Runner-Up Review: The Snow Boots That Almost Made Our Winter Buyer’s Guide
Even the runner-up hikers from this year’s test are pretty great
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To identify the year’s best winter hiking boots, our testers spend months hiking, snowshoeing, shoveling driveways, and walking dogs. In the end, we choose the top six models to highlight in print. But there are always a few other boots that come close to making the cut—and may still be right for you. Here they are.
Columbia Bugaboot Celsius Plus ($150)
Crammed with technology to tackle winter, the high-cut Celsius Plus uses Columbia’s new Omni-Heat Infinity lining, which is covered with gold dots that reflect and retain more body heat than previous versions of the brand’s metallic heat-reflective tech. Columbia claims the new liner is 40-percent warmer, but just as breathable. Indeed, we found these boots to be toasty (though that’s thanks in part to 400 grams of synthetic insulation that kept our toes warm, even in a deep freeze). With a tread pattern that looks like a winter tire, these boots had superb traction trekking to our favorite skating pond, tagging an Adirondack summit, and wrestling a Christmas conifer from the woods. One downside: they require break-in. But once we got some days in these boots, they became a solid winter companion. —Jakob Schiller and Berne Broudy, winter hiking boot test managers
Danner Cloud Cap ($180)
These boots spent the entire winter next to the front door because they were perfect for quick trips into the yard. The slip-on design allowed us to easily get out for snowy dog walks or to shovel the driveway, while a mid-high cuff with a cinch closure kept even the deepest snow out. A healthy 400 grams of synthetic insulation was more than enough to keep our feet warm, even during brutally cold days, and the wide last felt great after taking off ski boots. Since they’re not the best for hiking or snowshoeing, they lost points in the versatility category. —J.S. and B.B.
Lowa Ottawa GTX ($250)
The suede Ottawa is up for any adventure. It’s cut high to keep snow out, but a flexible cuff meant it was still comfortable snowshoeing to a backcountry cabin, strolling the rec path, and topping out above treeline. And an oversized loop at the heel meant it was nearly as quick to get into as a pull-on boot. A fleecy Gore-Tex lining warded off cold and moisture, while the three-millimeter triangular lugs were decently grippy on snow and ice without the bulk or weight of more deeply treaded technical footwear. They weren’t quite as grippy as other boots but for those who prize an unencumbered feeling, that’s a tradeoff worth making. —J.S. and B.B.
Blundstone Men’s Lace-Up Boots ($260)
Across seasons, we’re die-hards for Blundstone’s classic Chelsea boot, but we like the flexibility of this lace-up version for squeezing in thick winter socks. As a bonus, the sheepskin footbed is removable, which means you can further customize the warmth and cushion you’re after. Solid traction and complete waterproofing make these an essential on and off the mountain. —Jenny Earnest, aprés shoes test manager