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Hands-on Gear Review

Northside Kathmandu Review

Northside Kathmandu Waterproof
Price:   $90 List | $55.60 at Amazon
Pros:  Cozy and comfortable, cute faux-fur look, affordable
Cons:  Lacks weather protection, poor traction
Bottom line:  This affordable faux-fur style winter boot offers fantastic comfort but lacks performance in some key metrics.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Northside

Our Verdict

The Northside Kathmandu winter boot features a faux-fur collar and full-suede exterior. We instantly fell in love with its design and fantastic level of comfort and coziness, but were let down when it came down to truly testing this boot. When we first received this pair of boots, we were optimistic that it would become our new Best Buy award winner, stealing the limelight from the Kamik Momentum. However, after subjecting it to our 'warmth' and 'weather proof' tests, it didn't only fail, but we learned that Northside made a couple of false claims. Northside claims that the boot is "waterproof" when it just simply isn't. When examining the craftsmanship on the seams, we noticed the stitching to be inconsistent and sloppy. Water seeped in through these seams quite quickly in our tests.

In addition, Northside also claims this boot have a cold weather rating of -13 degrees Fahrenheit, but when we went out in the double negative digits, our feet were not happy. That said, there were other boots that didn't perform as well as the Kathmandu's in each metric. Aside from this experience, we do think this boot has great affinity to perform as a casual winter boot to wear around town when the conditions don't get too icy or cold. This competitor is a great affordable faux-fur option with an outdoorsy flair.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Winter Boots for Women Review

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Score Product Price Our Take
79
$140
Editors' Choice Award
This Editors' Choice winner is the most versatile boot tested without sacrificing fashion or function.
77
$180
Top Pick Award
Our Top Pick for Severe Weather will keep your tootsies toasty in the worst weather that winter can throw at you.
76
$150
Top Pick Award
This Top Pick for Winter Hiking is best for trudging through snow trails and getting lost (on purpose of course) in the backcountry.
75
$90
Best Buy Award
This Best Buy award winner provides a glorious balance of weather protection and traction, all in one affordable package.
71
$170
This nasty weather warrior is a great winter option to add to your wardrobe.
64
$225
This competitor is the epitome of comfort, featuring a sheep lined interior that makes you feel like you're walking on cloud nine.
57
$90
This affordable faux-fur style winter boot offers fantastic comfort but lacks performance in some key metrics.
55
$120
This snow boot feels more like a slipper with decent traction and a lightweight design; it's perfect for walks around town.

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Amber King
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Saturday
December 31, 2016

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The Kathmandu by the Northside doesn't perform highly in warmth or weather protection, but it does feature a fabulously cozy inner with a cute faux-fur style.

Performance Comparison


The Northside Kathmandu stands out as an affordable faux-fur winter boot. It is more comfortable than its main competitors  but it lacks warmth and traction as a result of its thin  lug less outsole. That said  it is a wonderful option on regular winter days. That said  this boot bombed our weather proofing tests as a result of poor craftsmanship  and cheap outsole materials.
The Northside Kathmandu stands out as an affordable faux-fur winter boot. It is more comfortable than its main competitors, but it lacks warmth and traction as a result of its thin, lug less outsole. That said, it is a wonderful option on regular winter days. That said, this boot bombed our weather proofing tests as a result of poor craftsmanship, and cheap outsole materials.

Warmth


This contender provides decent warm but isn't the best option for the coldest of winter days. Even though the boots are rated by the manufacturer to -13 degrees Fahrenheit, our feet were freezing when the temps dipped just below zero. When we first received the boot, we were excited as it seemed wonderful and warm. The boot is stacked with 200g of Thermolite insulation and a faux-fur collar designed to keep warmth in. In addition, the boot features a warm fleecy single liner that extends throughout the shaft of the boot.

The faux fur collar does a great job keeping pesky snow out of the boot and locking in warmth on cold days. If only the outsole were thicker  this would be a prime cold-weather candidate.
The faux fur collar does a great job keeping pesky snow out of the boot and locking in warmth on cold days. If only the outsole were thicker, this would be a prime cold-weather candidate.

All of these features are fantastic, providing great warmth on cold days. However, the soles of the boots are very thin, allowing you to feel every undulation in the ground, in addition to the cold underfoot. As a result, this boot scored on-par with the UGG Adirondack II and Sorel Tofino II, also suited for less cold winter temperatures. The Kathmandu is a little warmer than the thin-soled Columbia Minx-Mid II. If you're looking for the ultimate in warmth, check out our Top Pick for Severe Weather, the Sorel Joan of Arctic or our Top Pick for Winter Hiking, the Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry.

Weather Protection


Even though Northside claims that this boot is waterproof, we found that it is not. The outsole is waterproof at best, but we learned quickly that the upper is just barely water-resistant.

To be quite frank, we were quite disappointed with this boot in this metric. Before performing these tests, we really thought this boot had a good shot at being our Best Buy winner. However, when performing our slush and bathtub tests, we learned that the seams of these boots are not waterproof, as claimed by Northside. After marching for thirty seconds in three inches of water, the boots became water-logged, soaking our socks and freezing our toes.

A look at the Kathmandu's result after marching in three inches of water for under one minute...
A look at the Kathmandu's result after marching in three inches of water for under one minute...

The water seeped through the seams and seal - not at the point where the tongue meets the shaft of the boot, like most competitors. That said, we wouldn't recommend puddle jumping with these boots like we would the Sorel Joan of Arctic. We did like how the faux fur collar kept out pesky snow wisps, and protected in snowbanks up to 11 inches, one half inch more than our Best Buy award winner - the Kamik Momentum. All in all, avoid water-logged streets, but feel confident in tall snow drifts.

