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Hands-on Gear Review

The North Face Shellista II Mid Review

The North Face Shellista Mid II
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $140 List | $97.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Versatile, stylish, warm, great traction
Cons:  Doesn't outperform in all metrics
Bottom line:  This Editors' Choice winner is the most versatile boot tested without sacrificing fashion or function.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   The North Face

Our Verdict

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 Women's Winter Boots of 2017

select up to 5 products
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 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.

The North Face Shellista II MId is our Editor's Choice winner for its fabulous balance of weather proofing  style  and versatility!
The North Face Shellista II MId is our Editor's Choice winner for its fabulous balance of weather proofing, style, and versatility!

Performance Comparison


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.


Warmth


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.

Here Hillary and Britt perform side-by-side comparative tests of four different boots. Hillary compares the Columbia Minx-Mid II and the North Face Shellista. In the end  the Shellista stayed warmer after walking through the snowy streets of Ridgway  building snowmen  and battling it out in a snowball fight.
Here Hillary and Britt perform side-by-side comparative tests of four different boots. Hillary compares the Columbia Minx-Mid II and the North Face Shellista. In the end, the Shellista stayed warmer after walking through the snowy streets of Ridgway, building snowmen, and battling it out in a snowball fight.

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.

This boot keeps feet dry  warm  and happy - even in deep snow!
This boot keeps feet dry, warm, and happy - even in deep snow!

Weather Protection


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.

Hmmm...feeling a little lost here! Even with a tight fit  this boot didn't do as great a job as say the Sorel Joan of Arctic from protecting in super deep snow. However  we were happy to report that little to no snow got into the boot  even after the pack surpassed the height of the shaft.
Hmmm...feeling a little lost here! Even with a tight fit, this boot didn't do as great a job as say the Sorel Joan of Arctic from protecting in super deep snow. However, we were happy to report that little to no snow got into the boot, even after the pack surpassed the height of the shaft.

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.

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!

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.

The footbeds of these boots are SUPER comfortable and shockingly absorbent!
The footbeds of these boots are SUPER comfortable and shockingly absorbent!

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.

Wearing this boot under flared pants is the best option. As you can see  trying to tuck a a lot of material in the boot looks sloppy at best. If you prefer to wear your boot overtop flared pants  check out other boot options with a wider opening  like the Sorel Tofino II.
Wearing this boot under flared pants is the best option. As you can see, trying to tuck a a lot of material in the boot looks sloppy at best. If you prefer to wear your boot overtop flared pants, check out other boot options with a wider opening, like the Sorel Tofino II.

Traction


Wet logs and icy creek walks? No problemo! The sticky traction of the Shellista will having you skipping over stones in no time.
Wet logs and icy creek walks? No problemo! The sticky traction of the Shellista will having you skipping over stones in no time.

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.

The lugs are deep enough to graph snow-packs  and soft enough to stick to slick surfaces.
The lugs are deep enough to graph snow-packs, and soft enough to stick to slick surfaces.

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.

The cute lug design and pattern provides great traction on most slippery surfaces  earning a high score in this metric.
The cute lug design and pattern provides great traction on most slippery surfaces, earning a high score in this metric.

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.

Getting ready for a winter walk. The boots fit comfortable underneath hiking pants  while the wing-tipped design of the outsole provides a feminine-touch.
Getting ready for a winter walk. The boots fit comfortable underneath hiking pants, while the wing-tipped design of the outsole provides a feminine-touch.

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!

Wear this boot around town or on a light hike. It looks great paired with leggings and a skirt for that 'mountain-chic' look.
Wear this boot around town or on a light hike. It looks great paired with leggings and a skirt for that 'mountain-chic' look.

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.

Here we observe that our Editors' Choice winner does NOT feature a 'one-pull' lacing system. As a result  it didn't earn the highest points in this category because getting a precise fit takes a little extra time then other competitors.
Here we observe that our Editors' Choice winner does NOT feature a 'one-pull' lacing system. As a result, it didn't earn the highest points in this category because getting a precise fit takes a little extra time then other competitors.

Best Application


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.

Take a load off  make a snow angel  take a hike  do whatever it is you love to do in the winter. The North Face Shellista II Mid will keep you warm and cozy throughout the winter.
Take a load off, make a snow angel, take a hike, do whatever it is you love to do in the winter. The North Face Shellista II Mid will keep you warm and cozy throughout the winter.

Value


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).

Conclusion


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.

Other Versions


Shellista II Shorty Boots
The North Face Shellista II Shorty Boots
  • Cost - $120
  • A below the calf option
  • Similar design and quality

Shellista II Tall Boots
The North Face Shellista II Tall Boots
  • Cost - $150
  • An above the calf option
  • Similar design and quality

Shellista II Mid Luxe II Boots
The North Face Mid Luxe II Boots
  • Cost - $140
  • Uber waterproof upper
  • Similar design
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: December 31, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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