A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
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Last updated: June 02, 2021
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Your average climbing or hiking boots, for example, those that you used in climbing in the spring, summer, and autumn, are simply not going to be enough when the climbing terrain is steep and covered in treacherous snow or even ice. You will need, not your average boots, but dedicated mountaineering boots. These boots are absolutely necessary for these types of situations. Now, there are several types of mountaineering boots on the market today, and it can be tricky finding the best mountaineering boots. That is what we are here for. This post is an in-depth review of the best options on the market.
In this post, we will consider 15 of the best options you can find on the market today. From our reviews, and overwhelming evidence from buyers and other users, the best mountaineering boot is the La Sportiva Men’s Makalu Mountaineering Boot. This boot is an all leather boot featuring a full steel shank and is suited for less ambitious vertical ice pursuits and mountain trekking. The boot features front and rear depressions for use with automatic crampons which is consistent for boots designed with mountaineering and climbing. An aggressive tread is helpful to keep a firm grip on muddy or snowy terrain when using crampons isn’t needed. They also come with some of the most durable soles we have seen on mountaineering boots. The features of this boot, as well as those of the other 14 boots, will be reviewed in this article.
In creating this list, we considered several important features. These include gender, type, upper material, insulation, sole, closure, weight per pair, automatic crampon compatible, and sizes. We have provided a buyer’s guide that discusses each of the features, as well as detailed reviews of each model, a comparison table and FAQ section. Read on to find out these and more!
These boots feature front and rear depressions for use with automatic crampons. An aggressive tread is helpful to keep a firm grip on muddy or snowy terrain when using crampons isn’t needed. And the soles are durable and designed to last providing excellent grip.."
This model comes with an external wire structure – something called the Salewa Y Support System – which wraps around the ankle and heel of the boot. It features a forefoot that has a nice flat edge and sole for scrambling on wet rocks.."
"It is a durable leather boot that excels across the spectrum of mountaineering. These boots are more than sufficient for all but the coldest days and should perform just fine on late April and May trips to the lower peaks."
This model excels at cold and high-altitude mountaineering on 5,000- to 7,000-meter peaks and is still perfectly capable of climbing highly technical terrain. If weight savings and warmth are your main concerns, the G2 SM will not disappoint.."
The soles of this model are flexible enough to walk well but still stiff enough to take semi-auto crampons, kick steps up steep snow slopes and rock climb. They’re even warm and dry enough for shorter bouts on slushy summer glaciers.."
The La Sportiva Makalu is the essence of a traditional mountaineering boot: it’s burly, supportive, and extremely durable. Neither flashy nor technical, this classic design works well for basic mountaineering and possibly as your first real boot. For example, the Makalu is a favorite for hikers around the country since it serves as a combination for heavy-backpacking-and-light-mountaineering boot. It can trek the length of the Pacific Crest Trail and climb Mount Hood or Mount Saint Helens along the way.
The Makalu is not meant for serious cold-weather mountaineering, nor does it offer high-tech materials. But it is built to withstand years of abuse on scree slopes and in alpine environments. A Vibram toecap protects the front of the boot when kicking up rocky flanks, toe and heel welts accept step-in crampons, and a full shank provides support under a heavy pack. At its price, this boot still offers an impressive all-around feature set. You won’t be pushing the limits of technical climbing in the Makalu, but that isn’t its purpose.
This model has all of those essentials, plus minimal break-in—rare in such a burly boot—thanks to flex points provided by cut-outs in the one-piece leather upper.
That upper is made of 2.8-mm-thick, silicon-impregnated leather from Italy’s 230-year-old Perwanger Tannery. It’s armor-tough and functionally waterproof. The upper has no membrane, making it exceptionally breathable. A honeycomb grid in the midsole creates shock-absorbing air pockets that didn’t break down under the heaviest pounding, unlike the EVA used in lighter boots, and it’s covered with a high-density nylon plate that provides torsional stability.
Unlike with some big boots, we experienced no shin-bang (thanks to tongue padding) and no toe-bang (due to D-ring locking laces that secure heels and fine-tune fit).
Overall, it is one of the best mountaineering boots you can find on the market today.
The Salewa brand has been around since the 1930s, first in Germany with packs and ski equipment. By the 1980s, it was recognised worldwide for its range of technical climbing, skiing and tramping clothing and equipment – including boots.
At first glance, the shoe looks a bit gimmicky. This isn’t helped by the funky-looking external wire structure – something called the Salewa Y Support System – which wraps around the ankle and heel of the boot. But, now that I’ve actually used the boot through a wide mix of terrain, I believe it is an excellent choice that delivers great value for money.
