Q:

Which boots can handle Kilimanjaro’s rainforest base and frozen peak?

What footwear do you recommend for climbing Kilimanjaro? We will start in dense tropical rainforest and cross several climates to finish atop a sub-freezing, snow-covered peak. Oscar Smithton, Illinois

May 25, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Lowa Tomak GTX Boots

Lowa Tomak GTX Boots

A:

As boot problems go, climbing Kilimanjaro is one of the tougher ones. As you note, you’ll be starting in the wet, warm jungle around the base of the 19,340-foot mountain. You’ll end in sub-freezing weather, crossing snow and perhaps ice.

It’s almost a two-boot trip. The conventional wisdom is to wear “waterproof" boots on the lower reaches. But what’s going to be waterproof in 90-degree heat while hiking through water and mud over your boot tops? Nothing. So for that stretch, I’d suggest a water shoe such as Salomon Tech Amphibian ($90; salomonsports.com), which will let plenty of water in but also let it seep out quickly. Wear them with neoprene booties, and have a change of socks so your feet can dry out.

Once you start the ascent proper, then pull out your good-quality trekking boot. I’ve been wearing Scarpa’s new Escape GTX ($229; scarpa.com) this spring and think it would be an excellent choice. It’s a sturdy, comfortable, waterproof boot (Gore-Tex lining) that has tough leather uppers and can be used with light crampons, including the clever Grivel Air Tech GSb ($140; grivel.com), which clip into a slot in the toe of the Escapes. Garmont’s Vetta Plus ($224; garmont.com) would be another good choice, as would the Lowa Tomak GTX ($230; lowaboots.com). Both offer excellent support on rugged terrain, are at home on trails or snow, and can be used with crampons for all-mountain versatility. They’d even work reasonably well lower down the mountain, although they’d be hot.

Have a great trip!

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