I have been looking long and hard at lightweight alternatives to heavy mountaineering boots this winter, for lower elevation day hikes. It’s not that I dislike my plastic Scarpa Omega boots, but after hiking in trail runners all year, I’ve found that I can hike at a much faster pace when I’m not wearing a heavy boot.
My initial experiments with lighter weight winter footwear centered around insulating trail runners for winter use, but that proved challenging. While people have devised elaborate systems to use them in winter using overboots, gaiters, and insulating socks, it’s a complicated thermoregulation problem and may not be suitable for all terrain and climates. Being safety conscious, I decided to back off and find a lightweight insulated hiking boot instead.
While there are a lot of insulated and waterproof hiking boots available to choose from, I was immediately attracted to the Garmont Snow Momentum GTX.
What attracted me to the lighter weight Momentums is that they are rated down to -35 degrees (F). I hate having cold feet, so when REI put them on sale at $99/pair, marked down from $139, I snagged three pairs so I could dial in the perfect fit and return the other two pairs. They fit true to size, and I ended up keeping the Men’s 10.5 (US), which I wear with a liner and a medium weight wool sock.
Since then, I’ve used them often for winter hikes near my house and up in the mountains. In addition to being very warm, they are also quite lightweight, weighing only 23.5 oz each or 47 oz for the pair, almost half the weight of my Scarpas. That said, they’re really intended for very different terrain and purposes: they don’t have a removable liner for overnights or a rigid sole for serious crampon work.
Fitwise, they run a little higher than most leather hiking boots coming up to the low calf, but not high enough to remove the need for gaiters in deep snow. The fit takes a while to get used to, but it’s not uncomfortable because they’re not stiff like a leather boot and they have a very soft padded tongue.
Despite being comfortable, these boots are outfitted for tough maneuvers. They have very aggressive lugs reminiscent of truck snow tires, a waterproof gore-tex liner, and a rubber outsole for extra protection and stiffness. While the boot sole is fairly rigid for a lightweight boot, I wouldn’t recommend using a strap-on steel crampon with them because I feel the boots are still a bit too soft. Instead, I pair the Momentums with an ultralight Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro which has anti-balling plates and is compatible with a less rigid sole. The combination is bomber.
The one caveat I have with these boots is that they are too warm to wear in more moderate weather, above freezing. They’re great for very cold weather, but their Gore-tex liner and 400g thinsulate insulation make then too hot to wear in warmer weather. Otherwise, these are keepers.
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