The boot is pitched at the 3-4 season off-trail market, including transalpine travel and lightweight summer mountaineering. It has a suede leather and nylon upper, with a Gore-Tex lining and a full rubber rand, which I love.
The sole is Vibram and rated with a mountaineering rubber. The tread is not particularly deep, so doesn’t hold as well in mud or soft snow, but the forefoot has a nice flat edge and sole for scrambling on wet rock. The sole is designed to take a heel clip/front strap crampon, although I would probably stick to a front and back strap because the boot is so light in the upper and a heel clip might create a bit too much flex for the crampon to stay attached.
Nylon plates are built into the midsole, giving the boot a surprising amount of stiffness and torsional rigidity, especially when considering how light it is (1320g; w 1100g).
I believe the Y Support System works well in both locking the heel in place and adding extra rigidity when the laces are cranked uptight. This adds extra pressure on the ankles, but I’d take that overslipping on treacherous ground.
It’s what I would call a technical boot, which may not suit everyone’s needs in the 3-4 season boot range. But I am certainly recommending it to anyone interested in a high-quality mountaineering boot.
For a relatively low cost mountaineering boot, this product is one of the most attractive options you can buy today. It comes with a stiff, dual-density EVA midsole and fiberglass insole board that provides plenty of support for alpine pursuits that require crampons and kicking toe holds. Be careful of the firm insole, though: It’s extra rigid because the shoe lacks a shank. Traction is impressive with these boots. The sticky Vibram TT Lite outsoles proved capable of climbing over dirt, snow, and wet rock. And when things get too slick for the rubber, the heel shelf makes them compatible with semi-automatic crampons.
After an entire day of hiking in ankle-deep snow, our feet didn’t get wet. The Gore-Tex-lined upper let in zero moisture, and the nylon upper regulated the temperature perfectly. Temperatures bottomed out at 17°F during one test hike, and our tester’s feet only started to feel chilly at the end of the seven-hour trek.
The stiff sole, toe bumper, and 360-degree rand give the boot as much armor as a plastic boot. The Scarpa Charmoz also earns heaps of praises for its astonishing lightness. Considering its stiff build, we love the Charmoz for its surprising comfort. We found it amazingly comfortable for climbing and walking. We liked it for performing well while step-kicking into the snow. There’s a satisfying amount of flex in this mountaineering boot, which we attribute to the less-cramped ankle cuff.
Overall, the Charmoz is surprisingly cheaper than most 4-season mountaineering boots, which makes it our budget buy.
The single leather mountain boot design has been around forever, and the Mont Blanc Pro is Scarpa’s version of it. It sports a lacing system that’s secure, though not intuitive. It’s warmer and more weather resistant than the lightweight boots, but not as warm as the super-gartered boots.
The Mont Blanc Pro GTX is a technical boot, with a rigid sole, for mountaineering. At first glance, it stands out for its Scarpa® Sock-Fit, a kind of sock or gaiter that wraps around the boot cuff. This feature provides exceptional comfort when putting it on and during activity, as it eliminates any hard elements or folds that could otherwise dig in when walking. The Sock-Fit is made with Schoeller®, a tough, stretch fabric that is highly breathable. PU ribbing is directly injected onto the upper fabric, which evenly spreads the pressure of the laces over the entire foot. The tongue is also reinforced to spread lace pressure and to keep out moisture. The Vibram® sole uses ACTIVimpact technology for greater impact absorption. TPU inserts with different densities in the midsole make it compatible with crampons, rubber inserts absorb impact, and a PU base gives greater stability. The Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX has pushed the boundaries of crampon-compatible rigid boots for mountaineering and mixed terrain.
This is an extremely comfortable boot, thanks to the adjustment system and flexible cuff. If you’re used to wearing heavy, rigid boots, it will probably feel as if you’re wearing a trekking shoe. The Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX performs well when walking on flat ground or snow. The doubts I had about its performance when walking across a steep slope were quickly resolved early on, when the hard snow meant I had to put on crampons: in spite of its flexibility, I was surprised at how well the cuff functions. It doesn’t overload the tibia and fibula, and no extra strength is needed to control the boot cuff.
On steeper and frozen slopes, without crampons, the boot edges well and give no problems on frontal techniques. On the way down it performs really well and the flexible cuff is much more comfortable than other boots, in the same category. I should mention, that even though the ankle support is better than I expected due to the excellent gaiter design and lacing system, it does offer less support than normal snow boots and you may notice this when you’re feeling tired.
However, the advantages it offers in terms of agility, comfort and climbing performance outweigh the moments when you would maybe prefer a stiffer cuff.
The Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX is totally compatible with crampons and has a stiff sole which is perfect for climbing with crampons on ice and rock. It’s a lightweight boot, weighing under 2 kg per pair, which will reduce fatigue on vertical climbs. When ice-climbing, the boot allows you to push down your heel well. We could categorise it as a versatile boot for all kinds of climbing although it certainly stands out from other stiffer boots when it comes to precise technical moves on finer climbs.
The La Sportiva Nepal Cube is the best of a long line of mountain boots. I think of this boot like the Toyota Tacoma of mountain boots; it’s not the fastest or lightest or the highest tech, but it will get you there. If it fits your foot, this is a good quiver-of-one boot. Previous versions of the Nepal offered amazing warmth and superb technical performance on all types of climbing terrain while remaining lightweight. The 31 oz Nepal Cube GTX is designed to offer similar performance, coming with a lower profile for added stability.
Many of the EVO’s existing construction materials and features have been carried over to the Cube including the use of a 3.2 mm thick silicone-impregnated leather upper, resolabe Vibram soles with an Impact Brake System (which slants the sole lugs in opposing directions to provide traction both forwards and back) and a GoreTex insulated liner. The Cube also uses a hinged ankle to prevent lateral torsion and has a removable, adjustable tongue for a custom fit. These features combined make the Cube GTX one of the most technically-advanced mountaineering boots on the market.
The Cube uses a 4mm thick carbon fiber honeycomb insulated insole. The honeycomb design allows the insole to be incredibly lightweight and thin while providing adequate insulation and rigidity for climbing cold, rough terrain. Additionally, the crampon-ready polyurethane midsole is only 2mm thick. Thinner soles allow climbers to have more stability by lowering their center of gravity, putting them more in touch with the ground, with or without crampons.
The silicone-impregnated leather is supplied by Perwanger of Italy. They tan the leather with a special process that makes it extremely water-repellent, while still remaining breathable. It’s the most durable leather available; made from the corium, which is the strongest part of the leather.
The ankle utilizes a hinge system that allows lateral flexibility while still allowing longitudinal lockout for excellent support and safety.
Wearing the Cubes is like wearing a pair of very supportive (but very warm) hiking boots. They do not feel heavy or clunky; this is arguably due to their low weight (heavy-duty hiking boots can often weigh up to 30 oz) and thinner soles, which noticeably improve contact with the ground. While the boots are light — they still provide massive support.
Why are we impressed?
Lightweight winter mountaineering boot that is lighter and warmer than its predecessors
Compatible with all crampon styles
Great ankle flexion for flatfooting technique as well as mixed ice and rock climbing
What negatives must you be aware of?
Thinner sole than previous models means you have to adjust crampons
Durability with a thinner sole and lightweight construction may be a concern
The Scarpa Phantom Tech is an award-winning mountaineering boot. It’s impressively light yet still protects climbers’ feet from water in all of its forms. You’d have to step in a puddle deeper than 10 inches to get wet feet in this boot. It’s also quite warm, which is impressive given the weight. Released in 2016, the Phantom Tech is the lightest boot in Scarpa’s Phantom series which also includes the Phantom 6000 and Phantom 8000. While both the 6000 and 8000 are geared more towards high altitude mountaineering, the Tech is designed specifically for technical climbing and replaces the Phantom Guide.
I was very impressed with the toe box. The feeling and stability that you get is impressive. Also, they are very light for the warmth due to the luxurious Primaloft lining, reflective aluminum layer and insulating EVA mid-sole.
It’s worth noting that I do get a bit of an uncomfortable pressure point on the top of my foot from the lace keeper. I think that if your boots were not fitted as tight this would not be a problem. For a lightweight, warm, technical ice boot, I can’t expect more. After a solid season of climbing, the soles will still look brand new. The attention to detail in the manufacturing of these boots is quite amazing, and there is not a stitch out of place.
I was blown away with how dry they kept my feet. The “Outdry” membrane really works. The fact it has a built-in top gator means that when you accidentally step into the creek, your feet will remain dry for the rest of the day. Even after hiking through wet heavy snow, my feet were happy and dry.
The boots have a B3 crampon rating which means that they should perform well with any high performance crampon. The way the lacing hugs your foot means you won’t bash your toes into the front of the boot when kicking hard into ice. Even though the Phantom Tech’s are stiff, there is still a good amount of sensitivity. You can actually feel the small edges you step on when dry tooling.
