Author: Clyde Soles
Translator: Frank Xie
Translator's Note: (Sole Survivors - Cool Boots for Winter Climbing
Published in http://, the original author's point of view does not represent the translator's point of view, the translator just faithfully translated the original text, and in order to more clearly describe the content and facilitate reader understanding, add some pictures and sum up some forms. This article is for reference only for climbers. If you need to reprint, please fully reproduce and indicate the source so that we can better understand this article! )

In the past, all the hiking boots were made of leather (a small amount of steel was also used). With the advent of the plastic era, new synthetic boots gradually took up the main market, until the emergence of single-layer boots with insulation and heat insulation changed this situation, and leather-made hiking boots had a tendency of resurgence. Nowadays, more products made from a mixture of leather and plastic are on the market, and it is difficult for you to distinguish the differences between them based on materials.

In fact, we are very hard, or we can't do a detailed comparison of these boots one by one. This will make you unable to make decisions when you buy new shoes. First of all, many manufacturers can provide a variety of models and styles of hiking boots. Most of them are characterized by overlaps. It is easier for you to choose the best one from the same manufacturer's many products instead of Choose from multiple vendors. In addition, a completely new category has emerged in the past two years. It is a technical ice climbing boot. Last but not least, just like the fact that no pair of rock climbing shoes are perfect, so is hiking boots.

Is there some confusion? Will not! This article will analyze 17 of the latest hiking boots to help you choose the best boots for you so that you can fully appreciate the fun of winter climbing. Although at least 44 models are available for your choice, we cannot comment on all of these products. We mainly focused on some new models and selected some reliable products from the past as representatives. We did a lot of long-distance walk tests, and sometimes two feet were put on different boots to test. We also did a test climbing on the rocks and found that these boots and technical crampons had a good fit.

Boots type:

Some enthusiastic climbers are keen to collect various kinds of hiking boots. There are often several pairs of boots in their closet for different climbing purposes. Of course, this situation requires you to have a certain degree of economic strength. Most climbers choose a pair of boots. , so you'd better think about what kind of climbs you will make in most of the next few years.

Most climbers and Alpine climbers will choose a pair of integrated thermal insulation single layer boots, they have a thin layer of Thinsulate (or other materials with the same effect), these boots currently occupy about half of the market. In most cases, single-ply boots provide adequate warmth and are more flexible than most double-ply boots in terms of ankle flexibility. Although there are some exceptions to the products covered in this article, the weight of single-ply boots is mostly light.

Nowadays, some newer, slim, technical boots are very attractive. They are designed for competitive ice climbing and are ideally suited for climbing medium-duty short-circuits during the day. Each boot is about half a pound lighter and at the same time more flexible than the traditional boots in terms of ankle flexibility! Because the focus of these boots is to get better performance when climbing (whether with crampons or not), its shape and appearance are not suitable for long walks, let alone skiing. Of course, if you often climb the ice in Ouray and Vail, or do not like alpine climbing, choosing this kind of boots is a good decision.

Double boots still have its market. They all have waterproof plastic boots that are maintenance-free. They are suitable for climbers who are often on wet snow. When you are on a few-week expedition, you can take off your boots and dry your boots in the camp. At the same time, those climbers who feel that the boots are difficult to fit in will find the two-piece boots to be very comfortable to wear.

For ladies, the choice is relatively simple, but also because their choice is too limited! Only the main four boots (Kayland M-10, Kayland Revolution, La Sportiva Lhotse Lady, Montrail Verglas) are available. More than 40 other models are designed and manufactured for men. In the same foot length, men usually have lower arches, larger insteps, wider heels and higher ankles. In some cases, some women can wear unisex models of boots, but these models usually have no size less than 7.


Although hiking boots are still labeled with leather or plastic, this is an old saying. Many boots mix leather and fabric, which reduces both weight and drying time and production costs. Of course their seams and leather edges are subject to wear and may not be repaired.

Although full-skin boots are also a good choice, they require regular maintenance to maintain water resistance. Traditionally, this is called waxing the boots, but at the expense of breathability, we actually use a polymer similar to Nikwax Aqueous Wax. He wears a layer of collagen coat on the boots and does not clog the tiny leather. Aperture.

All mixed materials made of boots and a small amount of leather boots provide special protection in a layer of waterproof/breathable (WP/B) film near the inner lining of the foot. Some manufacturers use their own proprietary materials, but Gore-Tex is the most common one, and he has good test results. (Gore certified boots must pass a breathability test). In order to prevent the aging of leather, these boots need to simply maintain their water repellency. This is because moisture accumulates between the boot and the liner. The saturated material cannot breathe. You must re-evaporate the vapor.


