Gear Guide: A Terrific Pair of Winter Boots
By Su Reid-St. John
My husband affectionately calls my tootsies the Icy Cold Feet of Death. While he might exaggerate slightly, they do seem to be a magnet for cold. So as we prepared to head up to the frozen north (i.e., Burlington, Vt.) for the holidays, possible sources of warmth were definitely on my mind. It was the perfect time, I thought, to test out Columbia’s new Winter Trek Omni-Tech boots.
Fashion-wise, this was no chore. These are some really cute cold-weather kicks—sporty and striking at the same time. But when I tried to put them on, I ran into a snag: There’s a strip of webbing that runs down the tongue, sewn over the laces (to what purpose, I have no idea). That made it difficult to loosen them enough to get my foot in the boot, then tricky to tighten them up.
Once I did get the boots on, though, my feet were delighted. The Omni-Techs are super comfortable; the footbed is cushy, and it seemed to mold to my foot. There’s ample arch support, and the fit is close but not tight—a good thing, as extra toe room, in my experience, often leads to cold toes.
I’d brought other pairs home to test as well, but ended up defaulting to these boots again and again. I wore them everywhere: to play out in the snow with my 3-year-old daughter; to go for evening Christmas-light-viewing walks with my husband on alternately icy, snowy, and slushy sidewalks; to attend multiple lunches and dinners with friends and family; to shovel newly fallen snow off the driveway.
The Omni-Techs performed impressively. I didn't slip once, my feet never got sweaty or tired, and most importantly, my toes stayed warm—even when the temp hit sub-zero, with wind lashing like Indiana Jones's whip and icicles forming on the scarf covering my mouth. (Ah, Vermont in the wintertime.)
As the trip came to a close, I packed my boots away, then wandered into the living room. My mom—who wears the same shoe size I do—was standing near the jumble of footwear by the front door, looking wistful. “Where did those cute boots go?” she asked. Sorry, Mom—this is one pair I’m not ready to give up.
Product: Columbia Winter Trek Omni-Tech Boots
Pros: They’re warm, flexible, and sweat-absorbing, with great traction. What’s more, they fit beautifully, with excellent support.
Cons: The webbing down the front makes it hard to loosen and tighten the laces.
Cost: $100 at Columbia.com
Extra tip: These would be ideal for snowshoeing—they’re flexible and even have a little hook on the back for the binding to grab onto.