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ChrisB
10-14-2016, 09:58 AM
Hi,

I am looking for a light weight alternative to my Degrees. I need a boot good to around 0 deg for day trips on snowshoes, micro spikes and flexible crampons.

I found THIS BOOT (http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/88414?feat=592-GN1&page=men-s-wildcat-boots-sport&attrValue_0=Mineral%20Gray&productId=1476124) boot at LL Bean.

Anyone have an opinion about its suitability for day trips in the Whites, Belknaps, Ossipees, etc.?

Thanks,

cb

peakbagger
10-14-2016, 10:17 AM
No opinion on that boot but I have had good luck with prior versions of this boot http://www.newbalance.com/pd/fresh-foam-1000-boot/BM1000-V1.html?dwvar_BM1000-V1_color=Black_with_Grey#color=Black_with_Grey

They have held up remarkably well. The bummer for me is they used to offer 4E width now they only offer medium and 2E. The normal caveat applies is that New Balance sizing is funky, try them on or buy through Zappos so you can return for a swap. I dump the stock inserts and use my montrail heat moldable inserts.

New Balance only seems to come out with winter boots every couple of years and they dont make lot of the odd sizes so the time to buy them is soon.

TEO
10-14-2016, 10:48 AM
The Cabela's Avalanche boot (http://www.cabelas.com/product/Cabelas-Avalanche-Gram-Winter-Boots/722736.uts) has received good reviews on this site & is similar to the L.L. Bean boot that you link to. I don't have enough use in mine to be a great judge, but so far they seem like a good-enough boot, especially for the price.

Dingo
10-14-2016, 03:54 PM
I love my Salomon Toundras. I'm going into my third winter season with them and have never had any issues. Comfortable, waterproof and super warm.

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Winter-Boots-Reviews/Salomon-Toundra-Mid-WP

JustJoe
10-14-2016, 05:46 PM
Those look similar to what I wear. I have a 3 year old version of these. MEN’S BUGABOOT™ PLUS III (http://www.columbia.com/mens-bugaboot-plus-iii-titanium-omni-heat-1650201.html?cgid=footwear-men&dwvar_1650201_variationColor=010#start=3)

Plenty warm and work fine with Microspikes and crampons. I'd think the ones you're looking at would fit your needs.

Ed'n Lauky
10-15-2016, 10:31 PM
I have the Cabella Avalanche boots and have been very pleased with them. I have used them in -10 F and my feet have always been warm and dry. They are very rugged and have held up well with snowshoes and microspikes. The price is hard to beat especially if you can get them during one of the Cabella sales. They are, though, leather boots and I would think that they would not be a light as the LL Bean boots.

egilbe
10-16-2016, 07:30 AM
I have an older version of the Wildcats. They don't fit me that well and my ankle rubs when I wear snowshoes with them. I really should take them back to Beans and get something else, but they work well for Winter boots if I don't wear any traction aids. I've used my Oboz Bridgers with two pairs of socks and they were good down to -15 as long as I was moving. They were plenty warm enough with the gaiters. I bought some Salomon Toundra's last year at the end of the season. So far they are pretty comfortable. Still need to try them with Snow shoes or crampons

Boots are hard to get other's opinions on them, because they may not fit your feet. Asking about quality is OK, about fit, not so much.

DougPaul
10-16-2016, 11:35 AM
A general warning about winter boots with soft uppers: tight snowshoe and crampon straps/bindings can cut off the circulation and lead to cold feet or frostbite.

Doug

alexmtn
10-17-2016, 09:55 AM
A general warning about winter boots with soft uppers: tight snowshoe and crampon straps/bindings can cut off the circulation and lead to cold feet or frostbite.Doug

Not only that. REGARDLESS of how tight or loose the straps are, they can hurt you if you're traversing steep terrain -- i.e., if your crampon or snowshoe is engaging terrain that has a severe sideways slant. This situation compels a crampon or snowshoe to roll under your foot. As your ankle resists the roll, the full force of your body weight levers the attachment straps to dig harshly into the upper inside and/or outside of your feet. If you're in a soft boot, there may be almost nothing between your foot and those straps, and it hurts to the point of not being sustainable for any significant distance.

