How We Tested Winter Boots for Women

By:
Amanda Fenn and Amber King

Last Updated:
Saturday

We truly test our boots to thier limits. In addition to numerous snow-based tested  we took the Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry to the desert. It performed well until the rain turned the trail to clay  and the lugs didn't do a great job at shedding mud...however  they're not built for that purpose. That said  this is truly best as a winter hiker and its versatile enough for most winter endeavors!
We truly test our boots to thier limits. In addition to numerous snow-based tested, we took the Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry to the desert. It performed well until the rain turned the trail to clay, and the lugs didn't do a great job at shedding mud...however, they're not built for that purpose. That said, this is truly best as a winter hiker and its versatile enough for most winter endeavors!

Over the course of two months, we wore these boots constantly. They saw desert hikes, snowy trails, icy city streets, and lots of snow. We paired some with tights and others with hiking pants, all while weighing the pros and cons of style, performance, and comfort. We also enlisted the help of many women who have endured winters in Colorado's mountain towns. These eight pairs of boots have seen all kinds of weather extremes. From temperatures as cold as -14 degrees Fahrenheit to torrential downpours in the desert.

Sometimes slipping and falling is part of the job! Here  our main tester takes a fall while testing traction - mistaking the snow-bumb on a down tree for its trunk!
Sometimes slipping and falling is part of the job! Here, our main tester takes a fall while testing traction - mistaking the snow-bumb on a down tree for its trunk!

After getting a feel for how each piece performed, we designed a series of head-to-head tests. To examine warmth, we were blessed with the 'Polar Vortex' of 2016 that brought temperatures into the double negative digits. When that week came, we tested relentless while walking through town with a different boot on each foot, hiking on winter trails, and making many different snow structures.

Here we drag all our boots to the river for a comparative 'water resistance' test!
Here we drag all our boots to the river for a comparative 'water resistance' test!

To test more objectively for both warmth and weather protection, we performed a few tests. The first was our 'maximum puddle depth' test, which helped us determine water resistance without motion. We filled up the bath tub, creating "puddles". Then, we slowly submerged each piece to see where it lost its water resistance, noted that point, and measured it with a tape measure. In addition to this test, we also performed walking slush test (weather protection with motion). We filled up a recycling box with water, ice, and snow. Then put different boots on each boot. Then we marched for about seven minutes.

When considering performance and comfort  determine what kind of conditions you'll be primarily exposed to. Here we test the limits of our womens winter boots by explosing to a 'slush test'!
When considering performance and comfort, determine what kind of conditions you'll be primarily exposed to. Here we test the limits of our womens winter boots by explosing to a 'slush test'!

In this time, we were able to determine if the boots that we 'thought' were waterproof, were actually waterproof. We were surprised that this debunked some corporate claims! In addition to these tests, we measured each boot and noted key features that either aided or didn't aid in both weather protection and warmth.

After our slush bucket tests  we were able to determine which boots were waterproof  and which weren't. In this test we see the Columbia Minx-Mid II (left) leaked where the textile meets the laces  where the North Face Shellista kept our feet bone-dry!
After our slush bucket tests, we were able to determine which boots were waterproof, and which weren't. In this test we see the Columbia Minx-Mid II (left) leaked where the textile meets the laces, where the North Face Shellista kept our feet bone-dry!

Finally, we sacrificed our personal comfort and went to the river when it is was quite frigid outside. We strapped on each pair of boots and walked into the river. Here, we noted the height at which water started to gush in. In addition, we didn't wear any socks to truly test if any moisture came inside the boot, and also to double check our thoughts on warmth!

Brr....at OGL we sacrifice comfort for the facts! Even though the Columbia Minx-Mid II provided 'a little' water resistance at first  this boot is DEFINITELY not waterproof as Columbia claims it to be! Here our main tester shivers while standing in near-freezing water on a frigid day in the mountains  while water pours into the boot.
Brr....at OGL we sacrifice comfort for the facts! Even though the Columbia Minx-Mid II provided 'a little' water resistance at first, this boot is DEFINITELY not waterproof as Columbia claims it to be! Here our main tester shivers while standing in near-freezing water on a frigid day in the mountains, while water pours into the boot.

In addition to warmth and weather protection, we also created a plethora of metric other objective tests. Each test for its metrics is summarized below.

Comfort: we put each boot on with and without shoes to get a true feel of the footbed and inner line. In addition, we walked each pair of boots to work and back, and wore them while working all day.

Traction: we simply chose a slippery, wintry slope in the middle of the woods and ran up and down it to see which boots slipped and which ones didn't. We also walked around in the river to see which boots provided the most traction on slippery rocks. Finally, we looked at lug depth and type of rubber to determine patterns and correlations.

Hill training in the mountains! We selected a snow slope that was a little sporty to truly test the traction of each boot in this review!
Hill training in the mountains! We selected a snow slope that was a little sporty to truly test the traction of each boot in this review!

Style: we conducted a social media poll to determine our style metric. After hearing from more than 50 women, whose ages ranged from 20 to 60, we averaged the results and awarded our style scores.

Ease of Taking On and Off: We took each boot on and off several times while using our hands and without using our hands. We also invited friends over for wine to help us and to compare notes. We also noted which boots featured a quick one-pull lacing system, and which ones didn't.

Ahhh...glorious snow angels! Here we compare the warmth and comfort of two boots while having a little fun at the same time!
Ahhh...glorious snow angels! Here we compare the warmth and comfort of two boots while having a little fun at the same time!

After much walking through the snow, making snow angels, and drinking lots of hot chocolate afterwards, we are proud to present you, with what we think is; The Best Winter Boots for Women Review.
 

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    Unbiased.