Lightweight but warm, a new boot by Columbia was built for below-zero days … like 65 degrees below zero.
Tech innovations rarely filter to the category of the do-all winter boot. Launched this fall, Columbia released its most technical insulated boot with notable material upgrades and a made-for-snow sole.
The boot – the Canuk Titanium Omni-Heat OutDry Extreme – is rated to the above-mentioned spec of -65 degrees Fahrenheit. But the brand keeps the weight down, at about 1 pound, 5.7 ounces per boot.
#1: OutDry Extreme Waterproof ‘Shell’
Though used in some of its shoes, the Canuk is the first winter boot to use Columbia‘s proprietary OutDry Extreme waterproof-breathable material. The brand says it will improve boot performance dramatically.
How it works: Most waterproof-breathable membranes are sewn into boots as a fabric bootie placed under a leather or synthetic upper. OutDry Extreme differs from other waterproof-breathable membranes, as it sits on the outside of the boot, directly facing the elements.
What it means: Putting the waterproof layer on the outer face of a boot has distinct advantages, Crislip said. First, water and debris cannot penetrate any layers of the boot. There is zero moisture absorption, he noted.
“If you have a traditional waterproof shoe in a cold environment, water can still absorb into the outer layers,” he explained. “That liquid sitting close to your foot can make you extremely cold.”
OutDry Extreme has a permanent beading surface, meaning that it does not need a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish to bead up water on its face.
Finally, having a waterproof layer on the outside of the boot makes cleaning them extremely easy. Just hit them with the hose – the material makes for a hard, rubbery exterior surface that’s quick to clean.
Durability: Putting the waterproof layer on the outside presented a challenge for Columbia designers. To ensure the OutDry Extreme membrane was up to the task, the brand put it through harsh testing with “teams in Iceland and other cold climates around the world.”
#2: Michelin Snow-Gripping Sole
For these boots, Columbia partnered with rubber and tire manufacturer Michelin.
Columbia used Michelin’s Winter Ice Control rubber compound to enhance traction on snow, ice, and mud, even in very cold conditions.
“The result is a cutting-edge winter boot for the industry,” Crislip said.
How it works: The rubber compound stays soft in brutally cold conditions, according to Michelin’s claims. Even at -30 degrees F, the rubber is soft and pliable. This brings as much surface area as possible to the ground, enhancing traction.
Beyond the innovative rubber compound, the soles also have siping to move water away from underfoot. Larger lugs dig into mud and snow.
#3: Omni-Heat Reflective Liner
Readers may be familiar with Columbia’s Omni-Heat Reflective in jackets, a technology that helps regulate your temperature with little silver dots that reflect and retain the warmth your body generates.
Columbia added this technology to its Canuk boot to provide serious, lightweight warmth for your feet.
“It’s been really good for us in footwear,” Crislip said. “The reflective insulation adds another layer of insulation and warmth retention.”
Coupled with 600 grams of traditional insulation and EVA foam underfoot, Columbia built a boot that it claims can stand up to -65 degrees F.
But they weigh just 1 pound, 5.7 ounces (men’s size 10). “You can still drive a car in these boots,” he said.
“We feel like we have come up with something unique and moves the needle forward from what has been in the market so long in terms of winter boots.”