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Mountaineering Footwear
  • Mountaineering Footwear

  • Gear Guide

 Ask any experienced mountaineer what the most important piece of equipment is on a climb, and chances are good they’ll say boots. If they fit properly and keep your feet warm, they are doing their job. If they don’t, painful cold feet may compromise your experience. A wide variety of mountaineering boots exist on the market today. They range from non- insulated, lightweight boots designed for short climbs with little glacier travel all the way up to heavily insulated, double boots with integrated gaiters designed for high altitude expeditions, including Everest. Most people will find that a boot somewhere in between these two extremes is ideal. But with so many options to choose from and only a vague manufacturer's description to go by, how do you know what boot is right for you? We asked the guide team over at our sister company RMI Expeditions, some of the most experienced mountain guides in the U.S. 

There's a ton of info in this post, so we've grouped it under a few sections below.

Click below to jump to your desired section

Choosing the Right Boot

Different Types of Footwear

Different Types of Footwear

General Mountaineering Boots

General Mountaineering Boots
Great Debate

Single vs Double Boots

While both single (no removable liner) and double boots (outer shell with a removable liner) are well suited for a variety of mountains, they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Single boots are lighter than double boots, but they are not as warm. Double boots are easier to maintain on longer expeditions, as the liner can be removed for drying. Some models even have liner boots that can be used on their own as camp booties. Many climbers find that single boots are more comfortable due to softer materials and a more flexible upper. They do, however, have a break-in period. Double boots typically have a looser fit and may feel bulkier on your feet. They are also more rigid due to their stiffer outer shell, but require a shorter break-in period. Whether you choose single or double, make sure to test them out prior to your climb. 

High Altitude Boots

High Altitude Boots

Guide Tip

Features & Fit

“My favorite features on my boots are thermofit liners and integrated gaiter systems. The heat-molded liners make for a precise fit while the integrated gaiters have allowed me to do away with old-school gaiters. I think the most important thing when shopping for boots is to identify a manufacturer that makes a boot that fits your particular foot in terms of width. Width is as important as length for fit.”

- Seth Waterfall, Mountain Guide

Regular price $999.00
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RMI Expeditions Guides Love this Boot G2 Evo is the ultra thermal double boot for extreme mountaineering and prolonged use at low temperatures. G2 Evo belongs to the La Sportiva high mountain line...
Regular price $649.00
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Our Guides Love this Boot for Rainier This boot is the Guide Pick™ for mid-season Rainier climbs, or anywhere a single, leather boot is required! The Nepal Cube GTX is a warm and technical mountai...
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Our Guides Prefer this Boot for Cold Weather Climbs There are boots that can make it up a peak, and then there are boots that are made for the job. The SCARPA Phantom 6000 falls into the latter cat...
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Recommended for Lower Elevation Mountaineering, Ice Climbing, and Heavy Winter Backpacking This versatile, insulated boot’s ankle design has been tweaked to allow for slightly softer, easier ankle ...
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Our Guides Love This Boot for Rainier This boot is the Guide Pick™ for mid-season Rainier climbs, or anywhere a single, leather boot is required! The Nepal Cube GTX is a warm and technical mountai...
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Great for Climbing 6000m Peaks and Extreme Cold Weather Climbing Lowa collaborated with renowned mountaineer Ralf Dujmovits to develop the Expedition 6000 Evo RD, designed for 6,000 meter peak expe...
42% Off
Regular price $699.99
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This Boot Can Go to the Top of the World Lowa's most protective and insulated mountaineering boot was developed in collaboration with LOWA Pro Team member Ralf Dujmovits for extreme high altitude e...
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One of Our Favorite Boots for Rainier This versatile, insulated boot’s ankle design has been tweaked to allow for slightly softer, easier ankle flex when traveling uphill, but its best-selling conc...
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Better than Ever The evolution of leading ice and mixed climbing boot continues with the Phantom Tech. The latest version improves fit, protection and warmth while reducing it's eco-impact. Primalo...
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Regular price $255.00
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Our favorite hiking boot... by far. The Renegade’s award-winning fit, comfort and versatility have set the standard for multifunction boots for 25 years. With its accommodating Derby-cut styling, D...
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Designed for off-road adventures The women's La Sportiva Wildcat trail-running shoes are designed for your off-road adventures. Thanks to plush cushioning and a comfortable fit, they'll carry you t...
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The Gold Standard for Hiking Boots The Renegade’s award-winning fit, comfort and versatility have set the standard for multifunction boots for 25 years. With its accommodating Derby-cut styling, Du...
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THE top Hiking Boot You don't become the #1 hiking boot in the world without knowing a thing or two about the trail. Meet the all-purpose, all-terrain outdoor companion—the Moab 3. Made for trai...
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THE top Hiking Boot You don't become the #1 hiking boot in the world without knowing a thing or two about the trail. Meet the all-purpose, all-terrain outdoor companion—the Moab 3. Made for trails...
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Step Up your Trail Running Game Featuring an aggressive outsole, burly lugs and an adaptable fit, the Mutant is built for covering serious terrain. Equipped with the stickiest FriXion® XF 2.0 rub...
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The Women's Version of our Guide Pick Approach Shoe The TX4 EVO Women's is an eco-friendly leather shoe designed to guarantee maximum stability and grip even on the roughest terrain. Ideal for te...
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A Guide Favorite The TX4 EVO is an eco-friendly leather shoe designed to guarantee maximum stability and grip even on the roughest terrain. Ideal for technical approaches and easy climbing routes...