The hard outer boots ensure that water can only enter from above (or in the gap). Of course, they do not need any maintenance, but over time and ultraviolet radiation, plastic will become brittle and aging, some old boots will crack. Plastic itself can not heat conduction, but not insulation, it is mainly to support and protect boots. Outer boots can also be made of polyurethane. He is flexible, but he starts to harden at 0 degrees. Another material called Pebax can also be used on the outer boots. It's harder, but it's below zero. At 40 degrees, it will maintain a certain degree of bending.

Thermal insulation:

All insulation insulation of boots is achieved by reducing the air circulation, while hiking boots must achieve this purpose through a small thickness. For nearly two decades, 3M Thinsulate (65% olefin/35% polyester microfiber matrix) materials have been used effectively on these boots. This material can be used on shoes in four different weight ratios. The lightest one (200g) is used on hiking boots. According to 3M, the weight was set as the standard for "high-intensity exercise in cold conditions."

Some boots use Gore-Tex Duratherm, a multilayer foil product used in Europe. This polyester has good air permeability and pressure resistance. Duratherm can maintain a longer R-value (a measure of warmth) because only a small amount of air can squeeze out of the insulation.

Many boots have hollow, closed cells that resemble a honeycomb, which makes the boots light and unaffected by moisture. These small units act like a barrier to prevent water vapor from entering the boot. Some have also coated the surface of small cells with aluminium or mesh to reduce heat loss. The disadvantage of this structure is that it is not suitable for sweat, and the small unit will be smashed after being squeezed.

Other boots contain Outlast (a phase change material used to regulate temperature changes). His working principle is to put paraffin in microcapsules. At a certain temperature, paraffin melts and absorbs heat. Below this temperature, Paraffin wax solidifies and releases heat. The result is the suppression of temperature fluctuations, but he cannot make your boots warmer. Outlast can also reduce sweating and keep your feet dry when you are performing high-intensity activities. I think that: although Outlast is somewhat different from other materials, it is not enough to justify buying Outlast boots.

Nevertheless, people would ask a pair of boots with a price of $64,000: "How warm is he?". Coincidentally, that is what we want to find out (but this is beyond what our little magazine can achieve). . The original intention of my start of this project was to use a neutral laboratory to test the insulation of boots. But I still changed my mind because getting a meaningful answer is not so simple. A quick and unresponsible test can only mislead others.

First, a simple analysis of the principles of heat conduction seems to help us clarify the facts. However, all the boots will deform when they are put on the feet. The pressure depends on the insulation. The same is true of boots, but the main influence is on the feet. Here is the main source of heat loss.

When we are climbing, each leg loses about 5 to 10 grams of sweat per hour. For many hiking boots, this moisture will be transferred to the insulation, resulting in a 36% reduction in R-value, and some boots are even more severe in this regard. Other boots with hollow closed cells are not affected by this.

Currently, there is no test standard to measure the insulation of hiking boots: Each manufacturer has its own set of benchmarks. The standard of professional footwear developed in Europe is very simple. There are no grades. There are only pass/fail standards. This is actually not useful for hiking boots. The best way to test it is to use a hot foot model (built-in sweat glands and 8 sensors) related to the festival and put it in a breezy cold room for testing. Therefore, until the official test standards are published, we cannot compare the insulation of the hiking boots between the manufacturers.


All the boots claim that their boots are hard and you must not bend them with your hands. But actually only a few boots don't bend when you stand on a slender edge. Actually, this kind of vertical bending is a good thing if it is not excessive. The completely hard sole will feel when you are climbing. Extremely uncomfortable.

When the boots are bent moderately, you can get better friction on the slope. Some manufacturers claim that their products have enhanced "sensitivity," but that's relative. In any case, you have at least one-half inch of rubber and plastic between your feet and the ground.

Although you need some moderate longitudinal bending, twisting bends are completely unnecessary, especially when climbing the rock, you will spend more energy to maintain contact with the rock.

When considering the hardness of the sole, be sure to consider what kind of crampons you use. If you use boots that are slightly softer at the bottom of the shoe and work with semi-rigid crampons (Black Diamond Bionic or Charlet Moser M-10), you get more sensitivity but lose important support. A pair of rigid crampons requires a pair of hard alpine boots to match.

In addition to the hard boots midsole, the style of the boots outsole also affects your climbing performance. Most of the boots use the classic Vibram Montagna soles. His designs are based on half-century styles of boots.

Many boot soles have a sole that integrates the midsole with the outsole. This structure is ideal for hiking, but its shape is not suitable for squeezing or snapping into ice/rock joints when climbing. The problem with this type of boot is that it does not work well with the card crampons, not the unsuitable toe of the toe, or the fact that the lip of the heel is too soft to safely control the clasp on the back of the cramp. In a layered midsole, the outsole is glued to the midsole, rather than the boots that are used to combine them together (eg Kayland M-10 and Revolution, La Sportiva Trango Ice, Scarpa Freney, Millet Ice Expert and Salomon Due to the rubber edge of the outer layer, Pro Ice is suitable for pushing in or catching ice/rock joints when climbing. Their feet feel good and their fit with the crampons is also good.

