Climbing big mountains throws up many different problems. Keeping your feet warm and comfortable seems like a small task on a normal day outdoors. But high altitudes and inclement weather can make it a challenge.
Normal hiking shoes can’t handle rough terrain or bad weather conditions very well. That’s where mountaineering shoes come into the picture. They are tough, durable and have proper insulation to protect you from the cold.
In this guide, I’ll review ten of the best mountaineering boots for women. I'll also tell you what features to look for, so you can select the perfect pair for your high-altitude adventures.
My Review Process
When I got into mountaineering, my first foray into this world was with a pair of white plastic Scarpa boots. When I came back from the expedition, I knew I needed better boots.
I did a lot of research on the features I like to see in mountaineering boots. Warmth, fit, rigidity, and weight are the most important factors that I check before buying a new pair.
Now that we have an idea of what to look for, let’s dive into my top picks.
The Nepal Cube Gtx Women’s boot has a full shank which makes it well-suited to technical climbs. It has toe and heel welts for crampon compatibility and a lacing system that makes it easy to dial in the tightness and fit. It also features a rubber toe that lets you climb easy rock patches.
The Nepal Cube Gtx has a Gore-Tex lining that is waterproof and traps heat well, keeping your toes comfortingly warm. In addition to great ankle protection, it also has a gusseted tongue and removable tongue insert to customize the fit to your liking. Also, I like that the Nepal Cube is specifically designed for women.
These boots are on the pricier end though, and one of the heaviest boots I’ve reviewed. But when you need to perform well on technical ice, the Nepal Cube GTX is my choice for the best all-around mountaineering boot for women.
The Kento Pro High GTX is a technical boot from Mammut with a super lightweight rubber sole. It is specially designed by Vibram and Mammut with a focus on grip and performance. The boot also has a Gore-Tex lining to protect it from water.
The Kento is lined with 3D Memo Foam that feels very comfortable around the feet even when walking over rocky or snowy terrain. It also has a flexible inside that offers good ankle support. The Kento Pro High GTX is one of the few boots that have a narrow toe box and a roomy heel. It has a heel welt, which allows for semi-automatic crampons.
I find the lace closure system quite basic and time-consuming, given the environment. The boots also lack gaiters, which would have provided better protection from the cold and snow. But for a strong lightweight mountaineering boot for women, the Mammut Kento Pro High is a winner.
La Sportiva’s Trango Tech GTX Women’s is a streamlined, jack-of-all boot that impressed me with its features. It’s lightweight and performs well on hiking trails, as well as in moderately rocky or snowy areas.
This mountaineering boot has a sticky sole that gives good traction and allows for some low-grade climbing. The Trango Tech GTX is also compatible with a strap-on crampon in case you need to navigate over ice.
Most boots offer two of these three things: weight, durability, or price. The Trango Tech GTX is made from lightweight materials, but this comes at the cost of durability. It shows signs of abrasion after a few days in the mountains.
I also find the Trango Tech a little too flexible for serious alpine pursuits. Still, if you’re looking for a boot that bridges the gap between hiking and mountaineering, the Trango Tech GTX is the boot for you.
The Scarpa Phantom Tech’s stiff sole and crampon-compatible heel and toe-welts are perfect for mixed climbing. This boot is popular among seasoned mountaineers for good reason. It´s lightweight, built for precision, and the single boot does a smashing job of keeping your feet warm like a double boot.
Scarpa’s HDry membrane and a watertight zipper keep your feet perfectly dry, even when the ice starts dripping mid-climb.
The only real question here is the cost, but it’s worth paying more for a boot that offers excellent warmth, precision, and durability. The Scarpa Phantom Tech is an extremely well-made unisex mountaineering boot meant for technical ice climbing.
Arc'teryx is known for the superior quality of its products and that rings true for the Acrux LT GTX. The Acrux LT GTX is a well-designed, single-layer boot that's lightweight and versatile.
Equipped with a grippy Vibram Mont rubber sole and a stiff carbon-plated sole, this alpine boot navigates trails with precision and efficiency on snow as well as over rocks.
While the Acrux LT is a unisex boot, the fit is narrower than other boots and adapts well to most women’s feet.
The Acrux LT might be a bit too rigid for approach hikes, but that’s a small drawback for a boot of this caliber. The Arc’teryx Acrux LT GTX shines as the best three-season mountaineering boot for women.
