The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

The North Face Shellista II Mid Review

This super versatile Editors' Choice award winner is perfect for light hiking or running errands around town.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $140 List | $139.95 at MooseJaw
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Cute, versatile, relatively warm, decent traction
Cons:  Not super water-resistant
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 14, 2018
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 12
  • Warmth - 20% 6
  • Weather Protection - 20% 7
  • Comfort & Fit - 20% 9
  • Ease of Use - 15% 5
  • Traction - 15% 6
  • Style - 10% 10

The Skinny

Taking home the Editors' Choice award for the third 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, 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. 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 over 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. We also wish it was a little easier to lace. Overall though, if you're looking for a boot for moderate winter weather that boasts a cute style, the North Face Shellista II Mid just might be what you've been searching for.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

As our Editors' Choice winner for the third year in a row, The North Face Shellista II is a versatile, cute, and comfortable winter boot. It will keep you protected from the elements, and keep you looking stylish, 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 third year in a row, The North Face Shellista II Mid still provides decent warmth in the negative digits. This boot features an 11-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 around town boots, which protects against cold underfoot.

We were happy to have it when the Polar Vortex' hit Ridgway, CO, a few seasons ago, bringing temperatures down to the double negative digits for a full week. 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 hours.


That said, it's not the warmest boot out there as heat escapes from the thinner shaft material (even though it is lined). In our temperature test, this boot lost almost 25 degrees over the course of 20 minutes! Nonetheless, this boot works well when we kept moving.

If warmth is your number one priority, check out the Sorel Joan of Arctic which 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. Overall, we recommend this boot 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 Joan of Arctic or 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


The Shellista is waterproof and snow resistant up to its knit topper, which is neither. During our leak depth tests, water flooded into the lowest knit point at the back of the shoe, over four inches below the top of the boot. This gives it a puddle depth of 6-inches and makes it much less weather protective in comparison to the Sorel Tofino II or the Sorel Caribou. Still, with a waterproof membrane and nubuck leather shaft, this boot provides decent protection in snow drifts up to eleven inches.


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 keep our feet as dry as the Oboz Bridger boot.

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 out of your boot when you step in deeper snowbanks, it didn't score as high as competitors with faux fur. 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. If you just plan on using it for everyday errands, your feet will be plenty 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


The Shellista II is one of the top performing boots for comfort and fit. The shaft and interior of the boot are lined with furry insulation all the way to the footbed. Injection molded, this footbed is firm and feels like stepping onto a memory foam mattress. They kept our feet comfortable while 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.


This boot fits true to size. It features a wide toe box that is high volume, providing wiggle room to generate heat on colder days. We appreciate that the boot is large enough to accommodate thicker socks. The heel is nicely fitted, which means it does not slip out on hiking trails. This boot fits those with narrow and medium feet well.

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 1.25 lbs, this was one of the lightest boots tested! It's also incredibly breathable! While some winter boots like the Sorel Caribou keep perspiration inside, the Shellista vents well to keep feet dry and comfortable. As a result of all these features, we highly recommend buying this boot to wear all day, inside and out.

If you're looking for a winter boot that offers a warmer, 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


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. Also, the lacing system requires you to tighten and loosen the laces manually. 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.


This boot would be so much better with a one-pull lacing system like the Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat. 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


The Shellista II has a diversity of lugs that vary in shape and size, are multi-directional, sticky, and temperature sensitive. This provides good grip over rocks, and uneven surfaces and the temperature-sensitive lugs stick to wet rocks and packed snow. This makes the Shellista ideal for snowy commutes and light winter hiking.

The multi-directional and varied lugs ultimately increase 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 facilitate grip.


While this boot features a decent traction pattern, but it's only about average for the testing field. It does a great job as a wear-around town or light hiking winter boot. 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 Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated and the Columbia Bugaboot IV feature a bomber lug design that grips the steepest of surfaces.

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 metric, the Shellista II received numerous compliments on the street. As a result, it earns high marks 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 is 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. 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 traction make it an optional light hiker, while its stylish looks 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 Oboz Bridger Insulated. 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 the review. Not only is it one of the least expensive boots in our fleet, but it's chock-full of features. For a low sticker price of just $140, this boot offers immense versatility and performance. If you're on the hunt for a boot that is a little more affordable, and you're willing to sacrifice style, check out the Columbia Ice Maiden II (our Best Buy winner) for just $80.

Conclusion


Conquer gnarly winter conditions with this Editors' Choice Winner! This mid-calf boot protects from the elements with a unique 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