Best Mountaineering Boots 2019 | Top 9 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Mountaineering Boots 2019 | Top 9

The latest and greatest options for winter mountain walking and light mountaineering

A simple pair of hiking boots, the kind that, say, you climbed all spring, summer and autumn in, are not going to cut it when the terrain is steep and covered in snow or ice. That’s when a pair of four-season boots, or mountaineering boots, are an absolute essential. Even in the small hills of the UK, during winter, if there’s even a risk of snow, you could be seriously caught out without them.

Warmth is important, but there’s way more required than that. Those Uggs might be snug alright, but they’re not going to keep you upright for long on the white stuff. What’s needed, is a pair of boots that it’s possible to fit crampons to.

The Different Types of Mountaineering Boots

Mountaineering boots have three different gradings and these help you to match up the right crampons with them. For instance, B1 boots will match up with C1 crampons, B2 boots will match up with C2 crampons and C1, while B3 boots will take, well, you guessed it, C1, C2 or C3 crampons.

So how do you know what kind of boot and crampon pairing to go for? Well, you can essentially just measure things in terms of gnarliness. At B1 we’re talking boots for winter hill and mountain walking. With B2 you’ll be taking on alpine-type routes with scrambles and glacial sections, and then B3 will be designed for things like ice climbing and high mountaineering.

What determines whether a mountaineering boot is a B1, B2 or B3 depends mainly on two specific things. Firstly, how flexible is it? A B1 boot will need to be semi-stiff in order for a crampon to stay attached to it, B2 will need to be slightly stiffer and then B3 should have barely any flex at all. Secondly, what’s the heel and toe design? While a B1 will tend to have a standard shape heel like normal hiking boots, B2 and B3 boots will have a welt or lip where you can fit any crampons with heel clip bindings (C2 and C3). B3 boots will have both a toe and heel welt to fit a step-in crampon (C3).

The Best Boots For Mountaineering and Winter Hiking

Before we dive into them, it’s just worth us pointing out here that it’s so essential to ‘try before you buy’ when it comes to mountaineering and alpine hiking boots, because while your internet purchase might be the right size for you, it might not necessarily be the right shape.

Here’s the list. You can click on each link to drop straight to the round up.

Images: Mike Brindley

Mammut Kento High GTX

Price: £219
Weight:
1400g (UK 8.5)
Use this for:
trekking, via ferrata, scrambling, UK winter mountain walking.

What we have here from Mammut is a highly versatile mountain boot that should suit anything from trekking, scrambling and via ferrata climbing, to mountaineering. B1 graded, it’s actually closer in style to a hiking boot than to a mountaineering boot, mainly because it’s fairly lightweight at just 620g per shoe, and it has a mid cut ankle that gives a bit of manoeuvrability.

Some nice materials are used, including a dyed nubuck leather combined with softshell for the upper, and there’s a comfy removable insole made from a memory foam. In terms of fit, it’s snug, particularly around the middle of the foot and at the toe. Some people might find they need to go half a size up perhaps.

The outsole, which is Michelin produced, is solid, durable and grippy with deep lugs and a slight heel brake. To stop crampon spikes and rocks scuffing against the uppers there’s a solid rand right around the base of the upper which is also reinforced at the toe and heel for that added bit of protection. One final feature to point out about the Kento High is the gusseted tongue, which extends the Gore-Tex membrane right around the foot like a sock.

Full Specifications

Sizes: 6.5-13 (men’s), 4-8.5 (women’s) / B1 crampon compatible / pre-shaped tongue construction / nubuck leather and softshell upper / 3D memo foam removable sole / rubber rand / toe bumper and heel protection / Michelin Alpine Lite outsole.
uk.mammut.com

 

Lowa Cevedale Pro GTX

Price: £265
Weight: 1600g
Use this for: via ferrata and alpine hiking, UK winter mountain walking.

If you’re planning on stomping up some snow-covered munros in Scotland this winter, or going for some light mountaineering on mixed terrain in the Alps, the Lowa Cevedale Pro would be a reliable option to go for. It’s a B2 boot with a sole unit that has a slight rock to it and that flexes just slightly, and there’s a welt on the heel for a crampon clip binding. The ankle is in that ground between a mid cut and a high cut, so there’s a nice bit of support but with the flexibility still there to support ascending via French technique (side-on stepping up snow covered slopes) if required.

The upper is made from a slightly coarse suede combined with a bit of synthetics around the laces, and there’s a very solid rubber rand that goes right around its base. There’s also a Gore-Tex lining which is integrated with the tongue.

The cushioning is quite minimal, and there’s not much to say about the insole apart from the fact that it’s removable but there is some shock absorption from the dual density PU foam in the mid sole. Lugs? Aggressive, reliable and also designed to be self cleaning.

