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Advice on Women's Mountaineering Boots
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w s
(caniwi) - F
Advice on Women's Mountaineering Boots on 09/19/2011 15:05:07 MDT Print View

Hi everyone,

I am just getting into the sport here in New Zealand and I am trying to find out which boots to buy. I have narrowed down my list to a few of the usual suspects plus a few new ones. I would greatly appreciate any input as we have limited brands down here and I need to order from America. I will be using the boots for snow hiking with crampons and a bit of walking on volcanic rock.

La Sportiva Makalu
LaSportiva Glacier
Mammut Monolith Gore-Tex
Asolo Lothar Gore-Tex
Kayland Women's MXT
Kayland Women's Apex Dual Mountaineering
Garmont Tower
Asolo Alpinist Gore-Tex

Also any suggestions on ice axe length? I am 5'4 (164cms)

Many thanks in advance

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Advice on Women's Mountaineering Boots on 09/19/2011 15:25:41 MDT Print View

I can see huge potential here for a lot of pain and suffering. This can be avoided.

Step 1: Get your feet measured on a Brannock device. Good shoe shops have them. Do this while wearing some thick socks. Record both the size and the width.

Step 2: ONLY consider boots which have the required width. No matter how nice they look, do NOT consider boots which are any narrower.

Step 3: Add one full size to the value given by the Brannock device. Your feet swell when they are working. Women are notorious for buying shoes which are too small.

Step 4: Invest in some nice thick wool/blend socks. I like darn Tough Vermont, but Thorlo are also good.


peter vacco

Locale: no. california
it's gonna hurt ... on 09/19/2011 16:47:53 MDT Print View

peter's looking at that boot list, and i am a VERY boot centric kind of guy.
but HOLY MOLLY ! that's some collection of extremely stiff'ish boots dear. you won't be able to actually walk any kind of distance in those things.
boots are for to protect the feets from what's outside the boots. but when they get too much stiff, like what you have there, you are going to find that the very boots themselves will consume the flesh of your feet. i Know Waaay too much about this.
so: here you are on BPL, and if you had a ginormous pack, and it was giving you an very short stride, you'd be able to get away with those kind of boots for ... a few days (at most), before they ate your feet.
you could work on a construction site for months though and never have an issue. but back to your pack weight.
as a BPL'r, you will have a sweet gossamer light pack, and thusly a long and attractive stride. this will make your feets bend a Lot, and this bending will increase the angle that the boot needs to bend. except .. it won't. it will pull down back off your heel, relentlessly stripping the meat off of it. this will hurt. but use that "determination" off the thru-hike forum, and it will bleed too. eventually, it will bleed and leak, and you'll stop whether you want to or not. and it may not heal correctly.. EVER.
yes .. EVER. you'll not have real skin back there the rest of your life. trust me.
you'll dork around with different boots trying to find something that will be both gnarly and not wreck your feet. look away luv, it is not to be found. you can not have this stiff un-natural thing bolted to your foot and expect (well, you can expect, but it won't help any ) it to bend normally in a way that you can walk over time/distance.
the less boot you can get away with, the BETTER.
less boots = good. (is very simple)

Roger C will tell you that you can snow walk naked in tennis shoes. and he apparently does this quite successfully, as does his wife. he's really good at it too ! i suspect RC is right about this.

peter is not so determined in the direction of light footwear, and though i recently walked 300m of sea ice in cheap wal-mart caca tennis shoes, i am still not liking it so all that much.

on to more reasonable boots. - crampons need not be step-in to work safely. i have used regular old big fang'y spikes with scottish straps on lighter boots, and they were splendidly solid feeling. splendidly hooked up dead solid. crossed ice chutes with glee. no problems.
for this trick i was using nothing more than LL Bean cresta half and half leather/fabric boots. easily an all day walker for people like me, and STILL too much sole for the uppers to handle when wet. you can trim more off of them and still be on the safe side.

so that's peter's op. less boot is more comfortable. more boot, is a shorter trip going to make. guaranteed.

Ryan Krause

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Really need to try a variety of boots, sizes on 09/19/2011 21:43:34 MDT Print View

Another warning this could result in a very bad situation.

Boot fit is of the utmost importance and in mountaineering wrong boot could be dangerous -too big they could be difficult to climb in, too tight and end up with cold (or worse) feet. Likewise, bringing a well fitting boot that is insufficient warmth-wise for a climb is dangerous.

You've listed a bunch of boots but no information about:
- Your personal level of training/experience in mountaineering, if any (it sounds like this may be your very first climb)
- How technical the climbing is
- Expectations on using them for the approach
- What time of year and possibly further insight into expected weather, especially if it is a peak/area that most people are not familiar with
- etc, essentially filling us in on the details of the climb and needs out of the equipment. Gear choice for Kilimanjaro would be very different than for Denali. Likewise, choices for a summer climb would be different than if you were climbing the same mountain in winter.

I'd recommend taking a look at some of the other posts here in the mountaineering section to see how others pose questions to see what they are including information wise - this helps others provide better answers.

