The mountain gear I look for the most is: very light but durable protection for my limbs. That means gloves and boots that are as light and breathable, quick-drying as possible so my hands and feet don’t rot in sweat in the summer heat, while being durable enough not to fall apart scrambling over rocks in the Japanese alps.

Rocky route in the Japanese alps (at Nishi-Hotaka)

Honestly I’ve given up on gloves and boots being “breathable” enough so I’m not drenched in sweat. I don’t think I sweat a lot, but it’s apparently still too much. I’ve also given up on them being “waterproof.” I’ve only had gore-tex boots and I’m yet to find any that would keep my feet dry after a few weekends in the mountains. So I’ll settle with “reasonable” waterproofing as long as I get extremely quick drying.

Getting soaked on Mt Tsurugi

In that sense the closest to my ideal were the Roclite G345 GTX. They kept my feet (mostly) dry and dried out pretty quick. The one problem was that they started coming apart after a month or so, holes opening in the outer mesh at the strain points… I also really enjoyed mont-bell’s Cycool gloves. As the name suggest these are intended for cycling but they’re very breathable and light which was just what I wanted. On the other hand, they absolutely can’t handle the abrasion of scrambling over rocks, falling apart in the matter of days.

The marshy trail up Mt Tomuraushi

Thus we arrive at my second requirement: durability. I had boots that lasted me forever: my Caravan (a Japanese local brand) boots I got when I started going in the mountains had been with me on countless local hikes, on the acclimatization on Elbrus and the summit of Kilimanjaro without any issues. They were never as waterproof as advertised (getting absolutely soaked just a month into use) but it was enough for the amount of rain on Kili for example. And they were durable, lasting me years instead of weeks like the Roclite. Their only issue was that they were “heavy” in the sense that the leather construction was barely breathable at all, meaning after a summer drizzle I wouldn’t know if my feet were soaked from the rain or from sweat (probably the latter though).

The long approach up Mt Yari

For the time being I’ll keep looking for boots and gloves that are durable at the points of wear: the tip and the part of the vamp where it folds as I step for boots and the palm side for gloves; and extremely breathable (quick-drying) but nominally water-resistant everywhere else.