A four season boot needs to perform in a range of challenging conditions while still remaining comfortable. The fit is the most critical aspect in achieving this, but there are several other features to consider.
You need wriggle room to ensure blood flow – which will combat frostnip. The heel needs to be snug and secure. Pressure points won’t go away with use, so if you feel any, try a different size or model.
The shank is commonly made from nylon, fibreglass or Kevlar and has little or no flex over both the length and width of the boot. This provides a stable platform in rugged terrain and while climbing, but can mean less comfort on flat terrain.
A full rand running around the base of the upper helps protect the boot from scree and moraine.
This is dictated by the upper and insulation of the boot. A fully waterproof membrane (along with high-quality gaiters and socks) will help deal with prolonged periods in snow.
Some boots have one-piece leather uppers but there are also multi-panel synthetic/leather options which work just as well. Consider the thickness of the upper – it should be between 2-3mm.
If the boot flexes lengthways or sideways, a flexible crampon with straps front and back should be used. Technical boots sometimes have a welt at the front for crampons with front and back clips.
Now you know what to look for, it’s time to choose a boot…
Lowa Weisshorn GTX $999
Lowa Cevedale GTX $799 Use Alpine Upper Split leather and Cordura Construction Gore-Tex lining, I-Lock lace lock, ball bearing lace system, Flex Fit Synchro ankle, Lowa Flex and lace-to-toe for instep flex, heel and toe rand, viscoelastic Balance Insole, PU midsole, 5.5mm full length nylon shank, semi-automatic crampon compatible Outsole Vibram Dolent Weight 1600g. www.lowa.co.nz
Fitwell Sirius Winter $595
Asolo Aconcagua GV $590