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Columbia Bugaboot III Review

These affordable boots nearly match the performance of the best models but without straining your wallet
columbia bugaboot iii winter boots review
The Bugaboot is a very comfortable winter boot that will serve most users well.
Credit: Sam Willits
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $130 List
Manufacturer:   Columbia
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 15, 2022
77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Warmth - 25% 8.0
  • Weather Protection - 25% 7.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 9.0
  • Traction - 15% 7.0
  • Durability - 15% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Columbia Bugaboot III is a solid all-around performer that nearly matches the performance of the best boots but at a lower price, earning it an award for impressive value. The first thing you'll notice when putting these boots on is their perfect fit, with added comfort thanks to soft insulation and a microfleece lining. With plenty of loft throughout the boot, and a thick shell material, these boots are also very warm, and they don't allow water to penetrate. The soles have good traction for most surface conditions. The boot also features quality components, though we noticed one construction flaw that gives us pause. But considering their low price, the Bugaboot offers an excellent value for those who need a fully-featured winter boot.
REASONS TO BUY
Relatively inexpensive
Great performance across the board
REASONS TO AVOID
Clunky
Style isn't the best
Questionable construction quality

Compare to Similar Products

 
columbia bugaboot iii winter boots review
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $130 List
$119.95 at Amazon
$159 List
$159.00 at REI
$160 List
$153.51 at Amazon
$120 List
$120.00 at REI
$72.12 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Relatively inexpensive, great performance across the boardGreat traction, excellent fit, very comfortable, warm, affordableConvenient slip on design, waterproof to 11.5 inches, good priceGreat traction, very comfortable, inexpensiveWarm, comfortable, affordable, good traction
Cons Clunky, style isn't the best, questionable construction qualityOther boots are warmer, relatively low water-resistance heightHandles let in water or debris, only come in single whole sizes, not as warm as some competitorsNot that warm, fabric eyelets, low heightNot completely waterproof, more labor intensive to put on than others
Bottom Line These affordable boots nearly match the performance of the best models but without straining your walletThese boots are the total package, with warmth, comfort, a great fit, and a fair priceA convenient and protective boot with good weather resistance and a very wide toe boxThis very comfortable and inexpensive winter hiking boot has excellent traction, making it perfect for winter walks and treksA casual boot for tromping around in the snow at a budget friendly price
Rating Categories Columbia Bugaboot III The North Face Chil... Bogs Bozeman Tall Merrell Thermo Chil... Kamik Nation Plus
Warmth (25%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Weather Protection (25%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
9.0
8.0
5.0
9.0
5.0
Traction (15%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
10.0
7.0
Durability (15%)
7.0
8.0
10.0
5.0
8.0
Specs Columbia Bugaboot III The North Face Chil... Bogs Bozeman Tall Merrell Thermo Chil... Kamik Nation Plus
Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking 8" 8.5" 11.5" 6.5" 8"
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft) 10.5" 11" 13" 7.5" 12"
Measured Weight (per pair, size 13) 3.69 lbs 3.86 lbs 4.88 lbs 2.74 lbs 4.56 lbs
Appropriate Activity Hiking, town, chores, errands Town, errands Chores Hiking, town Town, Chores, Errands
Fit Details True to size True to size Roomy True to size True to size
Lining/Insulation 200g synthetic 400 g Heatseeker Eco 7mm Neo-Tech Neoprene 200g M Select 200B 3M Thinsulate
Upper Material Waterproof leather Waterproof leather & suede Rubber Waterproof polyurethane-coated leather and mesh Waterproof suede
Toe Box Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber
Outsole Omni-Grip Rubber Surface Control rubber BioGrip Rubber Rubber
Company Claimed Cold Weather Rating Not listed Not listed -72 F Not listed Not listed
Animal Products? Yes Yes No No Yes
Sizes Available 7 - 17 7 - 14 7 - 14 7 - 15 7 - 14

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Columbia Bugaboot III are very comfortable to wear. They fit well and provide a high level of warmth. Other than that, they don't excel above the rest of the field, but they don't come up short in any metric, either. For the price, this are definitely one that should be on your short list.

Performance Comparison


columbia bugaboot iii winter boots review - the columbia bugaboot iii hard at work shoveling the sidewalk after...
The Columbia Bugaboot III hard at work shoveling the sidewalk after a winter snowstorm.
Credit: Sam Willits

Warmth


With plenty of high-quality synthetic insulation, these boots provide much more warmth than we expected — especially given the price. We wore these boots in frigid early-season conditions in the Colorado Rockies, and our feet never got cold. The thick rubber around the foot and burly leather upper also help keep cold snow and water from infiltrating and making your feet get cold.


