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SnowShoe boots?
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kenneth froese
SnowShoe boots? on 12/28/2012 16:50:11 MST Print View

I'm looking for suggestions for a pair of snowshoe boots. I will be going on a multi-day backpacking trip to The Minarets Wilderness, starting near Mammoth ski area.

I live and typically hike in minimalist type footwear, but will need something for the colder temps. I bought a pair of baffin style pac boots last year and they destroyed my feet after a few miles, luckily REI took them back.

I need a boot with a wider toe box. Montrail torre and some Asolo boots used to fit me well before the minimalist shoe bug bit me.

I have a pair of Climb High super gaiters that I used to use with leather mountaineering boots...... that I could always use to help out with insulation as long as they fit with my snowshoe bindings.

Since we will be on the move most of the time do I really need a heavily insulated boot? Its not as if I will be standing around for long belays........

STP has a pair of Asolo mountaineering boots that I've owned in the past, that i'm thinking about.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
SnowShoe boots on 12/28/2012 17:02:25 MST Print View

If all you are doing is easy terrain and snowshoe use then a pair of warm Sorrel-type boots will work fine. That is all I use now in MN.

But as most of my stuff in CA involved climbing and crampon use too I used either plastic-doubles or one-piece mountaineering boots there.

Even though you will be "warmer" while hiking I think you will still want some insulation in the boots, especially if you have to wear them in camp. (I bring down mukluks.)

Have fun, that is a great area.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Vasque Snow Junkie on 12/28/2012 17:03:36 MST Print View

Backpacker gave a really good review to the Vasque Snow Junkie:

They're lightweight and breathable, but they have some insulation so you won't lose toes. The fit isn't especially narrow or anything. Plus, they don't break the bank!



Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
NEOS on 12/28/2012 18:56:58 MST Print View

A pair of NEOS overboots with a QUALITY feltpack liner and a good heat-mouldable insole will do it for a system that is quite a bit lighter than a Sorell feltpack overboot.

BUT, you need a VBL lining to keep sweat out of the feltpacs. I like a thin neoprene diver's sock that I've seam sealed. It gives me insulation and a VBL in one.

Wear a thin poly liner sock under the VBL.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Trail runners on 12/28/2012 19:07:59 MST Print View

I have snowshoes the high Sierra in trail runners. Would likely do the same if I had another trip coming.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: SnowShoe boots? on 12/28/2012 21:22:15 MST Print View

I've used slightly oversize minimalist trail runners with GoreTex socks and thick wool socks down to 10F. My toes were cold until I hiked for a few hours that morning, possibly partially due to the tight fit of the GTX socks. (They were oversized too.) I don't like boots at all, but a mid-cut boot seems better than low cut trail runners because it prevents snow which creeps under the gaiter from getting into the shoe and cooling things down. I think I'll use GTX mids (debating about insulated vs. minimalist) or just non-waterproof mids with a plastic bag along with vapor barrier socks.

For colder temps below 0F, I plan to get a pair of Steger mukluks (debating about traditional vs. the waterproof Camuks).

dave p
(hipass) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
boots on 12/28/2012 22:23:57 MST Print View

Id like to find a waterproof winter boot for snowshoeing.I dont like high boots so mids are what im looking at.What ive seen so far is overpriced,weak fact this stuff looks like jazzed up running shoes or cheap stuff from Hi-tec.The only thing that seems decent are sorels but those are like lead weights.
I bought the Merrell Norsehund Beta Mid but when i took them home i noticed the tongue had a low gussett-wtf,these are for winter and supposedly waterproof???I havent used em yet but they look and feel like hi-tec stuff-probably made at the same factory.Cant find any reviews on them either. I paid 110$ and now i am wondering why and what justifies this price.These companies are making a killing off these boots.I got them at rei so i can return them if they fail.

Edited by hipass on 12/28/2012 22:32:18 MST.

Yes 1000
trail runners and offtrail caution on 12/29/2012 10:44:04 MST Print View

While I love trail runners for day hikes and light backpacking, I would caution you against using them if you go on offtrail snowshoeing. I tried them on couple of snowshoeing trip with a lot of off the trail hike and my ankles were not very thankful. Switched back to my Salomon Quest boots for snowshoeing trips. But if you are hiking on a nicely graded trail train runners with Goretex socks should do fine.

