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Reviews > Footwear > Winter Boots > Itasca Mountaineer Boots > Owner Review by Kurt Papke

Itasca Mountaineer Boots - Owner Review

Note: the white stuff on the tops of the boots is not a defect or discoloration.  It's snow.

Review date: January 22, 2009

Tester Biographical Information

Kurt Papke
6' 4" (193 cm)
220 lbs (100 kg)
Email address
kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

Backpacking Background: mostly in Minnesota and Oregon - all of the Superior Hiking Trail and Border Route, Isle Royale, dayhiking and backpacking in the Columbia River gorge.  Extensive dayhiking in Utah, Colorado and Oregon.  Mostly Spring/Fall season hiker, but easing into more cold-weather/Winter backpacking.  I do a lot of dayhikes and snowshoeing in the Winter, and am always looking for gear to keep me warm in cold and windy conditions.  I seem to be eternally on the quest for the perfect snowshoeing boot.

Product Description


Product Information
Manufacturer website
Year Manufactured
Size tested/used
13 men's
Available in sizes 7-14 (no half sizes)
Color tested/used
Black (only one color available)
Weight (measured)
4 lb 5.6 oz (1972 g)

hollow solesInsolesThese are generally what is called a "pac" boot in Minnesota, often used for ice fishing and other activities where feet must be kept warm and dry in very cold temperatures for an extended period.  Though a little difficult to discern from the photo at left taken down the boot with the insole and liners removed, they have a hollow "waffle" bottom.  This empty air space in the soles prevents cold air from seeping up into the feet.

The picture at right shows the same view with my orthotics in place.  This was very important to me - I have Plantar Fasciitis and I need to wear boots that accommodate custom insoles.

LinersAnother key for me is removable liners.  I wanted to be able to wear the liners at night so I didn't have to put on frozen, stiff boots in the morning.  Also, the liners then do double duty as nighttime foot warmers.

The liner is shown at left.  A reason why I selected these boots to purchase was the 400 g (1 lb) Thinsulate insulation that makes up the liner.  This should keep my feet warm at temperatures well below zero.

Laces: as can be seen in the first photo of this report the boots have only three courses of laces, enough to keep the boot on, but not enough to provide any ankle support especially with the flexible upper.  They also have a drawcord at the boot tops to keep out snow.  They come up roughly to the base of my calf muscle.  With that height, the drawcord to keep out snow, and with their bulk I do not use gaiters with these boots.

Last but not least are the soles.  As shown in the photo above, the Mountaineers do not have very aggressive tread, but they are certainly adequate for snowshoeing.

Field Information

These boots have been used in two principal locales this Winter:
Field Usage
Chanhassen, MN - near my home
Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) in Northern Minnesota
725 to 925 ft (220 to 280 m)
625 to 1150 ft (190 to 350 m)
Temperature range
-5 to 25 F (-21 to -4 C)
-27 to 15 F (-33 to -9 C)
Wind velocity (estimated)
Maximum of 40 mph (64 km/hr)
Maximum of 20 mph (32 km/hr)
Wooded hills and valleys, open roads
Wooded forest with some open areas
Day hiking, snowshoeing
Snowshoeing, backpacking

In campIn snowshoesPacking: on my December Winter camping trip to the SHT I wore my waterproof hiking boots during the day and strapped the Mountaineers to the back of my pack.  On my January trip I wore the liners at all times, and the boots during the day for snowshoeing as shown in the picture at right.  In this picture we had just broken camp, and were getting ready to set out with an ambient temperature of about -20 F (-29 C).  I was glad I had warm boots.

Socks: I always hike with silk liner socks.  When using the Mountaineers I use a Merino wool hiking sock during the day, and heavy wool socks at night in the liners.  I do not wear vapor barrier socks for hiking.  On my January SHT trip I did use bread bags as a vapor barrier lining on top of the liner socks and beneath the heavy wool socks at night.

The picture at left shows me in camp wearing the boots on the first morning of my January trip, temperature was about 0 F (-18 C) at the time this picture was taken, and my feet were nice and warm in camp because the liners were warm from wearing them all night.


  • Fit: I normally wear a size 12 shoe, but I bought these a size larger to accommodate thick socks.  This has worked out nicely.
  • I find these boots to be comfortable for a maximum of about 6 miles (10 km).  If I exceed that distance while walking the bottoms of my feet blister.  If snowshoeing, my ankles get tired at that point.
  • I have never had wet feet from moisture penetrating the boots.
  • I have rarely had cold toes with these boots, never while in motion.  On my January trip on the second evening my toes got cold from a combination of frozen sweat and snow that had made its way into the boot.  When I took the liners out before retiring, they were crusted with ice.  By sleeping with the liners on they dried out by morning, but the moisture ended up in my sleeping bag.
  • The drawcord upper is somewhat effective at keeping snow out, but when up to my knees in powder it manages to work its way in.
  • The laces are barely adequate for keeping the boots on my feet.
  • The shape of the boot holds well in a snowshoe binding.  I've never had them pop out of the bindings.
  • The liners come out of the boots without difficulty.  They have to be pushed in with my hands, or more easily, if put on my feet the boot shell slips right over the top of the liners.  This is what I do when I get out of my hammock -- I am already wearing the liners and I just slip the boot shells on over the top.
  • They have worn well and look brand-new except for the laces which are beginning to fray.
  • I feel they have been a good value for the money.
  • The black color goes nicely with any color of clothing.


I intend to continue to use these boots.  I've worn them a lot, and I'll continue to wear them into the foreseeable future especially for very cold conditions.  They are ideal for in-camp use, marginal for use when snowshoeing due to the weight and lack of ankle support.

  1. Warm
  2. Good value
  3. Removable liners are warm and can be worn while sleeping
  4. Resist snow well
  5. The upper is roomy and fits over my snow pants
Areas for improvement:
  1. Not nearly as lightweight as I'd like
  2. Poor ankle support
  3. Difficult to get gaiters to fit over the boots
  4. My socks tend to end up down around my insteps in these boots.  I don't know why, but something in the design seems to pull my socks down.
  5. Breathability to prevent frost buildup, though this issue may be mitigated by using vapor barrier socks

Kurt Papke

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Reviews > Footwear > Winter Boots > Itasca Mountaineer Boots > Owner Review by Kurt Papke

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