Gear Review: La Sportiva Baruntse Mountaineering Boot

Made for big peaks, this boot is warm, and great for ice and snow

All-Purpose Winter Mountain Boot

It's a mountaineer's dream: a fully insulated, rigid-soled double boot without the bulky plastic shell. The Baruntse is made for big peaks, but feels and fits more like a heavy-duty hiker. It's easy to lace, and lighter, more sensitive, and less clunky than a plastic boot. And the liner pulls out for quick drying once you're in camp. That's why one tester, an Alaska-based NOLS guide, loves it for all her big-mountain trips in wet to frozen weather conditions. The insulated outer boot is a polyurethane-coated synthetic fabric for total waterproofness, with a plastic-reinforced Cordura tongue that keeps out snow and ice and protects your foot from lace rub.

Have your boot fitter heat and mold the liner to your foot; our testers compared the result to a close-fitting slipper. The Baruntse is stiff enough for front-pointing, yet the soft outer cuff back-flexes on downhills to eliminate calf rub and prevent Achilles blisters. An insulated, aluminum-lined insole and aggressive Vibram tread keep you warm, stable, and secure. "A solid choice for any multiday mountaineering trip, but also a safe bet for vertical ice and winter explorers who get cold feet," says our tester. Best for medium-width feet. $600; 5 lbs. 3 oz. (size 42); Euro unisex 37-50; lasportiva.com