Derek Westcott
(drwestco) - F
Snowshoe Boots on 01/16/2013 12:50:29 MST Print View

I'm also on the hunt for a pair of light, yet sturdy snowshoe boots to use with my MSR shoes. I currently use a pair of Inov-8 Roclite GTX mids, sized up to pair with some expedition weight wool socks. Great combination for winter hiking well down into the teens - the traction on packed snow is excellent too. Unfortunately, the forefoot region is a little too flexible and the uppers too thin, so the front snowshoe strap digs in and causes discomfort after a handful of miles.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
snowshoe boots on 01/16/2013 13:31:59 MST Print View

One of the lightest, warmest boots I've ever used, with a wide footbox, is the Keen Growler. Unfortunately, they are discontinued in the US. BPL gave these a fantastic review...enough to drive me to find them. You can still find them on the Keen Canadian website..maybe they will ship here if you ask?? They pop up on ebay too, which is where I finally got mine. Super warm, with snowshoe and winter specific features on the boot (e.g., gaiter lace hook, heel ribbing for snowshoe straps)

If you can afford it, buy appropriate boots for the occasion. I snowshoed in my 5lb double plastic mountaineering boots exactly 1 time before I vowed to never do it again. We're talking like 4+lbs per foot after you strap on the won't get very far.

Remember to size up for your winter my keens I sized up 1/2 a size for thicker socks.

Edited by Konrad1013 on 01/16/2013 13:38:05 MST.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: SnowShoe boots? on 01/16/2013 15:02:25 MST Print View

If you like minimalist shoes, check out the Oetzi Troop Boots. A boot with a flexible sole and waterproof liner.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: SnowShoe boots? on 01/16/2013 15:31:55 MST Print View

I've been using the NEOS over boots for 10+ yrs snowshoeing. I liked'em as I could wear my favorite trail runners inside. I have found them to be very warm, dry, and comfy....a huge step up from the old school Sorrel winter boots with felt liners, at least for me.

Last yr, I ridded myself of all my shoes with heal rise to go barefoot or to wear Luna sandals or Vivobarefoot Breathos. I wore the latter in the NEOS but the heel slipped inside so, on a whim, I decide to try my leather soled fleece house slippers in them. Liked that combo so much that I've been doing it all winter. Walk my daughter to school every morn (single digits) and went on an overnight snowshoe trip 2 wks ago in the high teens....though it was only 4.5 miles. The slippers fit better in my wife's smaller NEOS....

Perhaps a "weird" method but it works for me. Warm, not too heavy and about as barefooty as I could go without frostbiting my toes.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
3 season Goretex boots on 01/16/2013 17:31:02 MST Print View

I would recommend getting some lightweight 3 season goretex hiking boots (Vasque Breeze comes to mind) in one size larger than your normal size.

Then add some Toasty feet insoles, a liner sock, VBL sock or bag (optional for lower temps), and some thicker merino socks outside the VBL to provide insulation. Top it off with a really good calf height goretex gaiter (I like OR)

This is what Andrew Skurka uses in similar snowshoeing conditions in Colorado..

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: SnowShoe boots? on 01/16/2013 18:10:33 MST Print View

By far the favorite snowshoe boot that I've used so far is the New Balance 1000. My feet have been fine snowshoeing in the single digits but do get a bit chilly when standing around. If you decide to go this route, pair them with a thick ragg wool sock, and size up--way up. You don't want anything restricting your circulation in the cold. The trail runners that I use in summer are 10 D but my snowshoe boots are 11 EEEE.

David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Cabela's Snow Runners are on sale on 01/16/2013 19:16:25 MST Print View

Being cheep I picked up a pair of Snow Runners a couple months ago and like them so far. Mid height boot, dry-plus(their Goretex knockoff), 400 gm Thinsulate. On sale for $59 for Men's and $44 for Women's. They are fairly light and pretty warm, too warm to wear inside. I can stand around at ten degrees Fahrenheit comfortably so they may be too much for milder temps. Seems to have a lot of good reviews.

Probably want something with a stiffer sole for latter season though.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Snowshoe boots on 01/16/2013 21:25:05 MST Print View

I like using light runners and thick wool socks in Neos overshoes. The Neos are high so I don't need gaiters. My snowshoes are older Atlas with a flexible binding. A stiffer binding might put too much pressure on soft shoes.

