No piece of gear is more critical to summiting high peaks than footwear. A great mountaineering boot fills countless roles: it must offer support while carrying heavy loads, grip confidently over slick rock and snow, keep your feet warm when the mercury dips, and allow for the attachment of crampons and skis. But most importantly, it must instill trust and confidence. Our picks for the best mountaineering boots of 2021 below 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 buying advice and comparison table below the picks.
 

Best Overall Mountaineering Boot

1. La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX ($599)

La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 15 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: A highly versatile and remarkably comfortable boot that is lighter than competing models; comes in both men’s and women’s sizing.
What we don’t: Leather absorbs water more readily than synthetic boots, and weight savings come at the expense of durability. 

La Sportiva’s Nepal line has been the standard-bearer for technical single mountaineering boots for nearly 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 Evo ($525, 4 pounds 7.4 ounces) or Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX below ($549, 3 pounds 15.5 ounces). 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 3-Season Mountaineering Boot

2. Scarpa Charmoz HD ($325)

Scarpa Charmoz HD mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single synthetic
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 6.4 oz.
Crampon: Semi-automatic
What we like: Great price point, rocker is suited for long approaches, lightweight, comes in both men’s and women’s models.
What we don’t: Not super durable or warm due to the lightweight fabrics.

The Scarpa Charmoz HD is a go-to 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 and fall weekend missions into the Cascades, Bugaboos, Rockies, or Sierra, it is an excellent boot.

At over 3 pounds for the pair, the Charmoz HD is slightly heavier than the La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX below but feels a little more durable. And for just $325, the Charmoz is $74 cheaper than the Trango Cube, although it does utilize Scarpa’s new HDry waterproof membrane (hence the “HD”) instead of a more proven Gore-Tex insert. As with many boots in this weight class, the lack of a toe welt means that the Charmoz will not take step-in crampons, although it is compatible with semi-automatic crampons. On a recent climbing trip to Nepal, our tester was very satisfied with how well the Charmoz hiked on trails and kicked up scree on a 5,200-meter pass. If covering miles and vertical versatility are what you are looking for, this is our favorite lightweight boot.
See the Men's Scarpa Charmoz HD  See the Women's Scarpa Charmoz HD

 

Best Boot for Technical Ice Climbing

3. Scarpa Phantom Tech ($699)

Scarpa Phantom Tech mountaineering ice climbing bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Single synthetic w/gaiter
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 3.2 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. To summarize, the Tech is the race car of the Phantom family and one of the most popular boots among seasoned ice climbers. It’s the full package for technical ice and mixed ascents: lightweight, streamlined for precision, and warm for a single boot. You get Primaloft 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). Overall, the Phantom Tech is about as sleek as it gets among technical ice climbing designs, and it’s priced competitively at $699. 

In terms of competition, the Phantom Tech is most similar to the La Sportiva G5 below in terms of warmth, features, and design. Both offer a nice mix of precision and performance for steep ice and mixed ascents, but the Phantom is over $50 cheaper and by far the lighter of the two at almost 9 ounces less for the pair. On top of that, the G5 does 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. All in all, for a technical climbing boot that is warm and durable, yet responsive and precise, it’s hard to go wrong with the Phantom Tech.
See the Scarpa Phantom Tech

 

Best High-Altitude Mountaineering Boot

4. La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube ($1,199)

La Sportiva Oly Mons Cube high-altitude mountaineering bootCategory: Extreme cold/high-altitude
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 4 lbs. 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: Wildly expensive.

The La Sportiva Olympus Mons 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, wrap-around zipper and Velcro strap seal off your feet from the frozen elements of the world’s biggest mountains.

The La Sportiva Oly Mons was recently updated to the “Cube,” and the improvements were significant. One of our biggest complaints about the last iteration was the soft rubber on the sole, which has been replaced with a more durable Vibram Litebase compound. Impressively, the updated boot also is significantly lighter to a tune of almost 2 pounds per pair. The new Oly Mons Cube also features tech fittings on the toe (compatible with most backcountry ski bindings), meaning that if you’re approaching your objective on skis, you won’t have to bring a separate pair of ski boots (this will be wildly helpful for some, and not at all for others). All these updates come at no small price—the Oly Mons Cube is $200 more than the previous version at $1,199—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 of the Rest

5. Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX ($549)

Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 15.5 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Cheaper and more performance-oriented than its La Sportiva counterpart, the 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. With a recent update, the Scarpa has a more precise outsole which offers better climbing ability on particularly technical snow and ice. And for $50 less, it gets the price advantage as well. Some find the La Sportiva to be a warmer boot, but we haven’t noticed a difference. And 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

 

6. Lowa Alpine Expert GTX ($450)

Lowa Mountain Expert GTX mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering/4-season technical alpine
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 13.4 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 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 means it also can tackle steep ice and precision 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, it doesn’t hurt that the Alpine Expert GTX is priced aggressively at $450.

