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Winter footwear


aguerra.1993
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Hello everyone, I don't have much experience with winter hiking but I now live and have opportunities to go to much colder, snowier places and I have no idea on what footwear is best. I am certainly comfortable wearing my trailrunners down to freezing and even below that as long as there isn't much snow. Now I am wondering for times when it will be in the single digit highs and times when there is a lot of snow, what kind of footwear do you use? I want to backpack in these temperatures and I know that a single layer waterproof boot will freeze overnight from your day's perspiration. I am looking into boots with removable liners but I don't really know where to begin. I would also like these shoes to work with crampons and show shoes. If anyone could recommend any boots or point me in a good direction I would really appreciate it. Thanks for any help!

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You might appreciate the article that Philip at www.sectionhiker.com just did on winter footwear...what to consider and how to choose.  He has other good articles on boots and crampons as well.  A lot of it just depends on if you need insulation, and how much, and the moisture levels that you expect. 

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Aaron Zagrodnick

While winter backpacking or hiking I use a fairly lightweight, waterproof / breathable mesh-paneled 200 gram insulated hiking boot without removable liners but use a vapor barrier liner (VBL) to both add additional warmth and also to keep the inside of the boots and outer sock dry. (Along with gaiters always, and snowshoes or MicroSpikes if needed) @PaulMags wrote a great article back in Issue 26 on winter backpacking that has a footwear breakdown as well that is definitely worth checking out, and you can also check out some ideas on a VBL setup in the same issue. Let us know what you end up going with and how it works out!

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Thanks guys, I will certainly check both of those articles out. That was the other option I was considering but I have never used a vbl and it sounds uncomfortable but I think it will be the way to go. 

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Aaron Zagrodnick

I've found that it's a pretty comfortable way to go - once I get going I forget all about it. It's also nice that I can remain somewhat light on my feet without really heavy footwear, but still stay warm. 

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yeah that seems to be the biggest advantage, having the same warmth but having lighter boots. I have a ton of boots to try on now, haha. Are there any companies that make VBL socks or do you guys make them yourselves/repurpose oven bags?

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Aaron Zagrodnick

The oven bags have worked well for me - I use the setup in the previously linked jargon section from Issue 26. There are some dedicated VBL socks out there though, like the Rab Vapor Barrier Socks if you're looking for a dedicated solution. Good luck on the boot search - wouldn't hurt to have some dry socks and shoes to change into back at the car after a dayhike or some extra socks + a pair of down / synthetic booties to use once you get to camp while out backpacking, either. :)

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Are you thinking of backpacking or dayhikes? You can get away with a lot less if you are dayhiking and then going home to warm and dry.

Definitely check out the article on sectionhiker. he links to some specific boots you might want to check out http://sectionhiker.com/mountaineering-winter-hiking-boots-faq-expert-advice/

I found that my feet got cold with lighter weight (200g insulation) boots, but that was without a VBL. I was very happy that I had purchased from Campsaver.com because I was able to return them after wearing them on a 50 mile trip. I ended up with Salomon Toundra Mids, they are very warm and shockingly light weight for such a big boot.

Also if you are going to be in snow, don't forget gaiters.

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Yes I plan to go backpacking. My feet generally aren't cold while hiking even wearing non waterproof trail runners and lightweight wool socks down to the low twenties. I've never hiked colder than that but I think with some lightly insulated boots and VBL oven bags should be great for the teens and below. I am currently in France for the next few months and I highly doubt there will be return policies comparable to REI or other stores like that here. I did find a beautiful area in the Massif Central that I want to explore and I'm sure they get quite a bit of snow so I am excited to get out this winter! 

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So the more I look into the different types of boots, the more clueless I am on the type I should get. I see types of boots like Solomon X Ultra Mid and the Quest 4D and they are like really beefed up trailrunners (well the X Ultra mid more so than the Quest), then there is basically insulated versions of similar designs, and then I also am looking into boots like the Salewa Crow or other similarly designed boots. I am not sure which way to go for because most of my winter pursuits will involve mountains and although the majority of the time I will not be using crampons or snowshoes with them, I do want them to function well with them as I will be moving somewhere with more snow in the future. Any recommendations on what boots you guys use and enjoy?

Edited by aguerra.1993
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