Travel planning is a complex business involving many variables and wildly differing requirements, but most trips have at least one thing in common: there will be walking. If the place you’re going involves frigid temperatures, I bring you Bugothermo Techlite Boots by Columbia Sportswear to meet this need. These high-tech, ultra-light hiking boots are designed for cold-weather use and have a very nice added feature: electric heat.
There are a number of features that these boots share with other high-performance hiking boots: water resistance, high-traction soles, internal cushioning and support, etc. These are important, but not what sets them apart. These are the things that make them different:
* Removable, USB-rechargeable batteries
* Built-in heating system
* Rated to -25ºF
* Lightweight at around 21 oz. each for a size 9
What’s in the box?
* A pair of boots
* 2 batteries with electronics control modules
* 2 Micro-USB cables
* 1 dual-socket USB-AC adapter
* 1 Instruction Booklet.
When I pulled these boots out of the box, the first thing I noticed was how light they were. As a daily boot-wearer, I was surprised to find them so light. They were quite stiff to the touch, giving excellent support (more on that in testing) and relatively easy to lace and unlace. The soles were thick and seemed sturdy as well as flexible. Though large on the outside (I received a size 14), the boots were quite narrow inside, something destined to cause trouble as you’ll see in the testing section below.
The instructions were sparse, but complete and informative with no obvious mistakes or omissions. The batteries and the electronics modules were easy to put together and charge.
The first step was to charge the batteries. The control modules have little LEDs on them to show that they’re plugged in and charging. When plugged in first they go through a self-test to make sure the batteries are undamaged, indicated by a blinking red light. I found the chargers temperamental at times, refusing to complete the self-test until unplugged and re-plugged in a few times; after that was done they charged just fine. However, I was a bit annoyed that the LED never changed from red to any other color to show that the batteries were fully charged.