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. On the other hand, it features slightly less rocker than most lightweight mountaineering boots, which can get in the way of comfort on the approach (we don’t recommend the Lowa for summer ascents that start at low elevations). And while it’s one of the most affordable options among designs that feature a toe welt, you can save even more with a model like the La Sportiva Makalu (below). But for a durable and versatile boot that can handle most everything you throw at it, the Alpine Expert GTX is one of the best values on this list. 
See the Mens's Lowa Alpine Expert GTX  See the Women's Lowa Alpine Expert GTX

 

7. Scarpa Phantom 6000 ($899)

Scarpa Phantom 6000 mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 4 lbs. 6 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Simple but effective lacing system, watertight zipper, technical fit.
What we don’t: For those with narrow feet, the wider fit in the heel and toe box may reduce the boot’s technical prowess.

Of all the technical double boots on this list, the Scarpa Phantom 6000 offers the best performance, construction, and feel. This is Scarpa’s go-to model for giant ice routes in the Canadian Rockies and technical Alaska ascents, and we feel confident in saying that it’s also a great option for many mid-season Denali climbers (Scarpa’s Phantom 8000 is even warmer, but significantly heavier). At only 4 pounds 6 ounces for the pair (size 42), the Phantom 6000 is the lightest in its class—a hair lighter than the La Sportiva G2 SM, and more than 1 pound lighter than La Sportiva’s technical machine, the Spantik.

In terms of construction, a PrimaLoft Micropile insulated liner provides ample padding and warmth, and the carbon fiber insole with EVA insulation are a great defense against cold ground. On the outside, burly Schoeller, Kevlar, and Cordura fabrics offer bombproof protection for your foot from weather and sharp objects alike. And although the wraparound zipper concept can feel weird at first, we appreciate the fact that this design almost entirely protects the zipper from being scuffed by the passing point of a crampon. Lastly, the Phantom 6000 only comes in full sizes, and many might find the heel pocket to be noticeably broad. Although Scarpa’s footwear is known for being wider than La Sportiva, we felt that these boots fit very similar to the La Sportiva G2 SM.
See the Scarpa Phantom 6000

 

8. La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX ($399)

La Sportiva Trango Cube mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single synthetic
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 2 oz.
Crampon: Semi-automatic
What we like: Great for long approaches and Lower 48 climbs.
What we don’t: More expensive and less durable than the Scarpa Charmoz above.

The La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX—or “the little red boot,” as it has often been called—has been a staple of low-altitude mountaineering for years. Like the Scarpa Charmoz above, the Cube can be thought of as a glorified hiking boot: it excels at thrashing through miles of backcountry trails, but doubles as a rock shoe on low-5th-class terrain and can kick steps up the final snow slopes to a Cascadian summit. The heel welt means you get semi-automatic crampon compatibility for ample stability during glacier travel, and a climbing zone on the toe offers great traction on rock. All together, it’s an ideal do-all boot for summer mountaineering in the Lower 48.

A lot of climbers looking for a lightweight mountaineering boot will end their search with either the Scarpa Charmoz or the Trango Cube. As we mentioned above, the Charmoz is slightly heavier and lacks the premium Gore-Tex membrane of the Trango Cube, but the savings is significant and well worth it for many. And among the two synthetic boots, the Scarpa gets the slight edge in durability too (although you can get an even longer lifespan with a leather boot like the Lowa Alpine Expert above). Comparisons aside, your best bet is to try on both boots and let fit and comfort be the final deciding factor. Finally, the Cube comes in both red (or "mint" for women) and "Highlander" camo, so hunters or hikers wanting an earthier tone can be a little less flashy than their climber brethren.
See the Men's La Sportiva Trango Cube  See the Women's La Sportiva Trango Cube

 

9. Arc’teryx Acrux AR ($750)

Arc'teryx Acrux AR GTX mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 4 lbs. 2 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Low-profile design for such a warm double boot.
What we don’t: Narrow design may not accommodate wide feet as well as other brands.

