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

A great winter hiker, perfect for slippery trails and long days.
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Price:  $145 List | $145.00 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 5, 2018
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 7
  • Weather Protection - 25% 8
  • Comfort & Fit - 25% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • 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 and a nice roomy fit. The outsole is entirely 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 boot proves to be fully waterproof. 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.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Warm, wider-forefoot, waterproof, fantastic traction, stability and supportSuper cozy liner, completely waterproof, cute style options, comfortable, warm.Comfortable, good traction, waterproof, warm, supportiveVery protective, warm, durable, excellent traction on icy surfaces.Warm, weather-proof, faux-fur collar, tall shaft height, stylish
Cons Aggressive and techy look, not cozy, less arch supportExpensive, shaft lacks stability.Poor on ice, shorter construction, technical style, 1/2 size too small.Expensive, bulky and heavy, reported issues with leaking after long-term use.Poor traction, heavy, less precise fit
Bottom Line A great winter hiker, perfect for slippery trails and long days.The epitome of comfort and warmth, wrapped in a cute, yet high performing waterproof package.A stable and comfortable winter hiking boot with many uses.A durable and protective neoprene boot offering warmth and protection.A stylish and tall boot built to take on bad weather.
Rating Categories Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat UGG Adirondack III Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Wa... Arctic Ice Tall Sorel Joan of Arctic
Warmth (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
Weather Protection (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
9
Comfort & Fit (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
2
10
0
5
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
8
Traction (10%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
4
Specs Bugaboot Plus IV... UGG Adirondack III Oboz Bridger 7"... Arctic Ice Tall Sorel Joan of Arctic
Maximum puddle depth before major leaking 6 inches 9 inches 5 inches 15 inches 10 inches
Measured Weight (one boot, size nine) 1 lb. 4 oz (size 7) 1 lb. 5 oz 1 lb. 4.8 oz 2 lb. 5 oz 2 lbs.
Type of Boot Hiking All-around winter Hiking Outdoor work and chores All-around winter
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, Size 9) 7.5 inches (size 7) 10 inches 7 inches 17 inces 13.5 inches
Lining/Insulation Omni-Heat reflective lining, 200-grams of insulation UGGpure wool 200 gram 3M™ Thinsulate™ insulation Fleece lined & 5mm of neoprene 6 mm recycled felt
Removable Liner? No No No No Yes
Footbed Techlite EVA EVA O FIT Insole™ Thermal Removable contured PU 2.5mm bonded felt frost plug
Upper Material Leather, nylon Waterproof suede and leather Waterproof nubuck leather Neoprene 8mm & rubber Waterproof suede leather with faux fur cuff
Toe Box Rubber Rubber Molded rubber Rubber Rubber
Outsole Michelin winter compound rubber Molded Spider Rubber Granite Peak winterized rubber Vibram Arctic Grip Waterproof vulcanized rubber
Company-claimed cold-weather rating -25 -32 n/a n/a -25
Animal products used? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 5 - 12 6 - 11 5 - 11 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.

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.

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. The only downside to the OmniHeat 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 while standing still. 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. This one has neither.

While this product is rated to -25 degrees 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 it managed to keep our feet warm, most of the time.

Weather Protection


This boot is quite waterproof, keeping 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, 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 levels 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.

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

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 stands 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 does excel with its softer rubber composition.

Ease of Use


Columbia made some nice improvements. 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 on this glacier ridge in the NorthWest.
Trusting the traction of the Bugaboot IV on this glacier ridge in the NorthWest.

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