No piece of gear is more critical to summiting high peaks than footwear. A great mountaineering boot fills countless roles: It offers support while carrying heavy loads, grips confidently over slick rock and snow, keeps your feet warm when the mercury dips, and allows for the attachment of crampons and skis. After years of testing boots on some of the most demanding mountains in the world, we narrowed in on the streamlined selection of 16 worthy models below. Our picks for the best mountaineering boots of 2024 are broken down into three categories: extreme cold/high-altitude boots for the world’s tallest mountains, 4-season technical alpine boots for keeping your feet warm while moving fast and light, and lightweight mountaineering boots for less technical and lower-elevation routes. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.

Editor's note: We updated this guide on May 23, 2024, to include information about our testing practices, add the La Sportiva Trango Tech Leather GTX and Scarpa Phantom 8000 Thermic HD to the lineup, and expand some of the sections in our buying advice. We also combed through the guide to ensure prices, colorways, and products were current at the time of publishing.

Our Team's Mountaineering Boot Picks

Best Overall Mountaineering Boot

1. La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX ($649)

La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 3 lb. 15 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Versatile, comfortable, and lighter than competing models.
What we don’t: Leather absorbs water more readily than synthetic boots.

La Sportiva’s Nepal line has been the standard-bearer for technical single mountaineering boots for over two decades. There have been several iterations over the years, but the concept has stayed largely the same: a durable leather boot that excels across the spectrum of mountaineering. These boots have kept guides’ feet warm on Mount Rainer, are more than sufficient for all but the coldest days of kicking up dry ice in the Northeast, and should perform just fine on late April and May trips to the lower peaks in the Alaska Range. You can even bust out a few rock moves when needed thanks to the rubber toe. 

The Cube GTX retains the classic Nepal Evo’s technicality and jack-of-all-trades prowess but with a few notable differences. For one, we love the addition of a removable tongue, which can be moved up or down (or even removed entirely) to add padding or make more space. Secondly, the Cube comes in at 8 ounces lighter for the pair, which—while certainly a bonus over long slogs—results in less durability in the sole and midsole. If durability or cost is your most important consideration, we would instead recommend the Nepal Evo ($599, 4 lb. 7.4 oz.) or Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX below ($629, 3 lb. 15.5 oz.). Otherwise, the Nepal Cube GTX will give you the warmth and support you need in a premium, time-tested package.
See the Men's La Sportiva Nepal Cube  See the Women's La Sportiva Nepal Cube


Best Budget/3-Season Mountaineering Boot

2. La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST GTX ($349)

La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST GTX 3-season mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single synthetic
Weight per pair: 2 lb. 12.4 oz.
Crampon: Semi-automatic
What we like: Remarkably lightweight and capable in a variety of terrain. 
What we don’t: The sticky outsole lacks durability and will wear away quickly.

With advancements in gear, weather forecasting, access, and more, the sport of mountaineering has been awash with change in recent years. Nothing reflects this more than La Sportiva’s Aequilibrium series, which comes in four versions: the synthetic ST, the leather LT, the premium Top, and the minimalist Speed. Many climbers will opt for the Aequilibrium ST GTX here, which is most comparable to the Scarpa Charmoz HD below (a boot that used to hold our top 3-season award). The ST is ridiculously lightweight (over half a pound lighter than the Charmoz); versatile on trail, snow, and rock; and both comfortable and durable. For Lower 48 missions that start in the trees and end on a snowy summit, it’s Sportiva’s best effort yet. This also doubles as our "best budget" award for its stellar versatility and value—though it's difficult to identify a "budget" pick in a category with so much variety. 

What do you give up with such a lightweight design? The Aequilibrium doesn’t offer a ton of insulation, so we don’t recommend pushing it into particularly cold temperatures. What’s more, the sticky outsole rubber is a double-edged sword: It offers fantastic traction on rock, but the compound will wear away quite quickly, especially if you frequent hard surfaces more than snow. Gripes aside, after a thorough test of the Aequilibrium Top—which adds an integrated gaiter and Boa lacing system—we still think the Aequilibrium collection is about as good as it gets for a lightweight mountaineering boot. And at $349 for the ST GTX here, it’s competitively priced, too.
See the Men's La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST  See the Women's La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST


Best Boot for Technical Ice Climbing

3. Scarpa Phantom Tech HD ($899)

Scarpa Phantom Tech HD mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Single synthetic w/gaiter
Weight per pair: 3 lb. 8.4 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Great warmth-to-weight ratio, waterproof, highly technical.
What we don’t: Not warm enough for high-altitude endeavors.

Scarpa’s entire Phantom line looks so similar that it can be hard to tell the Tech apart from the 6000 and 8000, but the Tech HD is the race car of the Phantom family and one of the most popular models for technical ice and mixed ascents. It’s lightweight, streamlined for precision, and warm for a single boot. You get PrimaLoft Gold and OrthoLite O-Therm insulation, Scarpa’s proprietary HDry waterproof membrane, and a durable Vibram sole that can hold its own on icy or rocky approaches. Rounding out the build, an integrated gaiter is secured by a watertight zipper along the side of the boot (not interfering with the foot’s flex), and the newest version adds a Recco reflector to aid in search efforts. Overall, the Phantom Tech HD is about as sleek as it gets among technical ice climbing designs, and it’s priced competitively at $899. 

The Phantom Tech HD is most similar to the La Sportiva's discontinued G5 Evo in terms of warmth, features, and design. Both offer a nice mix of precision and performance for steep ice and mixed ascents, but the Tech is the lighter of the two at about 4 ounces less for the pair. On top of that, the G5 did not have a waterproof zipper, which can make a big difference on approaches where you have to splash across creeks or on warm days when things get drippy. Sportiva's new G-Summit boot replaces the G5, though we haven't had a chance to test it yet. But all told, for a technical climbing boot that’s warm and durable but still responsive and precise, it’s hard to go wrong with the Phantom Tech HD.
See the Scarpa Phantom Tech HD


Best High-Altitude Mountaineering Boot

4. La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube ($1,299)

La Sportiva Oly Mons Cube high-altitude mountaineering bootCategory: Extreme cold/high-altitude
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 4 lb. 10 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: A premium and time-tested high-altitude boot that is like an oven for your feet.
What we don’t: Pricey.

