We get this question a lot; and for good reason – your feet are pretty dang important to your survival on Mt. Rainier!
Below is our ‘boot policy’ for Mt. Rainier:
For a first time climb of Mt. Rainier, you want to be as well prepared as possible. That means warm, waterproof boots. Double plastic boots provide the best possible warmth for your feet, they are completely waterproof, and they don’t constrict your toes or ankles when worn with crampons attached. First time climbers will do well to choose double plastic boots, and IMG makes this simple by offering them for rent. We also strongly recommend double plastic boots in early summer (May and June) for all participants and we REQUIRE them on winter programs.
We’re happy to work with Asolo and rent the Evoluzione.
There are some very warm, insulated, waterproof synthetic or leather single climbing boots on the market these days. If you own a pair of single climbing boots (generally less than ten years old) and have used them successfully in cold weather environments previously, then single boots will probably work for you on Mt. Rainier.
Here are some of the requirements your boots must possess:
* Must be fully rigid or ¾ rigid shank soled.
* Must be factory treated waterproof leather or synthetic waterproof
* Must have synthetic insulation
* Must be crampon compatible
If you are thinking about purchasing any type of boot, remember, the BEST boot to buy is the one that fits your foot the best. Go to a good outfitter that has multiple models to try on. If you do not have a good climbing store near by, shop online through a knowledgeable climbing store with a good exchange policy. Ask for the store expert. If they do not have a boot fitting specialist, then go to another store. You will want to describe your foot, perhaps send in a tracing of it, describe the climbs you intend to use the boot on and be ready to order and return a couple of pair of boots in order to confirm the best possible fit. If you end up buying a boot that gives you blisters, get rid of it! Sell it on eBay and try again.
When to use plastic boots:
* Early season (May and June) and winter
* If you are a First time climber, you should rent them.
* If you are a person with compromised circulation or a history of cold feet.
When to use single boots:
* If you own your own boots and have used them successfully in similar conditions to Mt. Rainier.
* During the peak summer season (July through September).
* If you have fit issues (very small, large, narrow or wide feet).
Late season suggestion:
If you are climbing in later season (after early August) it is often worth bringing a light pair of hiking or running shoes to wear on the first 2½ miles of the approach up to Pebble Creek. These are especially valuable on the way down if your feet are sore (or hot) in the double plastic boots.