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.
Originally Posted by krummholz
Yes, please elaborate. That's one of the craziest things I've heard.
Originally Posted by mtruman
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?
Originally Posted by krummholz
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).
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.
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.
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.)
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.