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Snow Sneakers With Arctic Grip

Arctic Grip Performance On The Trail

L.L.Bean Snow Sneakers with Arctic Grip, Low Lace-Up SKU: 9523542

On the trail, the Arctic Grip performed beyond expectation on the ice-covered rocks allowing us to hike most of the trail without microspikes, snowshoes or any other form of traction. Members of the hiking group were surprised by the boots performance while they had been in spikes for almost a mile, we were still bare booting without slipping. The only time we needed additional traction beyond the Arctic Grip was when we reached the deeper snow . Similar to our experience in the driveway, we found that the Arctic Grip was much less effective when the boots lugs were packed with wet snow.

Broomball Regulation To Be Determined

Theres still no word from USA Broomball on whether or not Arctic Grip soles will be banned from the sport.

Were expecting to get our feet in an early pair of the Wolverine Crossbuck FX Ice+ boots sometime this month for a full-on review. Minneapolis, where slick, wet ice abounds on sidewalks and streets throughout the city, should be the perfect testing ground for the Arctic Grip technology.

This post was sponsored by Vibram. Check out the companys microsite for the Arctic Grip here.


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The Basic Science Behind How Shoe Outsoles Grip

A good grip depends on the friction coefficient. Picture here is an adidas Continental outsole over a rubber treadmill belt that results in excellent grip due to the high friction coefficient.

The level of friction between the two opposing surfaces is what determines how well the shoe will grip.

In short, if more force is required to push a certain object over a surface, that means that the object grips better.

The opposite is also true something thats easy to slide over a surface has a lower grip. The overall friction depends on the material, contact area, and the force applied from the top.

Ever played Air Hockey at the local arcade? The flat puck slides effortlessly over the glossy surface when struck a slab of Tofu or Steak will not. As you can see, the friction coefficient makes all the difference.

Winter car tires work on a similar principle. The softer winter compound doesnt harden in the cold, thus providing the necessary levels of traction and contact area.

However, shoes dont have the advantage that winter tires do. When walking or running on ice, theres only a small patch of the outsole thats in contact with the ground. And unlike a car, both the feet are never in contact with the surface at the same time. And if we were to walk on all fours, that would improve the grip by a significant margin.

Now lets look at some examples of surface ice.

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From Casual Walking To Winter Hiking And Work In Sub

  • / Best Winter Boots of 2022

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more about us.

Winter boots are a timeless and charming piece of gear. From classic Sorels to light and modern designs, they aim to keep your feet protected and warm from wet snow and frigid temperatures. Whether you live in a cold and snowy climate, like to hit the trail in the winter, or want to keep your feet warm après ski, it’s likely you’ll need a winter boot. Below we break down the best winter boots for the 2022 season, including our favorite options for everyday use, hiking, and extreme cold. For background information, check out our comparison table and buying advice.

A Brief Commentary On Vibram Arctic Grip Rubber And Similar Technologies That Claim To Grip Well On Ice


Please stay away from Vibram Arctic Grip outsoles. They will NOT provide sufficient traction on hard ice.

Heres the lowdown. Please do not buy shoes with a Vibram Arctic Grip outsole if you intend to use them on hard ice.

Were no stranger to shoes with an Arctic Grip outsole. On this site, we have reviewed three shoes with an Arctic Grip outsole, and the verdict remains the same.

Vibram advertises its outsole as suitable for wet ice. The rough sandpaper-like texture of the rubber lugs is supposed to increase the friction between the outsole and ice to improve the grip.

In theory, the rough texture of Vibram Arctic rubber is supposed to grip better on Wet Ice a surface condition that freezing winters do not have.

Now, wet ice is not what most walkers and runners encounter during a freezing winter day. Theyre more likely to slip and fall on hardened ice, like the kind that we showed you.

And unlike Vibrams marketing campaign that had people testing the outsole on a slope of wet ice with supporting handrails, there are no handrails on the slippery roads and pavements.

On these hazardous surfaces, the Vibram Arctic Ice rubber and its kind are ineffective. Brands like Keen and Dr. Martens market similar outsoles, and all of them are equally bad. They do not offer any slip resistance on black ice.

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A Lighter Boot For Easy Walking In Snow: Columbia Heavenly Omni

Get this if: You want a boot thats light and particularly good for walking over snow drifts. This is a great option for driving and running errands around townnot so much for extended time outside or in icy conditions

Why its great: The snug, form-fitting foot of the Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat makes this boot wear almost like a slipper, and the tall, tightly laced shaft and faux fur snow collar keep fluffy stuff out. Plus, these boots are much easier to drive in than boots with a stiff leather exterior.

The Heavenly is a perfect example of how a good fit can create more traction. A nearly identical boot, the North Face Shellista II, didnt grip as well because the foot was looser. This boot has a tread pattern thats more pronounced than others , and the Heavenly had better stability on every surface we walked on, other than ice.

