Toundra mid WP
Price (as tested): $200 (from Solomon website)
The Salomon Toundra mid WP is my favorite dependable boot for cold and wet New England winters. When I first received the box in the mail from Salomon I thought there was a mix up or mistake in what had been sent to me, the box was incredibly light. I am always excited when I get new gear in the mail but when I opened the box I couldn’t believe how solid and burly the boots were for being so lightweight (1.45lbs). The gusseted tongue is attached to the boot, which eliminates any snow from creeping in when you are climbing or on the trail. The next great feature is the rubber toecap, which keeps you protected on the trail, mountain or day-to-day adventures. Moving along to the back of the boot you notice that there is a little rubber notch high up on the heel. This notch is built in to accommodate snowshoes, spikes, or crampons. Moving up the back of the boot is a handle to help pull the boot on nice and snug before lacing it up to get out in the cold weather. I use this boot for day to day, on the mountain, or simply when it is cold out with a lot of snow on the ground and my pup needs to go for a walk.
This is another piece of gear I have been using for over a year and until I used it in the field was skeptical on the performance it promised. When doing my research one thing that immediately jumped out at me, as a feature is the -40 degree Fahrenheit rating. For the weight I thought that there was no way this is possible. Throughout one of the coldest, unforgiving winters to date using them in extremely wet and cold conditions they never failed me. The insulation used is called Aero Therm from a company called Aspen AeroGels that Salomon collaborated with in order to keep weight down but cold weather insulation up. The same insulation was initially designed for NASA to be used in space suits. Having Salomon use it in this boot is epic when it comes to how much bulk and weight is saved. At this point I am sure some people are asking, “If they are that well insulated and waterproof are they hot and sweaty?” If you tend to sweat in boots then wear wool socks to help your feet breathe. There is no magic boot with built in air conditioning to help to stay active and dry. If you are moving around, climbing and working in the boot your feet will sweat, however if you want to wear the boot out for a drink at the bar because the streets are covered in brown slushy goo then you won't be sweating. They breathe as well as any boot can, no more and no less.
So how durable are the boots at such a lightweight and with great insulation? I am happy to say that they are extremely durable. When I buy gear I want to buy something that does not necessarily require a lot of upkeep. That being said I have never needed to treat these boots with special cleaner, or coat them with some weird synthetic that affects the color or smells funny. I purchased them and have been putting them to good use ever since. The bottoms have shown almost no wear and the ability of the boot to stay waterproof is still just as good as it was when I first received them.
So where does the boot fall short? There is very little that I would change about this boot. They are lightweight, well balanced, waterproof, and can be used for a wide range of activities. In my opinion they are a GREAT do it all boot. You can find boots that are much heavier that are waterproof at a much higher price point. On the flip side you can find boots that are lightweight but are only water resistant again at a much higher price point. The one thing that does bug me about them is that they are rigid in the ankle and when I drive with them flexing to put my foot on the gas pedal is a bit of a pain in the butt. However if that is the only thing that I need to compromise on for all the positives then I will take it any day of the week.
The big question: Are they worth the price tag of $200? Absolutely, these are a great pair of boots at a mid to low price point when it comes to the competitors. Some mountaineering boots that are rated for cold temperatures and waterproof are not only impractical for day to day use but can run anywhere from $300-$800. So as long as you are not going to be climbing K2 anytime soon these are a great boot that you can wear day to day and when up on the mountain. They pair well with winter gear such as snowshoes, crampons, spikes, gators. Better yet, because of the technology used to insulate them they are not bulky. Some boots that I have tested are so bulky that it is hard to fit pants around them at the cuff. As long as you are not wearing skinny jeans these boots will fit well and you will be able to fit your pants over them without needing a zipper on the cuff of the pant. If you are in the market for a great boot that has a wide range of applications check this one out. You will not be disappointed.
About Jay - I grew up in the good old days where kids played outside all day. I have always loved the outdoors and since college have been working in one of two fields - Fitness & The Outdoors. I am currently a Crossfit coach out of Crossfit Simsbury in CT. Due to my love of the outdoors I make sure that we take yearly trips to the mountains of New England for weekend backpacking trips, skiing, ice climbing etc. We also like to participate in endurance events, adventure races and fitness competitions. Needless to say, I live a very active and outdoors lifestyle. Looking forward to contributing to the rogue community so if there is any piece of gear or apparel you want info on let me know, I will be more than happy to try it out, put it through the ringer and let you know what I think.