Updated: Jul 26
To find good mountaineering boots (also called Alpine boots) can be confusing to say the least. Every brand outdoes the other in descriptions and promises of best performance, and after hours of browsing you feel more lost than ever. We know the feeling!
So to help you navigate we've put together a simple list of where to start when you are buying boots.
Focus on Function
Bottom line is that you need shoes that help you achieve your goals. What brand and style you like or what price range you are comfortable with is an individual choice. Here are the fundamentals of that to look for:
Just like with our trekking shoes, we want the mountaineering boot to give our feet support throughout and it is crucial that they reach above the ankles.
Ice, snow and minus degrees, stepping into glacier melt - the boot should to keep your feet dry in all conditions.
Stability, stability, stability. The primary purpose of mountaineering boots is to protect us from injuries, so a hard sole is a must for solid support.
A small 'shelf' on the sole of the boot enable you to secure the crampons. Unless you have your own crampons and know exactly how they fit, look for a boot with this feature in both front and back they will be compatible with all types of crampons.
The right socks are equally important for your feet. Socks need to breath, keep you warm and fit your foot well so it doesn't move around in the boot.
Most of us have made the mistake of wearing the wrong socks at least once and know the dread of putting our shoes back the next day - not something we want to face at 3 AM on our summit push day.
Gaiters - an important addition to your kit, some shoes come with built-in gaiters but you can also get these separately.
Thermal Insulation - Simply ask yourself at what altitudes and type of mountaineering will I do most of? That way you will know what you need. Some thermal properties can be increased with innersoles and, you guessed it, the right socks.
Weight - Lighter is always better, but, we use our feet differently and move slower when mountaineering so the weight of the boot isn't as crucial here as it is when we're trekking.
Sustainable Materials - Are there ethically sourced boot options? Perhaps a material that use natural impregnation? Unfortunately, we haven't found them yet - but if you know of sustainable mountaineering boots we would LOVE to hear from you!
Should I rent shoes? Renting shoes could be an option for a one-off climb. But anything more and even for longer expeditions, we highly recommend getting yourself a pair. Wearing a shoe that is shaped to your foot minimise risks and is simply a better support.
Can I use my mountaineering boots for trekking? Using mountaineering boots for trekking is generally not recommended. The stability and stiffness of a mountaineering boot (which minimise risks when climbing) becomes a risk factor on the trekking trail.
Ready to take those boots for a Himalayan challenge?