Dolomite may not be the best known Italian footwear brand among winter climbers in the UK, but with its integrated gaiter and all-round performance at a decent price, this fantastic B3 boot deserves serious consideration, says Toby Archer.
These boots arrived around last Christmas, not long before the Prime Minister put us all back into lockdown. In fact the very day that Johnson made that announcement, I had taken the Miage Peak out onto my local 'mini-mountain' of Kinder Scout to try them out.
I put crampons on to scramble up a semi-icy Crowden Clough, then set a bearing across the plateau, braving the snow filled groughs and hags, to drop down Red Brook and traverse around to Kinder Downfall. I had heard that Mick Fowler had climbed it the day before with his son. I bouldered around on the very wet ice at the base a bit, but remembered I'm no Mick Fowler, so thought better of trying to solo it. Instead I picked my way up the icy slopes to the left, finishing up the short but sharp Square Chimney that felt, that day covered in huge amounts snow and rime, like someone had pinched the top few metres of a Northern Corries route and left it carelessly on the edge of the Kinder Plateau! After that it was just a hike back through the snow drifts along the Pennine Way and down into Edale for tea and medals.
About 15km across some really quite tough terrain in brand new boots, fresh out of the box, and not a blister or even a hotspot to complain about. Driving home, I was looking forward to getting the boots out on some bigger winter routes but the 6 o'clock news announcing the third lockdown soon put paid to that idea. Wanting to stick to both the words and spirit of the lockdown laws, I even had to decide with a heavy heart a couple of weeks later, as the cold snap bit nationally, that the steep (and bolted!) icefalls that grew in Masson Lees quarry, and others in some of the quarries above Castleton - both not that far from me in the Peak - weren't really local enough to me to justify driving there as "exercise". The Miage Peak sat sadly on the shelf through the rest of the winter of 2020/21.
This autumn I got asked if I wanted to have a go at some of the recently developed drytooling routes at Masson Lees by the team who had been developing them. I took the Miage Peak boots there and had great fun getting up a few of the easiest drytool lines, and gaining an appreciation of just how hard the harder lines are by struggling up the D6 "Warm Up" on a top rope! But it was my weedy arms that were the problem, not the boots that - when teamed up with ultralight Edelrid monopoint crampons - were probably about the best combo possible short of purpose-made fruit boots.
As this autumn turned to winter, the boots have made it back to the bigger hills, and have been used for further full mountain days, getting me up my first few winter routes of the 21/22 season. So while this isn't a huge amount of testing, I've definitely got to know the boots and develop some well founded first impressions. I believe this is Dolomite's first pure ice/winter climbing boot in many years (although the company has been making mountain footwear for well over a century - including the boots for the first ascent of K2!) and I have only managed to find one other review of the Miage Peak, on an Italian website. So I wanted to get the message out that there is a 'new winter boot in town', and one that is well worth the consideration of British winter climbers.
The Miage Peak are Dolomite's take on the modern ice climbing and winter mountaineering single boot, made completely of synthetic materials and with an integral gaiter.
The outer body of the boot is made out of the slightly mysterious sounding "Superfabric®", the super-bit seeming to be both its toughness and lack of weight. The inner parts of the boot are other synthetic materials including a GORE-TEX Insulated Comfort Duratherm lining. I suppose the Gore-tex is the ultimate guarantee of waterproofness, but the whole outer boot seems to shed water well and not get waterlogged at all.
The inner boot does up with an interesting and very effective design of laces, while the gaiter fastens with a YKK water-resistant zip. Whether in the snow-hidden peat bogs of Kinder or stood in a stream at the bottom of Helvellyn (both to wash some mud off the boots but mainly to check their waterproofing!) I am sure the Miage Peak boots keep water out as well as wellies! Perfect for the wet and muddy approaches so common in British winter climbing. Because of the integral gaiter I haven't used them with any other gaiter - obviously you can't stand in water quite as deep as you can with a full gaiter on, but between the boot gaiter and the internal gaiters on my hardshell trousers, my feet and legs have stayed dry and warm.
The Miage Peak have a carbon fibre insole that gives the boot its stiffness to create a solid platform for using with crampons on the steepest of climbs - I have always thought this integral part of the boot was called a midsole, and insole was the removable footbed, but I will go with Dolomite's own terminology here! Due to this carbon fibre stiffener, the Miage Peak is very stiff while still light, the perfect boot for standing on frontpoints with. The sole is a Vibram Penia, which seems a pretty classic Vibram design with deep lugs and which has so far gripped as well as I would expect any mountain sole to do. My biggest problem with the otherwise excellent Sportiva Trango Tower Extremes was the alarming rate at which the Sportiva Cube Vibram soles wore down. I've hiked about 40km in the Miage Peaks so far, in addition to the climbing in them, and there is minimal wear under the toe, unlike the amount I had with the Trango Towers by that point.
The lip at the toe and at the heel, allied to the stiff nature thanks to that carbon fibre insole/midsole (delete as preferred!), make the Miage Peak the perfect platform for step-in crampons. I've got a secure fit with BD Snaggletooth and Edelrid Beast Light (using both the step-in and toe basket options). I've also tried them at home with DMM Terminator (step in) and Climbing Technology Nuptse and Grivel G12, both with hybrid heel clamp/toe basket bindings.
