Boots form the most important gear you need to have when you head for the outdoors. And, if it is about climbing high mountains, the importance of comfortable boots increases by many folds. If the many varieties of mountaineering boots in the market keep you flummoxed, we will help you out by making it simpler to choose.
We will walk you through the features that the best mountaineering boots have and then continue to talk about a few popular mountaineering boots and their reviews.
Types – Single vs. Double vs. Super-Gaiter
Mountaineering boots are broadly of three types:
- Boots with integrated gaiters
Single boots are those that have a single upper that cannot be separated into different layers. They may have different layers, like an outer and a lining but these are combined and cannot be separated. Single boots are mostly suited for trekking on rocky mountains, ice climbing, and mixed climbing when the conditions are warm to cold.
These are lightweight compared to other types of boots. Double boots are those that have two separate layers, an inner boot and an outer boot. The liner can be removed to dry it when not in use. These boots are designed to be used to climb very high altitudes and snowy peaks of usually greater than 6000 meters.
Super-gaiter boots are those which have a permanent gaiter attached to a single boot. The outer gaiter usually is weather proof. It keeps feet warm and dry. These boots are usually designed for cold and wet conditions and for climbing vertical ice, etc.
Features of Good Mountaineering boots
This is the most important feature that boots should comply with. The boots should fit your foot’s shape well so that you are comfortable in. Different boots have different shapes to suit various shapes of feet – some are narrow, some wide, some have high arches, some have large toe boxes and other features. Choose one according to your comfort.
Mountaineering boots tend to be heavier than normal boots. Double boots are the heaviest of all the types. Lighter boots may compromise on the warmth they provide. Choose a boot that provides enough warmth without being too heavy.
Waterproof-ability and other features
Boots that are meant for the mountains should usually be weatherproof as they have to face snow and other tough conditions. Gore-Tex is a material that is fully waterproof and is used on most mountaineering boots.
These boots are also provided other waterproof features like waterproof zippers, rubber rands, etc. Soles of these boots should be stiff enough to give good traction and support the foot on uneven terrain and hard ice.
Stiff soles also make for crampon compatibility. Ensure that your boots are compatible with your crampons, so you can use them safely preventing crampons to pop off at odd times.
If you are ready for your purchase before taking on the snow, read on to see what customers say about popular mountaineering boots and which boots are suitable for what situations.
Top Products on the Market
Weight: 2.4 lbs. per boot
Specific Features: Cordura, microfiber, rubber, Gore-Tex membrane, YKK zip, weatherproof
Best Use: Suitable for trekking on high alpine environments
The Zamberlan 4000 Eiger Boots, which are made in Italy, are a lightweight pair of boots, with one boot weighing just around 2.4 pounds. It has been designed to work well for high-alpine trekking like that of 4000M Eiger mountain of Europe. The uppers of these boots are made of high stretch cordura, microfiber, and rubber.
Their gaiters are made of cordura and microfiber laminated to a polyester material. They are also covered with a full-wrap edge made of rubber. These are lined with a fully waterproof Gore-Tex membrane. For closure, they use waterproof YKK zippers.
A thermal footbed underfoot and a layer of heat-reflective aluminum help the boots to provide a good amount of warmth. All these materials and features help to keep your feet warm and dry when faced with rock and ice. For added comfort and cushioning, these boots have an extra PE layer.
The shank of these boots is made of nylon and fiberglass and is stiff enough to enable climbing steep and icy slopes in the alpines. A Vibram Teton sole provides the required traction. The boots are compatible with step-in crampons due to their Pro Crampon System. A thermoplastic toe and heat welds make this possible.
Some of the features which make these boots comfortable to wear are the ankle joint articulation provided by these and the simple lacing. If a narrow heel, a medium tight mid foot, and an open toe box sound like features of a well-fitting boot, these may be just right for you. These are now available in half sizes too.
Related: For a pair of boots suitable for trekking to greater heights, try the Zamberlan 6000 karka.
Weight: 1.9 lbs. per boot
Specific Features: hydro-treated Cordura uppers, Lorica, Gore-tex lining, 9mm Ibi-thermo insole, Vibram sole,
Best Use: lightweight boots for rock climbing and snow trekking
The La Sportiva Trango Light Boots feature cordura uppers with Idro-treatment and Flex Tec 2. They are reinforced with a water-repellent Lorica layer with an Antiacqua external coating and a rubber rand. These are lined with a Gore-Tex layer and, thus, are fully waterproof.
The 9mm insoles are made of an insulating Ibi-thermo. They have 6 -7 mm HP3 for midsoles. Supertrek rubber soles help these to provide traction. These boots feature an innovative 3D flex ankle to enable proper maneuverability of feet.
Customers have had comfortable experiences with these boots. Many have felt comfortable right away, even without a break-in period. They have found that the boots provide great ankle and arch support, which is crucial for long trips. The flexible ankle support these provide is noteworthy.
The fact that these are lightweight adds on the comfort it provides while trekking. These boots have proved to be suitable for rock climbing and also for venturing into deep snow with gaiters. The soles of these are firm and supportive.
