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Hands-on Gear Review
The North Face Shellista II Mid Review
Cons: Doesn't outperform in all metrics
Bottom line: This Editors' Choice winner is the most versatile boot tested without sacrificing fashion or function.
The North Face Shellista II took home the Editors' Choice award for its wonderful balance of style and performance. While this boot didn't excel at any one metric, it performed well across all of them, making it the most versatile winter boots tested. It features a waterproof NuBuck leather shaft, topped off with an oversized knit cap upper. The rubber outsole wraps around the foot and up to the ankle to provide fantastic protection from the nasty wintry mix of slush, ice, and snow. The outsole features sticky, pliable rubber and a diversity of lug shapes and patterns that stick well to wet rocks and fallen logs. It was a favorite in our style metic, with many of our testers falling in love with its cute, sleek design that fits nicely under pants, and over the top of tights.
That said it's not perfect, nor is it a top performer in any one metric. For example, even though it kept our feet warm in temperatures that can reach as low as double negative digits, this boot was still not as warm as other models like the Top Pick for Severe Weather, the Sorel Joan of Arctic. In addition, even though it proved to be fairly water resistant to a maximum depth of eight inches, it still fell short to both the Sorel Tofino II (last year's Editors' Choice) and the Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry (Our Top Pick for Winter Hiking). However, it is extremely versatile and we'd recommend it for anything from light hiking on wintery trails to running errands around town all day. If you're a walk-to-work commuter in the city or if you're simply looking for a boot that does it all, this is your best winter boot option!
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Winter Boots for Women Review
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The North Face Shellista II is our Editors' Choice award winner because it offers unbeatable versatility. Take it with you hiking when a small dusting of snow sprinkles through your town, or wear it all day, every winter day.
After tallying up all the scores from our testing period, the Shellista II Mid (highlighted in blue) came out on top of the heap of competitors, as seen in the chart below.
While the Shellista II Mid isn't the warmest boot of the bunch, we were happy to have it when the 'Polar Vortex' of 2016 hit Ridgway, CO. This brought temperatures down to the double negative digits for a full week, leaving our cheeks red, and our hair frozen. While wearing the Shellista in those temperatures with a pair of ski socks, our feet stayed toasty warm while walking around town and holiday shopping for four hours. This warmth is largely attributed to its thick rubber sole that does a great job insulating from frigid temperatures. Its 11-inch NuBuck waterproof leather shaft uses 200g of Primaloft Silver Insulation Eco that generates heat while in motion, while the open toe box is wide and tall, allowing you to wiggle your toes to help generate warmth if standing still for too long.
While this boot is reasonable warm, there are others that performed better. This is due to having more insulation or a different construction. For example, the Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry has 400g of thinsulate materials (in comparison to 200g) while the Sorel Joan of Arctic features a much taller shaft and faux fur collar that keeps warmth from escaping out of the top of the boot.
All that said, we were pretty surprised to find that this leather boot offered more warmth than other Pac boots like the Sorel Tofino II (the past Editors' Choice winner) and the Northside Kathmandu. Both of these boots have thinner soles and less insulation, making them colder than the Shellista II. Overall, we'd recommend this boot for wearing out when the mercury plummets here and there, but if you live in a place that is consistently dipping below zero, we'd recommend a burlier boot like the Sorel Joan of Arctic.
Featuring a waterproof membrane and NuBuck leather shaft, this Editors' Choice provides decent protection in snowdrifts up to eleven inches and through puddles up to eight inches! In our slush tests, we didn't experience any leakage, even after marching in the slushy mess for seven minutes. Other leather boots like the UGG Adirondack II leaked after just two minutes, while suede boots like the Northside Kathmandu leaked after just thirty seconds at the seams.
The seams are watertight and would do well while puddle jumping or hiking through slush. However, even though this boot was protective after seven minutes of marching, we noticed that the leather did saturate after being outside for the whole day in the snow. Even though the water didn't penetrate to the interior of the boot, it doesn't wick nearly as well as other boots like the Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry or the Sorel Tofino II.
In addition, because it doesn't feature a faux fur collar, which keeps snow from getting into the top of the boot when you step in a snowbank a little too tall, it didn't score as high as other faux fur competitors. As a result, it earned a solid seven out of ten in this metric. It stands up well in most snowstorms, but if you plan on being outside all day, every day, we'd recommend a boot that features a little more weatherproofing, like the Sorel Joan of Arctic. However, if you just plan on using this boot to perform everyday errands like walking the dog or commuting to work, your feet will be more than protected.
Since this boot features a NuBuck leather shaft, we'd recommend treating it every year to ensure the longevity of the boot.
Comfort and Coziness
The North Face Shellista II is a top performer, alongside the fluffy Ugg Adirondack II, for comfort and coziness. If you've been in search of a boot that provides great support, somewhat comparable to stepping on a memory foam mattress all day, this is the boot for you! The injection molded footbed is firm, providing fantastic arch support, while the lining of the boot shaft is soft and fleecy. The oversized knit upper at the top of the boot is extremely soft to the touch and a little longer than the fleece found in the shaft of the boot. Because the fleece is thinner and not as long, this makes the boot easy to take on and off - which we'll discuss later in this review.