When Arc’teryx designs something, they typically go bold, and the Acrux AR mountaineering boot is no exception. Sleek and black with just a slight hint of red, the Acrux AR looks like it could kick a mountain to pieces and come away without a scratch—of all the options on this list, it may be the most durable. The Acrux AR has very few seams, which are known to be points of weakness in mountaineering boots. A fully waterproof zipper protects the Gore-Tex-lined inner boot, which resembles a thick and stretchy sock. We were somewhat surprised by the simple lace design (a pull-down cinch design would be nice), but a lateral Velcro strap provides some additional stiffness above the ankle.

In terms of best uses, the Acrux AR will excel at everything from ice climbing in the Canadian Rockies to alpine-style ascents of lower mountains in the Alaska Range. Although Arc’teryx calls the Acrux AR a double boot, it’s less so than the Scarpa 6000 or La Sportiva Spantik. In fact, this boot is closer in warmth, weight, and technicality to the La Sportiva G5 and Scarpa Phantom Tech. We also found the Acrux AR has a narrower fit than the G5. Overall, if the Acrux AR fits your foot and price range, we feel confident that this stealth boot will propel you across wide glaciers, up steep drips, and onto many remote summits.
See the Arc'teryx Acrux AR

 

10. La Sportiva G2 SM ($850)

La Sportiva G2 SM mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 4 lbs. 8.2 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Very warm and comfortable; lighter than the Spantik.
What we don’t: Noticeably less stiff, less technical-feeling, and less durable than the Spantik/Phantom 6000; Boa system is hard to repair in the field.

The G2 SM was a radical shift in the lineup of La Sportiva’s double boots, shaving an impressive 8 ounces per boot from the already light and technically charged Spantik below (the G2 SM did not replace the Spantik, but was introduced several years later as an ultralight and even warmer alternative). A dual Boa lacing system (one on the ankle to secure the foot and another on the shin) allows for quick tightening and adjustments without dealing with tying laces in the extreme cold, and the built-in super gaiter keeps your inner boot dry and toasty. The result is 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.

Compared to the Spantik, the G2 SM is warmer but not nearly as stiff or technical feeling. Even when tightened down, it has a lot more forward flex than the Spantik, which (along with a wider toe box) takes away from the precision fit needed for mixed climbing. And while the G2 is fairly light for a double boot, models like the Arc’teryx Acrux AR and Scarpa Phantom 6000 drop even more weight without compromising on performance and durability. And a final note: Sportiva is set to replace the G2 with the G2 Evo (which moves the top Boa dial to the outside for on-the-go adjustment), but at the time of publishing both boots are largely unavailable in the U.S. due to COVID-related supply chain issues.
See the La Sportiva G2 SM

 

11. La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX ($269)

La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single synthetic
Weight per pair: 2 lbs. 11.6 oz.
Crampon: Semi-automatic
What we like: Exceptionally lightweight but still protective, waterproof, and able to accommodate a semi-automatic crampon. 
What we don’t: Lacks durability and versatility; not built for all-day snow objectives.

One of the newest additions to La Sportiva’s lineup, the Trango Tech is by far the lightest and most affordable mountaineering boot on this list. You won’t be wearing this boot for ice climbing, high-altitude mountaineering, or even while ascending volcanoes like Mt. Rainier, but for mixed summer objectives in the Lower 48, it’s worth a look. Think of the Trango Tech as a stripped down Trango Cube (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 (it’s not too heavy to tote up a climb, either), but a waterproof upper and heel welt make it 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. 

Unfortunately, you can’t drop this much weight from a boot without compromise. In the case of the Trango Tech, the tradeoff comes in terms warmth, stability, and—perhaps most of all—durability. Chances are high you’ll get cold feet on a glacier (even in mid-summer), and on steep snow approaches you might find yourself wishing for more boot—perhaps a slightly stiffer model like the Trango Cube. In terms of durability, after just 10 days in the Alaska Range our Techs are almost ready to retire, with sizable abrasions in the upper where moisture can now seep in. For a more resilient boot, the Trango Tech is available in a leather version for $249 and a minor weight penalty, and Scarpa’s Zodiac Tech GTX ($300, 2 lbs. 11.8 oz.) is another a worthy alternative... Read in-depth review
See the Men's La Sportiva Trango Tech  See the Women's La Sportiva Trango Tech

 

12. Scarpa Phantom 8000 ($999)

Scarpa Phantom 8000 mountaineering boot 2Category: Extreme cold/high-altitude
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 5 lbs. 13.5 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: More affordable than the Oly Mons; great quality and warmth.
What we don’t: Heavier than the Oly Mons and the lacing system isn’t as secure.

