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

A great winter hiker, perfect for slippery trails and long days.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $145 List | $94.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Warm, wider-forefoot, waterproof, fantastic traction, stability and support
Cons:  Aggressive and techy look, not cozy, less arch support
Manufacturer:   Columbia
By Laurel Hunter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2018
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 10
  • Warmth - 25% 6
  • Weather Protection - 25% 8
  • Comfort & Fit - 20% 7
  • Traction - 20% 9
  • Ease of Use - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Columbia offers a no-nonsense winter hiking machine with the Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat. It has traction to spare and a nice roomy fit. The outsole is completely waterproof. It offers 200-grams of Omni-Heat Insulation (the shiny mylar dots visible at the top of the boot) and a 7.5-inch shaft height, providing warmth and comfort on the backcountry trails. The shorter height is typical of a winter hiking boot and is short relative to other options. Luckily, this updated boot proves to be fully waterproof. It offers amazing traction, beating all others on icy surfaces, earning a Top Pick. While our testers appreciate its versatile fit and easy lacing, they were less impressed with its style.


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Pros Warm, wider-forefoot, waterproof, fantastic traction, stability and supportComfortable, great traction, waterproof, warm, not bad lookingCute, versatile, relatively warm, decent tractionSuper cozy liner, completely waterproof, cute style options, comfortable, warm.Warm, great weather protection, removable liner, super thick outsole
Cons Aggressive and techy look, not cozy, less arch supportShort in the backNot super water-resistantExpensive.Sloppy and clunky fit, heavy, not very stylish
Bottom Line A great winter hiker, perfect for slippery trails and long days.The most comfortable winter boot we tested, and it has burly traction, making it perfect for winter backcountry adventures.A versatile and cute winter boot for all purposes.The epitome of comfort and warmth, wrapped in a cute winter boot.A perfect option for winter chores in cold weather.
Rating Categories Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Wa... Shellista II Mid UGG Adirondack III Sorel Caribou - Women's
Warmth (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
Weather Protection (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
Comfort & Fit (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
3
Traction (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
Ease Of Use (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
8
Specs Bugaboot Plus IV... Oboz Bridger 7"... Shellista II Mid UGG Adirondack III Sorel Caribou -...
Maximum puddle depth before major leaking 6 inches 6 inches 6.75 inches 8 inches 10 inches
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Measured Weight (ounces, one boot, size nine) 1 lb. 3.75 oz (size 7) 1 lb. 3.5 oz (size 7) 1 lb. 5.90 ounces 1 lb. 5 ounces 2 lb. 1.35 ounces
Fit Details True to size True to size True to size True to size True to size
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft) 7.5 inches 7 inches 11 inches 10 inches 11 inches
Lining/Insulation Omni-Heat reflective lining 200 gram 3M™ Thinsulate™ insulation 200g PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco UGGpure wool 9mm recycled felt inner boot with Sherpa Pile snow cuff
Removable Liner? No No No No Yes
Footbed Techlite EVA O FIT Insole™ Thermal Injection-molded waterproof TPR shell EVA 2.5mm bonded felt frost plug
Upper Material Leather, nylon Waterproof nubuck leather Waterproof, BLC-compliant nubuck leather upper, knit collar Waterproof suede and leather Waterproof nubuck leather
Toe Box Rubber Molded rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber
Outsole Michelin winter compound rubber Granite Peak winterized rubber Winter Grip rubber outsole with IcePick temperature-sensitive lugs. Molded Spider Rubber Vulcanized rubber
Company-claimed cold-weather rating -25 n/a n/a -32 -40
Animal products used? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 6 - 11 5 - 11 5 - 12 5 - 12

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat is a winter hiking boot with incredible traction, perfect for moderate conditions.

Performance Comparison


Testing the warmth and traction of the Columbia Bugaboot IV on a cold day on the glacier.
Testing the warmth and traction of the Columbia Bugaboot IV on a cold day on the glacier.

Warmth


This boot is lined with 200-grams of Columbia's Omni-Heat insulation, which they claim reflects heat and saves bulk. They certainly kept our feet comfortably warm in cold temperatures. The laces are easy to pull tight, locking in heat, while the Omni-Heat technology does a great job of maintaining warmth without making us sweaty. The soles are burly thick rubber, insulating our feet from the cold ground. Perhaps most importantly, there is plenty of room to wiggle our toes.


