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|| News Item: Posted 2001-02-26

Road Warrior: End of Season Sales on Winter Boots
By Mongo

Photo by
Winter Olympics 2002!

Jumping Jackalopes, it's less than a year away! (Didn't we just get done with an Olympics?)

Believe it or not, it's not too early to start planning for this event. Over the next year, I'll dedicate some column space to helping you prepare for the upcoming winter carnage.

NOW is the time to start organizing and upgrading your winter wardrobe for the games.

Why NOW?


Photo by
March and April, most sporting goods stores and ski shops are having big SALES to clear out inventory to make room for spring and summer goods. Discounts and markdowns run anywhere from 40% to 60% off the regular retail prices. If you waited till next year, the Olympics would already be over.

Footwear is usually the first to go on sale, and since the most important component of a cold weather system is a proper foundation of shoes and socks, we'll start there.

Close your eyes and try to imagine you're standing around the finish area of the Super G waiting out a course hold, in your trusty old hiking boots. The leather is soaked and your feet feel kind of damp. It's elbows and assholes against that crash fence; surrounded by a bunch of rude, smelly, foreign photographers and your feet are aching but you don't dare move, lest you loose your shooting position. You try hopping up and down in place to get the blood circulating in your feet and everybody just stares at you thinking you must have to pee. Pretty soon the pain subsides and it's like you can't feel your toes anymore. Congratulations you probably have frostbite.

To avoid a similar scenario invest in a good pair of WINTER boots. You can divide them into 4 basic groups.

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Winter PAC boots
$40.00 to $80.00
Baffen, Cabela's, LaCrosse, Sorel

When you think of winter boots, you usually envision this style. Remember when you were a little kid and you had rubber galoshes? Well, PAC boots are a lot like that with a rubberized bottom but with waterproof leather uppers. This type of construction helps keep your feet dry in slushy conditions and the high cuff helps to keep snow out. The lacing system is a simple 3 or 4 eyelet pair, which make putting them on and taking them off a breeze. Insulation is provided by a removable thick (10 to 15mm) compressed wool or synthetic inner boot. If you're prone to sweaty feet, be sure to buy a spare set of liners, so you can rotate them and always have a dry set.

*Warmest design of the bunch
*Easy on and off
*Excellent water resistance

*Loose fit, poor ankle support
*Heavy and Bulky

Winter HIKING boots
$40.00 to $100.00
Colombia, High-Tec, Merrell, Rocky, Salomon, Trukke, Vasque.

Photo by
Take a pair of lightweight synthetic or leather hiking boots, add 200 to 400 grams of Thinsulate, give it an aggressive tread pattern and voila, winter hikers. With a fit like your favorite running shoes, these boots provide good support for those long treks from the shuttle buses to your shooting position. Because they feature a lower cut (profile) you may have problems with snow getting inside. This style is best suited for moderate weather conditions. If you're covering skating, hockey, or curling, (indoor events) these are just the ticket. (They're also quite stylish)

*Great fit and good support
*Light weight

*Moderate insulation
*Low cut

Winter Mountaineering boots
$100.00 to $400.00
Alpina, Garmont, La Sportiva, Tenica, Trezeta,

Designed primarily for ice climbing and glacier travel these boots are like a pair of heavy duty hiking boots on steroids. The shells are a composite of plastic, leather and Kevlar, which provide added puncture protection from crampons. What are crampons? If you have to ask, you don't need these boots) Insulation from the cold is provided via a removable inner boot. A rigid shank made of carbon reinforced fiberglass or steel, combined with an oversized lug outsole make it sturdy enough to handle step in crampons. If you got into an ass kicking contest or had to stomp on some TV gack who was blocking your shot, these boots would make you invincible.

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*Good fit and GREAT support


Winter HUNTING boots
$60.00 to $140.00
Cabela's, LaCrosse, Sorel

Take the best features of the PAC boot (warmth and waterproof) mix in the comfort, support and fit of the winter hikers and you have WINTER HUNTING boots. If you're going to be outside standing around at the Olympic sports park shooting Luge or Ski jumping, then the extra insulation (400 to 1000 grams) will keep your feet nice and toasty warm.

Out tromping around in the deep snow near Heber, covering Biathlon? Then the high cut uppers will do a good job of keeping the snow out. You can easily adjust the fit to accommodate thin or thick socks via the 6 to 10 eyelet pair lacing system. For a few dollars more, some models feature a Gore-Tex liner, but unless you're planning on standing around in puddles, save yourself some money and just treat the fabric or leather with a Silicone spray water repellent.

*Good fit and good support
*High cut



1 - Big dog or little dogs?
Measure your feet! Just because you wear a size 9 tennis shoe, DON'T take it for granted that you have a size 9 foot! Go to a shoe store and measure your feet with the socks you're planning on wearing with your boots.

2 - Try before you buy.
Go to the store and actually try on the boots. If you live somewhere like Miami and the local stores don't carry winter boots, you can order on line from companies like or Both companies have liberal return policies. Order your normal shoe size. If you wear half sizes, go UP to the next full size.

3 - Wear the right socks.
When you check the fit of the boots, make sure you're wearing the correct weight of socks or sock system. Some people like thick socks, some people like thin socks, some will wear a thin liner sock with a mid weight outer sock to reduce friction and blisters. Mongo likes using a medium weight hiking sock to check the fit and feel of boots. STAY AWAY from cotton socks! COTTON IS DEATH!
Opt for a Wool / Synthetic mix that wicks moisture away which helps keep your feet warmer.

4 - How do they feel now?
Remember that a boot will "pack out" that is the foot bed and lining will compress over time, so a slightly snug fit is preferable. STAY AWAY from tight fitting boots as these will restrict blood circulation and make for cold feet.

5 - Fine tuning fit
Some boots feature interchangeable foot beds, (insoles) 1 thick and 1 thin, so you can adjust the volume of the boot for normal feet (D width) to wide (EE width) also depending on the temperature; you can change the volume of the boot to accommodate different thickness socks.
You can also replace the factory foot beds with aftermarket models by Dr. Sholl's, Superfeet, Footfix, etc. for added arch support or extra base insulation.

Next month: Outer layers.

(Mongo Johnson was Howard Hugh's co-pilot on the "Spruce Goose" and currently is employed as a private travel consultant to several Hollywood celebrities including "Spanky" (from "Spanky and our Gang"), Bruce Lee's twin brother Ug and Harry Reems.)

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