Hiking in the mountains is an exciting experience. And hiking in winter, on a snowy and icy surface is more challenging than during the other seasons. But even more difficult is climbing the mountain in extreme conditions. For this, you need special equipment. And an important part of this equipment is your footwear. The footwear you need is called mountaineering boots. So, let’s take a look at the 10 best mountaineering boots for 2023.
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What kind of boots are these
The main purpose of the mountaineering boots is to allow you to hike and climb the highest mountains on the Earth, as well as all kinds of winter (snow-covered) mountains, in all kinds of terrain. But unlike the winter hiking boots, the mountaineering boots are more focused on the terrain, rather than the snowy conditions. They are better for climbing than just hiking.
In other words- if you want to join an expedition to Mt Everest, K2, or even a lower mountain, you need mountaineering boots, as a part of your mountaineering equipment. They are specially designed for crampons, so you can attach everything you need for climbing or walking in slippery places. Even if you don’t plan winter rock climbing, if your hiking route includes more extreme and difficult terrain, mountaineering boots would be better than winter hiking boots.
The main features of the mountaineering boots
The first main feature of every mountaineering boot is its hard sole. You can’t bend it, and this is with purpose- to allow proper crampon attachment. Yes, some hiking boots also partially allow crampon attachment, but it is not what they are designed for. On contrary- the mountaineering boots are specially made for crampons- automatic or semi-automatic.
Apart from this, mountaineering boots can be divided into different categories, depending on the other important features.
Single vs double mountaineering boots
The single mountaineering boots are just one indivisible whole like the winter or three-season hiking boots.
On the other side, the double mountaineering boots consist of inner linen and outer shell. You can take the inner linen out and dry it if it is wet.
And in general, usually, the double boots are a bit heavier than the single ones, but from the other side, they are more functional.
Waterproof is not the most important feature for mountaineering boots, at least not for all of them. Some of these boots are designed for extremely cold conditions where everything is frozen, so wetting is almost impossible. So, weak boots are those used in warmer conditions without waterproofness.
But there is another problem- deep snow. It can enter the boot from above, so some of the mountaineering boots are supplied with gaiters. For those that aren’t you should use independent gaiters and attach them to the boots.
This is a very important function since the environment that you are going to climb would be mainly cold, sometimes- extremely cold. And your feet must remain warm, otherwise, you would be in serious trouble.
Different mountaineering boots have a different level of warmth, and usually, the double boots are warmer. Conditionally, the mountaineering boots are classified for various altitudes- 4000, 5000, 6000 m or higher (although, of course, the conditions in these altitudes are not the same in different geographical zones on the Earth). And in general, the higher altitude they are ranked, the warmer they are.
Mountaineering boots can perform differently in different terrains. Some of them are better in steep ice climbing, others- in rugged rock terrain. Also, some are more proper for beginners in mountaineering, while others- for extremely difficult mountain expeditions.
Mountaineering boots are not designed for hiking- yes, you can still hike with them, but hiking boots are much more comfortable. However, mountaineering is not only climbing, it always includes some hiking. So, good mountaineering boots should also provide at least some comfort for the hiking sections.
Among the other things that you have to consider and make a boot good are also the following:
- Lacing system. It should be simple and easy to use.
- Weight. Of course- the lighter, the better.
- Break-in period. The shorter, the better.
- Durability. The longer, the better.
And finally- price. Mountaineering boots are more expensive than the other boots, don’t be surprised about that. But as for every product, usually, the more expensive, the better quality it is, so you have to choose between the quality and your budget. Anyway, there are some really good boots with a better price vs quality ratio.
Many mountaineering boots come in male and female versions, but some of them are unisex.
So, let’s take a look at the 10 best mountaineering boots for 2023.
The 10 best mountaineering boots for 2023
These boots are not arranged in a chart from No. 1 to No. 10, but they are just the 10 best boots by the professional testers and user’s experience. And before getting into detail, take a look at the table below:
Scarpa Phantom Tech
This is the best boot for technical climbing. It is designed for 4 seasons, so you can climb lower and higher mountains without a problem. It has perfect waterproof features by its Scarpa HDry membrane, supplied with Primaloft insulation, and a durable Vibram sole. The boot has integrated gaiters, so you basically don’t need to bring additional gaiters.
