You have probably seen the Fitwell Backcountry splitboard mountaineering boots in Jeremy Jones movies or on other top-level split boarders – for a good reason – they are THE official boot for getting after epic backcountry runs. These splitboard boots combine mountaineering design with snowboard boot comfort.
Start with our video overview. Then scroll down for the details…
They are handmade in Italy – check out this video to see how they do it:
The boots feature a super burly Vibram sole with semi-auto crampon comparability. Notice the burly zebra looking rand that wraps the entire boot? Legit for kicking through crud and handling rocks like a champ.
The fit is stiff at first (as most good leather boots are) but breaks in nicely after a few days. We did not heat mold the liners, but they did fit well. The insole has a nice felted wool top and reflective mylar bottom – to retain heat. We think that worked well as our feet (toes especially) tend to get cold when we are touring in sub-freezing temps. Well, thought-out Fitwell!
The liner is heat moldable and features a unique lacing system. Fitwell also coated the sole of the liner with a durable rubber-ish material for traction when worn by itself. A nice feature. The boot itself is super burly and made to last. Fitwell uses traditional laces (beefier this year) so they are easy to replace in the field. The laces go through a set of locking eyelets midway up the boot, thus allowing you to dial in the fit for the toes separately from the upper. There is a power strap finishing off the top of the boot.
We had to keep the boots pretty loose when touring – to allow for comfort and stride when touring. At the top of the skin track we tightened things down a bit, but not much. The ride down was pleasant for such a stiff boot. If you are really getting after it and have crampons on, then you would want to keep the boots tighter. The Vibram sole is very stiff and the lugs are deep. This is great when scrambling around and forging your way in deep snow and ice. Not as nice when walking around on concrete – though that is of little concern and a small price to pay for the performance of the boot.
The footprint is not any bigger than other splitboard boots, nor is reduced very much. We had no problem getting a size 11 boot into large Karakoram bindings. Speaking of size – the boots use Mondo point – so an 11 is a 295 (that is the size that fit us best). The boots weigh in around 1500 grams and feel relatively lightweight for how bombproof they are.
To be clear – the Fitwell Backcountry boots are made for climbing steep chutes in crampons. They’re the top dog for splitboard mountaineering. But, they’re total overkill if you are just starting out split boarding and are definitely not for resort riding. If you want a boot that is built to last, made to conquer any mountain and protect your feet from the elements – this is the boot for you. Go for that first descent in Alaska. The Fitwell Backcountry boots will handle it if you can.
You can’t get them yet, but they’ll soon be available at US shops. We know Bentgate Mountaineering will be carrying them.
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