The Kamik Icebreaker isn't a run-of-the-mill rainboot, and with their work-wear good looks, optional lace closure system, removable felt insulating liner, great traction, and relatively high shaft height, these are a solid option. They even won our Editors' Choice Award in the past! However, we didn't find the Icebreakers to be as comfortable as slightly more traditional options, primarily due to Kamik's choice to forgo insoles for more general liners. Their additional inability to take a supplementary insole, plus the fact that we could feel the liner wearing in our beneath our feet, made us further doubt whether they were as good as some of the other options in our test.
Kamik Icebreaker Review
Cons: Not as comfortable as other models
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Icebreaker has top-notch traction, warmth (due to its felt liner), and looks good to boot. While this contender scored very high in multiple categories, we ultimately felt that they did not out-compete any of the award winners for the top spot in any metric.
With a shaft height of 14.25 inches, the Icebreaker falls right in the middle of our test. However, these boots are unique in their lace closure system, which allowed us to close the top of the boots around our calves once we'd put them on. With the laces closed, we felt a lot more secure against splashes and rain, though this lacing system (of course) wouldn't keep water out if we stepped deeper than the shaft height.
While we liked this lacing system, we rarely found ourselves tying the boots, as one of our favorite parts about rain boots is how simple they are - no laces whatsoever. And if we were planning to be in deep water, we preferred to be in taller boots.
We found the Icebreaker boots to be just better than average when it came to comfort, though they were certainly unique. This boot's liner (instead of an insole) makes them much different than the other competitors in the test. And while the liner is wonderful to step into on cold days (kind of like putting a thick wool sweater on your feet), we found that the lack of an actual insole is unpleasant. Instead of an insole, the liner extends beneath our feet, and while it's a quarter-inch thick, we can feel it matting down (from moisture and sweat) as we make our way through the test.
When we removed the liner (to check if we could use the boot without it), we found that the boot is enormous - with almost an inch of room forward and back and at least a half of left and right wiggle room. The boot must be used with the liner. Additionally, there's no way to put in separate insoles - we can't fit them inside the liner. And the boots are so large without the liners that the insoles skated around. Even when we put the liners in over our insoles, the boots feel strange and unworkable.
The Icebreaker has great traction, due to its variety of stud shapes and orientations. We wore them in the ice immediately after some more underwhelming boots, and, within the first 20 seconds, wrote in our notes: "These are already 200% better than the last boots".
The Icebreakers did quite well on all the surfaces tested, and even did relatively well on the ice portion of the test. We were impressed by how well they held onto wet surfaces and let us run up and down during the wet grass/mud hill test without any dramatic slipping.
Around town and even in snowy conditions, we're impressed by how warm these boots are. And as we stated above (in the comfort section), the relatively firm felt-iness of the liners is really pleasant and even warm enough to get our feet back up to comfortable in 20-degree weather (after wearing less insulated boots). However, these boots did not do as well as we expected in the ice-water bath test. They felt great on our feet initially, but we began to feel the cold through the liners four minutes in. We ultimately became unpleasantly cold after just under 12 minutes in the boots.
While we were unimpressed by their performance in the test, we ultimately think these boots are warm enough to wear down to 20 degrees with good socks, as long as you're moving. If you're stationary, they're less reliably warm.
With the fabric at the top, utilitarian design, and laces, we liked the way the Icebreakers look. They even worked with a variety of styles, as they're clunky enough to go with workwear, while still looking good with more trim jean styles.
Ease of Use
We loved how easy these boots were to slip on and off (provided we didn't use the laces), and the liner always felt pleasant on our feet. We also liked the added option of the laces, which allowed us to keep water out and heat in. They have an upper circumference of 16.5", which is respectable when compared to similarly performing boots.
The size 13 Icebreakers fit differently than all the other boots in the test due to their liner. With our size 12 feet, there's a half-inch of room forward and back, and left-right there's no play whatsoever (on our D width feet), so we'd be inclined to say they come in at a D width. There's also just a little bit of play vertically (volume-wise) which is quite minimal.
For the price, the Icebreakers are a good purchase. These boots won the Editors' Choice award last year due to their impressive water resistance, traction, good looks, and easy use, all of which qualify them as a worthy option. However, during our test, we had some worries about the durability of the liner, as it began to pack out beneath the ball of our feet and our heels after around forty hours of use. The liner was by no means significantly damaged, but since it is the only source of cushioning and insulation in the boot, we worry that when it goes, the boot won't have much left. You can purchase replacement liners for roughly $20 (which isn't too much), but we don't know what the lifetime of the liners might be.
The Icebreakers are solid contenders thanks to their high marks in good looks, traction, water resistance, and easy usage. They did not win the Editors' Choice award again as we found that their lack of internal structure (in the form of an insole) and their inability to take a supplementary insole limited their long-term comfort. With a few small changes, these boots could be great. We'd love to see some way for the boots to be cut narrower so they could be worn without the liner, but to still include a thick liner that we could put in separately when we wanted it. If this were the case, these boots could handle a huge temperature range. If they could also come with a removable insole (so we could put our own in, but still have the option to use a stock option). With both these improvements, these would be our favorite boots.
— Richard Forbes