Can You Ski in Mountaineering Boots? Can You Mountaineer with Ski Boots?

The thought of skiing in mountaineering boots might seem like a dangerous, impossible idea to you, but it is a question many people have asked, and continue to ask.

What if you have mountaineering boots that you’ve invested a lot of money in, and you want to go skiing, but you don’t want to invest in a pair of ski boots? 

Of course, mountaineering boots and ski boots are different, but can they be used interchangeably? You’ll find the answers to that in this article. 

Mountaineering Boots Vs Ski Boots (Key Differences)

As expected, there’s quite a difference between Mountaineering boots and ski boots, but do you know what they are, and how they affect your choices?

Let’s find out.

1. Materials

Material used in ski boots vs mountaineering boots

Skiing boots are almost always made of durable plastic and contain soft, synthetic liners.

On the other hand, mountaineering boots are made of either leather materials or durable synthetic ones, which are more suitable for ankle movement such as climbing.

2. Flexibility and ankle support

Flexibility and ankle support in mountaineering boots vs ski boots

Ski boots are often stiff, especially in the ankle region because they are designed to ensure your ankle is braced as you ski.

Ski boots lock your feet slightly inclined forward as you would while skinning.

Mountaineering boots are the opposite because they support ankle movement. You’ll need to move your ankles as you move around and position your feet, so stiff ankles would be terrible.

3. Design

Their design is another difference; ski boots are designed for skiing and mountaineering boots are made for mountaineering.

Ski boots will be tricky for mountain climbing because you could break your ankles or even find it impossible to handle your mountaineering at all.

However, can mountaineering boots be used for skiing? After all, its flexibility might not pose as much danger as the stiffness of the ski boot. Let’s find out.

Can I Use Mountaineering Boots for Skiing?

Now that we’ve established the differences between mountaineering and skiing boots, can mountaineering boots double as skiing boots?

What if you don’t want to have to get two boots for skiing and mountaineering and you already have boots for mountaineering?

The answer is Yes! You can use mountaineering boots for skiing technically. But, there are certain difficulties you should be aware of.

Mountaineering boots are so soft and flexible that they can make your ankle bend backward and make you fall if your weight moves backward. They lack the forward inclination that ski boots originally come with.

You’ll need to do a few things to ensure that you’ll be safe when going mountaineering with ski boots.

How To Use Mountaineering Boots for Skiing?

There are also some products available in the market these days; some of which have been available from the 80s and 90s that have helped people set up mountaineering boots for skiing. 

For instance, stuffing your mountaineering into an AT binding creates a hold that can help you ski safely. There are some AT bindings that you can use with your mountaineering boot. 

An example is the Fritschi Ski Touring Bindings plate. The binding plate is quite durable and effective as an AT binding.

It wasn’t as popular as it should have been because of its excessive weight and the awkward process of switching modes, but you might be lucky to find used products in the market.

The Ramer AT binding designed to promote downhill skiing with a free-heel for mountaineering kind of cross-country mobility is another great option.

The Ramer AT binding was light and you can ski with it in both free-heel and fixed mode. It can also work with almost all kinds of boots, especially mountaineering boots. 

Although it isn’t being produced anymore, the Ramer AT is a classic, and you can probably find it if you know where to look.

Yet another option is the Mountain Spring, a product of Alp control, a European-based company that offers tibia support. You strap it on over your mountaineering boots and it supports your ankle, foot, and lower leg. 

The Mountain Spring is produced with titanium and carbon fiber, and somewhere between 1.5 and 2 pounds. 

The Mountain Spring is ideal for climbing a moderate height and skiing down. However, this product has some downsides, including the fact that it takes time to strap on the tibia support.

Of all the models of AT bindings that can be used alongside mountaineering boots, Silvretta is a great option.

Silvretta is perhaps the only backcountry skiing binding that is still being manufactured that accepts welted climbing boots. It is also an accepted regular backcountry skiing binding. 

Silvretta touring bindings are available in several lengths and can be adjusted to fit several size ranges simply by rotating a lever situated in front of the binding where the boot heel lays. 

You can also adjust the bail on your Silvretta up and down to suit a range of sole thicknesses.

Chouinard’s hinged adapter produced in the 80s was also made to be used with a mountaineering boot and help them fit into cable bindings.

The toe piece with an axle fits into a cable binding and allows the toe of the mountaineering boot to pivot when necessary. 

While these are the most common methods and products to help you engage in skiing using mountaineering boots, discoveries are made every day, and there might also be some products that never made it mainstream.

However, be careful when you find such AT bindings and other suggestions.

It is important to know that not all mountaineering boots are compatible with AT bindings, so ensure that your boots are good to go before you use them.

Many mountaineering boots only work in toe-wire bindings, such as the Silvretta 404 and 500 models. 

You also need to ensure that your mountaineering boots have the right heel height that’s compatible with an AT binding. The average is often 32 millimeters. You should also measure the length of your boot when buying an AT binder.

Final Comment:

Now you see there are several ways to make it work when you want to go skiing in mountaineering boots. Once you get your hands on the right equipment, you’re set to have a safe skiing experience.