Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022

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Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022

Before you can follow the urge to go stomping up into the alpine, you need to think about your feet. Snowy or dry, big mountains are tough on your shoes.

In most cases, your standard hiking boots won’t handle the wear and tear of extended use on rocks, snow, and ice. To me, that makes mountaineering boots one of the most crucial pieces of gear in your rack.

So what boots should you choose when preparing for a big trip in the mountains? In this guide, I’ll give you the ins and outs of what to look for, along with the top ten mountaineering boots on the market in 2022. Let’s get into it!

Our Review Process

Over the last two-ish decades, I’ve had my fair share of escapades in the mountains. Between climbing and skiing the Wasatch of Utah to tromping through the glaciated volcanoes of the Cascades, I’ve seen a lot. I know what it takes to complete an ascent, and how to prepare for big adventures.

With that in mind, I set my feelers out to see what’s new in mountaineering boot design and technology. After thoroughly researching everything available on the market, I weighed pros and cons to find the best boots in each category. Here are the results.

My Top 3 - Preview

What Are Mountaineering Boots?

When you head into the high alpine, bringing your old tennis shoes could get you in trouble. If you want to go mountaineering, you need a mountaineering boot. But what does that even mean?

Mountaineering boots take a lot of different shapes because they do a lot of different things. But all mountaineering boots have a few things in common.

First, they’re built to be tough as nails. All mountaineering boots need to be both durable and waterproof. When you’re traversing steep terrain in the alpine, your boots are taking a beating from rocks, ice, snow, and even your own crampons.

Second, they’re very stiff. This is so you can balance your whole weight over a small surface area on rocks and ice. It also allows you to kick steps into snow to climb steep snow-covered slopes.

Last, they have to be able to integrate with crampons. Most mountaineering boots have “welts,” or small plastic lips, that crampons can clip to.

If a pair of boots can’t do these three things, it won’t be able to do everything you need in the mountains.

Mountain Boot Reviews – Full List

Scarpa Phantom Tech

Best Overall Mountaineering Boots

My winner
Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022 - Scarpa Phantom Tech
Pros

Warm

Waterproof

Lightweight

Good gaiters

Points for technical ascents

Cons

Spendy

“Scarpa” is Italian for footwear excellence. The Phantom Tech excels in every category. They’re warm and about as waterproof as it gets. They incorporate a zippered gaiter over the laces which locks in heat and keeps out moisture, a big plus for long distance missions. At 875 g, they’re a winner in terms of weight, too. This makes them a wildly popular boot.

As far as technical performance is concerned, the Phantom Tech are very stiff boots, a plus for snow and mixed ascents. They also feature heel and toe welts, making them compatible with automatic and semi-automatic crampons.  The only real setback here is the cost.

Scarpa Phantom Tech

La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme

Best Value Mountaineering Boots

My winner
Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022 - La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme
Pros

Great value

Warm

Light

Automatic crampon compatible

Cons

No gaiters

Shanks not as durable as leather

If you’re just getting into mountaineering and want a lot of value for your dollar, go La Sportiva. Tower Extreme performs well on rocky and mixed conditions. It’s a good entry point for new mountaineers looking to push into harsh, steep terrain and conditions.

They’re warm, light, and feature toe and heel welts for crampon compatibility. For all your basic objectives, this boot will more than get the job done.

However, the Trango Tower Extreme isn’t what you should pick for multi-day ascents. The synthetic material reduces durability and lack of a gaiter will limit how long you can be out in them.

La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme

Arc’Teryx Acrux AR

Best Mountaineering Boots for Men

My winner
Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022 - Arc’Teryx Acrux AR
Pros

Removable liners for warmth

Waterproof

Sturdy

Cons

A little too flexible

Very pricey

A runner-up for best all-around boot, the Arc’teryx Acrux AR is sleek and functional. It features a full gaiter, like the Phantom, as well as a removable lining. This earns it some extra points for climbing in cold weather conditions. They’re incredibly waterproof, which is a must if you’re on snow or ice for a long time. This is a popular boot among fans of mixed ascents.

There are two drawbacks to this boot. Despite being compatible with automatic crampons, the Acrux AR is a little too flexible for really strong climbing performance. In addition, the cost can be prohibitive for many new mountaineers. Given all the positive features, these are minor issues.

Arc’Teryx Acrux AR

Mammut Kento High GTX

Best Mountaineering Boots for Women

My winner
Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022 - Mammut Kento High GTX
Pros

Good value

Comfort

Lightweight


Cons

No gaiters

No toe welts

For womens’ mountaineering boots, the Mammut Kento High GTX is a clear winner. It’s comfortable, lightweight, and built with a Gore-tex membrane for waterproofing. Vibram soles perform well on rock and dirt, and the heel welt allows for semi-automatic crampon use. It’s a good all-rounder that won’t break the bank.

The downsides are the lack of technical features. The Kento High GTX won’t work with automatic crampons, and it lacks a gaiter. This makes it less of a good choice for ice climbs and winter ascents. But if you’re looking for a strong three-season boot, the Kento High GTX can handle just about anything.

Mammut Kento High GTX

Asolo Alta Via GV Mountaineering Boot

Best Durable Mountaineering Boots

My winner
Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022 - Asolo Alta Via GV Mountaineering Boot
Pros

Durability

Good all-around sole stiffness

Cons

Not especially warm

Perfectly balancing lightweight construction with superior durability, the Asolo Alta Via is a rock solid durable boot. They’re designed with high rubber rands that withstand abrasion and crampon spikes. The soles are stiff enough to perform well on rock and mixed conditions, without slowing you down on the approach. Best of all, they’ll last you a while.

On the flipside, they’re not especially warm. This can be counteracted by spending a little more on socks, but it’s something to take into account if you live in the Rockies or have dreams of climbing in Alaska or the Himalayas.

Asolo Alta Via GV Mountaineering Boot

Asolo Freney Mid GV

Best Comfortable Mountaineering Boots

My winner
Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022 - Asolo Freney Mid GV
Pros

Comfortable boots

Glexible soles for hiking

Ankle support

Cons

No toe welts

No gaiters

Less technical performance

The Asolo Freney Mid GV mountaineering boots are as suited to hiking as they are to technical ascents on rock and snow. The soles aren’t too stiff to hike on dirt, which will help on high mileage days. The fit and ankle support are both great. Overall, they get the gold for Most Comfortable Boots. They’re also made with Gore-tex for waterproofing.

However, hiking comfort comes at the cost of some features. The Freney Mid GV features only a heel welt, meaning you’ll have to use semi-automatic crampons. These aren’t the boots you’ll want to take for technical ice and mixed climbing.

Asolo Freney Mid GV

Scarpa Ribelle Tech 2.0 HD

Best 3-season Mountaineering Boots

My winner
Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022 - Scarpa Ribelle Tech 2.0 HD
Pros

Very light

Partial gaiter

Waterproofing

Cons

Won’t handle winter conditions

The Scarpa Ribelle Tech HD was made to defy classification. It’s a hybrid between a heavy duty trail runner and a technical mountaineering boot. This mountaineering boot is ultralight, with a built-in gaiter and lace covering for extra waterproofing. That’s a must if you’re doing long days on melty snow. For snow, rock, and trail performance, this boot is king.

The downside is that it’s a mountaineering boot specialized for one job. It won’t perform quite as well on ice, and probably isn’t sufficient for winter ascents. You can’t always win them all.

Scarpa Ribelle Tech 2.0 HD

Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX

Best Summer Mountaineering Boots

My winner
Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022 - Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX
Pros

Comfort

Lightweight

Durability

Scrambling and climbing performance


Cons

No toe welts

A little stiff for long trail approaches

You don’t need to break the bank on a pair of mountaineering boots if you’re only getting out during the warm months. You need durability and good scrambling performance, but insulation and full automatic crampon support aren’t required. If you can also get lightweight, that’s a bonus.

Enter the Scarpa Zodiac. It performs like a heavy duty approach shoe, with a leather upper for superior durability. In addition, the heel welt provides semi-automatic crampon compatibility for snow ascents. It’s also the lightest boot on this list.

However, it’s a little stiff for long trail hikes. Adding an insole might be smart if you’ve got lots of mileage to cover.

Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX

La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX

Best Ice Climbing Mountaineering Boots

My winner
Top 9 Mountaineering Boots 2022 - La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX
Pros

Durable

Warm

Waterproof

Stiff

Cons

Heavy

When you’re on vertical ice, you’re counting on balancing your whole weight over the points of your crampons. You need a super supportive boot with toe and heel welts. And in case you accidentally kick yourself, durable leather is the preferred material. The La Sportiva Nepal Cube fits this description perfectly. They also resist water and trap heat well, which is a must for long ice climbs.

But there is one drawback here, namely weight. The Nepal Cube is one of the heaviest pairs of mountaineering boots on the market. But if ice performance is a must, it’s hard to avoid adding some extra weight.

La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX

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Tips For Picking The Right Mountaineering Boots

Let’s flesh out some of the criteria we look at when grading a pair of mountaineering boots. Not every boot does every job, and different routes require different boots. In general, mountaineering boots are divided into 3-season, 4-season, and high elevation boots.

3-season Boots

3-season mountaineering boots are designed to tackle a mix of dirt, rock, and snow. You may get into some steep snow and ice climbing with them, but for the most part you won’t be using them with crampons. 3-season boots typically have “softer” soles and designs emphasize breathability, durability, and lightweight construction.

4-season Boots

4-season boots need to be able to handle extreme cold for extended periods, so they crank warmth and waterproofing to 11. They’re also designed with ice climbing in mind, so most boots have both toe and heel welts for automatic crampons. These are extra stiff boots for kicking steps in snow and ice, so they won’t be the most comfortable boots for summertime hiking.

High Elevation Boots

When we say “high elevation,” we mean really high elevation - think Aconcagua or Mount Everest.

These are 4-season boots on steroids. High elevation boots feature extra high gaiters for warmth, thick and durable waterproofing, and removable liners. They don’t flex at all since you’ll never be hiking on dirt with them.

What Makes A Good Mountaineering Boot?

Mountaineering boots have just as many features as any other piece of gear. So how do these features translate to how the boots are made? Things to note are the:

Outer Materials

The main two options here are leather or synthetic. Synthetic materials save weight but aren’t as durable as leather. They’re more common on 3-season boots. 4-season boots often integrate a leather shank with a synthetic gaiter for more waterproofing and warmth.

Weight

Obviously we’re always trying to carry less. But a little heft can help you kick into ice, or kick steps in snow. Sometimes weight is just how you pay the piper for warmth and durability.

Insulation

Insulation adds weight, plain and simple. Summer boots will use lighter, thinner membranes to keep your feet cool. Winter boots often use removable liners, like ski boots, to maximize warmth.

Lacing Systems

Your laces allow you to tailor the fit of your boots. And you definitely don’t want them coming loose during a sketchy downclimb. If reviews cite a clunky lacing system, that’s a red flag. Some boots integrate Boa laces, which are simple to tighten, but don’t let you tweak the fit as much as traditional laces.

Crampon Compatibility

The way your crampons integrate with your boots is crucial. The best models use toe and heel welts (little plastic lips similar to those on ski boots) to clip on automatic crampons.

If you don’t plan on using crampons as much, having just heel welts is sufficient for semi-automatic crampons. Having welts is generally better than not, if you can afford it.

What Do Mountaineering Boots Cost?

For something you can count on, you should expect to pay at least $300 for a 3-season boot. Some may shy away from this figure, but if you find yourself in the alpine in adverse conditions, you’ll be glad to have something that can handle it.

4-season boots usually range from $400-800. High elevation mountaineering boots can cost more than $1,000 per pair.

Summary

Our overall winner here is the Scarpa Phantom Tech. If you have the budget for it, it’s the champ for overall performance. For new mountaineers with tight budgets, the Sportiva Trango Tower Tech is the best option. For women, the Mammut Kento High GTX is a standout boot.

Common questions

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I consider myself a citizen of the West. Currently residing in my hometown, Salt Lake City, Utah. Between my career as a wildlife biologist and my many outdoor hobbies (mountaineering, skiing, backpacking, climbing, canyoneering, caving), I’ve seen just about every nook and cranny of the Wild, Weird West.

*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.

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