Gear Guy

Scarpa Summit GTX Mountaineering Boot     Photo: courtesy, REI

Q:

Is it a bad idea to trek in plastic mountaineering boots?

I'm thinking of buying the Koflach Arctis Expe for trekking and general mountaineering (some technical sections) in the Garhwal Himalayas. But I saw some comments about these being tough to wear when trekking for long distances. Is there another boot I could use for these mixed activities? John New York, New York

A:Certainly for the mountaineering part of this trip the Koflach Arctis Expe ($350) would be a good choice. They’re a warm, plastic mountaineering boot that’s perfect in cold weather and technical ice/snow. Asolo’s AFS 8000s ($440) would work well, too.

As for the trekking portion, well, I don’t know. Plastic boots have come a long way in recent years, but they’re still not the most comfortable thing to wear for long trail trips. They’re heavy and rather stiff. But then again, you don’t really want to have a pair of plastics in your pack to lug around.

So, you could buy a pair of plastics and do some hiking around New York in them to see how they feel. You might find you’re OK with using them as a hiker. Alternatively, you could buy a pair of somewhat newer-age boots that use materials that offer more comfort than plastic but have insulation and vertical-ice capability. For example, you might like the La Sportiva Trango Extreme EVO Light ($400). It’s an insulated, light, technical boot made with synthetic leather and other tech-y stuff to yield a boot that can handle trails, ice, rock, you name it.

Scarpa’s Summit GTX ($390) is another excellent all-arounder. Maybe even better on the trail than the Trangos, with leather uppers, a Gore-Tex liner, and insulation. They are probably what I would take, if you want to know. I don’t think you’ll be doing anything super-technical. But you want a good mountaineering boot that is warm and can handle crampons well. The Summit would do the trick.

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