To see if Shipping Pass is right for you, try a day free trial. Although stand-alone ice grippers ultimately offer more traction because they have more spikes to dig into the ice, we still found the Glava to be a real step up over the other winter boots in ice traction, and you can apply the BUGweb to other footwear, too. Ballistic nylon upper Upper:
If you live in a place where temperatures regularly plunge below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, 40 degrees above zero really does start feeling like T-shirt and sandals weather. Good winter boots will last for years, so if your current footwear still keeps your feet warm and dry and fits well, you have no need to replace it.
But old boots that have seen a lot of use will eventually start leaking as the waterproof liners deteriorate over time, insulating less effectively as the insulating material degrades or providing less support as the material in the midsole breaks down. All of our testing took place in a region of the state known as Southcentral, with daytime temperatures that typically ranged from 0 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the day.
All told, we spent about a month testing, amassing a total of hours of testing and research across our seven testers. For our update, we also tested boots in freezing temperatures and along icy sidewalks in New York City.
We scoured the Internet for reliable expert reviews and owner input on which boots were good enough to be put to the test. When it came to serious outdoor gear, some of our best sources included OutdoorGearLab , SectionHiker , and customer reviews from outdoors retailers like REI. In a few cases, we chose to test new models from manufacturers that regularly draw raves to see how the newest models stood up against the old standards.
We evaluated each pair of boots in a series of three tests. In the first test, we packed all the boots up to the instep in tubs of ice and used a temperature gun to measure how quickly the internal temperature dropped at three-minute intervals. The goal was to eliminate the body heat produced by feet from the equation while comparing how well the boots protected against heat loss to a cold surface the ice.
The ice served two purposes: The test evolved to include deep knee bends and other movements designed to stress the places where a boot is most likely to leak with repeated wear and use, and we declared the test over once a boot started to leak, which happened to some degree in about half the cases. To be completely clear, although all but two of the boots we tested were meant to be waterproof, we deliberately designed this test to push them all well beyond any reasonable expectations of performance.
An insulated version that we tested for this guide, the Muck Boot Arctic Excursion Mid , showcased just how well this type of boot works in wet conditions, shining even on the wet decks of an Alaskan boat in subfreezing temperatures. Our last—and arguably most important—test involved taking each pair of boots for a walk on both city streets and outdoor trails. Each boot went through at least two or three miles of walk-testing, although in many cases they had quite a bit more, with testers continuing until they felt they had amassed enough information for a confident opinion.
The Durand Polar WP provides excellent traction on most winter surfaces, can easily take you down to zero degrees of temperature, and offers a fit that suits most feet, although some people will need to size up. The waterproofing is also excellent, except for a small vent in the tongue that lets water in. Finally, this boot is also flexible enough to walk in easily but gives more structure and support than the town boots we evaluated.
Like most serious winter boots, the Durand Polar WP excels on snow, thanks to a combination of fairly aggressive lugs and open space between them that helps slow the accumulation of snow. It also offers good traction on rough ice and good lateral support receiving four out of five points from our testers in that regard , although again, like most boots in this class, it provides only so-so traction on smooth, flat ice.
Note that the upper requires more break-in time than that of the other boots we evaluated, so if you have sensitive ankles and calves, you might want to wear padded socks for the first few uses. This boot has a slightly wider than usual toe box, too, although people with wide feet will want to go up half a size, and it does a decent job of locking your heel in.
The Durand Polar WP is notably taller than a mid-cut boot, which means it will do well at keeping snow out on its own. The relatively structured build helps with this by keeping the boot from compressing your foot and cutting down on circulation, which in turn would chill you. Such a construction often translates to a clunky boot, but the Keen Durand Polar WP is actually very easy to walk in, with just enough rocker upturned toe and flexibility in the forefoot and ankle to allow a natural stride without sacrificing support.
Interestingly, this boot placed first in our temperature-gun tests of insulating value, although our testers thought the L. Our final two notes have to do with water. The Keen Durand Polar WP boots had excellent results in our waterproofing test—and also kept our feet warm in those tubs of ice water—except for a vent in the top half of the tongue that seems to soak up water, from which point the moisture eventually seeps into the interior of the boot.
