"Light Mountaineering" Boots?

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Re: "Light Mountaineering" Boots?

Post by Jorts »

ellenmseb wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2024 4:33 pm fwiw, the traditional strategy for long snowless approaches is to wear a separate pair of light trail runners for the approach, and then change once you hit consistent snow. yes this is more weight overall - but as you know, any kind of boot that accepts crampons, will be somewhat painful and slower for walking on trails. And weight on your feet matters more than weight on your back, so the overall expenditure may be less than making a single boot work for the whole objective.

Now, LS is marketing the Aequilibrium Speed as something that bridges the gap. Reviews claim they run well, and for moderate snow climbs like Snowmass should be good enough. I don't have personal experience with them. fyi there's a LS store in boulder where you can try on any of their footwear.
Good point about the light trail runners. FWIW, on moderate snow climbs I always just pair trail runners with lightweight crampons and gaiters. But that topic has previously been debated to death.
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Re: "Light Mountaineering" Boots?

Post by justiner »

desertdog wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2024 6:10 am I think La Sportiva is phasing out the age old Trango line
I don't know if that's true, but I do know they're currently almost half off on the la sportiva usa site!
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Re: "Light Mountaineering" Boots?

Post by dr_j »

I'm not a fan of boots, but when I do wear them on snow / glaciers, I have a pair of the Scarpa Charmoz. Pretty basic light mountaineering boot, with a notch for crampons, sufficient for the summer Cascades climbs that I've done (Hood, Rainier, St. Helens).
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Re: "Light Mountaineering" Boots?

Post by desertdog »

justiner wrote: Tue Mar 26, 2024 11:31 am
desertdog wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2024 6:10 am I think La Sportiva is phasing out the age old Trango line
I don't know if that's true, but I do know they're currently almost half off on the la sportiva usa site!
I hope you’re right! I’ve used different Trangos over the years and love ‘em!
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Re: "Light Mountaineering" Boots?

Post by Nobleman »

A bit late to this party but I thought I'd throw in my $0.02. Basically, for what you are describing, a mid to later season snow climb in Colorado, when there is a decent dry approach, a relatively steep/engaging summer snow couloir, and then perhaps some rocky scrambling near the summit, a 3 season mountaineering boot is probably the right tool.

As an aside, the season for "3 season" boots in Colorado is relatively short - more like 3 months than 3 seasons haha! Our winters and early spring are often bitterly cold, and then our summers come in hot and fast, and we have no glaciers or permanent snow to speak of. However, climb in the Cascades or Alps and the 3 season boot has an incredibly useful place in the footwear quiver. While not the absolute best at any one discipline, a good 3 season boot can hike, snow climb, and rock climb all reasonably well. Trail runners or approach shoes with microspikes or light crampons can work for easier or shorter snow climbing, but for longer, steeper, more sustained snow climbing I think most people would agree that boots and crampons provide significant security. The key here is to match conditions, steepness/severity of consequence, and personal experience/comfort and pick the right tool.

Anyway, another thing to consider is that there is a decent range of weight and stiffness across the category of light mountain boots. Weight can be fairly easily compared online, but getting an idea of how rigid/flexible a boot is can be a bit harder. It's a fairly important factor, since although generally 3 season mountain boots fits a semi-automatic crampon (heel welt but no toe welt), the stiffness of the boot determines the tradeoff between walking/climbing (softer sole) and snow climbing (stiffer sole). As with any footwear, best thing to do is to try them all on and get a feel for fit, comfort and support. La Sportiva and Scarpa are probably the most popular brands, but Mammut, Salewa and Asolo also make good boots, and are also quite popular, particularly in Europe. Other brands exist too.

Personally, I'm a La Sportiva guy. The Trango line of boots has been their classic 3 season collection, with several different versions optimized for trekking to ice climbing. However, in the US that lineup has been largely discontinued in favor of the Aequilibrium line up (La Sportiva has a weird distribution model where they only make some of their products available in North America, its a bit of a bummer). I have the Aequilibrium Tops, which I think are fantastic modern 3 season boots geared more towards the snow side of things. The integrated gaiter makes them quite waterproof, which is nice in Spring afternoon slushy snow, however it also makes them run a bit warm. The sole stiffness of all the Aequilibrium lineup provides a good blend of snow and rock/hiking performance - I'll admit I first thought they were on the soft side of things for a mountain boot, but found them adequate for snow up to easy ice (I tested them by leading up to easy WI3 in them, although would not in any way recommend them as an actual ice climbing boot) and they scramble/climb rock about as well as approach shoes. I think for Colorado I would go with the Aequilibrium ST (synthetic)/LT (leather) over the gaitered Tops though, depending on how much time on snow vs dirt hiking you see yourself doing (basically early vs late season trips). The Aequilibrium Speeds look like a really nifty blend of approach shoe and mountain boot. They were too flexible for what I wanted at the time I got my boots, but I could certainly see them filling a niche of relatively chill snow/glacier approaches to long technical rock climbs like in the Bugaboos. Otherwise I'm not really in the mountain running community, where I guess La Sportiva was optimizing them for very fast and light technical "runs" in the Alps.

For Scarpa, the Zodiac Tech, Charmoz, and Ribelle lineup (which is nearly as confusing as the LaSpo Aequilibrium lineup) provide a range of choices for 3 season boots. Mammut has the Taiss lineup, and Salewa has the Raven on the heavier side of things, Crow in the happy medium, and Ortles on the light side of things. Many options!

Hope this helps the OP or any future user. I put a bit of thought into 3 season boots recently, as I needed some for a trip to climb in Patagonia. Coming from Colorado where I was usually in either ski boots/full mountain boots in the winter, or in approach shoes in the summer with not much in between, I became a pretty big fan of 3 season boots. While for long approaches I generally wore trail runners, the Aequilbrium Tops were impressive as I hiked glaciers, scrambled talus and low 5th, stowed them in a pack for technical rock, then busted them out again for summit snow fields - my favorite kind of mixed terrain day!
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Re: "Light Mountaineering" Boots?

Post by madmattd »

Nobleman - thanks. I never updated this thread apparently, but I did end up getting the Aequilibrium LTs this Spring. They've done fine for my intended use - I climbed a moderate couloir on Blue Sky in them that was firm both up and down (thanks to cloud cover rolling in), and they were plenty stiff enough for the extensive front-pointing I ended up needing to do. I also took them up Snowmass a couple weeks ago, including using them on the 8+mi hike to/from the lake. The latter was a compromise decision (versus carrying the weight and using hiking shoes for that portion), and my feet were feeling it on the way out, but it went fine overall. Just one small blister spot on one heel. They were great on the snow, and while not great at scrambling, I managed fine with them on the ridge direct to the summit. Not too hot considering they are a Gortex boot, and they have stayed dry in a few late-morning soft snow fields. Looking forward to more use with them next year, but for now enjoying being back in hiking shoes!
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