All Round B1-B2 Mountain Boots Group Test

Mountaineering is a diverse pursuit, with varied terrain to match. A general mountain boot has to be an all-rounder, good for scrambling and easy mountain rock, alpine snow plods and glacier crossings, and year-round walking on the British hills. Add lower grade winter climbs too, and you're asking a lot from one pair of boots. As well as performing on modest technical ground, you need something that's comfortable for long days on your feet, since you'll be walking far more than actually climbing. A mountain boot needs to be durable and waterproof too - and crucially, it has to do all this without weighing too much.

Crampon compatibility is a must of course. While the B-C system of matching boots to crampons is an inexact science, it's still a useful rough guide to stiffness and winter capability:

B-ratings explained

  • B1 Four season boots with a semi-stiffened midsole and a moderately supportive upper. Suitable for all UK summer mountain use and non-technical winter hill walking. Compatible only with strap-on C1 crampons.
  • B2 Four Season mountain boots with a stiffer midsole and supportive (and often warmer) upper. With just enough flex for a natural walking action, these are suitable for winter walking and alpine mountaineering, and may be sufficient on easy winter climbs (or even a bit higher up the grades, if you have small feet). Compatible with C1 and semi-automatic C2 crampons. The best choice if you want a year-round mountain boot that can do a bit of everything.
  • B3 Fully rigid technical mountain boots, suitable for front pointing on steeper winter climbing ground, but as a result generally less comfy, too heavy and too warm for other uses. Featuring ledges at both heel and toe, for compatibility with C3 step-in crampons.

None of the boots in this review are fully rigid B3s. Instead we are looking for all-round mountaineering boots that are usable year-round, both with crampons and without. As well as winter performance we're after lightness, all-day comfort and a degree of nimbleness for rock climbing and scrambling. Some of the models here are optimised for winter, while others err more towards summer. Which is better? Well it depends what you aim to do with it.

The lighter models we've looked at are B1 in terms of their flex and general feel, while the stiffer boots are most definitely B2s that can do a modest bit of front pointing. All have a heel ledge designed to take the rear clip of a (C2) semi step-in crampon binding. If B1.5 was an actual thing then that might be a good benchmark for this review - which just goes to highlight the limitations of the B-C system. Not every brand offers a B-rating, so in some cases we have judged this ourselves.

Fit is paramount when choosing a boot, and what fits one person might cripple another. With that in mind we have awarded no 'highly recommended' or 'best in test'. Suffice to say, they are all good in their niche.


Hanwag

Ferrata Combi GTX

Price: £245

Weight: 1580g/pair size 8 (42)

Rating: B2

Pros: Warmth, support, winter climbing performance; fair price

Cons: Weight; hot and cumbersome in summer

Ferrata Combi GTX prod shot


Mammut

Kento High GTX

Price: £219

Weight: 1240g/pair size 8.5 (42.5)

Rating: B1

Pros: Lightness; performance on rock; affordable

Cons: Too flexible and cold for serious winter; outsole is poor on wet grass


AKU

Tengu GTX

Price: £279.95

Weight: 1520g/pair size 41.5 (7.5)

Rating: B2

Pros: Good stiff winter performance

Cons: Weight and price

Tengu GTX prod shot


La Sportiva

Trango Tower GTX

Price: £300

Weight: 1450g/pair size 42 (8)

Rating: B1/B2

Pros: All day walking comfort; versatile for year round use

Cons: Flex is less suited to technical winter ground; expensive


Scarpa

Ribelle Lite OD

Price: £275

Weight: 1300g/pair size 42 (8)

Rating: B1

Pros: Light, and dextrous for scrambling; great walking comfort; a good all rounder

Cons: Flex is less suited to technical winter ground; not the warmest; not cheap

Ribelle Lite OD prod shot


Salewa

MS Vultur EVO GTX

Price: £295

Weight: 1820g/pair size 42 (8)

Rating: B2

Pros: Solid, supportive, warm and rigid for winter climbing

Cons: Too hot and clumsy for summer; heavy; price


Dolomite

Torq Tech GTX

Price: £280

Weight: 1384g/pair size 41.5 (7.5)

Rating: B2

Pros: Light, well-built and capable on both rock and winter ground

Cons: Not the warmest; price is fairly high


Kayland

Cross Mountain GTX

Price: £189.90

Weight: 1350g/pair size 41 (7)

Rating: B1/B2

Pros: A great all-rounder; exceptional value

Cons: Not warm or stiff enough for winter climbing above the lowest grades

Cross Mountain prod shot


Hanwag Ferrata Combi GTX - £245

Though via ferrata feature in both its name and product spec, we'd generally prefer something lighter for via ferrata (unless expecting to encounter much snow). If anything the name rather under-sells this boot's abilities - we think it's a great mountain all-rounder. Its solid feel and B2 rating suit it well to classic winter and alpine mountaineering, but at the same time it feels just about nimble enough for summer scrambling, and easily comfy enough for long hillwalking days. Build quality is high, and in that sense the price is very reasonable. There's really nothing to criticise with the Ferrata Combi - we love it.

An excellent all-round winter hillwalking/mountaineering boot  © Dan Bailey
An excellent all-round winter hillwalking/mountaineering boot
© Dan Bailey

Fit

Both male and female fits are available, in a decent range of sizes. Our reviewer is a borderline 47 in footwear, but though it's worth being fairly generous when sizing a mountain boot, he has got on well with the Ferrata Combi in size 46.5, so sizing is generous in this case.

Overall we'd call the fit medium-wide, and with a less pronounced asymmetry at the toe than some models in this category. If you're spending a long day on your feet, only a proportion of which is actual climbing or scrambling, then it makes sense not to go too radical in the curve of the sole, and for our broad-footed reviewer this comfort-oriented fit is particularly welcome. The heel fits quite snugly but without putting too much pressure on the achilles. Volume feels on the large side, but that equates to plenty of wiggle room for your toes and space for a nice thick winter sock. We soaked up some of the depth by adding a double insole, which has worked very well.

Heading for Cat Gully (I), the sort of easy winter mountaineering ground on which the Ferrata Combi works well   © Dan Bailey
Heading for Cat Gully (I), the sort of easy winter mountaineering ground on which the Ferrata Combi works well
© Dan Bailey

Everyone's feet are different, but in our experience the Ferrata Combi offers absolutely superb comfort for all-day use, being supportive without feeling too rigid or unforgiving on the foot. Their first outing was a full winter Munro day with a fairly meaty walk-in, and while that may have been a bit of a gamble it was one that paid off in this case. Even when brand new we experienced absolutely no heel lift, rubbing or pinching.

Upper

With both suede and Cordura panels, the upper has a solid well-built feel, though there's a lot of exposed stitching which does tend to raise a question mark as to long-term durability since these are points at which a boot can begin to wear or even leak over time (we're talking years, hopefully). A high all-round rand adds both peace of mind and toe protection.

Being slightly higher than the Mammut and Scarpa boots on review, but a lot lower than for instance the Salewa, we think the cuff is a good height for a general mountain boot. It gives plenty of ankle support for walking on rough ground or traversing snow slopes, but with large stretchy neoprene inserts it still feels soft and flexible enough not to restrict ankle mobility too much when you're scrambling. While it's comparatively high, the tongue is both very soft and nicely rounded and this really helps reduce the danger of bruising the ankle bone. Again, Hanwag have added a good dose of stretchy neoprene here. The laces run smoothly, with a locking eyelet midway that enables to you get different tightness in the forefoot and cuff.

