Overall, these Columbia boots performed beyond my expectations. They remain toasty warm, are incredibly light and offer great traction.
I first tested them out back in late November at the Owen Sound Santa Claus Parade. The temperature hovered just below the freezing mark, although there was little or no snow on the ground. After standing around for 45 minutes with my wife and my two-year-old nephew, my feet remained perfectly comfortable in the boots. They were also ideal to walk around in, other than being slightly stiff.
I’ve since used them several times while snowshoeing and winter hiking with superb results.
Weight-wise, these Columbia boots are amazing. The best comparison might be to a high-quality pair of running shoes. They feel as light as air compared to even other technical boots and another pair of Columbias I have that I regularly use for snowshoeing.
For many years, my preferred snowshoeing boots have been a set of Sorel Conquests, which offer a “performance fit.”
The new Columbia boots are clearly a refinement of the idea, but with more advanced features. The Sorels are a light felt-pac boot, but that still makes them much heavier than the Columbias and more difficult to dry out.
That’s not to say, though, that there aren’t a few improvements that Columbia could make.
I regularly wear anything from a EE to a 4E sized shoe and boot, making it somewhat difficult to find a good fit. The Columbia boots are a fairly good match, although I have experienced a bit of rubbing at the base of my toes from the boots.
Due to my foot size, I also frequently have problems jamming my foot into boots like the Columbia. The Sorel Conquests were always problematic for that as well, and one of the worst features on the boots.
The Columbia boots were a distinct improvement on that, although the laces could have been perhaps six inches to a foot longer to allow me to open them up more fully for greater convenience. Anyone with more conventionally-sized feet and a more slender calf probably wouldn’t have much of a problem.
The lacing system could also be improved. I noted it could be a bit difficult to pull them as tight as I would have liked, but it’s a relatively minor problem.
The boots also felt stiff, particularly during the first few minutes of wear. I suspect that’s the plastic component in the shell. I didn’t notice any problem with stiffness while snowshoeing, and the harnesses on my Salomon snowshoes fit perfectly.
They are also remarkably waterproof. I’ve splashed through some deep slushy melt-water the past few days with absolutely no problems with water penetrating them. The only sign of any wetness is some slight staining along the base of the toes, but it disappears as the boots dried up inside.
Overall, these are some awesome boots! Good job, Columbia!