The La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube is perhaps the most popular double boot on the market for extreme cold. It’s the go-to model for mountaineers looking to stay warm in extreme places like Denali’s West Buttress, Mount Everest, and Antarctica’s Mount Vinson. The uber-comfortable, heat-moldable inner boot accommodates a wide range of foot sizes, and the outer boot’s dual Boa closures (which tighten the lower and upper halves separately) can be adjusted with one hand and don’t require any tying (perfect when you’re wearing bulky gloves or mittens). On top of it all, a durable, wraparound zipper and Velcro strap seal off your feet from the frozen elements of the world’s biggest mountains.

Past versions of the Oly Mons were plagued by reports of the outsole wearing out quickly, but the “Cube” update addressed this with a more durable (and impressively light) Vibram Litebase compound. Many will also appreciate the tech inserts at the toe, which eliminate the need for ski boots when approaching your objective on skis (alternatively, the “Cube S” version has a standard toe). It’s true that the Oly Mons Cube will cost you a pretty penny at $1,299, but for a bombproof boot made to withstand the worst weather on earth, you probably won’t regret the investment.
See the La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube


Best Boot for 5,000- to 7,000-Meter Peaks:

5. La Sportiva G2 Evo ($999)

La Sportiva G2 Evo mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 4 lb. 10 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Great warmth for the weight and easy-to-use adjustments.
What we don’t: High-volume fit.

The original G2 was a radical shift in La Sportiva’s double-boot lineup, shaving an impressive 8 ounces per boot from the technically charged Spantik. And with insulation almost on par with the Everest-ready Olympus Mons Cube above, it certainly doesn’t make any compromises in terms of warmth either. In addition to the G2’s impressive specs, you also get a dual Boa lacing system for quick adjustments that eliminate the need to tie laces in the extreme cold, and the built-in super gaiter keeps your inner boot dry and toasty. It all adds up to a warm, lightweight, and easy-to-operate boot, ideal for those with their sights set on 5,000- to 7,000-meter peaks in the greater ranges.

The G2 was semi-recently updated to the G2 Evo, with a few revisions to the outer boot’s materials and design (and a price increase). In addition to a more durable and water-repellant upper, Sportiva moved the top Boa dial from the inner boot to the outside, which is a big improvement for on-the-go adjustments. Compared to the Scarpa Phantom 6000 below, the G2 Evo checks in at the same weight for $199 less, and some will appreciate the added tech you get with the Boa closure (while others will remain dubious about their durability). We recently took the G2 Evos on a mountaineering trip to Nepal, where they kept us unbelievably cozy and warm at elevations up to 6,189 meters and sub-zero temps. The fit was stellar, and we walked out of the mountains with zero blisters—or even hotspots—to speak of. It's worth noting that some report that the G2 Evo has a fairly high-volume fit. We found it fit wider than other Sportiva boots we use, but the extra wiggle room was just about perfect for our needs... and a chunky pair of alpaca wool socks.
See the La Sportiva G2 Evo


Best of the Rest

6. Scarpa Charmoz HD ($399)

Scarpa Charmoz HD mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single synthetic
Weight per pair: 3 lb. 6.4 oz.
Crampon: Semi-automatic
What we like: A time-tested 3-season mountaineering boot.
What we don’t: A half-pound heavier than the Aequilibrium ST above.

Along with the La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST above, the Scarpa Charmoz HD is a great option when you need one piece of footwear to get you from the car to the summit. From long approaches through treeline to crossing glacier-polished granite slabs and cramponing up icy summit pyramids, the Charmoz will keep your feet dry and agile. It is decidedly a 3-season boot—the light insulation, quasi-flexible sole, and high rocker mean that the Charmoz is not an ideal choice for technical ice climbing or mountaineering in cold conditions. But for spring-to-fall weekend missions into the Cascades, Bugaboos, Rockies, or Sierra, it is an excellent choice.

On the flips side, the Charmoz HD used to be one of the lightest options here, but the Aequilibrium ST above is 10 ounces lighter and proves you can drop considerable weight without compromising performance. What's more, the $50-cheaper Aequilibrium tacks on premium Gore-Tex waterproofing, while the Charmoz sticks to Scarpa’s in-house HDry. That said, it is worth noting that the Scarpa’s durability is proven—mountaineers have trusted the Charmoz for years now—while the La Sportiva's sole is known to degrade all too quickly when used on rock and other hard surfaces. If covering miles and vertical versatility are what you are looking for, the Charmoz HD is a nice synthetic boot with a great track record. For a warmer and more durable leather option, check out Scarpa’s Manta Tech GTX ($399).
See the Men's Scarpa Charmoz HD  See the Women's Scarpa Charmoz HD


7. Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX ($629)

Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 3 lb. 15.5 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Cheaper and more performance-oriented than the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX.
What we don’t: Fit will be too wide for some.

If you’re in the market for a jack-of-all-trades mountaineering boot, it’s a tough call between our top-ranked Nepal Cube GTX and Scarpa’s Mont Blanc Pro GTX. Both boots are ideal one-quiver options for low-altitude mountaineering and technical winter climbing: they walk well, climb ice confidently, and are warm enough to trust for all-season endeavors. Their single leather upper designs are durable without adding too much bulk, and welts on the toe and heel offer secure automatic crampon attachment (unlike a boot like the Scarpa Charmoz above). 

The main distinctions between the two boots come in price, fit, and technical performance. Furthermore, in the last update, Scarpa added a more precise outsole for better climbability on particularly technical snow and ice. And for $20 less than the Cube, the Mont Blanc Pro gets the price advantage as well. Some find the Nepal Cube GTX to be a warmer boot, but we haven’t noticed a difference. If you’re still torn between the two, we’d recommend making a decision based on fit: as with most of their boots, the Scarpa will have a wider fit and the La Sportiva a bit narrow. 
See the Men's Scarpa Mont Blanc  See the Women's Scarpa Mont Blanc


8. Scarpa Phantom 6000 HD ($1,199)

Scarpa Phantom 6000 HD mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 4 lb. 10 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Simple but effective lacing system, watertight zipper, technical fit.
What we don’t: Pricier than the La Sportiva G2 Evo.

Of all the technical double boots on this list, the Scarpa Phantom 6000 HD offers some of the best performance, construction, and overall feel. This is Scarpa’s go-to model for giant ice routes in the Canadian Rockies and technical Alaskan ascents, and we feel confident in saying that it’s also a great option for many mid-season Denali climbers (Scarpa’s Phantom 8000 Thermic is even warmer but significantly heavier). And at only 4 pounds 10 ounces for the pair (size 42), the Phantom 6000 HD is one of the lightest in its class, right alongside the premium La Sportiva G2 Evo above.

