Product Review: Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat

When it came time to select a warm, lightweight boot at a reasonable price for winter biking, I did a little research and tried on pairs from several different manufacturers.  What I was looking for was a boot that could handle the varying conditions experienced riding during a Minnesota winter.  I chose the Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat because it is very lightweight (size 9, ½ pair = 24 oz), waterproof, flexible and has an outsole that would grip nicely on a good set of pinned, flat pedals.

The Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat features a seam sealed Techlite shell, 200 grams of Columbia's patented thermal reflective Omni-Heat insulation (rated to -25° F) and is fully waterproof.  The Omni-Grip rubber outsole has been designed to provide greater traction on all types of winter terrain. 

I have had a couple of months to test them out in all types of winter conditions.  During this time I have worn them riding in temperatures from -10º to +40º F providing me with a good assessment of how they perform.  The cold weather features of the boot's design and how they handle a Minnesota winter would become apparent when putting them through this real-world testing.

I first started wearing them back in November when we didn't have any snow here in the Twin Cities but it was plenty cold on my morning rides.  The temperatures were usually in the twenties to around freezing and wearing the boots with a thin wool sock was sufficient to keep my feet warm for hours.  The waterproof qualities of the boot were beneficial for keeping dry when riding through puddles and wet areas.  During afternoon rides when the temperatures would hover between freezing and the low forties my feet were warm without overheating and wearing a thin wool sock wicked away any perspiration.

In December came the snow and cold weather I was waiting for.  Temperatures remained below average for the next couple of months and the Bugaboot kept my feet warm on rides which usually lasted two to four hours.  During extreme cold where temperatures were sub-zero, I could only get one to two hours of riding in before my feet would start to get cold and toe numbness would set in.  To help extend my rides during these times of extreme cold, I would pair the Bugaboot with Grabber Toe Warmers and Foot Warmers which worked well.  These chemical warmers would give me extra hours of warmth while wearing the boots and I only found them necessary during times when temperatures were in the teens to below zero.  *Note:  Wool socks were worn during testing, one or two pair depending on the outside temperature.

The Bugaboot works great with a set of  gaiters to keep snow out and help calves stay warm and dry during the occasional hike-a-bike through the deeper stuff.  They have a steel eyelet at the base of the lacing to hook the gaiters in place.  The outsole provided excellent traction when using my flat, pinned pedals.  Even when conditions became icy, I never had a problem with my feet slipping off the pedals.  On the occasions I had to put a foot down to keep the bike up on icy trails, the Omni-Grip outsole grabbed nicely on a variety of ice an snow covered surfaces.  The thing I like most about these boots is their lightweight, non-bulky design.  Even with their eight inch height, they remained flexible and allowed free movement when pedaling.  For any flat pedal winter cyclist looking to purchase a high quality and more affordable option to those expensive winter cycling boots, I would definitely recommend the Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat. 

Image Credit:  Columbia Sportswear

The Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat is available in men's, women's and children's sizes at Columbia.com, Columbia retail store locations and from outdoor and online retailers.  A pair lists for $120, but shop around to find better pricing.

Disclosure:  Columbia Sportswear provided the review sample for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.

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