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The North Face Shellista III Tall Review

This is a really comfortable, waterproof, and protective boot that's ready for the most wintery days.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $160 List | $159.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, waterproof, protective, warm
Cons:  Style is questionable, not as versatile as a shorter boot
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Laurel Hunter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 30, 2019
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Warmth - 20% 7
  • Weather Protection - 20% 8
  • Comfort & Fit - 20% 10
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Traction - 15% 6
  • Style - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Our top pick for comfort, the Shellista III Tall is just a little toastier, a little roomier, and a little cozier than the other boots we tested. It might be a little less versatile, but when the mercury drops, these boots have you protected. With fabrics and textures galore, our first look at the Shellista III Tall boot gave us pause, but it quickly impressed us with its weather protection and overall warmth. We do not love its style, but over and over again it proved to be an incredibly comfortable boot that we just didn't want to take off. Whether we were walking the dog, hanging out around town, commuting to work, or playing in the snow, this boot has just enough support, room in the toes, flex in the fabric and general coziness to wear all day in wet and cold winter conditions.

Updated Version Available

The North Face released the Shellista IV. Details and comparison below.

September 2019


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Pros Comfortable, waterproof, protective, warmComfortable, great traction, waterproof, warm, not bad lookingCute, versatile, relatively warm, decent tractionWarm, wider-forefoot, waterproof, fantastic traction, stability and supportWarm, weather-proof, faux-fur collar, tall shaft height, stylish
Cons Style is questionable, not as versatile as a shorter bootShort in the backNot super water-resistantAggressive and techy look, not cozy, less arch supportPoor traction, heavy, less precise fit
Bottom Line This is a really comfortable, waterproof, and protective boot that's ready for the most wintery days.The most comfortable winter boot we tested, and it has burly traction, making it perfect for winter backcountry adventures.This super versatile Editors' Choice award winner is perfect for light hiking or running errands around town.A great winter hiker, perfect for slippery trails and long days.This Top Pick for Severe Weather is perfect for the coldest and nastiest weather.
Rating Categories Shellista III Tall Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Wa... Shellista II Mid Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat Sorel Joan of Arctic
Warmth (20%)
10
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7
10
0
9
10
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6
10
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6
10
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8
Weather Protection (20%)
10
0
8
10
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7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
10
Comfort & Fit (20%)
10
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10
10
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10
10
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9
10
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7
10
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4
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
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6
10
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7
10
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5
10
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8
10
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8
Traction (15%)
10
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6
10
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8
10
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6
10
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9
10
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4
Style (10%)
10
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7
10
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6
10
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10
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3
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8
Specs Shellista III Tall Oboz Bridger 7"... Shellista II Mid Bugaboot Plus IV... Sorel Joan of Arctic
Maximum puddle depth before major leaking 11 inches 6 inches 6.75 inches 6 inches 10 inches
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Measured Weight (ounces, one boot, size nine) 1 lb. 5 ounces 1 lb. 3.5 oz (size 7) 1 lb. 5.90 ounces 1 lb. 3.75 oz (size 7) 1 lb. 15.95 ounces
Appropriate Activity Around town, light hiking, dog walks, chores Hiking, snowshoeing Around town, chores, light hiking Hiking, snowshoeing
Fit Details True to size True to size True to size True to size True to size
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft, Size 7) 14 inches 7 inches 11 inches 7.5 inches 13.5 inches
Lining/Insulation 200g Primaloft Silver 200 gram 3M™ Thinsulate™ insulation 200g PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco Omni-Heat reflective lining 6 mm recycled felt
Removable Liner? No No No No Yes
Footbed Injection-molded waterproof TPR shell O FIT Insole™ Thermal Injection-molded waterproof TPR shell Techlite EVA 2.5mm bonded felt frost plug
Upper Material Molded nylon, suede and nubuck leather Waterproof nubuck leather Waterproof, BLC-compliant nubuck leather upper, knit collar Leather, nylon Waterproof suede leather with faux fur cuff
Toe Box Rubber Molded rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber
Outsole WinterGrip sole with IcePick temperature sensitive lugs Granite Peak winterized rubber Winter Grip rubber outsole with IcePick temperature-sensitive lugs. Michelin winter compound rubber Waterproof vulcanized rubber
Company-claimed cold-weather rating n/a n/a n/a -25 -25
Animal products used? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 11 6 - 11 5 - 11 5 - 12 5 - 12

