Top 10 Best Mountaineering Boots for Men

A Guide To The Best Mountaineering Boots for Men

Mountaineering, also known as alpine climbing is considered one of the oldest, risky and daring climbing styles. A well-prepared mountain climber always carries the right climbing gear to make sure he can combat any mishaps and climb his way up to the top of the mountain! If you fancy a challenge on icy mountains you need to start with the right pair of mountaineering boots… and be ready for tough training. mountaineering-trip

Needless to say that a good mountaineer should command all it takes to master the rock, snow and ice and be aware of potential natural hazards, such as an avalanche. This is why it is so important that your gear includes a pair of good mountaineering boots and not hiking or just any climbing shoes that you keep in the wardrobe for casual trad sessions.

In this article you will learn about the main features of the alpine climbing boots, followed by the table of our top 10 best mountaineering boots handpicked for you, the difference between hiking and mountaineering boots and lastly, some useful tips for aspiring alpine climbers on how to tackle hudles of harsh weather conditions. 

 La Sportiva Batura 2.0 GTXLa Sportiva Nepal Evo GTXMammut Nordwand High GTXLa Sportiva Trango Cube GTXScarpa Rebel Ultra GTX
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mammut-nordwand-high-gtx
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scarpa-rebel-ultra-gtx-boot
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Average User Rating (5 / 5) (4.6 / 5) (4.6 / 5) (4.7 / 5) (4.8 / 5)
OutsoleVibram with Impact Brake SystemVibram with Impact Brake SystemVibram TetonVibram One with Impact Brake SystemVibram TT Lite
Boot styleSuper-gaiterSingleSuper-gaiterSingleSingle
MaterialCordura,
nylon, rubber
Silicone-impregnated leatherSynthetic leatherQB3 waterproof syntheticCordura, kevlar,
microfiber
Closure systemLace up, zipLace upLace up, zipLace upLace up
ColourYellow / BlackYellow / BlackBlue / Orange / BlackBlue / Red / YellowOrange / Grey / Black
Available Sizes (UK)7-12.55-136-10.58.5-13.55.5-11.5
Weight4 lbs4 lbs4.3 lbs3.2 lbs3.2 lbs
WaterproofTick

Gore-Tex membrane
Tick

Gore-Tex membrane
Tick

Gore-Tex membrane
Tick

Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
Tick

Gore-Tex membrane
InsulationInsulated aluminumGore-Tex Duratherm synthetic insulationThinsulate Ultra insulationNoGore-Tex – Insulated Comfort
Best for-alpine terrain

-high altitude

-expedition
-high altitude terrain

-winter mountaineering

-ice & mixed climbing
- alpine terrain

-ice climbing

-high-altitude expeditions
-All-around climbing

-ice climbing

-technical mixed climbing
-alpine climbing
Crampon compatibilityTick
Step-in
Tick
Step-in
Tick
Strap-on / Step-in
Tick
Strap-on
Tick
Step-in
Automatic
LiningGore-Tex waterproof breathable Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort FootwearGore-Tex Insulated ComfortGore-Tex Performance Comfort Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort
PriceCheck Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price
 Scarpa Mont Blanc GTXScarpa Phantom GuideLa Sportiva Nepal Cube Gtx Salewa Condor Evo GTXScarpa Phantom Tech
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scarpa-phantom-tech
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Average User Rating (5 / 5) (4.9 / 5) (5 / 5) (4.6 / 5) (4.6 / 5)
OutsoleVibram rubber TT3Vibram rubber TT3Vibram with Impact Brake SystemVibram TetonVibram Zero Gravity
Boot StyleIntergrated mini-gaiterSuper-gaiterSingleSingleSuper-gaiter
MaterialSuede leather90% Cordura, 10% ElastanFull-grain leatherPerwanger suede leather

360 degree rubber rand
Breathable Fabric + Win Therm + mycro-tech water resistant
Closure systemLace-upLace-up, T-zipLace-up3D lacing systemLace-up, zip
ColourMango / BlackOrange / BlackYellow / BlackGreen / Black & Blue / BlackOrange / Blue / Black
Available Sizes (UK)7-126.5-127.5-13.56-10.57.5-13.5
Weight4 lbs4 lbs4 lbs3.7 lbs3.6 lbs
WaterproofTick