Even better - Are you going on a guided climb or taking a mountaineering course? I'd highly recommend consulting with the instructors/guides concerning gear choices and boot fitting. I'd say it's very important to try a variety of brands and models and even once got it down to a given brand/model, a few different sizes to really dial it in. This would be very hard to do internationally.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: it's gonna hurt ... on 09/20/2011 04:38:56 MDT Print View

> Roger C will tell you that you can snow walk naked in tennis shoes.

Jeez mate! Not sure about the 'naked' bit ... at least, not when the wind is blowing!


w s
(caniwi) - F
Thanks on 09/20/2011 16:48:00 MDT Print View

Thanks for your input. Unfortunately New Zealand does not have the wide variety of boots other countries do, especially in small sizes such as Euro 37. I am very limited in my options so hence the hit and miss approach of online purchasing. I have very little choice.

I am mainly doing day walks and have taken a few mountaineering courses to date so am still relatively inexperienced. I was just hoping to get some feedback on people who have used any of these boot models to gain some insight into potential manufacturing faults or consistent issues.

Thanks again

Sabine Funk
(SabineFunk) - F
Re: Advice on Women's Mountaineering Boots on 09/25/2011 07:06:37 MDT Print View

I have to disagree with some posts:
I am european and saw pretty many hikers in America with really light boots or mostly just trailrunners. But the terrain was difficult and sometimes buried under 6ft suncupped snow. So I was the only one wearing sturdy boots and pretty much the only one getting through there without trouble!!
And what's the point in having light shoes when you have to put crampons on them because your shoes are not working on snow??? Plus it's almost impossible to hurt your ankle in a sturdy boot.
And having stiff boots doesn't automatically mean getting tons of blisters. In fact, I never got blisters in my boots except when they were soaking wet (which was on 2 days in over 3 years).
My only advice for buying boots is: get the ones that perfectly fit you and you'll never have trouble. Leather boots are better (well, my personal opinion...) as they dry faster and waxing them makes them more waterproof than spraying stuff on Gore-Tex materials.

Hope that helps you,

Ryan Krause

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Boots insight on 09/25/2011 21:21:30 MDT Print View

If your after firsthand experience with a specific boot, you'd probably be better served asking on a board such as

Ken Nguyen
(ninjapuppet) - F - MLife

Locale: B-Town
easier said than done on 09/26/2011 10:04:45 MDT Print View

"Getting a proper fit" is everyone's advice. I bought a pair of $900 Millet boots which fit perfectly in the store. the next size up was too loose and the next down was starting to get constrictive, so I thought i had the right size.

They were very comfy walking around the house, and even on short 2km strolls around the block. but then on my first 20km walk, after 10km the ankle bits started really diggin in bad. It got bad enough to the point i was limping for 2 days after.

Spending so much on these boots, i really tried hard to break them in by soaking them, heating them, etc, and have done over 200km in them to break them in but they still cause agony around the lateral malleolus after around 10km.

Then got a pair of much cheaper Lasportiva nepal evos in the same size and gosh, did a 30km and still so comfy. After 200km in these, they have remained comfy for me. so just a word of warning for you, that it really is an expensive matter of trial and error sometimes.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Lightweight mountain boot on 09/26/2011 23:04:09 MDT Print View

For what you describe (snow walking and general mountaineering)
you want a lightweight mountaineering boot.

Examples of such a boot are the Sportiva Trango S Evo Gtx, and the Scarpa Charmoz.

These boots are relatively lightweight, comfortable, and will accept crampons (although you will need to get crampons with strap fronts, as they don't have the front crampon lip.

With boots like these, you can do lots of classic mountaineering routes, and even take on the occasional steep front-pointing pitch.

There is a bit of information on mountain boots on my blog, here:

The Sportiva Makalu or Manta are other decent options.

It may be difficult for you to get a proper fit via mail order from the US. I would highly recommend buying local. If you truly can't find what you need locally, I would suggest buying 4 pair of boots, (2 different models, in 2 sizes each) and planning on sending 3 of them back.

Here are some New Zealand options:

The New Zealand distributor for Scarpa:

The New Zealand distributor for La Sportiva:

(the Makalu, and the Berghaus options on this page would serve, although the Makalu is significantly heavier.)

Here are some USA options:

(Decent all around non-technical boot.)

(This boot is a little heavy duty for what you want to do, but it is a terrific mountain boot and will be great for more technical climbing if you go that route. Also reasonably warm. Price is amazing on these.)

(a good choice if it fits)

(Probably the ideal boot if it fits.)

(Again, probably the ideal boot if it fits.)

(Another great option, with a large range of smaller sizes available at a good price.)

(Good, relatively light weight technical boot.)

On the question of ice axe length, I'd say that a 50 cm tool is probably the right length for you.

A tool like the Black Diamond Venom is a nice all-around tool that is good for both general mountaineering and classic steeper routes. The replaceable pick means that you can just change out picks if you snap a pick, rather than having to replace the whole tool.

Edited by KaiPL on 09/26/2011 23:27:25 MDT.

w s
(caniwi) - F
Re: Lightweight mountain boot on 09/30/2011 18:38:39 MDT Print View


Thank you SO much for the detailed and informative feedback. It is greatly appreciated.