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Boots for the Great Himalaya Trail


Original Post
David Brophy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2019 · Points: 0

Hi,

I'm preparing for an attempt on the Great Himalaya Trail high route, starting in April. The GHT is 1,700km across Nepal with 150,000m of elevation gain between 900m and 6200m. I'm hoping to complete the trek in around 120 days. It's incredibly varied - the lower sections will be hot, humid - almost rainforest conditions. The mountain passes will have snow, and some sections will require crampons.

I will be able to arrange supply drops at various points along the trek, so could potentially swap out footwear... but I would prefer not to rely on these.

Last year I spent 30 days trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal using Arcteryx Bora2 boots. Also I spend 20 days trekking the Haute Route and Tour du Mont Blanc in Europe using Salomon XA Enduro trail running shoes.

Fit is always a big problem for me: I have wide feet. The XA Enduro shoes are perfect in this regard. The Bora2 boots are a bit too narrow at the front and my little toe gets squashed up against the next toe causing all sorts of painful consequences.

Bora2 advantages: Love the removable inner boot (dries overnight). Burly enough for most mountain passes. Probably just about crampon compatible?
Bora2 disadvantages: A bit too narrow. A bit too hot in lower elevations.

XA Enduro advantages: Perfect fit. Perfect temperature for the bottom 80% of the trail.
XA Enduro disadvantages: Nowhere near warm enough for the top 20%, not crampon compatible at all, lacing system painful when going downhill.

I've been thinking about some options for a footwear system:

Option 1: Another pair of Arcteryx Bora2
Advantages: removable inner boot dries overnight.
Disadvantages: squashes my toe, a bit too hot in summer conditions. Not ideal for mountaineering sections.

Option 2: Ultra-light mountaineering boots (e.g. Scarpa Ribelle Tech OD, Salomon S-Lab X-Alp Carbon?).
Advantages: Crampon compatible. Better fit?
Disadvantages: probably even hotter in summer conditions? No inner boot to dry overnight.

Option 3: Trail running shoes and light mountaineering boots (carry both on some sections).
Advantages: Crampon compatible. Best of both worlds?
Disadvantages: Extra 1KG in pack. No inner boot to dry overnight.

Option 4: Trail running shoes and proper mountaineering boots (never carry them both at the same time, swap at resupply points).
Advantages: perfect when I have the right ones on.
Disadvantages: Will probably end up wearing the mountaineering boots in totally the wrong conditions for days, and probably wearing the trail running boots in snow. No inner boot to dry overnight.

The Salomon S-Lab X-Alp Carbon look great, but I've read they fit narrow, so totally out. The Scarpa Ribelle Mountain Tech OD boots look good too, but I fear they will also fit narrow... Also I fear they'll be far too hot in the lower sections. Does anyone know how they fit?

Do you have any other good ideas for my wide feet?

Parker H · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 0

I’d find midtop trail runners and bring a backup pair of shoes.. or two. Option 3 seems the most reasonable to me. Only a few places, even on this trail, that I would think boots are truly necessary.. at least depending on season and your pack weight.  Good Luck

Alex Fedorov · · New York City · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 0

Personally I would have went for light (synthetic) mountaineering boots that fit you well... but footwear is very personal choice obviously... Considering the length of the trek i would not choose a boot i know in advance will cause me pain, even if otherwise it ticks all checkboxes... and have another pair waiting somewhere mid point ... 

Jakob Melchior · · Zürich, CH · Joined Oct 2018 · Points: 0

try on the X-Alp Carton 2 if you can (same size as other Salomon shoes). Those would be ideal. You can unzipp the gaiter for ventilation down low and they should be warm enough with thicker socks for the passes (as long as you keep moving). If you feel like you need crampons maybe look at the Petzl leopard. The Petzl strap on ones fit to the X-Alp like they were made for them and the leopard are super light.

I don't feel like the X-Alp Carbon are that narrow (actually a bit on the wide side for me) and they dry pretty well with the unzipped gaitor. I also have the XA Alpine 2 which are a bit softer and lower profile so don't fit crampons as well but also a bit narrower than the X-Alp ones.

The Ribelle Tech are definetly not what you are looking for. Way to warm and stiff. Also a bit narrower than the X-Alp.

Try Cam · · Ft. Wayne, IN · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

Sick route!

David Brophy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2019 · Points: 0

OK I think the only way to be sure is to try them both on... Just ordered two sizes of both the XAlp and the Ribelle. Watch this space!

p.s. I have a pair of the Irvis Hybrid crampons (like the leopard but with a steel toe piece). If I go for the Ribelle I'll use them... but they won't fit the XAlps because they have a semi automatic heel piece.

Jakob Melchior · · Zürich, CH · Joined Oct 2018 · Points: 0
David Brophy wrote: OK I think the only way to be sure is to try them both on... Just ordered two sizes of both the XAlp and the Ribelle. Watch this space!

p.s. I have a pair of the Irvis Hybrid crampons (like the leopard but with a steel toe piece). If I go for the Ribelle I'll use them... but they won't fit the XAlps because they have a semi automatic heel piece.

Petzl sells the flexible heel piece seperately as well.  I am also using the irvis hybrid on my x alps and it fits perfectly. 


Instead of the ribelle tech you should be looking at the Ribelle S OD.
David Brophy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2019 · Points: 0
https://www.scarpa.co.uk/mountain/ribelle-s-od/

Yeah the Ribelle S OD looks great, but the largest size they make is a EUR 44... I've ordered a 44.5 and a 45 in the Ribelle Tech... If I find the 44.5 is too big (very unlikely) I'll give the Ribelle S a go.

