High quality mountaineering boots are expensive, and thus, hard to find. My local REI, Hudson Trail Outfitters, and other assorted local stores sell a cacophony of hiking boots, approach/trail shoes, ski boots, etc. But, no serious mountaineering boots. This isn’t terribly surprising: at $300-$500 average cost, they wouldn’t be flying off the shelves at the store. Thus stocking them in-store would probably be a waste of money.
The gear list from Northwest Mountain Sports is detailed enough in that it provides what one might call “recommendations” for many of the items. For example, for boots, it suggests the La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX boot.
This is not quite La Sportiva’s top of the line, but it’s relatively close. It’s expensive (subjective, of course) at roughly $375-$475 (depending on the retailer). But these boots get seriously good reviews from every website that I’ve checked (REI, SummitPost, MooseJaw, Amazon, Hudson Trail, EMS, Backcountryetc). The ratio is nearly 20 to 1 (good reviews to bad reviews). So, what’s not to like? They get great reviews, and they come recommended. The issue, though, is that they aren’t the only option. In fact, another boot that is pretty close (if not equal) is the Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX.
The Mont Blancs get good reviews as well, but not nearly as many (the ratio is about equal, just a smaller number of total reviews). Maybe that’s because fewer people have purchased them, or the people who have purchased them aren’t inclined to provide reviews? It’s hard to tell.
This gets harder because I can’t really try either one on…since no one sells it locally. Plus, this is the first time I have ever purchased a boot like this, so I am not a sizing expert. The only logical option is to order both, in different sizes, from an on-line retailer and then try them on at home, returning the ones that I don’t like or don’t fit. This seems like a decent plan, but it’s far from ideal.
Then what? The climb isn’t for another 8 months…but of course I want to break the boots in long before I get on a plane to Seattle. So once I get and pick the boots, it’s time to walk and hike in them as much as possible to get everything broken in and happy before the big show.
So which way do I go? Anyone got suggestions (they are very welcome here)? The Spotivas are recommended by the guide (though they even made it clear that there are other alternatives that are equally good). I like Scarpa (my rock climbing shoes are Scarpa) and aesthetically I prefer the Scarpas. Price wise, the Scarpas are a tad less expensive, but by a practically negligible amount. Just because it should be harder, I also took a look at the Mammut Mamook Thermo boot, or their Fire. Both boots look nice, and seem to somewhat compare to the above…..
This looks to be the most expensive (and arguably most important) piece of gear I’m going to buy. I’d like to not screw it up.