GORE-TEX® waterproof liners
Tick

OutDry membrane
Tick

Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort membrane
Tick

GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort
Tick

OutDry membrane
Insulation Synthetic polyester fibersPrimaLoftCarbon Tech honeycombCrossPrimaLoft
Best for- all-around mountaineering

- alpine terrain
- all-around mountaineering

- alpine terrain

-ice, mixed & glacier
-snow, ice & mixed climbing

-mountaineering
- all-around mountaineering

- alpine terrain
-alpine

-expedition

-ice & mixed climbing
Crampon compatibilityTick

Step-in
Tick

Step-in
Tick

Step-in
Tick

Semi-automatic

Hybrid
Tick

Automatic

Semi-automatic
LiningGore-Tex waterproof breathable membranePrimaloftInsulated Comfort Gore-TexGore-Tex Performance ComfortOutdry + Primaloft
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How To Choose Best Mountaineering Boots for Men

Boot style

Mountaineering boots can be single, double or hybrid, also called super-gaiter. Depending on the type, length, altitude and difficulty of climbing your escapades will involve, it is wise to know the difference between single, double and super-gaiter boots. The boots will perform well in the vast majority of trails that involve tromping through frosty, snowy, icy or wet terrain.

Gaiter – They are accountable for covering some to all parts of your mountaineering footwear and keep your feet warm. They can be divided into subtypes based on the activity, such as trail, alpine, expedition and women gaiters or depending on the fabric they are made of. Gore-Tex, or GTX, offers windproof and water resistant protection without compromising on breathability.

single-double-and-super-gaiter-boots

Mountaineering boot styles from left to right: Single, Double and Super-gaiter

Single:

Single boots consist of single upper boot. They perform well on the rock, ice and mixed conditions from warm to cold climate. Despite some boots consisting of multiple layers, single boots can be easily distinguished due to the inseparable layers. Generally speaking, single boots are usually warm and stiff enough to consider as a good purchase for all-year mountaineering. The more dependable models will perform fine when climbing most but not all of European peaks.

Double:

This boot style consists of two detachable layers. They are primarily used in the colder weather conditions. The inner layer, liner, can be removed and dried overnight if needed. This boot type tends to be stiffer which may be of a particular advantage to some of advanced climbers going on lengthy and mixed expeditions.

Double boots are good for attaching crampons fairly tight without compromising on reduced blood circulation going to your feet. One of the pitfalls of double boots is their weight due to multiple layers which proves to be the heaviest out of three mountaineering boot types.

If, however, the weight is not a deal breaker, you can stay rested as this type will certainly help you climb at high altitude or difficult terrains. What you should bear in mind is that double boots are designed for particularly colder weather conditions. This increases the likelihood of getting your feet sweaty if you choose to use double boots in the mild climate. The model of mountaineering boots falling into this category is La Sportiva Spantik.

Super-gaiter:

In other words, it is a single boot with an integrated gaiter. This hybrid brings the best out of both forms of single and double boots. The concept of this shoe type is combination of a non-removable, fixed inner boot and a permanent outer gaiter. Super-gaiter boots will be most advantageous when used in colder and wetter conditions as opposed to single boots. Additionally, some models offer a knee-high gaiter, giving an extended warmth and waterproofing.

The importance of an outer gaiter is essential especially in windy and high altitude winter conditions as waterproof gaiter protects the boot from snow and ice and provides warmth to your feet as well as calves. One of the hurdles you may come across is drying the super-gaiter boots. This may be quite tricky as opposed to double boots where the gaiter can be removed.

Due to its hybrid boot structure, the gaiter cannot be detached from the inner boot, making it less likely to dry as fast as the double boot. However, this can be of your concern mainly if your plan is to spend several consecutive days wearing the same pair day and night.

Upper material

The upper material in mountaineering boots can vary depending on the brand and climbing type. Leather, synthetic, plastic or a combination of either are among the most common types. Both fabric and leather rank higher in terms of comfort and range of movement. Nevertheless, plastic climbing boots may provide more resistance to water, snow or ice slush. Additionally, the uncompromising durability is definitely worth every pound you put into plastic boots.

