Mountain boots: types, features and use
How to choose mountain boots

Climbers taking our courses often ask the question: how to choose mountain boots? What to look for when purchasing?

Here is an overview of the different types of boots suitable for trekking and climbing in our mountains (Northern Tien Shan) and other regions. By clearly defining your goals and the experience you want to have, you can make the right choice of shoe type.

In this review, we use ASOLO shoes as an example.
ASOLO is an Italian brand with more than half a century of history, producing mountain shoes of excellent quality - for different purposes and terrains, with a wide model line.

Features that you should pay attention to first when choosing hiking or mountaineering boots:

  Durability and protection
  Foot support and rigidity

The weight of the boot affects not only comfort, but also preserves strength during the hike. Waterproofing is your protection. Foot support can be very important on long hikes with a heavy backpack.

Hiking boots can be divided into classes (A, B, C and D), and then into subclasses (1,2,3, etc.). For example, A1 is the simplest and lightest hiking shoe, while class D is a heavy and technical mountaineering boot.

Class A – hiking shoes

Class A sneakers are simply athletic shoes that provide a little more protection than regular running shoes through thicker soles and extra padding (to support the foot on uneven surfaces). Shoes for off-road running (trail run) also belong to class A. These mountain sneakers are convenient to use on well-prepared trails or on relatively flat terrain.
Class A hiking shoes are not recommended for multi-day treks. In mountaineering and expeditions, it is usually used on approaches (to avoid long walks in class D boots to the technical part of the route). Only in summer, for simple one-day hiking, class A shoes can be considered a good option. You can see the differences in subclasses 1 to 3 within this group below.
By the way, such sneakers are often used by lovers of sports style both in everyday life in the city and while traveling. For when you need to go off the beaten path, they have a Vibram® outsole for improved traction and a Gor-Tex® membrane that makes these shoes water-repellent. So, class A shoes/sneakers: lightweight but durable, very comfortable, suitable for summer day hikes and trail running.

Asolo Grid Trail Running Shoes

Hiking shoes class A1

These hiking shoes are ideal for everyday life in the city, and are good when traveling. If you get off the pavement and hit the mountain trail, you'll have a Vibram outsole for traction and a gor-tex membrane that makes this shoe water-repellent. A1 is not suitable for multi-day hikes

Asolo Nucleon

Hiking shoes class A2

Trail running shoes. Provide good foot protection and excellent traction on the ground and rocks. Ideal for one-day hiking

Asolo Pipe hiking shoes

Hiking shoes class A3

This type of shoe is considered a hiking shoe. Quite light but durable, they are quite suitable for hiking for several days in the green area


Class B - medium weight boots

A typical mid-weight - or class B - boot is a lightweight mountain boot used for hiking. The boots are designed for rough terrain, including walking on long scree. They are typically taller than a Class A boot and provide better ankle support, which definitely helps on multi-day hikes where ankle protection is critical. The sole and overall design are less flexible than Class A, but not quite rigid yet. The neckline reaches the ankle.
These boots are suitable for most light hikes. Models in this class have essentially the same characteristics as running shoes, but with more ankle protection. The construction also often uses a Gor-Tex® membrane, and the outsole is stiff enough to not feel every rock on the trail.

Asolo Nucleon Mid

Hiking boots class B1

This type of lightweight boot is a good choice if you're hiking on easy terrain. The outsole is lightweight so not suitable for rocky terrain, but the protected ankle provides some protection from injury. Suitable for long walks and light trekking/backpacking

Asolo Fugitive

Hiking boots class B2

Universal type of boots. Ideal for both multi-day and one-day hikes. This class already has a good outsole and better ankle protection. The combination of weight and medium hardness ensures comfortable and safe walking for 6 - 7 hours a day

Asolo Greenwood

Hiking boots class B3

These hiking boots are definitely the way to go if you're going on some really rugged hiking. Where protection from stones, snakes, injuries, water, etc. is required. Boots of this class are usually a little stiffer and warmer than class B2 boots


Class C - heavy boots for difficult hikes

As the title suggests, boots of this class are designed for walking on very different terrain. They already have a hard toe, durable sole and additional cushioning. Inner membranes are often made from Gor-Tex® or other multi-purpose materials. Some options are compatible with climbing crampons. Boots of this class usually have a more durable construction, so they need to be worn and tested before going on a long hike over rough terrain. These shoes are designed to provide maximum support and cushioning while remaining both waterproof and breathable. The stiffness of the boots may require some getting used to and training to walk in them.