Comfy and supportive for long days on rough terrain  © Dan Bailey
Comfy and supportive for long days on rough terrain
© Dan Bailey

Warm enough for winter in the UK hills  © Dan Bailey
Warm enough for winter in the UK hills
© Dan Bailey

The uppers feel thicker, warmer and more padded than some of the lighter boots on test; they're good and warm for Scottish winter mountains, though by the same token they might feel a bit too well insulated in the heat of an alpine summer. There is no perfect solution here! Inside you get a Gore-Tex lining, which adds waterproofing (remember all that stitching on the outer) and a measure of extra insulation.

Sole

The sole has a good level of stiffness for kicking steps into moderately-angled neve, and provides plenty of support underfoot when traversing snow slopes. However the Vibram Climbing II tread is not as deep as some and the heel breast less pronounced, so while we've found the outsole generally fine on snowy ground it does have more of a year-round feel, and is arguably a bit less winter-oriented than the really chunky rivals in this review. This makes it a bit less high and clumsy-feeling when you're negotiating rocky ground though, so there are pros as well as cons.

When you come to fitting a crampon the stiffness of the Ferrata Combi definitely feels like a solid B2. It's robust and rigid, and very much up to front pointing on moderately steep ground. Grade I gullies and classic Scottish winter ridge traverses are easily within its remit, though in the larger size that our reviewer wears we think we'd probably draw the line not far beyond there. In a smaller boot with less leverage on the sole, some users could well climb quite a bit harder.

The tread is adequate in winter, but not quite as chunky as some  © Dan Bailey
The tread is adequate in winter, but not quite as chunky as some
© Dan Bailey

One thing worth mentioning is the pronounced rocker. While this upturned toe makes for a really nice rolling walking action, and this undoubtedly contributes to the Ferrata Combi's excellent all-day comfort, it doesn't necessarily marry well with every design of crampon, and it'd thus be important to try them for fit with the crampons you intend to use with them. We've mostly been using the Grivel Air Tech in a semi-automatic configuration. This semi-ridgid C2 crampon works well enough with the boot, though if we're being picky there is a bit more of a gap than we'd consider ideal between the base of the crampon and the underside of that upturned toe. A more flexible C1 walker's crampon would be likely to give a closer fit at the front.

Weight

We make these boots 1866g / pair (size 46.5), which is on the heavy side compared to most of the others on review (Hanwag say 1580g/pair size 8). However the Ferrata Combi is a comparatively solid and supportive boot, with quite a stiff and beefy sole and a warmer and more robust-feeling upper than its lighter rivals. The build quality is excellent too. For all these reasons we think the weight is fully justified - you're getting a lot of winter boot for under 2kg. Crucially, the comfort and natural-feeling walking action go a long way towards mitigating the weight. They don't feel unduly heavy or clumpy in use... though it has to be said that summer would not be our preferred season for them.

For long mountain days, we think the comfort offsets the weight  © Dan Bailey
For long mountain days, we think the comfort offsets the weight
© Dan Bailey

Note: This boot is due a major update for 2019. We've seen but not used the new Ferrata II, and look forward to reporting back when it's available to review. Meanwhile, you might be able to pick up the model we've covered here at a discount (though we feel it's well worth its full price!):

Hanwag say:

Lightweight, hybrid crampon compatible alpine boot – ideal for via ferratas. Now also available with a wider forefoot

  • Sizes: UK6-13 (men) 3.5-9 (women)
  • Weight: 1580g/pair size 8
  • Rating: B2 (our estimate)
  • Upper: Suede, Neoprene & Cordura
  • Lining: Gore-Tex
  • Outsole: Vibram® Climbing II

For more info see hanwag.com

Ferrata Combi GTX prod shot

Mammut Kento High GTX - £219

The lightest, least well-insulated and most flexible boot in this review, the Kento High GTX errs more towards summer mountains than sustained and serious winter use. This is very much a B1, and too flexible for front pointing on even moderately steep ground; in that regard it can't directly compete with the more winter-oriented models on test here. Of course outside the snowy months that lightness, flex and comparative coolness become positive advantages. This is a nice nimble boot for scrambling, and one of the best on snow-free rock. If you're only occasionally intending to don crampons, and only on easier winter or alpine snow walking terrain, then the Kento High would be a good choice. If you like the Mammut fit but need a B2, then have a look at the Magic High GTX.

They're lighter and more flexible than most  © Dave Saunders
They're lighter and more flexible than most
© Dave Saunders

Fit

This boot is available in both male and female (or high volume and low volume) versions.

In our experience Mammut footwear tends to be fairly broad, but the Kento High bucks this trend, being one of the narrower boots in this review, at least at the toe. This narrow feel stems in part from its curved asymmetric shape, which is more pronounced than most boots in this category. Our broad-toed reviewer was initially concerned about the aggressively curved front end, but while he does get an occasional toe strike when walking straight downhill it's not half as bad as he'd first feared. That said, if your feet are wide at the front then it would be worth trying them on carefully since if there's any squeeze here it is really going to tell by the end of a long hill day. When you transfer from walking to scrambling, the upside to this bent shape is that it slightly favours the big toe (the same principle as an asymmetric climbing shoe), and we've found this aids the general feel of precision on rock.

On the first few days out our reviewer suffered a bit from the side of the tongue digging painfully into the ankle bone (on both feet); however this seems to have eased up significantly after a bit of use. Elsewhere we've found comfort is good: the heel is held securely in position without rubbing or achilles pressure, while the soft tongue and cuff feel flexible and forgiving.

It feels light for year-round use, and works well on scrambles   © Dan Bailey
It feels light for year-round use, and works well on scrambles
© Dan Bailey

Upper

The nubuck leather upper is the softest and most flexible in the review. In summer conditions the advantage of this is that it helps the boot feel light and nimble; on the other hand the drawback for winter use is that the Kento High feels less supportive and protective than a stiffer, clumpier boot. In cold conditions it's noticeably less warm than the other boots on test. While we've used it happily for winter hillwalking on sub zero days - when you can stay warm by keeping moving - for slower-moving roped winter climbing, and especially long cold belays, numb feet seem a likely outcome. Having worn the Kento High on both rainy days and in the snow, we've found the surface of the nubuck can wet out after a few hours; but with a Gore-Tex lining, the feet stay dry inside. As well as guarding that soft upper from a lot of scuffing, a full rand affords decent protection to the lower foot and toes.

For a crampon-compatible boot the ankle cuff is on the low side - among the lowest in the review - and with its softness and stretch it doesn't feel as supportive as the more winter-oriented models. When crossing steep snow slopes in crampons, or attempting to hold an edge with the side of the sole, this boot feels comparatively insubstantial. However, to continue with the theme of summer pros versus winter cons, the ankle flex on offer here is brilliant for precise footwork on scrambling ground, so as ever it really depends what you want to do with your boots.

The laces run smoothly, and can be locked off below the cuff so you can fine-tune the tension. When tied tightly, we have noticed the laces digging into the bony top of the foot through the soft, thin tongue. You also get a longer lace than required for a boot this low, which results in big loops that could potentially snag more easily.

Sole

There's a lot more flex at the toe than the B2 boots in this review, but a lot less than your average approach shoe. In use on scrambling terrain we've found you get enough support underfoot for reasonably secure edgeing but at the same time a better measure of smear-ability than your average stiffer and more clumpy mountain boot. For a scrambling boot, it's a well judged measure of flex.

