Blundstone Thermal 566 Review
Cons: Low flood height, limited usefulness for hiking
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Our Analysis and Test Results
There are many makers of slip-on style boots, but few rise to the top to provide the kind of fit and comfort we expect, especially sans laces. The Blundstone 566 sets the bar high with ultra-comfortable, durable leather, good looks, and proven performance. If you love the idea of staying warm and dry while also looking impeccably stylish, this may be your new favorite boot.
By using Thinsulate insulation in the upper of the Thermal 566, these Blundstone boots can keep the warmth generated by the foot trapped inside. With a medium weight merino wool hiking sock, we experienced no cold foot issues, even when standing around in the snow splitting wood or walking to the bus stop to get to the ski area.
The sheepskin footbed of this boot is not only delightfully comfortable, but it also provides additional insulation between the TPU outsole and your foot. The full leather outer is not made of breathable synthetic fibers, so it does not breathe very well, causing sweaty feet in milder (over 40 degrees F) temperatures. If you love the look of this boot but live in a milder climate, you may want to consider getting a non-thermal version.
The waterproof leather upper on the Thermal 566 sheds snow, slush, and rainwater with ease, and we found no leaking through the leather or along the seam which joins the sole. The leather does require long-term maintenance in the form of oiling or waxing to maintain this level of water resistance, as is typical for leather boots.
For sloshing through icy puddles, these Blundstone boots performed well, though they have a low flood height of just over 3 inches. The low depth to which they can be submerged (before water leaks into the boot) is the lowest in our review. This means they are less useful should you encounter deep puddles often. However, if you don't tend to have to navigate terrain like this, it shouldn't be much of an issue. These boots are warm and water-resistance up to that 3 inches, so if you see a deep puddle or icy stream, plan to find a path around it.
Fit and Comfort
Ahh, slipping our feet into the soft embrace of the sheepskin-lined Thermal 566 makes us think of curling up in front of the fire while a winter storm rages outside. These boots received top marks for their comfort, thanks to a lush footbed and soft elastic ankle support. These features allow the feet to easily articulate, and the full-grain leather upper has been treated and conditioned so that it is soft and pliable when walking.
As a slip-on, this boot has no laces, which means a proper fit is quite important. We achieved an excellent fit with a variety of different socks, though nothing as secure as a lace-up boot, especially for longer walks. If you're planning to order online, we recommend reading through all the sizing info provide on Blundstone's FAQ page.
Ease of Use
The Thermal 566 boot was among the easiest to use in our review. With two tabs to aid in donning the slip-on boot, it is easy to slide your feet in, even when wearing thick wool socks.
The pull-on tabs are big but not huge, making it possible to operate with gloved hands, though not as easy as with a pair of Bogs, which have large handles. Stepping out of a pair of Blundstone's is a bit more difficult, as the fit is quite secure in the heel, and there is no heel counter to assist.
A below-average performer in the traction department, the Thermal 566 boots are among our least favorite when it comes to tackling firm snow or icy slopes.
The soles on these boots just don't have the purchase offered by competitors with more aggressively lugged and sharp-edged sole designs. This is not to say that you can't walk in snowy or icy conditions in these boots, they just don't provide as sure a footing as boots with superior traction like those designed specifically for winter hiking.
This boot is in the more expensive range, more than double the price of the lowest-priced boots in our review, so they probably don't meet the needs of those on a budget. These are high-quality boots made from good materials and will last a long time, so while expensive, we feel they are worth the price you pay. With good care, these boots will have no problem lasting you a very long time.
The Blundstone Thermal is a comfortable and classy slip-on boot and our favorite for trips around town when the weather is cold and nasty. These boots don't offer the same weather protection or traction as others, but they are incredibly comfortable, stylish, and easy to slip on for quick trips outside when you want to look good.
— Andy Wellman and Ryan Huetter