Gear Guy

What is the most versatile hiking boot?

I looking for a boot that can do just about everything, including hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, as well as a little bit of climbing and bouldering. I would also prefer a crampon-compatible boot that can handle the snow and cold. Any suggestions, besides going out and buying five different pairs of boots? Jeff Midland, Michigan

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Wow, that’s a tall order. But, as I’ve said before, people used to buy one pair of boots and use them for just about everything, from backpacking to ice climbing to remarkably hard rock climbing. We just called them “mountaineering boots” and that was that.

This, however, is an era of specialization. My own gear closet has heavy backpacking boots (two pairs), plastic mountain boots (light and heavyweight), all sorts of day hikers, light backpacking boots, rock shoes, and more. ButBthere is a boot out there that will handle just about everything on your wish list. It’s the Montrail Moraine ($235; Design-wise, it’s a throwback to boots worn 30 years ago, but with modern construction that makes it more flexible and comfortable. It’s very heavily built for packing big loads, while the fairly stiff midsole and Vibram outsole can accommodate most of today’s crampons (except for non-rigid models). Although not the world’s greatest rock boots, they’ll edge like crazy, and I’d say are fine for anything up to mid-fifth class (though, depending on your skill as a rock climber, this could be higher). They’re certainly fine for backpacking, mountaineering, snow, ice, and more. Not too heavy even for day hikes. Additionally, the Boreal Bulnes ($215;, Garmont Dakota Nubucks ($215;, and Tecnica Dunagiri GTXs ($240; are comparable in terms of weight and function.

As a bonus, Sierra Trading Post ( has the Moraine for $129 in sizes seven to ten. A great buy, if the shoe fits.