The Michelin sole is interestingly different  © Dan Bailey
The Michelin sole is interestingly different
© Dan Bailey

Wet rock they seem not to mind; wet grass, less so  © Dan Bailey
Wet rock they seem not to mind; wet grass, less so
© Dan Bailey

Unusually for a mountain boot, Mammut have gone with a Michelin (Alpine Lite) sole rather than the almost-ubiquitous Vibram. With its many flat studs this looks a little different to your average boot sole. It has good grip on dry rock, and works well for scrambling or easy rock climbing, with a big flat area at the toe. With less overall sole depth, the foot feels a bit closer to the ground than in most winter boots, and if you're scrambling or balancing over boulders then this is an advantage.

However on steep wet grass this sole can be positively alarming, and our reviewer has more than once ended up on his backside. By the same token the grip on some snow surfaces feels a bit less secure than we'd prefer. A winter boot should really bite into snow, and for this the outsole used here seems less effective than the more aggressive treads of the other boots on test. We're not sure if that is the result of the flat shape of the lugs, the comparative shallowness of the grooves, the fact that the heel ledge is one of the smaller in the review, or a quirk of the rubber compound that Michelin have used - or perhaps it's a bit of all four. The overall impression is that this boot was designed with drier, less vegetated summer mountains foremost in mind, which is something to consider if you'll mostly be using them in the soggy old UK, or in winter.

The Kento High paired with Grivel Air Tech crampons - borderline in a boot this soft  © Dan Bailey
The Kento High paired with Grivel Air Tech crampons - borderline in a boot this soft
© Dan Bailey

Crampon compatibility is always an inexact science, and it pays to try any boot with the crampons you intend to use with it. The heel ledge of the Kento High is suggestive of a B2 boot, but don't be misled: although it will take a rear crampon clip this boot's official rating is B1. It has a fair bit more flex than the heavier and more substantial boots in this review, and as such is less suited to front pointing up steep snow, ice or mixed ground. Its winter mountain performance is very much at the walking end of the spectrum, and it wouldn't be our first choice for grade I snow gullies or grade II Scottish ridge traverses. Easier or less sustained winter routes such as Striding Edge or the CMD Arete might be a sensible sort of upper limit, at least in the larger sizes where more bend is always evident.

These are best paired with a flexible C1 strap-on crampon, though we've managed alright with a semi step-in C2 - in this case the Grivel Air Tech. It's worth noting though that the sole is broad, especially at the heel, and this may simply be too wide for the rear lever/clip of some crampons.

Weight

At just 1550g for a pair of size 47s, the Kento High is one of the lightest models in this review. After everything we've said about it being more a summer-oriented all rounder than a winter specialist, this should come as no surprise. We might prefer a stiffer, warmer boot for winter mountaineering, but the Kento High's lightness was welcome when our reviewer ran from the summit of Ben Ledi to the car park the other day - not something he'd do in most B2s.

Mammut say:

Versatility is its middle name: The strap-on crampon-compatible Kento High GTX® boot is made from high-quality nubuck leather and waterproof GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort Footwear Membrane. It feels just as at home in diverse mountain hiking terrain as it does on challenging via ferrata routes or moderate mountain tours. This is due to the lightweight Michelin® Alpine Lite 3970 sole, which has been specially developed for alpine activities on rock, ice and snow. The pre-shaped tongue construction and 2-zone lacing support the anatomical shape of the foot and its natural rolling movement. For comfort on the mountain.

  • Sizes: 6.5-13 (men) 4-8.5 (women)
  • Weight: 1240g/pair size 8.5
  • Rating: B1
  • Upper: Nubuck leather
  • Lining: Gore-Tex
  • Outsole: Michelin® Alpine Lite 3970

For more info see uk.mammut.com

AKU Tengu GTX - £279.95

The Tengu GTX feel like very capable boots for most UK mountain situations, just the sort of all-rounders we're after in this review. Like the other B2s in this review they don't have a toe-lip so won't take full step in crampons, but with a well-fitted, semi-automatic 12 point crampon one of our smaller-footed reviewers thinks he would be quite happy winter climbing into the mid grades in Tengus - they feel warm, supportive and secure enough on steeper ground (bigger sizes generally flex more, so climb less well). Nevertheless despite this winter performance they have also proved perfectly comfortable hiking and scrambling in summer conditions - and at only 1.5kg for the pair they are far from the heavier all-leather boots some of us started out with. You can get lighter crampon-compatible boots but they tend to be a little less supportive around the ankle and not as warm when using them in the snow. If they fit you well, and you're not out every weekend on hard winter routes, then these may be all the boot you need.

They're warm, rigid and supportive for regular winter walking and climbing  © Toby Archer
They're warm, rigid and supportive for regular winter walking and climbing
© Toby Archer

Fit

The Tengu GTX is made in sizes from 4½ to 12. AKU don't make a specific women's model - this boot is considered unisex. Maybe they feel that across the population women's feet don't really differ that much from men's?

AKU say these are made on a narrower last than standard walking footwear, for greater climbing performance - however we can't say they feel unduly narrow. After hearing from some other users that the Tengus fitted their wider feet well, our reviewer went for size 41.5 rather than his normal size 42. These have proven to be a good fit although the first couple of full days done in boots led to some blisters at the top of heel at the junction of the achilles. For subsequent uses we added a layer of anti-blister tape there before putting the boots on and that seemed to resolve the problem. More usage seems to have shaped the heel box better to our reviewer's feet and now he happily wears the boots all day without need for tape.

Summer rock on Lochnagar in the Tengu GTX  © Dave Smith
Summer rock on Lochnagar in the Tengu GTX
© Dave Smith

Upper

The uppers are predominantly nylon with some areas of suede. The nylon doesn't look particularly tough but in use seems to be perfectly suited for the task - scree running, jamming the boots in cracks, and boulder-fields have all failed to even scuff the boots. A rubber rand also protects the lower part of the uppers (and the feet inside) whilst adding friction when climbing in them. Overall the uppers feel quite padded, giving great protection on rough terrain - particularly scree - and seeming to make the boots quite warm in wintry conditions.

The ankle cuff is quite high, noticeably higher than some others in this review such as the Dolomite Torq Tech. There's no stretch in the cuff - it's pretty old school - but it does feel supportive for our reviewer's dodgy ankles, and nicely padded. Ankle mobility is fine - we've had no problem easy climbing (on rock and in crampons) in them.

Nylon/suede upper and Vibram sole - with a less chunky tread than some  © Toby Archer
Nylon/suede upper and Vibram sole - with a less chunky tread than some
© Toby Archer

The lacing is smooth-running, and includes a lockoff. Many of the eyelets are nylon loops, but these show no sign of wear at all yet. AKU have included a second pair of alternative coloured laces too, which is nice!

Sole

AKU have used the Vibram Curcuma out sole, which has a relatively deep tread which is well spaced for shedding mud and snow - albeit less deep and chunky than some of the other boots on review. When compared to some other lightweight modern sole designs like the Vibram Mulaz, the Curcuma has more heel breast - meaning it will take the strap of a gaiter better, and tends to dig deeper into soft ground when descending. It's not as much as on a classic Vibram sole but more than some. There's no big flat climbing-zone at the toe, as found on most mountain boots, but for scrambling we've found that friction is good anyway. Perhaps because the rubber is rather soft, the wear at the toe is already noticeable (though in terms of fast-wearing soles we've certainly seen worse).

