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Winter footwear preferences?

All of my cold weather activities are active and I prefer uninsulated boots. Activities include hunting, trapping, snow shoeing, outside work, walking the dog, etc. For years my go to were various models of LaCrosse rubber pacs. About 10 years ago they stopped working well due to arthritis in the ball of my right foot. I've always owned and liked Bean Boots, which weren't working either. I decided to try Schnee's Guide ADV 13" despite choking at the price. They're similar to Bean Boots with leather tops and rubber bottoms, but the bottoms are much more robust. I can walk in these all day, day after day with no complaint. They work well for normal stream crossings (my next pair will be 16"). I wear them almost daily November through March for 4-5 years before needing to utilize the Schnee's rebuilding service, which makes the initial purchase price more palatable.
 
We do a lot of winter backpacking. Unfortunately, we don’t often have much snow these days. If there is no snow, we stick with trail runners. No gore Tex bootie. If the trail is wet and muddy, our feet get wet. We wear neoprene socks in the evening in camp and squeeze into our often frozen shoes again in the morning.

If we do have snow, I wear full grain leather boots with gore Tex bootie. I also wear these with snowshoes. Gaiters are also used.

Over 30 years of traveling this way, I’ve just really learned that I prefer the nimbleness and dexterity I have in a trail runner. Yeah, they get wet more quickly without the waterproof bootie, but they also dry faster. In wet conditions, water is always finding its way over the top no matter what steps you take.

Boots come out in the snow because, if temps are cold enough to hold snow, I do indeed want to take extra measures to maintain dry feet. The snow will melt through my shoes, but not my boots. When snowshoeing, I really prefer the more rigid sole of the boots as well. At camp, we put on down booties to take a break from the boots.
 
If I'm not going in steep terrain I use the old style, un-lined Lundhags. These are a pair of unused ones from late 90's that I bought second hand last year. The uppers are good quality leather and the lower part is some kind of vulcanized rubber, I think they call it cell-rubber. Soles are vibram. They are light weight and can be made almost waterproof with leather balsam and wax. The good thing about them is that they are quite roomy so you typically use two pairs of wool socks in them, one thinner and one thick. You will stay warm and dry for almost a whole long day out in wet snow and muck. Since these are not lined they will dry out overnight by placing warm rocks in them when turning in for the night. The shape look a little strange in these pictures but it is because they are unused. Once you grease the leather it will darken and with wear they will form to the foot and leg shape. You can still get un-lined Lundhags but the newer models tend to be slimmer around the foot and have some padding. The Lundhags Forest II Wide is probably a good choice or the Lundhags Vandra II high.
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I ended up getting a pair of Steeger mukluks for this winter but with the extremely mild weather I haven't had much chance to try them out. I did get them out for a couple walks in the snow around -10*. They worked great with regular socks. Feet stayed plenty warm with no excessive moisture buildup.

Alan
 
I ended up getting a pair of Steeger mukluks for this winter but with the extremely mild weather I haven't had much chance to try them out. I did get them out for a couple walks in the snow around -10*. They worked great with regular socks. Feet stayed plenty warm with no excessive moisture buildup.

Alan
I second the Steger mukluks
 
I ended up getting a pair of Steeger mukluks for this winter but with the extremely mild weather I haven't had much chance to try them out. I did get them out for a couple walks in the snow around -10*. They worked great with regular socks. Feet stayed plenty warm with no excessive moisture buildup.

Alan
Those look very nice from google pictures. Do they work when it's wet too? Post a picture if you got one.
 
Steger mukluks are as their name implies winter footwear. They are not waterproof, glopping them up with boot grease, snow seal or reindeer fat/ beeswax or any other water proofing products will defeat their purpose. They are for cold dry snow only, wearing them much above +20° F.(-28.889° C) is not what they are made for. They are light weight like wearing house slippers or dancing shoes. The soles are made of commercial tanned moose hide (not much thicker than glove leather) with some sort of shoe goo on the bottom for traction and wear. The tops are of canvas, with leather strings for securing them to the feet. With a couple of felt inner soles and felt booties, with warm wool socks are almost perfect for extended outdoor activities in cold climates. They were originally designed by Stegers ex-wife for a sled dog expedition to the North Pole. Made to mimic footwear like the northern native nomads of the Arctic and sub-arctic of North America. She later started up her current business.
I am currently wearing out my fourth pair, that will need to be replaced by next winter. The sole goop doesn’t like vehicle fuels or home heating fuel oils, so don’t wear them to the gas station or around any place that is subject to fuel spills. For wearing around fuels, wet snow or water, I wear Tingley rubber boots over the mukluks. I wear my Stegers on my daily 3-5 mile nature walks during the winter October through March. People with flat feet or high arches or whatever might want to add in super feet insoles for arch support.
Steger Mukluks are becoming a fashion statement and the company has expanded their offerings to the masses in all sorts of native North American inspired fabrics.
I am currently very interested in the Lobben felt tall boots with the rounded toe, sold in USA by Pia’s Woolens in Anchorage, Alaska or in Ely, Minnesota by Ely Bike & Kick Sled. I understand that long distance sled dog drivers are wearing them with over boots by Neos.
My wife has worn the Lobben boots for nearly fifty some years as her primary outdoors winter boot for daily living in Alaska's interior dry cold climate. She loves them for their warmth, lightness, breathable and do not overheat while shopping or driving in a heated car. She used them for years training & racing sled dogs and play ground duty as a elementary school teacher.
I have no idea how either of these boots would be for use in the sloppy wet snow, that the eastern seaboard has. In my mind insulated LLBean Boots would more likely be the cat’s meow.
 
