From wet and snowy glaciers and peaks in Patagonia, to many laps on steep pitches of solid ice in Ouray, Colorado, to temperate ice climbing in Lee Vining Canyon, California, these boots spent several seasons scaling pristine frozen water, which allowed us to evaluate ice climbing ability. To test hiking ability, we hiked many miles in them on rocky dirt trails, wallowing through snowy approaches, and traipsing about in rain. We scrambled up rock steps, and climbed rock routes in winter to evaluate rock climbing ability. We scored the boots on warmth, water resistance, weight, ice climbing ability, hiking ability, rock climbing ability, and durability. Some top mountaineering boots are only available in unisex versions included in the Men's Mountaineering Boot Review.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
|Displaying 1 - 4 of 4||≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫|
Analysis and Award Winners
Best Overall Women's Mountaineering Boots
La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX - Women's
The La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX - Women's easily pulled ahead in our tests, winning it the Editors' Choice Award. Though it is the heaviest boot in the review, it has the highest climbing performance of any of the boots. It is a beefy, durable boot that is insulated and fully waterproof with a full leather upper and metal lace grommets. It has the most sophisticated lacing system of the boots we evaluated, allowing the wearer to customize tightness and fit, while providing excellent heel-lock for steep ice climbing and front-pointing. This boot performs for ice climbing, mixed climbing, and mountaineering.
Durable, with ample ankle support
Super warm & waterproof
Good climbing ability
Bit into the top of some tester's feet
Sole collects snow
No pull-on loops
Read review: La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX - Women's
Best Bang for the Buck
Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO - Women's
The Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO - Women's proved to be the best deal if you are in the market for a single boot for ice climbing. Costing almost $200 less than our Editors' Choice winner, and still climbing very well, this waterproof boot can get the job done without breaking the bank.
Easy to get into
Deep heel helps create good walking traction
Climbs very well
Less warm than other contenders
Webbing loops for laces seem delicate
Read review: Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO - Women's
Top Pick for Three-Season
La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX - Women's
Though not ideal for vertical ice climbing, the La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX - Women's wins our Top Pick award for being a top notch three-season alpine boot and excelling at hiking and rock climbing. It is extremely lightweight and nimble, allowing the wearer to move light and fast over snowy and rocky terrain to achieve incredible summits.
Incredible edging/climbing ability
Comfortable and flexible when hiking
Gusseted tongue tightens down well
Not the best strictly ice-climbing boot
Read review: La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX - Women's
Analysis and Test Results
Finding the perfect mountaineering boot can be tricky. Depending on your objectives, the shape of your foot, and your budget, the search for the ideal boot can take some digging. Here we have compared the top women's models on the market. There are currently only unisex versions of double boots and super-gaiter boots, so if you are a woman who is interested in those warmer styles of boots, read our Men's Mountaineering Boot Review for even more possibilities.
The weight of your boots is significant. As we mentioned in our hiking boot reviews, one pound on your foot is the equivalent to carrying five pounds on your back. Over miles of hiking, this really adds up to more effort and strain on your body. Therefore, lighter is better whenever possible, without sacrificing warmth and protection. The lightest boot in this review is the 3-season La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX - Women's which only has a ¾ shank instead of a full-length shank and also does not have a front toe welt, both of which save on weight. These boots are 21.9 ounces per boot for a size 39.5. The lightness of this boot makes them ideal for long, wintery approaches, but the lack of a toe-welt and fully rigid sole make them not work for vertical ice climbing. The fully rigid boots all weigh more.
All the mountaineering boots have some type of insulation, but some are warmer than others. We found the warmest to be the Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX - Women's and the Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX. Both are lined with Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort Footwear lining, which is waterproof and insulated to keep your feet protected in winter conditions. The tall, stretchy gaiter-like cuff on the Nepals helps to seal in warmth and keep more of your ankle protected. The Lowa Mountain Experts are insulated with Primaloft synthetic insulation to keep your toes from freezing, but we found them slightly less warm than the other two single boots we reviewed. For even warmer boot options, check out the best double boot, the La Sportiva Spantik or a unisex version of a super-gaiter boot, like the Editors' Choice La Sportiva Batura 2.0 GTX.
such as the La Sportiva Batura. These types of boots have a permanently attached outer gaiter which adds a second layer of protection to the boot. Additionally, the laces usually stay dry by being safely tucked under the gaiter with a waterproof zipper.
Rock Climbing Ability
Ice Climbing Ability
When comparing the very similarly designed Mont Blancs and Nepal Cubes, the Nepals shine in the lacing system, which securely holds the heel down, but the Mont Blancs fall short. Seemingly to mimic the Nepals, they have a webbing lace loop on top of a metal lace catch, where the Nepal has a webbing loop above a metal lace lock.
We found the Nepals and the Mountain Experts to be the best boots for climbing vertical ice. The Scarpa Mont Blancs, since they also have a fully rigid sole, are not far behind. The Trango Cube GTX are a three-season boot with a 3/4 shank and no toe welt, so they are not appropriate for vertical ice climbing.
Obviously, the best boots for hiking are ones with only a partial shank instead of a fully rigid shank, because these allow for forefoot flex while walking. The Trango Cube GTX is an example of this type of boot, and is designed to be worn on longer hikes and approaches than the fully rigid boots in this review.
Another factor affecting hiking ability is the height of the heel on the sole. La Sportiva uses an "Impact Brake System" on the Nepal Cubes, which is essentially a tall heel designed to catch on rocks, dirt, and snow as you hike downhill to prevent you from sliding. This adds more traction and stability to descents. The Nepals had the deepest cut heel of any of the boots we reviewed and while the Mountain Expert and the Trango Cube GTX have the shortest incut in the heels.
The most durable pair we evaluated was the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX. With an all leater upper, a beefy Vibram sole, and metal lace grommets, there is not much on this well made boot that can fail or break. The only downside we noticed was that the plastic on one of the toe welts began to delaminate slightly. Similarly, the Scarpa Mont Blancs and the Lowa Mountain Experts are also and all leather boot with long life spans. The least durable model is the lightweight Trango Cube GTX, which has a synthetic and fabric upper that will wear out faster than full leather. However, these boots will last several seasons of hard use before wear is noticeable.
Finding the ideal pair of mountaineering boots to suit your needs can be difficult. We tested four pairs of the top rated women's mountaineering boots to help you compare the available options and make an informed decision when purchasing. To read more about the different styles available and why you might need a pair, consult our Buying Advice article.
— McKenzie Long
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.