Any idea on the difference between the ARSC last (Ribelle S) and the ARG (Ribelle Tech)? I can't find an explanation on the Scapra site...
Kevin Mcbride · · Canmore AB · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 160

1700km of trail walking is going to destroy a pair of ribelle techs, I'd be suprised if they last the whole trip. Also 1700km of hiking in ribelle techs will also be quite uncomfortable. A set of trail runners and a beefy leather backpacking boot would probably be the best system for such a trip.

David Brophy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2019 · Points: 0

OK boots arrived today - some thoughts:

Ribelle Tech: So comfortable! Fits my foot pretty well... still squashes my little toe a little bit but much better than most boots. But it seriously feels like a comfy slipper. BUT... Much too hot, and no way to pop the gaiter open like with the Salomons. Half an hour of wearing them in my front room and my feet are wet with sweat. Also they're super stiff... not sure I could hike that far in them... feels much more like my La Sportiva Batura than a hiking boot. Also ... well ... let's just say Kevin is right - they look like they're going to fall to bits after 100km.

X-Alp Carbon 2: Beautiful. Look like they'll last forever. So sleek. But so narrow. My foot feels like it's being compressed from all sides. It's possible that a size up will help things, but the length feels ok.

Decision: I've sent them all back and ordered another pair of X-Alp Carbon 2 in the larger size... and a couple of pairs of the XA Alpine 2. Couldn't find any comparison online, but maybe they're a bit wider / more volume?

I'll let you know!

Jakob Melchior · · Zürich, CH · Joined Oct 2018 · Points: 0

really not surprised regarding the Ribelle Tech. It is a great boot but just not for your application.

The sole of the X-Alp is definitely not the most durable. I think they should "just" last for the GHT but I would expect them to be quite shredded towards the end.

For me the XA Alpine 2 feel quite a bit narrower than the X-Alp Carbon (I have the first black and white x-alp version but I think they fit the same as the 2). Definitely lower volume and don't fit crampons as well on the toe (but will still be good enough for the GHT). But maybe it is different for you. I plan on taking mine up to 6000m for some combined ridged in Nepal in the autumn when traveling with just one pair of shoes.

Maybe also look at the Salomon OUTPATH PRO GTX. I have never tried them but they seem to not be based on the Sense platform as the XA Alpine are so possible that they are wider. No carbon plate but I guess edging on rock isn't really a requirement for you. The gaiter should be more durable and they should also fit crampons well enough for the GHT.

David Brophy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2019 · Points: 0

I think we might have a winner...

A couple of days ago I received a couple of pairs of Outpath Pro GTX... Again too narrow. Also a larger size in the X-Alp Carbon - still too narrow and low volume... Also I think they're a bit too stiff for hiking 1700km in.

HOWEVER... Today I received the XA Alpine 2 and I think they might be just about perfect. Perhaps borderline for the mountaineering sections - they're almost trail-runner flexible... but I think they'll do... and they don't compress my little toes like all the others. Still reasonably low-volume, but I think the width of the toe box is significantly wider. I think I'm going to keep these.

Thanks for all your help!

David Brophy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2019 · Points: 0

Hi again!

So I'm very happy with the XA Alpine 2 boots I have for the trail... My hiking buddy on the other hand is still having trouble deciding... She's rather keen on the La Sportiva EVO GTX - which are pretty substantial mountaineering boots:

https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5010-080/Nepal-Evo-Gore-Tex-Mountaineering-Boots

I've been trying to gently encourage her to get something less full-on... Mountaineering boots will be great for the five days of moderate mountaineering we have to do, but the other 120 days I think they'll be rather hot, uncomfortable, heavy and stiff - remember we have 1,340km (830 miles) of trekking to do. Also - and maybe more importantly, once they get wet they won't dry for weeks.

However... I don't really know - I'd love other people's opinion.

Perhaps theres anyone who can back me up? Or perhaps there's someone who thinks they're a better option than my XA Alpines?

I worked out the daytime high temperatures that we'll be looking at over the whole 120 days of trek (sorry, only have this chart in C):

j c · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0
David Brophy wrote: Hi again!

So I'm very happy with the XA Alpine 2 boots I have for the trail... My hiking buddy on the other hand is still having trouble deciding... She's rather keen on the La Sportiva EVO GTX - which are pretty substantial mountaineering boots:

https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5010-080/Nepal-Evo-Gore-Tex-Mountaineering-Boots

I've been trying to gently encourage her to get something less full-on... Mountaineering boots will be great for the five days of moderate mountaineering we have to do, but the other 120 days I think they'll be rather hot, uncomfortable, heavy and stiff - remember we have 1,340km (830 miles) of trekking to do. Also - and maybe more importantly, once they get wet they won't dry for weeks.

However... I don't really know - I'd love other people's opinion.

Perhaps theres anyone who can back me up? Or perhaps there's someone who thinks they're a better option than my XA Alpines?

I'd say she's nuts. Having hiked some longer approaches in the summer wearing the same boot, they are as stiff as it gets, incredibly heavy, and hot.  

Ben Podborski · · Squamish · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0

What do you need a boot for? The GHT is all trails, with no technical scrambling or ascent except for managed trails over the high passes.

I recommend the lightest, most comfortable trail shoe you can find. The FKT for the GHT was set in trail runners, the Salomon XA Pro. I also recommend you do not get waterproof shoes, as they will dry more quickly if they are not water-impermeable, and you will have less problems with sweat and blisters.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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