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octavius

Best store for mountaineering boots?

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I'm thinking it's time for a new pair of Mountaineering boots. I've been using a pair of Vasque leather boots (either full or 3/4 shank, I forget) for the past 8 years and have finally decided I want something lighter with maybe less shank. Due to the shank, these things don't flex at all when I walk, which increases heel rub on long approach hikes (such as the 15 mile approach hike I did this weekend for Mt. Anderson).

 

Last year, I hit REI and Marmot and spent close to two hours at each and never found boots that fit my feet as well as the Vasque and so I decided to give the Vasque another year... but now I'm fed up with them. I've done custom foot beds, but that doesn't help the heel rub or their weight. If I had lighter boots, I could even wear something more comfortable for the approach hike and pack the boots.

 

So, is there a top notch store for boots in the Seattle area? I'm not impressed with the staff at REI. Marmot was a bit better, but they were still trying to sell me a boot that I kept telling him I didn't like (that super light weight La Sportiva). I bought a pair of Nuptse boot for extreme cold weather at Feathered Friends... I didn't find their staff to be that great for boots either. Maybe my expectations are too high...

 

What about Vancouver, anything better up there?

 

Regards,

Octavius

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If you ever get to Spokane check out Mountain Gear. Great selection of technical gear, and cool people who know their shit and have personally abused most of the gear.

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What are your expectations from a climbing store? Me thinks you expect too much. I have had great service from all three stores you mentioned, especially when I knew what I wanted. If the store doesn't have the type of shoe you want, then why blame the help?

 

On an unusual side note, while having excellant help at FF and marmot, a saleperson at REI did the best job with a thorough education on physiology of foot beds. Unfortunately I forgot all the info.

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Marmot was a bit better, but they were still trying to sell me a boot that I kept telling him I didn't like (that super light weight La Sportiva).

 

I bought a pair of Nuptse boot for extreme cold weather at Feathered Friends... I didn't find their staff to be that great for boots either. Maybe my expectations are too high...

 

It seems a little strange that you think the FF staff are not great for fitting boots, yet you bought a $500+ pair of high end mountaineering treads there. It sounds like they had something you wanted in a size you wanted, and you liked them enough to lay down a lot of money. Sounds like good service to me.

 

It also seems strange that you want a lighter and softer boot than your Vasque, but when Marmot recommended one of the best boots on the market that matches your description, you rejected it. You don't say why you didn't like them.

 

I don't know if that means your expectations are too high or if your mindset is about as flexible as your Vasques. If you take a defeatist mentality into boot buying you will be defeeted. Be open to suggestions, a lot of folks at the better shops (FF, Marmot) know their shit because they get out and use the gear they sell. If you go into the process convinced you won't find a good pair of boots, then you are probably won't. Since you seem to have no substantive complaints about your Nuptses, maybe you should go back to FF. They carry stuff you won't find elsewhere.

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It seems a little strange that you think the FF staff are not great for fitting boots, yet you bought a $500+ pair of high end mountaineering treads there. It sounds like they had something you wanted in a size you wanted, and you liked them enough to lay down a lot of money. Sounds like good service to me.
Good point. I should have seperated good service from good knowledge on boot fit; FF provided good service (they ordered the Nuptses for me), but I didn't get the impression the particular salesrep helping me when I went to try them on had a lot of knowledge about good boot fit, the toebox wasn't ideal, and he didn't have much to suggest. I bought them because they fit my feet well enough for what I wanted them for (Rainier or very cold conditions & backcountry snowboarding). I would not wear them for a 15 mile approach hike. But you make a good point, I should give them another try for the kind of boots I am looking for now.

 

It also seems strange that you want a lighter and softer boot than your Vasque, but when Marmot recommended one of the best boots on the market that matches your description, you rejected it. You don't say why you didn't like them.

They didn't fit my foot well. The salesrep seemed to ignore that and suggest that even though they don't fit my foot well, they are very popular... therefor I should like them. I should have added that two of the climbers on My Anderson climb had those boots (seems like every other person out there now has them) and they both said that at the end of the 15 mile hike their feet hurt a lot... one guys left foot was totally numb from the arch to the toe. So... just because the boot is a top seller doesn't mean it is right for everybody.

 

My feet are hard to fit. My main request from a boot store is that they have a good selection, and let me try on every pair I want... not just the pairs the salesrep *thinks* is best for me.

 

I didn't mean my thread as a knock on the stores (sorry if it came out that way), but more a question of... for people that have hard to fit feet, what is your favorite store? ...or is there a particular salesrep that you like at a particular store?

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These stores have lots of employees with varying expertise and skills. Might be a good idea to flat out ask when you go in, "I have challenging feet to fit, who here is the boot expert?"

 

I have a pair of garmont towers that I like. Got them at FF. They fit a bit snugger than the la sporti trango s. More of a "boot is one with foot" feel instead of sloppy. I have a low volume foot.

 

Don't know what type of technical climbing you are looking for, but it will be challenging to find a decent mountaineering boot that will be comfortable with a 15 mile approach. The more technical the climb, the less comfortable the boot is for walking. And of course, vice versa. You might want to consider hiking in approach shoes and carrying the mountain boots cause if such a boot existed, we would all have one. Good luck with your boot buying and let us know if find a good one. I'll buy it

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I met a guide in Canada who regularly pays as much to an after-market bootfitter as he does for his boots. I'm not exactly sure what a bootfitter is or what they do.

 

I do think superfeet (given their 3 different sizes) or similar, products, can help immensely with fit in many cases.

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