The Phantom 8000 is the durable workhorse for extreme cold in Scarpa’s line. From the ground up, Scarpa designed a serious boot here, and a recent upgrade means it’s now warmer, lighter, and $250 cheaper. You get a waterproof, PrimaLoft 200-lined gaiter as the first line of defense, while a PrimaLoft 600-insulated liner with a simple pull-down speed lace keeps your foot tight and toasty. The Vibram Zero Gravity Lite sole can stand up to the abuse of kicking up scree, and Aerogel (used in space boots) keeps you warm from the ground up. Finally, zippers always are a cause for concern—it only takes one misstep with sharp crampons to shred a zipper—but Scarpa’s new placement on the outside of the foot should help alleviate that issue.

If you’re looking for the best high-altitude mountaineering boot, it’s a close call between the Scarpa Phantom 8000 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 is over a pound heavier for the pair, 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. In the end, you can’t go wrong with either boot (it doesn’t hurt that the Scarpa is $200 cheaper), and your final decision likely will come down to fit.
See the Scarpa Phantom 8000

 

13. La Sportiva G5 Boot ($750)

La Sportiva G5 mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Single synthetic w/ insulated gaiter
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 12 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: A warm and versatile alternative to the Scarpa Phantom Tech.
What we don’t: Less waterproof, heavier, and more expensive than the updated Scarpa Tech.

The little brother of the G2 SM, the G5 is a highly technical single boot that excels on steep ice and mixed terrain at lower elevations. Like our chart-topping Nepal Cube, the G5 receives its stiffness and support from a Nepal last, and a Vibram Matterhorn sole provides great traction in slick conditions. But with much more technical intentions, it drops weight and increases precision with a synthetic upper and increased ankle flex. A Boa lacing system allows you to easily adjust the boot depending on your activity (loose for the approach, tight for the climb), and a Velcro strap cinches above the ankle for additional stiffness. It all adds up to a design that gives the Scarpa Phantom Tech a run for its money as one of the best ice climbing boots on the market.

With its technical skill set, the G5 isn’t our first choice for all-around mountaineering. You get noticeably more ankle support with a boot like the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX or Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX, and their leather builds can handle a lot more wear and tear. For winter mountaineering or routes that involve a combination of hiking, steep snow, and some technical ice or mixed climbing, you can save a lot of money by going with these less streamlined options. In terms of sizing, our tester found that (like the G2 SM) he had to drop down a half size from his normal La Sportiva boot size to achieve a good fit. And a final note: La Sportiva is set to replace the G5 with the G5 Evo (which features a lighter and more durable welded gaiter, external Boa adjustment, an internal gusset, and Gore-Tex Infinium Thermium insulation), but at the time of publishing, both boots are largely unavailable in the U.S. due to supply chain issues.
See the La Sportiva G5 Boot

 

14. Scarpa Manta Tech GTX ($349)

Scarpa Manta Tech GTX lightweight mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 12.6 oz.
Crampon: Semi-automatic
What we like: A well-built, durable leather boot at an affordable price.
What we don’t: The Charmoz HD above is a lighter and more breathable.

The Manta has been around Scarpa’s lineup for decades and is a reliable performer for 3-season mountaineering objectives. With a recent redesign, the Manta Tech replaces the bygone “Pro,” adding warmth to the build with 200-gram synthetic insulation but keeping the same last and fit. The new Tech also features less stitching on the upper for an increase in longevity, and a TPU heel insert replaces the rubber rand for a modern look and added toughness. In the end, this is another solid boot from Scarpa, fitting the bill for spring and fall ascents in the Cascades and snowy missions in the Rockies.

At only $349, the Manta Tech is one of the most affordable boots here, and only slightly undercut by the Scarpa Charmoz HD above. Both the Manta and Charmoz are built for lightweight mountaineering, but the Manta is warmer and will last you many more years with its leather build (the Charmoz features a synthetic upper). On the other hand, you’ll save over 6 ounces with the Charmoz and $24. In the end, your decision will come down to your goals in the mountains: the nimbler Charmoz is our top choice for summer mountaineering, while we’d recommend the Manta Tech more for shoulder-season ice and mixed pursuits. And if you’re looking for a summer boot with a leather build, it’s also worth checking out Scarpa’s Ribelle HD, which clocks in at just over 3 pounds for the pair.
See the Men's Scarpa Manta Tech GTX  See the Women's Scarpa Manta Tech GTX

 

15. La Sportiva Spantik ($775)

La Sportiva Spantik mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 5 lbs. 9 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Superbly technical-feeling boot, easy lacing system, walks great on flat ground but stiffens up for technical climbing.
What we don’t: Not as durable as the Phantom 6000, and the liner takes a long time to dry compared to all-foam liners.