We tried the Kamik Sienna 2, but it doesnt have a tread pattern that provides any help on slick surfaces. And we also tried the GlobalWin Waterproof Winter Boot, but the flaws were many, including a sole so slippery that no tester would set foot on ice without holding onto something. Overall, the majority of winter boots, even most of our picks here, have only average traction on ice. Rubber is just not the solution if you need to stay completely sure-footed on frozen water. But with that in mind, the GlobalWin felt particularly treacherous.

A Boot That Fits Like A Shoe: Ugg Adirondack Iii & Ugg Butte

Get this if: Youre willing to pay a lot for a boot. In return, youll get something lighter and cozier than anything we tested. Plus, these boots are steadier on snow, and easier to walk and drive in.

Why its great: When a boot fits like a worn-in leather shoeas the Ugg Adirondack III and its counterpart the Ugg Butte both doit moves easier. When a snow boot has this additional flexibility, walking and driving are simpler. The boots also feel less heavy and obtrusive on your feet. If the Sorel Caribou is the F-150 of winter boots, these are the Land Rover.

The Adirondack III and the Butte both come with the wool lining rolled down, but you can roll it upup to 11 inchesto create the tall shaft we required of all our snow boots. Uggs trademark wool lining is a major reason this boot is so functional. The non-synthetic lining means youll get years of wear without experiencing any sign of odor. Notably, on the womens boot, the upper part of the liner is a synthetic material, but the lining around the foot is wool.

This fluffy liner provides warmth and a luxurious feel. These boots are rated down to only -32 °C , yet testers reported having toasty, happy feet.

The mens Butte has a different rubber and tread pattern than the womens Adirondack. That said, the lugs on the womens boot are almost better, able to bite into and around ice that has a lot of texture. A tall version of the Adirondack III is also available.

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Llbeansnow Sneaker With Arctic Grip Low Lace

  • Discover comfort and performance with the L.L.Bean Snow Sneaker with Arctic Grip, Low Lace-Up, waterproof, insulated, and packed with features to support you and keep you comfortable all day in adverse weather.
  • SKU: #9523544
  • Note: Not intended for indoor use and may harm indoor surfaces.
  • Arctic Grip outsoles do not replace the use of crampons, spikes or traction devices.
  • Arctic Grip footwear will not prevent all slipping on every surface. Always tread with care.
  • 200-gram PrimaLoft® ECO insulation is made of 50% recycled materials.
  • Breathable TEK2.5® waterproof system keeps your feet dry.
  • Upper of waterproof leather and polyester mesh, with suede collar top.
  • Lace-up style with foam-padded collar & tongue.
  • Moisture-wicking Nylex nylon lining.
  • Contoured insole for arch support.
  • SolarCore foam underfoot provides a warm barrier to keep you insulated from cold, wet surfaces.
  • Lightweight, sport-shoe-inspired EVA midsole.
  • Gaiter loop for securing gaiter hook.
  • Thermoplastic toe box & heel counter.
  • Pull-on loop at back collar.
  • High-traction Vibram IceTrek rubber outsole with Arctic Grip technology.
  • Upper: waterproofed leather, polyester mesh fabric, suede collar top.
  • Lining: Nylex with TEK2.5® waterproof/breathable membrane inner lining.
  • Sole: Vibram® IceTrek rubber w/Vibram® Artic Grip polymer blend.
  • Imported.

Best Overall Winter Boot

Vibram® Arctic Grip Shoes Endure a Day at the Dog Park

Shaft height: 6.5 in.What we like: A good-looking and protective all-rounder.What we dont: Low shaft height and too stiff and bulky for particularly long hikes.

Many winter boots are specialized for warmth, mobility, or even style, but the Merrell Thermo Overlook 2 is a true all-rounder. This full-grain leather design features a generous rubber rand, waterproof membrane for sealing out moisture, and Vibrams Arctic Grip sole for advanced traction in cold conditions and on slippery ground. In terms of insulation, you get 200-gram M Select, which offers good overall warmth without too much bulk, along with a cozy fleece lining for added comfort. Finally, the Thermo Overlook tacks on some nice performance features, including D-ring gaiter attachments and strap ridges to keep your snowshoes or winter traction devices in place. It all adds up to a well-balanced design thats equally at home shoveling the driveway as it is hiking on slick trails.

Insulation: 200g Thinsulate Shaft height: 10 in.What we like: Reasonably warm and comfortable at a great price.What we dont: Loose fit and some cheaper materials.

What we like: Timeless looks and cozy interior.What we dont: They are still classically heavy.

Insulation: 200g M Select WARMShaft height: 6 in.What we like: Light, reasonably nimble, and not overly insulated for active use.What we dont: Not the most performance-oriented winter hiker .

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Warmth And Temperature Ratings

Some, but not all, brands will include a comfort or temperature rating for their winter boots. And theyre often very impressive numbers, claiming a rating of -25°F or lower. Right off the bat, lets be clear: there is not a standardized test to rely on for measuring a temperature rating. As such, comfort ranges are not a guarantee that youll be warm at the listed temperatures. In fact, we can almost guarantee you will not beparticularly if youre standing still. As we all know, how well a boot keeps you warm is dependent on a number of individual factors, including age, level of activity, the thickness of your socks, and whether or not you run hot or cold. We recommend using the comfort ranges as basic guidance but stay very conservative with your real-world use.

