Q:

Will La Sportiva's Makalu withstand winter climbing?

I'm considering buying the Makalu boot from La Sportiva for extended backpacking and mountaineering duties, thinking it would be flexible enough for backpacking yet stiff enough for some crampon work. I understand that for really cold winter climbing I'd want something insulated, but am I wrong in thinking the Makalu will be up to the task? Christopher Mountaintop, Pennsylvania

Jan 28, 2004
Outside
Outside Magazine

Makalu

A: The Makalu ($245; www.sportiva.com) will be a popular boot 100 years from now. It's just a classic—a fairly heavy, rugged boot with thick three-millimeter leather uppers and a moderately stiff midsole. Flexible enough for hiking, stiff enough for pretty serious crampon use, thick enough to keep your feet warm in fairly chilly conditions. And you could extend its temperature range by adding an insulated insole, fiddling a little with socks, even wearing a vapor-barrier sock. Once upon a time this style of boot covered people for just about everything—day hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, you name it. Now, I would add one caveat. I might not get this boot if I was using it mainly for backpacking. Simply put, there are better, more comfortable options, such as L.L. Bean's Cresta Leather Hiker ($169; www.llbean.com). And even that boot will take a light strap-on crampon.

I'd also be doubly sure the Makalu fits well. These boots do break in, but they're not going to mold themselves to your foot. The opposite will occur. So try on a few boots of this type. Among them, Montrail's Moraine ($235; www.montrail.com); Lowa's Baffin ($230; www.lowaboots.com); Scarpa's Rio ($240; www.scarpa-us.com); and Garmont's Dakota Plus ($210; www.garmontusa.com). All are very capable, well-made boots that would serve you well across a wide range of trail and off-trail conditions.

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