Fit and Warmth
Dolomite list the Miage Peak both on "performance men" and "performance women" sides of their website so they seem to consider it a unisex model, and perhaps as result of that the Miage Peak is available from size UK 4 to UK 12, including all half sizes. I'm not sure what availability will be like, but at least theoretically most adults have the option of a Miage Peak in their size.
Many things determine the warmth of a boot beyond their insulation, fit being a significant factor. I got the Miage Peak in size UK 7.5/EU 41.5, in part because they are available in half sizes, in part because I tried a number of pairs of other Dolomite boots in that size and got very comfy fits. The Miage Peak fit me very well, but it is a close fit. As a result I won't wear more than a midweight sock in them.
Additionally the boots have a clever two-stage lacing system, there are only nylon tape loops (no metal eyelets to make pressure points) for the low profile laces to go through. Also about halfway up the lacing is a plastic pulley device, which makes it really easy to tighten laces over the lower foot, while leaving the ankle lacing looser. The opposite can also be done, and of course before technical climbing you can do up both the lower foot and the ankle lacing tightly (the widget even makes loosening the lace a breeze). Finally there is the big velcro power strap on the ankle, ski-boot style, for ultimate climbing performance. Overall the boots are comfy and I have remained blister-free. A lot of thought has gone into making this so - including the metal-free lacing system and where there is a metal press stud closure, on the top of the gaiters above the zip, Dolomite have but a big pad of neoprene behind it to make sure it doesn't rub your shin.
With that relatively close fit, doing the laces up snugly, and only wearing a midweight sock, I haven't found the Miage Peak to be the warmest single boots I've tried, but that will be in part to do with fit. I have found that loosening the lacing on the lower foot definitely made my foot feel warmer, but I could still do this with the two stage lacing and power strap while keeping my ankle feeling supported and my heel firmly down when standing on front points. The warmth of the boots when, for example, standing on a ledge belaying for some time is something I will report further on later in the winter once I've had the chance to do more routes.
My pair at size 41.5 weigh a very reasonable 1582g (not including footbeds). Dolomite say 820g for one boot, normally that's size 42, so 1640g for a pair, half a size larger and probably including the original footbeds, sounds spot on. The Miage Peak are about 45g heavier than my size 42 La Sportiva Trango Tower Extremes that I reviewed a couple of years ago, but the Trangos are a traditional style of boot which I have always used with at least a shorty gaiter. Even my most minimalist pair of low gaiters would weigh more than that difference.
So far, so bloody great! Whether standing on micro-nubbins trying to pretend I knew how to drytool at Masson Lees, or placing my front points on delicate rock edges while mixed climbing on Brown Cove Crags, the boots feel completely solid. But at the same time they give you plenty of ankle mobility for trickier moves and just feel really light on your feet. I haven't had a chance to climb straight on icefalls with them yet but see no reason at all why that platform feeling I got on my monos drytooling in the Miage Peak wouldn't make them excellent on ice. After many seasons of doing a lot of ice climbing in light boots when I lived in Finland, I really don't believe you need boots (or crampons) with much mass to them in order to kick in your front points. Rather lighter boots and crampons are an advantage in that it is less weight for your muscles to support.
Value and competition
The RRP for the Miage Peak is £410.00, and whilst that is a really significant amount of money for almost everyone, they are almost £100 cheaper than the obvious competitor model from Scarpa. La Sportiva's cheapest model with an integral gaiter is more than £200 more, although of course just having a similar look doesn't mean they are necessarily the same in all respects. Indeed, if we put aside boots being sold at a discount, there are surprisingly few boots aimed squarely at winter climbers (so "B3" - fully rigid and able to take full step in crampons) that have a retail price of less than 400 quid - the La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme, mentioned above, being one but they don't come with an in-built gaiter as the Miage Peak do. The Boreal Arwa is another slightly cheaper B3 boot, but they also don't have integral gaiters. Between the Miage Peak's excellent performance so far, and very reasonable price, it is a boot worthy of consideration for anyone wanting to climb, at whatever grade, in the winter mountains, be that in the UK or abroad.
I will report back as I use them on more routes - something I am hugely looking forward to!
Miage Peak GTX is the best choice for those who love to brave the mountains and their snow-covered peaks at higher altitudes: a fully crampons-compatible shoe that combines all the necessary features that modern-day alpinists require. It provides extreme precision thanks to internal lacing system that guarantees to perfectly wrap the foot, ensuring complete control over every step. The two-stage lacing system also allows the foot and ankle to be regulated differently, while the external strap and the heavy-duty fabric gaiter contribute to the overall precision. Miage Peak GTX also stands out for its lightness: the integrated gaiter is made from Superfabric®, an extremely lightweight yet resistant material with a high degree of elasticity. Moreover the insole made out of carbon-fibre guarantees the optimal rigidity required for climbing over ice without adding any extra weight to the boot. The overall comfort is ensured by a carefully designed fit, and by the GORE-TEX Insulated Comfort Duratherm lining which ensures watertightness and thermal insulation. The outsole, provided by VIBRAM® guarantees cushioning and an excellent grip on rocky and icy terrains.
- Approx weight: 820g half pair
- Sizes: 4-12 (inc half sizes)
- Best for winter mountaineering
- Fully cramponable
- Anti-abrasion stretch fabric shell
- GORE-TEX Duratherm lining
- Vibram® Outsole
- Great Grip on all terrains
- Precise lacing system
- Stretch fabric gaiter and WR Zipper