“The best alpine boot I’ve tested,” says our senior editor, who used the Raven while summiting Colorado Thirteeners and ascending Mt. Rainier while in guide training with monstrous loads. “It’s amazingly light for its stiffness and durability, and as comfortable to walk in as a midweight hiker.” That’s serious kudos for a rigid mountaineering boot.
The secret? First, there’s the multicomponent midsole, which includes a durable rubber compound with a honeycomb of tiny air holes, to enhance rebound. A nylon/fiberglass layer makes the midsole stiff; and a hard plastic insert in the heel makes it crampon-compatible. Second, Salewa’s “Y” rear-foot design delivers unmatched comfort and fit. The plastic-encased Y-shaped wire on the boot’s exterior wraps the Achilles, locks the heel down, and ties into both the midsole and lacing. “It sucks your foot into the heel pocket so there’s zero movement, zero friction, zero blisters,” says our tester.
Other details are what you’d expect in this category: The Gore-Tex-lined upper is a durable blend of Cordura and PU-coated leather, and a dense rubber rand protects high-wear zones. The gusseted tongue allows forward flex, and you can fine-tune fit with three locking lace hooks (including one that ratchets). The Vibram sole even has a lug-free toe for technical edging. No break-in required. (Believe it: Salewa has a blister-free guarantee.) $289; 3 lbs. 8 oz.; m’s 6-12, w’s 3-9; salewa.com