If you were resigned to clunky winter boots for the sake of warm toes, there’s no longer a reason to settle. The Thermo Rogue has a slim profile that would look at home on a summer dayhike, but doesn’t skimp on warmth or features.
The key ingredient, as in the Outdoor Research BitterBlaze Gloves is PrimaLoft Gold Aerogel. By placing the material over the toebox and beneath the foot-bed, Merrell protects the areas on your feet that lose heat fastest without using heavier, bulkier insulation. (The rest of the Thermo Rogue’s upper contains 100 grams of synthetic PrimaLoft Gold Eco.)
“When I was photographing the aurora in Iceland in early March, I didn’t even notice the 15°F temps or frozen ground while wearing these boots,” one tester says. He also praised the Thermo Rogue’s nimble feel: “I was able to run to different spots near our camp to set up shots, and felt much more agile than I would have been in the cold-weather clunkers I’ve worn.”
A warm boot wouldn’t be much use if it couldn’t handle winter conditions, and the Thermo Rogue’s Gore-Tex membrane keeps out slush and water (an 8-inch cuff helps; the boot is also available in a midcut). Even better, the sole’s Vibram Arctic Grip Dura adheres well to wet ice, allowing one tester to hop between solid blocks of the slick stuff on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Tradeoff: The cuff is a bit squishy, and one tester says it felt wobbly with a 30-pound pack. But for fast-and-light-and-cold missions, this is your boot.
Weight: 2 lbs. 2 oz. (m’s 9)
Sizes: Men’s 7-15, Women’s 5-11
See more of the Editors' Choice Gear for Winter 2018
See the entire Winter Gear Guide