Climbing in these boots is almost like using fruit boots. The Phantom Tech’s use the NAG last which is used in all of Scarpa’s new boots such as the Rebel Pro, Mont Blanc Pro and Charmoz so this feeling of dexterity makes sense. Paired up is some high performance crampons and you’re set for some steep ice or mixed climbing as well as big alpine missions!
Salewa named its boot line after avian spirit animals. The Ravens sit in the middle between the brand’s aggressive, lightweight climber (the Rapace) and its altitude cruiser (the Vultur) which are also on this roundup. The Raven is a well-priced mountaineering boot, running about $50 less than comparable boots from other brands.
The Raven layers mixed materials in the uppers. Suede and abrasion-resistant “microfiber” (though it looks more like a hearty ballistic fabric) are wrapped in a full-rubber rand. This combination provides a palette of support and toe-bashing bumpers in a relatively lightweight package. A rubberized exoskeleton laced with foxing cables connects the sole to the laces. As you cinch the laces over the instep, the exoskeleton wraps around the heel to pull the foot back into the cup of the boot. The mechanism really reduces heel slip. Out of all my boots, I experience the least heel slip wearing the Ravens.
The laces run over an overlapping tongue, mimicking a climbing shoe, and claim to provide a precise fit over the foot. The gusseted tongue is no fuss and remained aligned over the foot and under the laces.
A set of locking cantilever eyelets ratchet to lock the laces over the lower foot. Two sets of cinch-locking eyelets pinch the laces over the midfoot and at the top of the boot. This combination provides a variable fit — secure over the lower foot but loose at the top.
Also, the boot’s heel welts can take a crampon’s heel lever. But the boots lack a toe welt to accept “automatic”-style crampons. So you’ll want to look for a strap-on or hybrid crampon to pair with the Raven.
I found the soft (and lower-than-usual) ankle cuff provided more generous forward flex than others. Paired with a reasonable rocker and above-average toe flex, it’s a comfortable boot for long approaches.
Skip this model if you’re looking for a weekend hiker. While it “walks” very well for a mountain boot, the stiff three-quarter shank shines on alpine climbs with mixed terrain. But I’d personally want something lighter for general hiking.
Looking for a winter boot? While the boot does have a reasonable amount of insulation, I’d still reach for something plusher while traveling for extended periods on snow.
But if you’re in the market for a mid-volume spring/summer boot, the Ravens might just be the ticket. Its out-of-the-box comfort, warmth, and rock-ready build make it a solid choice for alpine climbs.
The Ribelle Tech OD is a unique-looking boot, with a high mesh gaiter that provides more debris protection than support. The lack of a true cuff results in lots of ankle flex and, combined with the most pronounced toe rocker in the test, creates a natural stride. The tongueless design also cuts bulk while maintaining weatherproofing. PrimaLoft insulation kept testers’ feet warm down to 20°F. Ding.
The Ribelle Mountain Tech is one of the lighter B2/C2 crampon-compatible boots on the market, and if you’re used to clumpy traditional winter footwear, you’ll really notice the difference. Given their weight and amazing comfort (no breaking in required for these little beauties), I was surprised how well they took a crampon. They are rated as B2 and whilst I suspect their lack of ankle support will make them feel less secure on steep ice, their precision (from a technical last) and their lightness will probably be a boon on more mixed ground allowing more precise placements. On a typical turf, snow, rock route, they felt very precise and secure, although I did notice I could feel the crampon heel clip on my Achilles. I would happily use these on the easier grade winter climbs. For scrambling, they are awesome, being rigid enough for edging and giving much more protection than an approach shoe yet being only fractionally heavier.
The biggest difference between the Scarpa Ribelle and other B2 rated boots was when walking. You genuinely stride easily even on hard surfaces, with none of the heel-toe smash often associated with the more rigid boots. The gentler rolling I put down to marginally more flex and a slightly enhanced rocker. Downhill, on snow, rock and grass, the sole unit is very positive, and the lightness and general feel tempt you to speed up. The Outdry lining certainly makes them waterproof, and because it’s outside the insulation, it will keep the whole boot dry rather than just the foot.
Overall my initial impressions of the Scarpa Ribelle are very favourable.
These Salewa Vultur Vertical GTX boots let you carry as much weight as your back can handle. The stiff nylon-and-fiberglass insole and Pebax midsole offer rigid support for heavy loads and crampon use on technical terrain (they’re compatible with automatic crampons). Plus, the tough microfiber upper and high-cut cuff enhances stability.
After our testing, these boots are some of the toughest boots we’ve tried. We credit the armor-like “Superfabric” and wraparound rubber rand. During my testing, using brand-new, super-sharp crampons, I did no damage when I accidentally kicked the boot’s upper.
