Finding the perfect winter boot for outdoor adventures can be surprisingly challenging. Sure, you can find any number of options to keep your feet warm in cold temperatures, but they often sacrifice flexibility and mobility as a result. Of course, a winter boot needs to be waterproof and provide good traction as well. It doesn’t hurt if that same boot also happens to easy to take on and off and versatile enough for use in various activities.
While all of that reads like a laundry list of things that you would expect from any footwear that you want to use in adverse conditions, finding that blend of characteristics isn’t always easy. Thankfully, Wolverine has delivered exactly that in the form of the ShiftPlus Polar Range Boa, which as the name implies, also includes the always-excellent Boa lacing system.
Comfort that is Dialed In
For those not familiar with Boa, it is a unique and thoroughly welcome addition to any footwear. Using a system of integrated wire laces, the Boa system allows you to dial in exactly the right fit of any shoe by turning a specially designed dial built into the ShiftPlus boot. When you’ve found the desired comfort level, you simply push down on the dial to lock it into place, which keeps the laces from ever coming up done. When you’re ready to take the boot off, you simply pull up on the dial, which loosens up the laces.
As a big fan of Boa, I was happy to see that Wolverine used these boots’ system. This brings some important advantages for winter footwear, including keeping otherwise heavy and bulky boots much lighter and more streamlined. When the laces are locked into place, they rarely come undone either, which means you aren’t constantly taking off your gloves to retie traditional laces, which are much less effective when they get wet.
Beyond that, however, the Boa system allows you to find the exact comfort level you want and dial in the fit that works best. This is especially important in winter boots, where the thickness of the sock you are wearing might change based on the temperature. The Boa dial allows for small, incremental adjustments and—owing to its origins on snowboard boots, it is glove-friendly. These features make it an excellent choice for use in snow, ice, and cold conditions.
High Tech Insulation
Speaking of keeping your feet warm, Wolverine outfitted the ShiftPlus Polar Range boot with Primaloft Aerogel Insulation to do just that. Aerogel was once prohibitively expensive to use one of the thinnest, lightest, and warmest insulators know to man. In recent years, however, we’ve seen it expand into more consumer products, and for a good reason. It has always been hot, it is now just more affordable too.
In these boots, Aerogel—which was originally created for use in NASA spacesuits—helps keep the weight of the footwear down while also preventing them from becoming too bulky. In fact, the shoes weigh just 3 pounds, 3 ounces (1400 grams) for a pair. That may sound like a lot compared to the trail shoes you might wear during the warmer months, but it is quite light for a winter boot. Particularly for one that is also this warm.
The thin Aerogel insulation also allows these boots to feel more agile and nimble too. This comes in handy not only while you’re out shoveling the drive or taking the dogs for a walk, but also when snowshoeing and winter hiking as well. In fact, the ShiftPlus Polar Range Boa is one of the more versatile winter boots I’ve seen in quite some time, in large part because of the materials and components that Wolverine used in their construction.
Built for Winter Adventures
In addition to the features I’ve already mentioned, the ShiftPlus Polar Range Boa boots have many other features that make them a good choice for outdoor winter adventures. For instance, they have a full-grain leather waterproof upper, an integrated ankle gaiter for keeping snow and ice out, and a very comfy footbed to keep your feet protected from the hard ground. The boot also includes a Vibram Arctic Grip outsole, which is another revelation for anyone who hasn’t worn a pair of shoes with that option before. To say that it keeps you from slipping and sliding on ice would be an understatement.
Taken individually, any one of these items is a welcome addition to a pair of winter boots. Together, they work in conjunction with one another to make this boot more than the sum of its part. The result is a boot that is incredibly comfortable to wear, keeps your feet warm and dry in adverse conditions, and allows you to move with unprecedented quickness and agility, even on snow and ice. They also happen to look good enough that you wouldn’t mind wearing them around town even when you’re not heading to the trail, which isn’t something you can say about a lot of other winter footwear.
That said, these boots will feel most at home while being active on the trail. They are custom-made for winter hiking and snowshoeing, providing the warmth you need for spending hours outside in cold temperatures. Backcountry winter campers will also appreciate what these boots bring to the table, especially the addition of the Boa lacing system, which makes using them around a campsite, or while getting in and out of a tent especially easy.
Priced at $220, the Wolverine ShiftPlus Polar Range Boa boot may seem like it’s on the pricy side of a winter boot. But when you consider all of the features and components that go into this shoe, it actually represents good value. The Boa lacing system, Aerogel insulation, and Viram Arctic Grip outsole all add a premium level to this product but provide plenty in return. After using this boot for a while now, I can’t imagine going to another model that doesn’t include those components in its construction.
To say that Wolverine knocked it out of the park with the ShiftPlus would undersell just how good this boot is. If you’re someone who remains active throughout the winter months, this very well may be the boot you’ve been looking for. At the very least, they need to be on your shortlist because when it comes to a mix of warmth, traction, and comfort, they’re extremely tough to beat.
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