The Salomon Toundra boot is particularly ironic example in this respect. If your feet tend to run cold, you'll love the effectiveness of this boot's aerogel insulation. The boot also offers a fit that works for a broad range of folks. Sadly though, its uppers are the softest of anything I've ever tried. This enhances the boot's comfort and makes it less likely that the boot itself will be the cause of cut-off circulation, but it puts the upper sides of your feet at the full mercy of roll-tightened crampon/snowshoe straps when you're on a route with steep traverses. It's a great boot, but you're not going to enjoy it on that type of route. If you like such terrain, I encourage you to assess carefully the amount of protection that the upper sides of any soft winter boot you're considering will give you from the aforementioned strap dig-in.

Alex

egilbe
10-17-2016, 10:54 AM
Bleh. I'll stay to smaller hills until I'm confident in them. Im not ready to drop $400 on plastic boots.

jniehof
10-17-2016, 11:12 AM
There are many things I like about the Toundra: they are definitely lightweight and warm, with pretty darn good traction, and will handle additional traction fairly well (taking into account Alex's comments on straps, though!) However, something about them absolutely fries my feet and ankles (particularly the achilles). I suspect it's the zero arch support, and there just isn't sufficient volume in them for my usual add-on insole. (I need to do some more experimenting with others) Replacing the existing one would axe part of the benefit. There may also be something to exactly how the uppers flex...maybe I'm trying to put too much muscle into them. Regardless, I'm happier after twelve miles in Koflachs than after eight in the Toundra. (Yes, I'm one of those sick people for whom the cheap Koflach Degre works amazingly well.) The Toundra replaced my Caribous and I'm somewhat regretting that.

This isn't something that is really going to show up in five minutes walking around the store. I'm not sure I have much of a suggested action, just be forewarned...

DayTrip
10-17-2016, 12:58 PM
Regardless, I'm happier after twelve miles in Koflachs than after eight in the Toundra. (Yes, I'm one of those sick people for whom the cheap Koflach Degre works amazingly well.)

This isn't something that is really going to show up in five minutes walking around the store. I'm not sure I have much of a suggested action, just be forewarned...

Are Koflach boots really that bad? I saw them at the EMS in North Conway eyeballing double boots a few weeks ago and the guy called them "Frankenstein boots". He said they've been an affordable go-to boot that has been around for years and they're very warm (which is main reason I was looking at a double boot) but that they were very stiff, which made me wonder how they'd feel snowshoeing or walking many miles. At half the price of Spantiks or other double boot models though it was tempting. Scarpa was another brand I was looking at online but I haven't seen in stores (I have yet to get into IME in North Conway).

alexmtn
10-17-2016, 02:38 PM
Are Koflach boots really that bad? . . . At half the price of Spantiks or other double boot models . . . Scarpa was another brand I was looking at online . . .

You can find fantastic hard boots in all the major brands. And while it may be helpful to compare features across the brands and models and choose the boot that has the 'best' combination of features, all that, unfortunately, is a secondary consideration. The primary consideration is [no, not whether the color matches your parka and backpack], how the boots fit your feet. If you can walk 12 miles in a Koflach, that's great. If a boot you try doesn't give your feet such an easy ride, well that's what the other brands and models are there for. Hard boots - whether in plastic or leather, single or double layer - are especially sensitive to this. They're made on different lasts, and you've got to find the one closest to the shape of your foot. A hard boot is just what the name implies: hard. It will not willingly accommodate deviations in the shape of your foot vs. the last. In the case of double layer boots, a heat moldable lining may help in forcing your square foot into a round boot, but it's far, far from a panacea.

The reason hard boots exist is that they *can* work with traction in a manner that gives you maximum bite on the terrain without *any* bite on your feet from straps on the tops/sides of your feet or traction parts through the soles. If you're hiking on terrain that doesn't require serious traction, compatible soft boots are much easier to find because they're soft and have some give. My only caution in this respect is that the soles of some soft boots are thin. This lightens the boot, which is nice, but your MicroSpikes will feel like endless little stones poking into the soles of your feet when you do road/flat trail walks on continuous ice.

I recommend you keep looking and trying relentlessly until you find a boot that feels OK when laced so as to surround, but not hug your foot, that doesn't allow your foot and heel to move around when so laced, and that doesn't allow your toes to jam into the front of the boot when headed downhill when so laced. Happy feet are an amazing gift. Hey, if that Spantik happens to be the boot that makes your feet happy amid all the other less costly options, well, it's totally worth it.

Alex

Trivia item #1: Koflachs actually are Scarpas (corporate acquisition a few years back)

Trivia item #2: Since the Spantik (a great combination of warmth, lightness and traction) was mentioned, I'll note that one of my friends found that the fit for his feet was wonderful and he went for it. Some months later, he used the boots in a spring hike. His foot went into a slush puddle. Water leaked in. This upset him. He learned that waterproofness isn't necessarily a key consideration for boots that are intended for high elevations and subzero temps.

jniehof
10-17-2016, 03:39 PM
Are Koflach boots really that bad?