The fit of these boots is impressive. The lacing system has a locking cam, so you can independently dial in fit on the boot’s upper and lower sections (but it still fits narrower feet best). And the Vultur comes with two interchangeable foot-beds so you can fine-tune volume for a more precise fit. As per other Salewa mountain boots I’ve reviewed, the Vultur Vertical are wide-fitting overall. At the front, they are less aggressively asymmetric than some technical winter boots, and this suits my broad feet.
Salewa have several models, and the Vultur is the high altitude model.
Upper material: water repellent Cordura®, insulating perforated felt, low density expanded PE foam, thermo-reflective aluminium, water resistant Lorica® with Antiacqua™ external coating; gaiter – Elastic Cordura® cuff, Cordura® with laminated and taped water resistant membrane, Air Injected rubber rand
Closure: Dual Boa® closure system
Lining: inner boot – 6mm PE, EVA single density foam, Cordura® Flex Zone, dual velcro closure
Insole: 3mm Honeycomb Tech insulating carbon
Midsole: 2mm Polyurethane graded
Outsole: Vibram® Matterhorn with Impact Brake System™
La Sportiva developed these with Simone Moro, who knows how much fun you can have at high-altitudes.
I consider the climbing feel and fit, the warmth and the weight to be the most significant aspects of a high altitude mountaineering boot such as this. I’ve also mentioned the Boa lacing system since I feel it’s also noteworthy. The feel is slim and snug. They seem to have a much smaller profile. They feel precise whilst climbing, and I can place the boot edge or a front point on small holds quite easily. This is partly because of the low weight, too.
The best way to describe the ‘feel’ is: when you change from mountaineering boots to climbing shoes, your feet suddenly feel light and your placements are precise. You can stand on much smaller holds with ease. This is a similar feeling when pulling on the G2 SM – they’re the opposite of clogs.
Warmth is one of the most important aspects of a technical, high altitude boot. I think these boots strike the right balance between warmth, low weight and slim volume. It can make the difference between being able to feel your toes whilst climbing a pitch, and frost-nipped toes whilst rapping off. They should be great at 6000m, and in the right circumstances, I imagine they could take you much higher. If you were constantly moving, they could be warm enough for climbing at 7000m+.
The liner feels like a neoprene composite and certainly adds to the warmth. It stays relatively dry even when standing in snow. The underside of the liner has a grippy, rough surface, so it doesn’t slide around in the outer boot, which helps with the climbing fit. I’m genuinely psyched about the Boa lacing system on the G2 SMs. This style of lacing is becoming more and more popular. You can tighten and loosen the wire lacing easily, with gloves on, and in seconds. I can’t stress how much I disliked tying my laces in winter, so this is great. I’ve experienced no slippage on the Boa system, and because there are two tightening wheels, you can fine-tune the fit. Each boot weighs just under one kilo, which is pretty impressive when considering their construction. I’ve realised how important weight is when alpine. Wearing a boot that weighs less than 1 kg is great, especially when you consider you’ll be repeatedly lifting this weight a few thousand times every day.
It is a mountaineer’s dream: a fully insulated, rigid-soled double boot without the bulky plastic shell. The Baruntse is made for big peaks but feels and fits more like a heavy-duty hiker. It’s easy to lace, and lighter, more sensitive, and less clunky than a plastic boot. And the liner pulls out for quick drying once you’re in camp. We love it for all our big-mountain trips in wet to frozen weather conditions. The insulated outer boot is a polyurethane-coated synthetic fabric for total waterproofness, with a plastic-reinforced Cordura tongue that keeps out snow and ice and protects your foot from lace rub.
The Baruntse is stiff enough for front-pointing, yet the soft outer cuff back-flexes on downhills to eliminate calf rub and prevent Achilles blisters. An insulated, aluminium-lined insole and aggressive. The Vibram tread keeps you warm, stable, and secure. It is a solid choice for any multiday mountaineering trip, but also a safe bet for vertical ice and winter explorers who get cold feet. It is designed for men, who are willing to maneuver rugged terrain. The hiking boots reach up beyond the ankle to ensure that your feet are fully protected. Its exterior is waterproof, and the inside is insulated to ensure that heat does not escape or accumulate in the boots. Hence, the boots keep your feet warm and dry but at the same time cool, when the temperatures rise.
The interior of these hiking boots features high-density foam. The heavy insulation helps to cushion the feet from the shocks experienced when hiking. In addition, the cushioning also acts as an insulator. It ensures that heat does not escape from inside the boots, and if it gets hot, it restricts heat from accumulating. The Cordura inside covering is also perforated to enhance breathability. All these features help, in ensuring that the feet are comfortable, all through.
