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Best insulated boots for walking on icebergs?

Dear fellow wanderers,
I am pulling together a trip to Greenland for the Spring Equinox this March...and yes, it will be very, very cold! Snow and ice to be expected. Several of the packing lists I consulted recommend "insulated boots" I currently have knee-high shearling lined waterproof boots (it gets pretty cold here in Northern New Mexico), as well as sturdy, waterproof hiking boots. The former are probably not rugged enough for ice hiking, dog-sledding and snow shoeing (plus, they're kinda nice, and could get ruined). I'm worried that the waterproof hikers (just above ankle-height) may not be warm enough. I welcome any and all suggestions!! Thanks in advance!

Happy trails,
Lydia Baca
Santa Fe NM

Posted by
1390 posts

You must be going with an outfitter of one sort or another. Can you ask them what they recommend? As for the ice, either get or rent microspikes,|21700000001700551_8906080007|92700061999128112|TOF|71700000081470379&msclkid=8240a10613dd1e582ec5c4b5078933f5&gclid=8240a10613dd1e582ec5c4b5078933f5&gclsrc=3p.ds, or if it's serious glacier, ice hikes, crampons, I assume the outfitters would have them too.

Posted by
834 posts

Google REI and go into their insulated snow boots. Something like the Oboz 7” Bridger would be good for snow shoeing. (I have something older but similar for when we snowshoe here) There’s a lot of boots on sale right now. If you find a boot you like and then google the maker, you can probably find the temp it’s good for.

Posted by
7485 posts

Lydia, your knee-highs sound just darling, but yes, they’ll be too nice to subject to the rigors of exploring Greenland. I’ve got some ancient Scarpa plastic mountaineering boots, really heavy duty, with insulated liners that slip into the shell. Even with that design, socks need special thought.

My guess is that your sturdy hikers will be suitable, as long as you’re not planning on technical ice climbing, or maybe summiting major summits. Being waterproof is of major importance. Next, socks. I’m guessing that you use you boots for hiking in New Mexico or elsewhere. Do you wear one pair of socks, or two? For Greenland, plan on two. One thinner liner sock, to wick away foot sweat and to minimize friction that could cause blisters. Over the liner, wear a heavier wool sock. Air trapped between the two layers will help retain body heat, and you can’t beat wool for its durability and insulating performance, even if it gets wet.

Do your hiking boots have a ring on the outside, at the bottom of where the tongue attaches? That’s where a gaiter hook attaches. Even if there’s no hook, you should look into a pair of boot gaiters as another layer to keep ice and snow at bay. Carry an extra pair of wool socks with you (maybe inside your jacket, where they’ll stay warmer), and change socks partway during your activity, if the first pair isn’t keeping you really warm the entire day.

Do you use Grabber or HotHands heat packs? They warm up when exposed to oxygen, and tucked inside gloves, can really make a difference. Don’t put them in the palm of your hand, but against the back, where your blood vessels are. The heat warms your blood, which will be distributed into your fingers. The heat packs last for hours, but when they cool, they’re used up. Bring several.

The company that makes Grabber and HotHands also makes toe warmers and foot warmers, which sit against the footbed inside boots. Sure, they wind up against soles of your feet, not on top where your veins are, but boots are different than gloves.

Keep your boots inside at night. Don’t put them too close to any fire, but a warm space is a good thing.

Are you using an adventure guiding company? Do they issue crampons? How about ice axes?Do they suggest they would be needed? Your boots may or may not be compatible with crampons - the soles need to be really stout, and not flexible. Are you planning on bringing telescoping trekking poles? We found them to be really helpful on our glacier hike in Iceland 10 years ago. The snow was relatively soft, due to relatively warm temperatures that year, and we were never on blue ice. The hiking boots (with good socks) worked great.

We did a dogsled ride outside Fraser, Colorado (the veritable “Icebox of the Nation”) a few years ago, but we sat in the sled, wrapped in blankets, so weren’t mushing, standing on the back of the sled.

What if you headed up to Ski Santa Fe and wandered around for, say, three hours, testing your footwear? Kick around in loose snow away from the runs and lifts. Pace around on the packed snow - see how much grip your boots show, and how warm you remain. It sounds like you’ve got a phenomenal trip planned for March!

Posted by
1223 posts

Gaiters and crampons. I use something similar to the following items for hiking local mountain trails. Gaiters are lightweight and will keep snow or mud from entering into a hiking boot. These types of crampons are more secure, have more aggresdive bite and better anti-balling than microspikes. However, they are not for serious ice-climbing.

Posted by
912 posts

We are going to Yellowstone NP in a couple of weeks. My wife and I are both using Keen waterproof / insulated boots hiking boots that are rated to a -25°F. We went through about 10 different boots all order from REI. We ordered them on;ine even though there was a store about 10 miles away from us in Houston due to inventory. After testing them, mostly for fit, we returned the ones that would not work for us to REI for a full refund. There are are probably mother outdoor shops in Santa Fe that can help you. As mentioned earlier you should have some type of crampon like YakTrax or something similar. Let us know what you decide.

Posted by
1292 posts

Hi Lydia -

What does your tour company suggest? I ask in case they are wanting you to bring insulated mountaineering boots. I don’t think they will because these are highly specialist, not to mention costing a shedload (standard British unit of measurement) of cash, but they may want you to wear a stiff enough sole to take a pair of crampons, or even micro spikes. On the other hand they just might want to ensure you don’t turn up in a pair of sneakers.

I wear a Coolmax liner under a thicker pair of merino or similar, socks, but to accommodate this and avoid foot problems, my boots are always a full size bigger than my shoes. A phone call to your tour company will probably set your mind at rest by determining what they really want to wear! There’s good advice here but all of it involves a degree of speculation.

Have a great trip - sounds exciting!


Posted by
2115 posts

When I read your post (I think it was also yours) from the other day mentioning going to Greenland in March, my first thought was March???? Most tour companies go there in the summer. But, when you go is YOUR choice, not mine. We visited with National Geographic in August several years ago, as part of an Iceland/Greenland expedition. Both were lovely. Greenland was full of ice/snow then, but likely not like it would be in March.

But, today when I read the title of your recent post that included "walking on icebergs," I had to take a double...okay a triple....take!!!

When we visited Greenland with National Geographic (as well as separate expedition to Antarctica), the naturalists on board who were out on water with us when we kayaked or were in zodiacs, firmly warned everyone not to get close to icebergs, as they are known to flip over without warning. We actually saw that happen....and it underscored why the naturalists kept warning everyone..

I Googled: Walking on Icebergs, and here is what I found:

You are likely much, much more experienced in "extreme travel" than I am.........but the last paragraph of the article sums it up nicely.

Have a safe, trip of a lifetime-----hopefully not your "last" one!!! And, please do a trip report when you return.

Posted by
504 posts

March in Greenland, you're going to want snowpack boots. We're talking insulated/waterproof boots for living/working in the snow. Its the end of the season so, get what you can as there's no more in-bound inventory until next Winter, should be able to get them on sale now.

On the upper-end of the cost spectrum-
Ugg (yes, they actually have genuine snowpack boots see Butte & Adriondack)

LL Bean
The North Face

On price-sensitive side of the spectrum-