Landcruiser? Land Rover? Pick a vehicular metaphor for a tough-as-nails off-roader that nevertheless envelopes you in luxurious comfort when you slip behind the wheel. That’s the Oboz Insulated Bridger (on sale for $129.50). I’ve been testing the new eight-inch-high model this past month and it’s a burly, cold weather workhorse that’s designed to keep your feet warm and dry in the snow, but it’s a well-rounded boot that’ll serve you well for tough hikes all year long.
At first glance, the boots seem enormous, with the full-length ankle cuff, but they’re not as heavy as you’d expect. The men’s size 9 weigh in at 24.6 oz, my size 12s will tip the scales a few ounces more, but the weight doesn’t feel overwhelming. The boots are clad in a full Nubuck leather upper, with thick molded rubber wraps over the toe and heel. Big, deep lugs adorn the outsoles, which are, like the winter tires would be on our imaginary SUV comparison above, made from a special rubber compound that’s designed to maintain grip even in freezing, snowy conditions. The fit is roomy, but supportive, with a wide toe box, and good support around the heel. I have flat feet of “average” width, and the size 12s were true-to-size.
Speaking of snow, the Bridgers come with a little ring at the top of the shoe near the toe to help affix gaiters to the boot, and they sport a raised ridge on the heel that helps keep the heel strap of a snowshoe in place. To keep your feet warm while trudging around in a winter playland, the Bridgers are stuffed with 200g of Thinsulate insulation, and come with a wool-topped, mylar-coated insole to help hold in heat. Oboz’s own BDRY breathable waterproof membrane keeps everything neat and dry.
Right out of the box I took these boots on a ten-mile hike through a brutal rainstorm in the Marin Headlands. Not only did they require no break-in, they kept my feet dry and clean the entire day, and the grippy lugs held firm on muddy rocks. I’ve also worn them as fishing boots, clomping through deep muddy river banks in comfort.
But it’s in the snow that they really shine.
Postholing around in knee-deep snow in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest last week showed off just how well the Bridgers can handle the frozen stuff. Gaiters held firm, and even without gaiters, the high ankle protection meant I could pull my soft shell pants over the cuffs and keep snow out that way, too. No matter how cold the temperature, the insulated footbed kept my toes warm all day. Something I’ve rarely experienced in a winter boot.
I typically try to get away with the lightest shoes I can, even in the snow, but the Bridgers are a compelling reason to go with big boots again. Off-the-charts comfort and confidence to walk through just about any kind of terrain. Highly recommended.
$129.50 • BUY
Weight: 24.6 oz (Men’s medium)
Materials: NuBuck Leather uppers; 200g Thinsulate insulation; Oboz BDry waterproofing; TPU midsole for stability; winter rubber outsoles.
MORE INSULATED BOOTS WE FANCY
The Vasque Cold Sparks are a bit techier, and much less rugged than the Bridgers, but provide the same 200g of Thinsulate insulation, and can be found for about $91.99 depending on size.
Keen makes some of the most comfortable boots on the market. Their Durand Polar boots have twice the insulation of the Bridgers, and have the added benefit of looking like boots that Han Solo would wear. You can find them on sale for about $100.
Sorels dominate snowbound sidewalks for a reason, but for a Sorel boot that can tackle winter trails too, try the Conquest Mids, on sale for $90.