What are our favorite features?
Water outer boot
High-tech hardware gaiter for speedy lacing
What could be better?
Not as durable compared to double plastic boots
Not the best choice for technical mountaineering terrain
The Scarpa Wrangell is a no-nonsense, aggressive mountaineering boot, designed to protect and keep your feet safe when you are up there in the mountains. Whether you are fighting wildland fires, or you are just making your approach, these will keep your feet safe and comfortable. Apart from that, their construction is extraordinary. Their stitching is flawless; their uppers feel luxurious and durable, while their lining gives your feet a comfortable feel. Besides that, they also come with sturdy laces. Therefore, when you purchase these boots, you are investing in something that will protect your feet for many years to come. With the Scarpa Wrangell, you are not just buying a pair of mountaineering boots. Instead, you are purchasing durability, comfort as well as long-term protection for your feet.
They come with uppers made of durable rough-out leather, which can handle almost anything that comes your way on the trail. On the other hand, the gusseted tongue keeps stones and small sticks out while the double tongue design delivers an excellent fit. And as noted above, they are also equipped with a talibrelle lining, which prevents friction, hot spots, and blisters. When it comes to comfort, you can never go wrong with these men’s Scarpa Wrangell. They are outfitted with a cushioned footbed, which provides long-lasting comfort. Also, the tongue and collar have thick cushioning for additional comfort and ankle support. As much as their flexible outsole makes them incompatible with crampons, it’s durable enough and provides reliable traction regardless of the surface.
If you are looking for a versatile mountaineering boot that can comfortably handle a wide range of mountain conditions and environments, then you don’t need to go any further. These mountaineering boots for backpacking excel in mountainous terrain, where stability and excellent traction are necessary to keep you secure and safe. When you are trekking on tough terrain, these boots provide the required stiffness to descend or side-hill steep slopes with a heavy pack on your back. They are also flexible enough to allow your foot a wide range of motion during ascents. Its shaft rises above the ankle to provide additional support while the Sock-Fit design allows you to create a custom and snug fit.
Underfoot, these mountaineering boots for big feet have a combination of polyurethane and EVA to give you a flexible midsole. Also, this blend of materials creates a nice balance between shock absorption, stiffness, as well as durability. And they also help to keep the boots lightweight. With this construction, you have all the support you need to bear a heavy load, while your feet will remain comfortable and happy.
Scarpa is an alpine-centric brand of footwear, and the Zodiac Tech GTX comes with an outsole designed for such demanding environments. Its outsole unit supplies enhanced traction, thus giving you the necessary agility to tackle boulders. Whether you are trekking on snow, loose dust, granite, scree or sand, you can always rely on these boots’ traction. Moreover, the widely spaced lugs prevent mud from getting stuck on the sole. Also, with its high-top design, sturdy suede leather uppers and a wide range of other premium features, you are assured of adequate traction whenever you step out with the Zodiac.
The Mammut Nordwand Knit High GTX is a flexible and lightweight mountaineering boot, designed for alpine summers. As much as it’s significantly lighter than its competitors, it doesn’t compromise on support. Also, it supplies a reliable degree of an arch gripping fit and forefoot stability. Whether you are ascending or descending, you are assured of agility and flexibility on your feet. With its winning blend of lightweight performance and hard-wearing durability, remains the ideal summer mountaineering pair of boots.
A combination of abrasion-resistant mesh and tough suede in the upper provides the right balance of breathability and durability. These mountaineering boots are further backed up by the ever-reliable GTX Performance membrane, for waterproofing and breathability when you are trudging through rain and melting snow. And as much as these boots don’t have the stiffness to deal with extreme winter conditions, they are perfect for sleet-ridden days, especially when you have to move light and fast in the hills.
On the outside, the Vibram WrapThread Combi outsole delivers traction as well as sure-footedness to give you a comfortable and stable ride. The 3F System wraps around the rear of your foot to give you a friction-free fit while the 3D Lacing System makes it easy to adjust the laces according to your fit.
The Grand Dru is a classic mountaineering boot based off Scarpa’s ever-popular Mont Blanc boot. The main difference being insulation and a tighter cuff (built-in gaiter) on the Mont Blanc.
The boot is made with 3mm Perwanger Suede leather upper, which is very durable and water-resistant. A full Gore Tex lining makes this a very watertight boot. A full rand protects the lower boot and the Vibram ‘total traction’ sole completes this stiff shanked boot.
