These boots--at least the lace-ups and Moon Boots of my childhood--were over-insulated and ill-fitting, often slippery soled and ineffective for little more than shuffling uphill while pulling a sled.
As such, I have eschewed snow boots for a decade or more, trading bulk and warmth for the performance and good fit of a stout mountaineering boot, knobby tread and crampon-compatible soles employed even for backyard snowball fights.
But this year Timberland (www.timberland.com) changed my mind. The company's pricey Rime Ridge boot pulls characteristics from technical wintertime footwear as well as from the realm of the snow boot.
At $190, the boots are not something most people will buy for tromping around the yard. You'll want to employ the Rime Ridges for snowshoeing, hiking and even easy mountaineering in deep snow.
The fit is such that the Timberlands can pull off these kind of adventurous tasks. On my foot, the boot hugged and cradled, fitting more akin to a running shoe than a Moon Boot. This is thanks in part to its fancy BOA Multi-Adjust Lacing System, which is a cinching pattern of thin lines that ratchets tight across the front foot and calf area at the twist of a knob. A removable insole with arch support helps, too.
The boot has a Gore-Tex membrane, making it waterproof and somewhat breathable. A cushy helping of 3M Thinsulate--about 200 grams of it--is stuffed into the boot walls for warmth.
A nice extra feature is the closure along the boot's top collar, which lets you seal off the foot from above via an elasticized cord to keep snow out. This renders gaiters unnecessary.
Gripes? While it's pretty slick as is, the BOA closure system could be better. I had to crank the tiny knob hard to get a tight fit around the leg.
My test model had a two-tone orange color scheme, announcing the boots' presence wherever I went. It comes in black, gray and blue, which are perhaps better fashion moves.
The Rime Ridge's price is high. You need to be a dedicated snow person to put down nearly $200 on these boots. However, at sites like www.peterglenn.com this model sells for around $150.
Overall, the Rime Ridge is a fine boot for the snow. It's easy on, easy off. The soft rubber tread grips great. It's toasty warm and has enough performance to stand in as footwear for a range of wintertime activities, from snowshoeing to hiking to, if need be, taking out the trash.
Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; visit www.thegearjunkie.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog and an archive of Regenold's work.