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Hands-on Gear Review
Vasque Pow Pow II UltraDry Review
Cons: Not stylish, mid-cut shaft doesn't protect against deep snow
Bottom line: This Top Pick for Winter Hiking is best for trudging through snow trails and getting lost (on purpose of course) in the backcountry.
A great boot for the avid winter hiker, the Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry is warm, offers superior protection from water and snow, and has great ankle support! As a result, it took home our Top Pick for Winter Hiking. In past reviews, we tested this boot's predecessor (the Pow Pow) and we were pleased to find that the Ultradry version truly keeps your feet dry and comfortable. This winter hiker has a pretty techy look to it and was last in our style metric, but but it did earn top points in traction and warmth. The lugs are deep, while the rubber is soft - biting the trail every step you take.
It also has a thick insulative sole that helps keep your feet warm (along with 400 grams of insulation!). The Pow Pow II Ultradry truly stood out on its own as the only winter hiker tested in this review, and is our top recommendation for any active adventure - be it snowshoeing, winter hiking, or shopping in the snow all day long. We loved this boot because it didn't only offer protection from the elements, but the protection lasted a long time, as the boot doesn't saturate after being in wet, nasty conditions. Instead, it wicks to keep the feet dry and happy.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Winter Boots for Women Review
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Pow Pow II Ultradry by Vasque provides the ultimate protection against the elements. It's warm yet breathable construction keeps feet comfortable on all sorts of winter outings. As our Top Pick for Winter Hiking, feel free to take it with you anywhere — especially in the backcountry.
Throughout our months of testing this field of products, the Pow Pow II Ultradry consistently performed well, as shown in the overall score chart below.
The Pow Pow II Ultradry features 400 grams of 3M Thinsulate Insulation and a fleecy lining around the top. Although it's a shorter boot, this model provides a little extra warmth and protection from the elements thanks to its eight-inch boot shaft (measured from the bottom of the sole to the lowest point on the top of the shaft).
This boot kept our feet very warm during our slush bath test, performing nearly on par with the Sorel Joan of Arctic (Our Top Pick for Severe Weather). If you're out and moving, the Pow Pow II will keep your feet comfortable, even in super chilly temps. Additionally, this product is quite breathable, reducing overall foot moisture. During our tests, our Top Pick winner was warmer than the Kamik Momentum, and our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Shellista II.
This boot provides a shocking amount of warmth - given its low bulk. Only the Sorel Joan of Arctic offers comparable warmth; however, the Joan is truly a burden to wear for long distances, due to its heavy weight and bulky design. As a result, this truly is the Top Pick for any active endeavor!
Not only does this award winner protect against the nasty winter-mix, but the boot doesn't saturate after being in use all day. If you're in the market for a boot that can hold up for day-long hikes or longer, this is a fantastic option! No other boot in this review had similar test results. This product proved to be remarkably water resistant in both our field tests and our in-home side-by-side tests; while crossing streams, water simply beads up and rolls off the waterproof fabric.
When we submerged the boot in the slush bucket test, our foot came out bone dry after marching in that slush for seven minutes. Other boots also help up in this test, but the Ultradry proved to wick better than any other boot tested. During our final tests, we flooded each boot with water to determine just how many inches it was able to handle. Turns out, this pair of winter boots was able to handle puddles up to eight inches deep. That's on par with the Sorel Joan of Arctic and better than any of its other competitors.
That said, the Pow Pow II Ultradry suffered a bit in this metric due to its mid-cut shaft height. Other competitors like the Sorel Tofino II have taller shafts that offer higher performance against tall snow drifts. The Pow Pow II Ultradry is not the boot to choose if you need to shovel a foot of snow off your sidewalk and you want to tuck your pants into your boots. However, thanks to its relatively slim shaft, this boot will fit nicely under a pair of snow or ski pants; they will also pair nicely with some gaiters!
Even though the shaft height isn't the tallest on winter hiking boots (and they're meant to be like that), consider purchasing a pair of gaiters to strap on when the snow drifts get high. This prevents snow from falling into the boot when worn over pants. They also come in handy when breaking trail through parts of the woods that hasn't seen a soul all winter. Check out our Best Gaiter Review to find the best gaiters out there!.
