Muck Boot Arctic Sport II Mid Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Well made, excellent traction, high comfort
Cons: Somewhat bulky, expensive, can easily become too warm
Manufacturer: The Original Muck Boot Company
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Our Analysis and Test Results
An extreme weather boot of mid-calf height, the Muck Arctic Sport II Mid is a specialized hybrid of the easy slip-on aspects of traditional rain boots and the heavily insulated and tactile aspects of winter wear. This model comes in both Mid and Tall shaft heights; we tested the Mid, which rises 12.5 inches from the floor at its crest. A neat feature of this boot is Muck's bioDEWIX — a plant-based anti-odor & antimicrobial technology built into the lining.
Since the top edge of this boot is angled (higher at the shin and lower at the calf), the flood height is actually at 11 inches for the Mid, which still provides more than enough general weather protection. Having the taller shaft would greatly increase these aspects, of course, as the neoprene is fully waterproof. The insulation adds an extra layer of warmth as well --, we happily waded and splashed through water without worry, and even the mid-height proved more than sufficient after a fresh foot of snow.
The mouth circumference measures around 13 inches, which is on the narrow side. However, the neoprene is somewhat flexible, and the stitching is well executed and does not feel abrasive. Having a narrower circumference can help prevent stray drops of snow from finding an easy way in, but this will depend on your relative calf size.
The materials used for the Arctic Sport II are rather simple, but they are well thought out in our opinion. The neoprene is soft to the touch and cozy against the leg, even without socks. While we wouldn't recommend wearing any boots without socks for extended periods, we appreciate the gentleness of the neoprene nonetheless. Through trial and error, we were able to determine that sizing up is best if you're a half-size. This allows for greater comfort in the foot box, at the ankle, and, of course, allows for some variability in sock thickness. For our lead tester, who is a size 7.5, the size 8 is perfect — we would say this model runs slightly small since a size 8 felt like a perfect 7.5 for her.
Foot comfort is hard to come by with many boots, but with a removable EVA insole and proper fit, all-day wear is very doable in the Arctic Sport II. The only problem you might run into is how effective the insulation is — it can create temperature discomfort above 35-40 degrees F. These boots warm up fast in the direct sun, so wearing them in too-warm conditions is intolerable. However, the fleece that lines the neoprene is somewhat breathable, allowing for some regulation and versatility in its comfort range. Lastly, weighing in about 3 pounds, we are happy to know that this model is much lighter than others we've recently tested, upping the mobility and overall comfort.
Besides warmth, this metric is the greatest quality of the Arctic. The traction is technical and appropriate for snowy conditions. Even when testing in a river, we felt more confident than with most other boots. The rubber sole has deep lugs, instilling confidence with every step, snow or no snow. Too, the weight isn't overbearing, allowing for more fluid movement.
With such an insulated boot, it's important to pay attention to the sensitivity of the sole. If the sole is too stiff, having incredible tread doesn't matter as much if the wearer can't feel what's going on beneath their feet. Sense of balance might be thrown off, and steps can become inefficient or clumsy. Thankfully, the Arctic has enough flexibility to allow for a sense of stability, and therefore, more effective traction.
We honestly can't imagine a boot warmer than this, so the score is 10 out of 10 for this one, a rare verdict. The perks of this are not having to worry about numb toes while shoveling snow or crossing a half-frozen creek. At the base of a cold climbing crag, we maintained comfort and heat so well that everyone else was legitimately jealous.
On the other hand, having such extreme warmth isn't always practical. For general and casual use, it really depends on the environment you live in. More humid places without much snow might deem such a boot too specialized. The manufacturer's max recommended temperature for comfort is around 40 degrees F, which isn't that high for a rain boot. When the sun finally hit the climbing crag, to continue with our previous example, these boots quickly became overwhelming. They are certainly a niche product because of their insulation.
More technical than fashionable, it's hard to pinpoint where this model falls on the style spectrum. Doing chores in winter conditions isn't a flattering thing to begin with, so we are actually quite content with the balance of function and flair. The neoprene offers a great canvas for patterns and color accents.
The molded rubber has a matte finish as opposed to glossy, and there are steep cuts where the rubber meets the neoprene upper, adding in some design accents that help accentuate any patterns or color.
This category doesn't earn its own score and contributes mainly to the metric of comfort. Muck boots come in whole sizes from 5 to 11. There is a slight pinch in the shape of the shaft near the ankle, aimed at providing a better fit around the heel (and to mitigate the classic heel lift). With the appropriate shoe size, we think this feature works well. We sized up to an 8, and the fit was perfect for our lead tester, who is usually a 7.5 — there was hardly any heel lift at all. There is also some space for thicker socks, though not much, which isn't truly needed anyway since the insulation works so well. If you're adding insoles, we definitely recommend sizing up.
We think the quality of this pair is high and worth the price tag if you can afford it. Since the insulation is so technical, we can understand why the price is on the top end. However, we wish that such a fundamental boot could be more affordable and therefore accessible to those who could truly benefit from its warmth in the winter.
The Muck Arctic Sport II Mid is a tough competitor and blurs the lines between rain and winter boots. Remarkable for insulation and traction, we were instant fans. From winter chores to wading in the shallows of creeks, they are exceedingly useful, although highly specialized.
— Sara Aranda
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