The Best Climbing Boots

Mountaineering or climbing boots must protect from the cold, wet and rugged mountain environments that attract alpinists and mountaineers. The boots must also provide hiking ability for the lower slopes, and a solid base for crampon use and more vertical ascent as the angle increases and temperatures drop. Durability is a primary concern; failure of footwear in conditions typical to alpinists and mountaineers would be catastrophic.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
LOWA Expedition 6000 EVO RD
91
Best in Class
2017
Fit 9
Durability 8
Comfort 9
Warmth 7
Precision 8

Dependable integrated gaiter zipper

Good heel support

Compatible with all styles of crampon fitment

The integrated gaiter prone to crampons to catching

The inner boot is slow to dry

The lace lock on the outer shell does not have enough grip

MSRP
$840.00
BEST DEAL
$839.95
La Sportiva Baruntse
88
Fit 8
Durability 7
Comfort 9
Warmth 9
Precision 7
Value 8

Synthetic double boot built for 6,000-7,000m peaks (Denali & Aconcagua)

Heat moldable inner boot for custom fit

Allows for agile footwork compared to traditional plastic boots

Compatible with all styles of crampon fitment (universal strap, automatic and semi-automatic)

Not as durable compared to double plastic boots

Does not have a built in gaiter

Not the best choice for technical mountaineering terrain (steep ice)

MSRP
N/A
BEST DEAL
$625.00
Lowa Weisshorn GTX
84
Fit 8
Weight 7
Comfort 9
Warmth 7
Precision 6
Value 7

Extremely comfortable for hiking and flat footing on steeper slopes

Gore-tex liner

Warmth

Three zone lacing system for custom adjustments

Not great on vertical ice

Lacks integrated gaiter

Split grain leather lacks durability

MSRP
$480.00
BEST DEAL
$489.95
Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO Boot – Men’s
84
Fit 8
Weight 7
Comfort 7
Warmth 7
Precision 5

Incredibly comfortable & flexible for walking

Gore-tex lined

Very precise lacing system

Not ideal on steeper mixed terrain

Lacing system allows for opening near cuff of boot

Less-tacky boot sole rubber

MSRP
$395.95
BEST DEAL
$315.96
Salewa Pro Gaiter
80
Warmth 8
Climbing Ability 7
Hiking Ability 6
Quality of Construction 7
Fit 6
Value 6

Integrated gaiter offers superior protection

Climbs technical terrain well

Hike mode is more flexible than most single mountain boots

Warmer than traditional single boots

Heavier than most competitors

Not as dexterous and nimble as some competitors

Walk/climb mode adjustment is difficult

Somewhat difficult to lace and adjust

MSRP
$600.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
LOWA Expedition 6000 EVO RD

Lowa’s Expedition 6000 EVO RD is well suited for climbing moderate to technical routes in cold weather like Alaska, Himalayas and Peru. But with an inner bootie that is slow to dry, this is not the boot to have on wet routes when ample drying time is not available.

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La Sportiva Baruntse

The La Sportiva Baruntse is well suited for climbing moderate routes in cold weather such as Denali’s West Buttress, Mt. Elbrus and early spring on Mt. Rainier. Thanks to near custom fit delivered by the heat-moldable inner boots, the La Sportiva Baruntse proved very comfortable, unlike many rigid climbing boots. The boot is priced appropriately for its performance in the 6-7,000m category.

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Lowa Weisshorn GTX

If you are looking for a boot than can handle anything the alpine world can throw at you, the Lowa Weisshorn GTX is a great all arounder. The boot may not be purpose built for vertical ice or overhanging dry tooling endeavors, but perfect for climbing Mt. Rainier, winter gullies in the Colorado or Canadian Rockies, or summer peaks across the Alps. 

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Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO Boot – Men’s

The Lowa Mountain Expert is a phenomenal all-around mountain boot. Capable of conquering anything from long-winter hikes to steep ice & mixed routes, this mountain boot is a great tool to have with you in the alpine. The Mountain Expert has a flexibility that may not make it the ideal candidate for truly overhanging objectives, but excels in an all-around comfort to performance ratio needed on most easy to moderate alpine objectives.

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What is a Mountaineering or Climbing Boot?

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Historically mountaineering or climbing boots were divided between “doubles” and “singles.” Double boots used a hard plastic outer shell and a separate insulating inner bootie—many having inner bootie options that offered different levels of insulation. Although these climbing boots are still in the market, brands have focused development on improving singles (boots without a removable inner bootie) and developing double boots that use a softer outer shell material. These singles and modern doubles offer less bulk and total weight while commonly providing an advantage in ankle flexibility and comfort.

The choice of mountain boots centers on specific demands of the proposed objectives. High altitude boots provide the most insulating value but are the bulkiest, heaviest, and most expensive. Some brands include an attached gaiter or overboot that further increases thermal value and resistance to water. This category of mountain boot is the most likely to have double boot construction. Such boots are typically destined for climbing at elevations above 20,000 feet. Insulating value, weight, bulk, and price fall from there as the boots are designed for lower altitude objectives and the less frigid environments.

Boot stiffness also changes along a scale; stiffer boots can perform better as the angle of the climb steepens. Typically, crampon frontpoint use, edging and jamming improve as the stiffness increases, but walking ability and hiking comfort often decrease. The stiffness of both the midsole and the upper contribute to these abilities, the combination of these factors lending a large part to the boot’s overall feel.

Crampon compatibility is also a concern when choosing mountain boots and some of this hinges on boot stiffness. Crampons customarily attach to boots in one of three ways: strap-on on type on both the toe and heel of the boot, semi-automatic/step-in hybrid (toe is strap-on, the heel is automatic/step-in) and fully automatic/step-in. The compatibility mostly depends on the availability of a lip at the toe and heel of the boot for crampon toe bails and heel levers. Sole stiffness is also an issue; crampons designed for general glacier travel are flexible and thus work best with relatively flexible soles. Crampons designed for mountaineering, alpine climbing, and ice climbing are semi-rigid and work best when combined with mountain boots that possess stiffer soles.

A handful of boots designed specifically for hard ice, mixed climbing, and dry tooling have also entered the marketplace. These boots are for these modes of climbing only; the crampons are usually directly bolted to a completely inflexible sole.

Climbing boots have made great strides that have resulted in lighter, less bulky and more nimble boots that remain warm and dry. Brands are still selling plastic double boots, but their development has slowed dramatically, and the advancements in material technology and construction methods have allowed single boots and double boots made of softer materials to maintain the insulative value and protection while improving other criteria.