In the realm of the winter boot, a rare and advantageous phenomenon has come to light for women in recent years. After decades of lingering in the back alleys of fashion—and most prominently demonstrated with Deckers Outdoor Corp. and its skyrocketing Ugg Australia brand—fuzzy, insulated, foot-ensconcing winter footwear has finally hit the mainstream.
This winter, a female tester for Gear Junkie put three fashionable performance boots through the paces, so to speak. The test venue was the depths of a winter in Minnesota with hiking, sledding, as well as general around-town use with kids in tow. Here's a breakdown of each boot and the results from the two-month test.
Merrell Tempest High -- The most style-conscious boots in the roundup, the Tempest High are slip-ons with a waterproof leather upper. Merrell uses wool and fleece for the lining and insulation. Our tester said the Tempest Highs were the "cutest and most fashionable of the group" though also the least warm and "most casual." She continued, "You can wear them and feel attractive and not feel like you're wearing a clunky boot." $140; www.merrell.com
Timberland Mount Holly Tall -- Riding a theme closer to utilitarian boot than style piece, the Mount Holly Talls have a "nice-looking but classic or old-fashioned design," said our tester. The boots are made of leather and nylon with a stout rubber sole. For hiking and snowshoeing, these are the most appropriate in the mix. You can cinch them on tight. They are the best boots here for true outdoors use -- though stylish enough for everyday wear as well. $150; www.timberland.com
Heather Canyon Omni-Heat -- They look akin to mukluks on the foot. They grab points on the style side as well as for performance. Overall, the Heather Canyons rode a middle area between the Timberlands and the Merrells -- they were fashionable, though still capable for casual activity outdoors in the snow. Columbia includes a water-resistant suede leather upper and a faux fur collar. The boots were warm down to about zero degrees F, our tester said, if you're on the move with thick socks on both feet. $140; www.columbia.com