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Thread: Winter boots

  1. #1
    Registered User LIhikers's Avatar
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    Default Winter boots

    I'm in the market for new winter boots.
    I've used Sorel Caribou boots up until now but because of some less than favorable on-line reviews I'm considering other makes too.
    I'm looking for boots that will keep my feet warm and dry down to about 0 F, or a little below, that have a removable liner.
    I'll consider any and all advice and recommendations.
    Also, anyone have experience with boots made by Baffin or Kamik?

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    My wife and I use Colombia Bugaboos with 200 grams of thinsulate. These boots are warm, waterproof and not nearly as heavy as other winter boots. Not sure if Colombia still makes these though.

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    Are you looking for boots that can be used to wear crampons, micro-spikes, or snowshoes, or a pair to use casually or short day hikes with known conditions in the winter?

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    I used to wear Sorel boots for winter backpacking but they are clunky and not so fun to hike in. A couple years ago I ditched my old and poor quality Asolo full leather 520s for a pair of Zamberlan Vioz boots and they have nearly all the advantages of the Sorels (waterproof) with none of the clunkiness.

    They don't have felt inserts of course but work well to 0F.

    Trip 188 (69)-L.jpg
    Zams in action.

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    To be more specific, I'd like boots to use for long weekend trips, up to 3 nights, that might or might not involve snow shoes or traction devices other than crampons. I use Stabilicers. I'll look into any suggestions that people offer up,

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    Being a guy that does pretty much all my winter climbing and backpacking (which is quite a lot) down to about -10F, (-15F is starting to push the limit) in my summer hiking shoes with thicker socks and vapor barriers, if I wanted something more fitting to what I assume the OP on this thread is interested in I would go for these. The Lone Peak neoshell mids are mid-height for some extra ankle support on the uneven/unpredictable terrain of winter, water proof for those that want it, work great with snow shoes and microspikes, not so much with crampons, and they are super light and super comfortable.

    Once you go snowshoeing in running shoes, you'll never want to go back to winter boots!
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    I was thinking of getting the lone peak RMS for Winter hiking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    I was thinking of getting the lone peak RMS for Winter hiking.
    I just learned that my Altra Superior trail shoes have something Altra calls their 4-point gaiter trap. The Loan Peak 4.0 shoes have it also. It provides for ultralight lycra type gators (probably only the Altra 4-point gaiters) to attache on the sides as well as the front and back so they would work much better in deep snow conditions. My dirty-girl gaiters work find in snow if I'm wearing snowshoes, and work pretty well, especially on hard pack, when they are held down by my micro-spikes, but bare shoeing it with dirty girl gaiters and they get pulled up as you plunge into deeper snow. These 4-point gaiter traps should eliminate that issue. . . I love not wearing my heavy-duty gaiters when I don't have to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LIhikers View Post
    To be more specific, I'd like boots to use for long weekend trips, up to 3 nights, that might or might not involve snow shoes or traction devices other than crampons. I use Stabilicers. I'll look into any suggestions that people offer up,
    That being the case, you might want to look at Asolo 520's or similar. This class of boot (or higher class into mountaineering boots) will have insulted and non-insulated choices, can be treated with waterproofing applications, allow use of stable traction gear like micro-spikes or crampons, and accommodate a wide variety of snowshoes. For me, Stabilicers are not stable devices having a nasty habit of losing screw heads on class 2 level groomed or unbroken hiking trails and acting like rubber skis. I would advise to use better traction gear for moderate and higher level trails, especially if you will be alone a lot. Having used lightweight trail shoes in winter, I much prefer taller boots designed for snow/ice conditions, though its a personal decision based on where you are going to be and how long you will be exposed.

    As a necessary accessory to any boot in winter conditions, the use of knee high, adjustable waterproof gaiters is a good idea to reduce the opportunity of snow and ice getting into the boots and accelerating frostbite conditions.
    Last edited by Traveler; 10-08-2018 at 06:16.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    That being the case, you might want to look at Asolo 520's or similar.
    As I mentioned in my post, 520 quality has gone down significantly in the last several years. I would NOT recommend this full leather boot.

    I had a pair two years old and pulled a long trip in the Mt Rogers area when this happened---

    TRI 132 071-L.jpg

    And then a year later on a long trip in the Cohuttas this happened---Hence my Zamberlan recommendation.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    As a necessary accessory to any boot in winter conditions, the use of knee high, adjustable waterproof gaiters is a good idea to reduce the opportunity of snow and ice getting into the boots and accelerating frostbite conditions.
    Traveler, you nailed one of my pet peaves on the head. I really don't like and rarely ever use knee-high gators and strongly discourage the use of waterproof gaiters, although waterproof and breathable isn't horrible.

