So, you’re going to try your hand at mountain climbing, here’s what you need to know…
The most important item of clothing you will need is mountaineering boots, which are boots specifically made for climbing, trekking or walking over snowy and icy terrain.
Mountaineering boots come in plastic, synthetic and leather. The boots are designed to be worn with crampons.
Crampons are a type of metal spike that are clipped or strapped to your mountaineering boot to prevent slipping and improve mobility when treading on ice and snow.
Mountaineering boots are different from hiking boots in that they are stiffer, insulated and the uppers are taller. The extra stiffness and height of mountaineering boots can help climbers manoeuvre and ascend steep terrain. Steel shanks are used to achieve extra stiffness, although carbon fiber can be used as well. The stiffness can help the crampon by enhancing their precision and allowing climbers access to steeper and more challenging terrain.
Warmth and insulation is an important feature when choosing mountaineering boots. In winter conditions, insulation is needed to keep you warm and comfortable and to avoid getting frostbite.
Best Crampons for Mountaineering Boots
This Article Covers:
What Do Mountaineering Boots Look Like?
Styles of Mountaineering Boots
What’s the Best Brand of Mountaineering Boot?
How Should Mountaineering Boots Fit?
How to Size Up Your Next Pair of Mountaineering Boots
Why are Mountaineering Boots Graded?
How do you break in mountaineering boots?
Top tips on how to look after your boots
Mountaineering boots are similar to regular hiking boots in that their soles and uppers are similar.
Mountaineering boots come in a range of light and dark colors. Some of the boots you can be lace-up and others you can zip up. Zip up mountaineering boots allow climbers to get in and out their boots quickly and easily, usually without having to re-lace their boot.
Mountaineering boots come in many various styles as well. They include heavyweight boots, which are for warmer, higher altitudes, and water-resistance. Some boots are lightweight, which are for dryer, warmer and summer-like conditions. The style of the boot can range from boots with flexible soles to boots with a rigid sole. Mountaineering boot ankle support comes in various degrees as well.
Styles of Mountaineering Boots
There are several styles of mountaineering boots, and they include the following:
- Lightweight mountaineering boots – a new category of a mountaineering boot. The uppers on this style of boot is an all-in-one piece and are composed of several layers that are sandwiched together. They normally have very little insulation, flexible uppers and a stiff sole. The lighter build of the boot makes them perfect for warmer or cooler conditions.
- Single mountaineering boots – are considered lightweight mountaineering boots. The uppers are taller and more supportive than lightweight boots. They have a single unit of insulation that is permanently attached to the mountaineering boot. The boots can be made of synthetic, leather or a hybrid of both. Single boots are lighter, more comfortable and seem to be less expensive than other boot styles. They are better for alpine rock, ice climbing and a mix of ice and snow conditions.
- Double mountaineering boots – are made of a non-insulated hard plastic or leather outer shell and the boot has a soft interior liner with a stiff sole and excellent ankle support. Double boots are comprised of an outer and inner boot, which can be separated. The insulated liner is removable, which makes it a great choice for an overnight trip, whereby you can dry the inner lining for the next day’s climbing activities. Because of the rigid construction, double boots are warmer, water-resistant and more manoeuvrable in the snow. The boots provide good value for money, keep feet dry and are versatile with different types of crampons.
- Hybrid (Super-Gaiter) mountaineering boots – something new that comes from something old. This hybrid boot style is composed of a single boot and a double boot. Hybrid boots are high quality, well-insulated and more durable than any type of boot you can buy for a climb nationally or internationally. The hybrid boot is composed of an inner cover that is non-removable and an outer gaiter that is permanently attached. The gaiter and the added insulation provides weatherproofing, added warmth and maximum protection in winter. The boots are made with a rigid sole, front welt, rear welt, full shank and ankle support.
- 8000-meter (insulated) mountaineering boots – are the highest standard of mountaineering boots. This style of boot combines extra insulation to keep your feet dry and warm in harsh conditions. The outer material of the boot is made of synthetic or Gore-Tex to protect against precipitation and wind. The gaiter and the added insulation provides weatherproofing, added warmth and maximum protection in winter. 8000-meter boots are made with a rigid sole, front welt, rear welt, full shank and ankle support also.
La Sportiva is a Good Mountaineering Boot Brand
There are many different brands of mountaineering boots to choose from but La Sportiva does seem to come up consistently as one of the better brands for mountaineering boots.
The company was founded in 1928, and today it’s one of the market leaders in outdoor footwear. They have years of experience making climbing footwear that’s sold around the world.
