Hands-on Gear Review

The North Face Shellista II Mid Review

The North Face Shellista Mid II
Editors' Choice Award
Price:  $140 List | $69.97 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Cute, versatile, relatively warm, decent traction
Cons:  Not super water-resistant
Bottom line:  This super versatile Editors' Choice award winner is perfect for light hiking or running errands around town.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Measure Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft, size nine):  12 inches
Measured Weight (ounces, one boot, size nine):  1 lb. 5.90 ounces
Upper Material:  Waterproof, BLC-compliant nubuck leather upper, knit collar
Manufacturer:   The North Face

Our Verdict

Taking home the Editors' Choice award for the second year in a row, The North Face Shellista II is one of our favorite women's winter boots. As one of the most versatile boots tests, we think it's a great choice for wearing out on the town or hiking a short local trail. The 12-inch leather shaft features a waterproof NuBuck leather that provides good weather protection in the snow. The rubber toe cap provides fantastic protection from any mix of slush, snow, and ice that you might encounter on the street. The outsole provides decent traction on hard or soft-packed snow but doesn't grab the ice. The diversity of lugs are multi-directional, sticky, and temperature sensitive. This provides good grip over rocks and uneven surfaces. In our style metric, it is a favorite among our testers, receiving many compliments on the street for its sleek design and cute knit upper. We also like that it fits well under a pair of boot-cut pants or overtop a pair of tights.

While this boot is versatile and provides good winter protection in temperatures reaching as low as the double negatives, it's not the easiest to put on nor is it the most protective. Even though it proved to be fairly water and snow resistant in the field, during our water tests, water flooded into the knit exterior at the back of the shoe, making it much less weather protective in comparison to the Sorel Tofino II or the Sorel Caribou. We also wish it had a one-pull cinching system that would save some time when trying to get out the door. Aside from those caveats, this relatively lightweight shoe does a great job in the winter months.

Overall, if you're looking for a boot that isn't necessarily the warmest or weather protective, but boasts a cute style, is lightweight, and keeps you upright in slippery situations, the North Face Shellista II Mid maybe what you've been searching for. This versatile winter boot is recommended for anything from light hiking on wintery trails to running errands around town all day.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's Winter Boots of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Amber King

Last Updated:
Wednesday
February 14, 2018

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As one of our Editors' Choice winner for a second year in a row, The North Face Shellista II is versatile, cute, and comfortable. This winter boot will keep you protected from the elements, no matter what winter decides to send your way.

Performance Comparison


The Shellista Mid is our Editors' Choice winner for its versatility and cute style.
The Shellista Mid is our Editors' Choice winner for its versatility and cute style.

Warmth


During our testing for the second year in a row, The North Face Shellista II Mid still provides decent warmth in the negative digits. This boot features a 12-inch NuBuck waterproof shaft and insulates using 200-grams of PrimaLoft Silver Eco Insulation. This generates heat while in motion. The sole is a little thicker than most of the 'wear around town' boots, which allows for protection against the cold. Last year we were happy to have it when the 'Polar Vortex' hit Ridgway, CO. This brought temperatures down to the double negative digits for a full week, leaving our cheeks red, and our hair frozen. While wearing the Shellista in those temperatures with a pair of ski socks, our feet stayed toasty warm while walking around town and holiday shopping for four hours. That said, it's not the warmest boot out there as heat escapes from the thinner shaft material (even though it is lined). This boot scores an average seven out of ten.


While this boot is reasonable warm, there are better performers for warmth. For example; the Sorel Joan of Arctic features ample warmth, a faux fur collar, and a felt liner that locks in heat on cold days. The Sorel Caribou is the warmest boot tested keeping feet warm in the double negative digits. It features an uber thick felt liner, and the thickest sole tested.

The knit collar and fuzzy interior keeps warmth in while you hike and move around in the snow.
The knit collar and fuzzy interior keeps warmth in while you hike and move around in the snow.

While it's not the warmest, it's not the coldest either. We were pretty surprised to find that this leather boot offered more warmth than other Pac boots like the Sorel Tofino II. Both of these models have thinner soles and less insulation, making them colder than The North Face Shellista II. Overall, we'd recommend this boot for wearing out when the mercury plummets here and there, but if you live in a place that is consistently dipping below zero, we'd recommend a burlier boot like the Sorel Joan of Arctic or Sorel Caribou.

