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Baffin Borealis Double Insulated Winter Hiking Boot Review

The Baffin Borealis Boot has a translucent TPU shell and separate insulated liner
The Baffin Borealis Winter Hiking Boot is a lightweight insulated hiking boot rated to -20 degrees with a removable liner, similar to a plastic mountaineering boot, but much more comfortable for hiking in. It’s also suitable for winter backpacking since you can sleep with the liner to prevent it from freezing at night.

Baffin Borealis Winter Boots

Foot Protecton
Water Resistence

Lightweight Double Insulated

Baffin Borealis Winter Hiking Boot is a lightweight insulated hiking boot rated to -20 degrees with a removable liner, similar to a plastic mountaineering boot, but much more comfortable for hiking in. It's also suitable for winter backpacking, since you can sleep with the liner to prevent it from freezing at night.

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The main thing that sets the Borealis apart from a stiff Pebax (plastic) boot is the translucent exterior TPU shell which is soft, pliable, and comfortable to wear. Fully waterproof, it has a gusseted tongue to prevent water from seeping into the boot. A unique side-locking lace system that snaps shut on the laces to prevent heel lift and heel blisters. It’s a fantastic feature that should be included in other winter and mountaineering boots.

Side lace locks prevent heel lift and blistering
Side lace-locks prevent heel lift and blistering

While the Borealis sole is more rigid than many single-layer winter boots (like the Salomon Toundra or Oboz Bridger), the Borealis is a non-technical winter boot, too soft for kicking steps in hard snow, and lacking a front or rear welt to attach a mountaineering or ice-climbing caliber crampon. However, it can still be worn with properly sized microspikes, and a walking crampon with universal bindings like the CAMP Stalker, making it suitable for non-technical winter hiking, including all of the above-treeline winter peaks I climb in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

The outer boot has a reflective liner on the sole, but little arch support
The outer boot has a reflective liner on the sole, but provides little arch support.

The outer shell has a reflective liner on the top of the sole but provides very little arch support. While the liner has its own removable padded insoles, I’ve found it necessary to replace it with a thin Superfeet Run Support insole for extra arch support. Consider sizing up a 1/2 size to accommodate insoles if required. Otherwise, the boots fit to size with a normal hiking sock.

The Inner boot is reinforced at the heel for greater durability
The insulated inner boot is reinforced at the heel for greater durability.

The inner insulated boot molds to your foot with body heat, personalizing the fit. It’s reinforced at the heel and on the bottom, a nice detail, because this is where insulated liners wear out with heavy use.

The insulated inner boot locks into the rear of the waterproof shell with a velcro strap
The insulated inner boot locks into the rear of the waterproof shell with a velcro strap.

The liner is secured over the forefoot with an elastic band and locked into the TPU shell with a rear velcro strap to lock it in place. In practice, I’ve found it easier to keep the inner boot in the waterproof shell rather than putting it on outside, and then trying to fit the inner boot into the waterproof shell while wearing it. Of course, the shell can still be removed for drying.

The lugs on the sole are fairly modest as winter hiking boots go, but chance are you'll use microspikes anyway if you need more traction.
The lugs on the sole are fairly modest as winter hiking boots go, but chances are you’ll be using microspikes anyway if you need more traction.

The lugs on the Borealis are fairly modest as winter boots go but sufficient for walking on packed snow. However, when worn, the Borealis Boots are noticeably easier to drive with, even with a standard transmission, than a more rigid and heavier-duty mountaineering boot-style sole. The soles have a slight rocker but are still easy to walk with, in part because the shell isn’t rigid, and because they’re so lightweight.


I’ve been very pleased with the Baffin Borealis Boot and think they’re a real find for winter hiking. They’re quite comfortable and warm, waterproof, and easy to use with traction aids such as snowshoes, microspikes, and crampons with a universal binding. Rated for 20 below zero, the Borealis Boots are also quite lightweight, weighing in at just 3.0 pounds for a US men’s size 11…a full two pounds lighter than the old pair of Scarpa Omega Plastic Mountaineering boots (no longer made), also with a removable liner, that I used to wear.

If you already own single-layer winter hiking boots for day hiking, I don’t think you need to upgrade to the Baffin Borealis boots. But if you’re looking for a double-insulated boot so you can backpack in winter and sleep with your liners, I’d give the Borealis Boots serious consideration. If you can get by with a walking crampon, there’s simply no need to cripple yourself with a hard plastic mountaineering boot like a Scarpa Inverno when the Borealis provides the same benefits at a fraction of the weight and a lower price.

