With winter’s grip fully wrapped around portions of the country, many of us are digging out the snowshoes, taking on wintery hikes, or just hoping to do our best to keep our toes warm and cozy. This has lead us on a search for the year’s best winter boots, and one of our favorites is the Vasque Arrowhead UltraDry.
As the tester for these boots, I admit they held peculiar appeal. The styling is a dead-ringer for a pair of Salomon boots I owned, and loved, way back in the mid-90s. The enclosed soft-shell upper makes for a unique aesthetic, but it works beautifully to seal out the elements. Beneath that zippered upper is a speed-lace system which I find easy to adjust, even while wearing gloves, and the UltraDry waterproof and breathable membrane has proven infallible and controls moisture inside out outside the boot. The warming performance comes from 200 grams of 3M Thinsulate insulation with what appears to be an aluminized heat reflective liner that seems to work exceptionally well. All of the above is bonded to an EVA mid-sole with a TPU shank and Vasque’s proprietary Cold Hold outsole.
At a little under three pounds per pair, they’re surprisingly light with a modest amount of flex in the forefoot for optimal walking comfort. The nylon pull loop at the back of the boot is large enough to use with gloved hands, and the tall boot cuff is narrow enough to slip under most pant legs without any bunching.
In use, I found the Arrowhead UltraDry boots to be warm down to temps slightly below 0ºF. Warmth values are subjective and can be influenced by a number of variables including the user’s own temperature tolerances, but with good socks and modest activity, they should be sufficiently warm for use in anything but extreme low temperatures. Sometimes boots can be too warm, and as the days warm to over 40ºF, I still find the Arrowheads more than comfortable.
Unlike many winter boots that place performance a distant second to warmth, the Arrowheads have the feel of a proper hiking boot. During my initial day’s testing, they were comfortable right out of the box, even for a brisk nine mile winter hike. One of my favorite attributes is the spat-like upper that repels snow with every step, and the dual-density outsole sheds snow and mud well while providing ample traction. All in all, a really nice winter boot.
At $169 they are priced well offering exceptional bang for buck and judging by the materials and construction, should endure years of rugged use. Some say this is going to be a long winter, and with Arrowhead boots by the back door, I think I’ll be just fine.
I tend to have rabbit-like feet––long and skinny. While they fit into the Arrowheads perfectly, I did have to use a thick, or second pair of socks. Those with wider, higher volume feet will likely be fine with the shape of the boots. I added a higher volume insole from Sole, and it made for one very comfy pair of boots. I will say, entry into the Arrowheads takes a little bit of effort, again, something that may be a bigger consideration for those with wider, higher volume feet, especially those with a tall instep. Once snugged up, they are extremely comfortable.