Minneapolis finally saw real snow this December, giving me plenty of opportunity to put my Baffin Boots to the test. I’ve been out biking, walking, and snow-shoveling in these boots, and I’m really happy with them.
Feet can be especially tough to keep warm during winter biking. Cycling turns your core into a furnace, but contact between your feet and the pedals makes it difficult to wiggle toes and move the foot (the actions that keep you warm). Since I commute with platform pedals and street shoes year-round, choosing a multi-purpose winter boot instead of neoprene covers for clipless shoes was a no-brainer for me. Regardless of what you wear on your feet in the winter, wool socks should be the base layer – never, ever cotton.
Baffin is a Canadian company that makes a wide variety of winter boot styles for women, men and children. Most of them share two great features: removable, replaceable liners and some of the best warmth to weight ratios on the market.
The weight makes them a real joy to wear. I used to have heavy winter boots that I only wore if absolutely necessary because they felt like bricks. These make a winter stroll seem like a lovely idea instead of a chore. The separate liners make the boots easy to dry if your feet sweat and extend the life of the product. My favorite thing, though, is to set the liners near the radiator so they are toasty before my foot even goes in.
With these features included in many different Baffin models, almost any style that strikes your fancy is a good choice. I own the Judy WOS, which are rated to – 40 degrees Fahrenheit and feature uppers made of timberwolf leather (with apologies to Kevin Love and the rest of the NBA team). The leather uppers are just as reliably waterproof as the rubber bottoms. When snow-melt chemicals start working, these boots just shake it off – even on my winter bike that is currently lacking a front fender.
The few minor caveats are problems with this particular design, and might be solved by selecting a different style.
First, I liked the casual style of the faux fur trim of the Judy, but when the boot is laced tightly around my ankle, the faux fur becomes a funnel, channeling snow towards my feet. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s a big problem. The faux fur also makes it hard to get my snow pants over the tops of these boots.
The room these boots give my feet to move around is a big part of what makes them so warm. That much spaces makes it hard to feel solidly connected to my bike pedals, though. People who are used to a solid connection should look for extra large straps for their pedals or find other footwear (like neoprene covers for clipless shoes). Cinching the lacing tight helps a bit, but leaves long laces. If you’re going to bike, make sure to tuck in dangling shoe laces! Getting them caught in your chain is an unpleasant surprise (hasn’t happened to me with these boots, but has been a problem with tennis shoes in the past).
All in all though, I love these boots and my feet stay happy below zero. When they wear out, I’ll be looking to Baffin for another pair.