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Thread: Winter mountaineering boot confusion

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    Winter mountaineering boot confusion

    After reading up, confused on the need for a mountaineering vs insulated hiking boot for day hikes on the easier Hike Peaks like Phelps and Cascade.

    Learned - Mountaineering vs. hiking boot mostly for crampon attachment, leather again plus synthetic now more popular than plastic, plastic offers removable liner for drying overnight, etc.

    I guess I'll want to find out given possible icy conditions, if my Merrell Snowmotion 400 gm Primaloft boots will take the proper crampon for a day trip and no worries about overnight boots freezing.

    Any tips on how one determines whether a leather, synthetic, or plastic mountaineering boot is really better for long day hikes than an insulated hiking boot? (I have the Grivel 6 point insteps. Missing the front points, not enough for a mountain like Giant if icy?)
    Last edited by adkayaker; 02-26-2010 at 11:55 AM.

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    I know an issue with softer leather or Sorrel-type boots and crampons is that there's too much flex and it can break the connecting bar, not so much an issue with snowshoes. I know many people use MSR snowshoes to cover the snowshoe requirement in the dacks and have the crampon-type traction required.

    I have Koflach Degres that I have spent back to back days climbing and hiking in with no issues. They are very comfortable if they fit and are tied as loose as possible (except when climbing). Another time I would buy the Koflach Expes, as the Degres aren't as warm as they might be. I never could find a more modern insulated boot that fit and I needed something to climb/mountaineer in.
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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Just for the record, mountaineering boots are generally insulated too.

    Perhaps the distinguishing characteristic would be that a mountaineering boot has a rigid (or semirigid) sole (for instance, mine have a full steel shank.) The rigid sole is better for attaching to crampons, better for snow climbing (kicking steps etc), and better for ice climbing. A mountaineering boot is also likely to have a stiff upper which keeps crampon/snowshoe straps from restricting circulation in your feet. Leather boots will break in and allow reasonable ankle flexibility while plastic boots will not break in and may cause friction and pressure problems on your shins ("shin bang").

    A flexible-soled (3/4 shank or less) boot is easier to walk in and, of course, may or may not be insulated. (Rigid boots are easy to walk in on snow or pavement but are a bit harder on rocky trails.) Many have soft uppers which allow straps to press on your feet.

    FWIW, I have an old pair of leather full-steel shank double (removable insulated liner) winter mountaineering boots and am still happy with them for winter hiking. I also used to use them for ice climbing with rigid crampons.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 02-26-2010 at 12:37 PM.

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    Am I correct that one of the major factors in choosing boots (besides trying them on of course) is whether you are backpacking overnight or doing day trips? Overnights really require a removable liner to keep in your sleeping bag or tent overnight?

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    Senior Member Hikes4fun's Avatar
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    I have the same Merrells..I wouldn't want to walk for extended distances w/ crampons..Too soft..Stick Nalgenes full of boiling water in 'em before bed..They'll be fine...If you don't expect to wear crampons for more than a brief time your Merrells will work...You have to decide for yourself about the type of boot..Everyone's comfort level/equipment will be different. If I'm headed above treeline for an extended time I'll wear my La Sportiva Glaciers...a great all around boot
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    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adkayaker View Post
    Am I correct that one of the major factors in choosing boots (besides trying them on of course) is whether you are backpacking overnight or doing day trips? Overnights really require a removable liner to keep in your sleeping bag or tent overnight?
    I wouldn't say "require". I always sleep with my leather mountaineering boots inside my sleeping bag - put them inside a bag and toss them by my feet. It will be easier to keep your boots dry for multiple nights in a row with doubles, but for overnights or a couple nights it's not required, just takes a little more management and care - ie. brushing off snow and scraping off ice off boots before putting them inside bag.
    Doug

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    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Chip -

    I recall reading recently - either here on another hiking BB - that Koflach is not longer in the plastic boot business. I forget the reason(s) why, but am reasonably certain I read it somewhere.

    Too bad - they were a good value. It doesn't affect me directly as that boot was a good fit. Now, if Scarpa ever stops production ...

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    ok, so to help me start shopping possible sales more for next winter use - again, probably just long day hikes of Big Slide, Phelps, Cascade, Giant, etc.

    and have wide EE feet and cold running feet from severe frost bite back in scout days, would I look at:single leather, double leather, plastic double insulated?

    Need a brand that does not run narrow

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    Big Slide, Giant, Phelps, etc are some of the "easier" hikes without long approaches. I personally think you would be fine with your Merrells. If you want something a little more heavy duty for day hiking, the boots like the LaSportiva Glaciers or the Trango S EVO are a good way to go. ie, Try an insulated, semi-rigid single boot either leather or synthetic. Also an advantage to those light mountaineering boots are they have a heel welt that can accomodate automatic crampons. No need for the heavier double boots unless your toes get too cold, you're planning on longer weekend camping, or you're thinking of maybe doing some technical climbing.

