Best Mountaineering and Backpacking Boots


Zamberlan Vioz GT

Zamberlan Vioz GT

Activities such as mountaineering and backpacking require a pair of good boots which protects your feet from injuries and improves your performance. However, as boots vary greatly in weight, comfort, traction and support, not all boots are suitable for all types of trails. In this review we have focused on mountaineering boots – which are also perfect for backpacking with a heavy backpack. For those who are into winter hiking/mountaineering, it might be interesting to note that the boots listed in this review can also be used with C1 crampons (Strap-On Bindings) without hassle.

Mountaineering boots offer great performance on (technically challenging) rocky trails as they feature high-cut shafts for good ankle support and are equipped with relatively stiff soles in order to provide good stability on uneven terrain. Furthermore, they also have outsoles with fairly deep and thick lugs for good traction. These characteristics make mountaineering boots perfect for multiday hiking trips (backpacking) where you might carry a heavy backpack and thus need additional ankle support as well as stiffer soles for increased comfort. In most other cases, flexible soles are the most comfortable option but stiffer soles actually provide better comfort when you are carrying a heavy backpack as they don’t flex around every root, stone and other obstacle on the trail.

However, mountaineering boots are heavier than hiking boots due to more robust materials and thus not the best choice for day hikes on easy trails where lightweight footwear with flexible soles offers better comfort and performance. If you are looking for such footwear, check out our reviews of the Best Lightweight Hiking Boots and Best Trekking Shoes instead. To learn more about the different types of hiking footwear, check out our Hiking Footwear Guide.

1. Buying Mountaineering and Backpacking Boots – What is important?

Weight:

The weight of a boot is highly dependent on the materials used for the upper and midsole. Mountaineering boots usually have rugged abrasion-resistant uppers (made mainly of leather) and relatively rigid midsoles (in most cases made of polyurethane). Therefore, they are heavier than ordinary hiking boots and trekking shoes which often use synthetic uppers and (flexible) EVA midsoles. However, by using cutting-edge materials, manufacturers can nowadays produce relatively lightweight mountaineering boots that offer good support, stability and durability. In this review we only listed mountaineering boots that offer a superb performance without being too heavy.

Upper:

Mountaineering and hiking boots use uppers made of leather or a combination of leather and synthetic materials.

Leather is a traditional upper material and performs similar to human skin – it’s breathable, insulating and porous. It comes in different forms such as full-grain leather, split-grain leather and nubuck leather, which all have slightly varying qualities.

Full-grain leather is the most durable, rigid and water-resistant leather and therefore it’s often used for rugged mountaineering and hiking boots which prioritize durability over being light-weight.

Split-grain leather refers to hides that have the top-grain removed and is thus thinner than full-grain leather. Therefore it offers lower abrasion-resistance, but is on the other hand more breathable, flexible and lighter than full-grain leather.

Nubuck leather is top-grain leather that is sanded or buffed to have a suede-like surface. Normally it is light, flexible and fairly breathable.

Boots that use uppers made of a combination of leather and synthetic materials (ordinary nylon) are in general lighter and more breathable than boots with leather-only uppers. However, synthetic inserts are never as durable as leather. Leather also offers some basic water-resistance, but it is not that important a quality as most boots also feature a waterproof/breathable lining such as Gore-Tex or eVent for increased weather protection.

Lining:

The lining is the fabric on the inside of the boot and is usually made of woven nylon to provide good abrasion- and pilling-resistance. Furthermore, it has to be breathable and moisture-wicking so that it can transport the dampness from the foot to the outside as moist feet get cold faster and often result in blisters. However, it’s important to note that socks have an even bigger influence on the moisture-management than lining as they are in direct contact with the skin. Therefore, it’s important to use moisture-wicking and breathable socks. At Best Hiking we recommend Merino socks which in our opinion offer a superior performance in comparison to any other socks. For more information about Merino wool read our article Why you should wear Merino wool clothing.

The lining is also responsible for insulation and there boots for low temperatures often feature a lining made of materials that are able to entrap large amounts of body-warmed air for increased warmth. An example of such lining is Primaloft Gold for footwear.

Waterproof boots normally have a waterproof/breathable lining which decreases the breathability to some extent. Keep in mind that waterproof hiking/mountaineering boots are never completely waterproof as there is no such thing as completely waterproof fabric that is also breathable. To understand how waterproof/breathable materials work check out our article Comparison of Shell Materials.

Insole:

The insole (also referred to as the footbed) is responsible for transporting the moisture away (similar to the lining), reducing friction and providing breathability. Insoles normally offer some stretch in order to reduce blistering on the plantar surface of the foot. They can be also treated with antimicrobial agents for prolonged freshness.

Midsole:

The midsole provides cushioning, support, rigidity and stability and is thus one of the most important components of a hiking boot. Midsoles are usually made of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or PU (polyurethane).

EVA midsoles are normally lighter than PU midsoles. However, PU midsoles are more rigid and durable than EVA midsoles. Therefore, PU midsoles are normally used for mountaineering and rugged hiking boots while EVA midsoles are usually used for trekking shoes and lightweight hiking boots. However, in order to decrease the boots’ weight manufacturers often use midsoles which consist of layers with different densities.

Different “structures” can be put inside the midsole for better stability and cushioning (cylinder-like inserts made of denser materials etc.).

Outsole:

The outsole on mountaineering/hiking boots is usually made of rubber. The traction provided is highly dependent on the lug pattern; the deeper and thicker the lugs, the better the traction will be. Some manufacturers develop their own outsoles like for example Salomon (Contagrip) while others use outsoles from well-known manufacturers such as Vibram.

2. The Best Mountaineering and Backpacking Boots Review

Best Mountaineering and Backpacking Boots

Best Mountaineering and Backpacking Boots

  1. Zamberlan Vioz GT
  2. Lowa Renegade
  3. Asolo TPS 520 GV
  4. Salewa Mountain Trainer
  5. Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX

Comparison

Feature/Product Zamberlan Vioz GTLowa RenegadeAsolo TPS 520 GVSalewa Mountain TrainerSalomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
Weight (pair)3 lbs. 4 oz.2 lbs. 7 oz.3 lbs. 9 oz.2 lbs. 12 oz.2 lbs. 13 oz.
Weight - Metric (pair)1480 g1110 g1640 g1260 g1280 g
Upper MaterialFull-Grain LeatherNubuck LeatherFull-Grain LeatherNubuck LeatherNubuck Leather/Synthetic
LiningGore-TexGore-TexGore-TexGore-TexGore-Tex
InsoleZamberlan Z-Flex GTClimate ControlLite 2Nylon Nylon
MidsolePolyurethane Polyurethane Polyurethane Polyurethane Molded EVA
OutsoleZamberlan Vibram 3DVibram EVO Vibram Vibram Alpine ApproachContagrip
HeightAbove-the-ankleAbove-the-ankleAbove-the-ankleAbove-the-ankleAbove-the-ankle
Zamberlan Vioz GT

Zamberlan Vioz GT

1. Zamberlan Vioz GT

Suitable for:

  • Mountaineering
  • Hiking (heavy backpack)
  • Backpacking
  • Via Ferrata
  • Hiking with Crampons (C1)
  • Hiking with Snowshoes

 

The Zamberlan Vioz GT boot offers great performance and comfort. It is designed for long backpacking trips as well as for mountaineering on steep rocky trails. The boot features a rugged and durable upper made of water-resistant full-grain leather.  The Gore-Tex lining under the leather upper ensures that your feet stay dry in rainy weather and on wet terrain. The midsole is made of polyurethane for increased rigidity and thus the boot offers great comfort when you are carrying a heavy backpack or hiking on technically challenging rocky trails. The midsole is also equipped with back stabilizers for increased stability and support. The boot also features a Vibram 3D sole which has widely spaced thick lugs that offer excellent traction, downhill braking and easy removal of dirt. Even though the boot is relatively stiff, flex forward is not particularly limited due to the Zamberlan Flex System which provides great freedom of movement while efficiently supporting your feet. The Zamberlan Vioz GT boot is a great choice for those who need a slightly heavier boot for long hiking and mountaineering trips on uneven terrain.

 

Pros:

  • Support
  • Stability
  • Traction

Cons:

  • Breathability (in comparison to boots that feature synthetic inserts or nubuck upper)

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

 

Lowa Renegade GTX

Lowa Renegade GTX

2. Lowa Renegade

Suitable for:

  • Mountaineering
  • Hiking (heavy backpack)
  • Backpacking
  • Via Ferrata
  • Hiking with Crampons (C1)
  • Hiking with Snowshoes

 

The Lowa Renegade boot is due to its versatility very popular among hikers, mountaineers and trekkers. The boot weighs merely 515 grams while providing great support, stability and comfort. Therefore, it can be used not only for mountaineering and backpacking but also for hiking on easier trails (due to its low weight). The upper is made of nubuck leather and provides great breathability as well as fairly good abrasion-resistance. The Gore-Tex lining under the upper ensures increased weather protection while the Climate Control insole is breathable and efficiently wicks moisture to the outside. The midsole is made of dual density polyurethane for good shock absorption and stability. Traction is ensured by the Vibram Evo outsole which, due to its unique lug pattern, provides great performance on various terrains. The Lowa Renegade boots are best for those who need a pair of high-quality boots for hiking/mountaineering on diverse terrain types. The boots offer great performance for trekking as well as for mountaineering on technically challenging trails.

