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Vasque Snowburban II UltraDry Winter Hiking Boot Review

vasque Snowburban II Winter Hiking Boot Review

Vasque Snowburban II Winter Hiking Boots

Foot Protecton
Traction
Sensitivity
Warmth
Water Resistence
Sizing
Weight
Durability

Rugged Insulated Hiking Boot

The Vasque Snowburban II is a robust waterproof/breathable winter hiking boot that provides excellent protection and traction. They have 400 grams of insulation and are ideal for cold weather conditions.

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The Vasque Snowburban II UltraDry is a heavy-duty winter hiking and snowshoeing boot with a UltraDry waterproof/breathable membrane and 400 grams of Thinsulate insulation, making them suitable for cold weather use. Vasque doesn’t publish a temperature rating for them but they’re comparable to other 400 gram insulated winter hiking boots (-40F) in terms of warmth, provided you’re active, and not standing around on a frozen lake.

The Snowburban II is a heavy boot as winter hiking boots go, with leather-covered uppers and a high cuff. It has a gusseted tongue to prevent water from getting into your boots when you step in a deep puddle or cross a stream, with a surprisingly rigid toe kick to protect your foot from ice and hard snow. The Snowburbans come with a front gaiter ring to attach your gaiters, a protective rubber heel cup with ridges to help secure traction aids, and thick rubber rand between the sole and uppers that provides lateral foot protection.

Aggressive lugs help provide traction and include breaking ridges to help control descents.
Aggressive lugs help provide traction and include breaking ridges to help control descents.

The fit is narrow and small, so I’d recommend sizing up by a 1/2 or full size. Because they’re leather, the boots do require a short break-in period. I’d recommend using them for 15-20 miles on local trails before you take on any major hikes or climbs, just to soften them up. It’s important that the break-in process is done on uneven terrain, like trails, and not sidewalks, because you want to stress and stretch the leather in a random, non-uniform manner.

The upper part of the boot has some non-leather cutouts around the ankle, to give the boot little flex, and that’s where they soften up first. The inside of the uppers is covered with a wool waffle weave pattern, which Vasque has used on other boots I’ve owned, like the now retired Snowjunkie (2014) and the first generation of Cold Spark Boots (2016.) Both of those were 200 grams boots, designed for warmer temperatures, close to freezing.

A front gaiter hook keep your gaiters in place
A front gaiter hook and heel cub ridges help keep your gaiters and snowshoes in place.

The insole of the Snowburban II is made with dual density EVA, while the midsole is a molded EVA with a TPU shank. The soles themselves are very rigid with little rocker, although I’d still classify the boots as having a flexible heel and not a rigid one like a mountaineering boot. There’s a slight arch in the sole that enables the use of a gaiter under strap, but you’ll want to get a gaiter with a low profile strap or a very tough one, and only use it on snow to avoid strap abrasion. The sole itself is made with multiple materials to provide enhanced traction, but I’ve never noticed any benefit to this claim and suspect that it probably only works on pavement (in the city). If you need extra traction for hiking on snow and ice, use microspikes or snowshoes, like other hikers.

There are two types of eyelets in the lacing system. They bottom eyelets are hinged metal eyelets, while the laces thread through leather loops on the upper half of the boot, starting at ankle height. Vasque uses these leather loops instead of eyelets or speed hooks to help distribute some of the pressure that laces can exert on the top of your foot if you tie your laces very tightly. You can still use alternative lacing techniques with them, like a lacing window or heel lock (see Hiking Boot Lacing Techniques).

The laces run through metal eyelets at the bottom and then leather tubes near the top
The laces run through metal eyelets at the bottom and then leather tubes near the top.

Still, it can annoying if you have to the thread the laces through the leather loops each time you put the boots on. One trick you can use to avoid this, is to tie a simple overhand knot in the lace above the top loop. This will prevent it from pulling through. Still, my preference is to use boots that have speed hooks because they require much less fiddling to tie. You do get used to the Snowburban lacing system eventually, but I still wish they used speed hooks at the top of the uppers.

Recommendation

The Vasque Snowburban II UtraDry is a rugged, waterproof winter hiking boot if you can get past the need to try on multiple sizes to get a good fit and then break them. While they are far more agile than a Pac boot, the Snowburbans fit and perform more like mountaineering boots or heavy backpacking boots than any other insulated winter boot I’ve ever tried. That’s not a bad thing if you’re looking for a boot that has a stiffer feel but is better insulated than most mountaineering boots or 3-season leather backpacking boots.

I was initially put off by the product name since “Snowburban” sounds so much like “suburban”, but I got over that pretty quickly once I started using them. They’re also lighter weight than they look, weighing in at 1 lb 13 oz per boot in a size 11.5, which isn’t as heavy as I feared they’d be. As I said previously, they do run narrow and small, so size up, and think about wearing a thinner sock so your toes have room to wiggle around. They’ll stay warmer if you have good blood circulation in the toe box.

Disclosure: The author purchased these boots.

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3 comments

  1. I added the Snowburbans to my fleet several years ago and love them. Vasque, and Sportivas are a good fit for my feet. These boots are warm! Anything over 20f for me requires I slow down do not overheat in them. They’ve held up great! Used them in ADKS, Whites, Catskills, and PA(it does get cold here in regions of the state:))

    For me, they’re a -20 – +15F boot. I find the 200gram Vasques fill the range from 15f – 40f

    • I did not see this column before I replied to the previous winter boot gear review. I got the Vasque Coldspark UltraDry on Moosejaw for $104 just two days ago, should arrive today, Reviews were good, price was right. I assume they are in the 200 gram category, which should be fine for my hiking. The one thing I noticed is that the Coldspark does have the speed lace top eyelets, and the leather loop bottoms, just the opposite of this model. But for only a $20 difference, some may like the taller, more insulated Snowburban?

  2. I have put two seasons in with my Snowburbans. They are my first winter hiking boot so I don’t have a boot to compare, but I have been very pleased with them. I sized up from normal 10 to an 11 to accommodate a silk sock liner and heavy sock. I don’t recall being either cold or wet in them, they handle my traction devices well, and there have been zero blisters so far. I don’t find them heavy, and I like the level of stiffness. Worth trying if you are winter boot shopping.

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