Lakeland winter in the Tengu GTX  © Toby Archer
Lakeland winter in the Tengu GTX
© Toby Archer

With its carbon fibre midsole, in smaller sizes the Tengu's stiffness is sufficient for front pointing on at least moderately steep/technical winter ground, and anecdotally we've heard of them being used on grade IV routes. We haven't yet climbed that hard in them, but our reviewer (who admittedly has smaller feet, and is generally comfortable in more flexible winter boots) thinks he'd be fine in them on that sort of ground. They also edge well for summer scrambling and easy rock, though the stiffness and support on offer here does make them a bit less good for smearing. We've found them fine on summer rock, albeit a bit stiffer than some, which is admittedly an acquired taste.

The insoles that come with Tengus are better than many, but not particularly supportive - they do however include a layer of reflective aluminium foil, so seem designed to help keep your feet warm (perhaps it works - we've had nothing to grumble at yet).

Weight

The pair in size 41.5 weigh 1450g with no insoles and 1520g with the insoles. Our reviewer found the Tengu GTX to feel relatively light on his feet for winter capable boots, thanks to their comfort and overall dexterity. However objectively speaking they are a fair bit heavier than the lightest models on review, and over a long day this can start to matter more.

They feel light enough for year round use and scrambling  © Toby Archer
They feel light enough for year round use and scrambling
© Toby Archer

AKU say:

Technical semi crampon-compatible footwear for mountaineering activities. Innovative materials make Tengu GTX a lightweight, high performance boot ideal for use in dynamic situations on mixed terrain. The new Vibram® Curcuma outsole, combined with the exclusive AKU Exoskeleton midsole, offers great stability and precision during climbing and approach trekking.

  • Sizes: 37.5-47 (unisex)
  • Weight: 1520g / pair size 41.5
  • Rating: B2
  • Upper: Nylon and suede
  • Lining: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
  • Outsole: Vibram Curcuma
  • Lasting board: Carbon fibre & DIE cut EVA

For more info see aku.it

Tengu GTX prod shot

La Sportiva Trango Tower GTX - £300

La Sportiva's Trango series are a popular line of boots that many will recognise. The Trango Tower GTX sit roughly in the middle of this range. A boot designed for mountain walking, via ferrata and backpacking more than technical winter climbing, they slot in between the winter climbing-oriented Trango Cube, and the walking-only Trango TRK. We think the Trango Tower GTX lean more towards being a walking boot than a technical climbing boot, comfortable enough for longer walks and supportive on rough terrain, with good performance on scrambling ground too. While they will officially take a C2 crampon, we think they are soft for a B2 boot - if the B1.5 category was a real thing then they'd be in it. This would not be our first choice for winter climbing; it's more of an all rounder. For the sort of spec on offer here the price seems high.

Quite a slimline boot, but others are marginally lighter  © Dan Bailey
Quite a slimline boot, but others are marginally lighter
© Dan Bailey

Fit

The Trango Tower GTX is available in both men's and women's versions and in a wide range of sizes. We think the Trango Tower is neither notably narrow nor unusually wide, and so will probably fit people with fairly standard feet. Size wise we opted for an EU42 for this test, slightly bigger than our reviewer would usually take; the idea was that they'd be worn primarily as a winter boot with thick socks. This seemed maybe a touch too big, even with thick socks on, and so if you plan on looking at these as a winter boot then try your size first before going up. Overall, apart from a bit of excess length at the toe it seems to fit our reviewer very well. The Trango Towers needed no break-in time for us, it was straight out of the box and into the hills.

The inside of the boot is well padded and insulated, and a large padded tongue protects the shins well. The heel feels secure when laced with no lifting, even when edging. The laces are easily tightened to adjust the volume and get a tight secure fit that seems to spread lace tension well. Overall we don't have anything bad to say about the fit of the Trango Tower GTX.

photo
Early season winter testing...
© Dan Bailey

photo
They're nice and nimble for scrambling, both summer and winter
© Dan Bailey

Upper

The fully synthetic uppers are constructed using nylon, with areas of a high tenacity fabric that La Sportiva call Honeycomb Guard. In simple terms this stuff seems able to withstand higher levels of abrasion than most other types of fabric, and it is placed strategically over the boot where abrasion and rubbing are most likely to occur, such as at the sides when the boot is stuffed into a crack. The long term aim of these is to make the upper last longer and give the boot an overall greater lifespan. So far we've not noticed any damage to the uppers, which is reassuring.

A Gore-Tex Performance Comfort lining provides the expected protection from water ingress, whether that's from rain, wet snow or crossing streams. Our reviewer's feet have stayed dry all day, every day. We've been using these over the winter period and they have been good at keeping feet warm even while stationary for longer periods, too. This boot is noticeably better insulated than some of the lighter alternatives such as the Mammut Kento High and Kayland Cross Mountain GTX.

The sole grips well but the rubber is pretty soft; the upper is comparatively warm and durable  © Martin McKenna
The sole grips well but the rubber is pretty soft; the upper is comparatively warm and durable
© Martin McKenna

Sole

Although the Trango Tower GTX looks like a B2 boot, and takes a semi-automatic crampon, the sole is relatively flexible. For this reason we'd tend to favour these more for longer hillwalks in summer or winter, or the very easiest winter climbing, grade I or II type stuff plodding up snow slopes or easy (and we do mean easy) mixed climbing on rocky ridges. They are fine for kicking into snow, but we have found scrambling in them a bit harder, edging especially causing a good bit of bending of the sole. They are still more than capable of scrambling, with enough flex to smear, but if you like a stiff and secure edge-holding sole year-round then there may be better options.

The sole on the Trango Tower GTX is an exclusive model made by Vibram for La Sportiva, called the Cube. This is the same outsole that is used on the Trango Cube, but on the Trango Tower GTX it has a slightly different thickness than the Cube's sole. The tread on this sole is deep and provides good traction on rocky ground and also wet vegetation. We've taken this boot up dry scrambling ground, steep wet vegetated slopes and also winter ground and it's proved good on all of them. The soft rubber also provides excellent friction on dry rock, although our reviewer felt that the bend in the sole offsets this slightly if you're thinking of using it primarily as a scrambling boot (other users may prefer a softer sole on rock - there's not necessarily a right answer here).

For the modest amount of mileage we've done in these boots so far the sole seems to be wearing faster than we would ideally like. Around the toe a large chunk of rubber has already broken off the tread; maybe this occurred when kicking into harder snow, or perhaps it caught on sharp rock. There's already a good amount of rubber loss, and despite the uppers being more durable we suspect the softness of the sole may let these boots down when it comes to long term all-terrain durability. Other users have also reported similar with the Cube sole. If you find the upper and the sole wear at different rates then resoling them might be a viable solution; better, however, would be if La Sportiva used a slightly harder wearing compound.

Plenty of stiffness in the sole for kicking steps  © Dan Bailey
Plenty of stiffness in the sole for kicking steps
© Dan Bailey

Weight

At 1450g a pair for size 42 the Trango Towers are of slightly above average weight in terms of this review, though not by enough to really matter. As we've said, these boots have a softer sole than others but they are also warm, so considering this the weight seems appropriate. Due to their warmth we'd prefer these as a winter boot over a summer boot, especially given the waterproof lining - although Gore-Tex breathes it's always going to leave your feet warm when you're working hard. For us their ideal niche is UK winter walking and low-end mountaineering.

