Q:

Which are the most watertight boots?

Could you recommend some boots that are waterproof and comfortable? Sometimes it snows like heck and I don't want my feet getting wet and/or cold. I also diabetic so taking care of my feet is imperative. Jimmy New York City

Oct 31, 2005
Outside
Outside Magazine

La Sportiva Glacier

A: So far as I'm concerned, the only really "waterproof" boots around are akin to a rubber Wellington-style boot. But they're not very practical for hiking. Just about any other boot, with a waterproof liner or not, is going to be prone to over-topping—"wetting out" of the surface, which in turn inhibits breathability. Plus there's that extra wetness caused by perspiration (repeat after me: boots with waterproof-breathable liners cannot possibly be as breathable as a similar boot without the liner).

With all that, I simply believe the best boot for you and your feet will be a high-quality, all-leather boot that doesn't have a waterproof-breathable liner. In the long run, your feet will be drier and warmer. Such a boot might be the Scarpa SL M3 ($230; www.scarpa-us.com), a classic Italian-made hiking boot with beautiful one-piece, 2.9-millimeter leather. For all intents and purposes, it's waterproof out of the box, and reasonable care and treatment with a leather conditioner and waterproofer will keep it that way. Plus its Cambrelle liner is comfortable and able to slurp up any extra moisture. La Sportiva's Glacier ($225; www.sportiva.com) is another rugged, all-leather boot that's durable, as water-resistant as any boot out there, and comfortable (for a heavy-duty boot, that is).

If you really, really want a waterproof-breathable bootie, then Raichle's Mountain Peak XT GTX ($200; www.raichle.ch) is the ticket—an all-leather boot complete with a Gore-Tex liner.

For winter use—that is, extended trips in snowy conditions—you'll need to add some insulation. The Asolo Route ($260; www.asolo.com) is sort of a light winter mountaineering boot that's waterproof and warm. Or, there's The North Face's Lifty GTX ($130; www.thenorthface.com), which has PrimaLoft insulation and is great for tromping around town in the snow or hiking the hills on a winter day.

For more of the best boots on the shelves, check out Outside Online's Boots Buying Guide.

Filed To: Hiking Boots

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