I am learning about snow hiking and camping. The vapor barriers scare me, especially the marine vapor barriers like sealskin. I never liked them on the ocean and quit even trying to use them because they were not pliable enough, hard to put on, and when water got inside were worse than my socks.
Cold, snow conditions make them even less attractive IMO. The articles about breathability make me think that there must be a way to have light weight footwear in three categories: 1) day trekking in no precip and below freezing (to whatever range, but for my purposes above or at 0 F; 2) muck, rain, sleet, wet conditions down to 20 F; and 3) deeper powder down to -10 F or more given any kind of wind or damp.
First issue is sole durability over intermittent rocks, asphalt, or hard surfaces and icy conditions (slippery at intermitent intervals) in all three categories. We have a mixed environment which changes based on going even a few miles and few hundred feet change in elevation.
Is there one boot or low top + gaiter combination that will handle these three categories? Or, what combination of boot or low top, socks, and gaiters will handle each category with the least weight and most functionality without using vapor barriers (given the perameters are staying dry, warm, and safe)?
My present hiking boots are tecnica waterproof barrier built in and my low tops Montrail CTCs. I have Steggers for the pure pleasure of hiking in "pure" snow and snow shoes for day hikes (Redfeather Hike 22s). I have LaCrosse snow boots, with some kind of liner, weighing about 2.25 lbs. each, 4.5 lbs. pair.
I just ordered some Integral Designs eVENT shorties and OR mid-wieght high top gaiters.