Scarpa Phantom Tech is a single boot, with one inner layer only, but it is still enough warm, although warmth is not its best side. Again, its design is focused on climbing on highly technical and difficult terrain (for example, it is great if you want to climb K2, although have in mind that according to some users, they are not warm enough for that), as well as on icy walls and other extreme places. And you can walk on slippery and technical sections of your route even without crampons.
This boot is quite lightweight, and this is another good side of it. The only weak sides are the warmth (not proper for extremely cold weather), its lace-lock system, and the price- they are a bit expensive.
Pros: Excellent climbing abilities, perfectly waterproof, lightweight.
Cons: Not enough warm for extreme cold, weak lace-lock system, a bit expensive.
La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX
This is one of the “balanced best-in-everything” boots, although, of course, not 100% perfect. La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX is a single-leather boot, outstandingly comfortable. Like the other best mountaineering boots, this one is one of the best choices for steep and technical terrains, as well as vertical ice surfaces.
According to various users’ reviews, one of the best sides of this boot is its lacing system. It is simple and convenient. Its tongue is removable, or it can be adjusted up and down.
Concerning the other features, Nepal Cube is good too, although not the best. It is waterproof, but since it is a leather boot, it absorbs water. It also provides good ankle support, but not for all kinds of climbing or hiking- again, it is best mainly for steep ice climbing.
Concerning warmth- La Sportiva is not the Number 1, but it is still in the middle of the best boots. Finally, it is a bit heavy. But this makes it more durable, so some good features come with a cost.
Pros: Great for steep ice climbing, excellent lacing system.
Cons: A bit heavy, leather absorbs water.
Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX
This is the Scarpa’s version of La Sportiva’s Nepal Cube. Many features are the same for both boots, but there are some differences. Like its La Sportiva counterpart, it is best for moderate to steep ice climbing. It is a single leather boot, quite performance-oriented.
One of the main differences between these two boots (Scarpa Mont Blanc and La Sportiva Nepal Cube) is the fit. La Sportiva tends to be narrower, while Scarpa is wider.
Concerning the other features, both boots are in competition. According to some users, Scarpa’s boot is not enough warm, but at the same time provides better ankle support and stability. Its lacing system is a bit behind La Sportiva’s. About its waterproof ability- it is excellent although the water line is a bit low.
Finally, Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX is a bit cheaper, so maybe the price can make it a winner, at least for some climbers.
Pros: Great for moderate and steep ice climbing, good lacing system, a bit lightweight. Cheaper.
Cons: Some users find it too wide. Not enough warm.
La Sportiva Spantik
This is an excellent boot for climbing on snowy mountains at an altitude around 5000-6000 m. It is double synthetic, four-seasonal, with great technical performance. Although it is a bit expensive, its quality is worth the price.
La Sportiva Spantik is lightweight (at least for its class), and surprisingly warm for its weight. Although it is not a hiking boot and can’t compare with hiking boots, you can still feel relatively comfortable when you hike short sections on dry trails. It is also excellent for steep ice climbing, although La Sportiva Nepal Cube is better.
Since this boot is specialized in snowy high-altitude terrains, its waterproof side is not well-developed. It can get wet if you walk on slushy melting snow or mud. But on high altitudes, it is usually dry, so it is not a big problem.
Finally, durability is its weak side, so don’t use it on too rugged dry terrains.
Pros: Very warm for its weight, excellent for high altitude snowy conditions.
Cons: No waterproof, less durable.
The best side of Scarpa Inverno is its durability- it is so durable that you can wear it for many years without any sign of damage or wearing out. And plastic has the main role for it. At the same time, it is quite warm for extreme cold weather. Also, it is waterproof and comfortable. The boot has great performance in snow.
However, it is not so technical, it can’t compete with boots like La Sportiva Nepal Cube or Scarpa Phantom Tech. Instead, it is a bit bulky and heavy. But at the same time, its price is almost half of these boots’ prices. That’s why it can be a perfect choice for users who look for something more budget.
Pros: Excellent durability, cheap.
Cons: A bit bulky and heavy, not so technical.
This is a lightweight three-season mountaineering boot. It is single synthetic, best proper for semi-automatic crampons. So, in general, it is most proper for more snowy and rocky terrain, not the best in steep ice and not in extreme cold, but excellent in more moderate conditions.
Scarpa Charmoz has a great waterproof feature, and it is very important when you hike and climb in not-so-cold weather, on melting snow or mud. At the same time, it is durable and comfortable. Its construction provides good ankle support and shock absorption.
