March 5, 2015
Every year “the boot questions” come up and every year we write a blog article hoping to answer more questions than we create. Below is this year’s fun, but relevant, crack at some oft asked boot questions.
Question #0: What are single boots and what are double plastic boots?
- Single boots are warm, waterproof, insulated leather or synthetic climbing boots designed for mountaineering. They’re great for mid-summer climbs in the northwest, the alps, ice climbing etc. (Example: Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX or the La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX).
- Double plastic boots are a plastic shell boot with a separate liner boot for warmth. These are great for a lot of different climbs in the US and internationally. (Example: Scarpa Inverno or the Koflach Degre).
Question #1: I’m climbing Rainier in May/June and have a pair of single boots, will they be sufficient?
Answer: Probably not. The temperatures on the upper mountain, and the probability that the single boots will get wet and freeze, all but eliminate these as a viable option in May and June. It is possible that they could be worn, but it’s a pretty big purchase for a ‘maybe’.
Question #2: …but the boot website says they’re good for winter mountaineering.
Answer: This is a pretty vague statement when you think about it. Winter where?
Question #3: …but the boot website says they’re good for all general mountaineering.
Answer: That might apply to a skilled climber who has experience in the mountains and knows exactly how and where to use these boots. Single boots are great but do not apply to all types of climbers in all types of conditions. They are a great tool to use when and where appropriate.
Question #4: …but the boot website says…X
Answer: Boot manufacturers, and the stores that sell the boots, are in the business of selling boots. Read that last sentence again. We’re in the business taking people into the mountains for a safe and enjoyable experience. Our only horse in this race is making sure you have the right gear for the climb you’ve signed up for.
Question #5: I literally have $500 burning a hole in my pocket, what boots should I buy?
Answers: That depends on what type of climber you are, or want to be:
- If you’re looking at climbing bigger mountains down the road then double plastic boots are the way to go. Almost all of the mountains we work on require double plastic boots…or heavier for the likes of Everest and Vinson.
- If you’re like the idea of climbing in the Pacific Northwest in mid-summer, ice climbing in Colorado, or summer climbs in the Alps, then single boots are the way to go.
Question #6: I have Difficultfeetitis, what should I do?
Answer: Take your time. Whether it’s buying or renting boots, try on a few pair. Try over the counter inserts. Try orthopedic inserts. Look at aftermarket heat moldable liner boots (Intuition) as a way to customize your double plastic boots. Punch out the tight spot – ski shops can heat up and punch out areas of the plastic boots that might rub on your foot. Keep in mind that just because your feet are tough to fit doesn’t negate the single vs. double argument.
Question #7: I hear that double plastic boots are horrible monsters with teeth like a great white shark and they love to eat the feet of humans.
Answer: Not true. Double plastic boots are wonderful boots. If they fit properly and you walk in them correctly then you’ll likely have a great experience. The rigidity of all climbing boots can be tough to overcome, but once you figure it out, your heels, and the balls of your feet, will thank you! Double plastic boots are not ski boots. They are similar in rigidity and their double plastic nature, but the similarities end there. The vice like grip of ski boots is not what we’re looking for in double plastic boots. For non-technical terrain (i.e. the Muir Snowfield) we often wear our boots pretty loose. And even when roped up with crampons on, they are nowhere near as tight as a ski boot.
Question #8: Steel cage death match – single boots vs. Double plastic boots – who wins?
Answer: Chuck Norris.