Not for me. Other people tend to describe them in terms ranging from "car mechanic" through "politician" to "ex-spouse." I'm not sure why they work for me...yes, they're a bit awkward on hard bare ground, but not unacceptably so, and I haven't feel the need for heel-toe roll since marching band. I don't have any shin bang...they lace up tight and the ankle hinge works just fine. I wonder if part of it is connected to the sizing: the shells are all in US half size only, so my size 13 are actually 12.5 shell with slightly thinner liners. Were I 12.5/12.5 might it change the feel of the boot? Maybe. I've become resigned to the fact that one cannot always avoid expensive mistakes with winter boots. But I also own seven different models of road running shoes in a vain attempt to replace my discontinued favorites.

My boots happen to date from just before Koflach left the US market. My understanding is that when Scarpa brought the brand back, they also were using the Koflach molds, but obviously things do change over time. There's a pretty hearty secondary market (IME is an excellent place to look). And they do match my winter hardshell jacket, quite by accident.

(EDIT: Avoid mistakes. Not involve them. Sigh.)

DayTrip
10-17-2016, 04:08 PM
You can find fantastic hard boots in all the major brands. And while it may be helpful to compare features across the brands and models and choose the boot that has the 'best' combination of features, all that, unfortunately, is a secondary consideration. The primary consideration is [no, not whether the color matches your parka and backpack], how the boots fit your feet. If you can walk 12 miles in a Koflach, that's great. If a boot you try doesn't give your feet such an easy ride, well that's what the other brands and models are there for. Hard boots - whether in plastic or leather, single or double layer - are especially sensitive to this. They're made on different lasts, and you've got to find the one closest to the shape of your foot. A hard boot is just what the name implies: hard. It will not willingly accommodate deviations in the shape of your foot vs. the last. In the case of double layer boots, a heat moldable lining may help in forcing your square foot into a round boot, but it's far, far from a panacea.

The reason hard boots exist is that they *can* work with traction in a manner that gives you maximum bite on the terrain without *any* bite on your feet from straps on the tops/sides of your feet or traction parts through the soles. If you're hiking on terrain that doesn't require serious traction, compatible soft boots are much easier to find because they're soft and have some give. My only caution in this respect is that the soles of some soft boots are thin. This lightens the boot, which is nice, but your MicroSpikes will feel like endless little stones poking into the soles of your feet when you do road/flat trail walks on continuous ice.

I recommend you keep looking and trying relentlessly until you find a boot that feels OK when laced so as to surround, but not hug your foot, that doesn't allow your foot and heel to move around when so laced, and that doesn't allow your toes to jam into the front of the boot when headed downhill when so laced. Happy feet are an amazing gift. Hey, if that Spantik happens to be the boot that makes your feet happy amid all the other less costly options, well, it's totally worth it.

Alex

Trivia item #1: Koflachs actually are Scarpas (corporate acquisition a few years back)

Trivia item #2: Since the Spantik (a great combination of warmth, lightness and traction) was mentioned, I'll note that one of my friends found that the fit for his feet was wonderful and he went for it. Some months later, he used the boots in a spring hike. His foot went into a slush puddle. Water leaked in. This upset him. He learned that waterproofness isn't necessarily a key consideration for boots that are intended for high elevations and subzero temps.

I'm painfully aware of fit being number one concern. I have a very hard time finding a good fitting boot. I want a double layer boot primarily for the superior warmth but also hopefully for the removable inserts and the possibility of a custom fit (and should I move forward with Winter camping). I'm still on the fence about whether or not to buy and still researching. Pretty wide range of prices in this area from what I have seen so far. I use G10 crampons with my current soft boots and can crank the hell out of them without any discomfort at all. Hadn't even considered the side hill issue until it was brought up.

DayTrip
10-17-2016, 04:10 PM
Not for me. Other people tend to describe them in terms ranging from "car mechanic" through "politician" to "ex-spouse." I'm not sure why they work for me...yes, they're a bit awkward on hard bare ground, but not unacceptably so, and I haven't feel the need for heel-toe roll since marching band. I don't have any shin bang...they lace up tight and the ankle hinge works just fine. I wonder if part of it is connected to the sizing: the shells are all in US half size only, so my size 13 are actually 12.5 shell with slightly thinner liners. Were I 12.5/12.5 might it change the feel of the boot? Maybe. I've become resigned to the fact that one cannot always involve expensive mistakes with winter boots. But I also own seven different models of road running shoes in a vain attempt to replace my discontinued favorites.

