Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Incredibly cozy and comfortable
Cons: Expensive, a little more techy looking
Best Uses: Light hiking, around town, general winter use
In our updated 2015 women's winter boot review, we tested some amazing footwear options, but in the end, the UGG Australia Adirondack II Leather Boot took home our Editors' Choice award for the second year running. Although the competition for our top award was steep, this boot earned stellar marks in comfort and coziness as well as high scores in water resistance, warmth, and traction. The Adirondack II performed while shoveling snow and on light winter hikes, but our favorite thing about this boot is its sheepskin lining. This plush, touchable insulation lined the entire boot, including the removable insole.
These UGGs are also designed with a cuffable suede shaft: roll it down to expose a fluffy sheepskin cuff or roll it up for extra protection against the elements. We liked the built-in versatility that this feature offered, as well as the unique style that it added. Although some women loved the look of these boots and would definitely wear them with casual outfits, others thought they were decidedly less stylish. If you like the look of these full-grain leather boots and are looking for high quality footwear that will perform outdoors, then the UGG Australia Adirondack II may be just what you're looking for. At $240, it is a bit of an investment – in fact, it is significantly more than most of its competitors – but the Adirondack II will to meet your winter boot needs for years to come.
Experiencing some price shock? For a more stylish boot, consider the $150 Sorel Tofino or our Top Pick for Warmth, the Sorel Joan of Arctic, which is also a priced at $150; this stylish model provides more warmth than any of its competitors. Finally, the Vasque Pow Pow and the Ahnu Northridge boots are both affordable options for winter hiking. That said, don't let the $240 price tag on our Editors' Choice winner scare you away.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
At first we loved the UGG Australia Adirondack II for its cozy sheepskin lining and comfortable, supportive footbed. Then we started using it outdoors and noticed that we could ford puddles, cruise over boulders, and employ the roll-up cuff for extra protection from the snow. A little more rugged looking than boots like the Sorel Tofino or the Baffin Loki, the Adirondack II still features such luxurious materials as buttery full-grain leather. In this article, we'll discuss all the reasons that we loved our Editors' Choice Award winner and why we still loved it a year later!
We also wanted to take a moment here to discuss UGG Australia's approach to animal ethics. Many of the boots in this review have some type of leather, whether it is full-grain leather, suede, or nubuck; however, the UGG Australia Adirondack II Boot is the only piece that uses leather and sheepskin. Some consumers and animal rights activists are careful not to purchase products that contain animal byproducts like leather. If that is the case for you, we would like to direct you to boots like the Tecnica Moon Boot and the Kamik Momentum. On the other hand, some of us don't mind purchasing leather products, but we may get a little hesitant when manufacturers start talking about sheepskin.
If you feel this way, we've got you covered. We did some research and found out that UGG is owned by Deckers Outdoor Corporation. This company does not raise sheep itself, but it is committed to ethically sourcing sheepskin solely from farmers and organizations that are raising the animals for their meat. UGG only believes in using this material when it is a byproduct of the meat industry and never purchases sheepskin from organizations that raise animals solely for their pelts. Additionally, UGG has openly released statements denouncing the inhumane practice of mulesing. The fur for this specific boot comes exclusively from Australia, the European Union, or the United States. We really appreciate UGG's commitment to animal ethics and the transparency that Deckers demonstrates by posting its policies on its website.
The UGG Adirondack II is lined with 17 millimeters of table grade sheepskin, which did a fairly good job of keeping our toes warm and cozy. In our final warmth tests, we stood still for five minutes in 4-degree temperatures with feet buried in the snow. After comparing every piece, we decided to give the UGG Adirondack IIs a seven in our warmth metric. We found that the Vibram sole provided plenty of insulation along the bottom of the boot but we noticed that cold slowly started permeating the toe box.
