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- UPPER: Durable mountaineering split leather.
- LINING: Waterproof GORE-TEX® with Primaloft® insulation.
- MIDSOLE: PU Expert.
- OUTSOLE: Vibram® Teton, with full-length TPU stabilizing plate for rigidity to secure crampons.
- FOOTBED: Insulate Pro alu-coated with fleece.
- SHANK: 6mm nylon/8mm TPU for total support underfoot.
- CLIMATE CONTROL SYSTEM: Perforations in the boot's lining allows air to enter, pumping heat and moisture back out.
- TONGUE STUD/X-LACING: Patent pending tongue stud allows for better pressure distribution.
- C4 TONGUE: Anatomically contoured to cradle the foot in comfort.
- 3D FLEXFIT: More natural ankle flex and heel fit plus improved stability.
- MSRP: $360
Mountaineering boots are renowned for the stiffness of the sole (provided by the shank to help with rigidity and ease of use when utilizing crampons) as well as the brutal breaking in phase. And to clarify, you never really break in mountaineering boots, you break in your feet. So what better way to figure this out than to hike a 14er in winter with mountaineering boots straight out of the box?
When I received these boots, I was curious if they would leave me with cold toes and angry fits as I tried to harden my feet up to handle the stiffness, and much to my surprise they (the boots and my feet) did really well. Hiking any trail in new boots can be brutal, but try hiking Mt. Princeton in the middle of winter and you have a whole new appreciation for things. Mt. Princeton (14,204') is not a difficult peak, but it is known for the insanity of loose rock and "interesting" trail near the summit where you are faced with teeter-tottering boulders and a trail where you can never really be sure of your footing.
During the hike up to the summit the boots held up well and I could tell as the heat in them built up that they were becoming more pliable, and fitting my feet better with each step. I did stop and adjust the laces a bit on occasion to further adjust the fit which is fairly common as feet swell as you add on the miles. Even through the uneven and loose terrain these boots handled it all well and boy was I stoked to have the roomy and stout toe box as I kicked steps across one of the snow fields just below the summit.
Through out the 7 hour effort my feet stayed warm and cozy even during the extended hang out time on the top. As the wind dropped the temperatures later in the day the boots kept my feet warm; and, during the dash down, my feet only had a minor issue with slight friction build up that allowed a bit of a hot spot to form, but nothing that couldn't have been fixed should I have chosen to stop and adjust the lacing. As far as the lacing goes I would say that the heel lock works well, but the transition between the high ankle padding and the lower leather makes it difficult to really lock your heel in place as snuggly as I would like, but I think that this will be more manageable as the boots get used more.
In addition to the general walking around in the boots I also did a bit of ice climbing and was quite pleased with the rigidity of the shank. I was able to plant firmly in the ice and the crampons fit snuggly in the heel truss with no appreciable movement.
So far, I have hiked almost 40 miles in these boots and a few hundred feet of vertical ice, and I am stoked to have them. Not once have I felt that I was missing any of the warmth or performance that I expect from a true mountaineering boot. Next up is a few nights out with them to see how they act when the temps really drop, which I will let you all know about once I return.