    I have somewhat larger feet, requiring a larger toe box. LaSportivas fit me well, and also AKUs are known to be good for wider feet if you are looking to get a mountaineering boot. I don't have experience with other brands, but they may make some models that are wide as well.

    Aviarome

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    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    I've always been warmer in a soft boot (Sorel, or one of the modern insulated equivalents, like my current Salomon Toundra). For warmth and comfort, these excel.

    As has been said, for most hikes in the Adks, serious ice is not much of an issue (exceptions include Haystack, Saddleback W face, and a few others).

    A good snowshoe crampon will get you through most trail ice in the Adks. Beyond that, remember there is a range of crampons, from "almost crampons" like microspikes, through "small point crampons" like the Hillsound (or "Mil Spec"), to a variety of full crampons, from flexible (like the BD Contact Strap) to rigid.

    Any kind of instep crampon is not very good, because it forces you to walk abnormally, and is fatiguing. I'd replace insteps with something from the range above. Anything from small point crampons up will have more traction than a snowshoe; rigid crampons are really for steep ice and probably overkill for almost any trail application, which will be 99% flat walking.

    Once you've selected your crampon based on where you intend to travel, then you can select your boot better, because you can bring the crampon to the store and make sure it will work with your boot.

    Pick the boot mostly based on fit and warmth, as long as it mates with the crampon. Err towards the warm side, because cold feet are really the only safety issue in the entire discussion.

    Have fun shopping!

    TCD

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    Quote Originally Posted by adkayaker View Post

    cold running feet from severe frost bite back in scout days

    Need a brand that does not run narrow
    Sorry, sort of missed that point, but I think you can still avoid double boots, although they would give you the security of warmth and waterproofness. I would just make sure you get a single boot that is at least insulated. I don't think the LaSportiva Glaciers or the Trango S EVO are insulated. I think single boots may be the way to go because they will be lighter and allow you to hike faster/farther. As the ol' saying goes, 1 pound on your feet is like 5 pounds on your back.

    Also, for what it's worth, backcountry.com and moosejaw.com tend to have the most reviews for products so you can do research on those sites to help you narrow them down.

    Aviarome

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    although a small mountain, quite a few inclined pure ice sections on Hadley Mountain this week were easy to deal with with my Keene Growlers and Microspikes.

    I guess my post was in contemplation of much larger and steeper icy sections than I found on Hadley-a modest mountain.

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    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Yeah, I missed that too. I'll emphasize again to err toward the warm side. I looked that Snowmotions on line; it looks like a summer boot that Merrel threw a little primaloft into to convert it into a "winter" boot. Pretty lighweight. If you have had past history of foot frostbite, I would say do NOT try to push the Snowmotion past the shoulder seasons, or short winter dayhikes. Get something WARM. Remember, everyone's feet are different. There will be some posts about "Why does anyone use winter boots? I hike with my summer boots all year long" and "Don't buy those, your feet will be too hot." Remember, it's YOUR feet. Think Sorel, Kamik, etc., or one of the lighter weight but still very warm offerings from Columbia, Salomon, etc. Take care of your feet first and keep your toes.

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    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adkayaker View Post
    ok, so to help me start shopping possible sales more for next winter use - again, probably just long day hikes of Big Slide, Phelps, Cascade, Giant, etc.

    and have wide EE feet and cold running feet from severe frost bite back in scout days, would I look at:single leather, double leather, plastic double insulated?

    Need a brand that does not run narrow
    I use Cabela's Avalanche boot as an example of a warm winter hiking boot with lots of support. It will take care of nearly any winter hike - but not suitable for vertical ice climbing - in the Northeast. There are several people on this board who either wear them or hike regularly with people who do (including myself).

    If your existing Merrell's are comparable - you're good to go. Spend your money on other gear.

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    Yes, the Merrills are comparable to that Cabela model if 400gms is 400gms. But still confused. I thought a point of my Merrells, those Cabela's and the suggestions of warm "winter" boots listed like Sorel, Kamik, etc. is that they may not be ideal or not be compatable at all with full crampons. Not Microspikes which fit on anything.

    So anotherwards, warmth while super-important to me is not the main factor for considering mountaineering boots. I thought it was the crampon compatability. I was assuming that the reason for using true mountaineering boots was that they will readily accept the 3 types of crampons - hinged, semi-rigid and rigid while the winter boots mentioned often do not or do not well.
    Last edited by adkayaker; 02-26-2010 at 02:53 PM.

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