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Winter footwear
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John West
(skyzo) - F

Locale: Borah Gear
Winter footwear on 10/18/2011 23:33:57 MDT Print View

Well, me and a friend are going to try and start backpacking in the winter. I have never done anything like this, and the lowest temperatures I've ever hiked in are probably in the teens.

We will be mainly hiking down in the Wallowas in Oregon, since they are close to where we live and the trailhead is still easily accessible in the winter.

I have read up a ton on the type of gear I need, but one thing that still confuses me is the footwear needed. I backpacking in trail runners usually in 3 season use. According a snotel site at 7500 elevation in the Wallowas, the minimum temperature during most winter months is about 0F. That is the minimum though, with the average being 10F or so. That average includes the nights, so I would assume daytime temperatures of about 15F or so.

One thing that has really interested me as of lately is winter mountaineering. I am quite experienced with 3 season climbing, having done a good deal of class 4 peaks. Winter is a different story though, and I want to be prepared.

Any recommendations on what I will need footwear wise? I have read all the BPL articles on the subject, but still not really sure. I was thinking, liner, vapor barrier, wool sock, waterproof boot, gaiters. Then snowshoes for the approaches and general hiking, and then strap on crampons for the climbing if the snow gets a little hard.


Edited by skyzo on 10/18/2011 23:34:44 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Winter footwear on 10/20/2011 10:52:39 MDT Print View

I don't do any mountaineering, but I tend to prefer oversized, breathable trail runners with a GoreTex sock covering 1-2 thick wool socks. The GoreTex sock can be rinsed off every night and dried to improve DWR. It will be dryer than GoreTex boots sitting in the tent vestibule. (But of course you might need boots for mountaineering.) Around 0-10 F, I start using a rubber mukluk with wool felt liners and a vapor barrier in addition to 1-2 thick wool socks--not much experience with that yet though.

Kyle Meyer

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Winter footwear on 10/20/2011 16:16:52 MDT Print View

One thing to consider is that, in my experience, strap on crampons have a tendency to migrate sideways off a boot if you're using flexible "light hikers" for mountaineering. That said, doing the approach in heavy mountaineering boots sucks. Instead, I've stuck with the flexible boots and have been using microspikes for the Cascades around Portland. Mt Saint Helens and Mt Adams were both easily climbed without a full crampon.

The New Balance MO1000 just recently given a highly recommended by BPL would be a good place to start in the footwear department for short trips (1-2 nights) into the mountains.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Winter footwear on 10/24/2011 03:24:02 MDT Print View

What would happen if you tried to put a barefoot or semi barefoot style shoe (extreme sole flexibility) into a snowshoe or crampon?

Mark Primack
(Bufa) - MLife

Locale: Cape Cod and Northern Newfoundland
Inexpensive alternative on 10/24/2011 05:40:38 MDT Print View

After years of wearing heavy double winter mountaineering boots and full crampons, I transitioned two years ago to Cabela's Snowrunners insulated hiking boots and Katoola Microspikes. This is not an ice climbing or technical combo, but works great for winter hiking and fairly steep ascents in Presidential Range of the White Mountains(NH). The Snowrunners have 400gm insulation, work for me down to about zero F, and cost $79 or less if on sale. Great boots for the price and a great way to get into winter hiking on the cheap.

John West
(skyzo) - F

Locale: Borah Gear
Footwear on 10/24/2011 08:42:28 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the replies guys!

I really like your suggestion Mark, as I don't do enough backpacking in the winter to justify buying a $300 pair of boots. We have 3-4 weekends planned out, and one 3 day trip.
I actually have a Cabelas gift card as well. I considered the microspikes, but I still think I am going to go with some sort of a strap on crampon, as everyonce in awhile I will go on some steeper stuff that I wouldnt feel 100% confident in microspikes.

I'm still probably going to go with a VBL sock as well, I've had a few recommendations from friends about them.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Winter footwear on 10/29/2011 18:20:36 MDT Print View