One of the great things about working at Nature Travels is the regular opportunity to travel to Sweden and participate in the outdoor experiences we offer, from wilderness canoeing in summer to dogsled tours and log cabin holidays in the deep snows of winter.
We’re also frequently able to trial the latest clothing and equipment from Scandinavian manufacturers (see the Scandinavian Outdoor Group for an overview of the products offered by companies such as Lundhags, Haglöfs and Bergans of Norway – you may not realise some of your favourite outdoor brands are Nordic!), with the result that we have amassed a fairly good collection of high-quality outdoor clothing to see us through most situations.
One item of winter outdoor gear I’ve always felt I was missing was a good pair of winter boots suitable for general use on winter activities (as opposed to specialist boots for winter mountaineering/climbing, etc). This is something I’ve been putting off buying for a long time, for a number of reasons:
- Specialist winter equipment on our dog sledding holidays as well as for some other winter activities is supplied as standard, which means it is not necessary to bring your own when taking part in the tours. This includes warm winter boots, thick socks, warm hat and gloves, and thermal outersuit.
- Winter boots can be an expensive purchase and it seemed difficult to justify buying my own when good-quality boots are provided when needed.
- Winter boots are bulky and take up a lot of room in your luggage. The alternative is to grit your teeth, wear them when travelling and not mind too much if you arrive in Sweden with very overheated feet!
A combination of the above had thus far kept my wardrobe winter-boot-free, but as I will be travelling around northern Sweden this winter visiting a number of different locations, I decided it was time to take the plunge and look around at what was on offer:
My first discovery was that it wasn’t at all easy to find much of a range of winter boots in shops in the UK. I was keen to avoid the “moon boot” style footwear and wanted something that would be properly usable during outdoor activities rather than just as an “apres-ski” boot. An online search of the common high street outdoor stores narrowed it down to the following:
- North Face’s Nuptse boot stocked by Cotswold Outdoor. Priced at £65, this was a reasonable option (especially as Nature Travels clients receive a discount of 15% with Cotswold), but was more “moon-boot-like” that I had wanted.
- Olang’s Canadian Snow Boots stocked by Oswald Bailey (also online through Amazon). Priced at £60, these looked like a good option and were much more the sort of boots I was after. I didn’t get a chance to try these on as my size was not in stock, but the Olang boots would probably have been my second choice from what was available on the high street.
- Sorel winter boots. I’ve used this well-respected brand when dog sledding in Sweden before and found them very good, but was unable to find a high street stockist in my area in the UK, though there are plenty of retailers online. A good choice of models priced around £70-£100, but without the chance to try them on I decided not to risk it.
- Karrimor Men’s Snow Fur WeatherTite Hiking Boot, stocked by Field & Trek. The winner! As a subsidiary of Sports Direct, Field & Trek often have ridiculously low prices on certain brands, especially Karrimor, and with the Thinsulate-lined WeatherTite boots going for just £35 they were an irresistible purchase. They may not turn out to be the world’s best pair of winter boots, but so far they’ve been very comfortable and very warm and rank among my best outdoor bargains ever!
A word about sizing if you’re considering winter boots, especially if buying online without trying:
Warmth depends in part on having a layer of air around your feet which can be heated up. You should therefore consider buying a size or two larger than you would normally, as you will need space to be wearing a pair of medium-thickness socks plus a thick pair of woollen socks for use in the Swedish winter and should still have room to move and be comfortable. As a standard size 10 (European 44-45), I ended up choosing size 12 for the Karrimor boots (rated by Karrimor as European size 46, though this normally equates to a UK size 11).
If you’re buying in a shop, make sure you borrow two pairs of socks to put on when trying on your winter boots.
Hope this is of help if you’re considering a pair of winter boots. Best wishes for warm and toasty toes for your winter holiday in Sweden and for a lovely snowy winter ahead!
Bob from the Nature Travels Team