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rumrunner
12-13-2008, 07:24 AM
Hey guys,

I've been renting plastics for a while but I'm looking to purchase a mountaineering boot for use on Washington as well as future expeditions in Alaska and South America. I work at REI so I am trying to find one that I can get a good deal on (meaning we carry the brand). I wanted to see what you guys suggest, and I also really like this boot: http://www.rei.com/product/757631 but of course it is "classified" as an ice-climbing boot, even though the Vasque website calls it a general mountaineering boot. Anyone know anything about this one and how it would fare hiking Washington?

Other boots I am interested in....
Asolo Broad Peak - http://www.ems.com/catalog/product_detail_square.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=8455 24442598954&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302889916

Lowa Mountain Expert GTX - http://www.lowaboots.com/catalog/ShowBoot.cfm?StockNum=10263099&Category=1&Type=M

La Sportiva Trango Extreme Evo Light - http://www.rei.com/product/768802

Kayland Apex XT - http://www.guideschoice.com/scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=951

Obviously everyone's feet are different, but looking for opinions on the "nuts and bolts" of these. I'm also a pretty small-framed dude so lightweight is important to me.

Cheers,
DJ

Bill O
12-14-2008, 07:56 PM
I'm not up to date on the latest mountaineering boots but what works for Mount Washington, Cascade peaks or even South America is not usually enough for Denali. Most people have two pairs.

climbabout
12-14-2008, 08:14 PM
DJ - here's something to consider regarding winter mountaineering boots. One piece boots are fine for ice climbing and 1 day trips, but 2 piece boots - those with a separate removeable liner and an outer shell - are pretty much the standard for multi day expeditions - here's why:
After a long day of climbing your feet will perspire even in the cold and the insides of the boots will become damp. Damp one piece boots will freeze overnight, making for very cold feet in the morning when you put them on. With 2 piece boots, you can sleep with the liners either in your sleeping bag or right next to your bag and they'll dry out at night. I usually put them with me in my bag and in the morning they are dry and toasty. For high altitude climbing the Koflach artis expe is my choice, but the Scarpa inverno's with high altitude liners would be good as well. I've used both on Mount Washington as well. Hope this helps.
Tim

ColdWeatherClimber
12-14-2008, 08:44 PM
I have had my Scarpa Invernos for almost 20 years. I suggest a pair of plastic double boots, like the Scarpa is, with two liner boot sets. That way you can swap em out at the end of each day. Do not buy single wall boots, even if they are gore-tex, etc. Those are primarily popular for water ice routes, and not good for long slogs up Denali or other such mountains.

rumrunner
12-15-2008, 07:22 AM
Plastics seem like the way to go then. Just curious, what is everyone's thoughts on overboots like the OR Ranger? Obviously they would have no grip unless used with crampons, but just asking.

Thanks!

krummholz
12-15-2008, 10:29 AM
For anything in the Whites, including Washington via winter Lion's Head route, I prefer Sorels with strap-on crampons simply because they are lighter and more comfortable. I have a pair of plastics and they feel like cinder blocks on my feet. Of course for truly technical routes on Washington you probably need plastics.

kaseri
12-15-2008, 05:34 PM
I looked for a "do all" boot a few years ago but the reality is they just don't exist. The closest you can get to a do all boot in my opinion is the Sportiva Spantik. Sure they are expensive but man are they nice. I ended up with the following-

Millet Alpinist boot - Synthetic, Gore-Tex & Kevlar with a full rand. Used for day trips in the Whites.

Koflach Degre - Typical plastic double boot. I upgraded the liner to an Intuition.

Even though you are trying to stick to brands that REI sells you may need to look elsewhere if you are unable to satisfy your needs. Buy based on what feels & fits right. You wont think about the price when your feet are toasty and safe.

dangergirl
12-15-2008, 05:44 PM
I have the Scarpa Invernos and love them. I am planning on purchasing the high altitude liners while I am up in Alaska next June. I have also heard really good things about the Millets although I have not tried them.
I pair my Scarpas with a pair of the SuperGaitors (WildLine). They make the boots super warm and if I get too hot I just unzip the gator a bit!
I just picked up a pair of La Sportiva Evo Nepals for ice climbing but have not tried them yet. Right now my Scarpas are my ice climbing and expedition boots.

Bill O
12-15-2008, 07:41 PM
I agree, buy what feels comfortable. I had the Invernos, they fit horribly, and left permanent calluses on my shins. I have the Degre's now and they are so comfortable. Don't let anybody tell you the boots should be uncomfortable.

Spend whatever it takes to get the right boot. The consequences are too severe if you don't. Not to mention for more expensive.

ColdWeatherClimber
12-15-2008, 11:02 PM
My kit has always been Scarpa Invernos with OR Crocidile gaiters (tall). I use Lowe Footfangs for my crampons. Yes Footfangs!

Like Bill said, never let anyone tell you the boots are supposed to hurt your feet. Everyones feet are different. The Scarpas just fit my foot well.

Gonna look into those High Altitude liners dangergirl is talking about. My knowledge of the latest and greatest is a little dulled.

dangergirl
12-16-2008, 06:39 AM
Painful boots are bad! I used to wear the Koflachs and I would get large bruises on my calf muscles from them. Try them on, wear them around the store, try rentals if possible, and don't be afraid to spend money. I research all my purchases now by talking to other people, reading reviews, and borrowing from friends.

mtruman
12-16-2008, 09:21 AM
For anything in the Whites, including Washington via winter Lion's Head route, I prefer Sorels with strap-on crampons simply because they are lighter and more comfortable. I have a pair of plastics and they feel like cinder blocks on my feet. Of course for truly technical routes on Washington you probably need plastics.

