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All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

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All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby crazybrit » Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:34 pm

Yep, another 'which boot?' thread, sorry. I've done a lot of searching the interwebs, talking to hikers etc, but I figure the more info the better.

I've been getting into winter hiking over the last couple of years, snowshoeing & some light crampon work on easier hills in VT & NH, but after attending an AMC Advanced Winter Wilderness Travel course last winter, it became readily apparent that my existing winter boots are way too flexible for any crampon work on a slope (and by slope I mean <60 degrees, nothing approaching technical climbing, we had too change our route up Mt Cardigan because most of us had flexible boots....).

So, with winter fast approaching i'm trying to find a decent 'all-round' boot that is reasonably warm, comfy enough to walk 20miles, yet stiff enough for some slope work with crampons. I'm not looking to progress to all-out technical climbing, but would like something that could get me up easier routes in the Presidentials in winter without too much fuss. I appreciate that an 'all-round' boot will not excel in any particular area e.g -30C on Washington summit, very steep slopes, ultimate walking comfort etc., but i'm sure there are boots out that that would suit a newbie like myself.
FYI, my crampons are the Black Diamond Contact 10-point strap-type.

Ideally, i'd like to keep the budget under $400 max, and would prefer to buy locally for the sake of trying different sizes of boots on etc. MEC is my go-to store generally, and they have a reasonable selection of Scarpa, La Sportiva, plus some Mammut, Zamberlin & Asolo products.

Any advice is much appreciated, cheers in advance.
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby luzak00 » Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:11 am

$400 is tough for a pair of cold weather mountaineering boots. You can either go used or go plastics. The Scarpa Inverno runs $320 and is a classic performer, while the Koflach Degre would be another for a bit more coin ($380).
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby nartreb » Mon Sep 10, 2012 6:14 pm

You should post this in the Eastern US forum.

> my existing winter boots are way too flexible for any crampon work on a slope (and by slope I mean <60 degrees, nothing approaching technical climbing, we had too change our route up Mt Cardigan because most of us had flexible boots....).

Frankly I have trouble believing this. Most days on Cardigan, on any trail with the possible exception of Holt [which certainly exceeds sixty degrees in a few spots], I get by fine with construction boots and MicroSpikes (though I will carry an axe if I suspect the summit dome is icy, and carry real crampons in reserve). What route on Cardigan were you on? What was the problem with your crampons and why do you blame the flexibility of your boots? What kind of boots? What were the snow/ice conditions like? Were your guides encouraging you to use techniques that were not appropriate for the conditions/terrain? (Front-pointing in flexible boots is difficult, but it should not be necessary on Cardigan.)

Based on your description of your desired routes, the BD Contact is a good choice of crampon, and you probably do need stiffer boots to get the most out of them, but unless conditions were really unusual, or you were wearing rubber boots, there's more to your story.

My standard advice on boots is: get a pair that fits. Everything else is secondary. After that, look to see if it will fit your crampons (bring them to the store with you). Finally, when in doubt, go with the boot that weighs less. $400 Canadian should be plenty of money, unless Canada has a tax on boots that I don't know about.
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby nartreb » Mon Sep 10, 2012 6:42 pm

Actually, last time I was on the West Ridge route I should have put on real crampons right at the beginning, where the trail is flat. The trail had flooded, turned into a total skating rink, and in the cold morning the ice was too hard for the 'spikes to penetrate reliably. Nothing to do with "crampon work on a slope", but just goes to show that proper gear can be useful in unexpected places. (I toughed it out in the 'spikes, for no good reason. I had to detour around the waterfall though.)
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby crazybrit » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:13 pm

Thanks for the responses.

@ luzak00
I'm sure plastic boots have the stiffness & warmth, but i'm hesitant for their suitability (relative comfort) for walking on the flat or shallow grades, especially for many miles.

nartreb wrote:
Frankly I have trouble believing this. Most days on Cardigan, on any trail with the possible exception of Holt [which certainly exceeds sixty degrees in a few spots], I get by fine with construction boots and MicroSpikes (though I will carry an axe if I suspect the summit dome is icy, and carry real crampons in reserve). What route on Cardigan were you on? What was the problem with your crampons and why do you blame the flexibility of your boots? What kind of boots? What were the snow/ice conditions like? Were your guides encouraging you to use techniques that were not appropriate for the conditions/terrain? (Front-pointing in flexible boots is difficult, but it should not be necessary on Cardigan.)

Based on your description of your desired routes, the BD Contact is a good choice of crampon, and you probably do need stiffer boots to get the most out of them, but unless conditions were really unusual, or you were wearing rubber boots, there's more to your story.


My current winter boots are Salomon Nytro XP (ridiculously comfy, rated to -20C, but lots of flex, I can bend the toe right back to the laces).

