Gear Guy

Brooks Ranger Overboots     Photo: courtesy, Outdoor Research

Q:

Do I really need double boots for Denali?

I have a pair of Montrail ICE 9 insulated boots that I used on Aconcagua with insulated gaiters. I'd like to take them to Denali with a full overboot. The guide outfit, however, recommends double boots only. Should I go ahead with my set-up? Dean Bittern Lake, Alberta

A:Dean, I’d like to direct your attention to a photo that appeared in May in the Anchorage Daily News. It depicts one Nadia Cuadrado , a 29-year-old woman from Spain who took a crack at Denali in mid-May. She summited, but in the process froze her feet. In the photo, you can see her purple toes—most of which she likely will lose.

So, sure, wear your Montrail ICE 9 boots. And then ask yourself, do you value your toes? Because the ICE 9s ($350 when new, but now discontinued) are fine boots, but they’re really not quite suited for expedition-type climbing such as on Denali. Yes, they’re fine on a peak such as Aconcagua, the 22,841-foot mountain in Argentina. And yes, it does get cold on Aconcagua. But Denali is sort of in a league by itself, given its proximity to the Arctic Circle. Especially in May, it gets cold, cold, cold there (-25F and colder on a regular basis). I was there in June several years back and we saw -20F several times at 17,000 feet.

So I’m with your guide—go with the double boots, and full overboots. Scarpa’s tried-and-true Inverno ($279) is a good choice, as is the newer and lighter Omega ($375). Also take a look at the Koflach Arctis Expe ($400). Mountain Hardwear’s Absolute Zero overboot ($100) is a good choice, but I’d probably go with the Brooks Ranger from Outdoor Research ($135), as I think they are a little warmer.

So that’s my take. Hope you have a good trip!

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