Columbia Heated Boots

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

High-performing heated boots have long been a Holy Grail in the footwear world. With its new men’s Bugathermo and women’s Snow Hottie models, Columbia Sportswear Company took a stab at making the ultimate heated boot. They feature built-in rechargeable batteries and on-boot controls to provide three temperature settings. A single charge provides up to eight hours of heat for your feet.

Columbia Heated Winter Boot.jpg

Columbia Bugathermo (heated men’s winter boots)

Over two months of Minnesota winter, including in temps down below zero, I tested the Bugathermo boots. A female friend who coaches Nordic skiing tried the Snow Hotties out. Our conclusions on the boots, which cost $250 a pair, were about the same.

In short, Columbia has missed the aforementioned Holy Grail by a long shot. The Bugathermos are clunky and uncomfortable. Design flaws include a bad fit on the top of the midfoot area, where boot flex causes material to fold over and press into your foot. Fit around the calves was uncomfortable and loose on long hikes.

And the embedded heaters? I could barely feel the warmth. When hiking on a 10-degree day with the heat turned on for one foot, but off for the other, my feet felt about the same.

To be sure, Thinsulate insulation keeps these boots warm. I could walk in the snow for long periods on zero-degree days with no issue. But the internal heater, powered by lithium-polymer batteries, was almost unnoticeable. Heat seeps rather than blasts.

Columbia Heated Winter Boot Womens.jpg

Columbia Snow Hottie (heated women’s winter boots)

The Snow Hotties are better designed than the Bugathermos, melding a motorcycle-type boot with equestrian style, as the company puts it. But Columbia also touts the “warmth of a furnace” with these leather boots.

My female tester liked the Snow Hotties’ look and feel. But like me, she said the internal heaters were not overly effective. It was a subtle warmth, she reported. On the icy trail, skiers whizzing by, there was no Holy Grail.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

This product is a part of a series from a “Winter Gear Roundup” article highlighted on Gear Junkie and an accompanying column on Outside magazine this week. See all the featured products below.

2009/2010 ‘WINTER GEAR ROUNDUPPRODUCTS:

Posted by steve - 11/04/2009 08:23 AM

This was just what we are look! We can now enjoy our winter outside activities! Good job!

Posted by John Allen - 12/16/2010 02:34 PM

I have just purchased the “Omni-Heat Thermal Electric” boots. Where can I purchase back-up/replacement batteries for the boots?

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