For those boots made of leather or fabric, the rubber edges can put water and prevent wear. Unfortunately, many boots only have rubber on the toes and the heel does not. Due to the low friction generated by wet leather and plastic, such boots are not suitable for snapping into ice/rock seams. If you often climb in wet weather or climb on ice-rock mixing trails, be sure to choose a pair of rubber boots that have all the outer edges of the rubber. At the very least, you must have rubber on all the edges of your toes and heels.

Flexibility of the ankle:

The highest level of double-layer plastic boots is to achieve the same flexible flexibility of the ankle as a single-layer leather boot. So far no two-layer plastic boots have achieved this goal, but the gap between them has gradually narrowed, and Scarpa's boots (Alpha) are already very close.

All shoes used for walking must allow the ankles to bend forward so they have a lacing system. The boots we covered in this article do a good job in this area, but you also have problems when your ankles are more than normal or high.

When you are on the ground or uphill, the boots are very easy to bend, and of course many boots lack backward bending. However, on a steep downhill terrain, the non-bending boots will make your Achilles tendon difficult. A good product will not feel uncomfortable when you walk down a slope of 45 degrees. It is best to try it when selling shoes.

Leather boots traditionally have greater advantages on the sides of the slopes and are ideally suited for the full-footed French technique. The lateral ankle flexes differently than you occasionally traverse the slope as you travel. It requires you to pay more attention to balance. Some heavy-duty leather boots are hard when they start to wear, but they can be bent after a long time. Plastics do not change their bending characteristics with their wear. Unable to bend the pedal boots better control, more suitable for skiing.

All technical ice climbing boots provide good ankle flexion. For greater flexibility, they reduced or removed many materials compared to hiking boots.

Shoe tops:

The latest trend is the use of asymmetric shoes. Most hiking shoes leave a large circular space for the toes to leave room for the toes, and those climbing boots leave a slightly pointed space for the toes. This shape fits into narrow cracks and edges, but when you carry a heavy backpack all day long, the feet will swell up and make you extremely uncomfortable.


The lace system of the boots plays a very important role. It can make your shoes more fit and achieve better climbing performance. Good hiking boots now use low-friction bindings instead of the old D-rings and simple hooks, making it easy to adjust the pressure on the foot. Technical ice climbing boots have a more accurate forefoot lace system that allows you to balance pressure and lock your feet like climbing shoes. It should be noted that this new type of lace system is very effective and you may inadvertently stop the blood circulation in your footsteps.

Interestingly, Clyde Soles wears sandals most of the year when climbing and skiing are not required.

Make yourself a happy pair -- how to try shoes

How many shoes do you wear? When discussing the size of the boot, there seems to be nothing more to say. Just look at the size chart, but this is not the case.

Most of the hiking boots are made in Italy (only Salomon Pro Ice is made in China) and I found that the size of the European (EU) is the most accurate.

All the boots that were tested were obtained through mail-order. Most of the numbers we guessed were correct, but some were still larger or smaller. The best option is to buy in a well-stocked store. If you have to buy through the catalogue, it is best to buy two pairs of boots in the same boots. After trying on, you will return the unsuitable size of the boots. Although this will cost a lot of money, it will endure a lot of pain. Better than getting a pair of bad shoes.

Wear the socks or insoles you wear when climbing ice or climbing when trying shoes. If your boots fit on a pair of socks, do not wear two layers of extra thick socks. This will cause air to flow out of the insulation and increase heat transfer. Before you tie the laces, squeeze your toes into the front of the boots and make sure there is a one-to two-finger space behind the heel. Then put your feet back and tie your shoes. Try to walk a few steps on the carpet. The heels shouldn't be lifted up in the boots. You can't feel your feet and pressure. Your toes should also have Activity space. If you are a woman and try on men's boots, you must pay attention to whether the forefoot space is too large, if there is pressure on the instep, whether it is with the foot, and whether the lower leg is comfortable. Technical ice-climbing boots are warm to wear, but when you block blood circulation, no insulation will make you feel warm! If possible, wear boots down a steep slope, test its ankle flexion, or try to climb to test the firmness of the sole.

For those who are narrower or wider than the average person, it is necessary to do some custom work, such as adding an insole. For double-deck boots, this is easy, just buy an auxiliary device in the Alps ski shop and install it yourself. It is more difficult for single-ply boots and they must be cut open to add or reduce fillers.

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