Gear Guy

Is there a perfect boot for alpine scrambling?

Hey Gear God, Help me find the perfect scrambling boots! I love my old Asolo backpacking boots. They never needed breaking in, and after years of conforming to my feet, they're about as close as you can get to slippers and still be boots. Alas, they don't edge worth a darn. I need a 3/4- or full-shank boot that is made for wide, high-volume feet and is crampon compatible for alpine scrambling. I bought a pair of Solomon Super Mountain 9s online because they were a great price. Dumb move! They perform great and are the right length but they squeeze my feet like sausage casings. Is there a happy medium between my slipper Asolos and those sadistic Solomons? Julie Busse Seattle, Washington

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Well, I appreciate the fact that well-broken-in boots are awfully comfortable. But that’s also why they don’t edge for you-know-what. The leather is just so soft that it doesn’t provide any lateral support. And that’s too bad about the Salomon Super 9s. Those are great boots —- if they fit. They happen to fit me, as I have a slightly low-volume foot.

Anyway, I’m sure we can find something for you. One boot I’ve been wearing the past year and like a lot is the Boreal Bulnes ($225). It’s a comfortable but tough rough-trail boot, one that has enough heft to take some crampons but I’ve found is just fine for a day hike. They do fit my slightly skinny feet, but they’re a touch loose. Overall, the Bulnes seems to have a fit that accommodates a lot of feet. Asolo’s Annapurna boots ($280) are almost a pound heavier per pair than the Bulnes, but are also a bit more rugged, more on the order of the regretted Salomons. They’re big-volume boots that may work well for you. Tecnica’s Vettas ($255) are similar to the Annapurnas in weight, purpose, and fit. Finally, Montrail’s Moraine AT ($235), is a mid-volume boot like the Bulnes, but one that seems to fit a lot of people, so probably worth a look.

Try to find a shop that carries at least two of these brands and models, so you can compare them side by side. You know what you DON’T want, so that’s a good starting point. I think one of these boots will prove to be just right for you, and will give you many years of service.

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