Gear Guy

Asolo Titan     Photo: courtesy, REI

Q:

Can I make my mountaineering boots more comfortable?

I just returned from climbing Longs Peak in Colorado, and it was my first trip wearing mountaineering boots (Asolo Titans). They were a bit overkill for Longs, but is there any reason why every step I took after the first couple of hours felt like someone was slapping the bottom of my foot with a two-by-four? Are all crampon-compatible boots this uncomfortable, and what can I do for next time? Nick Maryville, Missouri

A:Oof, yes. The Asolo Titans ($270; www.asolo.com), while an estimable boot for heavy off-trail backpacking and glacier climbing, are also stiff and perhaps a touch unforgiving, particularly on a long hike/scramble such as Long’s Peak.

I hate to suggest that the Titans don’t fit, but that’s always a possibility. Poor fit tends to show up in heel or toe blisters more than sore arches, however. Still, I assume these boots are fairly new. If so, they’ll break in a bit and become more comfortable. Also, on mountains such as Rainier and Hood—for which these boots probably are better-suited—you’ll be on snow more than rock and hard trail, and that’s a bonus for foot comfort.

Otherwise, it could be that you’re having some arch issues in the stiff Titans. You might swap out the stock footbeds for something else. There are several models of Superfeet, all about $34 (www.superfeet.com), and you might find that one of those gives the sole of your feet more support and cushioning, so you don’t get that nasty two-by-four feeling. I’ve found that Superfeet or other after-market insoles (Spenco makes good ones as well) almost always improve a boot’s comfort level.

For all that, make no mistake: These are not dancing shoes, or trail-runners. They certainly shouldn’t cause you pain after a half-day’s walk. But you’re never going to swap them out for your bedroom slippers when you’re at home.

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