Mukluks made for Coldest places on planet

Made by hand in the northerly village of Ely, Minnesota, and modeled after footwear invented long ago by Arctic tribes, Steger Designs’ mukluks are among the most unique of winter boots.

Seal skin and reindeer hide were materials of choice with the original mukluks. Fur lined the inside of the boots, the natural insulation serving as a fuzzy defense against toe-freezing temps.

winter camping.jpg

Winter camping is a perfect venue for mukluks

Today, mukluks retain much of the old aesthetic, though nylon, boiled wool, and leather are more common ingredients. Rubber soles and plastic buckles finish off the modern look.

This winter, I tested Steger Designs’ Yukon Jack mukluk model. At $179.95, they are among the least expensive pair sold by the boutique manufacturing shop.

They have a plain look and a no-fuss design. The black boots blend in with almost any winter wear, as opposed to many Steger Designs’ models, which have patterns around the leg, long laces, fur trim, or leather fringe for a North Woods fashion pop.

Mukluks.jpg

Utilitarian design with little frill, the all-business Yukon Jack mukluk

Built with Cordura nylon and moose hide, the high-top Yukon Jacks are light, flexible, and comfortable in the snow. They come up 12 inches on the leg and cinch closed, making gaiters irrelevant on casual hikes.

The rubber tread is soft, and there is scant rigidity in the sole. Each step conforms to the terrain. You walk quieter in mukluks than in hard-sole boots.

Warmth is a hallmark with Steger Designs. The Yukon Jacks don’t let down in this department. I wore them outdoors for an hour at minus-6 degrees F one day. My face stung in the wind but I never heard a peep from my feet.

mukluk ice fishing.jpg

Ice fishing and frozen lakes are native territory for mukluks

A thick liner of polypropylene and wool felt is to thank. Add the included 9mm felt insole and the company rates the Yukon Jacks for “extreme wear to colder than -20F” temps.

Overall, I like the boots for casual winter activity and hiking on flat ground. They are suited for winter camping trips in places like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota near where they are made.

But the soft, minimally-treaded sole is slippery when the snow tilts on a slope. I was not impressed with the lack of grip. The fit is comfortable but somewhat loose, as there are no laces and few adjustment points.

Even sledding with my kids on a neighborhood hill was hard. The mukluks slipped out from under me while the people wearing normal boots kicked into the hard snow and walked past.

On frozen lakes or in rolling woods, the mukluks excelled. They are made for deep snow and flat, Arctic-type terrain.

Skip this model if you regularly venture anywhere steep — mukluks are not mountain boots. But pull on a pair for a test if you yearn for comfort and the type of foot warmth that comes only from people who live in the coldest places on Earth.

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

Posted by Caleb Carter - 01/31/2013 02:37 PM

Great review. I am on my second pair of Steger Mukluks and I love them! They are the warmest pair of winter footwear that I have ever owned. And the thing that I love about them is that they are super comfortable and they breath. I can wear them all day, outside, inside, etc. and am totally comfortable. I have the more traditional style with the canvas top and moose hide bottom. I do agree with the report on the lack of traction. I found this out the hard way on a hunting trip, but they do serve their purpose well.

Posted by Bob - 01/31/2013 02:48 PM

If you don’t want to pay the big bucks check out air force surplus mukluks. I wore them in Alaska winters and stood for hours on frozen lakes. They only come in sage green. Mine held up nicely, but like those pictured are not for climbing.

Posted by Kyle - 02/01/2013 09:00 PM

What is the tent in the background?

Posted by Patrick - 02/01/2013 09:32 PM

The tent in the background is an internal-framed canvas Snowtrekker. They are made for winter camping in areas like the BWCA where campers also tend to wear mukluks. Great tents, not cheap but worth every penny and will last a lifetime. Also, these are heavy and really made for hauling with a toboggan which is how we generally move amoung the lakes of north woods in winter.

Posted by Anthony - 06/01/2013 05:47 PM

Hi I’m just checking out your site and so far I’m really interested . I have read the reviews and seen the videos. I live in Northern Manitoba where it can get with the wind chill minus 60farenit. My question is will they still b keep you warm at those temps? I also like the camo ones as well. Thank you Anthony.

Add Comment

  1. Add link by using "LinkText":http://google.com