This is the warmest boot we tested. The Baffin Arctic, with its thick liner, generous fit, and high cuff, easily crushed the field in insulating value. The Editors' Choice winning Bogs Classic Ultra Mid is more versatile, and the other Top Pick winner, the Lowa Oslo GTX is far more suitable for walking extended distances. If you will be standing around in sub-zero conditions, however, you will do no better than the Baffin Arctic.
Baffin Arctic Men Review
Cons: Clunky for walking
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Baffin Arctic is a serious boot for serious conditions. If you will be standing around in the coldest of conditions, check out the Arctic for keeping your toes warm and safe.
Fit and Comfort
As one tester put it, the Arctic boots "are like sofas for your feet". Just like with a couch firmly affixed to your bum, wearing these Baffin boots will not encourage vigorous activity, but you will be very comfortable. The lining is luxuriously soft with a smooth inner fabric. The soft uppers are almost like old-fashioned moon boots (incidentally, a style that has gained renewed traction among women's winter footwear, but not for men…). Additionally, the Arctic boots don't feel heavy on your feet. With half of our tested boots heavier and half lighter, but none warmer, the Arctic model brings an impressive weight-to-warmth ratio. This lightweight construction means that the bulky stature is less oppressive than it might otherwise be.
Hands-down, these are the warmest boots in our test. Only its close cousin, the Baffin Maple approaches the same insulating value. As compared to the Maple, however, the Arctic is far more purpose built. While the Maple strikes a strange design compromise with bulky insulation and a low cuff height, the Arctic pulls no such punches. The thick insulation is packed into a high-topped construction to bridge the gap between shoe and pant. This gap would otherwise let in water, snow, and cold. If a boot is to keep feet warm, it must keep them dry and keep out drafts. Also, the boot must integrate well with the wearer's pants. In the case of the Arctic, in order to insulate ankles and lower calves while still going on easily, the upper must be quite bulky. This means that only the most loose-fitting pants will fit over the boot cuff. Most will wear their standard pants inside the cuff of the Arctic boot. In this configuration, the cuff of the Baffin Arctic is equipped with a drawstring to seal out drafts. In short, the whole construction is built to optimize warmth.
Just like most of the boots we tested, the Baffin Arctic never let water in through the construction. Modern materials and construction, especially in insulated footwear, makes for a pretty waterproof package. With extended submersion, the fabric uppers could conceivably leak. In the fifteen to twenty minutes we spent testing submerged in slushy puddles, the Arctic boots never leaked. The only breach possibility is over the top, but with by far the highest upper cuff of all the boots we tested, you can wear the Arctic boots in the deepest snow and water without moisture penetration. In our test, only the Bogs Classic High Winter Boot approached the water resistance of the Arctic. In the case of the Bogs, we have a little more confidence in the waterproofness. The Bogs achieves this protection with a high cuff and virtually seamless neoprene construction. The Arctic, while it never failed to keep the water out, leaves us a little concerned for a breach at the junction of fabric and rubber.
Both Baffin brand boots have the same deeply lugged sole. In soft snow, nothing gripped better in our review. Lower profile lugged soles, like on our other Top Pick winner, the Lowa Oslo GTX, don't grip soft snow as well as the Baffin shoes do. On ice, all of the boots we tested grip with roughly similar tenacity. Also, and this is the best way to ensure traction on ice, all of the boots we tested can be equipped with aftermarket metal traction aids. That being said, we did experience subtle differences in icy terrain grip. On wet, relatively warm ice, and on cold, dry water ice, some products performed slightly better than others. Notably, our Editors' Choice Bogs Ultra Mid performed near the top of the heap, with the soft rubber of the Baffin products not far behind.
Ease of Use
The tall cuff slightly compromises the ease of entry, but the generous girth and soft construction of that cuff negates much ill effect. It would do the consumer well to consider these boots little more than slip-ons. While there is a short section of lacing just where the instep and shin meet, it does little to secure the foot. These boots are not made for extended walking. You can cinch them down, and the laces secure with a spring loaded cord lock rather than requiring a traditional knot, but the tightening effect is reduced by the thickness of the insulation. The upper edge of the cuff is also equipped with a laced drawstring to seal out snow and drafts. This cord operates smoothly and effectively. Again, in the end, these boots are little more than slip on parkas for your feet. Like you will not be able to do yoga very well while wearing a parka, you won't do very much locomotion in the Baffin Arctic.
These are not stylish boots. The Arctic model is designed almost purely for function. With a neutral black color scheme, however, the boots kind of disappear on the wearer's feet. Don't think too much about how they look; these are purpose-built cold weather gear. Like a pick-up truck, the functionality is the aesthetics. When a tool like this is so well suited to its function, the design and appeal is clear. While many will look and see clunky, black moon boots, others will see the practicality as its own art.
These are perfect boots for riding a snowmobile or working outside on a construction site. If you are looking for something for walking greater distances, consider the Lowa Oslo GTX. The Lowa is our other Top Pick winner, selected for its specific suitability in extended hiking applications.
Baffin's Arctic boot is on the more expensive side of our test spectrum. If you need absolute insulating value, you won't mind the greater price. The function is well worth the additional investment. If you won't ever max out your feet's exposure to cold conditions, our Best Buy winner, the Kamik NationPlus, will serve you just fine.
We didn't hesitate to grant the Top Pick award for ultra-cold protection to the Baffin Arctic. This is hands-down the warmest boot in our test, and perhaps the most specialized. If you need this boot, you probably already know the value of well-built equipment. Any true craftsman in his field appreciates the right tool for the job. In truly cold conditions, where the practitioner is exposed for a great deal of time and is largely sedentary, the Baffin Arctic is the right tool for that job.
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: February 24, 2015
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