How to Choose Good Mountain Boots

Now that the best season for mountain climbing in our country is about to begin, they always ask us how to choose good hiking boots and we believe that it is a very valid question since it is in our opinion the first and most important investment if we are going to start with this sport. So we give you the following tips.

 Exterior protections

It is the fastest to see in any boot and what we must pay close attention to. For example, check that the seams are reinforced, such as double stitching. This has to have a good appearance and if they also come with rubber on the toe or on the heel, check that it is not glued on, even sometimes you see the glue ... bad sign. It would not be the first time that the protections of a boot come off.

Many models have a tape on the back to pass the laces and thus offer greater support. It is also used to put the boot on more easily.

In addition, many boots have a reinforced rubber toe or even the entire bottom of the boot. This not only combats chafing but is also additional protection against water. This type of boots usually has a higher price and is usually carried by the highest quality boots. Be careful this sometimes increases the weight of the boot ...

The type of sole is essential

One of the essential factors when choosing good hiking boots is the sole. It must meet 3 fundamental factors: resistance, grip and comfort. If this rule is not followed, the boot will give us many problems

 Vibram: it is the reference in the market and probably the best sole we can find. Being an independent patent to the brand of boots, they have increased their price. It is our favorite sole and used by most shoe manufacturers. However in some boots I have noticed that on hard and wet floors, the grip is not desired. Ideally, the boot should have deeper lugs to offer greater grip.

  • Omni-Grip: Used by the Columbia brand to make your boots cheaper. It's not bad but I still prefer Vibram
  • Contagrip: sole used by Salomon and Adidas. The truth is that it works well, but for my taste a little hard, but very resistant.
  • Continental: mainly used in trail footwear mainly and as you may have imagined the material used is rubber from this brand of tires. There are few boots that make use of this sole. 

With the soles we will find different hardnesses. Soft, semi-hard and rigid. The last one is used in winter, the previous two generally in summer. Personally I use the semi-hard, since over time the boot tends to sag and with practice they are much safer than the soft ones. If you don't usually walk too much in the mountains, use a soft sole that is the most common in summer and autumn.

 The inside of the boot

 For starters, each boot / manufacturer model is different from each other, so be careful when shopping online. Knowing the number is not enough since the shape of your foot plays a fundamental role. Not all feet are the same width, so boots should always be tried on before buying. There are manufacturers that make boots for wide feet and others for narrower feet. Everything will depend on the model so we have no choice but to try and test.

Another detail to assess is the type of template used. Each manufacturer of hiking boots design their own insole and some even combat the appearance of fungi, bad odors, etc., but a very important factor is that it molds to the shape of our foot, which is not rigid. And by this I mean the insole and not the boot.

 Comfortable boots

Many stores have a board with stony ground in order to test the boot. Keep in mind that you should try both and generally buy them with half a number more than you usually use. With your current number you will probably feel comfortable on flat terrain or on hills, but during descents it is where you can have a serious problem. This arises when the foot moves a few millimeters forward on steep slopes, colliding the toes at the toe causing discomfort and blisters of course. Tip, put on your boots and kick your foot across the floor. If your fingers excessively collide with the tip, that's not your number.

 Water is your worst enemy

 An essential element in any mountain boot is the membrane that prevents our feet from getting wet and in turn perspiring as much as possible. The latter is more complicated, since the socks we wear play a fundamental role in perspiration.

 These types of membranes have achieved excellent waterproofing. And how can we manage to repel water and at the same time expel our moisture? Well, if we could pass a microscope through one of these membranes, we would see that they have very small pores, so small that a drop of water is not capable of piercing them, but in turn so large that the water vapor generated by our body can go out.

Many shoe manufacturers make their own membrane with the aim of reducing the price of their boots, as we have seen on the soles. The problem comes that its resources are not exclusively for R&D in waterproof and breathable membranes, so the end result is not as good as that of companies that are exclusively dedicated to it, such as the chemical company Gore. However, they work relatively well and for not too rough use they can work perfectly for us. 

Within the type of membranes we have a good group to choose as: 

  • Gore-Tex: he most used and recommended. However the boots that carry this membrane pay Gore for its use, which will be reflected in the price of the boot. It is our favorite membrane and used by most shoe manufacturers.
  • OutDry: membrane of Italian origin purchased by Columbia / Mountain Hardwear with the aim of replacing Gore-Tex in their footwear. This membrane became famous by equipping the winning team of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008, but personally Columbia and its large conglomerate of brands seem to us brands one step below compared to the rest.
  • Dri-Tec: used by Hi-Tec, usually of low quality.
  • Dry-Line: used by Boreal..
  • M Select Dry: used by Merrell to lower the costs of Goretex.  

Thermal insulation or not

The great dilemma of cold feet. Really for a summer boot it is not a problem, in fact almost none has it. This is mainly used in winter boots, since in the summer we can use socks that meet this requirement. If you really have cold feet, buy yourself some primaloft socks, keeping in mind that your feet will really warm up.

What type of socks do I wear?

Like boots, socks are another world. There are many types and prices of course but at first glance they all seem the same. Ideally, look for socks with as few seams as possible, to avoid friction and the possible appearance of blisters. Later if the toe and heel are reinforced and padded, this will improve comfort, but check beforehand that they are highly breathable.

For intense cold PrimaLoft is becoming fashionable. A synthetic fabric that is very close to the heat that feathers give, but with the advantage that its price and ease of maintenance have. It is also possible to find PolarTec socks, but both Primaloft and the latter are only recommended on very very cold days.

The blistering blisters

Companion of fatigue to all those who like to walk in vacation periods. There are products that act as a "second" skin to help the blister heal and keep it from rubbing on the footwear. An example is Compeed, known worldwide for women who wear new high-heeled shoes.

For MacGyvers we will always have the old pin and thread trick. Simply go through the ampoule and leave a thread from start to finish in order to drain it. Once dry we can easily remove the thread.

Differences between winter and summer boots

First of all, comment that there are several types of Winter Boots, mainly Leather or plastic.

In Mexico, no mountain requires a plastic boot, at least not on normal routes.

When it comes to differentiating winter boots from summer boots, we have to highlight the following differences:

1) Hardness of the boot: we have mainly 3 types, the soft ones that come to be the most common in summer boots, the semi-rigid ones, used in both winter and summer boots and the rigid ones, used only in winter boots. As its name indicates, a rigid boot prevents it from bending, facilitating climbing on steeper slopes and avoiding slipping. Imagine climbing a 50% slope with crampons and that they double for wearing soft boots…. a disaster.

2) Weight: Generally a winter boot weighs 20% more than a summer boot. The insulation of this and a stiffer sole leads to this weight gain.

3) Automatic or semi-automatic crampons. This will be based on the type of sole. The semi-rigid ones usually allow semi-automatic crampons and the rigid ones, both types. Not surprisingly, strap crampons are compatible with all types of soles.

If we generally walk in the summer and casually in the winter, a few strap crampons will suffice to walk the marked trails.

4) Thermal insulation: this value is not always present in a winter boot and this is mainly due to reducing its weight. If we are not going to be in extreme places, with good polar-tec or PrimaLoft socks we can overcome this limitation. In some cases, the insulation is covered by a boot inner sock.


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