Editors' Choice Snow Award 2012: Vasque Snow Junkie UD Hiking Boot

The midcut Snow Junkies are for people who like their cold-weather adventures light and fast.

[warm and light winter hiker]

Goodbye clunky insulated winter boots. The midcut Snow Junkies are for people who like their cold-weather adventures light and fast. At less than 2.5 pounds per pair, they weigh in closer to light hikers than typical insulated snow boots. “I was blown away by how nimble and light they felt,” says one tester who wore them on icy trail runs and a five-day backcountry trip around Oregon’s Mt. Hood. Blocky, soft-rubber lugs on the outsole have enough traction to dig in and grab the snow when worn without snowshoes. A TPU midsole plate cradles the arch and wraps up the sidewall, providing support for loads up to 45 pounds and plenty of torsional stiffness and underfoot protection from roots, rocks, and other surprises lurking beneath soft snow.

The thin layer of lightweight synthetic insulation (200-gram Thinsulate Ultra) proved ideal for snowshoeing and backpacking long miles in varied conditions in the Mt. Hood Wilderness, where it’s common to go from mud to slush to snow and back again in the course of a day. The coated leather-and-nylon ripstop uppers, backed by a proprietary UltraDry waterproof membrane, deflected all manner of slop, with little moisture or heat buildup in temps ranging from the teens to the 50s. Cushy textured fabric inside the cuff helped move moisture away from socks. A slender TPU exoskeleton wraps around the heel and firmly supports ankles. Built on a trail-running last, the Snow Junkie was universally comfortable among testers. “The fit was instant heaven, with a roomy toebox to accommodate extra socks if needed,” says one. Nitpick: A D-ring centered in front of the laces pulled to one side with gaiters attached. Big bonus: Compared to other insulated hikers, the Snow Junkie is extremely well-priced. $130; 2 lbs. 5 oz. (m’s 9); m’s 7-14; vasque.com


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