The Mountain Hut
I ALWAYS wear sock liners. I will always bring both the long thicker arctic style liners and 1 pair per day of the lightweight sock liners. My favourite sock is the mid weight, but also use the expedition weight as well. I always bring both and opt for the mid-weight under all circumstances except for after removing boots in camp, which is when the expeditions get slipped on. ITs ok to reuse these everyday(when using liners) except I will always have a backup. winds will carry anything unchecked thousands of feet away. It goes without saying this stuff is 0% cotton. My choice of boots are Raichle's. I chose them because of their superb build, and semi rigid sole for strap-on crampons. I always wear and bring 2 pairs of THICK shoe pads into the store when buying boots, and wear a pair of sock liners, and Expedition weight socks when sizing the boots. takes my 11 or 11.5 foot to a 12 with a perfect ROOMY fit.
Outside the boots go the gaiters. I use insulated full-gaiters, with full side zip and full side velcro over that, which have the rubber bottom that goes around the boot welds and straps underneath the boot as well. basically you step into them, and zip them up, and enjoy toasty feet, if you manage to keep the rest of the body warm, including head cover. OVer the gaiters can go either crampons, or snowshoes. I even placed a thick shoe pad between the crampon and the sole of the boot, if strap-on's, then this works excellently!! If you can imagine, when using crampons, the layer between the snow and foot is as follows. A crampon pad(whoosh-no pun intended :-)), a thin layer of gaiter rubber in the middle of the boot and around the weld, the norwegian sole with its double sided rubber with wooden shank, 2 shoe pads(1 insole type, 1 simple pad/insulator/moisture wicker), and the sock combination. You could also slip on a pair of vapor barrier socks over the socks if necessary but I don't own any.
Warning, if you cant wiggle your toes, your better off pulling out a shoe pad, or putting on thinner socks. Also, with sock liners, blisters from loose boots are non existent. Another tip is when your putting on your boots in the morning and they are 20 degrees and frozen just remember next time to put them inside plastic bags(for dirt and snow), then into the foot of your sleeping bag to absorb overnight warmth. Actually, what I was going to say, is if you forgot to sleep with your boots in your bag, then try this. I usually unzip my bag, and place my warm expedition socked feet into the boots, loosely tied, to defrost them for about 15 minutes until either my feet start to get numb, or when there is no longer any change of temperature. Then you get back in your bag to regain full body warmth. The either repeat this process once more over coffee and breakfast, , or slip them on and wait for the semi freeze. I don't suggest staying seated at this point, body circulation is what is needed at this point. A good 1-2 minute morning call and back in the tent for breakfast or pack up. OF course then I would either sit on the tent doorstep while cooking and packing, or sit cross legged inside the tent with boots on plastic bags(loosely tied). This is how you keep your feet warm during a winter outdoors stay.
Don't over tighten the boot laces, this will allow good blood flow to keep the feet warm. If you have problems otherwise, then you may just need new boots. Look into Semi-Rigid Mountaineering Boots for non-rope climbing, and Rigid Mountaineering Boots for rope climbing. In the latter case, you will most likely need a pair of both, depending on the type of ascent/descent. Always put pressure on the foot of which the lace you are tying, this ensures proper boot formation due to foot expansion, however, this is no easy task ill admit.
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