This has only been when I had heat at night. There was a lot of condensation, frost, and ice inside the NEOS at the end of the day. For multi day use it would require vapor barrier socks.

I also use the Neos over camp booties.

I hate Sorels for more than about a mile or so of hiking. When I plan on also using crampons I use either mountaineering boots and gaiters ( for steep stuff and aggressive semi-auto crampons), or lighter leather hiking boots inside the NEOS and BD Contact strap crampons with extra-long springy bars.

John Klinepeter
(johnzotk) - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies, USA
Snowshoe Boots on 01/16/2013 23:47:30 MST Print View

+1 to the use of NEOS overboots as described by rusty b and Jim W. My feet remain warm into the single digits with running shoes inside NEOS; I have no experience in colder temperatures.

The NEOS fit my Northern Lites 'shoes very well. The indentation in the heels gives a secure binding fit. They also fit my running shoes well, i.e., they are not "clunky". My feet are happy at the end of the day.

The NEOS are waterproof so pay attention to the VBL recommendation above. Please note that my experience is limited to day hiking (no overnight) distances up to about 8 miles in easy to moderate terrain.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
NEOS overshoes for snowshoeing. on 01/17/2013 12:05:15 MST Print View

I also have been using NEOS overshoes with a felt liner and several pairs of wool socks for day hikes in the cold (down to a little below 0F). They are warm, have better traction than my vivobarefoot breathos and are comfortable. I've also used them over heavy hiking boots and light trail runners and that also works well, but I'm not sure how cold you could take it with light trail runners. As others have said, for day hikes they're OK with VBL socks, but after a couple hours they're getting a bit damp. For all day or overnights, I'd say use VBL socks. Just as people did with Sorel boots, for overnights it's probably a good idea to carry a spare pair of felt liners in case the first set gets wet.

For consistently cold temps, mukluks such as would be excellent; most of these are breathable and NOT waterproof and good to well below zero but not so good at freezing and above. They're expensive so I haven't tried them yet.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: NEOS overshoes for snowshoeing. on 01/17/2013 12:43:41 MST Print View

A little more detail- super steep terrain.

On soft snow, when descending I can weight my heels as much or as little as I like and therefore either "stomp, stomp, stomp" down the hill or glide down.

On hard icy snow, the shoe doesn't sink in. You either rely on the snowshoe's crampon or take the snowshoes off and use conventional crampons. There is way more traction with crampons than you get walking on dry ground. You can walk straight down a very steep slope. With your foot parallel with the ground, that means there's a lot of force pushing your feet into the front of your shoes, and pushing the shoes to the front of the snowshoe or crampon binding.

So on hard, steep snow I have been much less happy using trail runners inside NEOS overshoes. My toes got jammed to the front and squeezed by the snowshoe binding. Switching to crampons the straps squeezed down on my foot and were uncomfortable. After trying that once coming down So-California's Mt. Baldy (4,000' of descent in about 3 miles), I don't wear runners when I might need crampons.

Using either mountaineering boots and gaiters, or hiking boots (with a pretty stiff leather toe box) inside the NEOS I didn't have this problem.

For the OP's question about hiking around the California Sierra Minarets, consider the terrain. If you keep to the moderate terrain of Mammoth Pass, Red's Meadow, up the JMT or River Trail route a soft boot or shoe will probably be fine. If you are going into more mountaineering type terrain then a stiffer boot might be in order.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: SnowShoe boots? on 01/17/2013 20:09:21 MST Print View

for cold weather (single digits & below) I have a pair of Merrell Thermo 6- a mid boot, they are waterproof, insulated (200 grams of thinsulate); they like the discontinued Keens are made for snowshoeing- ribbed on the heel to keep the strap from slipping, gaiter d ring on the front- fairly light for an insulated boot

I don't know how'd they fair on a multi-day outing (maybe heated water bottle inside @ night??), I think a boot w/ a removable liner would be best

however for the vast majority of snowshoeing I've gone w/ a system like Raquel mentioned- goretex lightweight mid, very thin merino liner and a thicker merino outer sock- I've been using the regular insoles, but have been looking at getting something insulated (hence my recent thread :) )