Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter Boots and Traction

Winter weather in New England is highly variable. We've got freezing rain, snow, sleet, and ice. We have temperatures that vary from 50F to -20F.

Shoveling your driveway, walking in the woods, and mountaineering can be a very slippery experience.

What do I do?

At the extreme, for Winter mountaineering (climbs up Mt. Washington in -20F with 80mph winds), I use Scarpa Omega double plastic boots and Petzl Sarken Sidelock crampons. These boots are the lightest extreme winter mountaineering footwear available and after ten years (they were called the Scarpa Alpha back then) mine are still in great shape. The Petzl Sarken is an extremely durable 12 point crampon for use with boots that support "step-in" style crampons.

For walks on less intimidating terrain, I use Garmont Momentum Snow GTX boots,  which are waterproof, insulated, vegan footwear.   Although I "bareboot" most hiking trails, for significant verglas (thin ice on rock) and long relatively flat ice hikes, I use Kahtoola KTS Aluminium crampons.   Kahtoolas are lightweight, durable, and very effective on ice.

I've had mixed results with Stabilicers, which add a heavy "second sole" to winter boots that already have traction soles.   I've not had good results with Yaktrax which tend to break easily and provide only minor traction while hiking on ice.

Scarpa, Petzl, Garmont and Kahtoola products are great.    For the past decade, I've used them to scale every peak in New England during the winter and to walk hundreds of miles around the Boston suburbs on ice.


John said...

Have you tried Ice Trekkers ( ? They seem like a more robust version of the Yaktrax, but mine are too new for me to know if that's true. For urban snow and ice walking, not climbing, obviously.

barakthecat said...

I’m with you on the Garmont boots, I’m on my second pair, and love them to death.