Which Sorels?

Bill O
12-16-2008, 09:26 AM
Which Sorels?

Yes, please elaborate. That's one of the craziest things I've heard.

krummholz
12-16-2008, 12:42 PM
Well, I just looked at the pair that I've owned for I don't know, maybe 5 years, and I don't see any special label other than "Sorel"! :) Looking at the website, I think they are the kind called "Caribou." They are the basic felt-lined pac boots that have been worn for ages in Alaska, Canada (which is where they come from), and basically any frigid place where feet have to stay warm. I have 12-point strap-on crampons that I use with them. I must have had those for more like 15 years--maybe they don't sell them any more. (They don't sell the analog altimeter I use any more, either.)

Bottom line: They work perfectly in any situation that doesn't require extended front-pointing where a rigid sole is required. I wouldn't take them ice-climbing, in other words.

I'd tell you what kind of plastic boots I have except that they're gathering dust up in my attic and I'm too lazy to go up there and look at them. Obviously, the one big advantage is that they take step-in crampons. But I much prefer my Sorels!

mtruman
12-16-2008, 05:14 PM
Well, I just looked at the pair that I've owned for I don't know, maybe 5 years, and I don't see any special label other than "Sorel"! :) Looking at the website, I think they are the kind called "Caribou." They are the basic felt-lined pac boots that have been worn for ages in Alaska, Canada (which is where they come from), and basically any frigid place where feet have to stay warm. I have 12-point strap-on crampons that I use with them. I must have had those for more like 15 years--maybe they don't sell them any more. (They don't sell the analog altimeter I use any more, either.)

Bottom line: They work perfectly in any situation that doesn't require extended front-pointing where a rigid sole is required. I wouldn't take them ice-climbing, in other words.

I'd tell you what kind of plastic boots I have except that they're gathering dust up in my attic and I'm too lazy to go up there and look at them. Obviously, the one big advantage is that they take step-in crampons. But I much prefer my Sorels!

Are you really talking about these?

http://www.sorel.com/images/productImages/NM1000_137_l.jpg

Doesn't seem like these would be great for mountain hiking. All the reviews I saw on them were for people wearing them for snowmobiling, after skiing, shoveling the driveway, etc.

They have several other boots in their "sports" line that seem to be more appropriate to winter mountain hiking including the Conquest, Intrepid Expedition and Intrepid Explorer. The last two have removable liners and the first is just straight 400g Thinsulate. None of these are obviously comparable to plastic mountaineering boots but they seem like they might be appropriate for winter day hiking in the mountains with either snowshoes, microspikes or crampons depending on the conditions. I'm actually trying to decide on the best option for this for myself as well so I'm interested in the opinions here. Not looking for something for multi-day winter trips so a 2-piece is probably not necessary (at least from the perspective that others mentioned here).

krummholz
12-16-2008, 06:09 PM
Yes, those are exactly the boots I was talking about. The advertising refers to snowmobiling rather than hiking because the company realizes that its markets have shifted--in my opinion, because the boot doesn't fit the "extreme sport" image that companies like REI are aiming for!

The only significant difference between the "Intrepid Expedition" and the "Intrepid Exploration" boot on the one hand, and the "Caribou" on the other, are that the former have built-in gaiters. As far as I can figure out from looking at the website, the "Explorer" also has a "removable molded EVA comfort footbed." I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I think you could buy one of those Scholl's innersoles and put them in if you wanted, and it would probably be just as good. I don't need the built-in gaiters because I have separate gaiters.

So the "Caribou," which I apparently have, is just a simple felt-lined very warm winter boot. Suits me fine. They are comfortable, warm, and you can put crampons on them. (I think....those crampons may have gone the way of the dodo.) The fact that the soles are flexible rather than rigid has meant countless miles of greater comfort for me. I can't tell you how many miles of winter hiking I have done in them. Basically, I completed the "Winter 4's" in my Sorels.

Bill O
12-16-2008, 06:46 PM
I'd say you're crazy if you hadn't actually hiked in them.

They are warm and waterproof, and perfect for Alaska. But their prime market is snow machiners, hunters and people walking on flat terrain.

But, they work for you.

krummholz
12-16-2008, 08:00 PM
Yeah, they've worked fine in winter in places like Jefferson from Edmands Col, Cannon from Coppermine Col, Flume via the Flume Slide trail, Madison via the Osgood trail, Garfield via the Garfield Ridge trail, etc., etc.

(And Monroe via Ammonusuc Ravine, and Passaconaway via the Downes Slide manway. You get the idea.)

iceclimber
12-17-2008, 08:48 AM
I got a pair of the Koflach expes super cheap and will use them this winter up on Mt. Washington just to get a good feel for them. I used a pair of degres on Denali last July. They were fine for down at 7,000 but I would probably go with a high altitude liner for the degres if I were going to use them any higher. The problem is that the degres don't fit with the altitude liners very well. I talked with someone who used to work at AMH in Anchorage where they custom fit the Denali liners.

The expes on the other hand will do fine with the stock liners and some overboots for higher up. The one thing I like about the Denali liners are that they are closed-cell foam. I guess that is good and bad. Rather than the liner soaking up some perspiration, your socks will get the brunt of it. Either way that is what your bag is for and like climbabout already said, you and your bag make the best natural dryer up at altitude.

I think you can still find some Koflachs at certain websites who have stockpiled them before they stopped producing them. The Invernos are pretty popular though and seem to be the next best thing to the expes.