My boots happen to date from just before Koflach left the US market. My understanding is that when Scarpa brought the brand back, they also were using the Koflach molds, but obviously things do change over time. There's a pretty hearty secondary market (IME is an excellent place to look). And they do match my winter hardshell jacket, quite by accident.

Thanks for the info. I'm definitely going to make a trip to IME when I'm ready to purchase. Seems like a universal recommendation from people on Winter mountaineering boots.

ChrisB
10-18-2016, 07:23 PM
(Koflach)-- Seems like a universal recommendation from people on Winter mountaineering boots.

Hi all and thanks for the feedback.

I too like my Koflachs, but in a winter such as last, walking on hard or icy ground in crampons (G12s) is a painful go in these doubles. That's why I thought a "light is right" alternative might be worth considering. I bought the Wildcats and will let you know how they perform. Given Beans' bullet proof return policy I've got nothing to lose.

Back in the day I clomped around in Galiber Hivernal doubles. They were very comfortable and REALLY heavy. But oh so warm. After walking in Chimney Pond in them I had to take a day off!

cb

jfb
10-19-2016, 07:33 AM
Back in the day I clomped around in Galiber Hivernal doubles. They were very comfortable and REALLY heavy. But oh so warm. After walking in Chimney Pond in them I had to take a day off!


I still have a pair of those that I use when snowblowing. I found them to be too heavy and stiff for hiking and now just use single leather boots. I may check out the Toundras to replace the Galibiers.

DayTrip
10-19-2016, 07:52 AM
Hi all and thanks for the feedback.

I too like my Koflachs, but in a winter such as last, walking on hard or icy ground in crampons (G12s) is a painful go in these doubles. That's why I thought a "light is right" alternative might be worth considering. I bought the Wildcats and will let you know how they perform. Given Beans' bullet proof return policy I've got nothing to lose.

Back in the day I clomped around in Galiber Hivernal doubles. They were very comfortable and REALLY heavy. But oh so warm. After walking in Chimney Pond in them I had to take a day off!

cb

I meant IME (International Mountain Equipment) in North Conway as a universal recommendation as a place to go for mountaineering boots, not Koflach as a universally recommended brand. FYI.

skiguy
10-19-2016, 09:33 AM
I meant IME (International Mountain Equipment) in North Conway as a universal recommendation as a place to go for mountaineering boots, not Koflach as a universally recommended brand. FYI.
When it comes to plastics both IME and EMS rent plastics. Not sure which brand they rent or if they rent the same brand. Bottom line is rent/try before you buy. It will give you a chance to experience different shapes/fits of boots. You never know what you might like or not. Rental boots are going to be more indicative of what a double boot is going to fit like eventually as the liners will already be packed out. If you land up liking something you try there is a chance you might be able to save some money as both rental fleets get turned over periodically. You might even want to mention that you are considering buying in the long run and if they would be willing to apply the rental cost towards a future purchase. Keep in mind if you buy a high quality boot to begin with and it does not work out you can always put it on consignment at IME or Ragged Mountain so all is not lost.
I have multiple winter Boots. IMO one boot does not do it all. If you are doing an array of Winter Hiking including day trips, overnights, flat terrain, rolling terrain, more technical/above tree line terrain your needs are going to vary. Most hikes in the Whites especially if they are day hikes, plastics are overkill IMO. If you are in the Presies overnight in subzero temps that is where plastics/or high quality hard insulated boots certainly come into play.

iAmKrzys
10-19-2016, 10:24 PM
Few days ago my son showed me an article in Popular Science (Nov/Dec 2016, pp 58-59) that mentioned Vibram Arctic Grip material that is supposed to give much better traction on ice. According to the article "When the wearer steps, the compound causes a split-second melt-then-freeze reaction; melting disperses the ice, and freezing against the textured sole creates more surface area for the lugs to grab onto."

Does anyone have boots that use this material? I guess it's pretty new, introduced just last January, so there hasn't been much time for real world testing but if anyone has any experience with it I would love to hear about it.

Here is Vibram's own video praising their product: https://us.vibram.com/products-menu/grip/arctic-grip/

skiguy
10-20-2016, 11:02 AM
Few days ago my son showed me an article in Popular Science (Nov/Dec 2016, pp 58-59) that mentioned Vibram Arctic Grip material that is supposed to give much better traction on ice. According to the article "When the wearer steps, the compound causes a split-second melt-then-freeze reaction; melting disperses the ice, and freezing against the textured sole creates more surface area for the lugs to grab onto."

