What Is Walk Mode On Ski Boots? (Do You Really Need It)

by Frank V. Persall

Ski boots are made for skiing, right? But there may be some times when you need to comfortably walk in your ski boots and there needs to be some kind of adaptation.

You’ll often hear about ski boots with walk mode but what is this and is it really necessary?

Ski boot walk mode is something that has, in fact, been around for a long time and you’ll find it on a wide variety of ski boots.

 Essentially, walk mode allows you to release a mechanism that makes it easier to walk by altering things like traction and comfort as well as improving your range of motion. 

There are some people that will tell you that walk mode isn’t necessary but in truth, having boots you can walk in is never going to be a bad thing.

In this short guide, we are going to get better acquainted with walk mode and look at where this handy function works best.

What Is Walk Mode On Ski Boots? (Do You Really Need It)
What Is Walk Mode On Ski Boots? (Do You Really Need It)

How Do Ski Boots With Walk Mode Work?

REI Walking Ski Boots
REI Walking Ski Boots

Some of the most common skiing injuries and ailments occur on and around the feet and your tootsies will take a lot of battering when you’re out on the slopes.

This is why it is paramount to purchase boots that offer ultimate comfort and an accurate fit. But much more than this, you need your ski boot to be versatile.

While their main function is to attach safely to your skis as you glide down the side of the mountain, you may need to walk in them too. 

The great thing about walk mode is that you’ll find it on a lot of ski boots and this simple addition will make walking in your get-up a lot simpler. Gone are the days of looking like an ogre with bricks in his boots.

At the back of the ski boots walking mode, you will find a little lever. This can be moved up and down to take you from ‘skiing mode’ into walk mode.

The way it works is that as the system is activated, the upper and lower cuffs of the boot are released from one another.

This means that your range of motion is massively improved and walking becomes easier.

Of course, you will notice that most modern ski boots are fitted with a rubber sole and this is designed to improve traction when touring or even just as you walk from your car to the slopes.

But the problem is that this traction alone isn’t conducive to comfortable walking. As soon as you couple this with walk mode, you’ll quickly notice an improvement. 

What Is Walk Mode Good For?

When you use walk mode and for what reason will depend on your personal preference. There are some skiers who are totally against walk mode and refer to it as ‘something for hikers, not skiers.’ Moreover, there are many people who activate walk mode only to forget to re-engage ski mode which puts them off using it again. 


...walk mode certainly has its uses so if you’ve been considering using it, or buying a pair of ski boots that have walk mode, it is worth thinking about how you use your boots. 

One of the best reasons to use walk mode is when you will be spending a long day at the skiing resort but not necessarily spending all day skiing.

If you’re planning to do a little exploring then having the option to quickly switch to walk mode will mean that you don’t need to worry about having additional footwear which would just weigh you down. 

You might also find it to be useful when traveling to the ski resort. You see, a lot of these places are quite remote and to get to the slopes, there is quite a bit of walking involved.

You may be staying in a hotel that is some distance from the mountain and this could require you to take a bus or train. Again, you aren’t going to want to trek to the resort while carrying your ski boots in the same way that you won’t want an extra pair of shoes to store once you’re there.

How To Use Walk Mode On Ski Boots
How To Use Walk Mode On Ski Boots

But skiers who take part in cross country skiing or touring will likely find the best use out of this feature.

Ski touring involves a considerable amount of walking from one part of the mountain to the next. If you attempt to do all of this walking with the boots in ski mode, you will find that the feet quickly become uncomfortable owing to the limited range of movement. 

Of course, when you are purchasing your ski boots, you will need to speak to a professional about your needs and they will be able to help you find the best option for you.

Generally, walk mode is enabled using a clasp at the back of the boot but there are some brands that use a different type of system so be sure to check this out and ensure you are comfortable using it.

How To Put A Ski Boot In Walk Mode

If you prefer a visual guide on how to get walk mode set up on your boots, then this handy video will give you all the information you need to know. 

Final Thoughts

Having a comfortable pair of ski boots is one of the most important things when starting to ski. As you develop your skills and become more confident in the sport, you will begin to see more and more why this is the case. 

However, since skiing doesn’t always involve happily gliding down the slopes on your skis and can sometimes involve walking, it is essential to make sure that your equipment is as versatile as possible. That is where walk mode comes in.

This handy feature seen on many touring boots allows the wearer to release the upper and lower cuff thereby improving their range of motion and making walking more comfortable.

Getting to know your skiing equipment is so important if you want to make the most out of it.

While you may now know everything there is to know about walk mode, we have a lot more helpful hints and tips on every piece of skiing equipment you will ever need. So don’t forget to check it out here.

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About Frank V. Persall

Frank is originally from the UK, but he has a passion for skiing that knows no bounds. He has made it his life's mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the World. Frank loves spending time with his wife and three children on ski slopes, as they all share his love for the activity.

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