In terms of construction, a PrimaLoft Black and Gold Eco insulated liner provides ample padding and warmth, and the OrthoLite/Aerogel insole is a great defense against cold ground. On the outside, burly Schoeller fabric offers bombproof protection for your foot from weather and sharp objects alike. The wraparound zipper concept can feel weird at first, but we appreciate the fact that this design almost entirely protects the zipper from being scuffed by the passing point of a crampon. Finally, with the most recent update, the Phantom 6000 is now made with more environmentally friendly materials, so you can explore your home planet with a bit less impact.
See the Scarpa Phantom 6000 HD


9. Lowa Alpine Expert II GTX ($475)

Lowa Alpine Expert II GTX Mountaineering BootsCategory: Lightweight mountaineering/4-season technical alpine
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 3 lb. 6.7 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: A versatile and durable boot for everything from basic mountaineering to technical climbing.
What we don’t: Not as stiff as a dedicated ice climbing boot; heavy for a lightweight mountaineering boot.

The Lowa Alpine Expert II GTX is an incredibly versatile option, falling somewhere in between our lightweight mountaineering and 4-season technical alpine categories. As a result, it’s a reliable choice for a wide range of activities and a great quiver-of-one option for those looking to save money. With a relatively lightweight build, the Lowa gets the job done on the trail, but automatic crampon compatibility and ample stiffness underfoot mean it can also tackle steep ice and precise footwork on hairy mixed leads. Tack on a burly leather upper and 400-gram PrimaLoft insulation, and you have a warm single boot that’s hard to kill. To top it off, the Alpine Expert II GTX is priced aggressively at $475.

Keep in mind that with the Alpine Expert’s jack-of-all-trades design, it verges on being master of none. You don’t get quite as much warmth and stiffness as a dedicated 4-season boot like the Nepal Cube or Mont Blanc Pro above. At the other end of the spectrum, it features slightly less rocker than most lightweight mountaineering boots, which can get in the way of comfort on the approach—although the most recent design does boost flex at the ankle. And while it’s one of the most affordable options among boots that feature a toe welt, you can save even more with a model like the La Sportiva Makalu (below). All gripes aside, for a durable and versatile boot that can handle most everything you throw at it, the Alpine Expert GTX II is one of the best values on this list.
See the Mens's Lowa Alpine Expert II GTX  See the Women's Lowa Alpine Expert II GTX


10. Scarpa Ribelle HD ($399)

Scarpa Ribelle HD mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 3 lb. 1 oz.
Crampon: Semi-automatic
What we like: A sturdy mountaineering boot that’s still comfortable on the trail.
What we don’t: Not super waterproof; fairly expensive.

In 2024, it feels like everyone wants to move a bit faster, whether you’re mountain running, climbing, or mountaineering. Answering the call for mountaineers is the Scarpa Ribelle HD, a design that offers the stable platform of a leather mountain boot alongside the easy-moving feel of a running shoe. Scarpa accomplishes this wild combination through their Dynamic Tech Roll System, a fancy name for a rockered sole that helps you efficiently spring off the ball of your foot. We were at first skeptical of the Ribelle HD, but all signs point to it being a comfortable and relatively uncompromised boot for 3-season mountaineering and backpacking alike.

The Ribelle HD is a great boot for objectives that contain equal parts trail, rock, and snow (and even ice), but we don’t recommend it for routes predominantly made up of snow (such as PNW volcanoes). Scarpa’s HDry membrane can’t compete with more premium Gore-Tex, and the suede upper will absorb water unless treated with a repellant or seal. What’s more, you simply don’t need the running-shoe-inspired rocker on snow—to reap the most benefits from the Ribelle’s design, you’ll want to be spending a considerable amount of time on trail. And a final note: The Ribelle HD has a fairly roomy toe box, which is great news for those with wide or finicky feet. If you want to go even lighter, Scarpa also offers the Ribelle Lite HD, which drops about 1.5 ounces off each boot with a lighter and more flexible upper.
See the Men's Scarpa Ribelle HD  See the Women's Scarpa Ribelle HD


11. La Sportiva Trango Tech Leather GTX ($279)

La Sportiva Trango Tech Leather GTX mountaineering bootsCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 2 lb. 13.2 oz.
Crampon: Semi-automatic
What we like: Agile, lightweight, and affordable.
What we don’t: Not as capable as the Aequilibrium ST above.

Lightweight and streamlined, the Trango Tech Leather stands out as the most affordable mountaineering boot on this list. Think of the Tech as a stripped-down Charmoz HD (above), or alternatively as a beefed-up approach shoe: You get a streamlined build and flexible sole that can manage miles on a trail and low-fifth-class rock, and it’s not too heavy to tote up a climb on your harness, either. On the other hand, a waterproof upper and heel welt make the Tech surprisingly capable on steep snow. Put it all together, and La Sportiva’s hybrid offering is a nice ultralight option for weight-conscious objectives where a route might contain equal parts trail, snow, ice, and rock. The synthetic Trango Tech is being phased out, but this durable—yet slightly heavier—leather iteration is still going strong. We have much more experience with the synthetic version but have recently taken the leather model on several muddy bushwhacks and scrambles with great results. While we bemoan the slight weight penalty, the leather version is undeniably more durable, and we feel comfortable putting this boot through much more torture than its lighter cousin. 

But with the release of the Aequilibrium ST, the Trango Tech Leather is at risk of becoming obsolete. At nearly an ounce lighter, the Aequilibrium is a heckuva lot more boot and just as capable (if not more so) on a variety of terrain. In almost all metrics (except for price), the Trango Tech Leather comes up short: Chances are high you’ll get cold feet on a glacier, and you might find yourself wishing for a stiffer midsole on steep snow approaches. In terms of durability, our synthetic Techs were almost ready to retire after just 10 days in the Alaska Range, with sizable abrasions along the upper where moisture can now seep in. That being said, the Trango Tech Leather bumps the durability factor up and is a solid value at just $279... Read in-depth review of synthetic Trango Tech
See the Men's La Sportiva Trango Tech Leather  See the Women's La Sportiva Trango Tech Leather


12. Scarpa Phantom 8000 Thermic HD ($1,699)

Scarpa Phantom 8000 Thermic HD mountaineering bootsCategory: Extreme cold/high-altitude
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 6 lb. 6.2 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Groundbreaking removable heated insoles; great quality and warmth.
What we don’t: Heavier than the Olympus Mons above; very expensive.