The ‘Total Traction’ Vibram sole is noticeably ‘sticky’. The sole seems quite soft and tactile which grips better than others I’ve used on both rock and grassy slopes. This does come with a trade-off though, and I have already noticed some chunks out of the sole and wear after only a few months of hard use. They are a very watertight boot and have stayed that way since day one. I did get these boots wet a couple of times during the season and found they dried much faster than expected, heavier lined mountain boots can soak up a lot of water and take days to dry, but the Grand Dru’s seemed to dry quite quickly which is great bonus as wet feet can and do happen even with waterproof boots. I found the Grand Drus had good feel when climbing and although having a wider toe. It sounds like I had good ability to climb on my toes.
What do we love it for?
Wide foot bed
High ankle support
Sticky sole with good traction
Light for this class of boot
What were we disappointed with?
Sticky sole does not seem as durable and tough as some other soles
Things to Consider
Choosing the best mountaineering boots can be tricky, but there are several features that when considered, can help you in selecting the best option. In this section, we will discuss some of these features.
Features to Consider
When purchasing mountaineering boots, it is essential to consider the following features in order not waste money on something that won’t fit or won’t suite your needs.
Mountains come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of technical difficulty; therefore, it’s imperative that your footwear is best suited for the conditions. For the highest and coldest mountains in the world, —7,000 and 8,000-meter Himalayan peaks, Denali, and Antarctica—warmth is the utmost consideration. Extreme cold/high-altitude boots are heavy, warm, and commonly take the form of double or even triple boots (with a shell, liner, and fixed gaiter). Some, like the La Sportiva Makalu, even have an insulated sole that adds warmth on the underside of your foot.
Because sore, blistered feet are the last thing you want to worry about when you are halfway into a couple of days of long hike, size is one of the most important considerations to make when buying mountaineering boots.
When you do look into buying mountaineering boots, take note of this: it’s common to hear people complain about how their feet are feeling squished or that their toes are banging; it’s rarer to hear someone say how their boots are too big.
Ask how high you are thinking of trekking, as your feet swell in high altitudes. And if you are looking into a leather pair of boots, know that over time, an exposure leather tends to shrink.
Therefore, when in doubt, always opt for one size larger.
Double boots are warmer but having two separate parts means more weight, and these days most single boots tend to be warm and stiff enough to excel during all four seasons. However, having a double boot means you can dry out the liners, which is suitable if your hike involves camping.
Waterproof boots can avoid getting their insides wet, but take note that a con of having waterproofed boots is that if any water or snow does leak inside of them, it is trapped there. Because of this, double boots are also advisable if you plan to cross any streams, creeks, deep snow etc.
4. Weight & Warmth
The less weight we carry, the easier and more efficient we can be in the mountains; the same can be said with warmth. Nobody gets very far very comfortably with frozen toes.Proper mountaineering boots tend to be heavy, which is why it is important to consider the value of where that weight is coming from.
These values should stem from traction, protection and warmth. A lightweight pair of boots will weigh around 1.5kg, and traditionally this meant less warmth. But with recent designs and technological advances, this isn’t necessarily true.
A great new feature that offers the best of both worlds is an integrated gaiter. An integrated gaiter is designed to keep snow out of your boots and pants, adding tons of warmth to your boots while decreasing the weight of your setup. And such models as Mammut Nordwand Knit High GTX Mountaineering Boot, even though not having a gaiter, are still very warm and comfortable due to their unique knit design, which allows you to put them on even when you ware gloves.
Find a pair of boots that provide enough warmth for your intended use but that don’t weigh you down. It is important to never sacrifice a good fit for the sake of weight. Through long, treacherous treks, you will thank yourself for it. The Salewa Vultur Evo GTX Mountaineering Boot, for example, is a very warm boot.
5. Mountain Activity & Conditions
Identifying the weather conditions and the activities that you will use your mountaineering boots for – whether it be for sunnier hikes, ice climbing or autumn mountaineering etc. It is imperative to select the correct pair.
Each activity and climate type require different kinds of equipment; and because of this, finding one boot that will excel in a variety of uses is hard.
Someone who plans to only venture out on warmer winter days and stay below tree lines will not have to prioritize warmth in their boots, while a technical climber would focus on weight-effective boots.
6. Boot Grading
Mountaineering boots and crampons come in three different grades, which indicate the terrain they’re suitable for. The grades of mountaineering boots available are B1, B2, and B3, while crampons are available in C1, C2, and C3 grades. B1 boots are compatible with C1 crampons, B2 boots can take C1 and C2 crampons, and B3 boots are compatible with any crampons of C1, C2 or C3 grades. For example, the SCARPA Ribelle Tech OD is a B2 grade mountaineering boot.