Full Specifications

Sizes: 7-11.5 (men’s), 4-8 (women’s) / 1600g per pair / B2 crampon compatible / Gore-Tex membrane / suede upper / Vibram Dolent sole / Dual Density Dura PU crampon heel shelf / removable insole.
lowa.co.uk

 

La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX

Price: £285
Weight: 1400g
Use this for: scrambling, light mountaineering and UK winter mountain walking.

This is another versatile Gore-Tex boot that will be able to take on a number of different tasks – whether that be winter mountain walking in Scotland, summer alpine adventures or scrambling over tricky ridges.

In essence, it’s lightweight without any big trade-offs, offering technical performance, durability, protection and warmth. While it should provide just about enough flex for comfortable mountain approaches there’s also capacity for this to handle semi-automatic crampons as well as some step-in crampons (we suspect) thanks to its toe and heel welts.

One of the vital ingredients of the Trango Tower Ex is the nylon used in the upper. High tenacity and formed into a honeycomb construction, it’ll shrug off any sharp rocks or crampon spikes while still keeping the boot light and nimble.

Other features worth pointing out include the super sticky Vibram sole, the gaiter-like upper and also that slightly pointed toe which makes it perfect for scrambling as it allows for precise foot placement. All-in-all this is one of our favourite mountain boots this season.

Full Specifications

Sizes: 36-48 (men’s), 36-43 (women’s) / 1676g per pair / high tenacity 6.6 Flextec 3 nylon upper / Microgibre + Light PU thermal adhesive inserts / Gore-Tex Performance Comfort lining / 7mm nylon footbed / La Sportiva Cube by Vibram / crampon compatible heel / Internal EVA foam with TPU insert.
lasportiva.com

 

Meindl Air Revolution 4.1

Price: £264.99
Weight:
1400g
Use this for:
alpine trekking, UK winter hillwalking, scrambling

We’ll agree with what Meindl’s UK distributors, Bramwell International, say on their website about this boot – that it’s a ‘modern Alpine looking walking boot’. That’s because, despite its crampon compatibility and mid to high cut ankle, it’s probably one of those options that you’d expect to do more moderate-level hiking in than mountaineering.

Out of all the boots featured on this page, this one probably has the most flexible sole. It’s also roomy rather than too snug or precise, and light in weight, altogether equating to a comfortable option for long hikes.

The combination of suede leather, mesh, Gore-Tex and an inner lining make this warm enough for any three to four season stuff we’d say, and the Vibram sole with its deep, wide lugs offers reliable and self cleaning grip.

One of the most intriguing things about the Air Revolution is its removable tongue. It’s made of a 3D mesh – like the kind you see on padded hipbelts and shoulder straps – to allow air flow/breathability right down into the boot. As for why it’s removable, it must be so you can hang it out to dry after a big day – that’s our guess anyway.

Full Specifications

Sizes: 6-12 (men’s), 3.5-9 (women’s) / 3-4 season with Meindl rating of BC / Suede leather and mesh upper / Gore-Tex lining / Vibram sole / PU heel cushioning / full length rubber rand / removable tongue with 3D mesh.
meindl.de

 

Hanwag Makra Combi GTX

Price: 269.99 EUR
Weight: 1250g
Use this for: alpine trekking, UK winter hillwalking, scrambling.

This option from long-running German bootmakers, Hanwag, has a smart looking upper that, thanks to the its blend of Cordura, suede leather and reinforced seams, is basically indestructible. This upper also features a Gore-Tex membrane, a solid toe bumper and rand, and a generously padded ankle cuff and tongue – so all the right ingredients.

It’s a real multi-terrain boot, the kind of thing you want to be wearing on your feet when a day might involve everything from scrambling to glacial traversing. The padding in the upper, wide toe box and flexible sole, not to mention its light weight, make it sympathetic to your feet over long distances, while it still brings those technical aspects needed for mountain terrain – protection underfoot for instance, a solid grip, and, thanks to the welt on the heel, the ability to fit a semi-automatic crampon when required. That said, the flexibility of the sole probably makes it better suited to a C1-type crampon.
All-in-all, this is a perfect boot for say, a summer trek in the Alps where you’ll be facing all kinds of terrain. It will also suit mountain walking in moderate winter conditions in the UK.

Full Specifications

Sizes: 6-13 (men’s), 3.5-9 (women’s)/ Suede and Cordura upper / Gore-Tex lining / Vibram Pepe sole / semi-automatic crampon compatible.
hanwag.com

Asolo Lagazuoi GV MM

Price: £220
Weight: 1560g (UK size 8)
Use this for: trekking, scrambling, 3-4 season UK mountain walking.

This is more of an alpine trekking boot than a mountaineering boot, but we’ve chosen to still include it in this list because it makes for a good four-season option for any mountain walking in the UK.

It’s warm enough alright, and the sole is also stiff enough to be able to hold a strap-on crampon when required – so there are those technical capabilities – but it’s got a flex, feel, wide fit and comfort more typical of a boot for covering long-distances in.

