With winter 2015-16 marking my first season getting back outdoors, I used the quarter to test three different “heavy duty” cold-weather boots. Since I was just getting my proverbial feet wet, I wanted to start cautiously. Big-time insulated boots seemed the best route. The Kamik Coldcreek boots marked my final such gear review, and it was a great move. While not perfect across the board, some aspects of the Coldcreek boots seemed like I’d saved the best for last.
I first reviewed two different offerings from Muck Boots, the tall Arctic Pro boots and the Arctic Sport Mid-Height boots. The Pros performed incredibly well and kept my feet warm, but boots that go all the way up to one’s knees aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The Sports seemed on paper to be a better height, but they hit the shin in what was for me an awkward place. In terms of height, the 15.5-inch Kamik boots are in the middle and quite comfortable as a result. Think of the Pros as Papa Bear, the Sports as Mama Bear, and the Kamik Coldcreek boots as that “just right” Baby Bear.
All three boots offer full waterproofing, though the Coldcreeks rely on their 9mm Neoprene upper a bit more to achieve it. You can tell just by looking at the Kamik Coldcreek boots that they have a sportier vibe than even the “Sport” model from Muck. The rubber ribbing along the top and back has a largely cosmetic flair, though it serves the functional purpose of keeping snowshoe bindings in place on a miles-long trek. About two inches above the ankle, that rubber gives way to the neoprene upper, giving the base of the boot an almost athletic-shoe appearance. At one point during my tests I noticed a slight chill above my ankle when I immersed my shin in a slushy creek on Mt. Hood. The sensation was short-lived, though, and may have been a psychosomatic response. And in spite of relying less on rubber for waterproofing, the Kamik Coldcreek boots never let my socks get wet.
Now, the rubber that is used is actually RubberHE, which is a PVC-free synthetic that’s 50% lighter than natural rubber. Considering the boots’ height — remember, these can be used for hiking but are (designed to be) bulkier than standard hiking boots — that weight reduction is important. And the lighter material was definitely noticeable over the course of a long snowshoeing trip or mountain trek.
The overall fit was also better than the Sports, which had too much space at the top of the ankle. By contrast, the Kamik Coldcreek boots took a bit more maneuvering to put on, but once donned they were much more form-fitting and felt less clunky. A big insulated boot may never truly feel like a natural shell for your leg, but the Kamik Coldcreek boots felt as close to that as I experienced this year.
Only two areas faltered during my testing period, aside from the likely psychosomatic chill I mentioned earlier. First, the height at which the rubber ends and the neoprene begins looks really cool, but there’s a definite hard edge at that transition point. The edge doesn’t quite dig into your leg, but it’s more noticeable than a simple bump, especially if you’re squatting down to pick something up or investigate the ground. The feeling subsides about 10 minutes into your walk, either the result of pliability or just numbing to the sensation, but it’s something to be aware of for those first few minutes of your outdoor adventure.
Second, the Kamik Coldcreek boots have a thin jacket-like material around the top perimeter that can be tightened by a drawstring to theoretically keep snow from falling into the boot. I strongly recommend avoiding this feature. While neat in theory, the cord-stopper dug into my shins every time I pulled the drawstring tight. It wasn’t just a matter of over-tightening it; the top of the boots pressed the cord-stopper into my shin with each stride, to the point that I actually had a small scab on each shin at the end of a one-mile walk. Instead, just leave the drawstrings alone. The boots should be tall enough to keep snow from going down them anyway.
The benefit of that happening to me, of course, is that now it won’t happen to you. And even though I did experience that, it doesn’t preclude me from recommending the Kamik Coldcreek boots. From snowy adventures on the mountain to cold muddy hikes in the hills, the Coldcreek boots kept my feet warm, dry and comfortable.
The Kamik Coldcreek boots were provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links.
Kamik Coldcreek Boots
- Not as bulky as most rubberized insulated boots
- Great fit around the ankle area
- Deep ledge in the back for better binding grip
- Little visual touches make them look sporty
- Rubber meets upper in an awkward place when squatting down
- Occasional chill when immersed in deep water
- Cord stopper at the top digs into legs after a while