Leather upper
Features:

  • flexible and close ankle fit
  • delicate finish and stitching

Pros:

  • breathable, relatively light, medium stiffness provides balanced flexibility
  • a pair made out of good quality leather and solid structure will last years on
  • tough and solid enough to withstand ice, rock and snow even in harsh weather conditions
  • provide enough comfort to use for all purpose routes, including all-day hiking and technical rock

    dryguy-circulator-footwear-dryer-and-warmer

    Portable boot dryer is an effective solution to recurring damp boots problems during hours or days in the cold mountains

  • give better feel of the terrain walked on 

Cons:

  • need more looking after
  • tend to be heavier than synthetic mountaineering boots
  • generally do not provide proficient level of warmth and waterproofness as plastic boots
  • cost more due to precise handwork and stitching

What is it good for:

  • day trips and generally shorter climbs
  • edging and more precise footsteps
  • most terrains in the lower 48
  • all-around mountaineering

Synthetic fabric upper Features:

  • synthetic or partly synthetic fabric

Pros:

  • lighter and generally more comfortable
  • synthetic upper usually has a shorter drying time than all-leather
  • durable and not likely to wear out for a few seasons
  • need less maintenance than leather

Cons:

  • the synthetic fabric may be softer and provide less support on difficult routes including icy terrain
  • depending on the blend of synthetics and plastic some models can be less durable than boots made from leather
  • can be more prone to abrasion than leather

What is it good for:

  • anyone who likes comfort and prefers lightweight footwear
  • alpine terrain
  • all-around mountaineering
  • ice and mixed climbs

Plastic upper Features:

  • Hard plastic outer shell
  • Inner boot synthetic
  • Durable inner boot
  • Inner boot is detachable

Pros:

  • performs well in alpine climbs
  • waterproof plastic protects feet from ice and snow slush
  • durable structure and more padding than leather boots
  • detachable inner boot can be easily removed in plastic double boots
  • inner boot can be dried overnight
  • possibly the warmest mountaineering footwear
  • great for tight cinching of strap-on crampons

Cons:

  • boot structure can be too stiff for all-around mountaineering
  • despite waterproof protection from outside the boot on the inner side can still get wet from sweat
  • do not give the same precise feel as leather or synthetic

What is it good for:

  • lengthy expeditions lasting up to few weeks
  • alpine climbs
  • ice climbing
  • difficult terrain
  • harsh climate conditions
  • high altitude

Closure system

Majority of mountaineering boots are equipped with laces. There are some models that use a combination of laces with zip (especially super-gaiter models) or Velcro. If you are looking for a pair of boots that will withstand harsh weather conditions and outperform other models, try super-gaiter boots with waterproof closure.

 

Weight

 Depends on the climbing style and location you are planning on. It all comes down to the boot style and necessity of extra layers your escapade will require. Some boots will naturally carry more weight than others due to their size and purpose they are used for. You can also opt in for some ‘lightweight’ models which will combine heavy duty jobs with a comfortable weight.

  • Scarpa Rebel Ultra GTX Boot
  • La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX
  • Scarpa Phantom Tech
  • Salewa Condor Evo GTX 

Waterproof

Waterproof Gore-Tex lining is highly recommended due to its breathable structure and efficiency in keeping your feet dry. Just like Gtx, OutDry membrane is equally as effective. 

Scarpa Phantom Tech offers superior protection thanks to its waterproof zip

Scarpa Phantom Tech offers superior protection thanks to its waterproof zip

The super-gaiter boot models tend to be respectively better equipped than other boots thanks to the layering and waterproof zips that cover the boot and prevent it from soaking after contact with ice, snow and heavy rains.

 

Insulation

Whatever your climbing goals are, you should never overlook the role insulation will play in all your futures escapades. Mountaineering boots of your choice should have a certain level insulation in order to protect your feet from very low temperatures. These days almost all single boots come with insulation. Insulation gets thicker as you advance to double boots and super-gaiter ones where warmth and water resistance are a must.

Among the best ones are Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort and Primaloft that will save you from getting frostbite after lengthy hours spent out in the heights. If you are planning a lengthy route, why not try

  • La Sportiva Batura 2.0 Gtx
  • Mammut
  • La Sportiva Spantik
  • La Sportiva Phantom Tech

Among things to consider are the season and the weather conditions where you will need your boots. You may not need as much insulation if you’re planning your escapades during summer months within lower 48. If, however, your activity does not evolve around seasonal factors and you will be out during summer as well as winter season, then opt in for warmer footwear where you will simply get more use.

There are many liner socks available that keep your feet warm during colder days so this should do the trick. We recommend going for a warmer pair right from the start rather than buying a pair of mountaineering boots with hardly any insulation and then trying to top the insulation off with mouldable liners. It is wise to know that unfortunately not all mouldable liners will fit in any given mountaineering boot model.

