Q:

Is there a heavy-duty boot that's not too heavy?

I'm looking for a women's pair of insulated, waterproof or Gore-Tex, crampon-compatible hiking boots. I'm not climbing Mount Everest—what I'm looking for is a boot to get me through the winter when I don't need snowshoes, but it's freezing out and I may need crampons. (Specifically, in the High Peaks area of New York.) I'll be using them for long hikes on paths and over rocks. I don't seem to be able to find the perfect combo as most options seem to be heavy-duty mountaineering types. BJ Guilderland, New York

Sep 18, 2003
Outside
Outside Magazine
A: That is indeed a tough match. Most insulated, waterproof boots that take crampons also tend to be mountaineering boots, which as you note is more boot than you want to buy.

Still, that may be one route to take. Scarpa's Thermo Cerro Torre ($375—but currently available online from Scarpa for $245; www.scarpa-us.com) is an excellent, light, insulated mountain boot that takes crampons. I've worn the non-insulated version and loved it. Very comfortable. Not waterproof in the sense of having a waterproof liner, but extremely water-resistant. You might also try a light plastic boot, such as the Koflach Degre ($245; www.koflach.com). That'll work like a charm so far as the dry-warm combo goes, but will be somewhat heavier and not great for extended hiking.

The best alternative, I think, is to buy a more traditional hiking boot and winterize it. Montrail's Moraine ($235; www.montrail.com), for instance, is an excellent, crampon-compatible hiking boot. Again, while it doesn't have a Gore-Tex or similar inner bootie, its thick, one-piece leather is inherently waterproof. Or, try Tecnica's Stratus Bio-Flex GTX ($200; www.tecnicausa.com), which does have a Gore-Tex liner. Then, add an insulated insole, such as the Insolator ($8 from Campmor.com), to prevent the cold from coming up through the sole. Fit the boot to accept a pair of good-quality sock liners, such as SmartWool Merino Sock Liners ($10; www.rei.com), as well as a warm main sock, either the SmartWool Expedition ($12) or an insulated sock such as the SealSkinz Chillblocker ($50; www.danalco.com), which combines a waterproof material with a fleece lining. These socks actually would turn any good-quality boot into an acceptable light winter boot.

Of course, you'll also want to wear a gaiter to keep snow and water from entering the top of the boot. The classic is Outdoor Research's Crocodile ($58; www.orgear.com).

So there you go. Good luck, and I hope your winter is better than your summer has been!

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