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Disclosure: Baffin donated boots for review.

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  1. These sound perfect for the described purpose! Fantastic find, Phil! I believe the only missing data I would like is the exact weight…

  2. Very cool boots — hopefully they will make a women’s version at some point.

    BTW, La Sportiva utilizes the lace locking mechanism for some of their mountaineering boots — it’s awesome, especially when lacing up with gloves. Much easier to get optimal tension. I think it should be standard on all hiking boots.

    • Wouldn’t count on it. Baffin’s women’s line isn’t that strong. You might have to do with the men’s – I honestly can’t think why they aren’t unisex. It’s a double boot – the liner molds to your foot.

      • The problem for a lot of women is that we have narrower heels than men — I’ve tried unisex liner boots before & am always swimming in the heel. Also, small foot sizes — the smallest size in these boots is a Men’s 7, too big for a lot of us.

  3. Would you say that the thermo liner makes them warmer than the Toundra? The Toundra is rated lower but ratings are arbitrary.

    • Impossible to say. I think the bigger issue is what the external temperature is. Do you really hike in anything under 10 below?

      There are very few true mountaineering boots that have liners that will take you below 20 or 30 below. If you need more insulation, wear a thicker sock, vapor barrier, or you put on neoprene overboots which is what people do in nepal. See That’s what people use.

      If you’re out in weather below 20 below….well let’s just say, you’re out of your mind. It’s so unpleasant that you’d be better off staying home or going bowling. Remember….wind chill is different from temperature.

      • I ask because my feet run cold, even when moving. I’ve no plans to be in -20 absolute. Bowling, though, that’s cruel. You must be trying to bore me to tears. ;)

        • My toes run cold also and these boots do the trick in active backpacking down to +20 F (tested) but when I stop, my toes got too cold too fast for me. Baffin told me the -20 F is an active rating not an inactive one. I wonder if an R value (like sleeping pads) for the sole of boot might help as a rating system? The soles are not that thick on these boots and it seems to me conduction into the ground/snow is where most of the heat transfer is as opposed to convection into the air outside the uppers.

          You could pack over boots like 40 below or NEOS for the whole boot or just the inner boot but the weight adds up.
          I just got a pair of Boreal G1 LItes, a 6000 m double mountaineering boot that is pretty flexible and fits great, if expensive.

      • “Impossible to say.”

        Why is it impossible to say?

        You’ve worn both boots in the snow and cold of New Hampshire. How can you have no opinion on which boot is warmer in similar temps/conditions?

        Also, the OP never asked if the boots were good to -20 or -30 below. So the lecture about thicker socks and Nepal was unnecessary.

        There are plenty of people in the Netherlands, Canada’s far North, the Yukon, Alaska, Siberia, et al, who routinely venture out in -20 below for sport and recreation. Are they kooks, cranks, and crazies?

        • I don’t go outside in 20 below weather often. The last time I did it was dangerously cold, stupid actually, and I was wearing double lined plastic mountaineering boots. That was probably five years ago.

        • I think you’re mixing up units. Philip means-20 Fahrenheit which is -29 Celcius

  4. It’s been 70 degrees for the past week down here in Texas, so I haven’t had to use any traction aids on my Crocs.

  5. “If you’re out in weather below 20 below….well let’s just say, you’re out of your mind. It’s so unpleasant that you’d be better off staying home or going bowling.”


    I have Baffin Booties for use around the house and for wearing around camp, especially when sleeping. They are very toasty…..

  6. Great find. Thanks!

    Re: -20 F

    I have found the difficulty in doing camp chores to be very nonlinear, maybe exponential, with respect to temperature.
    20 deg F. Ideal.
    10 deg F. Still fun.
    0 deg F. Better have everything dialed in.
    -5 deg F. Why am I doing this?
    -10 deg F This was a mistake.
    Below that, no real experience since I aborted those trips each time

      • If I’m out in -20° it’s because I have no choice. I have the gear to walk in those kinds of temperatures, but I don’t think it would be enjoyable and the margin for error is small.

      • I have routinely gone jogging and cycled to work (10 km) at -20F/-29C. It was fine. Mind you, I’m in Alberta, Canada, and as we like to say, “it’s a dry cold.” If I had stayed inside at those temps, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything for most of February this year. Probably wouldn’t set out to camp or to hike all day though.

    • Hello,

      Do I understand right this is regardind Borealis?

      I just was thinking to buy some shoes not for hiking but for walking much in Russian winters, so was interested if in -20 Celcius it is still okay as it is said in the Borealis description or it is already not okay?