 

Best for

Crampons are an extension to your mountaineering boots for enhanced climbing experience

Crampons are an extension to your mountaineering boots for enhanced climbing experience

Each model of mountaineering boots has been designed with a different purpose based on the type of activity involved. This criterion will make it easier for you to select the model that suits your needs most.

It really comes down to the type of climbing you are willing to undertake, duration, altitude and the weather conditions your boots will need to withstand.

Crampon compatibility

Crampons are add-on fixtures that can be cinched to a pair of hiking and mountaineering boots. Their primary use is to provide better experience whilst climbing and walking, especially on slippery and rough snowy and icy terrain.  Choosing a model compatible with the right type of crampons gives you the option to attempt more advanced routes thanks to better traction on more diverse and often uneasy surface.

Whilst some crampons are rigid, others can be more flexible. Some mountaineering boots are compatible with strap-on crampons whilst others use step-in or hybrid crampons.

Crampons Grivel G12 withstand difficult terrains and perform well during challenging escapades

Thanks to the stiffer than hiking boots’ structure of mountaineering boots, attaching crampons will allow you to perform some low-angle ice climbing. If you choose to stay in the glacier country for some time, purchasing crampons is considered a must thanks to their role in minimising risks of injury and therefore increased safety.

 

Lining

Gore-Tex lining is widely used among many mountaineering footwear brands. Often considered a benchmark or industry standard, Gore-Tex is highly breathable and waterproof. If you are looking for a lining that will perform equally well in harsh weather conditions, try OutDry breathable membrane which is completely waterproof.

It goes without saying that if you’re planning to stay in weather conditions that include slush or dripping ice for quite some time, you should consider a pair of super-gaiter boots that on top of warm lining will give you an extended support thanks to additional layer protected by a zip.

 

Mountaineering Boots Vs. Hiking Boots

Any self-respecting mountain climber knows the difference between hiking and mountaineering boots. Whether you are a newbie into climbing or simply wanted to refresh your existing knowledge on the climbing gear, we lay out some basics for you.

FeatureMountaineering bootsHiking boots
Ankle supportGood – higher and usually stiffer supportGood - lower and more flexible
Sole StiffnessStiff midsole shankCan be bent easily due to more flexible shank and variable length
WarmthWell insulated, some models provide removable liners for extra warmth and cosiness and prevent frostbitesThin insulation or none
MaterialMaterial: leather, synthetic, plasticMaterial: leather, synthetic
Useice & rock climbing, crevasse, low-angle ice climbingHiking, trekking, short backpacking trips, plainer terrains
Crampon CompatibilityAll models compatibleNon compatible except for some stiffer models with crampon groove
WeightGenerally heavier due to bigger size, more stiffness and combination of materials (leather, plastic, synthetics). Some models are lightweight Lighter than Mountaineering
FlexibilitySome flexibility for snowshoeing and hikingDepending on the length

If you are looking for your first pair of mountaineering boots but already own a pair of hiking boots, the differences between the two styles will help you assess your fitness level and all-you-need gear to get you kick-started. Whilst hiking applies to people of all ages or fitness levels, it also requires little specialist or technical knowledge. Mountaineering takes hiking to the next level as it gets a lot more physical, mentally challenging and requires some level of technical training.

When hiking, a pair of good boots is the most important item on your list. As opposed to hiking, mountaineering gear comes with advanced mountaineering boots, crampons, ice ax, rope and good understanding of how to read and adapt to changing weather conditions. There are also potential risks of mountaineering, such as risk of injury, frostbite as well as hypothermia which can be easily avoided if a climber chooses the right protective gear.

This is why it is so important that you know your initial climbing goals and invest in a pair of good mountaineering boots and supportive equipment. Upon effective training, you will be able to get involved in a more diverse level of activities involving full-body training, improved cardio and most importantly, great level of self-achievement.

 

Top Tips for Mountaineering Boots

A pair of warm socks is a must-have item for any ice climbing, mountaineering and backpacking trip

Getting the right pair of mountaineering boots comes at a cost, especially if you want the best mountaineering boots available on the market. If this your first pair, you do not have to stretch your budget in order to get a pair from the top of the range. If you are novice to mountaineering, go for the low to mid-range. Get a feel of what you like and then upgrade to a more advanced model when you naturally progress and develop more skills.

 

Things you should consider for the best experience during lengthy climbs: