One should never let middle age men sit around drinking and reliving the glory days of their youth on a holiday weekend. I think I may have agreed to a mid January Presidential traverse in the White Mountains of NH. Expected weather will range from 0°C and raining down to -40°C at night. The terrain will require both crampons and snowshoes. There will be potentially 8 old dudes all with lots of experience from decades ago.

In the early '90s, I was all about mickey mouse boots and bunny boots and they worked well enough with the flexible crampons and snowshoes of the day and their leather strap bindings. They were easy to dry at night since the inside and outside were rubber.

In the early 2000s, double plastic boots were the rage. They were great for ice climbing and one day trips, but were not as easy to dry at night.

I need to buy a bunch of gear including boots, crampons, and snowshoes. Can I get away with mouse boots, or are newer boots better. What features should I be looking for in winter boots.

  • Lots of experience from long ago says you need to refresh your skills first. Everything's changed. Dec 2, 2019 at 4:39
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    @LorenPechtel I don't agree that everything has changed. Some gear has, which may be relevant or not depending on the type of route. Weather, snow, mountains, wind, The Outdoors (TM) is still behaving pretty much the same it was X number of years ago.
    – fgysin
    Dec 2, 2019 at 6:57
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    @LorenPechtel your comment would be more helpful if you could be more descriptive. Frostbite and hypothermia are still the real dangers. Avalanche slopes are still avalanche slopes and there are only a few. Route finding and moving in white outs are still the same. Gear has gotten lighter and better, but really hasn't changed.
    – StrongBad
    Dec 2, 2019 at 12:46
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    I'd say to go with boots that'll fit on your crampons. Snowshoe bindings are really forgiving. I can put my plastic boots, in-town boots, big rubber Arctic boots, or even AT boots in all my snowshoes (I have both Atlas and MSR bindings). Yeah, I might have Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
    – Gabriel
    Dec 2, 2019 at 20:02
  • @csk I am asking about boots (and to an extent crampons and snowshoes) since they seem to be the one piece of winter gear (beyond skis) that seems to have fundamentally changed over time. As for expectations, we used to do a winter presi traverse in a day, now we will probably give ourselves 4 and a couple of day hikes to make sure we are not insane. We are all confident we can still cover 5 miles in a day in the worst of conditions and there are so many bail points that it is no big deal if we fail.
    – StrongBad
    Dec 2, 2019 at 20:07

4 Answers 4


For temperatures down to -40°C you need solid insulated mountaineering boots; buy them together with crampons so they fit well.
All modern snowshoes will be compatible.

There are many such boots on the market; it should be easy to find those that fit you the best. Some classics are: La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX, Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX.

I personally use Scarpa Triolet GTX with hybrid binding crampons (strap in the front, heel lever - Petzl Vasak) and MSR Lighting Ascent snowshoes. It is good enough for mild winter days in Swiss Alps below 3000 m; the boots are not warm enough for anything lower than sustained -10°C.

  • For -40°C I would go for La Sportiva G2. It has inner boot and it's much warmer. Also I would buy 1-2 sizes larger that will allow to wear warmer socks. Jan 8, 2020 at 14:38

I recommend two Canadian brand: Kamik (very low price) and Baffin(low price). Their boots target everyday outdoor worker/farmer/hunter so they know what they are doing.

They make solid snow boots. I use them with crampon for ice fishing trips. They feature complete water proof, good insulation, removable pelt liner. This setup is closer to a winter expedition tour, Lureofthenorth's setup: soft moc with waterproof outer. I would recommend add wicking sock (humidity is bad) and toe warmers.

The drawbacks are: ankle support is limited. Target toward loose deep snow but not alpine hard ice surface.


Many good suggestions here; regardless of your choice of boot, MAKE CERTAIN THEY FIT WELL while wearing two pairs of socks. Too tight boots will cut off circulation and be wickedly uncomfortable. Great boots without great socks, won’t keep your feet warm. My go-to socks are injini inner sock with the appropriate weight Darn Tough outer sock. You can find both of these brands online, many sources. Darn Tough also has a LIFETIME WARRANTY.

Lastly, I have always used SnoSeal on my boots. I don’t know if there are “newer” products out there because I’ve used this stuff for 50 years with great results and warm, dry feet to prove it.

  • There are newer products - many modern boots have breathable lining (e.g. Goretex), and require a different approach to waterproofing that is breathable. Nikwax and Lowa produce good ones that are waterbased (I think) and don't clog the pores in leather.
    – bob1
    Dec 20, 2019 at 18:41

The advice on Kamik etc is good.

A: I buy them 2 sizes larger than my normal size. This allows me to wear 2 thick pairs of socks inside the already thick felt liners.

B: Verify that you can remove/insert the liners. Some are really hard to get in and out.

C: Untie the laces, and tie a single overhand knot around one of the D-rings. This keeps you from losing your laces when they aren't tied.

D: Wear with pants that you can pull down OVER the boots. This keeps snow out of the top of the boots.

The felt liners can be dried, but it is very time consuming to do this in the bush around the fire. They are very easy to burn. The black nylon is even easier to burn.

I found that mixing this style of winter boot with the traditional wood and babiche snowshoe was difficult. Harnesses aren't made for this large a boot. So test your combination of boot and your proposed snowshoe ahead of time. I don't do winter mountaineering, so I can't speak to the steep slope magnesium and neoprene snowshoes.

In general: If you haven't been doing this sort of thing for some time, do a set of training exercises. I would suggest a day trip, a longer trip with 2 nights and 2 days activity.

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