      Thanks everybody.

  7. Well I’m convinced! My only question is what the fit is like? I have rather narrow and low-volume feet, not always accommodated well by foam inner boots.

  8. Hi Philip,

    This is exactly the type of boot I have been looking for Michigan winters.

    Just ordered size 13 and 14 from Zappos on free 1 day shipping to try and free returns.

    Will report back.

  9. One more question, Philip. I am wondering how these would handle a misstep with crampons on compared to leather boots… Once in a while, clumsy me, it happens. Any observations?

  10. Thanks for featuring these boots.

    • Great review and I appreciate the comments but I’m
      not getting a sense of whether they fit true to size or if I should size up? Anyone input would be appreciated. FWIW I normally wear a size 8 and my feet are normal to slightly wide.

  11. Hi again,

    So I got the boots yesterday, and they are fantastic. Really like them. But I have a question about gaiters. The sole doesn’t have the indentation between the heel and the rest of the sole where the instep strap typically goes. Sorry, I do not know the technical terms. I know you have switched gaiters, but I still use my OR Crocodiles, and I am worried my gaiter strap will wear prematurely with these. Have you found this to be a problem? Thank you!

    • The center strap on a croc and most gaiters is incredibly tough and easy to replace. Just use it on snow if it’s a concern.

      You can also replace it with a nylon cord (better clearance) yourself now…or try using them without the center strap. They are so heavy that the lace hook should be sufficient to keep them in place.

  12. Thank you for the great review.

    I’m thinking about purchasing a pair, but looking at Amazon as well as the Baffin web site it looks like they removed the “lace lock”, which was one of the main features I was buying them for! They didn’t even replace it with another eyelet to lock your heel in…they just skipped it completely.

    I sent Baffin an email asking about this and I will post their reply.

    Thanks again.

    • That would suck. I will reach out to them too.

      • Any word back from Baffin on the potential lacing change? Hopefully, the boot used for press / PR purposes in the pictures we have seen was just an incomplete mock-up and the boots being shipped still utilize the “lace lock” mechanism or, if done away with, hopefully it has been replaced by adding another “regular” eyelet… I am trying to decide on whether to purchase a pair of these Baffins or the Keen Summit Countys or the Salomon Toundras. If there is now a large gap in the lacing system of the Baffins, that may take them out of consideration.

  13. Anders Alexandersson

    Good news, it seems! I emailed [email protected] on November 4:
    Did you remove the lace locks? The topic is actively discussed on a popular website:

    Karen Poole responded:
    No we have not removed the lace lock :)


    I also have a question: I wear size 8 on most shoes. Since there is no size 8.5 for this model, do you recommend same size again or moving up a full size to 9?

  14. Hi Philip!
    I’ve got a pair of the Baffin Borealis at home to try out. When I’m walking uphill and I’m up on my toes, I find the crease in the boot over my toes and arches to be really uncomfortable. The material on the upper of the boot really digs into my toes and arches. Did you find this with these boots as well? If so, did that crease in the boot become more comfortable as you wore the boots more? They feel great when I’m walking on level ground, but once I start going uphill, it really hurts. This seems to be a common problem for me when I wear boots. Is this a problem a lot of people have as well? It’s very rare for me to find boots that don’t have that uncomfortable crease over the toes when I’m walking uphill. In fact, I’ve only founda few pairs of winter hiking boots that don’t do this for me – the Salomon Quest Winter GTX boot and the Oboz bridger 8″ and 10″ insulated winter hiking boot. If you have a chance to try these boots out, I would definitely highly recommend them. The Salomon Quest Winter GTX has a similar cold rating as the Salomon X Ultra Winter and weighs about the same. It’s got a stiffer sole than the latter and it seems narrower in the midfoot, which really fits my foot. I’ve never felt my foot to be so secure in a winter hiking boot. I really love the Oboz as well, especially the 10″ Bridger insulated b dry boot. It weights a bit more than the Salomon Toundra. It’s got 400 grams of Thinsulate and the way the boots flex over the toes and arches when walking uphill is unbelievably comfortable to me.

  15. It sounds like you have narrow feet. You might try a woman’s size. With many boots you cannot tell by looking which are men’s and which are women’s. Alternatively, you might try European brands, which sometimes run narrower than American ones. I also find that Salomon boots tend to run a bit narrow. No matter what, buy boots from an outfit with a good return policy.