Arctic Grip Winter Boots

Stick it to winter with waterproof snow boots featuring the latest in traction technology. Our arctic boots feature exclusive ArcticGrip outsoles so you can keep walking in confidence, whatever winter weather conditions stand in your way. Awarded Best in Show by GearJunkie at the 2016 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, ArcticGrip is Vibram’s most advanced cold weather gripping system with 3 times more grip than other outsoles on wet ice and slippery surfaces. With outsoles that were researched, designed and tested for over two years to engineer the best waterproof snow boots imaginable, Merrell’s slip-resistant thermo boots with ArcticGrip technology are your number one protection against nasty falls in frigid temperatures.

How ArcticGrip Traction Technology Works

Deep lugs are shaped from a rubber compound featuring an advanced filler system for maximum stability on all kinds of cold surfaces. Ever wonder whether it’s dropped below freezing while you’re out in the wilderness? Just check the tell-tale, color-changing thermochromatic lugs on the bottom of these waterproof snow boots when they turn blue, the ground temperature has dropped below 32 degrees. From sopping-wet surfaces to slippery inclines and frosted, rocky terrain, the waterproof snow boots with ArcticGrip outsoles from Merrell are field-tested to make ice obsolete whatever adventure awaits.

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Removable Liners Vs One

Traditional winter boots like the Sorel Caribou and Kamik NationPlus are two-piece designs with outer shells protecting insulated, removable liners. The advantages of this construction are that the boots are extremely tough: the rubber and leather exterior materials are very durable and waterproof, and they do a great job isolating you from the cold. Further, the removable liners are cushioned and soft, providing more comfort than a typical one-piece design. But perhaps the most significant feature of a removable liner is their ability to dry out more quickly when wet, a feature thats especially vital for expedition use. These types of boots can feel a bit sloppy and ungainly when youre covering long distances, but for short walks, outdoor work, and harsh conditions, a boot with a removable liner is a nice choice.

For active use like hiking or snowshoeing, or if you want to keep weight and bulk to a minimum, its better to go with a one-piece boot. These models often resemble a hiking design and offer a more precise fit and nimbler feel for greater control and stability in difficult terrain. Theyre also lighter on average, which is a positive for longer walks and snowshoe trips. You do compromise a little protection, but quality one-piece designs like the Columbia Bugaboot Celsius Plus or The North Face Chilkat 400 are still formidable options in harsh conditions.

Boot Care And Treatment


To keep your winter boots lasting as long as possible, its worth taking proper care of your investment. For starters, its always a good idea to keep them clean to avoid any breakdown in the materials. The grime that you pick up when walking through a slushy parking lot can wreak havoc on a boot if it isnt cleaned out. Warm water, dish soap, and a simple brush can do the trick in most cases. Further, many of the designs above have leather in the construction, which is a material that benefits from occasional treatment to avoid drying and cracking. A quality sponge-on design like Nikwaxs Conditioner works well on full-grain leather, keeping it in good shape while adding a water-resistant coating to the top. For boots that dont have a waterproof membrane or coating, youll want to treat them from the start . Another benefit of adding a leather dressing right away is that it helps soften the leather and shorten the break-in period.

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Using Regular Waterproof Hiking Boots In Winter

Dedicated winter boots offer premium protection and warmth in freezing, snowy conditions, but we often use our regular hiking boots for short and active winter jaunts. For example, if you will be snowshoeing or walking without stopping, uninsulated and waterproof hiking boots with good socks may very well do the trick. One of our favorite models is Salomons classic Quest 4, which has a durable, water-shedding exterior and Gore-Tex bootie that offer lightweight warmth. To be clear, this is a good option for trips when you will be on the go the whole time and the weather isnt particularly frigid. If youll be stopping or out for long stretches of time, its safest to stick with an insulated winter-specific design.

Arctic Grip Technology Explained

Vibram is no stranger to working with ice. The company is known for its existing Icetrek sole, which is designed for dry ice and similar cold weather terrain. The companys new Arctic Grip sole is an entirely different beast. Arctic Grip works best on wet ice, allowing a user to walk on most icy surfaces without slipping.

Arctic Grip looks like rubber, but it has a gritty feel that is reminiscent of pumice stone.

Vibram has been working on the Arctic Grip compound for more than two years and is silent on what goes into manufacturing the material. All the company will confirm is that is a unique polymer blend that is coupled with an advanced filler system and new processing technique. Though they wont spill the beans, we can glean some information just by carefully examining the material.

The first thing you notice about Arctic Grip is how it feels on the sole of the shoe or boot. It looks like rubber, but it has a gritty feel that is reminiscent of pumice stone. This grit likely is what gives the material its stickiness to wet ice and probably is the reason why the material has a slightly more limited mileage rating compared to other rubber compounds. Vibram says that it has tested Arctic Grip up to 250 miles on hard surface conditions, such as pavement, without major performance compromise on wet ice.

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