Boot testers are a special breed, capable of enduring the pain of skiing in boots that don't necessarily fit, analyzing the nuances of performance and articulating their thoughts between runs. Laugh if you want, but it's hard work. Most of our testers fall into two categories: former elite-level racers and specialty boot retailers. We like racers because they're technically skilled skiers who are accustomed to being intensely analytical about their equipment, and we like retailers because they know boots and are in touch with the needs of their customers. This year, in the case of each boot, we report which three testers liked it best. It may help you to find a tester you can identify with—age, weight, background, etc.—and see which boots pleased him or her most. Compared to skis, boots play a much more crucial role—for better or worse—in how well you ski and how comfortable you are. But unlike skis, you rarely get to try them before you buy. Let our testers be your consultants.
Dates: April 2—5, 2005
Location: Vail, Colo.
Conditions: Mostly sunny, one powder day
Categories: All-Mountain Expert, All-Mountain Cruiser, Aspiring Expert
Rating Scale: 1-5
Vail Mountain, The Sonnenalp Resort, Colorado Mountain Express shuttle service, HellyHansen apparel, Smith eyewear, Kombi gloves, Bula hats