In our experience, the faux fur drew several compliments as a nice, feminine touch, something to consider if you plan to wear these boots around town. But for the vast majority of people recreating in the outdoors, the Keen Durand Polar WP offers the perfect blend of features. After our previous pick was discontinued, we went back to the drawing board, gathered up long-term testing notes from some of our previous contenders, and found that Blundstone boots had been a favorite among Wirecutter staff.
Both of these boots earned high scores in previous tests, and we wanted to put them to the test again. Our previous pick, the Sorel Madson Boot , was a stylish design, but that ended up being a downside because the style was quickly discontinued and is being replaced by a new line. Even though the uninsulated version performed great in winter conditions and we still recommend it if you want to be able to use it year-round or you live in milder climates , the thermal version is fully insulated, waterproof, and surprisingly not too bulky.
Our testers hiked on trails, commuted to work, and, because these boots are easy to slip on and off, kept reaching for them for taking the trash out or going on a quick walk with the dog. This boot also passed our waterproofing tests with flying colors. It also comes with a sheepskin insole, which gives the boot a cozy, slipper-like feel. Our testers did notice that it made the boot feel more snug when wearing it at first, but the boot quickly breaks in and fits true to size.
One thing we found out about Blundstone sizing, which is not intuitive, is that its half sizes refer to only an increase in width not length. So if you prefer to wear thick socks and want to size up, you may have to go up a full size instead of a half size see our section on boot fit and keeping warm. Our testers found that the half-size increase was sometimes plenty to adjust for a thicker sock, but if you think you need extra room in the toe box, you may need to go up to the next full size.
The great thing about the thermal boot, though, is that our testers stayed extra toasty when wearing just their regular lightweight wool socks. This could be due to a misunderstanding with Blundstone sizing, as mentioned above, where half sizes are just wider versions and not actually a half-size bigger.
If you have wider feet, we recommend you get a half size up. Our testers with high arches found the boots stiff and snug in the beginning, but this quickly faded away after about a mile of wear. The pair we tested kept our feet warm and comfortable right down to zero degrees. The boots are fully waterproof up to the tongue gusset, they mold to fit almost any foot shape, and the flexible soles are easy to walk in. These boots were cute enough to draw random compliments from both men and women on the street, and they offer good traction in most winter conditions except for glare ice.
But during testing it kept my feet, warmed by only a pair of lightweight wool socks, perfectly warm down to a chilly zero degrees. Most winter boots tend to be quite clunky, but the Heavenly Omni-Heat Organza fits more like a comfortable slipper.
The forward half of the sole is especially flexible; the back half of the sole is a little stiffer for extra support. The final element to consider is traction. But for in-town wear and light outdoor use, that slipper-like feel is far preferable to clomping around in unwieldy boots. We think the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Titanium Omni-Heat offers the best blend of features for most people going outdoors, but if your sole priority is keeping your feet as warm as possible—which could mean during sedentary activities at moderate winter temperatures or staying active at serious below-zero temperatures—we recommend the L.
Bean Wildcat also offers surprisingly good traction, even on ice. The real starring feature, however, is its structured but roomy fit, which allows plenty of room for thick socks without compromising your circulation which in turn would chill your feet , along with the grams of PrimaLoft insulation that help keep your feet warm even in serious cold. The manufacturer rates this boot for use down to degrees Fahrenheit during moderate activity.
Based on our hands-on testing and our temperature-gun tests, which ranked the Wildcat second overall for its insulating value behind only the Keen Durand Polar WP , we think that rating is accurate.
The Columbia Peakfreak Venture Mid offers good traction on ice and is also a little warmer than the Thermal Blundstone. Gaiters are fabric sleeves that essentially seal the gap between your boots and your pants.
The Peakfreak Venture Mid will also keep you warm down to temperatures as low as zero degrees, as long as you wear appropriate socks and keep moving. As soon as you put a heat-generating foot into these boots, they get much warmer. These boots also lock your heel in nicely, which in combination with the relatively flexible easy-to-walk-in sole gives them near sneaker-like levels of comfort—no clunky winter boots here!
Finally, note that on the pair we tested, the Columbia Peakfreak Venture Mid had a noticeable but slow leak from one of the rivets near the bottom of the upper. Already a Shipping Pass member? Free returns online or in-store Not completely satisfied?
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