La Sportiva mountaineering boots come in synthetic, plastic and leather in many different mountaineering boot styles. They are light, comfortable, durable and well-insulated, and they are versatile. For example, some boots come with removable inner liners, and some are hybrid. La Sportiva boots can handle any terrain.
Best La Sportiva Lightweight Boots:
Best La Sportiva Single Boots:
Best La Sportiva Double Boots:
Best La Sportiva Hybrid Double Boots:
Best La Sportiva 8000-meter boots:
The size and fit of a mountaineering boot can impact the performance and the warmth of the boot. A tight fit is not required in mountaineering boots to get peak performance. If mountaineering boots are too tight, you can suffer a restriction of toe movement and blood flow. This restriction can cause your feet to be cold. Having the right fit is vital for the overall performance and comfort of the boot and the climber.
To get a good fit, follow these steps:
- Try boots on during the late afternoon or evening when your body is relaxed to avoid swelling.
- Put on your hiking socks and leave the boot unlaced.
- Slide your feet forward until your toes touch the tip of the boot.
- Try and put a couple of fingers down between the lining in the boot and the heel of the foot.
The boots are too big if you can fit two fingers on the heel of your boot. The boots are too small if force is required to put two fingers behind your heel. In both scenarios, you should consider exchanging or returning the boots.
To naturally mould your new mountaineering boots to your foot shape you should wear your boots indoors exclusively for about 3 days so you don’t scuff them, just in case you may want to return them.
Some heel lifts are common to experience when mountaineering boots are brand new. The crease that forms in the front of the boot, usually on top of the toe box after the boot has been worn is not present in new boots. When the flex point or crease is set, the heel will rise the same time as the foot. The heel lift in the boot should not go higher than ¼ of an inch inside the boots.
Boot rating scale
B-rating is the suitability of any type of boot for mountaineering adventures and disciplines. The rank is from B0, which means a crampon cannot be applied to the boot to a B3, which means the boot has the best design for a mountaineering boot. Boots are graded to give hikers and climbers an idea of the type of boot that will meet their specific climbing needs.
B0 boots are traditional hiking boots, and they are standard walking boots.
B0 boots are made for hikers in general. They are soft, flexible and can be easily broken in. The soles and the uppers are flexible, and they provide some support.
B1 boots are year-round heavy-duty walking or hiking boots.
These mountaineering boots are built to be stiff for long days on the mountains or on the trails and can be used for walking up steep inclines in winter. The midsole is rigid, and the uppers can be made from fabric or leather. The uppers typically have a rubber band around them to improve boot durability.
B2 boots are ideal for winter.
The boots have stiff uppers and midsoles, however, there is some flexibility for walking. Boots with thicker uppers make them warmer, and they have a ledge on the heel so that the crampon can securely fit.
B2s have shanks that give them flex and rigidity. You can climb and hike well, but the boots are not suited for steeper ice.
B3 boots have the best design for mountaineering boots, for hiking year-round and for ice and snow climbing. B3s uppers and soles are the stiffest available today. They allow for exceptional support on media and lateral axis, which is perfect for mountaineering of all types. They are insulated well and are perfect for all phases of mountaineering. They come in a wide range of insulation from above 4000m up to 8000m, which are the hybrid SuperGaiters. B3s can be used for backpacking trips, ice climbing, alpinism and scrambles.
It is a good idea to break in your mountaineering boots before hiking or climbing. Breaking in boots might take a while, but is required to have comfortable climb or hike.
There are shortcuts to breaking in boots. They include using a leather softener, applying heat or wetting the boots and walking in them until they dry. But these shortcuts are not really recommended because they can drastically reduce the longevity of the boots.
If you wear your boots for a few days, they will eventually mould to your foot and be worn in. This wear on the boot is the best way to break in your boots, and it is the recommended way.
When you get to the point where you can wear the boots for a whole day, you can start your adventure on the trail. It is recommended that you carry moleskin, which is medicine to treat blisters. If your feet hurt or you feel hot spots during your hike, remove your socks and boots and apply the sheets to the bruised area. The moleskin can prevent the formation of blisters.
Maintaining your boot is an easy task with regular cleaning using a boot cleaner. Regular cleaning can prolong the life of your boots. Clean your boots after every a hike or climb and when they are dirty. If left dirty, the dirt can draw moisture from the boot and cause cracking.
Mountaineering boots are different in function, support and weight compared to normal shoes, therefore it can be challenging to find a mountaineering boot that is right for you. But by reviewing the above information you’ll be able to narrow down your choice and find the perfect mountaineering boot for your foot and the type of climbing you regularly go on.