  16. I found I have the issue Paul described (crease in boot digs/pinches toes and/or top of foot) with the Salomon Toundras. Liking the idea of a removable liner in a flexible winter hiking boot, I still gave the Baffins a try – surprisingly enough I found they don’t have the same problem for me but flex comfortably with my foot. I’m not sure if this is a difference in individual samples of the boot or just variances in fit.

    Just comparing them in the house I felt the Toundras were a bit warmer and less flexible (upper and sole).

    Also the boots have the lace locks – at first I thought the laces were stuck but then figured out what was going on. I really like the way these work.

    Thanks for the review, Philip; I wouldn’t have found these otherwise.

  17. Philip, Thank you for sharing the Borealis. It’s not easy finding a winter boot with removable liner that’s light and hikes comfortably. How have yours held up? Are you still wearing them? Do they hike and snowshoe as comfortably as your Salomon Toundras?

    • I mainly use them for winter backpacking overnights during the two months of a year when they’re fun (March, April). At the moment, I’m doing a lot of day hikes and snowshoeing in my Toundras until we get more sunlight again. The Borealis are the only double boots I own. They hike fine with the superfeet insoles I wear in the Toundras. Not as comfortable as my Toundras, but way more comfortable than the alternative – plastic mountaineering boots!

  18. I just got some. I’m impressed overall. Couple of observations. The boot is a bit more awkward and bulky than single layer boots. Traction is very good even on wet surfaces. The right boot was rubbing against the back of my foot in the Achilles area. Left is fine. Weird. There is a seam in the liner there. Maybe I’ll try some duct tape.

  19. I have to agree with Philip’s assessment of the Borealis. I get him saying the soles are somewhat low profile but 1 more mm of lug length isn’t going to make a huge difference.

    These are boots that are primarily designed for snow. They don’t need 3-4mm lugs to be effective.

    I have used the boots a lot and I believe they are one of the best kept secrets out there as far as boots go for winter death marches when the snow is deep.

    They really are a phenomenal boot as long as not utilized for something other than what they are designed for.

    Much more comfortable than a true hardshell dbl boot.

    On a side note mine have true eyelets for the laces. Not just cutout as seen in the review photos.

    Maybe an updated variation. I dunno.

    But for snowshoeing, and trail crampons use(I use Hillsound TC pros and G10s) you will be hard pressed to find a better option that will still provide a bit of ankle support for when you have a pack on your back.

    Nice review Phil.

  20. Hey, just wanted to post a fyi on this feed in regards to using Grivel New Classic crampons on this boot.

    Due to the kick on the back of the boot which it great for snowshoe straps I have found that on Grivels New Classic(strap) crampon the rear cradle will not lay on the back if the boot.

    It actually lines up perfectly so it makes contact with the very tip of this ridge on the boot.

    That is worrisome to me for a multitude of self explanatory reasons.

    If you are buying crampons to use with this boot take your boots with you.

    This isnt really a big deal for me as the crampons I use are semiauto.

    Just wanted to throw this little tidbit out there as a heads up.

    Also, if you find a crampon for this boot use flex bars. The Borealis isnt a rigid boot(my Nepal Cubes are) and using a stiff bar crampon on a flexible boot will result in your destroying your crampons due to the lack of rigidity in the boot and the stress it causes on the crampon.

    It’s not a matter of if the crampon will grenade.

    Its simply a matter of when.

    Hope you all are getting out there and creating memories.

  21. Hello,
    I got a pair of these boots and am trying to sort out how much the inner boot actually ‘molds’ to your foot. I normally wear 11.5, got the 12 and find them a bit tight in width (perfectly fine length). If in fact the inner boot conforms with wear, perhaps they’ll be fine. Right now I am just wearing them around the house. Any thoughts/feedback from folks that have some actual hiking hours/days in these would be a help.

  22. Thomas,

    I normally wear 11.5 Keene with wide toe box. As recommended I upsized to 12 yet the boots still felt snug in width. However, after wearing them a while the boots began to feel custom made for my feet, and I would forget about them while hiking, experiencing no pressure, binding or rubbing. Micro spikes and snow shoes fit well. Using vapor barrier the liners stay dry so are not too uncomfortable to sleep with. Very nice boots, it is unfortunate extra/replacement liners are unavailable.

  23. Hi Philip

    This is Deborah (they crazy woman who was gushing about your work and website at the Crawford Path trailhead today!). Thanks so much for this recommendation! I am definitely going to seriously consider these boots over my koflach! Really great to meet you and happy holidays!

