Nothing feels better than new ski boots after outgrowing your first pair.
Not outgrowing as in your feet are too big, but outgrowing as in you now spend more time skiing than wiping snow off your face.
See, as an intermediate skier, you’re no stranger to the slopes, and choice of ski boots mean more to you than they did when you were a beginner. After all, you’re an advanced beginner or full-blown intermediate skier, and your increased strength and abilities need boots that will catapult you to the next level.
Here, intermediates start looking for ski boots that can support the more challenging runs and maybe off-piste runs where the snow is pristine and untouched to regain the thrill of the sport.
While this new stage inspires more confidence in your abilities to ski and the terrains you can handle, it’s also the easiest time to develop bad habits.
In as much as you need an experienced set of eyes to help ensure all the hard work you put in is helping you and not hurting, the choice of boots is critical. It determines how easy it is to progress and settle into this new level and offers a chance to avoid common intermediate mistakes.
Now, as an intermediate, you might think you’ve outgrown the dilemma of choosing an intermediate boot.
But that’s far from the truth!
Intermediate boots are not just about to fit, comfort and performance. There’s more to that.
But you don’t have to beat about it because we’re here to help.
In the review guide below, we shall look at the top five ski boots that will help you transition into the semi-skilled arena effortlessly.
Table of Contents
The Best Ski Boots for Intermediates For The Money
#1 Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S - Best for Advanced Intermediates
Here at Hobbykraze, we don’t play favorites, but it was hard not to pick the Atomic Hawx Prime as our editor’s choice.
Atomic seems to tick on all the right boxes for ski boots for intermediates and delivers a fantastic performance.
It’s a stiff boot, though, and with a flex rating of 120, it’s stiff for all but the lightest skiers. However, we feel it’s a capable option for different skier types and in varied snow conditions.
But is it the right pick for your skiing needs?
Features and Benefits
Most ski boots are made from plastic, but the Atomic PU feels different and performs differently from other plastics.
First, it’s a durable material and feels more like a world cup race boot that lasts for a long time. I love how it withstands the punishment and abuses of off-piste and corduroy skiing conditions.
The boot’s longevity is awesome, and many users rarely want to get rid of the boot even after outgrowing Atomic. Fortunately, you can extend the boot’s life by replacing the liners.
For its durability, it’s easy to think Atomic Hawk takes a long time to break in. Far from the truth!
My thumb rule is a boot should take not more than ten days to break in, and the Atomic takes less than five days. Excellent.
Overall, the boot’s design is pretty awesome, and Atomic takes durability to a whole new level.
Comfort and Fit
If you’re anything like me, comfort is always a priority, and fortunately, Atomic doesn’t succumb to the comfort issues that many boots do.
The boot feels comfortable right out of the box, and you won’t need aftermarket liners, molding, or boot fitters for comfort.
My favorite comfort feature, though, is the 100mm, medium volume last. It feels spot-on, especially compared to other models that come narrower than their stated width.
The usefulness of this mid-range width is it allows the boot to fit a range of foot shapes. So, whether you’ve wider or abnormally-size feet, you can always find comfort in wearing these boots.
Secondly, it is easy to adjust the included shims’ size underneath the footbed, downsizing the fit for smaller riders.
And that’s not all!
The presence of soft, plush fibers on the tongue of the liner offers a nice cushioned feel, and this is necessary when you’re wearing thin socks as you’re less likely to suffer from sore shins.
I’ve used the Atomic Hawk in some pretty darn and cold conditions, and yet it doesn’t leave my feet feeling numb from cold.
The liner’s quality is nice, thick enough to add warmth to your feet, but not thick enough to be overly bulky.
It doesn’t constrict blood circulation, either, and skiers who often have cold feet will delight using these boots.
While Atomic Hawx is laden with features, but we were particularly impressed by the multiple adjustments that make the boot so versatile.
For example, the flex adjustment lets you to change with the boot’s stiffness or softness. I’m a big fan of this feature as I can “grow” with the boot, changing the flex level depending on my needs.
Atomic Hawk may be stiff for some skiers, but it’s comfortable enough that intermediate skiers will find it useful and can grow their skiing with the boot.
It excels in a variety of conditions, from on-piste, off-piste to unmaintained snow.
However, off-piste is where the boot shows its strength. Hawx offers a stable and predictable flex when making shapes of all sizes in the unmaintained curds and mogul fields.