One of its weak sides is the break-in period. Many users complain that it is too long. Others also add that it is not the most lightweight mountaineering boot in this category. Anyway, for its relatively budget price, this boot is quite worth buying.
Pros: Excellent for not too extreme conditions, waterproof.
Cons: Long break-in period, not the lightest boot in its category.
La Sportiva Karakorum
This is one of the mountaineering “rising stars” of La Sportiva for 2023. It is designed for general heavy terrain- for climbing and backpacking. In other words, it is proper for those who not only go climbing, but just want to go on a trekking, or combine both.
Some of the best sides of La Sportiva Karakorum is its stability and almost no break-in period. In other words- you buy it, wear it, and you can go on a heavy trekking on the next day (at least in most cases, so better try it first). It is also sturdy, with strong grip, so you can walk on a slippery and steep slopes easier than with many other boots. Anyway, you still have to attach crampons, since a “naked” boot can’t replace them.
The main downside of La Sportiva Karakorum is their waterproof- in some cases they can let water enter inside, especially if you hike or climb in wet conditions (in temperature above freezing). Another downside is their lace system- some users complain that the laces don’t fit snugly.
Pros: Great for those who want to combine climbing with hiking, with high stability.
Cons: Weak waterproofness, laces don’t fit snugly.
La Sportiva Makalu
This is one of the best classical old-school mountaineering boots. It is single leather, lightweight, without gaiters, designed for automatic crampons. In general, La Sportiva Makalu is best for light and classical mountaineering, the most proper boot for beginners.
La Sportiva Makalu is not made for extremely cold, harsh terrains and weather, but this can’t be considered as a weak side, because this boot has a different purpose. For this purpose, it is enough warm, flexible, and with great technical performance.
However, it has two cons. First- it is not waterproof. It wouldn’t be a problem if you hike and climb only in a frozen environment, but if you are a beginner, you would most likely sometimes walk on а wetting surface. And second, its break-in period is too long.
Pros: Great for classical mountaineering, the best for beginners, lightweight, cheap.
Cons: No waterproof, too long break-in period.
Salewa Rapace GTX
This is one of the most comfortable mountaineering boots. It is single leather, and a significant contribution to its comfort is its lightweight. Also, it has almost no break-in period. This is what makes Salewa Rapace GTX one of the most favorite boots for mountaineers at a moderate level.
Salewa Rapace GTX is a waterproof boot, however, some users experience wetting during a longer trek or climb on a wet surface. It is warm, but not designed for extreme cold weather.
Concerning the other features, it is durable and quite technical, with an excellent crampon connection. The lacing system is also good and convenient, offering a lot of flexibility. Finally, it is relatively cheap, so it is one of the best choices for budget users.
Pros: Extremely comfortable, with almost no break-in period, lightweight.
Cons: Weak waterproof, not so warm in too low temperatures.
La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube
This is a completely different type of mountaineering boot. Its main purpose is to hike and climb the highest, the harshest, and the coldest mountains on the Earth, in the most severe weather. Olympus Mons is the highest mountain in the Solar System, located on Mars, and it clearly symbolizes this boot’s goal- to climb the highest altitudes on our planet.
La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube is a double synthetic boot supplied with a high gaiter for full prevention of snow penetrating. It doesn’t have a lacing system but only dual Boa closures that can be much easily adjusted without the need to wear off gloves or mittens.
Another very important feature is warmth- needless to say, it is crucial for surviving the harsh environment in places like K2, Everest, Annapurna, or Antarctica. But all of this comes with a price- this is one of the most expensive mountaineering boots.
Pros: Extremely protective for the harshest environments on Earth.
Cons: Too expensive.
These are the best mountaineering boots for 2023. There are many other boots, mainly by these two best brands La Sportiva and Scarpa, but some other brands are also well-presented. I would mention Lowa Alpine Expert, La Sportiva G2 and G5 Evo, and La Sportiva Trango Tech (which is also great for hiking).
As you can see, in general, mountaineering boots are more expensive than hiking boots, but it is mainly because the terrain they are designed for is much more difficult. So, if you want to be a mountaineer, you should be ready to invest in this very important part of your equipment.
Equip yourself with the best gear for exploring the nature of the Earth!
Take a look at more adventure equipment below:
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Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.