We put the Bugaboot in an ice bucket and took its internal temperature with a laser thermometer regularly for 20mins. It lost a whopping 21.8 degrees. (For perspective, the Oboz Bridger boot lost only 14.7 degrees.) We attribute this poor performance to the boot's thinner insulation, and also to the type of insulation. Columbia's Omni-Heat works by reflecting insulation. Without feet in them, there was no heat to reflect. This boot is intended for heat-generating action, and we found it to be warm in the field.

Unfortunately, this boot isn't exactly cozy. The other winter hikers we tested have faux-fur or soft wool around the ankles, adding an extra level of comfort.

The Bugaboot's 200 grams of insulation and mylar dots that are more than just bling! They keep your toes toasty.
The Bugaboot's 200 grams of insulation and mylar dots that are more than just bling! They keep your toes toasty.

While this product is rated to -25 degrees by Columbia, we could not verify this temperature as have not yet tested this boot in temperatures that cold this winter.

Weather Protection


In last year's test, the Bugaboot III was not waterproof in our tests. Fortunately, we had no such issue with the Bugaboot IV. The only way you'll get wet in this boot is if you walk in water deep enough to overtop the tongue gusset. We stayed dry in up to 6 inches of frigid water.


The outer material is rugged. The bomber construction sheds snow and water efficiently. For deep snow and drifts, you may want to extend the boot's 7.5-inch height with gaiters or snow pants.

Taking notes on the Columbia Bugaboot IV during the depth test at the lake.
Taking notes on the Columbia Bugaboot IV during the depth test at the lake.

Comfort & Fit


The Bugaboot IV is roomy and comfortable. The heel cup holds our feet in place, and the toe box is wide enough to allow for plenty of toe wiggle, helping feet stay nice and warm. That said, the outer material is sturdy and very stiff. It feels a bit like a shell. One tester compared it to a lightweight ski boot. As a result, the fit isn't very forgiving. If you have a wider forefoot, it may feel very restrictive.


While the footbed doesn't have huge arch support, it is firm and supported our feet on long hikes. Overall, we like the comfort and fit of this boot and rate it above average.

Traction


Utilizing a variety of lug shapes and sizes, and sporting Michelin Winter Compound rubber, this boot provides fantastic traction over a variety of surfaces. We tested it over snow and ice on both level and steep terrain. We walked across snowy ridgelines and up icy valleys. It did well in all conditions, grabbing on snowy and steep ascents, but it really shines on the slippery stuff.


The lugs are less faceted than those on the other winter hiking boots we tested and the heel rubber extends wide beyond the shaft of the boot, especially on the heel. This gives it a particularly aggressive look and also provides more surface area on slippery trails or sidewalks. As a result, it trounced the competition and it is our Top Pick for traction. A perfect option for winter hiking on packed, slippery trails!

All of the winter hiking boots have excellent traction and are great choices for cold, snowy terrain. However, when ice was part of the trail equation, the Bugaboot performed the best.

Look at those lugs! Love the traction on the new Bugaboot IV
Look at those lugs! Love the traction on the new Bugaboot IV

Ease of Use


Columbia made some nice improvements when they shifted from the Bugaboot III to the IV. One of these upgrades is the lacing system. We love the closed metal eyelets that made tying these a breeze, even with cold hands.


The boot is roomy, and it opens up wide when untied, making it easy to slip on and off. As with all hiking boots, you will want to tighten the laces for a precision fit, and you can't get them off without untying them first, but we found these among the easiest to use.

We love these closed metal eyelets  which allowed for quick and precise boot adjustment.
We love these closed metal eyelets, which allowed for quick and precise boot adjustment.

Value


This is the least expensive winter hiker we tested. It is comfortable, warm and performs well, especially for the price. While we don't love the style, the ladies that'll find the most value in it are those seeking a technical winter trail hiker with awesome traction. Not a stylish winter boot.

Trusting the traction of the Bugaboot IV!
Trusting the traction of the Bugaboot IV!

Conclusion


The Columbia Bugaboot IV OmniHeat is a solid winter hiker with exceptional traction. Take it on your next winter hike, or strap it onto a pair of snowshoes.


Laurel Hunter