large toe box, which was welcomed by testers with wider feet, and the lacing system locked down tight.
RIDE Cadence – $330
The simple yet high-performance Cadence begged to boost kickers and snake down big lines. While shredding in Aspen-Snowmass' big park, testers liked how they broke in easily but maintained their stiffness. After a few days of use, the Intuition liner formed to feet, and its antimicrobial coating kept foot stank under control. The dual Boa system allowed instant adjustments, which testers found handy, and the internal ankle harness cinched with a simple pull, then stayed tight through multiple sessions of hiking to hit features. This boot is slimmer than some of the other models tested, so our testers deemed it great for gals with slightly skinny feet.