The Phantom 8000 Thermic HD is the durable workhorse for extreme cold in Scarpa’s line. It's also the most technologically complex—and pricey—option on this list. From the ground up, Scarpa designed a serious boot here, and a recent upgrade adds some space-age tech that's sure to keep you cozy at the highest altitudes on Earth. In addition to top-tier insulation and layers of warmth, Scarpa added a removable, heated insole complete with an external power switch and 2 powerbanks (5000mAh and 10000mAh) which can be routed to the pair of heated footbeds. These aren't your average climbing boots. You also get a waterproof, PrimaLoft Gold 200-lined gaiter as the first line of defense, while a WinTherm and PrimaLoft Gold Eco-insulated liner with a simple pull-down speed lace keeps your foot tight and toasty. All in, these kicks boast a staggering 18 total layers of technology to deliver perhaps the most premium warmth you could find. The Vibram NEWFLEX outsole can also stand up to the abuse of kicking up scree and walking long distances over rough terrain. Finally, zippers are always a cause for concern—it only takes one misstep with sharp crampons to shred a zipper—but Scarpa’s placement on the outside of the foot helps alleviate that issue.

If you’re looking for the best high-altitude mountaineering boot, it’s a close call between the Scarpa Phantom 8000 Thermic and the La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube above. Both boots are extremely warm and well made with huge attention to detail. But the Phantom 8000 Thermic is almost two pounds heavier for the pair (which is significant) and wildly more expensive at $1,699. We much prefer the dual Boa closure on the Oly Mons (we’ve experienced slipping with Scarpa’s lacing system), and La Sportiva’s new tech binding compatibility could tip the scales for some. The complex battery-powered heating system of the Scarpa adds weight and bulk, though could be worth it for the intrepid mountaineer braving the coldest temps imaginable. In the end, you can’t go wrong with either boot, and your final decision likely will come down to fit, and the particular expedition you have in your crosshairs. Editor’s note: We have yet to test the Phantom 8000 Thermic, but have plenty of experience with the previous regular Phantom 8000 version. We can't authoritatively say that the Thermic holds up to the same standards of durability, fit, and sizing, but we've yet to hear otherwise and will update this review as we get more info and experience.
See the Scarpa Phantom 8000 Thermic HD


13. Arc’teryx Acrux LT GTX ($400)

Arc'teryx Acrux LT mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single synthetic
Weight per pair: 2 lb. 14 oz.
Crampon: Semi-automatic
What we like: Premium build quality and great precision and stability on rock and snow.
What we don’t: Runs narrow; stiff design isn’t particularly comfortable for trail walking.

We’ve learned to trust Arc’teryx for their top-shelf hardshell jackets, but were admittedly a bit dubious when they started making footwear. The now-discontinued Acrux AR well exceeded our expectations with its innovative design, proving that the BC-based company can indeed make a solid boot. Building off the AR’s success is the LT, a single boot that’s primed for most mountain climbing in the Lower 48. Notably, its low-profile design offers great precision for scrambling on rock, and the stiff carbon-plated sole gives you a lot of assurance on snow, with or without a crampon. And with a strong SuperFabric upper and the exceptional workmanship we’ve come to expect from Arc’teryx, the LT is incredibly durable for its weight. 

The Acrux LT joins the ranks of models like the Aequilibrium ST and Charmoz HD above as one of the best lightweight mountaineering boots in the game. But at $400, it's a good bit pricer than the La Sportiva and falls between the two designs in terms of weight. Keep in mind that the stiff build that makes the Acrux so stable on rock and snow doesn’t provide a ton of cushion or rocker—designs like the Aequilibrium and Ribelle above offer a plusher feel for those who spend a lot of time on trail. It’s also worth noting that Arc’teryx footwear has a tendency of running quite narrow, and the Acrux LT is only offered in unisex sizes. But for a stiff, stable, and lightweight mountaineering boot, this is a good one to consider. 
See the Arc'teryx Acrux LT GTX


14. Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX ($379)

Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX mountaineering boot_Category: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 2 lb. 11.7 oz.
Crampon: Semi-automatic
What we like: A more durable alternative to the La Sportiva Trango Tech Leather above.
What we don’t: Despite the lightweight build, it still feels stiff and unpadded on the trail. 

Like the La Sportiva Trango Tech Leather above, Scarpa’s Zodiac Tech GTX is a stripped-down design that hits a nice middle ground between mountaineering boot and approach shoe. Its intentions are very similar, with a sticky Vibram Mulaz Z outsole, a heel welt for semi-automatic crampon compatibility, and a proven Gore-Tex membrane for water protection. Scarpa boasts a durable, 1.8-millimeter suede leather upper, but impressively, the Zodiac manages to pull this off at a lower weight than the Trango Tech Leather.

In trying both boots on, there are some clear fit-related nuances to be aware of. In particular, the Trango Tech has a narrower profile that feels slightly more technical, while those with wider feet will appreciate the Zodiac Tech’s roomier build. Importantly, both are stiffer and noticeably less cushioned than your standard hiking boot (again, more along the lines of an approach shoe), which could be a deterrent depending on your objectives and what you’re used to. If the shoe fits, we give the edge to the Trango Tech Leather for its considerably more affordable price tag. If you’re looking for more comfort for covering a lot of miles on trail, check out Scarpa’s Ribelle HD above... Read in-depth Zodiac Tech review
See the Men's Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX  See the Women's Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX


15. La Sportiva Makalu ($349)

La Sportiva Makalu mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 4 lb. 5.1 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Classic design for general mountaineering, no frills, extremely durable, cheap.
What we don’t: Limited to basic mountaineering and heavier than similar boots.

The La Sportiva Makalu is the essence of a traditional mountaineering boot: it’s burly, supportive, and extremely durable. Neither flashy nor technical, this classic leather design works well for basic mountaineering and possibly as your first real boot. For example, the Makalu is a favorite for National Outdoor Leadership School students since it serves as a combination heavy-backpacking-and-light-mountaineering boot. It can trek the length of the Pacific Crest Trail and climb Mount Hood or Mount Saint Helens along the way.

Like the La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST GTX above, the Makalu is not meant for serious cold-weather mountaineering. With a traditional leather upper, it also forgoes high-tech synthetic materials and a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane. But the Makalu is built to withstand years of abuse on scree slopes and in alpine environments. A Vibram toecap protects the front of the boot when kicking up rocky flanks, and the full-shank sole pairs securely with automatic crampons (for semi-automatic crampon compatibility, check out the similar Karakorum). At $349, the Makalu still offers an impressive all-around feature set and will last longer than lighter and more modern competitors like the Aequilibrium ST. You won’t be pushing the limits of technical climbing in the Makalu, but that isn’t its purpose.
See the La Sportiva Makalu


16. Scarpa Inverno ($439)

Scarpa Inverno mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 5 lb. 8 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Well-priced, nearly indestructible, and time-tested in cold environments.
What we don’t: Clunky and less precise than the modern double boots above; stock liner takes a long time to dry.