Boot Fitting Tips

How a boot fits is without question the most important factor of boot selection. While trekking boots and hiking shoes should fit the same as your street shoes, general and high alpine mountaineering boots are fit a little differently. A good fit correctly addresses the three dimensions of your foot:

Length - Toes should wiggle easily inside the footwear. If you have hammertoes or some kind of toe sensitivity such as a neuroma, pay special attention to choosing a boot with the right length (depth) for your foot. We suggest sizing up one half to a full size from your regular street shoes for mountaineering boots.

 Width - Feet should not slide around inside footwear; nor should they be compressed from side to side.

Volume - The "bulk" of your foot should fit securely inside a boot’s interior. Matching the volume of a boot to your foot is the most critical part of getting a good fit. It has everything to do with controlling heel slip (blisters) and toe bang on downhill hiking (black toenails). When a boot fits properly it should feel like a big hand is holding your foot over the instep where the laces are. Your foot should feel very “quiet” in the boot as you walk.

Tips for Boot Fitting

  • Always size up - Size up one-half to one full size for general mountaineering, single boots, and one full size for a high altitude or double plastic boot. More room increases circulation and accommodates foot swell at altitude, resulting in warmer feet. A larger boot will also allow room for an orthotic or custom foot bed, which is recommended.
  • Prevent toe bang - Make sure your toes do not touch the front of the boot. Half of mountain climbing is walking downhill. Toe bang on the descent is painful. Test for this by lacing your boot up tightly and tapping your toe behind you. If your toes feel crunched against the end of the boot, size up.
  • Comparative Fit - Mountaineering boots do not fit like ski boots or rock climbing shoes. These are not intended for walking in. Mountaineering boots are, so you can expect a looser, roomier fit. Tight mountaineering boots are a recipe for discomfort, decreased circulation, and potential frostbite. 
  • First Impressions - First impressions are huge. Have your sock system on (almost all of our guides wear a single sock, even to the top of Everest), lace up the boots, and walk, stand, sit, tap your toes and scuffle around for 15 minutes. How do they feel?
  • Brands and Models - Be aware that boot brands and models are shaped differently. If the boot fit is too tight overall, you’re likely in the wrong size. If the boot is pinching in some areas but is loose in others, you’re in the wrong brand or model.
Guide Tip

Blister Prevention

Friction is the primary cause of blisters, so be sure to wear socks and boots that fit. The key is to catch a hot spot before it becomes a blister. Our guide team carries medical tape, or duct tape, and applies it at the first sign of a hot spot. This will allow the sock to move and slide on the tape and not your foot. If you are too late and the blister has formed, consider moleskin, a soft, cottony fabric with an adhesive backing. Often the best approach to a fresh blister is to encircle the hot spot with a donut ring of moleskin, which will reduce friction against your boot.

Guide to Socks, Liners, & Gaiters

Socks, Liners, and Gaiters are just as important as boot choice when it comes to mountaineering. Check out our tips and product suggestions below!

Socks

Socks

Guide Tip

Advice on Socks

A good strategy for socks is to bring two pairs of socks and change pairs as soon as you are done climbing for the day, letting the pair your wore all day air dry. Continue this rotation for each day you are on the mountain and you will always have a pair of dry, warm socks to change into.

Guide tip: stick your damp socks in your sleeping bag and let your body heat dry them out overnight. Caution: don't do this with soaking wet socks.

Shop the best

Liners, Gaiters, & Overboots

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Consistently the Best Every year we ask RMI Expeditions' guides which gaiters they recommend for mountaineering, and since they came on the market years ago, the Expedition Crocodile Gaiters have ...
Regular price $219.95
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The Forty Below® Purple Haze™ overboot is the choice of climbers for Denali, the Himalayas, and cold weather expeditions worldwide.  The easy to put on, full length insulated overboot for mountaine...
Regular price $51.99
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A Tough Gaiter for Any Hike or Climb When the rockface is steep, exposed and difficult, you need to focus on the climb. With its lightweight design, low-bulk fit and elite-level dryness, the Muztag...
Regular price $79.00
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For the Fast Hiker and Ounce-counting Backpacker Durable, ultralight, low profile, waterproof gaiters with best-selling Helium fabric, built for the fast hiker and ounce-counting backpacker. Meet t...
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Durable, Ultralight, Low Profile The Helium Gaiters utilize our best-selling and award-winning Helium fabric to keep footwear rocks, snow, and debris-free while on trail. Made with Pertex® Shie...
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A Tough Gaiter that will Protect You from the Snow A full-height gaiter built with three-layer waterproof breathable GORE-TEX fabric, the Black Diamond Apex excels at cold, wet-weather pursuits lik...