These grades also affect stiffness: B1 boots are only semi-stiff, while B2 mountaineering boots are relatively stiff and B3 ice climbing boots are extremely rigid and offer hardly any flexibility at all. This makes them the best mountaineering boots for extreme conditions.
B1 mountaineering boots (and C1 crampons) are for hikes on hills and mountains. In contrast, B2 mountaineering boots (and B2 crampons) are suited for alpine routes with steeper, more unstable areas and patches of ice, and heavy-duty B3 boots (and C3 crampons) are designed for more extreme mountaineering at higher altitudes and ice climbing.
Apart from providing warmth and protection, mountaineering boots should also strike a balance between a hiking boot, a rock shoe as well as a partial ski boot. Being able to loosen the boot when hiking and tying it tightly during mountain climbing is vital. Some high-end mountaineering boots come with a separate upper and lower lacing system, which allows you to adjust the tightness accordingly. Underfoot stiffness is also an important factor to pay attention to. For non-technical ice climbing, it’s advisable to choose a model that comes with a three-quarter shank sole. Such boots come with the stiffness of a hiking boot. Furthermore, they are perfect for technical scrambling and long approaches. For advanced mountaineering and technical ice climbing, make sure you purchase boots with a full-length shank.
8. Shell Materials
When buying your mountaineering boots, you also need to consider the shell carefully. It’s usually the first line of defense against the elements. Whether your climbing boots are made of leather or plastic, it needs to withstand abrasion from skis, crampons, rocks and other elements. Apart from that, the shell should also be durable enough to keep out mountain grit, scree, snow, ice and water, among others. Also, the shell determines the boot’s stiffness significantly. Stiffness comes in handy during ice climbing or when you have to do some skiing during the ascent. Most of the mountaineering boots on the market come with a shell made of synthetics or leather. Some are made of a combination of the two materials. If you opt for leather mountaineering boots, then you should apply aftermarket water or snow seal to prevent moisture penetration. La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX Mountaineering Boot is one example of a leather mountaineering boot.
How to Size Mountaineering Boots
Among the mountaineering boots on our list SCARPA Grand Dru GTX Mountaineering Boot has the largest variety of sizes, but which one to choose? It’s important to get the correct size of mountaineering boots to have a safe and comfortable climbing experience when you go mountaineering. There are a couple of tips that are worth paying attention to if you’re looking to buy a new pair of mountaineering boots; these can help you to make sure that your new boots fit your feet perfectly with no discomfort or looseness.
Firstly, make sure you wear the correct socks when trying on boots. Wear the same socks that you’d wear for mountaineering to make sure your shoe fits the same. Make sure your sock has a tight-knit and good, stretchy, supportive construction, and if possible is made from moisture-wicking fabric. If you find that your boots are actually a little too loose, try adding a sock liner to improve the fit slightly!
You can use socks to adjust the fit of a boot that’s a little too large, but nothing can help with a mountaineering boot that’s too small for your feet. When you climb a mountain, your boots end up angled upwards as you ascend and downwards as you descend afterwards.
This gives a slightly different set of pressures and strains from walking on a flat surface, so when trying on a pair of mountaineering boots, you should test them on an inclined surface to make sure they’re comfortable. When properly laced up, your mountaineering boots should fit such that when walking downhill your toes should not push against the front of the boots, and there should be less than a finger width of space at the back of the boot.
It is also important to ensure that your boots are properly laced to achieve the correct fit and sizing. Lace from the toe, and gradually increase the tension as you work up your foot. You may find that after a little walking you may need to adjust the tension and relace the boots, especially with newer mountaineering boots that you’re still breaking in.
Yes! Taking on a trail when you’re no bigger than a backpack can be lots of fun, but even the smallest feet need to be outfitted with boots that will minimize slips and trips without taking the fun out of the expedition.
There are many countries that produce mountaineering boots, but from our experience, most of those made in Italy are excellent options.
From our reviews and testing, we hope that you are better equipped in selecting the best mountaineering boot model. From our roundup, we recommend three options. First is the La Sportiva Men’s Makalu Mountaineering Boot. It is an all leather boot featuring a full steel shank and is designed for big mountain experiences. The Salewa Men’s Rapace GTX Mountaineering Boot offers the best value, coming with an external wire structure called the Salewa Y Support System. For those on a budget, we recommend the Scarpa Men’s Charmoz Mountaineering Boot. From long approaches through treeline to crossing glacier-polished granite slabs and cramponing up icy summit pyramids, the Charmoz will keep your feet dry and agile. We hope that this post on the best mountaineering boots will assist you in selecting the right option on the market.