Heated Boots Fail To Impress


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.

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Posted by jpea - 02/26/2010 09:14 AM

seems perhaps more like a boundary between R&D and their marketing department.

Posted by t.c. worley - 02/26/2010 10:46 AM

I’m at least impressed with the stylish-ness of the ladies boot. For an outdoor company this seems to be the hardest mark to hit.

Posted by Hiking Lady - 02/28/2010 07:52 PM

that’s disappointing! I had heard a lot of the marketing about how these were going to be really great boots. Thanks for sharing a totally honest review.

Posted by Mitch - 03/02/2010 01:19 AM

They look good though. To see is to believe.

Posted by Shaun - 03/03/2010 12:09 PM

I wonder if the results would have been different if you were doing a sedentary activity like ice fishing, or standing around watching an outside hockey game etc. If you’re walking around, any boot will feel warm, the true test is how warm it is when your sitting around.

Posted by Jonathan - 03/03/2010 07:49 PM

I purchased a pair of Columbia boots about 12 years ago (perhaps the first generation Bugaboot?), and they were also plagued with as stated above, “design flaws include a bad fit on the top of the mid-foot area, where boot flex causes material to fold over and press into your foot.” They were so uncomfortable I stopped wearing them after only a few months.

Posted by Chuck - 06/15/2010 11:54 AM

As a hunter who sits still in the cold snowy Novermber and December, rubber boots like this one will not do any good. We all know that anything made out of rubber will freeze quickly resulting in cold feet. If the heat is barely noticeable, this boot will not work. If you do excessive walking, than that might be a different story but still the boots look uncomfortable to begin off with and perhaps not worth the price sold at.

Posted by Denise - 12/30/2010 12:37 PM

Glad I found this sight was going to buy these boots for my spouse for hunting. Any other boots available that would keep a hunters feet warm?

Posted by dale - 10/17/2011 06:04 PM

thinks for the tips. now i know that i should just get the heated socks instead.

Posted by ron - 11/25/2011 11:58 AM

I purchased the bugathermo boots when they first hit the market. Now I am facing the dreaded battery replacement wherein I have to cut open the lining to get at the battery. Columbia defines the process so I hope it goes well. The boots are a bit clunky but I have found them to be as advertised for warmth, and with the right thickness sock, comfortable

Posted by Steve - 11/28/2011 08:43 PM

I bought a pair these boots everyone is talking about in 2010 and had to take them back. they gave me a newer pair 2011 model they r not any better so I guess will go back to the old country boy way.

Posted by christos - 01/09/2013 05:44 AM

can somebody give me a link to buy a replacement battery for columbia electro jacket?

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