    Knee high gaiters significantly increase foot warmth, which is a good thing if you get cold feet while hiking and a bad thing if you are fighting sweaty feet. When actively hiking, snowshoeing or skiing, many of us fight sweaty feet more than cold feet, even in weather well below freezing. On many winter hikes, I have climbed/hiked with people that were afraid of cold feet or lack of tractions and thus wore heavier boots with crampons and/or knee high gaiters only to fight sweaty feet and blisters while I was dancing along in running shoes, microspikes, and my favorite winter gaiters which are only ankle high and NOT waterproof.

    As for waterproof. Yuck! If I am wearing gaiters so wet snow is not getting down inside by footwear but just brushing across a fabric shell, waterproof gaiters do not reduce the wetness of my feet or legs as there is very little water soaking through them - the snow mostly brushes off. If it's raining, gaiters wont keep my lower legs and feet dry because water will be running down my legs - I then need rain pants, not waterproof gaiters. In fact, the only thing I can think of that is a useful use for waterproof gaiters is walking through wet grass where my lower legs and feet will get soaked and I don't need rain pants to keep my upper legs dry. Finally, the problem with waterproof gaiters, other than being completely unnecessary, is that you end up getting wet from the inside from condensation (less so with waterproof breathable, but you can still get pretty wet). And, if you are in deep snow, it's nice to keep the top of your knee-high gaiters closed, but if they're waterproof you get all that much more wet from condensation without them being able to vent out the top.

    So in the end, I would suggest NOT considering knee high gaiters as necessary, but consider them helpful if you want more foot warmth or are doing a lot of deep (especially wet) snow travel. However, for many of us, lighter footwear and lower gaiters are a significant advantage over the taller gaiters, and waterproof gaiters contribute to much wetter lower legs than highly breathable (non-waterproof) ones do.

    One other reason to avoid knee-high gaiters is that finding quality ones that are not waterproof is almost impossible because for some crazy reason, people buying gaiters seem to think waterproof is an important feature instead of a significant detriment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    for some crazy reason, people buying gaiters seem to think waterproof is an important feature instead of a significant detriment.
    Fully breathable gaiters for me, when I use them. As for winter footwear for extended trips in serious cold weather (say<10 F), nothing exists that really does the job well.
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  13. #13

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    Another option is to pair your boots with down booties for around camp when not hiking. I use Asolo boots in winter on trail and Feathered Friends down booties in camp.
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    any boots give me blisters when hiking - I use light mesh running shoes year round - in the toughest conditions ( mostly slush ) add sealskin socks, at the end of the day the feet are defiantly soaked, but warm - pulling off the socks, the feet will be steaming

    I also have insulated overboots that would mostly be for very cold deep powder snow shoeing, carried them but have yet to use them

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    I have climbed/hiked with people that were afraid of cold feet or lack of tractions and thus wore heavier boots with crampons and/or knee high gaiters only to fight sweaty feet and blisters while I was dancing along in running shoes, microspikes, and my favorite winter gaiters which are only ankle high and NOT waterproof.
    I'm kind of a klutz. If I don't wear gaiters, I am almost certain to snag a crampon point in a trouser leg. At best, that's a new pair of trousers. At worst, no, I don't want to go there.

    The best way to avoid getting snow down your boots is not to posthole. I've seen a lot of idiots out there carrying their snowshoes, apparently because it's a sign of weakness to wear them. If the snow is getting over my boot tops, it's already past the time I should have put them on. (Have I mentioned that I'm a klutz? I hate tripping over postholes.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by LIhikers View Post
    To be more specific, I'd like boots to use for long weekend trips, up to 3 nights, that might or might not involve snow shoes or traction devices other than crampons. I use Stabilicers. I'll look into any suggestions that people offer up,
    Last season I switched to EVA (same stuff crocs are made of) winter boots. They're super warm, very comfortable and light as a feather - My pair of knee-high boots with built in gaiter weighs < 2lbs (for the PAIR - not each). The ones I got (NATS) come with a synthetic felt liner. I upgraded to a thicker wool from "The Felt Store" liners. If you're going to be out for 3 days - I'd recommend vapor barrier socks for when you're active and then regular socks for when you're just around camp. For an even better upgrade, consider Wiggy's Lamilite socks and also their Sunwalker 2 boot liners. They are insulated with silicone impregnated climashield laminated to nylon (which they call by the trade name Lamilite) which barely hold any moisture at all and will dry completely with an hour on your feet inside your sleeping bag. To summarize, these are the warmest, most comfortable and lightest boots I've ever owned....

    https://gonats.ca/produit/eva-boots-...-1590/?lang=en

    and for the lamilite socks and boot liners....

    https://www.wiggys.com/footwear/sunwalker-2/

    https://www.wiggys.com/footwear/13-lamilite-socks/

  17. #17

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    Ggreaves---Do you backpack fairly long distances in those EVA boots? They look great if you're living in a wall tent or a tipi during the winter but terrible for daily backpacking up and down mountains in the snow. One word: CLUNKY.