Although our Editors' Choice winner was not the warmest boot that we tested, it's important to remember that it was also one of the shortest pieces in the review. Even with its cuff rolled up, this model was shorter than all but one of its competitors, which makes a surprising difference in calf and foot warmth. That said, then when we started moving in the UGG Adirondack II, even in single digit temperatures, our feet quickly warmed up. This model is also fairly breathable, which keeps your feet from sweating profusely and then getting cold from the moisture. This was especially noticeable in comparison to products like the Sorel Conquest Carly, whose rubber toe box left our feet super swampy and slimy.
Comfort & Coziness
Slipping into the UGG Adirondack II Boot for the first time felt like what you would imagine putting your foot into a cloud shoe might feel like if clouds were made of super plush, fluffy sheepskin. Unlike many of the boots in this review that have faux fur cuffs that reach an inch or two down into the boot, the sheepskin lining on the Adirondack II continues throughout the entire shoe. UGG has even fitted the Adirondack II with a removable insole that is coated in sheepskin. Although we noticed that the sheepskin around the insole started to become a little compressed through our testing process, it still feels super cozy against the foot (with or without socks!) and continues to provide warmth. Even a year later, the fur around the ankle and cuff is still in like new condition. The fur around the foot is less plush, but still incredibly comfortable and cozy; however, the insole could be replaced.
Not only is the lining of this boot amazingly touchable, the footbed is extremely comfortable and supportive. The Adirondack II doesn't provide quite as much ankle support as the Vasque Pow Pow UltraDry, but it provides significantly more than boots like The North Face Nuptse Purna. As we mentioned above, this boot is also relatively breathable. This not only plays a role in warmth, but also in comfort, as very few people we know think that slimy, sweaty feet are very comfortable. Finally, we found this boot to be cozy whether we wore it with the cuff rolled up or down.
With its full-grain leather upper and waterproof rubber outsole, the UGG Adirondack II is ready to take on rain, snow, and slush in style. That said, we found that the full-grain leather required a bit more care than some of the other products in our review. In our 2013 review release, we found that this model kept our feet dry in puddles up to 5.5 inches deep. A year later, we experienced a bit of seepage, specifically in the little corner where water pooled between the laces and the tongue. We used Nikwax's Conditioner for Leather to help restore the shine and richness of the leather, as well as its weather resistant qualities. We would also recommend hitting the seams, especially those out of sight underneath the laces with Sno-Seal or Nikwax's Waterproofing Wax for Leather. Be cautious about using these products on the visible parts of your boot, however, since they can alter the appearance of the leather.
Even without proper care, this boot will still keep your feet dry in puddles up to three inches deep and its cuff does a great job of keeping out snow. When you wear this model with the cuff rolled up, it provides extra protection from deep snow on the backs and sides; however, the tongue doesn't come up flush with the top of the rolled-up cuff, so there is a little gap in the front where deeper snow could potentially get you wet. Finally, this boot is fitted with a mud guard around the front of the toes and at the heel.
Style & Fit
The UGG Australia Adirondack II scored right on par in style with such boots as the Ahnu Womens Northridge. We polled more than a dozen women ranging in age from 20 to 60 and their opinions averaged out to 6.1 out of 10. The Adirondack II is definitely a more techy looking boot, but we like to think of it as "rugged-chic." This boot's full-grain leather toe box and upper are rich and buttery, especially in the "Otter" color that we reviewed. While one of our testers constantly wore the UGG Adirondack II with the sheepskin cuff rolled down, another almost exclusively wore it rolled up. We liked this versatile feature not only from a practicality perspective, but also from a style perspective. The cuff just gives you more options to switch things up. The one thing that we didn't love about wearing the cuff rolled up was that the tongue isn't flush with the top lip of the boot, which isn't the most natural look.
The roll-down sheepskin cuff is certainly not everyone's style, but we liked the interest that it added, as well as its versatility. The techiest aspect of this model is definitely its abrasion-resistant mud guard that comes up around the front of the toe box and lines the back of the heel. Moreover, the boot's Vibram sole wraps up just a bit in front of the toes to add a little extra protection. If you don't mind the techy look and are seeking a boot that is even more geared to outdoor performance and winter hiking, be sure to check out the Vasque Pow Pow UltraDry. On the other hand, if you want a more stylish boot, the Sorel Tivoli High II might be right up your alley.
One final thing we learned about the Adirondack is that the leather looks much better with proper care. As we mentioned above when discussing water resistance, be sure to condition your boot at least twice a year to keep the leather soft and supple. This may also help reduce scuffs and other wear and tear that will make your boot look more rugged than chic.
UGG Australia fitted the Adirondack II with a Vibram sole for extra traction and grip. These outsoles have horizontal treads that aren't quite as deep as those on the Kamik Momentum or Vasque Pow Pow. Although the Adirondack II certainly perform on slick snowy surfaces, they aren't quite as grippy as these other competitors. We did, however, like that the soles on the UGG model were not quite as thick as those on the Vasques. The soles on both of these boots wrap up slightly over the tip of the toe box, adding a bit of extra traction where it matters most.
Ease to Take On & Off
Overall, these boots were easy to pull on and kick off, but the laces cost them a few points in this category. After just a few weeks of use, the sheath on the Adirondack II's laces started to bunch up. This made them increasingly difficult to pull through the lace eyes. Additionally, the design of the roll down cuff complicates the laces just a bit more. However, we found that the continuous sheepskin lining almost made the interior feel slick, making them slip on and off smoothly. The boots are also fitted with a back pull tab to help ease the process.
We liked the UGG Australia Adirondack II for everything from light hiking to around town errands. We biked all around Boulder in these beautiful boots (and found they had great traction on our bike pedals). They were also great for exploring the outdoors or shoveling the sidewalk in up to nine inches of snow (with the cuffs rolled up). Although they weren't the warmest, if you are moving, these woolly sheepskin boots will keep you plenty warm.
In the case of the UGG Adirondack II, you get what you pay for. This boot won our Editors' Choice because it is incredibly cozy and comfortable and performed highly in such categories as warmth, traction, and water resistance; however, it was also the most expensive models in our review. The UGG Adirondack II rings up at $240, which is almost $100 more than our Top Pick for Warmth, the Sorel Joan of Arctic, and over $150 more than our Best Buy Award winner, the Kamik Momentum. We want to mention here that the Joan of Arctic actually earned higher marks than our Editors' Choice winner, but it is a super warm and bulky winter boot that is less versatile in its overall applications.
The first thing to consider when deciding whether or not to purchase this winter boot is whether or not you like its "rugged-chic" look. We think the leather on this boot is beautifully crafted and we loved the fluffy roll down cuff, but this look does not suit everyone. If this boot is your style and you are seeking a piece that will meet needs that vary from light hiking to outdoor winter chores and errands around town, then these boots are absolutely worth the money, especially because you might not want to ever want to take them off. Seriously. After trying out the Adirondack II, our testers now want sheepskin lining in all their footwear. Moreover, we have known friends and family to get years and years of use out of their UGG boots. On the other hand, if you are looking more for a hiking specific winter boot and don't mind a rugged look, then the Vasque Pow Pow is a great deal at only $150.
This ultra-plush boot may just change your whole perspective on winter. With its beautiful leather upper and touchable sheepskin lining, the UGG Adirondack II is a treat to wear. And better yet, it offers high outdoor performance in categories like water resistance and traction. Although this model is not ideal for women who live in areas that get feet upon feet of snow, it can handle drifts up to nine inches deep and puddles up to three inches deep. Whether you opt to leave the cuff rolled down or decide to roll it up to increase warmth and snow protection, our Editors' Choice winner will leave you feeling glad that winter has finally arrived.
Our Editors' Choice winner comes in several other versions: the Adirondack II Tall, $325, and the Women's Adirondack Tweed.
— Amanda Fenn
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Most recent review: January 14, 2015
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