If the Scarpa Phantom Tech is the race car of mountaineering boots, the Inverno is the tank. Plastic double boots largely have fallen out of favor over the last five years, but you can’t beat them for durability—your feet will wear out before the boot does. The Inverno is far less technical in nature than an option like the G2 Evo or Phantom series, but it will outlast them all. That, and there’s little chance the plastic shell will let moisture seep in.

If you plan to use this boot for a cold-weather mountain like Denali, we highly recommend that you splurge for a warmer and lighter Intuition liner (keep in mind that this is best done at a specialized mountaineering shop, but many shops will only custom-fit boots that were purchased at their store). It’s also highly recommended that you add a Forty Below Purple Haze neoprene overboot if climbing a cold mountain like Denali. When these two aftermarket features are added, the cost-benefit analysis between this system and a discounted double boot becomes a little less discernible. Regardless, if you aren’t planning on spending much time at freezing altitude or are on a tight budget, the Inverno may be the boot for you.
See the Scarpa Inverno


Mountaineering Boot Comparison Table

Boot Price Category Design Weight Crampon
La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX $649 4-season technical alpine Single leather 3 lb. 15 oz. Automatic
La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST GTX $349 Lightweight mountaineering Single synthetic 2 lb. 12.4 oz. Semi-auto
Scarpa Phantom Tech HD $899 4-season technical alpine Single synthetic 3 lb. 8.4 oz. Automatic
La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube $1299 Extreme cold/high-altitude Double synthetic 4 lb. 10 oz. Automatic
La Sportiva G2 Evo $999 4-season technical alpine Double synthetic 4 lb. 10 oz. Automatic
Scarpa Charmoz HD $399 Lightweight mountaineering Single synthetic 3 lb. 6.4 oz. Semi-auto
Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro $629 4-season technical alpine Single leather 3 lb. 15.5 oz. Automatic
Scarpa Phantom 6000 HD $1,199 4-season technical alpine Double synthetic 4 lb. 10 oz. Automatic
Lowa Alpine Expert II GTX $475 Lightweight/4-season Single leather 3 lb. 6.7 oz.  Automatic
Scarpa Ribelle HD $399 Lightweight mountaineering Single leather 3 lb. 1 oz. Semi-auto
La Sportiva Trango Tech Leather GTX $279 Lightweight mountaineering Single leather 2 lb. 13.2 oz. Semi-auto
Scarpa Phantom 8000 Thermic HD $1699 Extreme cold/high-altitude Double synthetic 6 lb. 6.2 oz. Automatic
Arc’teryx Acrux LT GTX $400 Lightweight mountaineering Single synthetic 2 lb. 14 oz. Semi-auto
Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX $379 Lightweight mountaineering Single leather 2 lb. 11.7 oz. Semi-auto
La Sportiva Makalu $349 Lightweight mountaineering Single leather 4 lb. 5.1 oz. Automatic
Scarpa Inverno $439 4-season technical alpine Double synthetic 5 lb. 8 oz. Automatic


About Our Testing Process

You can't just hop out on your local trail to casually test a pair of mountaineering boots. Well... that's not entirely true. One of our authors spent hours slogging up and down a humid Appalachian slope, accruing a puddle of sweat in the G2 Evos to gauge their fit. But, in general, this category requires seriously getting after it on far-flung peaks to truly test the mettle of these hardy, high-altitude kicks. Which is just what we've done. With an impressive resume of gnarly alpine ascents all over the world, former Senior Editor Jenny Abegg wrangled together our initial selection of 18 diverse models back in 2018. No stone was left unturned in an effort to narrow in on the crème de la crème of these brawny boots, and the team has kept their finger on the pulse ever since to ensure this roundup stays current and relevant.

Senior Editor Chris Carter inherited the guide in early 2024. An avid big wall, trad, and sport climber, Chris has been slowly breaking into the mountaineering scene after discovering the joy of sipping air through a straw and forgetting what his feet feel like. From lofty peaks in East Africa to the towering giants of the Himalayas, he's spent countless days waiting out storms in base camp and crawling over icy knife edges to fistbump his partners. He is constantly scouring the web, bugging the pros, and trudging around in different boots to make sure we cover the most deserving designs out there. The above selection of 16 models represents years of research and dedicated testing—and we feel confident recommending any of them for your mountaineering endeavors.

Testing the La Sportiva G2 Evo Boots on an ascent of Island Peak in Nepal | Credit: Nik Rakestraw

Mountaineering Boot Buying Advice

Mountaineering Boot Categories

Extreme Cold/High-Altitude
Mountains come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of technical difficulty, so it’s imperative that your footwear is best suited for the conditions you will be encountering. For the highest and coldest mountains in the world—7,000 and 8,000-meter Himalayan peaks, Denali, and Antarctica—warmth is the utmost consideration. Extreme cold/high-altitude boots are heavy, warm, and commonly take the form of double or even triple boots (with a shell, liner, and fixed gaiter). Combining high-quality construction with some of the most bombproof materials in outdoor gear, boots in this category (like the La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube) are all incredibly impressive, and your final decision will likely come down to one of fit.

You'll want to make sure that your expedition actually merits the use of boots in this category, because they don't come without a significant cost. First, you probably won't be wearing these until the crampon point of your climbs, which could mean hauling them for long distances on either the outside or inside of your backpack. Running from nearly 5 pounds to well over 6 (Scarpa's Phantom 8000 Thermic HD packs a hefty punch), these aren't the most fun to tote up a mountain—in addition to all the other clunky gear these climbs demand. It's a good idea to have logged a few training hikes with these boots strapped to your back so you feel comfortable with the weight and bulk before embarking on your journey.

Mountaineering Boots (man climbing on steep snow)
The harshest mountain conditions demand a correspondingly serious boot | Credit: Switchback Travel

4-Season Technical Alpine
For giant ice routes in the Canadian Rockies, alpine-style ascents of lower mountains in the Alaska Range, and even mid-season climbs of Denali, a 4-season technical alpine boot may be your best bet. These boots come in double and single varieties and are made for both walking and technical ice climbing (some excel at one better than the other), with the commonality being that they sacrifice the highest levels of warmth for technical prowess (they can handle the cold, just not extreme cold). Leading models in this category include the Scarpa Phantom 6000 HD and La Sportiva G2 Evo. These will keep you cozy up to altitudes near 7,000 meters in the right conditions, and are perfect for the more approachable 5,000- to 6,000-meter peaks in greater ranges like the Himalayas, where true 8,000-meter boots would simply be overkill. 