Does anyone have boots that use this material? I guess it's pretty new, introduced just last January, so there hasn't been much time for real world testing but if anyone has any experience with it I would love to hear about it.

Here is Vibram's own video praising their product: https://us.vibram.com/products-menu/grip/arctic-grip/
Very interesting. Hopefully it works and if it does it will not be exclusive to Merrell. https://www.webtogs.com/en-UK/blog/merrell-exclusive-vibram-arctic-grip-technology/

iAmKrzys
10-20-2016, 07:50 PM
Very interesting. Hopefully it works and if it does it will not be exclusive to Merrell. https://www.webtogs.com/en-UK/blog/merrell-exclusive-vibram-arctic-grip-technology/

I think the exclusive deal covers several deals owned by Wolverine which includes Merrell: https://outdoorindustry.org/press-release/vibram-launches-arctic-grip-in-partnership-with-wolverine-worldwide/ I never owned any Merrell boots, so I don't know how comfortable and durable they are. I have been relatively happy with Vasque Breeze albeit I think their grip on wet rock is far from what I wish it were.

Peaks
10-23-2016, 06:34 PM
For what it's worth, we demoed the LL Bean Wildcat boot several years ago at AMC Highland Center and liked them better than Sourals, so we went and bought them. They are much lighter and warm enough for us while snowshoeing and hiking with microspikes or Kahtolas.

sierra
10-24-2016, 03:14 PM
I spent many year's in koflachs because that was what people used back in the day. Completely waterproof and can take a crampon or snowshoe with zero issues. Then leather mountaineering boots hit the market and plastics where being abandoned like illegitimate children. I'm in Lasportiva's now and would never go back. Plastics biggest downfall to me, is the lack of flexibility on hard terrain, like rocks or hard ice. Without any give in the boot, your leg's are touqued in an abusive fashion, it's very hard on your legs, imo. Unfortunately, leather boots are not cheap. I look at it as an investment, they perform well and last many years if cared for. Mine are 12 yrs old and going strong.

jfb
11-30-2016, 08:11 AM
There are many things I like about the Toundra: they are definitely lightweight and warm, with pretty darn good traction, and will handle additional traction fairly well (taking into account Alex's comments on straps, though!) However, something about them absolutely fries my feet and ankles (particularly the achilles). I suspect it's the zero arch support, and there just isn't sufficient volume in them for my usual add-on insole. (I need to do some more experimenting with others) Replacing the existing one would axe part of the benefit. There may also be something to exactly how the uppers flex...maybe I'm trying to put too much muscle into them. Regardless, I'm happier after twelve miles in Koflachs than after eight in the Toundra. (Yes, I'm one of those sick people for whom the cheap Koflach Degre works amazingly well.) The Toundra replaced my Caribous and I'm somewhat regretting that.

This isn't something that is really going to show up in five minutes walking around the store. I'm not sure I have much of a suggested action, just be forewarned...

I took a chance and ordered a pair of Toundras online. They fit me just fine with a pair of medium weight wool socks. Wore them around the yard after the recent snowstorm and a couple of days ago, I wore them while hiking 6 miles (flat) on the Catamount trail. Fortunately, I had no issues with them. They do have very flexible soles which for me would disqualify them for wearing with crampons, regardless of others' comments about the soft uppers.

jniehof
11-30-2016, 11:52 AM
I took a chance and ordered a pair of Toundras online. They fit me just fine with a pair of medium weight wool socks. Wore them around the yard after the recent snowstorm and a couple of days ago, I wore them while hiking 6 miles (flat) on the Catamount trail. Fortunately, I had no issues with them. They do have very flexible soles which for me would disqualify them for wearing with crampons, regardless of others' comments about the soft uppers.

I managed to get a thinner version of the Sole insole into my Toundras and my feet held up nicely for nine miles in the Belknaps last week. The sole's certainly softer than, say, plastics, but it's a lot firmer than the good ol' pac boots. Shouldn't be any major problems with properly hinged crampons.

SpencerVT
11-30-2016, 03:15 PM
I have been using LL Bean Arctic Sport Muck Boots. You can literally stand in running water for hours and your feet won't get wet.
I was out for a long time in the snow the other day and my feet were dry as a bone. I am not sure down to which temperature they stay warm, but I really like them - they are comfortable, with good soles, and they keep my feet completely dry when other boots won't.