Winter in Northern California brings with it two extremes–downpours and muddy trails in San Francisco matched with buckets of snow in the Sierras. To my surprise, the Ultra Extreme II boots from The North Face have served me well in both conditions. Waterproof and insulated, these comfortable winter boots take you from hiking the Marin Headlands in the morning to snowshoeing in Tahoe in the afternoon.
The Ultra Extreme II winter hikers are made from a PU-coated leather and ballistic nylon upper with a waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex membrane–this means when you get home from a muddy hike, simply take the hose to them and everything washes right off. The above ankle height and fully gusseted tongue construction also means your feet will stay dry as you hike through puddles or snow.
Weighing just over 1 1/2 pounds for the pair, these boots feature enough Duratherm insulation to keep your feet warm while recreating outdoors in mild winter temps without being overly bulky. Granted, you will not want to go post-holing through deep snow in these boots without some form of gaiter but I’ve taken them on long hikes over packed snow and snowshoeing through fresh powder.
The Vibram Icetrek outsoles give you good traction on both snowy sidewalks and wet, muddy rocks. No break-in time is required with these winter boots-they are comfortable right out of the box and I have had no problems with hot spots or blisters.
Bottom Line: A lightweight winter boot that performs well in both wet/muddy conditions as well as snow. Though I haven’t tried it yet, I imagine the Ultra Extreme II would also make a great fat biking boot for above zero temps.
The North Face Ultra Extreme II winter hikers retail for $150 (both men’s and women’s) and are available now.