Review: BOGS Ultra Mid Boot
Warm & dry feet make for a healthier, happier life – that’s a lesson I learned as a teenager. But only recently did I discover Bogs Footwear, and their incredibly well designed and constructed boots that truly protect against the cold and wet of winter. Bogs Mid Ultra boot makes perfect sense for cyclcocross, but will quickly become your go-to boot when conditions are ugly, wherever you are.
Garbage pickup at my house is Thursday. And it’s not uncommon for me to forget about setting the trash out the night before, which means I perform a pajama-clad dumpster dash ’round about 8:00 AM when I hear the trash men lurch & grind to a halt in my back alley. It’s also rainy season here at PEZ HQ, which means I’m often splashing through the wet as I haul the bins to the lane.
Ever since I first read through the Bogs catalog, I’ve dreamt of footwear that would not only keep my feet dry, but slip on easily (saving me crucial seconds), and be tall enough to tuck my pants (or pajamas) into to save the inevitable lower leg soaking that comes with this tepid task.
I was about 3 weeks into my Bogs review when conditions collided for my perfect test of the above scenario. The rain was teaming, the collector’s truck rumbled to a halt, I bolted from buttering my toast and scrambled into a rain jacket. This time I stepped confidently into the Bogs Ultra Mid boots – my sock-covered toes slipping effortlessly against the smooth interior lining, coming to a secure stop as my foot nestled securely into their cozy confines. And I was out the door – recycling bin in hand as I chased across the yard – recklessly blasting straight through puddles that would render any of my other footwear a sopping mess –.
As dramatic as that sounds, it’s true – fortunately I live in the perfect testing area for Bogs’ own brand of industrial strength footwear. And just in case you’ve missed the plot here – these boots make perfect sense for any of you standing around a muddy cyclocross race, or before or after your rain-doused mtb ride, or (…get this) in any number of situations in daily life that require dry feet in a wet environment (anyone got kids in soccer…?).
Bogs are a Portland-based maker of serious rainwear for your feet. But calling it ‘rainwear’ implies a specific use – and while their boots and shoes are very well suited to keeping feet dry in the wet, they’re also very good at keeping feet warm, and well protected, in a variety of situations, and applications. This line from their website best sums up what they make: “waterproof, durable and beyond comfortable footwear for people who work (or play) in the most uncomfortable conditions.”
Their huge selection of fashion-styled rain boots are likely well known to your wife or girlfriend, and maybe very well known if you’ve worked in the dairy or farming industry, where the need for durable, comfortable, dry & warm footwear led to the brand’s creation.
A glance at their “In The Media” page shows an impressive array of 49 publications (many of them targeted to women) that have talked about Bogs – although none of them cycling-related. So yes – they are a well known brand across the outdoor realm, and that makes them something you could probably use in your cycling realm.
To the untrained eye (and depending on model), the Bogs looks like a beefed up gumboot, or gum-shoe, or just plain ol’ gumboot. And that ‘something to keep my feet dry through the 6 months of the year where cold & rain are a major part of daily life’ was what first appealed to me.
As the name suggests, the Ultra Mid is a mid-calf height boot. As the name doesn’t necessarily suggest, it’s also very warm – rated to minus 40 degrees F – now that’s colder than I’d ever want to experience, but does set a goal post that I’m quite happy never reaching.
The full shell of the Ultra Mid is three layers that are designed to:
1. repel water
2. insulate the foot
3. add comfort by moving moisture away from the foot
To clarify how serious Bogs is about making serious footwear for serious conditions, consider that they’ve developed a number of proprietary materials. The outer shell is a seamless rubber compound that covers the foot and extends up above the ankle. The tread – formed as part of this outer rubber shell – is designed for serious grip, it’s made from Bog’s proprietary BioGrip rubber compound that was developed over 3 years to create what Bogs says is the “best gripping, best wearing outsole in the market that is impervious to most chemicals.”
The second layer their Neo-Tech fabric that’s the heart of insulation secret – it’s similar to neoprene, but is stronger and with less stretch. It’s 7mm thick in the Ultra Mid, while other boots on their line vary between 6mm and 8mm thickness. It extends all the way up the upper, and features two large hand-holds for super-easy entry.
Inside is the third layer of construction – the part that’s closest to your skin (or touching it if you go commando) – they call it Max-Wick, and it’s designed to move moisture away from your foot, which makes good sense when you want to stay comfortable and even better sense when you want to stay warm.
Finally, the removable footbed is one of the sturdiest I’ve seen, and does add some structure and support to what is essentially a gumboot on ‘roids. (And I mean that in a good way.) If you prefer custom footbeds, there’s plenty of room to fit ’em in.
I’ve been suffering from cold feet ever since I was a teenager, cleaning golf clubs at my high school job on a cold November day wearing cotton socks and canvas runners. Caught the worst cold after that… and also learned that good health starts from the ground up, and that means keeping feet warm. By the time the October chill sets in I’ve broken out my winters’ supply of wool socks – and don’t leave home without them until April.
When it comes to keeping water out and staying dry, I think we’re all nodding our heads that that rubber is the way to go. Beyond that, Bogs’ tread design reminded me of the same level of pattern creation I saw as the long ago marketing manager for Vittoria Tires. But instead of cutting through dirt and mud to find traction… well, forget the instead part – that’s exactly what these are designed to do. You step on a pool of water and the tread channels it away to find grip – and then the rubber compound needs to be sticky enough to stick through all that moisture. Now, I’m not climbing Everest, or sprinting across frozen ponds, (nor did I test these in any slippery chemical environments), but I’ve found the Bogs deliver more than enough traction for my day to adventures.
I’ve also learned that using man-made fabrics is crucial to staying warm in winter months, and I wear neoprene booties almost religiously for cold weather cycling. Bogs’ Neo-Tech feels and performs a lot like neoprene, so with 7 mm of the stuff surrounding my foot, they’re pretty toasty. On a particularly cold day in early November, I was outside in a steady rain of about 6 degrees Celsius, (44 F), and after a good half hour of standing around, my feet were still comfortably warm.
I liked the Ultra Mid because of the height – their taller “Classic” boots might require more effort to don, and would likely be over-built for my urbane usage, while the lower cut ankle and shoe-styles would not offer the coverage I need. The Ultra Mids have so far filled the void to the point of total saticfaction, and the no-hands step-in is a big bonus. Whatever your need, their website shows off a host of styles, designs, and heights that should suit most applications readers of PEZCycling could conjure.
And while the women’s side has a lot more fashion on offer, I’m told Bogs is working on adding even more choices for men that would broaden the appeal by adding more style to the already considerable function.
Priced at $126.00US ($130 in Canada), and available at the Bogs’ website and retail stores across the land, they may sound a tad expensive if compared to a drugstore variety ‘gumboot’. But after putting these to the test these past few weeks, it’s clear they’re really an inexpensively priced pair of very technical footwear.
And with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, there’s no reason not to check them out.
• See more info and buy em: BogsFootwear.com
• Check prices and buy ’em online at Amazon.com