Traditional mukluks wrap the foot and lower leg. Their flexible uppers cinch tight around the calf, laces crisscrossing on leather up almost to the knee.
This winter, Vasque adds to the genre with its Lost 40 winter boot. A hybrid mukluk, the boots have a Vibram sole and modern add-ons like softshell material and aerogel insulation in the midsole.
I tromped in them for a month for this review. Temps ranged from below zero to a slushy, 35-degree day.
At $180, this made-for-winter boot is fairly priced. It comes in a men’s and women’s model and can stand up to conditions in wild, cold places where snow piles deep.
This is not a mountain boot. Don’t expect to kick steps or add crampons. Instead, rolling trails and frozen lakes are the venue for the comfortable, flexible Lost 40.
As day-to-day footwear, the aesthetic is fun and good-looking. You can rock the Lost 40 as a style move in some cities. They do fine navigating the urban landscape. Sledding with the kids is a yes in these cozy calf-highs.
A callout feature, these boots have generous and warm 7mm felted-wool liners. They wrap the feet and lower leg. The shell of the boot is suede and a synthetic softshell.
The result is a boot wearable from freezing down to below zero. My feet were never cold, including on a 10-below day, as long as I was on the move.
Flexible and relatively light weight for their size, the Lost 40s balance warmth with a supple design you can comfortably wear while moving for miles over snow.
The Lost 40s are difficult to put on. It’s a good thing Vasque provides pull tabs on the boot shell and the liner, as you need both.
These boots are also a serious hassle to get off the foot. This is a small annoyance, but one that adds up if you want to wear these boots every day.
Another concern, the laces on the Lost 40s are poorly designed. There is just too much going on, with two lacing areas on each boot, a cincher, and a snap-shut “garage” up high to contain loose ends.
When the boot is tied tight a lot of extra lace is left flopping free. The garage (a tab of material with a snap) manages the top lace fine. But below, on the top-of-foot area, you’re left with 6 to 10 inches of free lace that needs to be tucked in.
Despite some concerns, the Lost 40s are a decent alternative to bulkier winter boots. I like the design, and the flexible form makes them fit nice and remain comfortable for hours of wear.
I’ll pull the Lost 40s on for longer hikes in the snow this winter. Post-holing, in snowshoes or running packed trails, the neo-mukluks will get me through.
On the net: gearjunkie.com.
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