When it comes to boots, the best boot is the one that fits, but weight and warmth are significant factors too. With limited options, you might need to look at aftermarket insoles to help with the fit. If the best-fitting option isn't warm enough for you, here are a few things you can do.
- Use heated insoles: either rechargeable or the disposable kind.
- Use heated socks. These have gotten more sophisticated over the years, with models that can be temperature regulated with your smartphone.
- Buy high-quality socks; merino wool is always a great option.
- For warm approaches, use a breathable glove (one without a waterproof liner) like the Power Stretch® Stimulus™ Glove. If your hands sweat too much while hiking, they will get clammy and more susceptible to the cold. A breathable glove can help release some of the heat built up while continually moving.
- For cold approaches, try a pair of mittens like the Compressor™ Gore-Tex® Mitt or Absolute Zero™ Gore-Tex® Down Mitt. Mittens can keep your hands warm while hiking, and they can be great options for belaying if conditions are icy and you need to warm your hands up after freezing on that last pitch.
- Use disposable hand warmers inside your gloves. Keep them in your palm while not holding tools, or on the back of your hand while climbing. Some like to use wristbands with the hand warmers on their wrists. The idea is to help heat the blood before it goes into your hands.
One item where design can be supercritical is alpine bibs, such as the Women's Exposure/2™ Gore-Tex® Pro Bib. Once you have your clothing layered on top of your bibs, if they are not designed with zippers to allow you to quickly and easily use the bathroom, you will have to take all your top layers off to drop the suspenders. This can be a significant problem if a storm is raging and you need to limit your exposure to the elements.
While we are on the subject of using the bathroom in the alpine, here are a few tips from veteran alpinists.
- Check out devices like the Freshette or Shewee. These can be especially helpful when tent-bound, as you can more easily pee into a Nalgene bottle without leaving the warmth and shelter of your tent.
- After using the bathroom, some will drip dry. This can work well for day trips but could lead to infections throughout a multi-day trip. Some might wear a thin pad for the day to help keep your base layers clean.
- Use a Kula Cloth or pee rag to wipe. This is something you can keep outside your pack and wash when you get home.
- Regardless of your personal hygiene routine, make sure you practice unhooking the drop-seat leg loops on your harness. There’s a good chance you will need to use the bathroom while on route when you can't untie or take off your harness.