Mountaineering (on summit)
4-season technical alpine boots trade a little warmth for top-end performance | Credit: Switchback Travel

Lightweight Mountaineering
For lower-elevation climbs and more moderate temperatures, lightweight boots should do the trick. These boots are a technical step up in construction from a hiking boot and built to handle long approaches. Lightweight single boots are commonly used for trips such as Cascade peaks and volcanoes or a car-to-summit adventure starting below treeline and ending with basic to moderate mountaineering. Most are 3-season boots with light insulation, a quasi-flexible sole, and high rocker, which means that they are not an ideal choice for technical ice climbing or frigid conditions. Popular lightweight mountaineering boots include models like those from La Sportiva's Aequilibrium series (including the ST, LT, Top, and Speed) and Scarpa Charmoz HD.

Lightweight mountaineering boot
In milder weather and at lower elevation, a lighter model is a fine option | Credit: Jenny Abegg

Double Boots vs. Single Boots

Nothing is more frustrating or potentially dangerous than cold feet, and toes can go from cold to numb to frostbitten in a matter of minutes. That is why it’s imperative to have the proper boot design for your objective. Single boots lack a removable liner and, therefore, are the lightest and least warm type of mountaineering footwear. Double boots, on the other hand, have more insulation along with a removable liner, making them warmer and better suited for multi-day trips. The ability to remove the liner and dry it out at night is imperative on big mountains—nothing is worse than shoving your feet into frozen boots in the frigid, pre-dawn darkness of an alpine start.

For spring and summer ascents in lower altitude ranges like the Cascades or Canadian Rockies, a single boot should provide enough warmth. It will be light enough to wear on a lengthy approach but offer enough support to keep your feet comfortable under the weight of a heavy pack. Single boots almost always have more of a next-to-skin feel, meaning they feel more technical and lower profile than their double-walled brethren. La Sportiva's Aequilibrium ST GTX stands out as perhaps our favorite lightweight single boot for a wide variety of tamer objectives.

Mountaineering Boots (climbing in Nepal)
High altitudes between 5,000-8,000 meters may merit the use of double boots, like the G2 Evo, for safety and warmth | Credit: Chris Carter

Double boots are built for cold weather, multi-day expeditions, and climbing the world’s highest peaks. They often are significantly heavier than single boots and less sensitive overall, but some models like the Scarpa Phantom 6000 HD and La Sportiva G2 Evo offer a nice combination of the two (reasonably lightweight boots with technical features). For the tallest peaks and coldest climates—think places like the high Himalaya, Antarctica, and Denali—look toward the top of each brand’s collection. The La Sportiva Olympus Mons and Scarpa Phantom 8000 Thermic, for example, are built specifically for these types of places.

Boot selection is not always a cut-and-dry choice and depends as much on your objective and style of ascent as it does on conditions. Weather and temperature also play a role in determining boot type, and the season you choose to climb in may call for a warmer or lighter boot. For example, during an austral summer in Patagonia, one of our testers attempted Cerro Torre in single boots but found they weren’t adequate for the icy flanks of that impressive tower. They were, however, completely sufficient on his ascent of the nearby Fitz Roy a few weeks later (different aspect, different weather, moderate rock climbing vs. ice climbing) and offered more of the streamlined build and rock prowess that he needed. If it’s a toss-up, we do recommend erring on the side of warmth, and the good news is that many modern boots offer great insulation alongside performance.

La Sportiva Aequilibrium Top GTX mountaineering boot (up close)
La Sportiva's Aequilibrium Top is a single boot with an integrated gaiter | Credit: Jenny Abegg

Shell Materials: Synthetics, Leather, and Plastic 

The shell is your first line of defense against the harsh conditions of a mountain environment. It needs to be durable (able to stand up to abrasion from rocks, crampons, and skis) and also must keep out snow, water, and mountain grit. In addition, much of a boot’s stiffness comes from the shell, which is important when it’s time to ice climb or do a little survival skiing on the way down. The vast majority of boot shells are now entirely synthetic or a combination of synthetics and leather. 

Many climbers prefer modern synthetic boots, namely because they weigh less, offer more precision with less bulk, and don’t stretch out of shape like leather. However, the downside comes in the form of durability—almost without exception, leather boots will last longer. For example, our synthetic La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX took a beating during a two-week traverse in the Alaska Range, whereas a leather model (such as the Trango Tech Leather) might have just started to feel broken in. If you do opt for a leather boot (such as the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX or Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX), we recommend adding an aftermarket snow and water seal to keep moisture from soaking through and weighing you down.

Mountaineering Boots (climbing Sahale Peak)
Synthetic boots are lighter and more streamlined than leather models | Credit: Chris Carter

A decade ago, plastic boots were a popular way to go. Compared to soft leather or synthetics, plastic feels more clunky and less precise when technical footwork is needed. But it does have its benefits: not only is plastic significantly cheaper, it’s also much more durable. If you are an occasional mountaineer on a budget or only intend to climb a few mountains, plastic may be a good option. Adding an Intuition Denali liner will make them warmer while dropping almost a pound of weight in the process. For big mountains like Denali, a Forty Below Purple Haze overboot ($220) will be necessary as well, which may require that you purchase a different crampon to fit over the boot. In 2024, however, you will see very few plastic boots, and the leather and synthetic alternatives are far superior. Further, if you customize your plastic boot as described above, it will end up costing over $800, which isn't much less than the price of a high-end synthetic double boot of equal warmth and superior technical precision.

Mountaineering Boots (glacier travel in WA)
Unless you're pushing high into the greater ranges, single boots without additional overboots may suffice | Credit: Chris Carter

Weight and Size

Big mountains require big boots, often with a big price tag. Some of the extreme cold/high-altitude models on the list, like the Scarpa Phantom 8000 Thermic, are over 6 pounds for the pair and take up a decent chunk of your duffel bag. On the other end of the spectrum, you can go with a lightweight single boot like the La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST GTX for just 2 pounds 12.4 ounces total. To be sure, it’s harder to move fast with more weight, but serious mountaineering typically does not involve highly technical climbing for extended stretches. It’s more steep walking and basic ice/rock moves, so shaving ounces is not as important as warmth. If your aim is technical climbing—pitch after pitch of near vertical climbing—size and weight will likely be a deciding factor in your boot purchase.

