Let's talk about boots. To try and find good mountaineering boots (sometimes called Alpine boots) can be bemusing. Every brand outdoes the other in descriptions and lofty promises, and after hours of browsing you feel more lost than ever.
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 is shoes that help you achieve your goals. What brand and style you like or what price range you are comfortable with is all an individual choice. Here are the fundamentals of that we are looking for:
Just like with our trekking shoes, we want the mountaineering boot to give your 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 you 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 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.
We know it's not technically the same, but the right socks are crucial to your feet. Your 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 remember the dread of putting our shoes back the next day.
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 yes, the right socks.
Gaiters - an important addition to your kit, some shoes come with built-in gaiters but you can also get these separately.
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 as it is when it comes to trekking.
Sustainable Materials - Interesting you might ask. 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 or even for longer expeditions, we highly recommend getting yourself a pair. Wearing a shoe that is shapes 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) and the generally heavier weight becomes a risk factor on the trekking trail.