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Here is a picture of what I think Boreal Birch is talking about.

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In 1999, Kathleen and I lived in a one-room cabin north of the arctic circle from January 31 until breakup in mid June. For most of the winter we wore these mukluks every day. Moose hide bottoms with canvas uppers. Felted wool insert in the bottom of the mukluk and in the bottom of the duffle cloth liner. Also wool socks. Warm feet no matter how cold. Very light, like wearing bedroom slippers. But as Boreal noted, the snow mist be dry, and the weather colder than -4 C (+25F). We have also been wearing them in winter since we moved to Saskatchewan 15 years ago.
 
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I would like to add that best winter footwear depends a lot on one’s geographic location and primary activity. Kathleen and I were in Fort Lauderdale for our daughter’s wedding during the last week of January. It was winter in Florida, but we did not wear our mukluks. We wore sandals, except when walking on the beach, when we went barefoot.
 
I would like to add that best winter footwear depends a lot on one’s geographic location and primary activity. Kathleen and I were in Fort Lauderdale for our daughter’s wedding during the last week of January. It was winter in Florida, but we did not wear our mukluks. We wore sandals, except when walking on the beach, when we went barefoot.
Footwear ismuch like, well.. like canoes. There are pretty good all-rounders and there are great ones that will excel but only in a narrow area of use.
Good footwear, like a good canoe, is bliss.

When it comes to footwear selection I try to go for the lightest and softest shoe that I can. Sometimes that still means stiff and thick mountain hunting style boots.

Today I was icefishing. It was around -13*c (8 F) and I wore these "overshoes" over light hiking shoes and it felt like a great choice for the day.
Had to hike in over knee deep snow for about a mile to get to this lake. These are made by a company called Mittet and they also make them in green for the Nato forces. You pull them right over your hiking shoes or ski boots and you will stay warm in very cold weather. They are quite light at about 2 lbs and they are not too bulky to bring along on a trip just in case. Just put them sole to sole and roll the uppers around them. If I'm going to be more or less stationary for longer periods of time I prefer to only wear real thick wool socks inside them and I guess it's kind of the same principle as with Mukluks then. They are nowhere near as fashionable as the Stegers though. The uppers are tight woven cotton, lower fabric is probably the same as the upper but has rubberized coating so these will actually do quite well even when it's somewhat wet and gloppy. The lower has a synthetic felt sewn on the inside for insulation. When I'm not wearing shoes inside them I put in extra insoles made from wool over an insole made from a thick sleeping pad. These will not do well in steeper hard pack snowy terrain where you need to edge your feet to not slide.They are great in camp if you want to relax your feet, dry your other pair of shoes or when waking up in the middle of night and need to go out to relieve the bladder.

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Real smoke tanned moose for the bottoms is way, WAY, better than commercial tanned moose. The Steger Mukluk is a far cry from the real thing. They are pretty good but no way as good as the native smoked tanned. Smoke tanned moose hide also makes soft, flexible chopper style mittens or just the palms for fur dog drivers mitts. The original smoked tanned moose hide is prohibitively expensive, if available. We bought two when we first got to Alaska. Now they are so rare we are afraid to use the one we have left. Our sons may want real mukluks some day, smoked tanned beaded vests or beaded beaver fur bedroom slippers.
Smoke tanned moose hide has the lovely smell of distant campfire smoke.
 
A little side note on smoke tanned moose hide soles is that they need to be continually maintained to open up the grain. Failure to do this will cause them to get smooth and slippery.

How do you maintain them to prevent this?
i was wondering the same thing. The moose hide soles on our mukluks have become quite slippery.
 
My Athabaskan mentor’s along the Yukon and Tanana Rivers in interior Alaska were meticulous about getting all the snow off from their smoke tanned footwear before coming inside, never wearing them indoors, to avoid polishing the soles. Socks, felt booties, insoles and mukluks were carefully hung up to dry slowly, away from extreme heat. The leather was occasionally worked between the hands (YISSING was their word, not very sure of the correct spelling) to insure the leather dried to its original softness.
Leather soles do become slippery, very unlike Vibram soles, so you do need pay attention to where you place your feet. If you are somewhat clumsy, leather soles of any kind are maybe not for you. I don’t recall ever falling because of slippery leather soles, that might because the cold dry snow in the interior might have a grippy texture.
Smoke tanned moose hide mittens palms become worn quite smooth from sliding on wood axe handles and dog sled driving bows, they remain quite grippy however, that might be because of opposable thumbs to some extent.
All this smoke tanned moose hide talk has me thinking of making a myself some snowshoe wrapper style moccasins and chopper mitts before next winter.
 
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Thanks, Boreal. That’s pretty mich how we have always treated our mukluks, except for that “yissing” part. They have always been slippery, even when new in 1999. Don’t know if they’re more slippery now or not.
 
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