13 responses

  1. Michael Blair
    November 8, 2012

    Thanks Phillip.

  2. Earlylite
    November 8, 2012

    I think this is a great intro on the topic Michael, especially because it includes your own experience. I’ve also had excellent results with the Garmont Momentum series and think they are very warm/waterproof boots that are good for non-technical hikes and bushwhacks. They can be awful hot though – which is by design – so don’t try to wear them if the temp is above freezing.

    On the topic of overnight boots, I’d encourage newcomers to weigh your boots or boot candidates. There is a huge difference between walking in a pair of 5 pound boots and a pair of 3 pounds boots, especially if you are a woman. Michael is a big guy who is built like a hockey player and can wear or carry just about anything he wants. Lifting your quads with a heavy boot for 10+ hours is very fatiguing.

    Finally, for the benefit of your fellow hikers, make sure you take practice hikes – think of them as dress rehearsals – where you put on and take off all of your footware and traction devices before you go one a group hike. This includes your boots, gaiters, microspikes, crampons, and snowshoes. Don’t assume they’ll fit together out of the box and get good at putting them on and taking them off quickly. People don’t like to stand around in very cold weather waiting for other hikers to try their crampons on for the first time. Considered very bad form.

    Finally, if your looking for a great overnight boot with liner, check out the Scarpa Omega. They are very light, warm step-in crampon compatible mountaineering boots.

  3. Tom Murphy
    November 8, 2012

    Great article, I especially like the paragraph explaining that the different boots are needed for different winter trips.

    For day trips into the woods and lower summits, I love these.


    My overnight trips are below treeline and I turn back on any trails that require crampons & an axe. With those qualifications, I have had very good results using a pac boot from BAFFIN. Mine are most similar to this year’s model.


    Your liner socks, VBL, outer sock, boots, gaiters, and various traction devices all need to work together as a system.

    <3 Winter is coming, even if I need to head to northern Maine to find it <3

  4. mazzachusetts
    November 9, 2012

    Great info and perfect timing as I’m in the market. Would love to see a post like this on Winter day/overnight packs as well. As always you guys are a wealth of helpful information!

    • Earlylite
      November 9, 2012

      Lots of different opinions on that one too, but an excellent question. Let me see what we can pull together!

    • Tom Murphy
      November 9, 2012


      I have a day pack [Osprey Kestrel 48] You definitely need a way to lash your snowshoes to the outside. The Kestrel makes that very easy.

      My overnight pack [Kelty external 5500] allows me to fit all the bulky winter gear.

      On multi night trips in the woods, I drag a pulk behind me and base camp.

      bring a good friend or a good book, cause winter nights can be long….



      • Michael Blair
        November 10, 2012

        I received a question from a member of my group about this very question – here is my reply.

        You will need a bigger bag for the winter than you do in summer because you will be carrying a lot more clothing and gear. How much bigger, that all depends – here’s my set-up …

        In the summer I use an Osprey Stratos 36 L pack that I only fill about 75%. I like having the extra capacity if I need it but rarely use it. In the winter I have two bags – both are Osprey Variants. One is 37 L and the other is 52 L. They are designed for winter climbing and have space in a rear pocket for crampons and extra lashing points on the outside to attach snowshoes and other tools like an ice axe or some wands.

        There are also loops on the waist belt (instead of little pockets) where I can hang my water and a small nalgene filled with snacks (cheese its are what I am eating right now). This keeps them handy so I can easily drink and snack while I keep moving.

        I use the smaller one most of the time and fill it with extra layers – I tend to hike “hot” so I’m often in just wearing lightweight long underwear, pair of hiking shorts, and a short sleeve tee shirt. I may also wear a vest and a pair of removable fleece sleeves that are used by bikers (http://www.rei.com/product/837215/pearl-izumi-elite-thermal-arm-warmers). This gives me a lot of flexibility but that means I also need to carry enough stuff in my pack to stay warm if I have to stop for a long time.

        In my bag are the thing I use to stay warm during breaks (i.e. puffy jacket, hat, mittens, etc.) and for longer periods (i.e warmer pants) along with the other regular and emergency stuff that I bring with me for me and the group. I am ofetn leading group hikes so I also have to carry extra stuff like a larger first aid kit and I usually have a small stove. I think my girlfriend Monica has a 30 Liter Osprey Kestral. I know it’s a Kestral but not exact on the size but 30 L will likely suffice for day trips.

  5. Shawn A
    November 9, 2012

    What I find sufficient for our climate is a good mid-height gortex boot with wool socks. I don’t hike above tree line ever since we do not have mountains here. The coldest days I go out are around 0 degrees F, I try to avoid outings when the weather is projected to be lower than -10 which happens a handful of times here in southern WI. As long as you aren’t going above treeline or wearing crampons my Gortex mids with a wool sock are more than sufficient. I get by with just a wool liner sock, but anyone who gets colder feet can just upgrade to a thicker sock. This system works well with my snowshoes as well. That is the only traction device I have needed around here. Great article thanks for the advise if I plan on hiking in the NE.

  6. Moondoggy
    November 10, 2012

    Im curious ,I’ve just used one pair of boots year round ind never had any problems but I have yet to have had to hike for any amount of time in snow in them! I se Vasque Rangers and have had them down to nine degrees! I will be doing 65 miles of the Shenandoa in March this year and I’m curious if you think they will still be my best bet ?

    • Earlylite
      December 4, 2012

      If you are backpacking you need to use vapor barrier sock or get removable liners that you can sleep with in your sleeping bag to dry them out at night. Wet boots (each foot sweats 8 oz o liquid per day) freeze at night. This is hazardous – think frostbite – as well as uncomfortable.

  7. Michael Blair
    November 27, 2013

    Send Spyro this article, I have also purchased a pair of Koflach Degre plastic boots and I got to use them a few times last winter. They were definitely warm enough (warmer than the La Sportiva Nepal Evos) but I wasn’t overly excited about the fit or feel. No matter how hard I tried, I was never able to replicate that “boot-like” feel that I liked with the La Sportiva’s.

    While I wrote this article strictly from personal experience, there were a number of people who told me that they had fantastic experiences using the Solomon Toundra winter boots. I am still very happy with the Keen Summit County winter boots that I wear most of the time, I may pick up a pair of these Solomon boots this year to give them a try. I think my Keen boots have lost their waterproofing and the Solomon boots seem to be a little more waterproof.

  8. Kendra the Hiker
    January 11, 2014

    Just found these on Amazon at a cheaper price and here’s the list of hiking boots that qualify for free shipping: http://amzn.to/KTSdkq – pretty good deal.

    • Philip Werner
      January 13, 2014

      There’s a big difference between a waterproof boot and a winter boot. I’d ignore most of the boots shown here. They’re not insulated.

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