 

Pros:

  • Versatility
  • Weight
  • Traction

Cons:

  • /

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Asolo TPS 520 GV

Asolo TPS 520 GV

3.  Asolo TPS 520 GV

Suitable for:

  • Mountaineering
  • Hiking (heavy backpack)
  • Backpacking
  • Via Ferrata
  • Hiking with Crampons (C1)
  • Hiking with Snowshoes

 

The Asolo TPS 520 GV boot is like the Zamberlan boot very robust and durable. However, with a weight of 1640 grams it is also the heaviest pair of boots in this review. The boot features an upper made of water-resistant full grain leather with a thickness around 2.7 millimeters. Therefore, it provides great abrasion-resistance and durability. Furthermore, as the leather is relatively rigid it also efficiently supports the ankle area. Like the Lowa Renegade and Zamberlan Vioz boots, the Asolo TPS 520 GV also features a Gore-Tex lining for increased weather protection. The boot uses Asolo’s TPS sole which is constructed of three components; a midsole directly under the footbed made of high-density polyurethane, a low-density polyurethane element and finally the highly technical Asolo/Vibram rubber outsole. In the sole there are also three cylinders for better shock absorption and stability. The Asolo TPS 520 GV boot is a great option for those who often do long hiking or mountaineering trips and need a pair of boots that will last as the Asolo boot provides great durability, stability and support.

 

Pros:

  • Stability
  • Support
  • Traction

Cons:

  • Breathability (in comparison to boots that feature synthetic inserts or nubuck leather upper)
  • Weight

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

 

Salewa Mountain Trainer

Salewa Mountain Trainer

4. Salewa Mountain Trainer

Suitable for:

  • Mountaineering
  • Hiking (heavy backpack)
  • Backpacking
  • Via Ferrata
  • Hiking with Crampons (C1)
  • Hiking with Snowshoes

 

The Salewa Mountain Trainer boot is designed for climbing via ferrata routes and technical hiking. However, it can also be efficiently used for long hiking trips where you need a little more stability and support. The Salewa Mountain Trainer boot features an upper made of nubuck leather which provides good breathability and abrasion-resistance. The abrasion-resistance is additionally increased with the all-around rubber rand. There are also rubber inserts (3F System) in the ankle area to provide better support. The rubber inserts, however, do not interfere with the flex forward. The lacing comes right to the toe (climbing lacing) for a more precise fit when doing technically challenging trails. Like the other boots in this review, the Salewa Mountain Trainer also comes with a Gore-Tex lining. The boot uses Vibram Alpine Approach outsole and a semi-stiff polyurethane midsole. The MFF+ insole has interchangeable layers so that you can adapt it to the shape of your foot. The Salewa Mountain Trainer boots are best for those who often do via ferrata routes or hike on a rocky terrain.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Performance on rocky terrain
  • Support
  • Stability

Cons:

  • /

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

 

Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX

Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX

5. Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX

Suitable for:

  • Mountaineering
  • Hiking (heavy backpack)
  • Backpacking
  • Via Ferrata
  • Hiking with Crampons (C1)
  • Hiking with Snowshoes

 

The Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX boot is fairly light and offers good comfort and traction. The boot features an upper made of nubuck leather with synthetic inserts which together provides great breathability and moisture-wicking properties. Furthermore, it also features a Gore-Tex lining for increased weather protection as well as Ortholite sockliner which provides a dry and healthy environment for your feet. The Contagrip outsole is made of different elements with different densities – areas that are more prone to wear out (like the heel and toe area) are made of high-density materials, while the less exposed areas are made of low-density materials. This reduces the overall weight of the boot while maintaining its durability. The midsole is made of molded EVA which provides good cushioning and flexibility. However, as the midsole is relatively flexible the Salomon Quest boots offer a bit less support and stability than the other boots in this review. The base of the boot is well-protected with rubber material. Additionally the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX features a 4D chassis for better stability. The Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX boot is best for those who need a good boot for long backpacking trips.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Comfort on easy trails

Cons:

  • EVA midsole

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Video

 

3. The most attractive product in the review

Which product do you prefer?
Cast your vote to see the results of this poll!

 

You may also like…



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *