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Hands-on Gear Review
UGG Adirondack II Review
Cons: Expensive, techy looking
Bottom line: This competitor is the epitome of comfort, featuring a sheep lined interior that makes you feel like you're walking on cloud nine.
An extremely comfortable and cozy winter boot, the UGG Adirondack II stands out for its unique features and sheepskin liner. This boot offers stellar all-around performance: it's cute enough to wear out to happy hour, but lightweight and comfortable enough to wear on light winter hikes. Our favorite thing about this boot is its plush shearling insulation. This contender is also designed with a cuffable suede shaft: roll it down to expose a fluffy sheepskin cuff or roll it up for extra protection against the elements. We liked the built-in versatility that this feature offered, as well as the unique style that it adds.
Although some women loved the look of these boots and would definitely wear them with casual outfits, others thought they were decidedly less stylish. If you like the look of these full-grain leather boots and are looking for high-quality footwear that will perform outdoors, then the Adirondack II may be just what you're looking for. At $225, it is a bit of an investment — in fact, it is significantly more than most of its competitors — but we predict that it will meet your winter boot needs for years to come. And if your only hang-up is the mid-height shaft, UGG also sells a Tall version intended for temps as low as -20 °C.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Winter Boots For Women of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
At first, we loved the Adirondack II by Ugg for its cozy sheepskin lining and comfortable footbed. However, due to its lugless outsole, it doesn't provide the best traction on ice. Its Vibram make up proved to stick to rocks and sticky snow. A little more rugged looking than boots like the Sorel Tofino II, the Adirondack II features many comfort-related features that will leave your feet happy when the mercury plummets.
These boots claim to be rated to -4 degrees F. In our testing, we encountered these temperatures and found them to be quite warm, even when the mercury plummeted. However, that was when we were moving. Standing still was a different experience.
This boot is lined with 17 millimeters of table grade sheepskin, which did a decent job of keeping our toes warm and cozy. In our final warmth tests, we stood still for seven minutes in a cold icy slush bath. After comparing every piece, we decided to give the Adirondack II a seven out of ten in our warmth metric. We found that the Vibram sole provided plenty of insulation along the bottom of the boot, but we noticed that cold slowly started permeating the toe box. If you want a boot that offers a little more warmth, but a little less comfort, consider the Sorel Joan of Arctic or Kamik Momentum.
Although this product was not the warmest boot that we tested, it's important to remember that it was also one of the shortest ones in the review. Even with its cuff rolled up, this model was shorter than many of its competitors, which makes a surprising difference in calf and foot warmth. That said, when we started moving in the Adirondack II, even in single digit temperatures, our feet quickly warmed up. This model is also fairly breathable, which keeps your feet from sweating profusely and then getting cold from the moisture. This was especially noticeable in comparison to products like the Northside Kathmandu, whose rubber toe box left our feet super swampy and slimy.
With its full-grain leather upper and waterproof rubber outsole, this boot is ready to take on rain, snow, and slush in style. This pair of Uggs will keep your feet dry in puddles up to three inches deep and its rolled down cuff does a great job of keeping out snow, leaving your toes cozy and comfortable.
Unlike other boots that leaked where the tongue and the boot met, this contender actually leaked at the base of the laces. When performing our slush test (where we marched in place for a few minutes), we weren't impressed to learn that water flowed inwards after just one minute of marching. We were left with wet feet - thank goodness we did this on our deck and not in the backcountry. As a result, we wouldn't recommend this boot for fording a creek or hiking through slush for too long. If you are in the market for a boot that has a little more weather protection, check out the Sorel Tofino II, Sorel Joan of Arctic, or Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry.
When you wear this model with the cuff rolled up, it provides extra protection from deep snow on the backs and sides; however, the tongue doesn't come up flush with the top of the rolled-up cuff, so there is a little gap in the front where deeper snow could potentially get you wet. Finally, this boot is fitted with a mudguard around the front of the toes and at the heel that provides a little more durability from scuffs and scraps.
Over time, you may need to maintain the waterproofing of these leather boots. We would recommend using Nikwax's Conditioner for Leather to help restore the shine and richness of the leather, as well as its weather-resistant qualities. We would also recommend hitting the seams, especially those out of sight underneath the laces with Sno-Seal or Nikwax's Waterproofing Wax for Leather. Be cautious about using these products on the visible parts of your boot, however, since they can alter the appearance of the leather.
Comfort & Coziness
When we slipped into this boot for the first time, we felt as though we were putting our foot into a cloud shoe if clouds were made of super plush, fluffy sheepskin. Unlike many of the boots in this review that have faux fur cuffs that reach an inch or two down into the boot, the sheepskin lining on the Adirondack II continues throughout the entire shoe. This is also quite similar to the Northside Kathmandu, except the fur in this Kathmandu isn't nearly the same quality, nor is it as cozy. UGG has even fitted the Adirondack II with a removable insole that is coated in sheepskin. Although we noticed that the sheepskin around the insole started to become a little compressed through our testing process, it still feels super cozy against the foot (with or without socks!) and continues to provide excellent warmth.
Not only is the lining of this boot amazingly touchable, the footbed is comfortable and supportive. The Adirondack II doesn't provide quite as much ankle support as the Vasque Pow Pow II or The North Face Shellista (our Editors' Choice winner) but it provides significantly more support than boots like the Kamik Momentum. As we mentioned above, this boot is also relatively breathable. This not only plays a role in warmth but also in comfort, as slimy, sweaty feet are quite uncomfortable. Finally, we found this boot to be cozy whether we wore it with the cuff rolled up or down.
We also wanted to take a moment here to discuss UGG Australia's approach to animal ethics. Many of the boots in this review have some type of leather, whether it is full-grain leather, suede, or nubuck; however, the UGG Australia Adirondack II is the only piece that uses leather and sheepskin. Some consumers and animal rights activists are careful not to purchase products that contain animal byproducts like leather. If that is the case for you, we would like to direct you to boots like the Kamik Momentum and Sorel Tofino II (constructed with synthetic upper textiles). On the other hand, some of us don't mind purchasing leather products, though we may get a little hesitant when manufacturers start talking about sheepskin.
If you feel this way, we've got you covered. We did some research and found out that UGG is owned by Deckers Outdoor Corporation. This company does not raise sheep itself but states that it is committed to ethically sourcing sheepskin solely from farmers and organizations that are raising the animals for their meat. UGG states that it only believes in using this material when it is a by-product of the meat industry and never purchases sheepskin from organizations that raise animals solely for their pelts. Additionally, UGG has openly released statements denouncing the inhumane practice of mulesing. We really appreciate UGG's commitment to animal ethics and the transparency that Deckers demonstrates by posting its policies on its website.
UGG Australia fitted the Adirondack II with a Vibram sole for extra traction and grip. This outsole has horizontal treads that are quite shallow, providing little to no traction in super slippery conditions. In comparison to other boots, it performed second to last (before the Northside Kathmandu) in the traction category. While hiking down a few icy, snow-packed roads, we noticed our feet slipping and sliding.
On our traction hill tests, it was constantly slipping out from under us while we sprinted uphill over grass and snow. Surfaces that normal running shoes could easily grip to were ungraspable by this boot. That said, we did like the Vibram rubber outsole. Even though it doesn't stick well to icy-snowy streets, it does do well on rocky surfaces and sidewalks. It also does a good job on regular snow (without ice). On icy days we found ourselves reaching for boots like the Kamik Momentum and Vasque Pow Pow II Ultradry, which feature deeper, grippier lugs.
Style & Fit
In our social media poll, the Adirondack II scored fairly low in the style category. This contender is definitely a more techy looking boot, but we like to think of it as "rugged-chic." Its full-grain leather toe box and upper are rich and buttery. While one of our testers constantly wore this boot with the sheepskin cuff rolled down, another tester almost exclusively wore it rolled up. We liked this versatile feature not only from a practicality perspective but also from a style perspective. The convertible cuff gives you more options to switch things up. The one thing that we didn't love about wearing the cuff rolled up was that the tongue isn't flush with the top lip of the boot, which doesn't offer a most natural look.
The fit of this boot is also quite nice, fitting both wide and narrow footed alike. This is largely attributed to the wide-set lace eyelets that allow you to choose whether to pull the boot together quite tightly or leave it a bit more loose-fitting. Our testers found that this boot was true to fit; if you plan on wearing super thick socks, ordering a half size larger will do you a good service.
Ease to Take On & Off
Overall, these boots were easy to pull on and kick off. The continuous sheepskin lining almost made the interior feel slick, allowing them to slip on and off smoothly. Our only caveat was that we had a hard time putting the boots one without using our hands. Because the upper is fairly floppy, and not nearly as rigid as the Sorel Tofino II, or our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Shellista, we had to use our hands to pull it on. We did like how the lacing system was liquidsmooth - almost functioning completely as a one-pull system (even though it's not). The boots are also fitted with a back pull tab to help ease the process.
We liked the UGG Adirondack II for everything from light hiking to around town errands. They were also great for exploring the outdoors or shoveling the sidewalk in less than four or five inches of snow (with the cuffs rolled up). Although they weren't the warmest and didn't provide the best traction on icy-snow packed roads, they will keep you fairly warm - whether you are building a snowman or shopping around town.
One of the most expensive models in our review, the Adirondack II rings up at $225, which is around $85 more than our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Shellista, and over $130 more than our Best Buy Award winner, the Kamik Momentum. The first thing to consider when deciding whether or not to purchase this winter boot is whether or not you like its "rugged-chic" look. We think the leather on this boot is beautifully crafted and we loved the fluffy roll-down cuff, but this look does not suit everyone.
If this boot is your style and you are seeking a piece that will meet needs that vary from light hiking to outdoor winter chores and errands around town, then these boots are absolutely worth the money, especially because you might not want to ever want to take them off. Seriously. After trying out the Adirondack II, our testers now want sheepskin lining in all their footwear. Moreover, we have known friends and family to get years and years of use out of their UGG boots.
If you are looking more for a hiking specific winter boot and don't mind a rugged look, than the Vasque Pow Pow II is a great deal at only $150.
This ultra-plush boot may just change your whole perspective on winter. With its beautiful leather upper and touchable sheepskin lining, the Adirondack II is a treat to wear. Although this model is not ideal for women who live in areas that get feet upon feet of snow, it can handle drifts up to eight inches deep and puddles up to three inches deep. Whether you opt to leave the cuff rolled down or decide to roll it up to increase warmth and snow protection, this boot will leave you feeling glad that winter has finally arrived.
— Amber King
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