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By Diane Spicer
This Baffin boots review was entirely my idea.
So this review is all about answering the burning question of whether (or not) Baffin boots are a viable winter option for female hikers.
I purchased these boots* with my own money, and all comments and photos belong to me.
*Baffin Drift series, SnoGoose, women's size USW 9.
This Canadian boot company is serious about getting the correct boots on your feet, depending upon your activity.
The Drift series is but one of many to consider:
and more with each new season!
These are seriously warm boots, as you can see with these specs:
Now let's take a look at the performance of each of these features during a snowshoe trip in the Cascades Range of western Washington.
Snowshoeing in Mount Rainier National Park can be an interesting proposition.
Some years, there is abundant snowfall at the lowest elevations, right down to the Paradise entrance gate.
Other years, you have to drive way past Longmire, up and up and up toward Paradise, to get your first good snow.
Or, you can work for it.
Which is what happened during this Baffin boots review, beginning at the low elevation Kautz Creek trailhead and continuing upwards for 3500+ feet of elevation gain over several hours.
And, of course, the descent.
Snowshoes were carried until the glorious snowline was reached.
Weather conditions were highly variable that day:
Essentially, two different weather conditions, just right for a thorough review of these winter boots!
When you pay good money for a new pair of winter boots, you want to be sure your feet will stay warm, dry and uncramped throughout your exertions.
Nitty gritty time!
Always start with the soles of a pair of boots, to get an idea of construction quality.
In the Drift series of Baffin boots:
You can bend these boots if you torque the toes away from the heel, but not a lot.
They're built for durability and cold protection.
And they delivered! Plus, they were comfortable right out of the box, and remained so during the hours and miles of the day's exertions.
The toe box was roomy enough to accommodate two pairs of socks - plenty of wiggle room to get blood flowing in the toes.
The tough, durable, lightweight and waterproof nylon used to build the uppers of these boots is going to see you through all sorts of weather, and every trail condition you'll run into during your early fall through spring hiking.
The uppers are a generous length, adding an additional layer of insulation to my lower legs to support my base layer and waterproof rain pants.
They cinch down to prevent snow or debris from entering the boots, a great feature for off trail wanderings.
Warm, cozy, welcoming ... everything liners should be.
Take them out and dry them after a sweaty hike, even if they don't "feel" wet.
These liners are replaceable, which is a nice feature with boots that are built to last.
With my decade long love affair with Itascas, I went through two pairs of replacement liners. There's only so much pounding they can take.
You can step into these boots if the lacing is loosened.
No need to fiddle around with finding just the right angle to slide in your foot.
You can skip the fun little "hop around and yank" dance, too.
The side to side lacing with toggle allows you to expand or tighten down the fit with one hand, even wearing gloves.
Please take a moment to do that before you set off, because the fit is critical to your comfort and safety.
My feet never felt an instant of hesitation about plowing through snow, mud, or stream crossings in these Baffin boots.
The warmth generated by my muscle contractions heated up the boots quickly, and kept my usually cold toes at a comfortable temperature.
You might ask if these boots are too warm for a 30F degree day, and I'd say, it depends.
The lightness of these boots on my feet were a dream come true.
It's hard enough to break trail on snowshoes, let alone wear five pound boots on each foot.
Also, not having to wear gaiters (thanks, high collar around my calves!) lightened the leg lift load.
On the other hand, if you're snowshoeing or winter hiking for weight loss or conditioning, you'll want a heavier load on your feet - so these boots might be too feather weight for you.
Or, you can tie rocks to them ;)
This is nothing against the boot design, only an observation in this Baffin boots review.
At the lower snow free elevations, these boots were not able to support my arch as well as I would have liked.
Caveat: I have abnormally high arches, so this might not be a problem for you.
Also, cushioning socks with extra arch support like these might help.
REI Co-op has a good overview of how to choose insoles.
Another thing: the soles are not high grip, so don't depend on them giving you stability on icy or muddy surfaces.
An important thing to mention in this Baffin boots review to save you some trouble:
My size US 9 boots were just right with two pairs of knee high socks: thin liners and thicker warm socks.
Another thing to note: you need to adjust the boots to your particular calf and ankle dimensions, or they'll feel too loose on your feet.
The cable and lock adjustment system is easy to use, with or without gloves.
I've found a suitable replacement for my worn out snowshoeing winter boots, and I'm a happy woman!
These boots conform to, and support, the unique dimensions of my feet, given the receptivity of the liners to my body weight carrying a backpack.
The rugged soles and bomb proof nylon uppers weigh almost nothing, compared to the solid support and protection they deliver.
All in all:
Consider these boots a great investment in the health and well being of your hard working feet in cold weather.
Then strap on a pair of snowshoes (see my newest snowshoe review here), and go stomp some snow!
Baffin Boots Review For Winter Hiking And Snowshoeing