Ski boot design steps on the gas for next season, particularly in the ongoing search for the perfect in-bounds/backcountry hybrid that’s stiff enough to drive big skis, but still comfortable enough to hike.

It’s the kind of innovation race that’s creating increased competition from backcountry bootmakers looking to add more downhill performance, and traditional alpine brands trying to expand their footprint off-piste.

Black Diamond, for instance, continues to refine its four-buckle Quadrant with a redesigned fit and new plastic tongue for a more even flex, as well as a “dial-in” liner courtesy of the brand’s Boa partnership. While Garmont goes ultralight with their 3.1 pound, four-buckle Cosmos built for reaching those wayback steep powder shots. And Dynafit keeps getting plenty of buzz for its Vulcan, a new three-buckle and power strap design developed in conjunction with pro skier Eric “Hoji” Hjorleifson.

On the alpine to off-piste side of the slope, Tecnica expands its hike-ski Free Mountain collection. Partnering with stable mate Blizzard’s success with its reverse camber Flipcore skis, the Cochise ski boot collection includes two new tourable boots for women with varying degrees of stiffness, and six for the men. Nordica pumps up the breadth of is sidecountry focused, three buckle Hell & Back collection, and Salomon unveils its third generation of hike-ski boots in the Quest Max, with a custom shell and Salomon’s alpine-borne, big ski steering “Oversized Pivot.”

We can’t wait to test all of this stuff.