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).