What could be better than winter boots that gently warm your clammy, cold feet like an electric blanket? Maybe the same thing in a jacket or gloves? How about the whole lot? Hey, you can never be too ready for another cold snap.
In 2010, Columbia did just that when the outdoor clothing and footwear company launched the beginnings of its Omni-Heat line: stylish looking sports boots, jackets and gloves that integrate built-in rechargeable batteries and rubbery waterproof controls for three temperature settings. In the case of the boots, one charge gives you two hours of high heat, three at medium or four hours of low-temp warmth for your feet.
We tested the boot pictured here, the Bugathermo. Battery-generated heat aside, these are seriously good winter hiking boots. Their high-cut provides excellent ankle support and there’s nothing wimpy about their traction — these boots feel trustworthy and durable. For the first couple of wears, the lacing was stiff and difficult to tighten but quickly loosened, making it easier to adjust.
Then there’s what the company calls its Omni-Heat thermal reflective design, a silver inner lining made up of a matrix of metallic dots, much like a breathable space blanket.
And of course, the Omni-heat itself. We didn’t need to turn on the batteries on most November mornings in the city; it was unseasonably warm and, when it was cold, the comfy insulation alone provided enough warmth. After an hour of building up a sweat outside, a brief dose of low heat provided a perfect way to keep from feeling immediately cold and clammy indoors.
We’re not sure about Columbia’s claims that Omni-Heat is good to -25°C; it was early winter when we tested the boots. But those little batteries certainly worked their warm charm on weekends when temperatures in the country hit –14°C and hovered at 2°C for a few hours indoors while we waited for the heat in the cottage to kick in. No matter. When February’s cold spells do roll in, we’ll definitely be ready to charge outdoors to continue this toasty test.
This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.