Mountaineering Boot Sizes
This Month's Gear Guru Question:by Backcountry Bob
Ino A: You should size mountaineering boots at about street size. Be careful—different brands of boots and shoes do not fit the same. Double boots (plastics) do not stretch out or break in. If they don't fit you correctly, they will not improve over time. Size your boot with a specific pair of socks, and use them whenever you wear the boots. Many climbers wear a thin liner in addition to their socks to reduce friction and blisters. Do not change into thicker socks for more warmth if you usually wear thin ones. Thicker socks will decrease circulation and make your feet even colder. Whenever you try on mountaineering boots, lace them up while weighting your feet. When feet are weighted, they flatten out, changing the fit of a boot. Trying on boots while sitting in a chair is guaranteed to produce a horrible fit. It's very important that there is enough room around your toes to keep them from hitting the front while you walk downhill or front point up a steep slope. You should be able to wiggle your toes, but not move the rest of your foot. Mountaineering boots don't rock forward when they have crampons strapped to them, so reducing heel lift is a major concern. It's nearly impossible to completely eliminate, but if your heel moves up more than a half inch when your boots are fully laced, you might as well wear sandpaper in your socks. Custom insoles go a long way in reducing heel lift and improving fit in general. Thicker insoles reduce the volume of boots. Although Mt. Rainier can certainly be climbed with single-layer mountaineering boots, it's far more comfortable to bring insulated double (plastic) boots like the Vasque Ice 9000. These boots are not only warmer, but they also allow you to take out the liners and dry them in your sleeping bag while you sleep at night. In the morning you get to slip into warm liners that have been heating next to your body instead of freezing boots that have been sitting in a sub-zero tent. It does not matter if a pair of boots has the latest sole technology, weighs 3oz less than their competitor's and comes in the perfect color to match your jacket. If they don't fit well, you'll suffer and regret your choice. Take whatever time you need to make sure that your new boots fit like a (really warm) glass slipper. This month's Gear Guru question was submitted by Ino from Panama. He will receive a Nalgene bottle for his question. Enjoy Ino!