The Spantik was a revolutionary boot when it came out almost 10 years ago, and it remains a favorite among technical alpinists and cold-weather mountaineers. The boot has the feel of a technical single boot wrapped up in a super warm double design (it was created before zippers were really popular and instead has a wraparound closure system on the outer shell). In terms of ability, these boots climb like a dream (for double boots, that is). Compared to the G2 SM, they have a precision fit, and the narrower toe box really allows you to feel your crampons as an extension of your toes. Furthermore, the one-hand lacing systems on both the inner and outer boot mean that you don’t even have to take off your mitten to batten down the hatches.

In terms of construction, the outer boot is composed of a leather upper and synthetic lower. Soft foam on the midsole lowers weight and adds warmth but also reduces durability in one key zone: the heel welt. Unfortunately, the 2-millimeter plastic heel welt (where the crampon lever secures) is built onto this weak, soft foam foundation, and our tester actually had his completely break off while on a climbing trip in Alaska. That said, it’s worth noting that he loved the design of the Spantik enough to purchase a replacement pair.
See the La Sportiva Spantik

 

16. La Sportiva Makalu ($305)

La Sportiva Makalu mountaineering bootCategory: Lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single leather
Weight per pair: 4 lbs. 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 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 Trango Cube GTX above, the Makalu is not meant for serious cold-weather mountaineering, nor does it offer high-tech materials like Gore-Tex. But it 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 step-in crampons (for semi-automatic crampon compatibility, check out the similar Karakorum). At $305, this boot still offers an impressive all-around feature set. You won’t be pushing the limits of technical climbing in the Makalu, but that isn’t its purpose.
See the La Sportiva Makalu

 

17. La Sportiva Trango Ice Cube GTX ($550)

La Sportiva Trango Ice Cube mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine/lightweight mountaineering
Body design: Single synthetic
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 3.3 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Highly technical boot in a lightweight package.
What we don’t: Plastic eyelets are prone to breaking, thin sole and narrow toe bail are lacking in toughness. 

On paper, there is a lot to like about the La Sportiva Trango Ice Cube GTX, which is the insulated and gaitered sister of the Trango Cube GTX. Not only do you get the additional barriers against cold and deep snow, but the Ice Cube also is compatible with an automatic crampon for precision and stability on steep ice. And despite all of this added firepower, it’s just over an ounce heavier than the Cube, which is an incredible feat. At 3 pounds 3.3 ounces, the Ice Cube GTX is a lightweight alternative to boots like the G5 and Phantom Tech above and a popular choice for technical alpine routes that require a longer approach (think the Cascades, Rockies, and Patagonia). 

The Achilles' heel of the La Sportiva Trango Ice Cube GTX is durability. Compared to a slightly burlier boot like the Trango Tower Extreme, it offers more precision for technical climbing but their lifespan falls tragically short. After one Grade VI ice climb in the Canadian Rockies, our tester reported that the thin sole and toe welt on his Ice Cubes showed wear, and the integrated gaiter zipper broke during the short trip. Further, the plastic shoelace hooks are liable to break, which would be difficult to handle in the field. We want to like the Ice Cube GTX, but these durability concerns are unacceptable for a $550 boot, no matter how light. Unless you have good reason to count ounces, most will want to stick with a more reliable boot like the Nepal Cube or Mont Blanc Pro above.
See the La Sportiva Trango Ice Cube GTX

 