La Sportiva say:

Lightweight, modern, Gore-Tex boot with the unmistakable aesthetic function of the Trango series, designed for mountain hiking, via ferrata and backpacking even with heavy loads. The uppers are made with the exclusive high tenacity fabric with differentiated abrasion resistant zones and Honey-Comb Guard™ reinforcements positioned in the areas most subject to abrasion. The aesthetic Trango line with seams minimized achieves the reduction of weight, also contributing to this is the Vibram sole with the exclusive La Sportiva Cube design with lightened thicknesses. The Gore-Tex Performance Comfort membrane guarantees water resistance and breathability. The 3D-Flex System allows for better control on holds. The differentiated lacing system between the upper and the lower part of the boot allows for perfect adjustment of volume for optimal wearing comfort. The Trango series is enriched with increasingly technical and aesthetic contents in advance of its time.

  • Sizes: 36 - 48 inc half sizes (men) 36 - 43 inc half sizes (women)
  • Weight: 1450g/pair size 42
  • Rating: B1/B2
  • Upper: High tenacity 6.6 Nylon water repellent with abrasion resistant zones Honey-Comb Guard™ and FlexTec 3
  • Lining: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
  • Outsole: La Sportiva Cube by Vibram

For more info see lasportiva.com

Scarpa Ribelle Lite OD - £275

One of Scarpa's cutting edge Ribelle family, which also includes the shoe-like S OD and the Alpine-oriented Mountain Tech OD (review left), the Ribelle Lite OD has been built very explicitly to a fast-and-light brief. These look and feel the most conventionally boot-like of the three - but get them on your feet and it's clear that it's high tech footwear. Is this the shape of boots to come from Scarpa? While billed as a boot for via ferrata and fast-moving mountain walking (don't worry, you can also go slow), the Ribelle Lite OD is ideal for alpine summer ascents and Scottish winter Munros too. It feels light and nimble on scrambling ground, and well-suited to classic winter ridge traverses. Think mountain journeys rather than technical winter climbing. It might be officially able to take a C2 crampon, but this boot flexes more like a B1 than a B2. Sustained front pointing, especially in the larger sizes, is not in its remit.

They excel as a light-and-fast mountain boot  © Dan Bailey
They excel as a light-and-fast mountain boot
© Dan Bailey

Fit

The Ribelle Lite OD is available in both men's and women's fit.

Our hobbit-footed reviewer's customary size 47 fitted him like clown shoes, so he went down to a 46.5. These he finds good for length and overall fit, though only with a medium weight sock rather than the heavy sock he'd generally prefer in winter. The exception, for us, is the width at the front. At first glance the toe looks generous and rounded rather than radically pointy, and there's certainly plenty of volume at the front (it's nice to be able to wiggle the toes to get some circulation back). However the curve of the boot's outside edge is actually quite pronounced, and while this asymmetry is good for precise footwork on summer rock it is unfortunately a bit radical for our broad-toed reviewer. It's not a deal breaker, but does pinch a little on long descents. This little toe murder is a long running theme for our reviewer with Scarpa's mountain boots, but of course plenty of other people get on very well with them and even say they're wide! As ever, it's vital you try boots on carefully before you buy.

We've found the fit at the rear is good, the heel held firmly in position without putting pressure on the achilles. Over the top of the foot, meanwhile, the 'sock fit' tongue is really comfortable. Instead of the usual bulky folded-over tongue, this single piece of soft, stretchy fabric (the 'sock') allows you to pull the boot close in across the top of the foot so that everything just feels that bit more precise and fitted.

Lightweight upper, and a decent winter-worthy chunky tread  © Dan Bailey
Lightweight upper, and a decent winter-worthy chunky tread
© Dan Bailey

Upper

The fully synthetic upper is light but durable. We've had a pair of Ribelle Mountain Tech OD for over a year now, and so far their uppers are showing no visible sign of wear - not something you'd be able to say about most leather boots. The signs point to the Ribelle Lite lasting well too. Additional protection is provided by a high polyurethane rand, which Scarpa say is lighter than traditional rubber.

Since the outer is non-porous, water and melting snow roll off it like, well, water from a duck's back. The materials won't wet out, and will never require re-treating. Backing this is a waterproof lining. Scarpa have bucked the industry trend here by opting for OutDry (OD) instead of the usual Gore-Tex.

A traditional waterproof lining is effectively a sock with taped seams, sandwiched between layers of boot. Over time such a lining may fail though movement between layers or the ingress of grit, while even when the lining is working as intended water may pass through the outer and then pool in the gap between it and the waterproof layer, making the boot heavy. OutDry claims to have solved these issues by heat bonding their waterproof/breathable barrier directly onto the inside surface of the outer fabric. There are no seams or gaps, they say, and hence no way for water to get in. The result is apparently lighter than a traditional booty-style membrane, and more long-lasting.

This is the third Scarpa OD boot that we've reviewed over the last couple of years and in terms of winter performance and long-term durability our impressions of the membrane to date are very positive. Our only concern with the Ribelle Mountain Tech OD is that it feels hot and sweaty in summer compared to many boots. Whether this is the fault of the synthetic outer or the OutDry lining we're not sure; we'll report back once we've been able to give the Ribelle Lite OD some warm weather use too.

Stiff enough for kicking steps...  © Dan Bailey
Stiff enough for kicking steps...
© Dan Bailey

...but not for prolonged front pointing  © Dan Bailey
...but not for prolonged front pointing
© Dan Bailey

The upper itself is lower-cut than the other boots on test - the top lace eyelet, for instance, is between 1-5cm lower than the rest. Combined with its softness and stretch, this low cuff allows the ankle to flex freely, which is great for precise footwork on the rock but does make the boot feel less supportive when you're on steeper snow. Between its lightness, its flexible cuff and the sock-like fit, the Ribelle Lite feels the least like a traditional clumsy mountain boot of any on review. For some uses this will be a major plus, while in other situations it may feel a bit insubstantial.

One final note: The upper is noticeably thinner than most, and offers less insulation. There's no doubt that in colder conditions your feet suffer more than in heavier boots such as the Salewa MS Vultur. We'd generally save these boots for fairer weather winter days. Perhaps that's the price you pay for lightness.

Sole

The sole of the Ribelle Lite is bendier than the chunkier B2s on review here, but marginally more rigid than the B1 Mammut Kento High. They provide a good measure of lateral support for walking on winter ground, and enough rigidity for kicking steps in snow. With its heel ledge the boot will take the rear clip of a semi step-in crampon, and Scarpa suggest it is compatible with C2 crampons with a flexible bar. We've had a good fit with Grivel Air Tech and Petzl Sarken crampons. However we definitely wouldn't regard these as B2 boots, as in the larger sizes they certainly aren't stiff enough for sustained front pointing on steep ground. To reiterate what we've said above, this is best regarded as an all-round mountain boot rather than one for technical winter climbing - think a snowy Aonach Eagach or Curved Ridge, but not ice climbing (not even easy ice).

For a natural walking action the sole has a pronounced rocker, with probably the most upturned toe of any of these boots. This gives a really nice roll when striding along, and feels a long way from a traditional clumpy winter boot. Between the upturned toe and the generally soft springy sole, the boot holds small edges a bit less securely than a stiffer boot; but on the other hand you can smear more effectively in the Ribelle Lite. Overall we'd prefer these for a scrambling day, over and above any of the B2s on test.

