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Gear Guy

What boots should I wear for snowshoeing?

What are the best boots for snowshoeing? I've tried winter boots and cross-country ski boots, but none of these fit well enough in my snowshoes. Jean San Francisco, California

A: By winter boots, I assume you mean the sort of insulated "oak" boots like the Sorel Caribou ($100). If so, these aren't nearly stiff enough. Some cross-country ski boots might work, but probably only the heavier ones. Anyway, Nordic boots have become rather weird in recent years, now tending to be super-light groomed-trail boots to fit purpose-built telemark skis. No in-betweeners, then.

Over the years, I've found that a pair of lightweight plastic mountaineering boots work best, something like the Koflach Degre ($255; They're warm, keep your feet dry, aren't too heavy, and have enough stiffness so that you have good control over the snowshoes on steep terrain or in heavy snow. Asolo's AFS Guide ( is another excellent boot for this purpose, but these are hard to find. They sell for around $280.

If you do a lot of snowshoeing, and maybe some summer glacier mountaineering, the above are the right amount of boot. If not, then I'd say you need less. The second-best choice is a good, mid-weight leather backpacking boot. Again, you'll need something with a little heft to control the snowshoe. And, you want it to be warm and waterproof. Top of the list would be a boot such as the Montrail Moraine ($230; You can use this year-around, for snowshoeing, backpacking, even light mountaineering. The Zamberlan Ladak ($195; is more flexible and has a Gore-Tex lining for extra waterproofing. Or, try Garmont's Pinnacle ($205;, another good all-around boot. In all cases, you'll want to add a gaiter to keep snow out of the boot top—Outdoor Research's Crocodile ($60; is as essential for snowshoeing as wheels are for cycling.

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