18. Scarpa Inverno ($379)

Scarpa Inverno mountaineering bootCategory: 4-season technical alpine
Body design: Double synthetic
Weight per pair: 5 lbs. 8 oz.
Crampon: Automatic
What we like: Cheap, nearly indestructible, and time-tested in cold environments.
What we don’t: Clunky and not nearly as technically capable as the sleek 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 Spantik 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 the 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 boot like the La Sportiva Spantik above 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 $599 4-season technical alpine Single leather 3 lb. 15 oz. Automatic
Scarpa Charmoz HD $325 Lightweight mountaineering Single synthetic 3 lb. 6.4 oz. Semi-auto
Scarpa Phantom Tech $699 4-season technical alpine Single synthetic 3 lb. 3.2 oz. Automatic
La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube $1199 Extreme cold/high-altitude Double synthetic 4 lb. 10 oz. Automatic
Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro $549 4-season technical alpine Single leather 3 lb. 15.5 oz. Automatic
Lowa Alpine Expert GTX $450 Lightweight/4-season Single leather 3 lb. 13.4 oz.  Automatic
Scarpa Phantom 6000 $899 4-season technical alpine Double synthetic 4 lb. 6 oz. Automatic
La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX $399 Lightweight mountaineering Single synthetic 3 lb. 2 oz. Semi-auto
Arc’teryx Acrux AR $750 4-season technical alpine Double synthetic 4 lb. 2 oz. Automatic
La Sportiva G2 SM $850 4-season technical alpine Double synthetic 4 lb. 8.2 oz. Automatic
La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX $269 Lightweight mountaineering Single synthetic 2 lb. 11.6 oz. Semi-auto
Scarpa Phantom 8000 $999 Extreme cold/high-altitude Double synthetic 5 lb. 13.5 oz. Automatic
La Sportiva G5 $750 4-season technical alpine Single synthetic 3 lb. 12 oz. Automatic
Scarpa Manta Tech GTX $349 Lightweight mountaineering Single leather 3 lb. 12.6 oz. Semi-auto
La Sportiva Spantik $775 4-season technical alpine Double synthetic 5 lb. 9 oz. Automatic
La Sportiva Makalu $305 Lightweight mountaineering Single leather 4 lb. 5.1 oz. Automatic
La Sportiva Trango Ice Cube $550 4-season/lightweight Single synthetic 3 lb. 3.3 oz. Automatic
Scarpa Inverno $379 4-season technical alpine Double synthetic 5 lb. 8 oz. Automatic

 

Mountaineering Boot Buying Advice

Mountaineering Boot Categories

Extreme Cold/High-Altitude
Mountains come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of technical difficulty, therefore it’s imperative that your footwear is best suited for the conditions. 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.

Mountaineering (cliffs and snow)
The harshest mountain conditions demand a correspondingly serious boot

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 600 and La Sportiva G5.

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 the Scarpa Charmoz HD and La Sportiva Trango GTX.

Lightweight mountaineering boot
In milder weather and at lower elevation, a lighter model is a fine option

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.

Mountaineering boot (Scarpa Phantom Tech)
Climbing in the Scarpa Phantom Tech

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.

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 and La Sportiva Spantik 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, 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. For example, during a recent austral summer in Patagonia, one of our testers attempted Cerro Torre in single boots but found that 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.


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 La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX took a beating during a two-week traverse in the Alaska Range, whereas a leather model 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 (on summit)
Synthetic boots are lighter and more streamlined than leather models

Ten years 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 a Denali Intuition liner ($176 plus potential custom molding fees) 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 ($180) will be necessary as well, which may require that you purchase a different crampon to fit over the boot. In 2021, 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 between $700 and 750, which is roughly the price of a high-end synthetic double boot of equal warmth and superior technical precision.


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 are over 5 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 Trango Tech GTX for just 2 pounds 11.6 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.

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 makes pounds and pounds are heavy” is especially true in regard to your feet.

Mountaineering Boots (lightweight La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX hanging)
Weight is a primary considerations if you plan to carry your boots

Warmth

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 are the warmest models on the market, with features like thickly insulated inner boots and thermo-reflective liners on the outer boot. 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 Trango Cube 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.

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

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

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).

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 size 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, you'll want a boot with some flex | Photo: 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 new 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 leather La Sportiva Nepal Evo)
The simple lace closure of the La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX | Photo: Tim Matsui

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 Grivel G20 Plus, 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)
Wearing step-in crampons with the La Sportiva Spantik boots

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 Trango Cube 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.

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 (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)
Using hybrid crampons with the La Sportiva Trango Ice Cube boots

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 serve 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 in 2021, 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

Mountaineering involves long days (often back to back for a week or more) 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.


Women’s-Specific Boots

As with other types in 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 (men's and women's La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX)
The women's and men's La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX

Durability

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 that get out a lot can expect their ultralight boots to wear rather quickly

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 and Trango Ice Cube) go a little too far for most uses. The good news is that for those who prize durability above all else, there’s 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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