Our testers are charmed by the cute and versatile Keen Elsa II Waterproof Quilted Boot. With casual street style and soft micro-fleece lining, this boot will keep you warm in moderate winter conditions. While the boot is not completely waterproof, we appreciate its traction on frosty ground and its efficient lacing system. The fit is not precise enough for hiking, nor is this the boot tall enough for deep drifts or super frigid temperatures. However, for commuting to work, light winter chores, and everyday wear, it is one of the more stylish offerings out there.
Keen Elsa II Waterproof Quilted Boot Review
Cons: Not the warmest boot, not a precise fit, not waterproof
Manufacturer: Keen Footwear
Our Analysis and Test Results
Like the Keen Elsa the Keen Elsa II is a boot for everyday wear in chilly to cold temperatures. It comes in a few color options, fits a bit like a sneaker, and is perfect for winter chores, commuting, and dog walks, thanks to its street style, comfort, and versatility.
The Elsa II features a microfleece-lined upper that is filled with KEEN.WARM insulation, apparently made from charcoal bamboo! Keen claims warmth to -4 degrees F. While we weren't able to test it in temps quite that cold, it did really well in our ice bath test, losing only 14.4 degrees F over the course of 20 minutes. This impressive result didn't hold up in the field though.
In our field tests, we found the boot to be toasty while we were active and in moderately cold weather. However, the boot does not insulate all that well in temperatures below freezing, especially when we are just standing around. The removable footbeds are fleece-covered, but the sole is relatively thin compared to many of the boots we tested, allowing cold to seep in from the ground.
If most of your winter weather is relatively mild, the Elsa II is a great option. You might consider sizing up a half size to accommodate a thicker pair of socks for colder days. Is warmth your number one priority? Check out the Sorel Caribou, the warmest boot we tested.
The Elsa II's rubber outsole is waterproof, as is the leather. During our waterproofness test, the upper did leak at the seams of the fabric and the leather, but only after more than 9 minutes in the lake. So while we don't recommend it for extended periods in wet weather, for small puddles and slush, it has you covered.
At 8-inch tall, it's relatively short and this boot is not a great option for deep snow or super gnarly weather. It also lacks a faux fur or fleece topped collar to help keep the snow out. We don't hold this against the Elsa II, which is really more of an everyday boot. It will keep you warm and dry around town or during short walks but isn't made to tackle an icy adventure hike or plow through deep drifts of pow.
If you are looking for a stylish winter boot that offers more protection, check out the Editors' Choice winner, the North Face Shellista II Mid featuring a leather upper and excellent protection from both water and snow. Or the Shellista III Tall with a whopping 14 inches of height to really protect in deep conditions.
Comfort & Fit
The Elsa II fits a bit like a sneaker, with similar cushion underfoot and a non-specific fit. The interior is lined with micro-fleece, which is soft to the touch. The forefoot is wide enough to work for both narrow and medium width feet. Its quilted shaft is flexible, making it easy to walk around in all day.
The heel is rather wide and does not hold our heels in place. For this reason, we do not recommend doing any serious hiking in the Elsa II. And while the fit is fairly true to size, if you want to wear thicker socks, we recommend sizing up a half size. Some testers felt that it runs a smidge short and has a lower volume toe box, something to keep in mind if you have a higher volume foot.
For a more precise fit and maximum comfort, the technical Oboz Insulated Bridger winter hiking boot provides arch support and all-day coziness.
Ease of Use
Our testers love the lace-up system of the Elsa II. It's one of the easiest we tested. One pull and they cinch up the shaft. Tie the laces and off you go! The shaft opens up wide for easy foot entrance and exit, and the pull tab on the back helps get the foot in place. The rubber lip that wraps around the sole makes for easy kicking off when you get home.
If lacing up a boot is just too much work, or if laces are not your style, definitely check out the Blundstone Thermal boot, which is the stealthiest winter boot we tested, with no laces!
The shape and depth of the tread give this boot an edge over other urban boots, like the Blundstone, and allow for greater grip on softer snow and terrain. In our traction tests, it scored slightly below average on the ice, though ice is always a problem, no matter the boot. On snowy, soft terrain we love the extra traction that the rubber and mini-lugs offer.
While it doesn't grip like any of the winter hiking boots we tested, the Elsa II has decent tread and grip for average winter conditions. It's just fine for short hikes. In general, it does a decent job in snowy conditions that aren't too deep, too wet, or too icy. If traction is your main concern, check out the Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat, our top pick for traction, though they can't compare when it comes to style.
There is no doubt the Elsa II has some serious style points. The blue quilted shaft and the orange laces are quite striking against the brown leather. It's casual and unique and garnered loads of compliments.
This boot is a favorite for everyday wear, adding winter flair and warmth to almost any outfit. We don't recommend it for a day out on the trail, or for standing around in the cold, but for shopping, working in an office, or just running errands, it will keep your feet warm and dry.
If the Elsa II isn't your style but you are looking for a warm boot with urban credentials, take a look at the Blundstone Thermal, which won't keep the snow out on deep days, but will keep your toes toasty all winter long.
While the Elsa II is a top option for everyday wear, we also think it's a decent choice for dog walks, commuting to work, and light winter chores. It is breathable, water resistant, and warm enough for moderate winter conditions. The Elsa II really shines as a boot for wearing all day, around town.
At $130, this boot is a great value if you are looking for a boot that will primarily be worn around town, for your commute, or at work. If you live in climates that aren't super wet, super snowy or super cold, they can be worn all day. They also work across multiple seasons. That said, there are boots that perform better in warmth, traction, and weather protection for a lower price. Check out the Columbia Ice Maiden II, our top pick for those on a budget, which is warmer, more versatile, and only $80.
The Elsa II is a uniquely cute boot that is perfect for everyday wear in cold weather. It only has 100-grams of insulation, so it's limited by its warmth and weather protection. However, it is a favorite of our testers for its casual look and versatile design that works well inside and out.
— Laurel Hunter