Historically, Pac boots with thick, removable felt liners provided the most warmth. However, winter boots are beginning to use modern synthetic insulation to create lighter, warmer footwear. This boot uses 200-gram weight synthetic insulation throughout the foot and shaft to keep the user warm, which it does to great effect without weighing too much.

columbia bugaboot iii winter boots review - thick, cozy synthetic insulation with a microfleece lining provides...
Thick, cozy synthetic insulation with a microfleece lining provides the Bugaboot III's warmth.
Credit: Sam Willits

Weather Protection


The Bugaboot III offers pretty good weather protection, with 8 inches of puddle depth before water seeps in over the tongue. We did not experience any water penetration below this threshold, despite the seam between the leather and rubber being somewhat loose. But more on that later.


The shaft of the Bugaboot III is 10.5 inches (27 centimeters) high, which is the effective height of the boot when the boot is fully laced up in dry powder snow. This is plenty tall enough for shoveling the driveway after a snowfall, taking out the trash in driving snowstorms, driving to the ski resort on a powder day, or hitting the sledding hill on a snow day from school. These boots offer plenty of weather resistance for 90% of users and typical winter conditions that don't get too crazy.

columbia bugaboot iii winter boots review - the bugaboot iii is waterproof up to the saddle between the tongue...
The Bugaboot III is waterproof up to the saddle between the tongue and shaft.
Credit: Sam Willits

Comfort and Fit


These boots are downright comfortable, and immediately after putting on the Bugaboot III, you'll feel like you never want to wear another snow boot. The thick but soft synthetic insulation and fleece lining are contoured to envelop the foot's contours and take up extra space, creating a cozy feeling and preventing the foot from sliding around. Over time, these soft padded areas will mold to the shape of your foot, creating a custom fit. The sole is also thick and padded, making it comfortable to walk long distances in this boot.


These boots are incredibly comfortable, enough that we took them on long walks in winter weather and wore them on long days of errands in the city. The sole is perfectly shaped to roll across firm surfaces and cushioned enough to handle rough trails covered in rocks and roots. The upper shaft is flexible enough to allow freedom of movement in the ankle. We are very impressed by the comfort and fit of these boots.

columbia bugaboot iii winter boots review - these boots bathe our feet in comfort, and fit most foot shapes well.
These boots bathe our feet in comfort, and fit most foot shapes well.
Credit: Sam Willits

Traction


The Bugaboot III has great traction, with more than enough for snowy errands around town and shoveling the driveway. The ratio of positive to negative space on the sole is nearly equal, and the lugs are sharp enough to bite into most rough surfaces. The rubber is sticky enough to grab dry urban surfaces without a hitch.


We wish the tread on this boot was a little deeper, which would help performance in deep snow. That said, the tread around the edge of the sole is the sharpest, which bites into powder no problem. We never had a problem with the tread of these boots, except in the deepest snow drifts. For most users and most conditions, these have plenty of traction to keep you feeling safe and sticky.

columbia bugaboot iii winter boots review - the bugaboot iii's tread can handle most snow and ice, but it gets...
The Bugaboot III's tread can handle most snow and ice, but it gets overwhelmed in deep powder.
Credit: Sam Willits

Durability


With high-quality components, these boots promise a decent lifetime. The soft interior insulation will undoubtedly pack out at some point since they have already started to mold to our feet throughout our testing period. The sole features relatively soft rubber, but since they'll spend most of their life walking on snow and ice, we don't expect the soles to wear out before the leather uppers do.


One point of weakness appears to be the seam between the rubber shell around the foot and the leather upper above it. The leather is sewn on with solid stitching, but the leather itself is very stiff, and there is some overlapping leather that sticks out over the rubber foot shell, signaling sloppy tailoring and production. In some places, the leather is flush, but in others, it overlaps and sticks out. This material can catch on external objects and pull the stitching apart. This is the only weakness we've seen in these boots, and it could have been an anomaly of the particular pair we tested.

columbia bugaboot iii winter boots review - the only weak point on these boots is the seam between the rubber...
The only weak point on these boots is the seam between the rubber shell and the leather upper, which has construction inconsistencies.
Credit: Sam Willits

Should You Buy the Columbia Bugaboot III?


We think so. With solid performance across the board and a lower price tag than any other high-end option, these boots are a great value. Anyone who spends a lot of time in snowy and cold winter climates and wants to save some money should give these boots serious consideration. Even if budget isn't a consideration, the Bugaboot is cozy, comfortable, and very practical, making it an excellent winter boot for most users.

What Other Winter Boots Should You Consider?


The Bugaboot III is very similar to the best overall winter boot, The North Face Chilkat V 400, but scores just a little bit lower. That said, it all depends on where your priorities lie. The Bugaboot is a little warmer and more comfortable, but the Chilkat offers burlier traction and weather protection. If you are enticed by the comfort of the Bugaboot and want something similarly cozy but more stylish, we love the UGG Butte for its furry lining. Finally, if you are on a super tight budget and want something even cheaper — and are willing to compromise a bit in terms of comfort — the Kamik Nation Plus is a time-tested winter boot at a great price. It's surpassed by more modern designs but is still one to consider for the budget-minded.

Jeff Dobronyi
 
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