Via ferratas and glacier tour – What to wear on your feet?

2017 / January / 15 / All the Tricks /

e receive questions about the right boots for via ferratas almost every day. As I like to climb via ferratas myself on weekends in summer, I collected some information for you…


A via ferrata boot appears to require opposing characteristics.

For long treks it needs to be comfortable and stable to withstand alpine challenges when climbing over iron bars and ladders (robust material, stable soles and good grip). On the other hand difficult via ferratas often require a firm grip on the rock. This is where a sole with strong edges is important (so that force is transmitted directly). But plenty of flexibility in the shaft and a flexible sole are also a must in the case of frictional step climbing. In general climbing footwear has a much narrower cut than trekking boots. A bridge between the place on the shoe where the ball of the foot is located and the heel prevents slipping on iron bars. Because the weather and conditions in the mountains aren’t always predictable, we also make all our climbing and alpine boots waterproof with a GORE-TEX® membrane.

Hanwag shoes particularly suitable for via ferratas are the ultra-light Badile Combi II GTX, our alpine all-rounder Ferrata Combi GTX. Their snug fit provides ideal grip on the rock.ARE HANWAG VIA FERRATA BOOTS SUITABLE FOR GLACIER TREKS?

Yes. However, our climbing boots aren’t specially designed for use in cold regions. They aren’t suitable for mountaineering or climbing in the winter. Alpine via ferratas often go through areas with ice and snow. Then you need a shoe that crampons can be fitted to. All our  via ferrata boots are suitable for semi-automatic crampons. Ask your dealer for advice before you buy the shoe. There’s a wide range of crampons for different scenarios. Take the shoes with you to the shop and try the crampon straight away.


Step-in crampon: Crampons can be fitted to all our ALPIN category models, in other words they are suitable for fully automatic crampons (lever at the front, leverlock at the back). This is recommended for all mountaineering expeditions and ice climbing.

Hybrid crampon: Our ROCK and TREK categories include several models which are partially suitable for crampons. They have a reinforced rest for the crampon heel lever and are suitable for crampons with a lever at the back and “basket” at the front (no lever at the front). For light to medium ice treks, firn fields and glacier crossings.

Step-on crampon: Robust models without crampon rests are suitable for strap-on crampons (without a lever at the front and lever-lock at the back).  For very light expeditions, crossing firn fields or glaciers.IS A TREKKING BOOT ALSO SUITABLE FOR VIA FERRATAS?

Yes and no. It depends on how difficult the via ferrata is and how much experience you have. Trekking shoes are primarily designed for long walks, have a wider cut and a softer sole. To make it clearer, you can compare the two concepts with seating. A trekking boot is like a comfortable armchair while a via ferrata boot is like a seat in a Ferrari.  Does that make it clearer?


If you’ve never undertaken a glacier trip before, we urgently recommend you take an alpine guide with you or go in a guided group. Contact private mountaineering schools or alpine clubs.