It uses some lovely materials, including a one-piece nubuck leather upper, and a softer leather on the ankle cuff and tongue, plus there’s a Gore-Tex lining. To give the upper extra protection, there’s a tough rubber rand all the way round its base.

The sole unit involves a removable footbed, PU insert and dual density foam in the midsole for shock absorption. Then there’s a durable Vibram sole with a fairly aggressive lug depth and pattern for reliable traction.

So, if you want something for, say, year-round walking in the UK – and also some 3-season scrambling or alpine trekking – you’ll do well with these, but for anything more technical, you might want to consider some of the burlier options we’ve featured.

Full Specifications

Sizes: 6-13.5 (men’s), 4-9 (women’s) / 1560g / water-resistant nubuck leather upper / Gore-Tex Performance Comfort lining / Asoflex 00 MR last / Lite 2 footbed / Vibram Ascent sole with dual density mid sole and PU insert.
asolo.com

 

AKU Tengu GTX

Price: £260
Weight: 1450g
Use this for: 
alpine trekking, scrambling, UK winter mountain walking, and light mountaineering.

We’re big fans of Aku boots and have included a number of variations of this particular model, including the Tengu Lite, in a few of our Outdoors Magic 100 product guides in the past.

It’s a mid weight, mid to high cut boot made for multi-terrain use, and it’s extremely well made. There’s that durable nylon mesh upper with a Gore-Tex lining, suede overlays, a rubber rand, self-locking laces and a hefty toe that’s perfect for kicking steps. There’s also that midsole that blends carbon fibre with EVA foam for a sturdy and protective feel underfoot. It’s not the lightest of options when considered as a trekking boot, but conversely, it’s a lightweight option when considered for four-season mountain use. As for its grading, it should be able to take C2 semi-automatic crampons. Full Review.

Full Specifications

Sizes: 3-13 / nylon mesh and suede upper / Gore-Tex waterproof lining / semi crampon compatible / Vibram Curcuma outsole / Aku Exoskeleton midsole / Liba smart PU / carbon fibre + EVA foam.
aku.it/en

 

Scarpa SL Activ

Price: £250
Weight: 1612g (size 42)
Use this for: UK winter mountain walking, scrambling.

If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned four season walking boot, this is it. One of those options for a proper bogs-and-all British fell walk over winter, it’ll offer warmth, protection, big traction, a long lifespan and also enough comfort for when you need to put the miles in. It’s upper is made from a smooth one-piece leather combined with a wicking (and smell-busting) inner lining, and there’s a thickly padded ankle and tongue. For protection over rough terrain, say during rocky scrambles, there’s a thick rubber toe bumper and rand.

Interestingly, there’s no fancy waterproof membrane used – we didn’t call it old fashioned for nothing – but you can darn well count on this still providing quality wet weather protection as well as good breathability, so long as you look after it well. That means giving the leather a good clean after every use and rubbing a bit of wax on every now and then. Do this properly and your SL Activs will last you a long, long time.

As for what’s underfoot, there’s a Vibram outsole with aggressive, widely spaced lugs and a powerful heel brake, plus a dual density PU midsole and removable insole. A handy thing is that if and when the sole manages to wear out it’s possible to have it replaced.

It’s warmth and protection plus the amount of flex to its sole makes this a B1 graded boot suitable for C1 strap-on crampons.

Full Specifications

Sizes: 41-50 / Sherpa HS12 Leather / Leather and Cocona lining / protective rand / Performance Flex Plus insole / Vibram Biometric Trek sole / C1 crampon compatible.
scarpa.co.uk

 

Salewa Vultur Evo Gore-Tex

Price: £295
Weight: 1820g
Use this for: mountaineering, via ferrata, scrambling.

This is a monster of a boot (we mean that in a good way), one that’s made for the trickiest of terrain – think alpine mountaineering or ascents of winter munros.

It’s got a high and very sturdy ankle that will give plenty of calf support, a toe cap that’s durable enough to kick through a brick wall, plus there’s loads of protection around the heel.  An array of materials have been for it, including a Gore-Tex membrane, Perwanger suede leather, nylon and fibreglass midsole and a Vibram outsole.

There’s only the slightest bit of flex to the sole (thanks to that fibreglass) and there’s a heel welt, so in regards to grading it’s a B2 option for semi-automatic or strap-on crampons.

At over 1.8kg per pair, there’s some weight to carry, but then this is an option for when durability, performance and protection comes first, and weight comes second.

Full Specifications

Sizes: 6-13 (men’s), 3-9 (women’s) / 2.8mm Perwanger suede leather / Nylon and fibreglass mid sole / Gore-Tex lining / C2 crampon compatible / Vibram WTC sole.
salewa.com

 

You May Also Like:

 

Best Walking Boots Reviewed 2017

Best Scrambling Shoes Reviewed 2014

The Winter Outdoor 100 2017 Product Guide

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