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Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat - Women's Review

A great winter hiker perfect for tackling snowy trails or building snow forts.
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Price:  $145 List
Pros:  Warm, precise fit, wider-forefoot, great stability and support, snow-proof, great traction, snow-shoe compatible, gaiter compatible
Cons:  Not waterproof, techy look
Manufacturer:   Columbia
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 14, 2018
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64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 20% 6
  • Weather Protection - 20% 5
  • Comfort & Fit - 20% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 5
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Style - 10% 6

The Skinny

Seeking a winter hiking boot? The Columbia Bugaboot Plus III offers 200-grams of Omni-Heat Insulation and 9-inch shaft height providing amounts of warmth and comfort on the backcountry trails. While our testers appreciate its versatile fit and comfort features, we are unimpressed with its performance in water. With Columbia boasting "waterproof, seam sealed" technology. This boot failed in our water tests. The synthetic outer is prone to saturation and sadly is not waterproof past the laces of the boot when dunked. That said, it performed great in dry, snowy conditions, and wicked away water while hiking through puddles and over-trail. We also like the traction pattern that is deeper and more varied than the North Face Chilkat III but not as beefy as the Keen Durand Polar. Overall, this winter hiker is an excellent option for those living in drier climates. Wear it while performing winter chores or snowshoeing this winter!

Columbia no longer makes the Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Hands-on Review of the Bugaboot III


The Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni Heat is a winter hiking boot perfect for dry snow and moderate conditions.

The Columbia Bugaboot III is a great women's winter hiking boot.
The Columbia Bugaboot III is a great women's winter hiking boot.

Warmth


Outfitted with 200-grams of Omni-Heat insulation, this winter hiker provides relatively decent warmth into the negative temperatures. The laces wrap around the shaft of the boot to lock in warmth while the Omni-Heat technology does a great job keeping in heat. That said, the sole isn't as thick as the Keen Durand Polar, nor is it as insulated (400 grams vs. 200 grams). All in all, this warm winter hiking boot performs similarly to the Kamik Momentum and is rated to -25 degree by Columbia.

This boot features 200 grams of insulation.
This boot features 200 grams of insulation.

Columbia rates this boot to -25 degrees but we can't confirm this because we did not finding testing condition at that temerature.

Weather Protection


Featuring an overlay with a combination of leather and nylon, this boot is indeed water resistant but not waterproof. The rubber outsole is waterproof, but the waterproofing ends where the outsole meets the laces of the boot. While testing it hiking through a river and in our water tests, water entered readily at the point where the outsole meets the laces. As a result, we can't recommend this "waterproof" product for super wet weather. It earns a low score of five out of ten for weather protection. That said, it protected well up to 11 inches in tall snow drifts and kept our feet dry in the snow.

All other hiking boots like the Keen Durand Polar and North Face Chilkat III performed better, waterproofing throughout the shaft of the boot. Also, both hiking boots stayed dry while hiking for hours in the snow. The Columbia Bugaboot Plus III sadly became saturated after hiking for two hours in wet conditions and wasn't as nearly as waterproof as other winter hiking options. Though in dry conditions, it did just fine.

Testing water resistance while hiking through a river in Fall with the Columbia Bugaboot III. While the sole of this boot is water-tight  our soaks were soaked as soon as the boot was immersed past the laces. As a result  it doesn't do as well as the other winter hiking boots in this review.
Testing water resistance while hiking through a river in Fall with the Columbia Bugaboot III. While the sole of this boot is water-tight, our soaks were soaked as soon as the boot was immersed past the laces. As a result, it doesn't do as well as the other winter hiking boots in this review.

Comfort & Fit


Of all hiking boots, we thought this was the most comfortable boot with the most versatile fit. The heel cup doesn't slip, and the toe box is nice and wide, easily accommodating hiking socks. The toe box offers the most volume allowing toes to wiggle freely, ultimately keeping feet warm in cold conditions. The Keen Durand Polar has a less roomy toe box, and our feet felt more cramped in this boot then both the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III and the North Face Chilkat III. While the footbed doesn't have as much arch support as the Keen we certainly enjoyed the firm yet plush footbed that made hiking for hours easy.

In addition to a great fit, we like the fleece-lined collar that is soft and cozy to the touch. This boot does not have a faux-fur liner like the Keen Durand Polar or a fully-fleece lined interior like the North Face Chilkat III. But we did like that it is gaiter and snowshoe compatible. Overall, we like the comfort and fit of this boot, and give it an eight out of ten.

This boot features a nice fleecy liner with Omni-Heat reflective technology.
This boot features a nice fleecy liner with Omni-Heat reflective technology.

Ease of Use


Like all hiking boots, taking it on and off is a bit laborious. It features many eyelets, and the precise fit doesn't allow you to kick off the boot without unlacing. As a result, it — like all hiking boots — it scores just a five out of ten. That said, it's comfortable enough and light enough to hike in all day long. If you prefer a boot you can simply just kick off at the door, take a gander at the Kamik Momentum, a laceless winter boot.

Lace up these eyelets for a precise and accurate fit.
Lace up these eyelets for a precise and accurate fit.

Traction


Utilizing a plethora of lug shapes and sizes, this boot provides great traction over a variety of surfaces. In all tests, it did well, grabbing snowy slopes and steep ascents. While the lugs aren't as deep or bulky as the Keen Durand Polar, they are deeper and more varied than the North Face Chilkat III, providing better traction. As a result, it earns an eight out of ten in this metric. A perfect option for winter hiking!

This outsole features a variety of multidirectional lugs that grabs the trail well.
This outsole features a variety of multidirectional lugs that grabs the trail well.

Style


Of all the hiking boots tested, we think this is a little more stylish than most. While it still looks techy, like any hiking boot, our testers appreciated the more streamlined look without the faux-fur collar. We also like that it doesn't look as bulky as either the Keen Durand Polar or North Chilkat III. It's easy to fit under and over the top a pair of pants, making it quite versatile in use. If you prefer a boot with some serious style points (that isn't a hiker), check out the UGG Cecile, a leather, low profile duck boot, winning a Top Pick. Alternatively, check out the wear-all day Keen Elsa.

Although techy in nature  this boot is one of the more "stylish" hikers tested.
Although techy in nature, this boot is one of the more "stylish" hikers tested.

Best Applications


The obvious application? Winter hiking! While it can be used to perform winter chores or take walks around town, its best use is in the backcountry. These are ideal for snowshoes as long as you bring gaiters for wet and deep conditions.

Take this boot hiking on winter trails!
Take this boot hiking on winter trails!

Value


This is one of the least expensive boots we tested. While we love the comfort and fit of this boot, it simply doesn't stack up to other winter hikers in performance. As a result, it's not the best value product. The North Face Chilkat III performs better in all metrics (except comfort and style) and only $110! A much better value. If you prefer the least expensive boot out there, don't forget about the Kamik Momentum, our Best Buy winner for just $90.

Conclusion


The Columbia Bugaboot Plus III is a decent winter hiker with just a few performance concerns.

Testing over soft and packed snow conditions with the Columbia Bugaboot III.
Testing over soft and packed snow conditions with the Columbia Bugaboot III.


Amber King