In addition to the 'memory foam' footbed and soft interior, we also liked the flexibility of the leather shaft. While walking in the boot, it bows and bends, which provides a more comfortable experience; it doesn't pinch or constrict in any odd place. This flexibility increases the versatility of the boot, making it a great all day walking option.
Our main tester wore this walking to work about one mile each way, and also wore it at work for upwards of twelve hours. After tests with numerous other boots in similar conditions, this proved to be one of the most comfortable because of the shaft's flexibility. We were surprised by how lightweight it was! Weighing in at just over two pounds per pair, this was one of the lightest boots tested! Finally, this boot is surprisingly breathable! While some boots (like the Kamik Momentum) keep warmth (and perspiration) in, the Shellista does a great job at venting and keeping feet cozy and comfortable. As a result of all these combined comfort features, we'd highly recommend buying this boot to wear all day, inside and out.
Ideal for icy commutes and slippery sidewalks, this boot offers temperature-sensitive lugs that stick to wet rocks and deep snow. Even though the lugs aren't as deep as those in other models, like the Vasque Pow Pow II or Kamik Momentum, they still perform in nasty conditions.
The lug pattern is varied, from cute snowflakes to squares and rectangles. The rubber is also quite sticky, (unlike the Kamik Momentum) and provides decent grip while moving over wet rocks and logs.
While hiking through the woods, and running snowy hills, this boot provided a great level of traction that actually extends its versatility to light hiking. In addition to the great outsole, the rigid shaft and precise fit also helps to grip some of the slipperiest surfaces out there.
No boot did well on straight-up ice surfaces. If you're in need of something that's guaranteed to stick, consider purchasing a pair of Yaktrax to ensure you stay on your feet when it gets really icy outside.
Style & Fit
Scoring high in our style and fit metric, the Shellista II was a favorite on our social media poll and among girlfriends. We received many compliments on the street while wearing it with a pair of tights and a skirt, categorizing it as 'mountain-chic.'
Its cute design is streamlined and flawless, fitting well overtop a pair of skinny jeans or underneath a flared pant leg. The upper knitted cuff gives it a cozy look, while the color combinations are complimentary and cute. It features a full lace up design with a wing-tip outsole - creating a more feminine look than other boots like the UGG Adirondack II. The only other boot that matched it in style is the super cute Sorel Tofino II. This faux-fur option isn't as tall as the Shellista, but features a patterned waterproof upper and a sleek, feminine toe box. That said, we think the Shellista is a perfect go-to for wearing around town during the day, but we wouldn't recommend it for any formal dinner dates.
We think this boot is true to fit. Our size nine tester was happy with her size nine boot. However, some other testers mentioned that while wearing thicker socks, the boot felt a little tight. So, if you plan on wearing super thick socks, we'd recommend sizing up a half size to accommodate the extra bulk. Another fun add-on is that the full lacing system allows a little versatility. You can loosen or tighten the laces where you need it the most to best accommodate your foot.
If you're looking for a super cute faux-fur boot that is sleek and sexy, check out the Sorel Tofino II, last year's Editors' Choice winner!
Ease of On and Off
As long as you keep the laces on these boots fairly loose, they're quite easy to take on and off. The inner lining features short, soft, silky fleece that allows your foot to easily slip in and out of the boot. In addition, the shaft of the boot stands up on its own, which makes it easy to put them on or off without using your hands. However, if you take the time to lace the boots up tightly, they aren't that easy to kick off at that door.
One wish we had for the design of this boot is a one-pull lacing system like the Columbia Minx-Mid II. Pulling on the top laces only tightens the top section, forcing you to take the time to tighten the lower laces manually, taking more time and effort. As a result, it didn't score as high as the Kamik Momentum, or the Northside Kathmandu, that are seriously no-fuss.
As the most versatile boot we tested this winter, we happily recommend it for most outdoor endeavors. Its durable outsole and decent traction make it an optional light hiker, while its stylish look and sleek design make it perfect to wear around town. If you're in the market for a boot that is more suited for winter hiking, check out the super burly Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry. If you're in need of a boot that will do better all day outside in below freezing temperatures, check out our Top Pick for Severe Weather, the Sorel Joan of Arctic.
This boot offers one of the best values in this review. Not only is it one of the least expensive boots in our fleet, but it's chalked full of features. For a low sticker price of just $140 (and on sale for less online), this boot offers immense versatility and performance. If you're on the hunt for a boot that is a little more affordable, but you're willing to sacrifice style, check out the Kamik Momentum (our Best Buy winner) for just $90. Or if you're not so interested in performance, but need a nice looking boot with traditional faux fur, be sure to read up on the Northside Kathmandu ($90).
Conquer icy streets and gnarly winter conditions with this Editors Choice Winner! This mid-calf boot provides protection from the elements, without sacrificing style. If you're looking for the best around-town option that you can wear all day, inside or out, this cute weather warrior will keep your feet (and fashion-sense) happy.
Shellista II Shorty Boots
Shellista II Tall Boots
Shellista II Mid Luxe II Boots
— Amber King
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 31, 2016
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