    Botte-imperméable-en-EVA-avec-chausson-thermique-Noir-1590.jpg

    In fact, how many winter backpackers have I seen wearing such things in the mountains of NC and VA and TN? None. Maybe backpackers in Alaska and the Yukon use them. Otherwise they're great boots for keeping your feet dry in slush and snow at -10F---as long as you're not backpacking 10 miles a day every day.

    But heck, maybe the OP wants a replacement for his clunky Sorels and this fits the bill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Ggreaves---Do you backpack fairly long distances in those EVA boots? They look great if you're living in a wall tent or a tipi during the winter but terrible for daily backpacking up and down mountains in the snow. One word: CLUNKY.

    Botte-imperméable-en-EVA-avec-chausson-thermique-Noir-1590.jpg

    In fact, how many winter backpackers have I seen wearing such things in the mountains of NC and VA and TN? None. Maybe backpackers in Alaska and the Yukon use them. Otherwise they're great boots for keeping your feet dry in slush and snow at -10F---as long as you're not backpacking 10 miles a day every day.

    But heck, maybe the OP wants a replacement for his clunky Sorels and this fits the bill.
    No mountains where I live but I haul an 80 lb toboggan with my hot tent, stove and all my gear over frozen lakes and up and down hills when I winter camp. The OP mentioned Baffin and Kamik boots so I mentioned these as an alternative (these are about 1/2 the weight of the boots he mentioned). He also didn't mention anything about mountains and he's from Long Island. Clunky? I'll concede they might look clunky, but they feel like running shoes they're so light and soft. Not "clunky" at all. I've winter camped lots of times in goretex hiking boots (Salomon 4D GTX) - pure misery at 0F or lower. The OP wants a boot with a removable liner - pack boot. These are lighter, warmer and more comfortable than any pack boot out there imho. EVA boots are a thing in europe - the ones I have are actually made in Poland. Not much of a thing in north america yet, but I think that will change over the next few years.

    If the OP has his heart set on hiking boots, I'd buy a mesh mid (maybe moab ventilators). Nothing waterproof! Then use an insulated overboot around camp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Ggreaves---Do you backpack fairly long distances in those EVA boots? They look great if you're living in a wall tent or a tipi during the winter but terrible for daily backpacking up and down mountains in the snow. One word: CLUNKY.

    Botte-imperméable-en-EVA-avec-chausson-thermique-Noir-1590.jpg

    In fact, how many winter backpackers have I seen wearing such things in the mountains of NC and VA and TN? None. Maybe backpackers in Alaska and the Yukon use them. Otherwise they're great boots for keeping your feet dry in slush and snow at -10F---as long as you're not backpacking 10 miles a day every day.

    But heck, maybe the OP wants a replacement for his clunky Sorels and this fits the bill.
    I checked the specs on your boots - my EVA are 5.6 oz lighter per boot than yours. Who's clunky now? Also, while you might want a stiff sole hiking over rocks and roots, you certainly don't want one on ice. Sure you can add crampons etc, but you need them way less often in my boots from my experience. My salomon's have no traction at all on hard packed snow or ice. Maybe yours do.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by ggreaves View Post
    I checked the specs on your boots - my EVA are 5.6 oz lighter per boot than yours. Who's clunky now? Also, while you might want a stiff sole hiking over rocks and roots, you certainly don't want one on ice. Sure you can add crampons etc, but you need them way less often in my boots from my experience. My salomon's have no traction at all on hard packed snow or ice. Maybe yours do.
    My Zamberlan Vioz (GRX Plus RR) size 10 come in at 3 lbs 8 oz. The EVA boots shown say 4.5 lbs. I spent two winters backpacking in Sorel packboots and found them to be clunky compared to regular leather boots---although I never tried a pair of EVA boots. Who knows, maybe they fit like moccasins and move thru the woods like running shoes---and don't weigh 4.5 lbs.

    Sorels are not the best hiking boots---it's probably why you don't see any Southeast winter backpackers wearing them---or winter AT thruhikers. In fact, the standard winter hiking boot around here has been Asolo 520s---at least they are the most popular from what I've seen.

    In the old days we used full leather boots w/o goretex which we treated with boot grease---and they all had deep lug soles, great in the snow and on muddy trails. My Zams have a decent lug and as you say a stiff sole which I really like when humping tremendous weight---and they easily accommodate Microspikes.

    I think more AT backpackers would be using EVA boots if we encountered terrible conditions on a daily and weekly basis---deep slush, deep wet snow, constant wetness, swamps, calf deep winter creek crossings etc. I used to use high rubber boots in Lost Valley back in 1982-83-84 when I backpacked up the half frozen creek as the creek was the trail for several miles. They worked great keeping my feet dry and warm---not so great in overland travel with no snow---which is often the usual winter conditions in the Southeast in January/February---Sometimes snow, sometimes deep; often no snow.

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