Gear
Gear Guy
Q:

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; www.koflachusa.com). 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 (www.asolo.com) 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; www.montrail.com). You can use this year-around, for snowshoeing, backpacking, even light mountaineering. The Zamberlan Ladak ($195; www.zamberlan.com) is more flexible and has a Gore-Tex lining for extra waterproofing. Or, try Garmont's Pinnacle ($205; www.garmont.com), 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; www.outdoorresearch.com) is as essential for snowshoeing as wheels are for cycling.

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