Testing the La Sportiva Olympus Mons mountaineering boot (Mt. Denali)
Testing the heavy but warm La Sportiva Olympus Mons double boot on Denali | Credit: Switchback Travel

The good news is that high-end mountaineering boots have cut excessive frills and, although still heavy and bulky, are lighter than even a decade ago. A few ounces or grams may not seem like a big deal, but imagine post-holing through steep snow for 20,000 steps. To quantify this comparison, a 1-ounce difference in boot weight means that each leg will lift an additional 1,250 pounds during that time. The old adage that “ounces make pounds and pounds are heavy” is especially true in regard to your feet. Additionally, many climbs demand long approaches at lower elevations, requiring you to carry your technical mountaineering boots on a backpacking or climbing pack for miles or days. It's important to ensure you have space in your pack, or straps on the outside, to accommodate whatever boots you end up purchasing. One of our editors recently had to haul the LS G2 Evos over 80 miles round trip to access remote climbs in the Khumbu region of Nepal—and was thankful for every gram Sportiva was able to shave off.

Hauling the surprisingly light but bulky Sportiva G2 Evos on a nearly month-long climbing trip in the Himalaya | Credit: Chris Carter 


Cold feet can mean the difference between sending or going home early, so finding a boot that will keep you warm in the coldest conditions you’ll encounter is key. Double boots like the La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube and Scarpa Phantom 8000 Thermic are the warmest models on the market, with features like thickly insulated inner boots and thermo-reflective liners on the outer boot. The Phantom Thermics even go the extra mile by adding a removable heated footbed with a power bank and external power switch—truly futuristic technology for the most extreme conditions on the planet. On the other hand, single boots run the gamut from insulated designs like Scarpa’s Phantom Tech or Lowa’s Alpine Expert GTX to stripped-down builds that forgo insulation, such as the La Sportiva Aequilibrium and Trango Tech. Keep in mind that warmth usually comes at a cost—a more insulated boot will be heavier, less precise, and suffer in terms of breathability—and you’ll want to be sure to find the right balance for your particular objectives.

Mountaineering Boots (descending Island Peak)
Climbing at high altitudes in sub-zero temps requires beefy double boots to stay safe and warm | Credit: Nik Rakestraw

When looking at a single boot’s warmth, one of the main specs to pay attention to is the lining, which will either be insulated or non-insulated. For summer objectives that involve a mix of trail, rock, and snow or ice, we recommend opting for a non-insulated design, as the added warmth will be overkill (especially on the approach) and you likely won’t want to carry the extra weight either. Alternatively, insulated single boots are great for all-season use and snowy summer objectives (like Mt. Rainier, for example), when temperatures are below freezing or your feet might not see dry land all day. And in the end, if you plan on doing a wide range of climbing from winter or high-altitude ascents to technical summer scrambling, you’ll ultimately want to invest in at least two pairs of boots.

Ice climbing (Scarpa Phantom Tech)
It's always a good idea to play it safe in terms of boot warmth, particularly when pulling delicate climbing moves | Credit: Switchback Travel

Liner Construction

Depending on the double boot (remember that single boots don’t have removable liners), liners may provide a significant portion of a boot’s warmth and support. This is the part of the boot that you will want to remove at night during a multi-day trip, and the ability to dry the liner by stuffing it into your jacket or sleeping bag is imperative. Heavy, thick liners made of water-absorbing materials will not dry completely throughout an alpine evening, which is why most modern boot liners are constructed of hydrophobic materials like closed-cell foam. Single boots, on the other hand, feature a built-in liner, which often is made up of a waterproof membrane and a layer of insulation (as we learned in the “warmth” section above, some single boots do not have insulation). Because these liners can’t be removed, they feature thin constructions that wick moisture, whether your boot is on or off your foot.

Scarpa Charmoz mountaineering boot
Packing for an expedition in Nepal with some lightweight mountaineering boots | Credit: David Wilkinson

Stiffness: Upper and Sole

In some ways, mountaineering boots need to do their best impersonation of a “quiver of one” type of footwear. In addition to the warmth and protection they provide, they need to be part rock climbing shoe, part hiking boot, and even maybe an occasional ski boot. Having the ability to tighten the boot down when ice climbing or skiing and then loosening it when hiking is essential. Mountaineering boots don’t have lock-down modes like backcountry ski boots, but many now feature an upper and lower lacing system to isolate tightness to specific parts of the boot (like the La Sportiva Oly Mons Cube or G2 Evos pictured below).

Mountaineering Boots (Lhotse view from Island)
Boots for super high altitudes are usually fairly stiff and heavy | Credit: Nik Rakestraw

Sole stiffness, or stiffness underfoot, also is an important factor to consider—different types of climbing require varying sole stiffness. For low-altitude mountaineering where you won’t be technical ice climbing, you may want a boot with a ¾-shank sole (one that has some flex). These boots will feel like a stiff hiking boot and are better suited for long approaches, technical scrambling, or lower fifth-class rock climbing (like the Cascade’s classic Torment-Forbidden Traverse, for example). On the other side of the spectrum, full shank soles (with no flex) are optimal for technical ice climbing and advanced mountaineering with a step-in/automatic crampon.

Mountaineering Boots (hiking in the La Sportiva Nepal Evo)
If you plan to be hiking a lot between climbs or on the approach, you'll want a boot with some flex | Credit: Tim Matsui

Lacing Systems

Tightening your boots down doesn’t just involve basic laces anymore. Modern boots have a wide array of tightening systems including standard tie laces, pull-down cinch laces, or even the high-tech Boa lacing system. Many companies have moved away from standard laces because they are hard to tie and untie in extreme weather. In addition, having the ability to easily tighten or loosen your boots (maybe with only one hand) while wearing thick gloves or mittens is critical. Lacing systems should be simple but efficient. The Boa system probably is the easiest to use, but it may be the most susceptible to breaking in an alpine environment (because of this, we love that Sportiva integrated dual Boa closures into their Oly Mons Cube—when one goes, your entire boot functionality doesn’t go with it). Luckily, Boa sells repair kits for very cheap and they can be reinstalled in about the same amount of time as it would take to replace a shoelace.

Mountaineering Boots (lacing up the Acrux boots)
The simple lace closure of the Arc’teryx Acrux LT GTX makes them easy to slip on and off | Credit: Chris Carter

Crampon Compatibility

Automatic (Step-In) Crampons
For each boot, we’ve specified whether or not it is compatible with an automatic crampon. An automatic crampon—also known as a step-in crampon—uses a wire toe bail and heel clip to provide the most secure attachment, ideal for ice climbing or technical mountaineering (the Petzl Dart, for example). If we’re climbing anything that is remotely approaching vertical, we want an automatic crampon. In order to be compatible with this style of crampon, a boot must have toe and heel welts and a fairly stiff build that provides a stable structure for the crampon. Every double boot on this list is compatible with an automatic crampon.

