Bogs are the new boot craze sweeping the Arctic Circle and its general vicinity. Evidently women of the north are sick of Xtra-Tufs and though they still have a worthy following, you’re almost as likely to see Bogs these days around here. They come in tons of fun colors so you’re not stuck with basic brown or black, which I think is a big part of their appeal. My friend Barry does not understand this trend and got all bent out of shape at women wearing “shit kickers(!)” (emphasis his) as fashion. I wonder what he’d think if he went to a concert here and saw all the Girdwood twentysomethings in their striped thigh-highs topped with Xtra-Tufs. He’s from Vermont but doesn’t understand wearing mud boots? I don’t get it, but now that I’m thinking about it I realize that he is about 6’8″ so he has probably never needed rain boots in his life. He’s a long way from the mud.
For us stunted earthlings, protection from the elements is important. When Bogs asked if I’d try their boots out for review, I was eager to do so in order to get in on this new trend. I naturally asked for the basic colors because that’s just my thing. I tried the Classic Ultra High Handles style and a pair of the Bridgeport slip-on shoes.
The Classic Ultra High are rubber and neoprene and, as you can tell from the name and the picture above, have handles for ease of pull-on (very much appreciated). The thick sole helps insulate feet from the cold ground and naturally the rubber boots are completely waterproof. This is great for what we call “breakup” in Alaska – when the snow and ice melt and “break up” into piles of slush. Some say this season coincides with the end of all those “keep me warm through the long cold winter” relationships-of-convenience, but I don’t know if there is anything to that. It’s not going to be breakup for a good long time though, and I was interested in the Classic Ultra High boot primarily to try for winter biking. We’re having quite a cold winter and as usual I’ve been struggling with cold feet and these are rated to -40. The women riders in the Yukon that I follow in the blogosphere wear Bogs in some of their pics so I wanted to see if they would help keep me warm too.
Unfortunately I did not find that the temperature rating was too accurate. I can’t wear these for biking because I get too cold; the wind chill and proximity to the metal pedals is too much for these boots. Since they are waterproof, they also make my feet bathe in sweat (sexy, no?) which I think that contributes to why my feet get so cold. I don’t think this is a real failing on the part of the boots; it’s hard to keep feet warm when biking in the winter. The boots are still great for doing outdoor winter chores (they were originally developed for dairy farmers), for fishing, and for day hiking if you want to cross marshy areas (which I often do). It’s winter right now, but I’ll likely use them for fishing too. If you’re a horsey person you’ll love these around the barn. They are a nice alternative to Xtra-Tufs and there are many other styles to choose from if you don’t like the Ultra High Handles style.
The fit is kind of hit and miss from what I can figure. They don’t come in half sizes and I thought that my regular size fit OK, but I’ve been researching what others say and evidently the boot is supposed to fit more snugly than it fits me. However, some people say the boot runs small and I didn’t find that to be true. I’d recommend trying on a few pairs to get the fit you want.
I also tried the Bridgeport slip-on shoe style. I fell in love with these immediately. It helped that we’ve had the most bizarre winter – record-breaking snow along with five major thaw events that have turned everything into a sloppy, slippery mess until it freezes again. I’ve been wearing the Bridgeports around town during those events and they’re great. They’re comfortable and supportive and actually look pretty cute with jeans (more important than I expected). I actually like these better than the tall boots; they seem to fit better so maybe there is a sizing issue with the taller pair. The sole isn’t as thick but they’re a reasonable choice for around town, or on a boat deck (you fish, right?) or anywhere you’re likely to encounter puddles (obviously). A great option if you’re not into tucking your pants legs into tall boots.
All in all I think the Bogs have a lot to offer. They come in such a variety of colors and heights that you’re bound to find something that you like. For a rubber boot they’re pretty warm though I think -40 is an exaggeration. I didn’t stay warm yesterday in 32 degree temps while riding my bike, but I do allow that bike riding is a difficult situation for footwear. You can check out more Bogs styles on their web site here, but don’t get confused about the menu showing “Agricultural,” “Outdoor,” and “Casual” styles; they’re all the same thing. Have fun picking out your pattern!