We tested and traveled with the boots purchased by OutdoorGearLab over several months. The majority of testing took place in the lead tester's location in Colorado. From varying mountainous landscapes and canyons, to the shoving of all boots into one duffle bag, to the limited comfort of living in a van, these contenders became an interesting part of daily life. Through rain, snow, and creek-stomping, we tested across town, in canyons with rivers, and even with hoses and bathtubs.
Testing Weather Protection
We started with the objective measurements, documented onto a single spreadsheet, such as all technical specs of height and weight, materials used, and even manufacturer claims. We then took them one by one, one right after the other, through walkabouts in the snow, on wet pavement, up a hill, and into a river or creek, taking note of how shaft height and circumference influences our experiences. For a long-term waterproofing test, we headed to the bathtub. Our lead tester had them sit in shallow water for four hours, checking for leaks in the soles (notably where they met the upper rubber) and thankfully found none.
Testing Comfort & Fit
Out of the box, we tried them on to see if they felt true to size, taking into consideration whether fit was adequate with thin socks as a baseline. Then, we began to wear them out and about, and on select days, we wore them all day no matter the errands or tasks. We even wore them while watching movies, driving, etcetera. We paid attention to heel lift and hot spots, the ease of stepping into and out of each boot, and lastly, we paid attention to the weight of the boots and whether they felt cumbersome to carry, move in, or store.
Style is the most subjective metric. We ranked each boot on the overall design, appeal, and versatility across our wardrobes. We took note of any added features and accessories in order to critique whether any stylistic choices compromised the integrity of what the boot was made for. Also, we paid attention to comments from friends and strangers.
For this metric, we scored performance based on how each boot did in snowy/icy conditions, in a river environment, on dry/wet surfaces, and a wet, grassy incline. Purposefully trying to find points of slippage without risking injury was an exciting task, but we tried our best to be as consistent as possible. We also encountered a variety of flat surfaces such as gravel, rock slab, dirt, and of course, the urban asphalt, concrete, and linoleum tile or plastic slide.
For warmth, the performance was scored on how well the boots kept our feet comfortable in the snow, the river, and throughout mild temps of 50-80F. We also took notice if the boots made our feet sweaty after a day of wearing, particularly during warmer temperatures. For another test, we stood in a river or creek for 5 minutes and ranked each boot on how quickly our feet felt the cold. In the snow, we also critiqued insulation quality.