Weight: 2 lbs.
Specific Features: Cordura and Elastan uppers, Waterproof OD/Primaloft lining, Pro-fiber insole, PU/TPU midsole, Vibram TT3 sole, quick-lace system, ErgoFit
Best Use: Designed for steep ice and mixed climbing
The Scarpa Phantom Guide is a mountaineering boot with an integrated weather-proof gaiter. The gaiter is made up of S-Tech fabric, a blend of Cordura and Elastan. It has a waterproof T-Zip, which helps to keep the elements out. The inner boot has some leather in its construction, which provides stiffness and ankle support.
The Phantom guide has its insole made of Pro-fiber, which helps when you are front-pointing. These boots are comfortable and support well when ice-climbing, especially for wide-heeled feet.
They may not be very comfortable for people with narrow heels as they result in a little heel lift for these people when they stand on front points, resulting in a pressure on the heel. These boots are also compatible with semi-automatic crampons and automatic crampons.
The Phantom guide uses Primaloft for its insulation and manage to provide a good amount of warmth when in the cold. These boots also have removable Primaloft footbeds. Their wider fit also allows for more circulation. Their eVent membrane keeps feet dry.
Overall, these are great boots for ice climbing, especially if your feet are on the wider side. Customers have found these to be suitable for climbs in the Alpines and other mountains where ankle stability is required.
Weight: 2 lbs.
Specific Features: double nubuck and leather uppers, Vibram outsole with lugs, double tongue, gusseted tongue, tall cuff
Best Use: Suitable for foresters, wildland firefighters, and mountaineers, who explore unknown terrain.
The Scarpa Feugo Mountaineering Boots are designed basically for the forester and mountaineer, who are mostly into venturing out into difficult terrain in forests and mountains. These are styled like classic leather boots. They are made of double nubuck and leather, and so, they are durable and comfortable for long day trips.
They feature a double tongue for a good fit. The tongue is gusseted too, so it can keep the trail debris away. You can climb snow slopes with these due to their sturdy construction. They are not waterproof, though.
The boots are stiff and difficult to bend, which enables feet to remain comfortable and supported even when you are standing on rough terrain. The lugged sole, made of Vibram M4 Tech, provide good traction. Its tall cuff provides good support for feet and keeps them warm and dry.
Customers have found these boots to be suited to be used as wildland fire boots. They found them to provide good ankle support and toe room. These boots were not damaged in the presence of fire and ash.
They have also used them successfully for mountaineering and hunting. They are stiff and may need a good break-in period before they are very comfortable for all terrain. You may find these comfortable when you upsize by a half size.
Related: Look at the Scarpa Charmoz Pro GTX Trekking boot for another mountaineering boot by Scarpa.
Weight: 2.23 lbs. per boot
Specific Features: Silicon impregnated leather uppers, Vibram rubber rands, Gore-tex lining, adjustable tongue, TPU/PU inserts/ SBM Aircushion midsole, 9mm Ibi-thermo insole, Vibram sole, 3D Flex ankle, Roller boot lacing
Best Use: winter trekking, ice climbing, and mixed climbing
The La Sportiva Nepal Evo Boots have their uppers made of 3.2 mm silicone impregnated leather. They are reinforced with Vibram rubber rands that are resistant to high levels of abrasion. The uppers are lined with a Gore-Tex lining, which along with the rubber rands, ensures waterproof-ability.
Like the Trango Evo boots discussed earlier, these boots also have the 3D flex ankle which provides good lateral ankle flexibility while not compromising on the stiffness for longitudinal support. They feature EZ Roller boot lacing system, which makes use of sturdy steel roller ball grommets and locking D-rings for easy and precise tensioning of the laces.
The adjustable and removable tongue allows them to give a good fit for any foot shape. The insoles on these boots are made of the insulating Ibi-Thermo, which lock in heat, thus protecting feet from the cold of the ground. For midsoles, these boots have SBM Airchusions, which provide comfort and shock absorption. The Vibram sole has an impact brake system, which provides great traction and support.
Customers have reported good experiences with these boots on while ice climbing, especially after their initial break-in period, which most have gone through in just a few uses. The boots were found to be good even for sensitive feet and feet with difficult-to-fit shapes.
It is best to get your feet measured and look at La Sportiva’s sizing guides to ensure you order a size that fits well for you. Looks like La Sportiva has lived up to its name with these bots attracting great reviews from pleased customers.
Weight: 3.9 lbs.
Specific Features: Salewa flex system, Vibram Salewa Pro sole, adjustable sole system, 3M insulate 400 lining, multiple lasts, SuperFabric uppers, full rubber rand
Best Use: Ice climbing and mixed climbing when it is cold and wet
The Salewa Pro Gaiter Hiking Boot is one of the super gaiter style boots that have a permanent waterproof gaiter attached to them. Though not Gore-Tex, the waterproof fabric that these are made of have proved to be successful in keeping water away from feet.
