Optimizing single boots for colder weather

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Sangye

 
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Optimizing single boots for colder weather

by Sangye » Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:08 pm

I'm new to mountaineering, and just bought my first pair of leather single boots -- sized up Scarpa Mont Blancs (technically my second pair, as I bought a lightly used pair of La Sportiva Nepal Evos that I had to return because they were too tight in the toebox).

My feet tend to get cold easily, and I am a little worried about taking them up Mt. Adams (WA) this Fall with lows in the teens and 20s, and Shasta / Glacier Peak / Baker / Rainier next spring. I climbed Shasta in July with hiking boots on a warm weekend, and my feet got cold while my companions all said they were fine.

My question is pretty general: do people have suggestions for optimizing the warmth of single boots?

For socks, I have SmartWool Merino Liner socks and SmartWool Mountaineering Socks.

Are extra insulated socks like the Lorpen T3+ Expedition worth it when using single boots?

How about supergaiters or overboots?

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Re: Optimizing single boots for colder weather

by 96avs01 » Fri Sep 04, 2015 8:47 pm

Have you tried a VBL sock in conjunction with your wool socks?

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Woodie Hopper

 
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Re: Optimizing single boots for colder weather

by Woodie Hopper » Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:56 pm

A couple thoughts here:

Other than choosing the right boot for the mountain & conditions, fit is key. In other words you might get the fit right with the socks you wear at the outfitter, and then wear warmer, thicker socks on the mountain and actually get colder b/c the fit is then tighter causing reduced circulation to your toes.

I like custom inserts for warmth and comfort. You might come across Intuition liners that some talk about for colder climbs. If you want some of these or something similar, it's always best to buy them first and try the boots on with them inside since the fit may require upsizing the boots sometimes by 1/2 size.

No idea about supergaiters or overboots; I haven't used them. The warmest boots I have are Sportiva Baturas and Nuptses.

Woodie
Last edited by Woodie Hopper on Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Woodie Hopper

 
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Re: Optimizing single boots for colder weather

by Woodie Hopper » Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:58 pm

You can also use toe warmers. They are cheap and I find they don't cause problems with fit.

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Re: Optimizing single boots for colder weather

by ExcitableBoy » Sat Sep 05, 2015 12:49 am

The Mont Blanc is a burly, insulated boot and will be much warmer than any hiker. They should be plenty warm for all the peaks you mentioned during the time frame you mentioned. I have been climbing in Scarpa Summits (precursor to the Mont Blanc) for 7 years on all the peaks you mentioned as well as many winter alpine climbs and ice climbing trips and never had a problem with cold feet, and they are not quite as burly or as well insulated.

You have already discovered the most important aspect to boots, which is fit. I had a pair of LS Trango Extreme ice climbing boots and although they were specifically made for cold weather use, were too narrow for my feet. My left foot went numb for a month after a winter alpine climb that was not especially cold. I switched to Scarpa shortly after.

Just to echo what others have said, wear a warm sock, but not so thick that that it impedes circulation. I have not noticed too much difference in warmth between Smart Wool, inexpensive Wigwam synthetic , Lorpen Primaloft, and Bridgedales of similar thickness, however, some brands fit better, offer more cushioning and are more comfortable.

Liner socks can help improve the fit of boots if they are too loose as well as prevent blisters, but are not necessary. If you do use VBLs, (something I always do with plastic boots, but that is more to keep the thick sock dry) you will definitely want a thin liner. Merino wool liners under a VBL are nice because they don't stink. In general, if you find a sock or sock combination that works for you, use it.

If you already have a good fit with the stock insoles, I wouldn't mess with them, but upgrading to an after market insole to improve fit can have the additional benefit or increasing the warmth a bit.