The Vibram Pentax Precision outsole has a climbing-friendly area at the toe, while for walking on snow the tread is reasonably chunky, with well-spaced lugs. On a variety of surfaces, from rock to snow to wet grass, the grip is reassuring.

Snowy conditions on Ben Cruachan  © Dan Bailey
Snowy conditions on Ben Cruachan
© Dan Bailey

Weight

At 1544g/pair size 46.5 (Scarpa say 1300g/pair size 42), the Ribelle Lite OD may not represent a total revolution in boot weight, but they are certainly lighter than most boots of this sort of spec. In this review the only model of comparable weight is the Mammut Kento High. Thanks to its rather more high tech materials and construction, the Ribelle Lite gives you a bit more winter performance for the weight. For long days out on the hill, less weight means less fatigue...

Scarpa say:

The Ribelle family are a new generation of boots designed to allow people to move faster than conventional mountain boots. Core to this is the new ARG last shape, which has low volume technical precision, but with a noticeable toe spring, giving a much more natural and fluid gait. This is married to the new Pentax Precision Roll sole which has a technical Vibram outsole with bi-density PU cushioning, giving a much more natural feel and walking motion. The upper of the Ribelle Lite is a lightweight microtech fabric with a direct lamination Outdry membrane: fully waterproof and highly breathable, without absorbing water. The sock fit tongue works with the lightweight lacing system to give a snug, instant fit. The upper (and the midsole) are wrapped in a new PU Tech layer that offers excellent abrasion resistance without adding anywhere near the weight of a conventional rubber rand.

  • Sizes: 41-48 (men) 37-42 (women)
  • Weight: 1300g/pair size 42
  • Rating: B2 officially (we'd say B1)
  • Upper: Tech Fabric + Microtech
  • Lining: OutDry® Lamination + 37.5 by Cocona
  • Outsole: Vibram Pentax Precision III

For more info see scarpa.co.uk

Ribelle Lite OD prod shot

Salewa MS Vultur EVO GTX - £295

This is the stiffest, warmest and most robust boot on review; it's also the heaviest, clumpiest and among the most expensive. With its thick suede and extensive hard rand the Vultur EVO is made to take hard knocks. Between the support offered by its extra-high cuff, and the rigidity of the sole, this is arguably the most winter-worthy boot we've looked at here, and though only compatible with C2 semi step-in crampons the feel is very much at the upper end of the B2 rating. If you're after a boot for regular winter climbing, this is probably it. In smaller sizes we think it would be rigid enough for long sessions on your front points. There's an obvious drawback to all this: The Vultur EVO is way too much boot for summer, and feels cumbersome on scrambling ground. Not a great year-round all-rounder, then, but a very capable boot for snow and ice.

A robust and relatively rigid boot that's at its best in winter   © Martin McKenna
A robust and relatively rigid boot that's at its best in winter
© Martin McKenna

Fit

A female fit is available. In the men's version you get a lot of room. The volume is quite high, and there's enough width at the toe for even our broad-footed reviewer. His usual size 47 feels on the roomy side in this particular boot, so it would be worth trying these on and perhaps considering a half size down if you're borderline. Salewa provide two footbeds (both floppy bits of foam), so if you want to reduce the volume, and to an extent the width, then you can double these up. However the two together do create a lot of bulk under the arch, which we found uncomfortable, so we substituted one of Salewa's for a flat insole.

There's wiggle room at the toe, which you need in a winter boot, but at the rear the deep internal padding and the high cuff between them hold the foot firmly and comfortably in position, cupping the heel without putting pressure on the achilles.

They're one of the bulkier, and also warmer, boots on review  © Martin McKenna
They're one of the bulkier, and also warmer, boots on review
© Martin McKenna

Upper

Its 2.8mm Perwanger suede leather feels thicker and more unyielding than the other leather boots on review, and while this adds to the overall feeling of durability and support we do think the Vultur EVO needs a bit of breaking in from new. A massive all-round rand, which is practically rigid, increases the durable feel and the foot protection - nothing's getting through that! Inside there's a Gore-Tex lining, and with a fair bit of thickness and padding the boot feels better insulated than most in this category. If it's full-on Scottish ming, then these are the boots we'd choose.

A wrap-around tongue makes for a neater feel to the upper, and with only one fold instead of the usual two it should in theory be easier to pull the laces in tight down at the toe. However we've found that the thickness and stiffness of the leather makes it bulge in a bit over the top of the toes - not uncomfortable as such, but something you're definitely aware of. A softer and more flexible tongue might have offered a closer, more forgiving fit. Lacing is smooth-running, with lockoffs at two points so you can vary the tension at the toe, mid-foot and ankle.

For cold, windy, snowy Scottish conditions they are a reassuringly warm option  © Dan Bailey
For cold, windy, snowy Scottish conditions they are a reassuringly warm option
© Dan Bailey

Coming higher than any other model on test - more so than a lot of B3 boots, even - the cuff is truly massive. To help keep out snow and water, the tongue is sewn in right to the top. There's tons of padding, and it's very firm, which really protects the ankle bone (and a good bit of your lower leg too!). You wonder at first how you'll be able to walk in these boots, let alone climb, but there is a bit of stretch to aid movement, and the padding does soften up a little. A cuff this high and beefy is great for support on steep winter ground, and warmer than a low cuff too, but it has to be said that ankle mobility is comparatively restricted by it. Compared to a lighter, more flexible boot you feel a bit clumsy when walking, but more still when trying to scramble or climb on rock. The Vultur EVO can happily crampon all day up steep snow or moderate ice, but if accurate footwork is required then it's a bit of a blunt instrument.

High cuff, chunky sole, stiff rand... these are BIG boots!  © Dan Bailey
High cuff, chunky sole, stiff rand... these are BIG boots!
© Dan Bailey

Sole

A nylon/fibreglass insert makes this a comparatively rigid sole, and even in our size 47 review pair there's only a very little flex at the toe. The Vultur EVO is stiff for a B2, and certainly the stiffest in this review. This makes for a solid platform underfoot for kicking steps, and a more secure and convincing feel when front pointing. More so than the others on test, they feel capable of venturing off the grade I snow gullies and classic winter ridges, and onto slightly steeper ground. The Vultur EVO should in theory take any C2 semi-automatic crampon, but it would pay to test this before you buy them since the rear ledge is an unusual narrow slot which may not be wide enough for every shape of heel clip, while the broad front may be too much for some toe bails. We get an excellent close fit with both Grivel Air Tech and Petzl Sarken crampons.

Venturing off snow and onto rock, that rigidity makes the Vultur EVO a very supportive boot for edging, but not a sensitive or precise-feeling one. Smearing really isn't going to happen.

Underfoot, the Vibram WTC outsole has a large flat climbing-friendly toe zone, coupled with a robust and chunky set of lugs that bite deep into soft ground and provide loads of traction on snow. For downhill braking, the heel breast is massive. We reckon these built-up heels add a good inch or two to your height. On snow this is welcome, but the disadvantage comes when you're tottering over rough rocky terrain, when the boot feels quite awkward and high off the ground.

