One of the most important pieces of gear for winter adventures is a good pair of boots. Regardless of what winter adventure you’re doing, if your feet get cold , it could be a miserable experience and even dangerous if your out for extended periods of time in the backcountry and frostbite sets in.
Keeping your feet dry and warm in the cold winter months can be a challenge and takes some experimenting to find what works best for the type of activity and terrain you’re in. You can find tons of information on the web, but it can become overwhelming at times and even a little confusing.
The best thing to do, is to spend some extended periods of time in the elements, even an overnighter, to understand the different cold weather conditions and how to control moisture. Your feet WILL sweat or the weather can warm up, creating wet snow conditions and how you manage that moisture is what will make or break an adventure.
A lot of times when I’m out snowshoeing or hiking in the winter months I wear my Gortex running shoes with some Smartwool sox and a pair of gators. If I’m only out a few hours and I’m moving that entire time, I don’t have a problem with cold feet even when they get a little wet. Sometimes i’ll carry an extra pair of sox to change into if needed. If i’m out on a longer excursion with some stops or if I’m doing an overnighter, I’ll be sure to get into a good pair of boots or mukluks.
I’ve tried several pairs of boots from different manufacturers, some good and some not so good, the price of the boot won’t necessarily guarantee a good fit for your activity.
As I stated before the best thing to do is get out and spend some time outdoors in different conditions and for different lengths of time. If you live in the midwest, an expensive mountaineering boot might not be the best boot for you. It’s important to know what your activity is and how long you’ll be spending outside in the elements.
Talk to friends who have experience and ask what type of boot they use and what works best. My friend Matt has spent weeks in the backcountry of Northern Michigan and Canada in sub-zero temperatures and has experimented with many boots until he found the best system. Matt’s been a valuable resource when I’m looking for the right boot for a winter adventure.
Another good way to try different boots, is through renting. You might not find many outdoor gear retailers that rent boots, but many winter festivals or races that have gear sponsors, will have boots for trial. The gear sponsors want to sell their brand and the best way to get you to buy is let you use their gear. I’ve tried several pairs of boots at the Ice climbing festival in Munising Michigan. I was able to wear the boots for the entire weekend, snowshoeing and ice climbing.
I came across this article by Michael Blair from New England on a hiking blog that I follow, and thought it was worthy of posting here.
Don’t let cold feet ruin YOUR winter Adventure, find the right boot and enjoy the Winter months!!