Your Guide To Buying Mountaineering Boots
This blog originally appeared on Adam George's blog at intothemountains.com.
Since a lot of work I do involves Alpine objectives and summertime mountaineering, I get a lot of questions regarding what type of boots to buy. Without exaggeration, I spend at least 200+ days a year in mountain boots and ski boots, and most of my clients are wearing boots as well. Therefore, I have a good sense of what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve seen more than a few people spoil their trip due to poor boot choices. Below are a few questions to ask yourself and a few tips when thinking about choosing the right boot for your climbing desires.
Forget about colors, price tags or any brand loyalties you may have. If your boots don’t fit well, it can seriously jeopardize your success on any objective. It’s best to take the time to find a good fitting quality boot initially, as it will save you money in the long run.
Single vs. Double
These days most single boots are warm enough and stiff enough to excel during four season. However, if your trip involves camping, double boots are still a good choice as you can dry out the liners. My personal favorite is the Scarpa Omega, which are super warm, affordable, lightweight and rigid, a good choice for technical climbing.
It’s always easier to take up space in a boot than make them bigger. I rarely hear someone complain that a boot is too big, but regularly hear people complain their toes are banging. Also, your feet swell at altitude and leather boots can shrink over time with exposure to water (at least that is my experience…?). When in doubt, get the extra size larger. Your feet will thank you for it.
What are your objectives? For ice and a lot flat-footing mountaineering terrain, go with a rigid boot. If your goals are more scrambling related or you need a boot for an approach, you’ll be happier with a more flexible boot. For example, on the Matterhorn, the Scarpa Triolet is great, but on Mt. Rainier, go with the Phantom Guide.
When will the boot be used? No need to get a warm boot if you’re only using them in the summer to cross glaciers in the Bugaboos. Likewise, it’s bad form to get frostbite in July on Mont Blanc because you’re using a boot with no insulation. Think about what seasons you will be using your boot and choose accordingly. Remember, it’s always better to have a boot that’s too warm than otherwise.
One thing to consider when buying new boots is what type of crampons you own. A lot of semi-rigid boots will not take a step-in binding crampon, which may require you to purchase another pair of crampons. Just food for thought when making a new purchase.
My boot picks:
Ice and Winter Alpine: Phantom Guide and Omega
Summer Alpine: Triolet (more scrambling oriented) and Jorasses (ridgid)
Lightweight for Approaches: Charmoz, Rebel or Maverick