Mountaineering Boots Vs. Hiking Boots – What’s The Difference?

Choosing the right footwear is one of the most important decisions to make before every outdoor trip. Which will you prefer between mountaineering boots vs. hiking boots?

We will compare these two types of boots in multiple factors. Let’s read our post to find the ideal pair for your preferred terrain and weather conditions.

Mountaineering Boots Vs. Hiking Boots – What’s The Difference?

Mountaineering and hiking boots have different purposes, making them different in multiple terms. First, let’s look at this comparison chart to picture their features. Then, we will discuss each factor to help you choose the right footwear.

Mountaineering Boots Hiking Boots
Materials Leather, plastic, rubber, kevlar, and synthetic fabrics Mostly suede and nubuck leather
Outsoles Stiffer and thicker Softer
Midsoles Stiff Flexible
Crampons Yes No
Weight Heavier Lighter
Height Taller Shorter
Insulation Excellent Good
Traction  Excellent Good
Price  More expensive Cheaper
Pros – High protection level

– Durable

– Well-insulated

– Good grip

– High comfort level

– Lightweight

– Affordable

Cons – Heavy

– Stiff

– Expensive

– Light insulation

– Less durable

– Less traction

Best For  Uneven, rugged, and technical terrains Stable terrains


Mountaineering boot manufacturers like to use a combination of different materials to make their products. They can be leather, plastic, rubber, kevlar, and synthetic fabrics. The criteria for their materials are all about durability.

On the other hand, hiking boots are often made of suede or nubuck leather. They also have breathable and waterproof membranes.


Mountaineering boots have stiffer outsoles because mountaineering involves climbing on steep terrains. The stiff outsoles provide a solid platform for crampon use.

On the contrary, hiking boots are flexible outsoles so that your feet can move freely during lengthy hikes. The softer outsoles absorb shock, improve comfort, and minimize foot fatigue.


A boot’s midsole rests between the outsole and insole, providing support, cushioning, and structure to your foot.

Mountaineering boots have stiffer midsoles because they aim to work on technical and demanding terrain. These conditions require more stability and support for your ankles and feet.

In climbing, the stiffness of the midsole is crucial for reducing foot fatigue. If you intend to hike on rugged terrains, you can wear mountaineering boots, too.

In contrast, hiking boots come with more flexible midsoles. During a hike, you need comfort from soft midsoles rather than stability from stiff ones.


Crampons are metal spikes attached to the bottom of boots. They provide traction on ice, snow, and other slippery conditions.

Crampons are essential features for mountaineering boots. Mountaineers, ice climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts always look for them when buying footwear.

Mountaineering boots arrive with different types of crampons, such as step-in, step-on, or hybrid. Strap-on crampons are the most versatile, as they work with many boot designs.

This video will show you some crampon styles and where you should use each:

How about hiking boots? Unfortunately, they don’t often have crampons. However, some models allow you to attach the crampons.


As you can guess from the materials and extra features, mountaineering boots are generally heavier than hiking boots.

Mountaineering boots have thicker and stiffer soles. The crampons add up to the overall weight.

Meanwhile, hiking boots come with flexible soles. If you don’t attach crampons, they are even lighter, making them a good choice for mobility.

However, the weight of your footwear varies depending on the specific design and features. Some mountaineering boots can be more lightweight than hiking boots.


Mountaineering boots often have a higher cut or cuff that passes your ankles than hiking boots. Some are high enough to reach your calves or even knees. ,

The extra height aids in giving the ankle more support and stability. This feature is important for climbing steep and rough terrain.

Conversely, hiking boots often feature a lower cut to allow for more freedom of movement during long hikes.

Also, the lower cut provides more airflow and breathability, which is ideal for hiking in hot areas or after intense exercise.


Boot manufacturers know how to deal with specific conditions. For example, mountaineers struggle with extreme weather, so their boots should be well-insulated.

Mountaineering boots often have insulated linings, like Gore-Tex, to provide protection and warmth in cold weather.

How about the hot days? Don’t worry! Some mountaineering boots have removable liners. You can take them out and dry them separately. That’s how you have multi-purpose boots.

On the other hand, hiking boots have lighter insulation because hikers like to use them in mild climates. Of course, they have waterproof and breathable membranes, but they can’t provide the same protection level as mountaineering boots.


Mountaineering boots offer better traction because of their stiff outsoles. Some have cleats to provide better grip on uneven and slippery terrains.

Hiking boots can also give you good traction on flat, stable surfaces, such as paths or trails. However, because of their soft outsoles, they can’t grip as effectively as mountaineering boots.


Mountaineering boots are more expensive because they have more features to work in extreme and challenging conditions. You will easily notice better insulation and traction from these boots.

On the other hand, hiking boots don’t have as many capabilities as their competitors. Manufacturers only pack their models with a few features to offer comfort.

The price of your boots differs significantly depending on the brand, model, and features included. It would be best to research carefully and compare different dealers before buying your desired models.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some popular questions and answers related to mountaineering boots vs hiking boots

Can mountaineering boots be used for hiking?

It depends on the terrain you are going to conquer. Mountaineering boots are good for high-altitude hikes with rugged terrains and extreme weather.

Yet, they will hinder comfort and mobility for adventures on well-maintained trails. In these stable conditions, you may prefer regular hiking boots.

What is the point of mountaineering boots?

Mountaineering boots aum to provide mountaineers and climbers the required support and protection. To achieve this goal, the footwear must have the following features:

  • Durable materials
  • Stiff outsoles and midsoles
  • Crampons
  • Waterproof and breathable membranes
  • Insulted linings

Can you wear mountaineering boots every day?

It’s not a good idea to do so. Mountaineering boots can withstand extreme conditions, which means they must be heavy and stiff. As a result, they are not as comfortable as your casual footwear.

What are the 2 kinds of footwear used in mountaineering?

We can divide mountaineering boots into two groups:

  • Trekking boots: These models are more lightweight and flexible. Hence, you can use them on less technical terrains and stable climbing routes.
  • Technical mountaineering boots: As their name implies, these boots perform well on technical terrains, such as high-altitude and ice climbing. They are stiffer and have more specialized features to deal with these conditions.

Can I use crampons on hiking boots?

Yes. Some hiking boot models allow you to attach crampons, especially strap-on ones.

What boots are used on Everest?

The harsh conditions require you to use high-quality and super-robust mountaineering boots. Experts advise using these models:

  • Scarpa Phantom 8000
  • Kayland 8000
  • Millet Everest One Sports

Why are mountaineering boots so heavy?

Mountaineering boots are heavy because of the following reasons:

  • They come from multiple materials.
  • Some models are compatible with crampons.
  • The thicker and stiffer soles add weight to the boots.
  • These boots often have a high ankle shaft to prevent injuries.

How much bigger should mountaineering boots be?

As a general rule, you should choose mountaineering boots one-half size bigger than your regular shoe size. The extra space allows for foot expansion when walking for a long time.

How long does it take to break in mountaineering boots?

You need about one to four weeks to break in mountaineering boots. Some models require less time to break in, while traditional leather boots take longer.


So which is your favorite? Your ultimate choice depends on various factors. For example:

  • Terrain: Mountaineering boots are ideal for technical and rugged terrains, while hiking boots can only work in easy-to-moderate conditions.
  • Climate: You can wear mountaineering boots in harsh conditions. Meanwhile, hiking boots are more suitable for warmer weather.
  • Distance: If you plan a long trip, choose mountaineering boots. And if your adventure only takes a few days, hiking boots will be the better option.

Hopefully, you can settle on the ideal footwear for your outdoor adventure. Thank you for reading!

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