When looking to buy your first pair of boots or wanting to upgrade to an even better pair, you might be wondering exactly what features your boots should have. Lots of people throw around the term ‘walk mode’ when talking about certain boots.
But what actually is ‘walk mode’ for ski boots, and will you find it in all modern and older boots?
Walk mode might be a good choice if you are likely to be walking longer distances in your ski boots and not on your skis. This could be from your car or bus, or from your hotel or house to finally get to the slopes! Walk mode will allow you greater comfort during these walks.
But make sure you check as to whether the specific brand and type of boot you are looking at has this function, and if it is right for you!
Walk Mode 101
Walk mode allows the skier greater range of movement when walking in their ski boots. This can help when walking to the slopes when you cannot use your skis. Not all ski boots have this function and this can vary between boot type and brand.
What is Walk Mode?
To put it simply, walk mode in ski boots is a setting you can activate which makes walking around much easier in your ski boots.
This is usually done by the boot releasing the upper and lower cuff from one another, meaning that the skier has greater flexibility when moving their leg and foot, allowing for the natural movement of the ankle when walking.
This is an built-in function in certain ski boots which you can manually activate and then put back into ski mode.
How is Walk Mode Useful?
Lots of people think that they are only using their ski boots for skiing alone. In that case, why would walk mode be useful? Is it worth getting boots with this function which are mainly designed for skiing? Some people argue that it is!
Depending on the layout of your ski resort, how you plan to travel there each day and distances between locations you are likely to go to on the slopes when not skiing, this function could prove worthwhile.
Many people forget that, when arriving at the ski resort- perhaps after travelling by car or bus, or even just from their hotel or home- that there could be a fair amount of walking involved! This means that it is important that you are as comfortable as possible during these journeys to really make the most and enjoy your ski trip!
Touring or cross-country skiers are more likely to need walk mode or ‘touring’ or ‘hike’ mode for their boots. This enables these skiers to effectively travel across the snow in the easiest way without being restricted by their boots during certain touring activities.
Always ask for advice when buying boots about what style or features might be best for you!
How to Put Boots in Walk Mode
Some boots which feature ‘walk mode’, have a clasp at the back of the boot above the heel, which can move up or down. It should be indicated on the boot itself which direction activates ‘walk mode’ which will loosen the boot and allow a greater range of movement, or ‘ski mode’ which will fix the ankle back in position ready for skiing.
Moving this clasp up or down for many brands is enough to put boots in walk and ski mode easily. However, there are many brands of ski boot which may have different designs and methods of activating walk and ski mode, so check the information on your specific boots to see exactly how to use this function.
Do all Boots have Walk Mode?
While walk mode in ski boots is by no means a new function, not all types of boots or brands actually have walk mode. Therefore, the only way to know for sure is to check in store or on the exact model of boots you are considering buying if this function is included.
Both new and older boot models can have this function but it is not a rule that all of them do, do make sure to double check with each specific boot model!
Some alpine boots designed to standard piste skiing can include walk mode. This is because these boots are generally designed for skiing on pistes within ski resorts where comfort is also extremely important to the skier.
You may have to walk into the piste from your car, bus, hotel or house in your ski boots, meaning that this function is extremely useful to make sure you can walk as efficiently and comfortably as possible and make the most of your trip!
Initially, walk mode or ‘touring’ mode was common in touring boots. This is where the cuff of the mood has a much greater range of movement, leading to a more natural movement when walking or ‘touring’, where this would provide a distinct advantage.
Are there any Negatives to Walk Mode?
Walk mode can have significant advantages for comfort and flexibility to walk around with ease. However, some have argued in the past that this function can make boots heavier, affecting technique.
Some also argue that boots are less rigid and strong, or that they can malfunction while in ski mode and switch to walk mode, making the boot loose.
However, many people find that boots with walk mode work perfectly and to some extent it is preference. New designs of boots designs and methods of incorporating walk mode are likely to continue to be improved. However, talk to those at the boot shop or hire who can give you more advice on this topic and find the best boots for you.
Walk mode is a feature which allows greater ease when walking in ski boots. Not all boots have this function (both new and older), and may be more likely to feature in certain types and brands of boots compared to others.
Test out and get advice in ski equipment stores on a range of boot types to find the ones that will be best suited to your needs as a skier where you can always ask more advice about walk mode!
The stiffness of a ski boot is another very important factor to consider. Check out this guide to ski boot flex ratings for everything you need to know.