Which XC ski boots should I choose?

Picture of ski types on the mountain, ready to use for XC skiing.

Keeping your feet warm and comfortable is a good start for an enjoyable ski trip. But what is the difference between different XC ski boots and what are the qualities that make one warmer than another? 

Although shoes only cover a small part of your body, it isn’t a nice experience to have frozen feet when you’re on a long or short ski trip. Cold feet can quickly lead to a bad mood and that you struggle to enjoy the winter day you deserve.  

There are many types of ski boots. Here are three things you should consider when you’re choosing a pair for exercise and training. 

Read our guide to buying backcountry skiboots.   

ALFA Skisko

Three thing you should consider before buying ski boots. 

#1 Insulation 

It should be obvious that you need insulation in your shoes when the temperature drops below zero in order to avoid cold feet. However, there are big differences between different ski boots. It’s important they are insulated around the whole foot and not just limited to specific areas. Insulation is especially important in the sole, to insulate from the snow underneath your feet. Carbon or plastic soles will have worse insulative qualities than natural materials. 

ALFA make ski boots for Norwegian winter days, and of course we have natural materials in the soles of our boots for better insulation.  

Oppbygging av skisko

#2 Waterproofness 

Winter plus minus degrees equals skiing. Maybe not the time of year one considers how waterproof their ski boots are or how important this is. But if you’ve been skiing you’ll know it’s not always minus degrees and dry. Wet snow will often gather around your feet and melt. If the outer boot layer isn’t water-resistant, the humidity can creep through. As the boots get heavier with water you can quickly get very cold feet if your speed drops or the temperature sinks.  

ALFA’s cross-country ski boots have breathable, water-resistant outer materials and a GORE-TEX membrane adjacent to the foot.  

#3 Breathability 

Feet can also become clammy due to sweating. Waterproof and water-resistant materials are often used so ski boots won’t collect moisture, but they also have poor breathability. Almost like a wellington boot. When you ski, even in minus temperatures, your feet will sweat. This isn’t something you think about as long as you keep up your tempo and pace, but as soon as you stop, you’ll quickly get cold feet as your boots freeze due to sweat and moisture within the layers. If your socks leave damp footprints on the floor once you take off your shoes, this is a sign your feet are wet.  

ALFA solves this conflict between waterproofness and breathability with a GORE-TEX membrane in our XC boots. ALFA’s cross-country are the only shoes on the market with a GORE-TEX membrane. In this way, ALFA’s ski boots are warm and comfortable for the duration of your trip. 

Vanntetthet på skisko

So, which ski boots should I choose?  

Footwear for long days with an easy tempo and stops on the way. On the beautiful winter days when you don’t want to go inside, it’s important to have a boot that will keep your foot warm, sit comfortably and be breathable so the sweat from your feet doesn’t freeze.  

ALFA Horizon Perform GTX skisko

ALFA Horizon Perform GTXis the warmest XC ski boot on the market. It’s developed for skiers who want to maximise their enjoyment on every trip. This boot will allow you to take a break, make a campfire and enjoy family time. The ski boots unique warming qualities are due to an extra insulated sole that protects your foot from cold from the ground and has winter insulated GORE-TEX with a fleece lining. Horizon Perform GTX have been used in a record-breaking Greenland crossing and are a solid choice whatever the weather. The high inner liner in the Horizon Perform GTX keep your ankles warm and provide support. 

Many warm ski boots on the market contain non-breathable materials which typically results in sweaty and clammy feet. The GORE-TEX membrane in Horizon Perform GTX means the boots breathe and keep your feet dry in the snow. This is an optimal ski boot if you’re looking for stability whilst pulling a sledge, to snow plough down rough and uneven descents and to walk in the snow during a break. The shoes have a wide and comfortable fit with room for extra socks on the coldest days. 

Trac Jr GTX - Varm og komfortabel barneskistøvel

Share the joy of skiing with your children 

In order to give your children a good experience in the winter that inspired them to play outdoors, it’s important to keep their feet warm.  

ALFA Trac JR GTX is constructed in the same way Horizon Perform with a well-insulated sole and upper shoe. The boot is warm enough it can also be used as a winter shoe in kindergarten and the GORE-TEX membrane ensures the boots is breathable and waterproof so your child doesn’t get sweaty and subsequently cold feet.  

Ski boots for training and racing 

For training and racing you need a ski boots that will give you good control of your skis and allow you to maximise your efficiency. It’s often forgotten that cold and uncomfortable feet can detract from your optimal performance. It’s important the boots are breathable so the sweat isn’t collecting within the materials, and that wet snow on the outside doesn’t creep in thus making the shoes wetter and heavier. 

ALFA EXC Advance GTX is a comfortable boot to keep your foot warm and dry, even when the intensity increases. The boots are stable and has a specially developed sole with the flex point under the ball of the foot which ensures excellent energy transfer during the kick-off phase. Troll Ski Marathon winner Håvard Hansen was heavily involved in the extreme testing of the EXC for use in training and racing. This was his report: 

EXC Advance GTX is at one with my foot, and it lightweight and stable. They are very warm and functions well on ski trips in -10 degrees, even when one stops to admire the view. If you’re skating, the boots will keep you warm on even colder days. /Håvard Hansen 


Read the whole test report of EXC Advance GTX here 


ALFA EXC Advance GTX - Varm klassiskmodell

XC ski boots with good support and stability 

Do you want one ski boot you can use for everything? Both for classic and skating, and giving you control on the descents as well as sitting comfortably on your foot and providing support?  

ALFA Combi Advance GTX skisko

The new ALFA Combi Advance GTX has a unique integrated ankle support. This construction means the support lies closer to your ankle and therefore improves stability by fitting comfortably without the need for additional tightening straps. It’s perfect for skating and provides good stability on the descents and when double poling. At the same time, the integrated support allows the ankle to be flexible in the sagittal plane, while the flex point under the ball of the foot results in a boot comfortable for skating. Combi Advance GTX is excellent for both training and racing but can also be used for trips where one may like to alternate between skiing techniques and styles. 

The development of Combi Advance GTX has taken three years to get it ready for sale this winter. Many skiing testers with a broad range of experience have been involved in the project. From casual skiers who like ski trips with a campfire, to elite athletes competing on the international stage in both classic and skating.   

Have a good trip!