  24. Phillip, or anyone with insulated boot experience, please speak to the insulation characteristics of the inner boot. Any guesses as to what it’s constructed with? Most importantly, what is it equivalent to compared to the typical insulated boot? “200g” of Thinsulate seems to be the standard in the majority of insulated boots, and that is simply insufficient for my cold feet. I’ve been getting by with some Vasque’s with 400g of Thinsulate, but they’re a bit clunky. They’re okay with snowshoes but I wouldn’t want to walk miles and miles in them. My feet still get quite cool in them, but at least they don’t freeze. If these Baffin’s are close to 400g worth of insulation, I’ll give them a try.

    • The liner is basically the equivalent to an intuition mountaineering boot liner, which isn’t really comparable to thinsulate. Those liners are pretty reliably warm down to -20.

      • I was able to use my Scarpa Inverno size 11 US/10 UK high altitude liner in my size 12 Baffin Borealis boots for some added warmth. The original liner that came with the Borealis didn’t keep me warm when standing around at -10 to 0 F. Walking around at those temps with the original liner was fine. I also discovered that the original liner was waterproof when I washed it, at least it held water like a bucket. My socks get fairly damp without a VBL.


    This means you can put the liners in the foot of your winter bag/quilt and have warm feet for the morning. It only takes one morning of painfully cold toes to remember to do this.

    IN ADDITION A VBL SOCK will keep the liner dry and warm all day long. I’ve found that US Divers 3 mm thick neoprene divers socks are the best VBl sock. I wear them over thin poly liners and bring a spare large of poly liners for each day, storing each day’s sweaty ones in a quart ZipLoc freezer bag.
    If you do NOT use a VBL sock be prepared for progressively colder feet at the end of the day.

  26. Happy to say that the lace lock is STILL present. As of 1/1/2020. Just received, haven’t hike yet, but very impressed with the boots. Seem like a great value.

  27. Hi Phillip,

    I am Surveyor in Wisconsin. Work does not slow down in the winter. We work in the snow and subzero wind chills. My company is primarily contracted by the WisDOT so I do a lot of work on highways and subsequently in the ditches and brush along them. Do you think these would be comfortable/durable for walking miles on pavement and through rough/brushy terrain?


    • I think you’d be bettrr off with an extreme pair of pack boots. Ones where you can buy an extra one or two liners. You want higher mid calf boots. These are rather low and will fill with water the first ditch you step into.

      • I’ve got waders/muck boots for ditches that are full of water. These boots sound like they will be warm/snow proofed enough and not as clunky as other winter boots that I have used. Just wondering how durable that outer shell is? Could it get punctured by a stick?

  28. I got a pair of these just recently. While I have not had them in the snow yet, I thought it would be important to mention that they are not seam sealed along the black neoprene tongue cover under the laces. They will leak through in rain or from splashing in puddles, or even from melting snow getting trapped under the laces.

    If you plan on using these for any sort of extended wet use, I recommend using some Aquaseal FD to seal between the rubber shell and neoprene tongue creased at the stitching points. I did this on mine and they are now effectively 100% waterproof from the top of the neoprene tongue down.

    You could also create some sort of barrier on the inside of the boot between the shell and the liner. Would need to be thick and strong enough to not rip. Would also still allow gained weight from water entering the boot, even though it is not entering the insulation layer.

    Baffin should really be seam sealing these to begin with at the factory. Everything else is extremely waterproof, yet they shoot their own foot 5 yards from the endzone before the winning score. haha

  29. So they are not breathable. Doesn’t your feet get sweaty and your socks and liners damp?

    • Yep. But that happens with any winter boots you’d get, breathable or not. The reason people buy these boots for winter hiking and specifically overnight trips is that the outer boots don’t absorb any water, so they won’t freeze at night. Waterproof/breathable boots will freeze, which makes them impossible to use the next morning. Most people simply sleep with their liners in a sleeping bag, which will dry them out. You can also wear bread bags (plastic bags) over your socks to prevent the liners from getting wet from perspiration. People also do that with waterproof/breathable boots for the same reason.

  30. Hi! Re Baffin Borealis boots . You say -20 degrees . Is that Fahrenheit or Celsius ? I’m in Canada

  31. Hi Phillip, question on outer boot flexibility. I ski-camp in the winter with Altai Hok skis. The binding is hinged, meaning the boots I use with it have to flex at the ball of the foot. How stiff are these? Will they work with a universal boot binding?

    I find that if boots are too stiff they pinch where they flex. These look fantastic but I’m not sure the plastic design would work. What do you think?

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