Our Analysis and Test Results

Shellista IV vs. Shellista III


The latest version of the Shellista is the Shellista IV. These versions aren't too different in technologies; they still utilize a lot of the same materials and waterproofing, and the insulation is similar (200g Primaloft Eco on the new boot vs. 200g Primaloft Silver Eco on the Shellista III). The main differences seem to lie in the styling. There is more leather on the upper of the Shellista IV than the III, and the IV doesn't have the fur detailing at the top. Compare the new boot (left, below) to the version we tested with the funky textures (right).


We're linking to this classier new version above, but the review to follow still tells our experience with the previous boot. However, we expect them to perform similarly, so if you like the styling of the new boot better, check them out!

Hands-On Review of the Shellista III


The Shellista III is 14-inches tall, waterproof, and cozy. It has a questionable style, but we loved it for big drifts and wet days. It's an incredibly comfortable boot for long days in the cold.

The The North Face Shellista III Tall is cozy  warm  and supportive making it our Top Pick for comfort!
The The North Face Shellista III Tall is cozy, warm, and supportive making it our Top Pick for comfort!

Warmth


The Shellista III has 200 grams of PrimaLoft insulation and is lined with super cozy faux fur and microfleece. It only offered an average performance in our ice bath temperature test, losing 21.5-degrees in 20 minutes. (The Blundstone Thermal boots only lost 12.3-degrees in the same time period) But in the field, the Shellista's height adds warming power, and we were happy to stand around in the cold for long periods of time. The roomy toe box lets warm air to hang out by our toes and the shaft cinches tightly to keep warm air from escaping. The furry collar also keeps the snow and weather out.


This boot is not supremely breathable, so we don't recommend it for vigorous activity in temperatures above freezing. If you're commuting, walking around in town or casually on the trail, especially when the weather is wet or blustery, the Shellista Tall are warm and toasty. For the same casual uses in very cold weather, the only thing better would be the Sorel Joan of Arctic or the Caribou for even more warmth.

A very soft and cozy collar won many testers over to the benefits of faux-fur.
A very soft and cozy collar won many testers over to the benefits of faux-fur.

Weather Protection


For wet winters and deep puddles, the Shellista III is a knock-out. In our water depth tests, we wore this boot into almost a foot of frigid water before they leaked at all and that weakness was at the tongue gusset. We saw no signs of leakage in our waterproofness tests, despite the number of seams these boots have. We would happily wear these boots to go splashing around in puddles.


The sheer height of the boot adds even more protection from the elements. The faux-fur collar helps to keep snow from getting inside when you tromp through tall drifts or get caught in a flurry. They aren't as hardcore as the Sorel Caribou or Joan of Arc, but these boots are incredibly protective for casual wear.

Walking into the lake in the Shellista III Tall boot and keeping dry!
Walking into the lake in the Shellista III Tall boot and keeping dry!

Comfort & Fit


We all looked forward to slipping our feet into the Shellista III. The inside is incredibly soft, and the faux-fur around the collar is some of the silkiest in the test. The footbed is soft and comfortable, if not overly supportive. We had no trouble wearing these boots all day.

The Shellista III is just slightly roomier in the toe box than it's shorter version, the Shellista II Mid. We enjoyed having a more room for a thicker sock. Otherwise, this tall boot fits true to size and is an excellent option for medium width feet or narrow feet with a thicker sock. Some boots sacrifice a precision fit around the ankles for a boot that is easy to slip on and off, but both the Shellista II and III, have foam bumpers on either side of the ankle. These provide extra protection and warmth and prevent heel slippage. This feature boosts the versatility of the Shellista III, making it comfortable enough for short hikes.


