A waterproof winter boot with a low price tag, and plenty of warmth? Hand it over! This Best Buy award winner is only $80! That said, it's not for the coldest climates and it may not be your style, but it performs well for winter use around town and is surprisingly competent on the trail.
Behold the Ice Maiden! The best winter boot for those on a budget.
With many features to help you stay warm, the Ice Maiden II is set up to keep your toes cozy. It sports 200-grams of insulation and has a waterproof suede and nylon upper. The interior is lined with microfleece and the cuff sports a faux-fur ruff, which does a great job of holding in heat. The boot also has a roomy fit, allowing warm air to get to the toes. The sole is plenty thick to insulate on moderately cold days.
The Ice Maiden did not perform particularly well in our ice bucket tests. Its internal temperature dropped over 20 degrees over 20 minutes. (In contrast, the ice bucket challenge winning Oboz Bridger lost only 14.7 degrees.) We wouldn't choose the Ice Maiden if we were planning to stand around all day in frigid weather. However, it is perfect for walking the dog, going for a moderate hike, running errands, or just hanging out in moderately cold temperatures. It scored about average for warmth.
If toasty feet are your main concern, there are warmer boots out there. You may want to look at a pair of Pac boots like the Sorel Joan of Arctic, our Top Pick for Severe Weather or the Sorel Caribou. The Editor's Choice winning Oboz Bridger and the Keen Durand Polar are both warmer. All in all though, the Ice Maiden II performs well in moderately cold weather, especially if you are doing something active.
We went for a dog walk but found a creek. Fishing is not an intended use for the Ice Maiden, but it can do a lot!
The Ice Maiden II keeps your feet protected from moderate winter weather. It did not leak in our waterproof tests and we even crossed some creeks on a dog walk-turned-adventure-hike without getting our socks wet. Keep in mind that this boot is not waterproof past the height of the tongue gusset, at six and a half inches, quite a bit shy of the top of the ten-inch shaft. If you live in a city with deep slushy curbs or one that experiences wet winters, this may not be the optimal boot. It is also not the tallest option, so if deep drifts are part of your winter day, check out one of our taller boots, like the Sorel Tofino.
That said, despite its limitations, it did a great job keeping out snow, slush, and water. It's an excellent choice for drier climates that experience moderate winters. You usually have to treat leather to keep it waterproof over time, something to consider if you keep and wear your boots for years.
If a boot that performs well in wet weather is your top priority, Pac boots like the Sorel Joan of Arctic and Sorel Caribou are both excellent options. Both performed flawlessly in our water tests, and both have removable liners. For less bulk with similar weather protection, check out the Sorel Tofino II, a cuter waterproof Pac boot.
Water beading off of the Columbia Ice Maiden.
If you're interested in an active waterproof winter boot that's suitable for hiking, be sure to check out the Oboz Bridger boot and Keen Durand Polar. Both are entirely waterproof up to their collars and do great in snowy conditions.
The outer layers of this boot are waterproof to the top of the shaft, but regarding puddle depth, it lets in water at the top of the tongue gusset, about six and a half inches. For best results, beware the deeper slush puddles.
Comfort & Fit
This boot's comfort and fit are a little above average. The lining is a soft, synthetic microfleece and the outer material is supple with plenty of flex around the toes and ankles. There is not a lot of arch support, and the soft shaft doesn't provide much ankle support for long days on technical terrain. Still, the combination allows you to move freely and comfortably during chores and commuting. Importantly, the toe box is roomy enough to keep toes warm.
The boot is true to size. It will give narrow feet a bit of room, while medium-width feet will feel more snug, though not tight. The heel is fitted, and we only felt our heels slide up on very steep terrain. This boot doesn't offer the most precise or supportive fit, but you can lace it precisely enough to fit most feet for all-day comfort.
You won't get a lot of ankle support for longer technical hikes, but the Ice Maiden is snug and warm for moderately cold days.
Ease of Use
Getting in and out of the Ice Maiden II is surprisingly easy thanks to the nylon laces and webbing lace holders, which we like better than the typical eyelets. It is easy to pull the laces tight and to loosen them.
Adjusting the laces for a precision fit takes a little more time. If you pull the laces tight at the top, they cinch up high but stay loose lower down on top of your foot. For a quick stroll to the mailbox, this is no big deal. But, for a more extended outing, it's worth taking the time to tighten them all the way through for more support.
This boot isn't the easiest to pull on and lace up, but it works fine. This Best Buy winner is solid in every category, and scores just above average here.
With nylon laces and webbing "eyelets," it's a cinch to lace these boots.
One look at the Ice Maiden II tells you that it's not intended to be an adventure boot. But when we found ourselves bushwhacking through the woods in search of an elusive creek, they were up to the task. These boots don't have the support to be an all-day hiking boot, but for short jaunts, they work well, with surprisingly grippy treads. This model uses Columbia's Omni-Grip rubber sole, which stays soft in cold temperatures. And while slippery, wet rocks are a challenge, as they are for most boots, these performed acceptably in the traction test, earning an average score.
Without deep lugs, this boot isn't a top choice for technical terrain. If you prefer a boot with more stability and high traction, check out our Editors' Choice winner, the Oboz Bridger or the North Face Chilkat III. Both feature a relatively stable platform, big lugs, and rubber that grips on a variety of surfaces.
Both the Shellista II and the Ice Maiden II have good traction for light hiking, but lack the serious lugs needed for technical terrain.
None of the boots performed well over ice. If you plan on walking over the iciest parts of town, be sure to wear a pair of YakTrax
There's a little faux-fur, a little suede, a little nylon. It's not too tech. It's not too frilly. This boot is not trying to stand out, and it will not be out of place in many settings. It's the Goldilocks of boots that finds the middle ground in every test. Some testers thought that it's a little plain, and those that object to faux-fur aren't fans. But everyone agreed that this boot would be appropriate for work or the trail.
If you're in the market for a boot with more style be sure to check out the Keen Elsa II or the North Face Shellista II, both of which are more unique and will add some flair to your outfit. Another black boot with a sleeker look is the Blundstone Thermal, which is also quite warm.
The Ice Maiden is just $80, and one of the best values in this review. We struggle to find anything this boot won't do, even pushing it beyond its intended uses. It isn't the best at any one thing, but it is the best boot for the money. If you don't need a boot for the coldest conditions but want something that will keep you warm while you walk the dog, commute to work, or hang out at the ice bar, this is our top recommendation.
As an all-purpose winter boot, the Columbia Ice Maiden II is inexpensive and will cover your wintery needs! It's warm, it's waterproof, it's got traction, and in basic black, it goes with anything.
The Columbia Ice Maiden II is our favorite budget snow boot, and it is waterproof!