Try this: Run across a sheet of ice in cotton socks. With each step, tiny pills from your sock will stick to the ice, enhancing traction. LOWA has employed the same technology in the Ice Renegade: Thumbnail-size, denim-like fiber pods embedded in the sole make the boot slip-resistant. “We were one pair of microspikes short on a February ascent of Boulder’s Bear Peak, so I went without,” one tester says. “The top 1,000 feet were completely iced over, like a bobsled track, and I still made it to the summit.”
A nubuck leather upper and a wool/poly blend fleece liner combine to make the boot extremely toasty. Our testers wore these kicks down to -10°F in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and never suffered cold toes. A Gore-Tex membrane keeps them weatherproof. “My feet stayed warm and dry, despite postholing for two hours,” a tester reports.
With a high ankle cuff, these winter boots handled big winter loads. Yet their above-average comfort also helped them perform well on daytrips: “Whether it was my 40-pound pack or my 10-pound daypack, these boots felt equally comfortable,” one tester says.
Best for average and wide feet, the Ice Renegades fit well out of the box—thanks to the supple leather. The fleece interior molds to your foot shape after one wear.
They held up well. But, like most leather boots, the upper is so soft that it’s easily scuffed from snowshoes; after a season of hard use, our samples showed cosmetic wear, but no real damage.
$285; 2 lbs. 13 oz.; lowaboots.com