They're less an all-rounder, more of a winter climbing boot  © Dan Bailey
They're less an all-rounder, more of a winter climbing boot
© Dan Bailey

Weight

So they're beefy, durable, warm, supportive and rigid. But you don't get anything for free, and the tradeoff in this case is clearly the weight. At a hefty 2312g per pair (that's a size 47 - Salewa's weight is 1820g size 42) these are by a big margin the heaviest boots on review. They're not light and fast so much as solid and anchored to the earth. A bit of heft isn't always a bad thing, and on winter ground it hasn't bothered us. However it has to be said that more weight on the feet does equal more fatigue by the end of a long day. For summer in the sub-4000m Alps, or UK scrambling, we think the Vultur EVO is just too hot, stiff and heavy. But if you're winter mountaineering, or heading for Mont Blanc in summer, then these are serious contenders.

Salewa say:

Our Vultur Evo is an extremely robust alpine boot with a rugged Perwanger suede leather upper, durable TPU toe cap and full protective rand. Its durably waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort lining offers insulation and climate control for a wide range of weather conditions. For mountaineering, mixed routes and glacier crossing, the stiff nylon and carbon loaded fibreglass insole ensures hybrid crampon compatibility, while the flex collar and ergonomic Bilight midsole provide good walking comfort, superior shock absorption and greater durability than conventional constructions. Underfoot, the sure-grip Vibram® WTC outsole has an aggressive tread for high traction and a climbing zone at the toe for precise footwork. Our trademark SALEWA® 3F System connects the instep area with the sole and heel, ensuring flexibility, support and a secure fit. 3D Lacing allows you to fine-tune at the forefoot and midfoot for greater comfort or precision, while the multi-layer MFF+ footbed with its two interchangeable layers allows you to customise the fit (or wear thicker socks). And the Flex Collar increases the ankle's rear range of motion and comfort during descents.

  • Sizes: (men) (women)
  • Weight: 1820g/pair size 42
  • Rating: B2
  • Upper: 2.8mm Perwanger suede leather
  • Lining: GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort
  • Outsole: Vibram® WTC
  • Insole: Stiff - Nylon + 27% Fiberglass

For more info see salewa.com

Dolomite Torq Tech GTX - £280

The Torq Tech GTX is a very impressive new arrival on the lightweight mountain boot scene from another long established Italian boot maker, Dolomite. Towards the lighter end of the spectrum, you might expect this boot to be well suited to summer alpine climbing, via ferrata and scrambling and easy rock routes in the UK - and you'd be right. But they are very winter-capable too (at least in the smaller sizes). Our reviewer found himself perched on front points halfway up a 20m pitch of grade 4 ice deep in a very early season Gardyloo Gully, feeling perfectly secure in the Torq Techs, and it was only a lack of ice screws that made him decide to back off, not the boots. We've found them comfy straight out of the box, too. Perhaps the lack of insulation is the only thing that stops them being a real do-everything boot for the British mountains.

They're light, but winter-capable...  © Toby Archer
They're light, but winter-capable...
© Toby Archer

Fit

The Torq Tech comes in both male and female versions, with a good range of sizes. Our reviewer took a chance, based on his experience with a pair of Dolomite walking boots, going for 41.5s rather than his normal size 42. This was a success, with a good fit for scrambling and easy rock, but still plenty of width for his wide feet. First use was an overnight backpacking and scrambling trip on Kinder, and the brand new boots were comfortable for something like 20km of rough hiking - not a blister or hotspot in sight. They've since done 12 hours up and down Ben Nevis and, again, still felt comfortable, even when stumbling, rather tired after two big days on the hill, back into the North Face car park. The boots are not particularly high or supportive around the ankle, although this probably helps more than hinders their all day comfort. It should be noted that the insoles supplied with the Torq Techs are a lot better than disposable lumps of soft foam that come with many other boots. Whilst not giving the same amount of heel support as aftermarket insoles like Superfeet, the Dolomite ones do have a layer of higher density foam under the arch and supporting the heel cup.

Testing their scrambling ability on Crib Lem  © Toby Archer
Testing their scrambling ability on Crib Lem
© Toby Archer

Upper

The uppers have a Gore-Tex lining that has successfully kept puddles, mud and wet snow at bay. The outer material is a mix of synthetic leather and what looks like a kevlar-like fabric. So far they have remained completely scuff free even from foot-jamming on gritstone scrambles. There is a high rubber rand around the boot that helps both protect the upper and when climbing. The ankle is finished with a neoprene 'gasket' which is much better than nothing at keeping stones, mud and snow out, although our reviewer still tends to wear short gaiters for most UK conditions.

How warm a boot is results from the fit and the sole as well as the uppers, but our reviewer did notice that the Torq Techs are not the warmest of boots when used in snow, and the lightweight uppers seem to be part of that. When walking or climbing fast on easy ground this isn't necessarily a problem, but when stood in snow belaying high on Ben Nevis some vigorous toe wiggling was required!

Durable synthetic uppers and a Vibram Mulaz sole  © Toby Archer
Durable synthetic uppers and a Vibram Mulaz sole
© Toby Archer

Sole

The sole is Vibram Mulaz, a modern lightweight take on the classic Vibram mountain pattern. On the rock our tester found both grip from the tread pattern and friction was good - Vibram still appear to set the standard here. However the tread is not as deep as some, and this might make a marginal difference when it comes to grip on sloppy ground or snow - a year-round outsole rather than a winter-specialised one, perhaps. The sole has a "climbing zone" under the toe showing these boots are very much designed with scrambling in mind. How much difference this climbing zone makes is hard to tell, but the relative stiffness, light weight and suitable sole overall make the Torq Techs awesome for easy rock climbing and scrambling.

photo
From Peak District scrambles...
© Toby Archer

photo
...To Ben Nevis in winter
© Toby Archer

There is no toe-lip for full step-in crampons but there is the heel ledge to fit semi-automatic bindings. Our reviewer tested the boots with Climbing Technology Nuptse and Edelrid Beast crampons and found it easy to get a secure fit with both. The reasonably narrow toe of the Torq Techs mean that more of the boot fitted between the front posts of the Nuptse crampons, and the same with some elderly G12s. This meant that more of the boot projected over the front points of the crampons than our reviewer would have liked, nevertheless once actually on the front points on ice this didn't really seem to be an issue and their ice climbing performance is certainly surprisingly good for such light boots. Nevertheless, although our reviewer is happy to admit to having more of the stout mountaineer's build than a skinny rock-whippet's, his foot size at 41.5 is relatively small. This means that while he found the the Torq Techs stiff enough for front pointing on steep snow and ice, in bigger sizes they might not be - or at least it will put much more strain on the calves. Overall we're happy to give these boots an estimated B2 rating.

Weight

Dolomite say 1340g for a pair (presumably size 42). We've weighed all the boots in this review with the insoles supplied, and in this case we make them 1384g/pair size 41.5.

Dolomite say:

The Torq Tech GTX is a multitasking mountaineering boot developed for technical excursions at medium altitudes and via ferrata. Meant for mountain experts, it's fully crafted in Italy and instilled with the skills and the unique experience of the world's best footwear artisans. Semi-crampon-compatible and provided with Gore-Tex® lining, it's suitable for short routes over ice and ice fields too, whereas its Vibram® Mulaz outsole ensures unparalleled grip on either wet and dry surfaces. Lightness, compactness and agility ultimately make this mountain boot the perfect trekking companion for the modern-day mountaineer.