This boot keeps feet dry  warm  and happy - even in deep snow!
This boot keeps feet dry, warm, and happy - even in deep snow!

Weather Protection


With a waterproof membrane and NuBuck leather shaft, this Editors' Choice provides decent protection in snow drifts up to eleven inches and through puddles up to eight inches! In our water tests, we didn't experience any leakage until the water level reached the knit exterior of the boot. Here is where the boot failed. As a result, it earns an average seven out of ten in this category. The outsole and the lacing provided good protection from the water and snow, allowing it to perform for its function.


As the seams are watertight and the material waterproof, we had no trouble jumping through slush puddles or heading out on a short hike. That said, even though this boot was protective in our tests, we noticed that the leather did saturate after being outside for the whole day in the snow. Even though the water didn't penetrate to the interior of the boot, it doesn't wick or keeps our feet as dry as the Keen Durand Polar, our other Editors' Choice award winner.

Here we look to see how deep each boot protects in snow.
Here we look to see how deep each boot protects in snow.

Since it doesn't feature a faux fur collar, which keeps snow from getting into the top of the boot when you step in a snowbank a little too tall, it didn't score as high as other faux fur competitors. It stands up well in most snowstorms, but if you plan on being outside all day, every day, we'd recommend a boot that features a little more weatherproofing, like the Sorel Joan of Arctic or the Sorel Caribou. However, if you just plan on using it for everyday errands, your feet will be far more protected.

Treat the leather each year to ensure its longevity.

Here we determine water resistance in our reservoir tests.
Here we determine water resistance in our reservoir tests.

Comfort and Fit


Earning an eight out of ten in this category, The North Face Shellista II is one of the top performers for comfort and fit. The shaft and interior of the boot are lined with furry insulation all the way to the footbed. The injection molded footbed is firm and feels like stepping onto a memory foam mattress that kept our feet comfortable after walking around in them each day. The shaft is a little rigid at first but breaks in easily after just a couple of longer walks.



The fit of this boot is true to size. It features a wide toe box that is high volume, providing your feet wiggle room on colder days. Our testers appreciated the fact that it accommodates thicker socks, and the heel is nicely fitted, which means it does not slip out on hiking trails. This boot fits those with narrow and wide feet alike.

The fuzzy collar and interior fluff is enough to keep us comfortable and warm all day long.
The fuzzy collar and interior fluff is enough to keep us comfortable and warm all day long.

Our main tester wore this while commuting to work (approximately a one-mile walk) and throughout several eight hour days on her feet. After tests with numerous other boots in similar conditions, this proved to be one of the most comfortable because of the shaft's flexibility. Weighing in at about 1.5 lbs, this was one of the lightest boots tested! It's also incredibly breathable! While some winter boots like the Kamik Momentum keep warmth and perspiration inside, the Shellista vents well to keep feet cozy and comfortable. As a result of all these combined comfort features, we'd highly recommend buying this boot to wear all day, inside and out.

If you're looking for a winter boot that offers a cozier experience, we like the faux fur options like the Sorel Joan of Arctic and Sorel Tofino II. Both have faux fur that lines the entire shaft of the boot with a comfortable footbed. The Sorel Tofino II features a more specific fit, similar to the North Face while the Sorel Joan of Arctic is bulkier and heavier. Both boots are heavier than the Shellista.

Ease of Use


Scoring a five out of ten, this boot is not the easiest to take on and off. While the inner lining is slippery and smooth, this boot lacks a whole lot of volume in the shaft. In addition, the lacing system requires you to tighten the entire shaft manually, unlike other one-pull options out there. We found ourselves taking a lot of time to put it on and off. That said, we did like that we could wear it above tights and underneath pants comfortably. This model is comfortable for all-day use and doesn't feel too bulky.


One wish we had for the design of this boot is a one-pull lacing system like the Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat winter boot. In addition, a wider volume in the top of the boot, like the Kamik Momentum would help to facilitate easier use across the board. If you're in the market for a boot that you can just simply slip on and off with minimal lacing, be sure to check out Pac boot options like the Sorels. Other wear-around town options, like the super cute Keen Elsa, prove to be super easy to slip on and lace up with just one pull.