Here we observe sloppy craftsmanship. When comparing the stitch pattern to the other boot  they were both different and inconsistent (unlike the Sorel options). Here we observe where water leaks into the boot (right at the seems). The suede-upper is far from waterproof  and is water resistant at best.
Here we observe sloppy craftsmanship. When comparing the stitch pattern to the other boot, they were both different and inconsistent (unlike the Sorel options). Here we observe where water leaks into the boot (right at the seems). The suede-upper is far from waterproof, and is water resistant at best.

Comfort & Coziness


Of all the faux-fur boot options, the Kathmandu is by far the coziest and most comfortable contender that we tested! Even though it's a little bulkier than the Sorel Tofino II, it's lighter than the Sorel Joan of Arctic, making it a decent choice for walking the dog or building a snowman. We loved that the shaft of this boot didn't bite or constrict in any odd places, like we discovered with other Sorel varieties.

What we instantly fell in love with is its plush inner fur liner that feels good to wear with and without socks. The liner extends all the way down the boot from the fur collar…no other faux fur boot features this! Even though we felt like this was super luxurious, it still doesn't compare to the ultra-plush, cloud-like-wearing experience found in the UGG Adirondack II. Nor does it feature a firm memory-foam like footbed found in our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Shellista II Mid.

We LOVED the furry liner that extends the length of this boot. This gave this boot high points and major props in the comfort and coziness category.
We LOVED the furry liner that extends the length of this boot. This gave this boot high points and major props in the comfort and coziness category.

Traction


Even though this boot has terrible traction, you can purchase a pair of YakTrax to gain traction for the icy sidewalks - if you love everything else about its design.

This boot slips and slides on icy sidewalks and rocky surfaces. Outfitted with a simple rubber outsole that features little to no tread pattern, the Kathmandu has the worst traction of all boots tested. If Northside designed this boot with a thicker sole and a more defined tread pattern, it would offer higher performance for wintery conditions.

This outsole provides limited traction on any kind of slippery surface  however it does okay in snow.
This outsole provides limited traction on any kind of slippery surface, however it does okay in snow.

That said, we wouldn't recommend it for winter hiking or walking on super icy sidewalks, but it's still a great option for explicitly snowy conditions (similar to the Sorel varieties). If you're interested in a boot with better traction for a similar price, consider the Best Buy winner, the Kamik Momentum. Or if you can afford better quality, check out The North Face Shellista Mid II, which features impressively sticky temperature-sensitive lugs!

A full look at the traction of the boot.
A full look at the traction of the boot.

Style & Fit


This boot is true to fit. However, if you plan on wearing uber-thick socks, order a half-size up!

What the Northside Kathmandu lacks in performance, it makes up for in style. However - they aren't for everyone. This boot was voted as our fourth most popular, (following the super cute and feminine Sorel Tofino II and the mountain-chic The North Face Shellista) in our online style poll that reached over 50 women. Even though we know that some ladies aren't a fan of faux-fur or the woodsy 'into the wild' look, some ladies love it!

It features a cute fur collar, D-ring lace eyelets, and a rubberized outsole look. The suede upper adds a feminine touch, perfect for an apres ski drink. The fit is true to size, while the sole is thin, without a whole lot of support. We felt like our foot was better supported than when wearing the bulky Sorel Joan of Arctic or the Kamik Momentum, but not quite as supported as the Sorel Tofino II. This boot is a great option for women with both wide and narrow feet.

Britt gets ready for a day of testing out on the town! Here she wears both the Northside Kathmandu and the Sorel Joan of Arctic in this winter blizzard.
Britt gets ready for a day of testing out on the town! Here she wears both the Northside Kathmandu and the Sorel Joan of Arctic in this winter blizzard.

Ease of Use


While this competitor was originally awarded a top place in this metric due to its wide foot opening and sleek, fleecy shaft, it lost points because of the cheap, floppy insole that kept balling up and pulling out. Even though you can easily slip your foot in and out of this boot without using your hands, the insole became such an annoyance that we just took it out all together. If you're looking for an equally affordable boot that earned top points in this metric, but sure to check out the Kamik Momentum. If you're looking for a lightweight boot with a one-pull lacing system, we'd recommend the Columbia Minx-Mid II.

Best Application


Given the construction and performance of this faux-fur contender, we'd recommend it solely for snowy conditions that aren't too icy or cold. It's light enough for long walks, but not recommended for wearing all day as the fit isn't quite precise, and the boot is a little heavier than others. That said, it's a great option for wearing around town, or as an apres-ski option.

Taking a walk around town or planning to head out to the ski hill? The Kathmandu is a perfect compadre on either of these endeavors and more!
Taking a walk around town or planning to head out to the ski hill? The Kathmandu is a perfect compadre on either of these endeavors and more!

Value


For only $90, this is the only stylish faux fur boot option out there but it doesn't carry the best value given its lack of water protection and warmth. If you're in the market for a boot that performs (but sacrifices fashion) for the same price, check out the Kamik Momentum. If you're willing to spend a little more, take a look at our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Shellista Mid II for $140.

Conclusion


The Northside Kathmandu stands out for its low price and faux fur look. Even though it doesn't offer the best in performance, it's still a great apres-ski or around town snowy weather option.

Even though this boot isn't the best out there  it does stand out as an affordable faux-fur boot with a cute look and cozy interior.
Even though this boot isn't the best out there, it does stand out as an affordable faux-fur boot with a cute look and cozy interior.
Amber King

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: December 31, 2016
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