The best thing after a long day of skiing is getting out of your skiing boots and into warm and dry wool socks. Unfortunately, throughout the evening and night, you will have to get out of your sleeping bag and back into the snow at times: to go to the loo, to check the tent, to get something from your pulk, or whatever reason. Enter the Expedition Down Booties.
Down booties are waterproof, insulated, down-filled slippers you can wear in place of your skiing boots for going out in the snow. Several companies have down booties on the market, but we would recommend going for the Western Mountaineering Expedition Down Booties. They are more expensive than other models, but I promise you they are worth your money.
The defining characteristic of a down bootie is keeping your feet toasty warm. The Western Mountaineering models manage that task well. My skiing boots are exceptionally warm, and when getting out of them in the evening, I don’t want my feet to cool down rapidly. By getting into my down booties immediately, I can keep my feet from freezing, even when there’s still work to do outside, and I can’t get into my sleeping bag.
Besides their core functionality, the Western Mountaineering booties have some useful features, which set them apart from other models we tried. For one, they come with a high waterproof gaiter, which goes up your whole shin, almost up to your knee. Everyone who has camped in the snow already knows this is a distinct advantage. In areas where you can pitch your tent, the snow is usually deep enough for you to sink in above your ankles when you take a walk outside. I myself typically wear down trousers in the evening, which go down just below my knees, so having high gaiters keeps my merino underwear from getting wet. The gaiters have a rubber band to prevent them from sliding down your legs. Unfortunately, they placed the toggle for that at the front, and thus it sits right on my shin, a fact I notice every time I kneel in the porch. On one of the sides or the back of the leg would have been a much better place for it.
An area where the Western Mountaineering booties clearly outperform their competition is insulation. Not only is this important to keep your feet warm, but the better the insulation, the more of your body heat stays inside the booties, and thus they will be colder on the outside. This becomes very important when you are camping in sub-zero temperatures because if your booties are too warm, with every step in the snow, you will melt a bit of it and it will attach to your booties as a clump of ice. Once your booties have gathered enough ice, they become more slippery, wet, and you won’t be able to use them in your sleeping bag any more. Here’s a comparison shot of my Western Mountaineering booties (left) and Lauren’s booties from a different manufacturer after the same task: going outside and fetching firewood while we were staying in a cabin. All the lumps of ice you can see in these pics will add up over multiple trips throughout an evening because it won’t thaw in your tent.
We’re crossing Greenland in August 2021 to celebrate the legacy of Fridtjof Nansen as an explorer, scientist and humanitarian. We are working with the UNHCR to support their fantastic relief efforts for people who’ve been forced to flee their homes or have become stateless – causes Nansen started to fight 100 years ago.
If you liked this blog post, please consider donating towards our expedition or the UNHCR. We can’t do this without your help! Any contribution is appreciated!
Keen hiker and ÖAV trekking and hiking guide, in love with Nansen. Owner of the most walk-averse rescue dog ever. Ice cream lover, kit junkie, runner and mad software genius.