This boot does not have a one-pull tightening action. As a result  it's important to manually tighten the boot for a precise fit.
This boot does not have a one-pull tightening action. As a result, it's important to manually tighten the boot for a precise fit.

Traction


Scoring a six out of ten, the Shellista is ideal for snowy commutes and light winter hiking. Its temperature-sensitive lugs stick to wet rocks and packed snow. The lugs are multi-directional with a variety of shapes and sizes, ultimately increasing surface area to keep your feet on the ground. We wore these boots while hiking over snow-packed trails and while running snowy hills. During these field-based tests, this boot provided a great level of traction that extends its versatility to light hiking. In addition to the great outsole, the rigid shaft and precise fit also help to grip some of the slipperier surfaces out there.


While this boot features a decent traction pattern, it's not head and shoulders above the competition by any means. In fact, it does a great job as a wear-around town or light hiking winter boot. Though when it comes to situations where traction on steep snow-packed surfaces is a necessity, a winter hiking boot is a better bet. Options like our Editors' Choice winner, the Keen Durand Polar and the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III feature a bomber lug design that grips the steepest of surfaces. Or, if you prefer a Pac boot, the Sorel Caribou, our workhorse Top Pick, is a wonderful option hosting temperature-sensitive rounded traction.

The traction pattern is cute and varied.
The traction pattern is cute and varied.

No boot did well on ice. If you're in need of something that's guaranteed to stick, consider purchasing a pair of Yaktrax to ensure you stay on your feet when the streets ice over.

Style


Scoring high in our style and fit metric, the Shellista II received numerous compliments on the street. As a result, it earns an eight out of ten in this metric. Its cute design is streamlined and flawless, fitting well overtop a pair of skinny jeans or underneath a flared pant leg. The upper knitted cuff gives it a cozy look, while the color combinations are complementary and cute. It features a full lace-up design with a wing-tip outsole.


While this is a cute boot, the competition was stiff in this category. Many of our testers gravitated towards the super cute faux-fur Sorel Tofino II. This faux-fur option isn't as tall as the Shellista but features a patterned waterproof upper and a sleek, feminine toe box. our Top Pick for Style, the Ugg Cecile had our testers swooning over the lower cut and its leather construct. This boot received the most compliments, and it looks good with a nice pair of jeans or on its own. That said, we think the Shellista is a perfect go-to for wearing around town during the day, but we wouldn't recommend it for any formal dinner dates.

The Shellista II Mid is super cute and works well with leggings or under a pair of jeans.
The Shellista II Mid is super cute and works well with leggings or under a pair of jeans.

Best Application


As the most versatile boot we tested this winter, we happily recommend it for your outdoor endeavors this winter. Its durable outsole and great tractions make it an optional light hiker, while its stylish look and sleek design make it perfect to wear around town. If you're in the market for a boot that is more suited for winter hiking, check out the Keen Durand Polar or The North Face Chilkat III. If you're in need of a boot that will do better all day outside in below freezing temperatures, check out our Top Pick for Severe Weather, the Sorel Joan of Arctic or the Sorel Caribou.

Take a load off  make a snow angel  take a hike  do whatever it is you love to do in the winter. The North Face Shellista II Mid will keep you warm and cozy throughout the winter.
Take a load off, make a snow angel, take a hike, do whatever it is you love to do in the winter. The North Face Shellista II Mid will keep you warm and cozy throughout the winter.

Value


This model offers one of the best values in this review. Not only is it one of the least expensive boots in our fleet, but it's chalked full of features. For a low sticker price of just $140 (and on sale for less online), this boot offers immense versatility and performance. If you're on the hunt for a boot that is a little more affordable, but you're willing to sacrifice style, check out the Kamik Momentum (our Best Buy winner) for just $90.

Conclusion


Conquer gnarly winter conditions with this Editors' Choice Winner! This mid-calf boot provides protection from the elements without sacrificing style. If you're looking for the best around-town option that you can wear all day, inside or out, this cute weather warrior will keep your feet (and fashion-sense) happy.

This Editors' Choice award winner is cute and stylish. Wear it around town or to work all day long.
This Editors' Choice award winner is cute and stylish. Wear it around town or to work all day long.

Amber King

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: February 14, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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