Tips & tricks

Guide for Choosing the Right Mountain Boots

As the tours in the Dolomites and Ararat are approaching, it's time to offer you some recommendations regarding mountain hiking gear. And we'll start with the most crucial piece of mountaineer equipment: the boots.

There are different types of mountain hiking boots. Considering it's currently winter, here are some features to consider when choosing and caring for your boots.

Exterior: To enhance waterproofing and breathability, manufacturers of technical boots use waterproof membranes (Gore-Tex, Sympatex, eVent, etc.). Synthetic materials (nylon and polyester) have advantages such as lower cost, high breathability, less rigidity than natural leather, but they may not have as high durability over time. However, with proper care, they can last for many years.

Sole: It is MANDATORY for the sole to be made of non-freezing material. Vibram is one of the most renowned producers of technical rubber soles. It's always indicated on the sole whether it is made of Vibram or a similar material.

! Additional note: There are winter boots (rigid sole) and those for 3 seasons. We recommend 3-season boots for "normal" tours and winter boots for more challenging, let's say, extreme conditions. Always consider the terrain. Boots with a rigid sole may not have good grip on rocks/stones. Besides the material, we recommend trying different brands because boots have different fits, helping you discover the model that suits your foot shape.

Boot Care: After every hike (no matter how tired you are), clean the boots with a very soft brush dipped in clean water. NEVER wash them with detergent/soap or in a machine. In exceptional situations, a special detergent can be used. If left dirty, wet, or muddy, they lose their qualities (waterproofing, breathability, etc.) quite quickly. Dry them at room temperature, away from heat sources or strong sunlight. We recommend using gaiters to protect both the foot and the boot.

Choosing Boots: First and foremost, there is no one-size-fits-all boot! The ideal boot is the one that fits you. Don't choose a mountain boot based on design but on comfort (yes, ladies!). Always try the boots on. If they bother you even a little, think about how it will be after a few hours of walking. That's why it's recommended to buy in-store, not online.

Go to the checkout with the pair you tried! You don't exchange it for another if you see a scratch, and you don't try on more because you've already tried that size and it fit... What you try, you buy!

Try the boots with the socks you'll wear on the mountain (consider having two pairs of socks in winter). The foot should be comfortable in the boot, neither loose nor tight. You should be able to stand in those boots for 10-12-14 hours...

Regarding the time of day to buy the boots, opinions are divided. Some recommend trying when your feet are not swollen, leaving approximately one finger's distance at the heel, while others suggest trying in the evening (when your feet are swollen) with no extra space. Either way, consider whether your feet are swollen or not when trying.

Price: We don't recommend a specific boot brand, but we advise against being tempted by expensive ones, especially if you're a beginner. You might go on 2-3 hikes and discover that the mountain isn't for you.

However, even though mountain boots are more expensive than city boots, the investment pays off as they last for several years.

Even if leather boots need some breaking in to become more flexible and comfortable, it is not recommended to go directly into the trail after buying them. Wear them at least for an hour or two at home. Also, avoid wearing them in the city. Winter streets are often sprayed with corrosive de-icing substances, and it would be a shame for the boots to get damaged.

We hope this article helps you a bit choosing the right boots for your next adventures. So, see you soon on the mountain!

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