The Elbrus has a comfortable interior and a softshell upper that keeps you going on the trail without restricting your foot. The shank is stiff enough for clambering over rocks. The Elbrus is also compatible with C1 and C2 crampons if there is a chance of ice or snow on the trail.
The Elbrus GV is not warm enough for colder temperatures and is not waterproof. However, the boot is comfortable for summer mountaineering and performs well in good weather. That’s why it’s my choice for the best women’s summer mountaineering boot.
La Sportiva G2 Evo is the mountaineering boot you splurge on when you decide to do some serious peak-bagging. The G2 is a double boot with a removable liner. The insulation is top-notch and keeps your feet warm even in a snowstorm. The high gaiter offers a nice layer of protection from the cold and wind.
This is a lightweight, waterproof boot with a Cordura shell that is super durable. The intuitive dual BOA lacing system is easy-to-use, even on the go. The carbon insole guarantees stiffness and lets it perform well in cold, rocky, icy, and high-altitude environments.
The only drawback here is the cost. Serious alpinists will not have a problem with it, but intermediate and novice mountaineers might look for other options like the Trango Tech GTX reviewed above.
Finding mountaineering boots that fit wide feet is a task that Scarpa has solved perfectly. The Mont Blanc Pro Gtx features a roomy toe box and a wider fit.
This Mont Blanc mountaineering boot features a waterproof leather upper, a Gore-tex lining, and toe- and heel-welts for automatic crampons. It is a great all-rounder boot for alpine ascents in lower elevations and light technical climbing.
The insulation of the Mont Blanc Pro Gtx Wmn is a little lacking. But they are an ideal alternative to the Nepal Cube GTX, especially if you have wide feet and want a more affordable price.
The La Sportiva Spantik is a unisex boot that runs narrower than others and lends itself to women’s narrow feet very well. The sole is rigid enough for technical climbing but also supple enough for approach hikes.
The Spantik has a water-repellent, synthetic outer boot. It´s not waterproof but has a removable inner boot that you can keep dry inside your tent. The double layer makes sure your feet are nice and toasty inside.
This unisex mountaineering boot has the simplest lacing system that´s easy to adjust even with gloves on.
The Spantik doesn’t seem to be very durable when used for longer periods. Some women might also feel a slight heel lift when walking with this pair of boots. Despite these drawbacks, this La Sportiva boot has been popular with serious alpinists for about a decade. It’s my choice for the best women’s mountaineering boot for narrow feet.
Mountaineering Boots vs Hiking Boots
Even though mountaineering boots and hiking boots look similar, they are very different!
Mountaineering boots are made to be used in steep, icy, and rocky alpine environments over long durations. This type of boot needs to be tough and durable to withstand the wear and tear you put them through on your expeditions. They are generally a lot stiffer than hiking boots and help you move with ease on steep ice sections. Mountaineering boots have a high top and usually rise above the ankles to give more support and stability.
Hiking boots protect your ankles over longer distances and easier terrain. They cannot be used for climbing or technical routes. Crampons are also not compatible with most hiking boots.
What Are The Best Mountaineering Boot Brands?
There are over 300 models of mountaineering boots in the world. But just 41 brands make these boots, including some independent manufacturers.
Amongst these, most mountaineers only know and use gear from about 8 to 10 brands including:
- La Sportiva
These brands come out with new and improved boots every few years.
Most mountaineering boots are unisex. However, there are a few brands that make women-specific boots. About 20% of all mountaineering boots are made for women.
How Should Mountaineering Boots Fit
On a mountaineering expedition, your boots are the most important piece of gear for mountaineering. You want boots that are durable and trustworthy but also fit properly.
When you’re buying a new boot for the alpine, make sure your feet fit snugly inside the boot, even with a thick pair of socks.
The boots should not be too tight or too loose. Feet swell at high altitudes and in cold climates. Mountaineering boots can become downright uncomfortable if they fit too tight. But, if the fit is too loose, you risk losing precious warmth and dexterity.
Different brands also fit differently. For example, Scarpa has a wide toe box and a roomy fit that is comfortable for wider feet. La Sportiva and Arc'teryx have a slimmer fit and a narrow toe box that makes them a great choice for women with narrow feet.
Each mountaineering boot has a slightly different fit, even at the same size. Try moving up or down a size to get a better fit.
My overall winner here is the La Sportiva Nepal Cube Gtx. For women alpinists on a budget, the La Sportiva Trango Tech Gtx Women is the best option. For women who have difficulty finding a solid mountaineering boot for wide feet, nothing is better than the Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro Gtx Wmn.
*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.