Walking boots, trekking boots and mountain boots have a rating system which can tell you what they’re suitable for.
- B0 (B-zero) rated boots are general walking boots. They’re suitable for walking in the hills on rugged terrain, but they will have a flexible sole and are not suitable to use with crampons.
If your boots are the type which can be fitted with crampons, i.e. proper winter or mountain hiking boots, then they’ll have a rating of either B1, B2 or B3. What this refers to is how stiff the sole is, and thus how much support your foot is going to get.
- B1 rated boots – These are generally 3 or 4-season boots with some degree of flex in the sole. Good for hillwalking and light ‘strap’ crampon use for when you encounter a bit of snow and ice. A B1 boot will have good ankle support and a reinforced upper to allow crampon straps to be tightened effectively.
- B2 rated boots – 4-season boots with a very small degree of flex in the sole and more support than a B1. Good for articulated crampons (clip and strap) and serious mountaineering. You can also use ‘strap’ style crampons with a B2 boot.
- B3 rated boots – Climbing/Mountaineering boots with extremely stiff soles and maximum support. They’re good for clip-on crampons and hard-core winter use. These are the kinds of boots used on high-altitude mountaineering expeditions and certainly aren’t for walking in the hills.