The gaiter closes with a waterproof T-Zip. The Insulated fit version of these boots has a wider foot area compared to the Performance fit boot that is exactly same in other aspects. These boots feature a Salewa flex system, which makes the adjustable sole completely rigid when needed.
When you turn the bolt provided in the heel of the boot with an allen key, the sole becomes completely rigid in the climb mode compared to a semi-rigid sole in the walk mode. This feature can be helpful if you are aiming for long approaches.
You may like to keep it in the walk mode even for climbing and use the climb mode when you use the boots with crampons. A Thinsulate layer is used to insulate both the gaiter and the inner boot, which helps these to keep feet warm.
Customers seem to like the flex feature of these boots and find it suitable for long approaches. Changing modes can be a bit tough at first and, the bolt tends to get jammed with snow after use. You can use a paper clip to clean it before turning it with the hex key.
Related: For a slightly different fit, try the Salewa Pro Gaiter Performance Fit Hiking Boot.
Weight: 1.7 lbs.
Specific Features: PU coated leather/ wear resistant fabric uppers, full rubber rand, rubber midsole, TPU heel insert, multiple lasts, Vibram Teton sole, nylon and fiberglass insole, Gore-Tex lining, 3D lacing system, 3F System EVO technology
Best Use: Designed for trekking on technical Alpine routes and difficult terrains
The Salewa MS Raven Combi GTX Boots are designed to work well on technical Alpine climbs and hiking on challenging terrains. The uppers of these boots are made of PU coated leather and Cordura. They have rubber rands that fully surround them. The boots are fully lined with a Gore-Tex membrane.
The Raven feature Salewa’s 3D lacing system, which provides a little flexibility as to how tight the laces can be locked at different areas of the boot. It also features the 3F system, which couples the ankle lace-lock with the boot’s heel pocket to enable a more natural range of movement while the heel is still stably placed in the pocket.
The boots come with built-in gaiter cuffs, which help to keep the snow out. However, this feature may make them tighter around your legs if you have bigger calves or ankles. The boots are stiff. The heel pockets provide a good fit. It allows a good range of movement. The toe box is spacious.
Overall, these boots work as well as they are advertised. A plastic lug at the heel makes them compatible with semi-automatic crampons. Customers have used these boots for snow trekking and climbing mountains. Many have felt the need to replace the insoles with better ones. Most customers found them comfortable right out of the box and did not have to break them in.
Related: For a Salewa boot suited for rocky terrain, see the Salewa MS Repace GTX Mountaineering Boot.
Weight: 2.78 lbs.
Specific Features: double boot, Outer Boot: PU-Tech transparent, PU coating, Embossed Benecke CeraCom PUR leatherette, Antiacqua coated Lorica, Vibram rubber rands, reinforced Molded TPU ankle backstay, PE foam lined with thermos-reflective aluminum, Inner boot: PE with Lorica external coating, Insole: 5mm carbon fiber and aluminum, midsole: TPU/ Micropore EVA, crampon compatible
Best Use: lightweight boots for climbing high altitude 6000 – 7000 meter peaks
The La Sportiva Spantik Mountaineering boots for men are designed for climbing those touch 6000 to 7000 meter peaks with ease. They are relatively lightweight for the heavy-duty performance they provide. These are double boots with both the inner and outer boot being insulated.
The outer boot is made up of a PU coating, a Benecke CeraCom PUR leatherette and Lorica coated with Antiacqa external coating. These have rubber rands and Molded TPU ankle backstays. They are lined with a PE foam with thermos-reflective aluminum. The inner boots are made of PE and Lorica.
The Spantiks have rigid soles with the right amount of rocker. They are made to be compatible with automatic step-in crampons. These boots provide great support and are excellent for venturing into steep ice while ice climbing. Both the inner and the outer boots have laces which can be fastened for great support.
These boots provide exceptional warmth when climbing the high peaks. Customers have worn these boots to ski and climb mountains like the Alaska’s Ruth Gorge, the Mt. Rainer, the Mount Elbrus, and other peaks in the Himalayas and the Alps and have experienced warmth and comfort.
Have You Found a Fit?
As discussed above, the most important factor that defines comfortable shoes, whether it is summer shoes or mountaineering boots is their fit. Choose a pair that you think will provide a good fit for your feet. Consider your needs when choosing mountaineering boots.
For climbing mountain peaks up to 4000 meters, try the Zamberlan 4000 Eiger. If you want to try climbing higher altitudes of 6000 – 8000 meters, La Sportiva’s Spantiks may be to your liking. For ice climbing and mixed climbing, consider the La Sportiva Nepal Evo or the Salwa Pro Gaiters.
If you have wider feet, the Scarpa Phantom Guide may fit right. If you are looking for double boots, go for the La Sportiva Spantiks. If you are looking for wildland fire boots, the Scarpa Feugos are for you.
Have you tried any of the mountaineering boots we have discussed here? Do you have any tips for using them comfortable when on long hauls in the snow? Do share with us in the comments!