In general, this class is represented by trekking boots - light, but already quite technical. They are specially designed for difficult routes above 3000 meters and for places where excellent grip is required. They might be a little heavy for a day hike or a light summer hike, but they're usually so comfortable and provide such good ankle support that you'll be inclined to use them in any conditions.

Asolo Corax

Trekking boots class C1

These boots are quite technologically advanced and lightweight. They are specially designed for via ferrata and trekking routes. Perfect for difficult hikes above 3000m and for routes that require good support when loaded


Trekking boots class C2

Too heavy for a day hike or light summer hike. However, they are extremely comfortable and provide excellent foot and ankle protection. In general, they are suitable for any hiking conditions where crampons are not required. They will be an ideal assistant on difficult multi-day hikes with a heavy backpack

Class D - mountaineering boots

These are boots designed for climbing mountain peaks. They are often used in combination with crampons and usually have dedicated crampon attachment points at the top of the sole - back and front. The soles of these boots are very hard and usually very warm (thick/multi-layered), as they are intended for use in winter and in high altitude conditions. Such boots will be comfortable during mountaineering and ice climbing - but, for obvious reasons (stiffness), they will be inappropriate on long hikes. Therefore, during long mountain expeditions, for approaches to the top or the beginning of a technical part, class A shoes are usually used.
Mountaineering boots (class D) have additional insulation to protect against low temperatures. Depending on the difficulty of the route, the height of the summit and the conditions of use, this class is more clearly divided into subclasses, and the differences are better visible.

Asolo Freney Mid boots

Boots class D1

Lightweight mountaineering boots Ideal for summer climbs to peaks up to 4500m. Semi-automatic crampons can be attached to these boots. The rigid sole and tapered toe allow you to move safely on rocks. The light weight of the boot ensures walking comfort. Special reinforced fabrics and inserts protect the outer part of the boot construction on scree and sharp stones

Asolo Eiger XT EVO boots

Boots class D2

Medium weight boots for mountaineering, with gaiter. As a rule, they are equipped with two welts for attaching automatic crampons. They have a light insulating layer and are excellent for winter ascents to peaks up to 4000m. In summer, it is comfortable to climb to heights of 5600m in D2 class boots. They already have the most rigid sole and, most often, rubber protection around the perimeter

Asolo AFS 8000 mountaineering boots

Boots class D3

Boots for high-altitude ascents to peaks over 6000m.
Ideal for cold multi-day climbs. This is an insulated high-tech boot with a very rigid sole, it consists of an outer boot and an insulated inner liner

Asolo MANASLU 8.000 GV boots

Boots class D4

Super-warm boots for climbing peaks at tropopause level. Also include inner and outer boot. The outer boot in the form of felt boots has a Vibram sole with two two attachments for crampons. These boots are made from high-tech materials that provide maximum thermal insulation


Сlimber's library

 Q. Anchoring on rocks with stoppers
 Q. Care and maintenance of climbing gear
 Q. All about carabiners  Q. Day hike checklist
 Q. How to choose climbing harness?  Q. Winter camping: main rules
 Q. Climbing shoes: types, features and use
 Q. Avalanche safety by Alexey Raspopov
 Q. Descenders and belay devices
 Q. Khan Tengri Peak history: first ascent
 Q. How to choose mountain boots  Q. Talgar Peak 5017m climber's checklist