Western Mountaineering Expedition Booties
In forty years of winter camping these have arguably been the warmest booties I've encountered. The outer fabric is highly weatherproof.
- Very effective closed cell foam insole and heel area.
- Gore WindStopper fabric.
- Integrated over-the-calf gaiter.
- No mechanism to cinch the ankle area.
- Feet slide around inside the bootie especially on uneven surfaces.
I've been a four-season backpacker for 40+ years, and have suffered from cold feet most of that time. I've experimented with various products and homemade designs ever since, but have now resigned myself to the fact that I'll rarely experience "toasty" feet, but will happily settle for toes and heels that aren't "stone cold". With the long nights in winter, there is a fair amount of sitting around camp before climbing into my bag, and that's when my feet get their coldest. Placing a piece of closed cell foam under my feet definitely helps, but it's rare when my feet are actually feeling warm. Note: I do not suffer from diabetes or peripheral vascular disease. I seem to have feet that just get cold real easily.
The following are the three products, or variations thereof, that I've been using for the past 15+ years: MontBell's "Down Booties" (think down socks), MontBell's "WindStopper Booties", Western Mountaineering's "Expedition Booties", and Feathered Friends' "overshell" half of their down booties. (FF's are a two-piece bootie — a plush down sock plus a nylon-shelled, closed cell foam-soled "over shell").
Of the three company's off-the-shelf products, the WM's Expedition Bootie is a clear winner in the warmth category. However, there are compromises with all three. All three brands use 800 fill goose down. All three utilize a "grippy" material on the sole, which doesn't grip at all on crusty snow or ice.
WM's Expedition Booties are mostly well thought out. The only thing lacking, and thus the 4.5 stars, is no ability to cinch the bootie around the ankle. Inside the foot section is an elastic gasket that closes around the ankle which keeps the warm air from escaping, however the foot volume is such that one's foot slips and slides on the inside all over the place when attempting to walk on uneven surfaces, which is just about everything in crusty snow. The outer soles do not grip at all on hard, crusty snow or ice, but the same applies to the other two brands as well.
The two big "pluses" from my perspective are the over-the-calf integrated gaiter, and a closed cell 'cup' built into the heel area so when sitting with your legs extended, and your heels are the only part of your foot making contact with the ground (snow), they benefit from the extra padding and insulation. The gaiter is essential when walking around in fresh or non-consolidated snow. You can post hole with abandon and keep snow out of the bootie. Even when tromping around in wet snow the outer fabric has never wetted out or let moisture in (after more than ten seasons of use).
Been using all of these products in cold, winter conditions for more than ten years.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: WM $160, FF $50, MB $90 & 24
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Current Retail: $115.50-$155.00
Historic Range: $109.95-$155.00
Reviewers Paid: $160.00
<8 oz per pair
800 fill power European goose down
Gore Windstopper shell fabric
Made in USA