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Hands-on Gear Review
Northside Kathmandu Review
Cons: Lacks weather protection, poor traction
Bottom line: This affordable faux-fur style winter boot offers fantastic comfort but lacks performance in some key metrics.
The Northside Kathmandu winter boot features a faux-fur collar and full-suede exterior. We instantly fell in love with its design and fantastic level of comfort and coziness, but were let down when it came down to truly testing this boot. When we first received this pair of boots, we were optimistic that it would become our new Best Buy award winner, stealing the limelight from the Kamik Momentum. However, after subjecting it to our 'warmth' and 'weather proof' tests, it didn't only fail, but we learned that Northside made a couple of false claims. Northside claims that the boot is "waterproof" when it just simply isn't. When examining the craftsmanship on the seams, we noticed the stitching to be inconsistent and sloppy. Water seeped in through these seams quite quickly in our tests.
In addition, Northside also claims this boot have a cold weather rating of -13 degrees Fahrenheit, but when we went out in the double negative digits, our feet were not happy. That said, there were other boots that didn't perform as well as the Kathmandu's in each metric. Aside from this experience, we do think this boot has great affinity to perform as a casual winter boot to wear around town when the conditions don't get too icy or cold. This competitor is a great affordable faux-fur option with an outdoorsy flair.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's Winter Boots of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Kathmandu by the Northside doesn't perform highly in warmth or weather protection, but it does feature a fabulously cozy inner with a cute faux-fur style.
This contender provides decent warm but isn't the best option for the coldest of winter days. Even though the boots are rated by the manufacturer to -13 degrees Fahrenheit, our feet were freezing when the temps dipped just below zero. When we first received the boot, we were excited as it seemed wonderful and warm. The boot is stacked with 200g of Thermolite insulation and a faux-fur collar designed to keep warmth in. In addition, the boot features a warm fleecy single liner that extends throughout the shaft of the boot.
All of these features are fantastic, providing great warmth on cold days. However, the soles of the boots are very thin, allowing you to feel every undulation in the ground, in addition to the cold underfoot. As a result, this boot scored on-par with the UGG Adirondack II and Sorel Tofino II, also suited for less cold winter temperatures. The Kathmandu is a little warmer than the thin-soled Columbia Minx-Mid II. If you're looking for the ultimate in warmth, check out our Top Pick for Severe Weather, the Sorel Joan of Arctic or our Top Pick for Winter Hiking, the Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry.
Even though Northside claims that this boot is waterproof, we found that it is not. The outsole is waterproof at best, but we learned quickly that the upper is just barely water-resistant.
To be quite frank, we were quite disappointed with this boot in this metric. Before performing these tests, we really thought this boot had a good shot at being our Best Buy winner. However, when performing our slush and bathtub tests, we learned that the seams of these boots are not waterproof, as claimed by Northside. After marching for thirty seconds in three inches of water, the boots became water-logged, soaking our socks and freezing our toes.
The water seeped through the seams and seal - not at the point where the tongue meets the shaft of the boot, like most competitors. That said, we wouldn't recommend puddle jumping with these boots like we would the Sorel Joan of Arctic. We did like how the faux fur collar kept out pesky snow wisps, and protected in snowbanks up to 11 inches, one half inch more than our Best Buy award winner - the Kamik Momentum. All in all, avoid water-logged streets, but feel confident in tall snow drifts.
Comfort & Coziness
Of all the faux-fur boot options, the Kathmandu is by far the coziest and most comfortable contender that we tested! Even though it's a little bulkier than the Sorel Tofino II, it's lighter than the Sorel Joan of Arctic, making it a decent choice for walking the dog or building a snowman. We loved that the shaft of this boot didn't bite or constrict in any odd places, like we discovered with other Sorel varieties.
What we instantly fell in love with is its plush inner fur liner that feels good to wear with and without socks. The liner extends all the way down the boot from the fur collar no other faux fur boot features this! Even though we felt like this was super luxurious, it still doesn't compare to the ultra-plush, cloud-like-wearing experience found in the UGG Adirondack II. Nor does it feature a firm memory-foam like footbed found in our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Shellista II Mid.
Even though this boot has terrible traction, you can purchase a pair of YakTrax to gain traction for the icy sidewalks - if you love everything else about its design.
This boot slips and slides on icy sidewalks and rocky surfaces. Outfitted with a simple rubber outsole that features little to no tread pattern, the Kathmandu has the worst traction of all boots tested. If Northside designed this boot with a thicker sole and a more defined tread pattern, it would offer higher performance for wintery conditions.
That said, we wouldn't recommend it for winter hiking or walking on super icy sidewalks, but it's still a great option for explicitly snowy conditions (similar to the Sorel varieties). If you're interested in a boot with better traction for a similar price, consider the Best Buy winner, the Kamik Momentum. Or if you can afford better quality, check out The North Face Shellista Mid II, which features impressively sticky temperature-sensitive lugs!
Style & Fit
This boot is true to fit. However, if you plan on wearing uber-thick socks, order a half-size up!
What the Northside Kathmandu lacks in performance, it makes up for in style. However - they aren't for everyone. This boot was voted as our fourth most popular, (following the super cute and feminine Sorel Tofino II and the mountain-chic The North Face Shellista) in our online style poll that reached over 50 women. Even though we know that some ladies aren't a fan of faux-fur or the woodsy 'into the wild' look, some ladies love it!
It features a cute fur collar, D-ring lace eyelets, and a rubberized outsole look. The suede upper adds a feminine touch, perfect for an apres ski drink. The fit is true to size, while the sole is thin, without a whole lot of support. We felt like our foot was better supported than when wearing the bulky Sorel Joan of Arctic or the Kamik Momentum, but not quite as supported as the Sorel Tofino II. This boot is a great option for women with both wide and narrow feet.
Ease of Use
While this competitor was originally awarded a top place in this metric due to its wide foot opening and sleek, fleecy shaft, it lost points because of the cheap, floppy insole that kept balling up and pulling out. Even though you can easily slip your foot in and out of this boot without using your hands, the insole became such an annoyance that we just took it out all together. If you're looking for an equally affordable boot that earned top points in this metric, but sure to check out the Kamik Momentum. If you're looking for a lightweight boot with a one-pull lacing system, we'd recommend the Columbia Minx-Mid II.
Given the construction and performance of this faux-fur contender, we'd recommend it solely for snowy conditions that aren't too icy or cold. It's light enough for long walks, but not recommended for wearing all day as the fit isn't quite precise, and the boot is a little heavier than others. That said, it's a great option for wearing around town, or as an apres-ski option.
For only $90, this is the only stylish faux fur boot option out there but it doesn't carry the best value given its lack of water protection and warmth. If you're in the market for a boot that performs (but sacrifices fashion) for the same price, check out the Kamik Momentum. If you're willing to spend a little more, take a look at our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Shellista Mid II for $140.
The Northside Kathmandu stands out for its low price and faux fur look. Even though it doesn't offer the best in performance, it's still a great apres-ski or around town snowy weather option.
— Amber King
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