Rating: 5 / 5
First off, here is the system I currently use:
1st: Thin liner sock,
2nd: Vapour Barrier Liner,
3rd: Montrail Hardrocks,
4th: 40 Below TR Overboot
Why did I purchase the 40 Below Overboot?
In winter time, even with a VB sock, my feet would generate enough heat to melt the snow that was sticking to my boots. Once a little bit of moisture was on the outside of the boot, more snow would stick to it. At the end of the day, although my feet would be toasty warm, my boot would be wet through. I was unable to dry them in my sleeping bag, and even unable to dry them if I put them by a fire and then slept with them in my bag. In the morning, my boots would be frozen solid. Sometimes, if it was warm enough, it would only be a minor inconvenience. But, when the temps really dip, lets say below 0*F, it would be a good amount of pain wearing them in the morning before my feet warmed up. This was not something I looked forward to in the mornings. I tried several methods to counter this problem, but none worked. I even tried wearing tyvek overboots, but they prove to destroy themselves throughout the day. I was looking for something to wear with my snowshoes or crampons that would keep my feet warm and dry throughout multi-day winter backcountry trips. I came across the 40 below overboots.
Upon reading about the 40 Below Overboots, I inquired with them and had some lengthy e-mail discussions regarding performance and how they are to be used. After ordering, I expected them to be watereproof enough to not allow melting snow to enter into the overboot and wet my shoe, keep my feet warm allowing me to wear trail runners instead of boots, and have a highly breathable gaiter that would block the dusting of snow thrown up from snowshoes, but would breath enough that my lower legs would not be wet from condensation when I arrived at camp. Are these high expectations? Yes, but I take my trips extremely serious and put gear through thorough testing due to my minimalist style of outback travel. The bonus to the overboots is that because I will be wearing trail runners instead of my boots, I will be saving substantial weight off my feet.
Upon ordering, I sent a tracing of my shoe to 40 below so they could custom size the boot. The finished product is marked as a size L. They fit my size 11 Montrail Hardrock absolutely perfectly and the pair weighs in at 14.4 oz. Included is 2 pairs of CCF foot beds. One is about 1/8” thick while the other is about ¼” thick. I am 6’3” and the upper gaiter of the overboot sits just below my knee.
I have 5 days use on these overboots. All days were used with Northern Lites Backcountry Rescue snowshoes in deep powder snow conditions. Temperatures ranging between –10*C (14*F) and –18*C (0*F). Typically, I would wear the overboot for about 12 hours a day and then change into a down bootie in the evening after chores were done. In the morning, I would put the Overboot on to break camp immediately after waking up and making breakfast.
First off, thank you for making this product. It has solved many problems I have endured over the last few years.
The boots kept my feet warm and dry all day during strenuous snow shoeing and climbing. I would even wear them at camp as my down booties were not required until the evening and my shoes would not be wet. I remember the first day when I arrived at camp and was wondering what my shoes were going to look like. To my pleasant surprise, they were dry as a bone. No snow had worked its way between the Velcro closure into my overboots. I deal with some very deep and fine powder, so I would think that if it stands up to our powder, the boot can probably hold off the worst. Now, I know from experience that even though a boot or shoe looks dry, it can still have moisture internally and freeze, so the real test was throughout the night. Every morning, even with temps dropping to –18*C my shoe was dry and pliable in the mornings. Oh what a great feeling to put on shoes that were not frozen (yes, they are cold, but far from frozen!!). This type of routine was typical during the use of the overboots. It is my new exclusive combo and I can stop my search for the ultimate winter footwear system.
So, with all the good stuff said, there is one minor downfall. That is the durability of the sole. Now I know that these are not recommended for use without crampons or snowshoes, but after the second day, I started to notice some wear, almost like hotspots, on the sole. This abrasion occurred when wearing my snowshoes and was coming from contact with some plastic ridges on my snowshoes. No doubt these are on the snowshoes for grip on the heel of the user, but never the less, they are wearing the boot. After 5 days, I have several wear marks and small hole about 1/8” in size. I am planning to add some epoxy to these spots to stop the wear as it is only in small areas.
The problem is that in order to make the sole durable enough to withstand that type of abrasion, you would need to add weight. Basically you would need to put a shoe sole on it, which I believe is not the answer. I actually don’t know what the answer is, and maybe one isn’t even required. I am hoping that with by adding a small patch of epoxy on the wear points, they will hold up fine.
Edit: After sending 40 below this review, they contacted me stating they are looking into other sole options and have found one that is much more durable. They even offered to put the new sole on my boot for free this summer, but since mine are still in great shape, I declined for now.