The original plan was for the Holt Trail, but the instructors walked it the day before and said it was too dicey for us (lots of solid ice, and for some of the students it was their first time with crampons on their feet which may have influenced things also). To illustrate their point, they had us trying to forge up a steep hardpacked slope by front-pointing, my calves were feeling the strain after after a short time trying to compensate for the sole flex.

I think in my mind i'm trying to find a winter equivalent of a Scarpa SL (i.e comfortable for walking in, fairly stiff, but with some extra insulation), I had a pair of SLs years ago, great boots just potentially not warm enough.
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby MoapaPk » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:16 pm

Columbia used to make simple insulated boots with rather stiff soles (Bugabootoo FG), similar to 3/4 shank. They weighed about 3.9 lbs/pair, and were fairly inexpensive (I bought my pair on sale for $50).
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby nartreb » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:33 pm

Yeah, I wouldn't take chances on the Holt on an icy day. Stiff boots (or at least stiff crampons) for sure, and I wouldn't take a novice up without bringing a rope (and related gear, e.g. ice screws).

>lots of flex, I can bend the toe right back to the laces

Yep, that's too much flex for sustained crampon work.

By the way, your calves will get tired (though probably not as quickly) front-pointing up a long slope, even if you're wearing ski boots. The best you can do is start strengthening your calves in the fall.

Sorry I can't help with specific models, I've got my construction boots for general use and a pair of Trangos ($300 US) that are stiff enough for ice climbing, and I can't justify shopping for anything else.
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby radson » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:17 pm

I know this doesnt fit the budget nor the availability but does anyone know what the new salewa boots are like? Would be interesting to know how they feel in walk mode and climb mode.

http://www.backcountry.com/salewa-pro-gaiter-insulated-plus-mountaineering-boot-mens
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby luzak00 » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:33 pm

crazybrit wrote:@ luzak00
I'm sure plastic boots have the stiffness & warmth, but i'm hesitant for their suitability (relative comfort) for walking on the flat or shallow grades, especially for many miles.


This is true. A good, suitable pair of leather or fabric boots costs more than $400, however. For a 1.5 boot, the Sportiva Batura will cost $675 new, or the Scarpa Phantom 6000 double boot will cost $699. Warm mountaineering boots are expensive. For the vast majority of users, they are clearly better performers, but plastics are still around for a reason.

Plastics are rigid and uncomfortable, but they are unquestionably warm and offer a cheaper alternative to modern mountaineering boots.

With a $400 budget, you can either buy used (with patience and luck, you'll be able to find a pair in your size), or buy plastics.
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby crazybrit » Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:27 am

Thanks for all the responses!
I'm going to pull the trigger on a set of Lowa Mountain Expert GTX, from the plethora of reviews i've read, they seem to come highly recommended, and seem to be the 'all-rounder' that i'm looking for right now. Inside my budget, and red :D

Cheers.
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby luzak00 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:27 am

crazybrit wrote:Thanks for all the responses!
I'm going to pull the trigger on a set of Lowa Mountain Expert GTX, from the plethora of reviews i've read, they seem to come highly recommended, and seem to be the 'all-rounder' that i'm looking for right now. Inside my budget, and red :D

Cheers.


The Lowa Mountain Expert is a great boot, but you'll need some help getting enough warmth for winter in the whites. I wouldn't want to be in those boots below -20C.
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby crazybrit » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:33 am

Possibly, I was aware of this possibility in my original post:
"I appreciate that an 'all-round' boot will not excel in any particular area e.g -30C on Washington summit,.....".

I think it also comes down to the individual, I read at least 2 reviews where the poster 'claimed' to have had less (or at least no worse) problems with cold feet than a buddy in plastics/Nepal Evos.

Even so, I will be sizing these for use with a thick hiking sock and winter sock liners. Keeping my fingers (or should I say, toes) crossed.
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby Grampahawk » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:12 pm

My advice is don't skimp on the boots, and don't rely on footwarmers. Boots are the most important gear you'll own and you'll get years of use from them. So if you amortize the extra cost over 5 years it's really nothing. If you really want a good pair of boots for extended time in the Whites in winter you need a good insulated mountaineering boot. I have been fortunate to find good used boots here on Summitpost so I'd try posting and looking through the gear section. I love my LS Evos. They fit perfectly from day one and I've never had cold feet.
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Re: All-round Winter Boots for the Whites

Postby pvnisher » Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:34 am

Get a pair of lightweight hybrid-crampon compatible mountaineering boots (just the welt in back, not on the toe).
LS Trango or similar (lots to choose from, I got mine for $170)
http://www.sportiva.com/products/footwear/mountain/trango-s-evo

Then get a pair of strap-on spikes (BD Contact Strap), and a set of neoprene overboots.

http://www.backpacker.com/gear-zone-gear-review-crescent-moon-over-shoe-booties/gear/15159

You can also add in a pair of winter footbeds (I do not have these, but know people who do).
http://www.superfeet.com/activity/skiing/REDHot.aspx

Then you're set for a variety of conditions.
Layers. They're not just for jackets.
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