I think an over boot would be overkill for the peaks you mentioned, as well as a hassle. Insulated super gaitors would push the comfort rating of your boots well below freezing as well as keeping your boots dry. Using insulated super gaitors keeps the boots dry from the outside, but consider using VBL socks to keep them dry from foot perspiration as the boot will no longer breathe properly, and the whole boots could get soaked from the inside out. When using VBLs, you need to be especially mindful of your feet. Clean and dry your feet and change into dry liner socks often to prevent immersion foot.

The spring isothermal snow pack in the PNW contains sharp ice crystals that do an amazing job of abrading the boot's waterproof treatment off quickly. To maintain the factory waterproofness, after every trip pull out the insole, stuff the boot with newspaper, and apply Nikwak after every trip in snow. Replace the wet newspaper every 12 hours with fresh newspaper. Never place the boots next to a heat source to dry them. The adhesive that bonds the outer sole to the boots melts at surprisingly low temperatures.

Don't forget personal maintenance. Stay hydrated and fed and keep your core warm. Asprin and garlic tablets will improve circulation and warmth to the extremities. On multi-day trips, clean and dry your feet, put on dry socks and use medicated foot powder before going to bed.
Last edited by ExcitableBoy on Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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pvnisher

 
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Re: Optimizing single boots for colder weather

by pvnisher » Mon Sep 07, 2015 1:08 am

In addition to the above (especially hydration and food), let me add:

-put baby powder in your socks and rub antiperspirant on your feet. Moisture is your enemy. That is a better solution than those terrible vapor barrier socks (ie, a plastic grocery sack), unless it is truly frigid, in which case a single boot isn't going to cut it anyway.

-warm up your legs. Thick long johns go a long ways towards warm feet. You could even consider a calf-warmer. Just get some fleece and cut it to size from mid-ankle to knee. Add some elastic, put them on over your boot top, but under your gaiters and pants. Then you won't be overheating your whole system. Or get pants with big leg vents.

-Get some Crescent Moon overbooties. They don't have anything on the bottom, so you have to either be wearing crampons or snowshoes, but they work great with either (hybrid or strap crampons only).
http://www.backpacker.com/gear/essentia ... e-booties/

For the mountains you mentioned, outside of winter, I'd think a Scarpa Mont Blanc or Nepal EVO/Cube, paired with the right socks (I just use a fresh smartwool mountaineering sock each day, no liner), with some baby powder, antiperspirant, and thick long johns (or calf warmers), you should be fine. Add in the crescent moon overbooties for the 4-7am summit push when it's really cold, then take them off on the summit for the descent when you'll typically be warming up.

Good luck.

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ExcitableBoy

 
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Re: Optimizing single boots for colder weather

by ExcitableBoy » Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:42 pm

pvnisher wrote:-put baby powder in your socks and rub antiperspirant on your feet. Moisture is your enemy.

Gold Bond medicated foot powder is even better.

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Sangye

 
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Re: Optimizing single boots for colder weather

by Sangye » Tue Sep 08, 2015 3:55 am

Great info here, thanks all!

I'll pack plastic bags for VBLs, and toe warmers just in case, but it's good to hear that even leather single boots are substantially warmer than typical hiking boots (in my case, Oboz Yellowstone IIs).

If the fire closures are finished by then, I will be attempting Adams this weekend. If not, I may attempt Glacier Peak instead. In any case, the forecast looks much warmer for both peaks than this past weekend...

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Fred Spicker

 
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Re: Optimizing single boots for colder weather

by Fred Spicker » Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:33 pm

If you want to try over boots - I have an old pair of supergaitors that I will let you have very cheap - basically for "shipping and handling" - say $20. Only problem is that I have small feet, so fit could be a problem - zap me an email if interested and I can send measurements. However -

ExciteableBoy says:

"I think an over boot would be overkill for the peaks you mentioned, as well as a hassle."


I agree - esp with the hassle part. That is why these old supergaitors are relatively unused. I ended up buying a pair of plastic double boots rather than deal with them.......

But, it depends on how cold your feet get and what you want to do. An article you might find interesting:

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2010/04 ... atura.html


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