Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX
$480, 4 lbs. 1 oz. (mondo 25/men’s US 6.5/Euro 39)
Sizes: men’s US 6-13/Euro 39-46, women’s US 6-12/Euro 37-43
For my 15-year-old son’s first technical mountain climb, a four-day, April ascent of the Mountaineers Route on California’s Mount Whitney—where we’d face conditions ranging from hot alpine sun to frigid winds, and be walking in snow with crampons for nearly the entire four days—I wanted to put him in a pair of all-around mountaineering boots that would feel comfortable for miles of hiking, handle the “technical” terrain of a moderately steep snow gully, hold a crampon reliably, and keep his feet warm. I decided on a proven performer that would serve virtually any climbing adventures on glaciers, snow, or ice: the Mont Blanc GTX.
A standard, multi-day mountaineering route like Whitney’s Mountaineers Route often involves a lot more hiking than actual climbing. So you need a boot that’s comfortable for miles of walking, but can also handle moderately steep snow, and perhaps some ice and/or rock. Enter the Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX.
Taller, burlier, and warmer than another mountaineering boot I’ve reviewed here, the La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX, the Mont Blanc GTX is a classic, broadly versatile boot. The one-piece, siliconized, 3mm Italian Perwanger suede leather uppers conform to your feet, and were comfortable for my son hiking in them from day one, while the fit only improves over time. The TPU midsole—with a full-length shank, and thicker in the mid-foot but thinner at the toe and heel—provides stability and cushion under a backpack as heavy as you want to carry. But these boots hike nicely, too, thanks in part to the flexible upper collar, which permits the ankle a natural range of motion when striding, and the floating tongue, which can be repositioned as needed.
Duratherm synthetic insulation kept his feet warm for hours in snow every day, even in strong gusts of cold wind in the shaded gully on the upper part of the route; he complained of cold toes only in the first hour of our chilly, predawn start from our 12,000-foot high camp on summit day. The waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex membrane kept moisture from penetrating the boot and breathed well enough that his feet didn’t perspire heavily, even on our last day’s descent back to the trailhead under a hot, alpine sun. Multi-directional lugs on the Vibram Total Traction outsole delivered excellent traction on firm and wet snow and dirt, and the smoother tread under the toes gripped well when scrambling steep rock ledges. The boots have a toe welt as well as a heel welt, for use with crampons designed for technical ice climbing.
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For climbing snow or glaciers from Mount Rainier to the Alps, or ice climbing routes up to WI 5, in a wide range of temperatures, Scarpa’s Mont Blanc GTX boots are a top performer for all but the most severely technical or bitterly cold adventures.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking either of these links to purchase the men’s Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX mountaineering boots at backcountry.com or the women’s Mont Blanc GTX boots at backcountry.com.
See all the mountaineering gear we used on Whitney’s Mountaineers Route in my “Review: Gear For Climbing Mount Whitney.”
See my “Pro Tips For Buying the Right Boots,” all of my reviews of backpacking boots and hiking shoes, and all of my reviews of backpacking gear and hiking gear.
See also my stories:
“12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter”
“Gear Review: The Best Gear Duffles”
“7 Pro Tips For Avoiding Blisters”
“The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun”
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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