The Shellista III is darn comfortable for everyday wear, light hiking, chores, and pretty much anything you can think of doing in cold weather. If your winter plans include serious hiking on technical trails, [Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof | our Editors' Choice for winter hiking, the Oboz Insulated Bridger] offers up just as much comfort with more support and better traction.

We walked the dogs  we tramped around the ski resort  we ran errands  we stood in lines... and our feet never complained. That's why the Shellista III is our top pick for comfort!
We walked the dogs, we tramped around the ski resort, we ran errands, we stood in lines... and our feet never complained. That's why the Shellista III is our top pick for comfort!

Some tall boots can be a challenge to fit for ladies with robust and muscular calves. However, our athletic testers had no trouble getting these to fit, and they appreciated the extra warmth and protection.

Ease of Use


Our testers loved the easy-pull lacing system on the Shellista Tall, especially compared with the Shellista Mid, which has more lace holes despite being two inches shorter. The laces slide easily through the leather tabs for a quick boot-up-and-go. A precision fit does require a bit more tweaking of the laces, especially around the ankles.


Our feet slid easily into the Shellista III's micro-fleece lined shaft, and the boot opens up nice and wide for easy entry. Taking them off requires un-lacing, but otherwise, these boots kick off without much effort. Because of the height and the faux-fur collar, these boots do not work well under pants. They work best with tights or skinny jeans.

If getting boots on and off quickly is of utmost importance, there is nothing easier than a boot with no laces. The Blundstone Thermal provides a fraction of the coverage but is just a quick tug away from the elements.

Super easy and fast lacing system on the Shellista III.
Super easy and fast lacing system on the Shellista III.

Traction


Like the Shellista II, the Shellista III utilizes The North Face's Winter Grip rubber sole to provide traction as you summit tall drifts, traverse slippery sidewalks, and tackle wet roots and logs on the morning dog walk. The lugs are identical in both boots, providing grip in soft and packed snow.

This boot was an average performer in our traction tests, but it performs well in sugary snow and basically any condition that is not bare ice.


The very best boot for traction that we tested was the [Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat - Women's | very functional if style-challenged Columbia Bugaboot], a winter hiking boot that sticks like glue.

Sticky rubber and cleverly shaped lugs combine for decent traction.
Sticky rubber and cleverly shaped lugs combine for decent traction.

Style


Combining rubber, suede, leather, molded nylon, and faux-fur, the Shellista III's style is not for minimalists. It's a textural party that may or may not fit your style. The North Face calls the upper "tech-inspired," but we just found it visually confusing. Maybe those puffy diamonds are holding warm air for an extra insulation boost? Regardless, these boots did gather some compliments on the street, and we all agreed that the subtle color scheme and low-key faux-fur collar pull it together into a medium-cute boot.


Tall boots are almost as controversial as faux-fur with our testers. They can definitely impact your style, and generally don't work well under pants, making them less versatile. However, no one can deny the extra protection they provide. For a more classic tall-boot look that still has flair, check out the Sorel Tofino, which was a favorite with our testers.

Testers did not agree on the stylishness of the Shellista III but we were all happy to wear it  even standing in a frigid alpine lake.
Testers did not agree on the stylishness of the Shellista III but we were all happy to wear it, even standing in a frigid alpine lake.

Value


For this boot's performance, we feel its price tag is a great value, especially if you need a whole lot of protection from wet weather and snow. These boots are incredibly comfortable, waterproof, warm and have decent traction. Their style might be a limiting factor, their height makes them less versatile, and they aren't the best for super cold temperatures. But for sloppy, slushy, puddly winters these boots will keep your feet very happy.

Conclusion


If a tall boot is your jam, the Shellista III is a super protective and warm boot that will keep you outside all winter long. Our testers all love the flex of the fabric, the roomy toe box, and the cozy lining. We recommend it for messy days, snowy days, for standing around in the cold, or for a night out on the town.


Laurel Hunter