La Sportiva Spantik (step-in crampons)
Mixed climbing with step-in crampons | Credit: Switchback Travel

Semi-Automatic (Hybrid) Crampons
More flexible, streamlined single boots often forgo the toe welt and otherwise shave weight by having a thinner last. The majority of these models—such as the La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST GTX—still have a heel welt, which is essential for compatibility with a semi-automatic crampon (also known as a hybrid crampon). A semi-automatic crampon combines the front plastic loop of a strap-on crampon (see below) and the heel clip of a step-in crampon. While less secure than a step-in crampon, semi-automatic crampons are a far better choice for lightweight or flexible boots as they have more of an ability to move with the boot. 

Mountaineering Boots (climbing Sahale in WA)
Hybrid crampons can be worn on lighter boots with just a heel welt, which is great for quick transitions from rock to ice | Credit: Chris Carter

Strap-On Crampons
The last type of crampon is a full strap-on crampon (plastic loops in front and back with webbing to tighten). Strap-on crampons are highly adaptable, and even are capable of fitting on approach shoes or trail runners (our favorite lightweight design is the Petzl Leopard FL). They do have limited technical performance, however, as they do not secure as tightly to the boot as a step-in or semi-automatic crampon. Strap-on crampons can be attached to any sort of boot, although they would have very compromised functionality when paired with a stiff build, and are not appropriate for ice climbing or technical mountaineering. The lesson here is: Make sure your boot can accommodate the type of crampon you need, and don’t forget to check compatibility and fit before any big trip.

La Sportiva Trango Ice Cube (crampons)
A hybrid crampon straps on at the front and uses a heel clip in the rear | Credit: Switchback Travel

Ski Compatibility

If you ever plan on climbing a mountain like Denali where you may use your mountaineering boots with skis (utilizing bindings such as the Silvretta 500), it’s essential that your boot has both a heel and toe welt. These are the same flat rails on the front and back of the boot that serves as the connection point for automatic crampons (see above). Bindings like the Silvretta aren’t made for aggressive skiing, but they do allow you to use skis (skinning tends to be faster than snowshoeing) without needing to bring along your ski boots. And now, mountaineers approaching on skis have a whole new option in the La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube, which features tech fittings at the toe for compatibility with pin bindings (standard on most backcountry skis).

Mountaineering Boot Fit and Sizing

Different companies use different lasts for their mountaineering boots. Some tend to be slightly narrower (La Sportiva and Arc’teryx) while others routinely have a slightly boxier feel (Scarpa). Just because you wear a size 44.5 street shoe doesn’t mean that it will translate directly into a big mountaineering boot. You may be a 44.5 in La Sportiva, a 44 in Scarpa, and a 45 with a thick insole in Arc’teryx, for example. And every boot has a unique fit and it can take some work to dial it in. Always try on your boots well before a trip—a little extra heel room quickly can develop into a show-stopping blister that keeps you from reaching the summit. Or a tight toe box can restrict blood flow and lead to frostbite. Your feet swell as you stand on them, so we recommend trying boots on in the afternoon after you have been walking around for a few hours.

La Sportiva Baruntse mountaineering boots
It's well worth the time and effort to make sure you get the proper boot size to make transitions easier | Credit: Switchback Travel

Mountaineering involves long days (often back to back for a week or more) of carrying heavy packs and using your feet in dynamic ways. Accordingly, an insole is the first line of support in your boot. Custom boot fitters will say, “If you buy a $1,000 boot, throw away the $0.10 insole.” Often, that is true, although companies like La Sportiva and Scarpa seem to have taken note. Many of their boots now come with quality insoles that not only offer support and comfort, but a bit of additional warmth as well. A good insole should support your foot, both in terms of supporting your arch and cupping your heel.

If the included insole doesn’t work for you, consider spending another $40 to 50 for a heat-molded insole from a reputable brand like Sole or Superfeet. Aside from providing additional warmth, these insoles come in a variety of thicknesses that can take up space if there is a little too much room (or even work out tight spots). And when making a boot purchase, it’s always better to go slightly bigger as opposed to going too tight—it’s easier to take up room than to make it.

La Sportiva Aequilibrium Top GTX mountaineering boot (approaching Torre Valley 2)
We often carry our mountaineering boots for the approach (opting for lighter shoes instead) | Credit: Jenny Abegg

Women’s-Specific Boots

As with other types of climbing footwear, the most important thing in choosing a mountaineering boot is fit. Most of the models listed above technically are unisex, while a few, like the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX, Scarpa Charmoz, and Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX, also come in women’s-specific versions. It’s extremely common for women to wear unisex boots—again, it’s all about fit, and only a handful of models are even available in women’s versions. It’s also worth noting that La Sportiva and Arc’teryx tend to run narrow, which—at least in theory—should be more akin to the shape of a women’s-specific design.

Mountaineering Boots (glacier travel on Sahale)
Some female climbers may prefer women's-specific boots, but many opt for unisex designs | Credit: Chris Carter


There’s an old adage in the outdoor gear world: “Between light, durable, and cheap, you can pick two of the three.” Over the last decade or so, mountaineering boots have seen a tremendous jump in precision and technical design while also cutting some weight. Unfortunately, this has come at the expense of durability to some extent. Plastic boots were almost indestructible, but at the same time, could feel rather clunky. Leather boots are heavy and can get even more weighed down when wet, but they’re also built to last. And then there are new-age synthetic boots like the Scarpa Phantom series, which manage to be warm, lightweight, and technical climbing machines. This is attained by using ultralight polyurethanes, foam, and synthetic fabrics, but these materials are much less durable than the plastic and leather boots of old.

Mountaineering boots (Denali)
Those who get out a lot can expect their ultralight boots to wear rather quickly | Credit: Switchback Travel

For most modern climbers, the tradeoff is well worth it. One of our Alaska testers has found that his high-altitude double boots last him about three years (he averages 60 days of abusive use per season), and the average mountaineer will get many more years of use out of their boots. Further, chances are that when you have them on your feet, you’ll be thinking much more about the greater flexibility, technical prowess, and lower weight than mulling over how long they’ll last. Of course, there is a balance, and we’ve found that some of today’s most stripped-down designs (like the Sportiva Trango Tech Leather and Aequilibrium ST GTX) go a little too far for most uses. The good news is that for those who prize durability above all else, there are always trusted workhorses like the leather Nepal Evo or plastic Scarpa Inverno.
Back to Our Mountaineering Boot Picks  Back to Our Boot Comparison Table

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