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How to choose mountaineering boots?

Alpinism, an adventure that combines exploration, endurance, and the thrill of conquering peaks, requires high-quality equipment. Among the essential elements of your gear, mountaineering boots play a crucial role in ensuring your safety and comfort. Whether you are planning a glacier expedition, a technical climb at high altitude or on ice, choosing the right boots is vital for tackling steep terrains, extreme weather conditions, and slippery surfaces encountered in the mountains.

As with all outdoor activities, choosing the right footwear is crucial for mountaineering. To help you find the right pair of boots among the many models we offer, here are the key points and characteristics to consider when selecting the best mountaineering boots.

Whether you are a novice or an experienced alpinist, preparing for a glacier hike, a summer mountaineering trip, or a high-altitude expedition, Glisshop guides you through the world of mountaineering boots.

mountaineering boots

Anatomy of a Mountaineering Boot

Let's begin by exploring the components of a mountaineering boot. From the upper and laces to the rubber rand and sole block, Glisshop explains it all.

Upper: Various Materials

The upper can be made of leather, synthetic material, or a combination of both. Using modern and high-performance synthetic materials for the upper reduces the overall weight of the boot. Leather uppers are known for their durability. Many models feature Gore-Tex membranes or other brands to ensure waterproofness and breathability.

Lacing Systems

The lacing system of mountaineering boots should allow precise adjustment of the tension. Laces are paired with self-locking hooks to independently adjust the tension on the lower and upper parts. The laces must also be durable to withstand the demanding conditions of high-altitude mountain environments.

Rubber Rand: Additional Protection

A rubber rand can be located at the front of the boot or all around up to the heel in the case of a full rand. This reinforcement increases protection against impacts and makes the boot more resistant to abrasion.

Outsole: Grip and Performance

Mountaineering boots are equipped with high-quality outsoles that ensure solid footing on various types of terrain. The outsole often features a Climbing Zone at the front to enhance grip on rocks and a Breaking Zone at the heel for better control during descents.

Midsole: Superior Cushioning

The midsole provides good cushioning, particularly at the heel, reducing impacts with the ground. Brands use modern and high-performance materials that reduce shocks when walking.

Insole: Optimal Support

Comfort is provided by an insole or footbed in direct contact with the foot. Its anatomical shape promotes good arch support.

Soles of Different Stiffness

The rigidity of the sole plays a crucial role in choosing mountaineering boots, as it must adapt to the varied and often difficult terrains that alpinists encounter. There are two main categories of soles on the market: rigid soles and semi-rigid soles.

Semi-Rigid Soles for Greater Flexibility

Semi-rigid soles provide more flexibility, making them ideal for beginner alpinists or for easy to intermediate routes. They feature a partial shank that gives them some flexibility and ensures superior comfort while offering sufficient stability on terrains such as scree, snowfields, and rocky ridges. However, their flexibility does not provide the necessary support for the most technical terrains. Compatible with strap-on or hybrid crampons, these boots are perfect for three-season mountaineering.

Rigid Soles for Increased Durability

Rigid soles offer superior durability thanks to their full shank, which increases rigidity. Heavier and less flexible, they are also more cumbersome, but provide maximum stability on the roughest terrains, making them indispensable for expert alpinists venturing at high altitudes and for ice climbing.

The rigidity of the soles is a key element for mountaineering boots. Unlike standard hiking boots, mountaineering boots are designed to offer maximum protection on rocky and icy terrains, where safety is paramount. Their rigidity improves progression on vertical terrain and ensures a secure fit for crampons thanks to the rear and/or front welts.

Mountaineering Boot

Single Boots: Lighter Weight

Most mountaineering boots are of the ‘single’ type. They feature a construction similar to hiking boots in a single block. These mountaineering boots are lightweight and comfortable. The numerous models available with this type of construction cater to different needs and offer varying degrees of waterproofness and insulation. Suitable for summer mountaineering and low-altitude winter climbs, these single mountaineering boots can follow you on many adventures, providing lightness, protection, and comfort. However, these models find their limits in the most extreme conditions. Adding gaiters can enhance waterproofness and warmth, increasing their versatility.

Mountaineering Boot

Boots for Winter Mountaineering and High-Altitude

For high-altitude and winter mountaineering in very harsh conditions, you should opt for double boots. Consisting of two parts (an outer boot and an inner liner), these boots offer superior insulation and waterproofness compared to single boots. The inner liner is removable, which facilitates hygiene and drying, especially during multi-day expeditions. The inner liner also provides warmth and comfort at camp.

Wide or Narrow Feet: The Importance of Your Foot Shape

As with any other type of mountain footwear, the choice of mountaineering boots is influenced by the shape of your feet. You also need to choose the right size to achieve a good balance between comfort and foot support. Start by measuring your feet to know their exact length. For personalised advice on the sizing of different models, feel free to contact our experts.

Crampons: An Important Topic

Mountaineering often requires the use of crampons to safely traverse snow or ice on slopes that can be steep or even vertical. Therefore, crampon compatibility is a crucial element when choosing your boots.

How to Know if Boots Are Crampon-Compatible?

To be compatible with crampons, boots must have sufficiently rigid soles. Next, you need to identify the type of crampons the boots are compatible with. You will find all this information on our product pages to help you choose compatible gear.

Which Crampons to Use with Which Boots?

There are three crampon categories:

  • Strap-on crampons (C1): compatible with B1 boots without welts but with sufficiently rigid soles
  • Semi-automatic crampons (C2): compatible with B2 boots that have a heel welt
  • Automatic crampons (C3): compatible with B3 boots that have both heel and toe welts

Therefore, it is possible to use automatic crampons only with boots that have welts at both the front and back. These boots can also accommodate semi-automatic crampons.

Type of Boots/Crampons Strap-on C1 Semi-automatic C2 Automatic C3
B1 Semi-rigid boots without welts Yes No No
B2 Boots with heel welt Yes Yes No
B3 Boots with heel and toe welts Yes Yes Yes

The Best Men's and Women's Boots at Glisshop

Scarpa, La Sportiva, Mammut, Lowa: Wide Range of Brands

Glisshop offers a wide selection of the best mountaineering boots for alpine routes, summer mountaineering, glaciers, ice climbing, and high-altitude adventures. Providing foot support, comfort, lightness, freedom of movement, and protection, these mountaineering boots enable you to climb the steepest peaks. Our experts have selected the best models from leading brands to offer you a range of mountaineering boots that meet the needs of all alpinists.

We also offer all the necessary equipment for successful ascents: ice axes, ropes, hardware, crampons, as well as clothing and accessories. Browse our site, choose the gear for your next adventures, and be ready to climb the most beautiful summits.