Find your Boot
WHICH FOOTWEAR FITS THE PURPOSE?
When buying footwear, the most frequent question customers ask is: “Which are the best boots for me?”
It’s a tricky one because several factors are involved that have an impact:
WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM FOR?
Some manufacturers divide their range into A, B, C and D categories. Category A footwear is generally lightweight and very flexible. These boots and shoes are designed for light activities, i.e. travelling, walking or everyday use. Category B footwear offers good support and a solid sole design for longer hikes and easy treks. Boots in the C category are partly suitable for crampons and designed for long treks on rough terrain with a heavy backpack. Category D stands for alpine boots that are fully compatible with crampons and designed for glaciers, mountaineering and ice climbing.
This system of categories is simple. Which is why we apply it too. But it doesn’t cover everything. Because allocation to categories A to D is primarily made according to how rigid the footwear is. For this reason we also classify our collection according to areas of activity.
Categorising according to activity makes sense because different lasts, materials and construction techniques influence suitability too. For example, our ROCK boots have a narrower last and a completely different design compared to our TREK footwear – although both belong to category C. Our Approach GTX is “only” a low-cut shoe, but due to its rigid sole is still in category B and veers towards C.
Cushioning is also very different. Our ROCK footwear is less padded in order to ensure greater precision when climbing. Likening it to the sports seat of a rally car helps illustrate the point. By contrast, the superbly cushioned TREK or TREK LIGHT boot could be compared to a soft armchair.
HOW FIT AND EXPERIENCED ARE YOU?
When choosing the footwear, the area you intend to use them plays a pivotal role. But physical fitness and experience are equally crucial. Mountain guides come up against this dilemma when their customers ask: “Why do we have to wear these heavy boots, while you’re only wearing lightweight shoes?” This is because mountain guides are so fit, strong and sure-footed that it’s no problem. Of course, safety is paramount and if in doubt you should always pick more stable footwear.
HOW HEAVY IS YOUR BACKPACK?
Naturally, there’s a significant difference between trekking for three weeks through Nepal with a 20 kg backpack and hiking in the Bavarian Alps with a 5 kg daypack. It’s not just the rigidity and flex of the sole unit that counts, but the design of the whole boot. For longer trekking tours with a heavy backpack, we recommend a more rigid boot, for example from our TREK category. For day trips with a lightweight backpack, lighter footwear from our TREK LIGHT collection would be more suitable.
WHAT KIND OF WEATHER DO YOU EXPECT? AND WILL YOU BE ABLE TO DRY THE BOOTS OVERNIGHT?
To put it another way, is footwear with a Gore-Tex® membrane required? Not only are Gore-Tex® boots and shoes waterproof and breathable, they also dry fast. Consequently, they’re definitely the number one choice for multi-day treks, alpine projects (glaciers), rainy weather, wet climates, marshy areas and winter mountaineering. Especially where there’s no opportunity to dry boots out overnight. Even if you’re only occasionally out in these sorts of conditions, you should consider Gore-Tex® footwear.
The advantage of leather lining is that it adapts better to the shape of the foot. Many mountaineers and trekkers prefer the pleasant wear climate and comfort provided by full-grain leather. It does provide a great fit. However, leather footwear isn’t fully waterproof, even with the best care and maintenance. Therefore, it’s better to wear it in drier conditions or when the footwear has a chance to dry out overnight.
Remember that the Gore-Tex® membrane should not be confused with the upper. Gore-Tex® footwear is available with leather or Cordura® uppers.
The Gore-Tex® membrane itself is laminated to the lining. This is generally a highly durable, synthetic, fast-drying fabric. It’s also possible to laminate Gore-Tex® membranes to leather linings (for example our Arrow GL Trail). This combines the benefits of both materials, but some of the disadvantages too.