It doesn’t pretend to be a high-end race-ready boot; it offers expert performance to all users.
#2 Fischer Travers Cs Boot - Best for Touring
Lightweight touring boots are all on the rage, and it all started with Dynamic.
Atomic with their impressive Backland, and Arc’teryx’s Procline later joined them, and we now have Fischer with their Travers CS boot.
The Travers CS Boot is aimed at a touring crowd with weight in mind.
While it has a fantastic walkability, its downhill performance is what standouts for me, thanks to the lean, flex, and power transfer.
Its greatest appeal, though, is the fact that it has no buckles. Instead, it sports a unique bushing BOA system and a single Velectro powerstrap.
Features and Benefits
The first thing you’ll notice when you pick this boot off the shelf is how light they are.
At size 26.5, they come in at a measly 980g.
It’s more than 300g lighter than our top pick, so you can really feel the difference when touring.
The boot lightens your pack, makes touring easier, and this is huge for longer multi-day trips.
Most of the lightweight ski boots share a futuristic style, sporting machine cutouts, and innovative componentry design.
On the contrary, the Travers comes across as simple.
The closure and walk mode are immediately obvious, and the boot doesn’t hide the cable routing or multi-purpose levers.
Sure, I don’t mind my boots looking like part of a spacesuit, but again, something is comforting seeing and understanding every boot’s components. It could potentially make in-the-field fixes quicker and easier.
Made for Walkin’ and Touring
Another thing you’ll notice when trying on these boots is how well you can walk in them. I’ve alpine boots, and they walk worse!
But with the Travers, they walk so well that you’d be tempted not to change them after the end of your ski.
Touring on these boots feels magical. I know I sound like I’m overselling them, but once you walk on them, you’ll know I’m not doing them any justice.
Part of the boot’s great walkability is the 80-degree foot rotation walk mode. I don’t think my ankle is even that flexible.
But the range isn’t even what stands out for me, but how usable the range is. Skiers will find it easier to walk for long and unpleasant routes without feeling overly taxed.
After a few days of skiing on the Travers, I don’t think you’ll want to go back to your old boots.
They’re hands down the most comfortable boots I’ve come across.
With a Boa system that utilizes an exclusive brass roller system to eliminate friction while tightening the lace, you’ll be impressed at how much the boot “hugs” your feet.
I love how the Boa evenly cinches the shell around my foot. Even better, there’re no pressure points or tight spots as you often get with traditional buckles. Instead, tightening the boot resembles tightening a basketball shoe around your foot.
Travers boots are light, comfortable, and optimized for walking.
Does that mean they compromise on downhill performance?
Well, not really.
While I wouldn’t take the boots for drop cliffs or shredding frozen resort chop and debris, I can use them for everything else.
You can use the boots in everything from perfect powder conditions to downhill bush skiing. They’re ideal for use at the ski resort, and you can even perform some groomer laps with them.
#3 Lange RX 120 - All-Mountain Option
The Lange’s RX 120 comes with quality features and focuses on performance fit, qualifying as a classic all-mountain option.
With a last width of 100 mm, these mid-volume boots are the ideal treat for skiers with truly medium-volume feet.
While they’ve the same stiffness as the Atomic Hawx, I love it because they ski well because of it.
But that’s not the reason we choose Lange as our runners up.
We included it in our list of the best intermediate boots because it impressed us with the no-frill attitude, a performance-oriented fit, and durability.
Features and Benefits
I’ve been skiing for a longtime now. After I got these boots, I don’t think about my feet or boots once during the day.
One of the benefits of the dual core-shell is that it’s extremely resilient and can take a hit without breaking or cracking.
But Lange’s design isn’t only about durability.
The quality craftsmanship on the board isn’t something we can just ignore.
The overall construction is great, precise, and comfortable. You’ll love it.
Comfort and Fit
The RX 120 is reasonably comfortable if it fits your foot, but it prioritizes performance over comfort.
Even after customizing your fit by molding the liner, RX 120 isn’t a boot you would want to have on the lift or when grabbing a quick bite at the cafeteria.
The boot has a thermo-moldable liner, but it’s thin, so there’s less to pack out. While this works well for a close fit for the hilly ride, it’s uncomfortable, especially if the sizing is wrong.
Overall, comfort isn’t RX 120 greatest strength. But with a few tweaks here and there, the boot offers a locked-in feel and might just be surprised to find your relief from the boot’s stiff flex.
The RX 120 isn’t warm either. The close fit and thin liner don’t warm my feet as I would have wished.
But the good news is the liner can accommodate aftermarket boot heaters to keep your toes toasty even in cold conditions.
One of RX 120’s appeal is the modest design.
It lacks the flashy features found on most boots in its class.
The boot’s subtleness isn’t necessarily bad as it’s easy to use, and the advanced intermediates can improve the board’s performance with a few tools.
One of Lange’s favorite features is the micro-adjustable buckles that provide additional leverage when the buckle is fully tightened.
Overall, Lange is designed to offer a simple and easy operation with limited features.
As modest as Lange is, it has fantastic performance, and were it not for the comfort, it would have easily toppled the Atomic.
First, the boot’s flex feels consistent and stiff, necessary when going downhill at speeds.
On the other hand, the low-profile design increases the boot’s overall sensitivity, making it easier for you to feel your footing and establish a connection with the ground.
Finally, the soft boot board at the bottom of the shell does a great job of dampening the hard snow’s vibrations.
#4 Dynafit Hoji Pro - Best for Downhill Perofrmance
Dynafit is no stranger to the ski boot market, and their Hoji collection stands out as a balanced backcountry design.
Today, we shall look at the Hoji Pro, a unique boot that pushes the envelope way ahead in downhill performance.
The boot has a fantastic downhill performance, and the good news is this performance doesn’t inherently inhibit the uphill performance.
Features and Benefits
The material used on the Hoji seems top-notch, and the boot feels like it’s built to last.
Durability isn’t the only appeal of Hoji’s design.
As a bonus, the boot doesn’t destroy pant cuffs, a compliment I can’t offer most backcountry boots.
I’ve destroyed several pairs of pants, but Hoji eliminates this problem, thanks to the rounded-edged adjustment.
My only concern with the boot is the long-term durability of the cable tensioning system.
Comfort and Fit
Hoji has a 103.5 mm last, and it’s indeed on the wide side-but only at the metatarsal.
The instep is slow, and the heel pocket is average too tight.
For skinny skiers like me, you’ll love how the boot holds your heels down. It feels snug and won’t result in fatigue and sore shins.
Additionally, the boot has soft liners that feel plush and eliminate frozen toes, and I’m sure you’ll get stokes on how warm the boots feel.
Hoji’s performance is nothing short of excellence, and in particular, the downhill performance.
The Boot’s biggest difference with other backcountry boots is how easy the cuffs lock to the lower boot shell.
A major perk of the design is it allows a smooth and progressive forward lex when going downhill.
Regarding usability, intermediates shouldn’t have any problems using this boot.
It’s a simple, frill-free option promoting usability while at the same time remaining practical and performance-oriented.
#5 K2 Recon 120 - Best Budget
Our final pick, the K2 Recon 120, is among the least expensive boots on our list.
Despite the budget tag, this boot is a performance-oriented option and goes an extra mile to deliver on the skiing performance.
The boot replaces the outgoing Sypne, but it’s a whole different animal. It’s an all-mountain boot designed from the ground up to trim weight wherever possible.
Features and Benefits
From a performance perspective, experts might make some compromises, including the loss of a premium feel.
Intermediates, however, should have nothing to complain about.
But the big question is about durability.
Generally, the low weight comes at the expense of durability, an essential component for inbound gear.
Fortunately, I’ve been impressed with this boot so far as the board is sturdy as it gets and can take all forms of punishment.
In particular, the boot’s light liners don’t pack out fast, and the overall boot doesn’t feel terrible any fast.
Comfort and Fit
Out of the box without having any boot work done- Reckon feels comfortable and similar to the premium Atomic Hawx.
While the Atomic is a lot harder to get on, Reckon has an “easy-on” aspect.
Skiers don’t find it challenging to put these at all, and you’ll be blown away by how much fit and comfort they offer.
The toe box is roomy enough for your feet, and you’re less likely to experience instep pressure.
Reckon is among the lightest ski boots on our list.
While it’s true lightness isn’t essential for downhill performance in the backcountry, the Reckon has a nimble feel, especially on the slopes.
I love how it’s relatively easy to control the boot, even when bombing downhill.
And with a true 120 flex, it feels pretty robust and strong, even for the advanced intermediates when powering through high-speed turns.
Best Ski Boots for Intermediates Buying Guide
If you’re still undecided on what ski boot to go for, our buying guide will help.
