It is no secret that I would be happy in a cabin in the mountains [as long as I had Internet and a nice server room]. I love to get out and hit the trails then come home for some good clean first person [killin] gaming. So when I saw that Columbia Sportswear has come out with a pair of heated, rechargeable hiking boots I got really excited. These things are right up my alley, I have been looking for an excuse to get out of Florida for camping and hit the trails in South Carolina, Tennessee, and even Colorado.
The new boots are called Bugathermo, which is a pretty goofy name if you ask me. Still I do not care about the name [I do own a Wii after all], these boots are not only nice looking but very cool for what they do.
The Bugathermo Boots are capable of providing heat to your feet for up to eight hours. This might not sound like a big deal; after all there have been heated boots, socks with heaters in them, and many other warming devices for years now. Where the Bugathermo boots differ is that they are not a coil based, or point based heating system. With a coil or point based system the heat gets concentrated in one part of the boot or device. This prevents an even distribution of heat and can also be uncomfortable as you end up with hot-spots under your feet. Columbia chose to use an even-surface heating element and placed it in the toe of the boot as opposed to many that put it under the arch. This toe centered heating element combined with a clever combination of insulating material [both under and over the top of the foot] make them excellent for cold weather hiking, ice fishing or any other low-temperature activities.
Speaking about the insulation Columbia has done something pretty smart; they are actually insulating the sole of the boot. I have owned cold weather boots that you could actually feel the cold seeping in through the bottom. To combat this Columbia has put a 200g Thinsulate lining inside the Bugathermo boots and added extra under the sole of the foot. Bringing the overall rating up to [or perhaps down to] -25F/-32C. This is without even turning the heating element on. The upper portion of the boot is made of waterproof nubuck and split suede. It has an Omni-Tech membrane that provides water protection but is also breathable. They have also thrown in an AgION anti-microbial lining. This should help prevent any nasty foot rot from getting at you.
As we mentioned above the heating element is an even-surface one, but it is also adjustable. The Bugathermo boots have three settings, Low, Medium and High; each of these settings [of course] provides a different level of heat and also affects your battery life. When running on low the heating element can generate up to 113F/45C of internal heat [at the heating pad], this gives you an estimated battery life of about eight hours. On Medium you get a toasty 122F/50C and roughly six hours of battery. If you are so cold as to need the high setting you are looking at an almost uncomfortable 140F/60C and four hours. The temperature setting is controlled through a button on the side, next to this button is a set of three lights that indicate the temperature level you are currently on.
Columbia says that during their testing hardly anyone used the high setting and that most people regulated the use of the heating element. This allowed for a longer battery life that they estimate at ?days?. Thankfully the Bugathermo Boots are also rechargeable. The power port is along the back "spine" of the boot. This placement should keep it out of harms way [dirt and dust].
The overall design of these are very intriguing and do warrant a further look into them. Right now Columbia says they have a limited number of these so we were not able to get a pair to test out.
If you are looking for these you can expect to pay at least $250 for a pair, which is not too bad when you look at the price of good cold weather boots without heaters. Full specifications are listed below.
? 3 temperature heating system
? Integrated toe heating element
? Internal rechargeable batteries
? Rustproof metal alloy ghillies and speed hooks hold the foot in place
? Gaiter hook
? 200g Thinsulate? with additional underfoot insulation.
? Anatomically contoured EVA footbed with brushed nylon cover for cushioning and comfort
? Additional insulation underfoot for more warmth and heat loss prevention
? Techlite® molded material provides lightweight cushioning and support
? Injection molded waterproof thermal rubber provides lightweight durable protection
? Non-marking dual-density Omni-Grip® rubber compound for optimal traction in winter conditions
? 9-12, 13, 14, 15