Comfort & Coziness
Although his boot isn't the coziest contender we tested, it still scored well in this metric thanks to its super supportive footbed and fleecy upper lining. Our lead tester described this boot as "hugging her foot not too loose and not too tight it is just right!"
We experienced little-to-no heel slip in this winter hiker and stayed comfortable while wearing it all day. Additionally, this boot laces up to provide great support all the way up above the ankles. We didn't think the Pow Pow II was quite as comfortable as our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Shellista or the ultra-plush light hiker (the UGG Adirondack II), but it still moves easily with the foot and doesn't feel too clunky.
We really appreciated the Pow Pow II's superior traction. We felt comfortable scrambling over boulders and hopping onto wet rocks while exploring the mountains of the San Juans.
The sole of this boot is made with Vasque's ColdHold Technology, and we found that it performed well on rocks, slippery wooden steps, ice, and loose terrain. The only thing that negatively affected this boot's traction was its thick sole. It was just a little bit harder to feel where we were going.
Style & Fit
Our testers agreed: our Top Pick for Winter Hiking definitely falls short in the style category. In our online poll, this proved to test the lowest when it came to style in fact, nobody voted it to be number one or even close. That said, this boot just has a rugged, techy look that reminded us a lot of our normal hiking boots. As a result, we definitely didn't reach for this boot to wear to work or out to drinks on cold winter nights. Instead, it was on the top of our list for more athletic endeavors. If you're in the market for something a little more stylish and don't care for a winter hiker, check out the super cute Sorel Tofino II, featuring a cute quilted upper and faux fur. If you're not into the faux fur, look at our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Shellista instead!
This boot runs true-to-size: our size 9 tester was very happy with the perfect fit of her size 9. She also has a wide foot that felt well accommodated for with plenty of wiggle room for the toes. Finally, the Pow Pow II Ultradry has a thick sole that provides great arch support. We felt like this was the best fitting boot after completely doing up the laces - simply because it's designed for long days on sloshy trails; because the sole is so thick, you feel higher and farther from the trail. If you're someone who likes to "feel" the ground under your boots, you may not like the fit of this boot. Overall, this award winner is a well fitting boot that doesn't have the best fashion sense but fits extremely well for its purpose.
If you're not sure about sizing, make sure to buy from an online dealer that allows free returns if the product doesn't fit. Try the boots on, walk around inside, and take them up the stairs and down. If there is any weird constriction, send them back. If they feel good, keep them and start your winter adventures!
Ease to Take On & Off
This boot was fairly difficult to put on and remove thanks primarily to its tighter shaft, which is designed to provide extra ankle support. We were able to slip it on without the laces being tied up. However, to get a decent fit, you really do need to take the time to lace the boot up completely. After we laced it up, we were unable to kick it off (as expected for a winter hiker). It also has hooks for the laces at the top of the shaft that add a little extra effort.
If you're looking for a boot that is a little easier to take on and off, check out the Kamik Momentum or the light hiker, the UGG Adirondack II.
This boot performed well during winter hikes on both wet and dry surfaces. It is especially useful when you will be battling shallow creeks, puddles, or intense slush. Although we didn't test this boot while snowshoeing, we read many online user reviews from consumers who have happily used this boot with snowshoes. Vasque also states that "a molded TPU heel counter acts as a strap stabilizer on a snowshoe binding." As a result, its best application is truly outdoor, athletic endeavors. The breathable synthetic outer keeps feet dry, even if you're sweating while breaking trail.
At $150, this comfortable, waterproof winter hiker is an excellent deal. However, since the Pow Pow does have a techier look, it is not as versatile as other boots that you might wear out to dinner with friends. But, if you are seeking a durable winter hiking boot, this one is an excellent choice for the money.
One of our favorite boots for winter hiking, the Pow Pow II Ultradry will provide you with the support and warmth you need to explore the outdoors despite the cold. This boot scored well across almost all our metrics and will keep your feet dry in snow and slush, even if it's not the most stylish of the bunch. If you don't let cold weather stop you from hitting your favorite trails, then we highly recommend our Top Pick for Winter Hiking.
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— OutdoorGearLab Review Staff
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 31, 2016
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