Here, we list all the critical elements you should consider when making your next purchase of the best ski boots for intermediates.
How to Choose the Best Boots for Intermediate Skiers
Nothing worse than having your feet swim in your boots or take the pain because of unnecessary pressure points.
While a boot fitter may work for you to some extent, it’s always a good idea to check how much of your boot is customizable.
Check to see whether your choice of boots is thermoformable or whether it holds its shape.
Keep in mind there’s no one-fits-all size, and pick the boots that offer a snug fit for control and comfort.
Already you’re familiar that flex rating depends on body types and riding style.
But we can all agree that if you want to excel beyond intermediate, you’ll need ski boots with a proper flex system.
If you’re an early intermediate, ski boots with a flex rating of 90-100 are enough to give you control while allowing you to reserve energy.
As you progress into a true or late intermediate, you’ll appreciate a booth with a higher flex.
While the higher flex-rated boots are demanding on your body, they offer better control, which you need to push through the dreaded intermediate plateau.
Skiing and Ride Style
When picking a ski boot, you’ll also need to consider your riding style.
What style of run are you comfortable with? And which one are you willing to conquer next?
If agility and control are what you desire, choose a boot with lower flex and weight.
If you live for the thrill of speed and control of downhill skiing, then the alpine-style and stiffer boots will take care of you.
Finally, if you’re the adventurous type, who loves going off-piste and don’t mind adventuring or hiking, boots with adjustable flex rating and ski/walk system are the best bet for you.
Common Terminology of Ski Boot for Intermediates
Here’re some of the common terms you need to know about boots for intermediates:
Stiffness relates to how much effort it takes to bend or rather flex the boot forward.
Boots with a high lex number are stiffer and are suited for skiers with fast and aggressive riding style, better skilled, and heavier weight.
On the other hand, boots with a softer flex perform well at slower and medium speeds, making it easy to control skis. They’re more comfortable to use.
The last width indicates the boot’s space, and it relates to the width in mm of the boots at its widest point.
The last width indicates the boot’s space, and it relates to the width in mm of the boots at their widest point.
These straps help close the boot and keep the shin in contact with the liner’s tongue.
Generally, bigger straps are better at retaining the leg.
They make it effortless to use the boot and suit them for advanced skier use.
Custom Fit Liner
Ski boots with custom-fit liners help the inner boot take the form of your foot shapes.
Other models come with a custom fit shell, heated and molded as part of the fitting process.
They create a better match to foot shape and evens out the pressure for a more comfortable fit.
How Should New Ski Boots Feel?
All ski boots feel tight and a bit short at first, and this is normal.
The inner boot is designed to fit in length and volume, initially with no excess space.
With time, your body heat softens the inner boot foam, compressing it a bit and creating more volume around your foot.
A snug boot shouldn’t have movement at the heel and ankle when replicating skiing movement.
If you’ve issues with the fit or the boots don’t just feel right, you can try a different boot.
Common Ski Boot Problem and Cures
Sore shins occur due to too much space around the lower leg, allowing the boot to rock back and forth, banging the shin into the tongue.
Poor quality socks intensify the problem. Having a footbed helps as it supports and reduces the rotation.
Numbness of toes is caused by poor circulation and nerve pressure.
Support from footbeds helps with circulation by spreading the pressure evenly across the sole of the feet.
Heated footbeds are even better as they further stimulate the circulation to the toe ends.
Calf/ Achilles Pain
This pain is caused by poor alignment or lack of balance and tightening and fatiguing of the calf muscles.
Achille pain is relieved by improving the support of your feet. You can fit a Sida’s heel lift and practice regular stretching of the affected area.
Metatarsalgia is manifested by a ball of pain on the foot and is often felt as a “burning sensation.”
The most common causes of the burning sensation in boots are:
- Poor balance/stance
- Tight Achilles
You can remedy the condition by supporting the whole foot to create a more balanced platform inside the boot.
Pressure points are common on the ankle bones insteps, heels, and the forefoot’s widest part.
You can alleviate the pressure points by using localized shell stretches and footbeds to support the foot.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for our review of the best ski boots for intermediates is the Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S.
We choose this pick because of the fantastic performance, great flex, and durability.
It’s a comfortable option, providing intermediates with the comfort and warmth they need to extend their stay in the mountains.
Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S” performance is also on another whole new level, though it may be limiting for the true intermediates.
However, it offers an excellent platform for the advanced intermediates to transition their skills from intermediate to expert skiers.