  • Sizes: 6-12 (men)
  • Weight: 1384g/pair size 41.5
  • Rating: B2
  • Upper: 1.6 Coated Microfiber, Tech fabric, Stretch fabric
  • Lining: Gore-tex Performance Comfort Footwear
  • Outsole: Vibram® Mulaz

For more info see dolomite.it

Kayland Cross Mountain GTX - £190

An excellent model that blends walking comfort with some of the advantages of a four-season mountain boot, the Kayland Cross Mountain GTX may look like a modest hillwalking boot, but its is actually reasonably capable on moderately technical terrain in both summer and winter. Overall this would be an excellent choice for high-level trekking, Munro bagging, scrambling and low grade Scottish winter mountaineering; however the fact that they are comparatively light on insulation does count against them for bigger Alpine snow peaks or cold winter belays. For a boot of this spec and quality, the price seems exceptionally reasonable!

Fit

The Cross Mountain GTX comes in women and men's versions, both in a good range of sizes. The general sizing of the boot seems around standard, rather than being notably narrow or broad. Our reviewer opted for his standard shoe size which seems spot on, although you'll want to go up a size if you plan to do some regular front pointing to prevent toes impacting the front of the boots, and to accommodate thicker socks.

The overall width of the boot feels middle of the road with a slightly narrow heel in comparison to the forefoot, however our reviewer has slightly narrow feet so the wider forefoot may feel more pronounced in this test. The front of the boot is more boxy than other boots in this test and as such the Cross Mountain will suit a wearer with toes that don't taper as abruptly. The overall volume of the boot around the midfoot is on the lower end of the scale and with laces tightened they fit our reviewer's low volume feet nicely.

In terms of crampon compatibility, they're more suited to winter walking than winter climbing  © Dan Bailey
In terms of crampon compatibility, they're more suited to winter walking than winter climbing
© Dan Bailey

Comfort in the Cross Mountain is superb, with just enough ankle support to stop a nasty accident and give you enough confidence crossing rugged ground, or traversing steep snow, while also giving enough flexibility for more technical scrambling. Our first day out with these was an autumnal walk into the Loch Avon basin from the Cairngorm ski centre. We found them comfortable from the get go, with no noticeable hotspots and no need for any breaking-in time.

Upper

Both suede and an abrasion-resistant fabric are used in the construction of the upper, which has a robust feel. A noticeable difference between this boot and many others in this test is its comparative lack of warmth. The Mountain Cross has a relatively thin upper for a technical winter boot and as such feet are more susceptible to the cold. This is fine when moving quickly, but if you're standing around or walking in soft wet snow then your feet will be liable to get cold quickly.

We found the Cross Mountain some of the best scrambling boots in this test, giving excellent sensitivity and friction  © Calum Hicks
We found the Cross Mountain some of the best scrambling boots in this test, giving excellent sensitivity and friction
© Calum Hicks

The cuff on the Mountain Cross sits about medium height, enough to provide decent ankle support but without fully immobilising the ankle to the detriment of comfort and flex. For a boot that is designed to cross between walking comfort and technical mountaineering ability this seems to strike the right balance. Although we've not done any sustained technical climbing in these we do imagine that they would feel a little on the soft side for anything above grade II in winter with crampons. Classic Scottish mixed ridges would be fine, but gullies with appreciable sections on your front points perhaps less so. A soft and well formed tongue fits nicely around the ankle, providing added comfort. The high sewn-in tongue is effective at keeping water and dirt out and opens enough to easily slip the feet into the boot.

Kayland's laces are strong, round and of good quality - we've not experienced them coming undone often. The first eyelet to be threaded is the locking type and allows you to get the boot to the correct tightness at the front while tying laces.

photo
Shelterstone
© Calum Hicks

photo
Curved Ridge
© Calum Hicks

Sole

The sole on the Mountain Cross GTX is fairly stiff, rather contradicting its description as a hiking boot but reinforcing the technical side of its remit. That said, the pair we had on this review are a size 41, and so will of course be stiffer due to the comparatively reduced leverage on the sole. The support on offer from the sole gives the boot the ability to kick well into hard snow, and gives confidence if you're cramponing on steep slopes.

Although Kayland have not offered a B rating, we think they equate to something between a B1 and a B2. For winter use the Mountain Cross take the heel clip of a semi-automatic crampon, and we've no qualms about using them with C2s. We found the crampons we used (an old pair of G12s) fit relatively well, although because the overall width of the sole is slightly narrower than some it may be the case that some crampons are a bit loose and require a greater degree of tightening to get them to fit securely on the boot. It's always worth trying boots in the shop with the crampons you intend to pair with them.

Kayland have used the Vibram Mulaz EVO sole; with a decent depth of tread this sole is designed to be suitable on all terrain. It features the usual flat "climb zone" section on the inside toe which is good for edging on dry rock. Having compared this boot directly with others on test it's one of the more confidence inspiring boots to scramble, in providing noticeably more friction and sensitivity than some others. It also edges well.

The upper and sole both feel a bit more 'summer' than some   © Martin McKenna
The upper and sole both feel a bit more 'summer' than some
© Martin McKenna

Weight

These boots come in at 1350g/pair size 41, and that weight is of no surprise if you've had these on your feet - they do feel fairly light. This is impressive given the stiff technical sole and solid feel of these boots. However some of that weight must have been saved on the uppers, because the Cross Mountains simply are not as warm as some other boots in this test, and this does somewhat mitigate against their use for full-on Scottish winter climbing days. However with a lower overall weight coupled with all-day comfort, these boots are great for long walks during any season, and we'd be happy wearing them on cool summer days as well as winter ridges.

Kayland say:

The Cross Mountain GTX is a cross-over shoe expressing Kayland's new concept of comfort and performance for hiking, somewhere between a technical mountain-climbing shoe and a backpacking shoe. Developed to offer all-round performance in mixed terrain, including mountain slopes with technical and rocky passages, snow and ice, and prepared for use with semi-automatic crampons, the new Cross Mountain GTX offers the perfect compromise between light weight and technical features.

  • Sizes: 6-12.5 (men) 3-8.5 (women)
  • Weight: 1350g/pair size 41
  • Rating: B1/B2
  • Upper: Textile+Suede
  • Lining: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
  • Outsole: Vibram New Mulaz

For more info see kayland.com

Cross Mountain prod shot

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19 Feb

The text boxes "B-ratings explained" and "[manufacturer] says..." are broken in Night Mode in Safari 12.0.3 and latest Chrome, the text is grey on light grey background.

Thanks for that. Should now be sorted

19 Feb

Thanks :)

I would love to see a similar article about more insulated B3 boots - super-gaiters, classical insulated boots and double boots. Especially with the recent rapid & branching development into fast&light boots (for those I admit I am usually pretty slow :D ) and new Phantoms and such, as it is somewhat hard to orientate amongst them all. Although for that we would probably need to wait for the new ones to become available and for some cold winters for proper testing as well...

We'd love to do one too!

But the seasonal concern would be magnified even more in this case, as you rightly point out. It was hard enough guaranteeing sufficient suitable winter use for the B1/B2s. I shudder to imagine ourselves halfway through a B3 bumper test right now, with the winter we're currently not having.

I'll never say never, but I suspect the logistical/seasonal hurdles, and the sheer breadth of the offering, would always count against a B3 group test of any scale.

Perhaps we all need to move to Norway

Dan, surely you deserve a single season using one pair of boots that you actually like ;-)

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