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

A great winter hiker, perfect for slippery trails and long days
Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat - Women's
Photo: Columbia
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Price:  $145 List | $150.00 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 12, 2020
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 15
  • Warmth - 25% 7
  • Weather Protection - 25% 8
  • Comfort & Fit - 25% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 5
  • Traction - 10% 10

Our Verdict

Columbia offers a no-nonsense winter hiking machine with the Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat. It has traction to spare, a nice roomy fit, and the outsole is entirely waterproof. It offers 200 grams of Omni-Heat Insulation and a 7.5-inch shaft height, providing warmth and comfort for those backcountry trails. The shorter height is typical of a winter hiking boot, but it offers amazing traction, beating all others on icy surfaces due to its soft lugs that boast huge surface area. While our testers appreciate its versatile fit and easy lacing, they are less impressed with its style, but that's common for a technical winter boot.

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Pros Warm, wider-forefoot, waterproof, fantastic traction, stability and supportProtective and durable, very warm, breathable, excellent traction, great for hiking, high valueComfortable, waterproof, protective, warmAffordable, excellent protection, super stylish, easy to get intoWarm, breathable, comfortable all-day wear, cute and protective, great price
Cons Aggressive and techy look, not cozy, less arch supportNot the most stylishStyle is questionable, not as versatile as a shorter bootPoor leather durability, thinner construction isn't super warmLeaky at upper seam, heel is uncomfortable to some, half size too small
Bottom Line A great winter hiker, perfect for slippery trails and long daysAn affordable and high performance winter hiking bootThis is a really comfortable, waterproof, and protective boot that's ready for the most wintery daysA stylish and high value boot built to take on snowy weather and tall snow banksAnother high value boot with great all-around performance and good comfort
Rating Categories Columbia Bugaboot P... Keen Revel IV Polar... The North Face Shel... Kamik Ariel Kamik Sienna 2
Warmth (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Weather Protection (25%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Comfort & Fit (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
Traction (10%)
10.0
9.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
Specs Columbia Bugaboot P... Keen Revel IV Polar... The North Face Shel... Kamik Ariel Kamik Sienna 2
Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking 6 inches 7.5 inches 4 inches 5 inches 5.5 inches
Measured Weight (one boot, size 9) 20 oz (size 7) 22.7 oz 22 oz 20.2 oz 22 oz
Type of Boot Hiking All-around winter All-around winter Casual winter wear All-around winter
Fit Details True to size True to size, wide Runs 1/2 size too small True to size Runs 1/2 size too small
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft, size 9) 7.5 inches (size 7) 7.5 inches 11.5 inches 12 inches 11 inches
Lining/Insulation Omni-Heat reflective lining, 200 grams of insulation 200 grams KEEN.WARM Recycled PET 200 grams PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco 200 grams Thinsulate, fleece lining 200 grams 3M Thinsulate
Removable Liner? No No No Yes No
Footbed Techlite EVA EVA Injection-molded waterproof TPR shell EVA Molded EVA
Upper Material Leather, nylon Mesh and Leather Waterproof, BLC-compliant nubuck leather upper, knit collar Leather & breathable membrane made from Nylon waterproof leather, water resistant flannel
Toe Box Rubber Leather Rubber Leather Rubber
Outsole Michelin winter compound rubber KEEN.Polar Traction Winter Grip rubber outsole with IcePick temperature-sensitive lugs. EDITH, rubberized traction Rubber
Cold Weather Rating (company claimed) -25F -25F Not stated -4F -4F
Animal Products? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 5 - 12 5 - 11 6 - 11 6 - 10

Our Analysis and Test Results

The 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...
Testing the warmth and traction of the Columbia Bugaboot IV on a cold day on the glacier.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

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 you sweaty. The soles are burly thick rubber, insulating the feet from the cold ground. Perhaps most importantly, there is plenty of room to wiggle those toes.

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

We put the Bugaboot in an ice bucket and regularly took its internal temperature with a laser thermometer for 20 minutes. It lost a whopping 21.8 degrees, which is a lot compared to other boots in our review. 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 the boots, there was no heat to reflect. This boot is intended for heat-generating action, and we found it to be warm in the field. The only downside to the Omni-Heat lining is that it's not the most breathable. While our feet were warm in motion, it doesn't offer much in the realm of moisture escaping, which led to colder feet when standing still. Unfortunately, this boot isn't exactly cozy. Some of the other winter hikers we tested have faux-fur or soft wool around the ankles, adding an extra level of comfort. This one has neither.

While this product is rated to -25 degrees Fahrenheit by Columbia, it's important to note that actual temperatures are hard to verify as it depends on body temperature, perception, and activity. That said, we did wear these boots in really cold conditions, and they managed to keep our feet warm most of the time.

Weather Protection


This boot is quite waterproof and kept us dry in 6 inches of frigid water. The outer material is rugged. The bomber construction sheds snow and water efficiently. For deep snow and drifts, however, 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...
Taking notes on the Columbia Bugaboot IV during the depth test at the lake.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Comfort & Fit


The Bugaboot Plus IV is roomy and comfortable. The heel cup holds 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 supportive for long hikes. Overall, we like the comfort and fit of this boot and rate it above average.

Ease of Use


Columbia made some nice improvements for this iteration of the Bugaboot. One of these upgrades is the lacing system. We love the closed metal eyelets that make tying the laces 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 boots among the easiest to use of their type.

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

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 stood out for its amazing traction. 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 really excelled with its softer rubber composition.

Look at those lugs! Love the traction on the burly Bugaboot IV!
Look at those lugs! Love the traction on the burly Bugaboot IV!
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Value


This is the least expensive winter hiker we tested. It is comfortable, warm, and really performs well, especially for the price. While we don't love the style, those 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 on this glacier ridge in...
Trusting the traction of the Bugaboot IV on this glacier ridge in the NorthWest.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Conclusion


The Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat is a solid winter hiker with exceptional traction. Take it on your next winter hike, or strap it onto a pair of snowshoes, you'll be glad you did.

Laurel Hunter