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The North Face Shellista IV Mid Review

One of the most comfortable choices in our lineup, with a soft, heat-retentive interior and durable, waterproof exterior
the north face shellista iv mid winter boots women review
Credit: The North Face
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $159 List | $104.26 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, super soft interior, durable leather exterior
Cons:  Unimpressive outsole traction
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Liz Chamberlain ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 23, 2022
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 8.0
  • Weather Protection - 25% 7.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 8.0
  • Durability - 15% 7.0
  • Traction - 15% 7.0

Our Verdict

The North Face Shellista IV Mid stands out in winter boots for its great all-around comfort and a style that makes winter feel a little less daunting. The mid-calf construction can plow through snowdrifts, and it sheds moisture from the exterior with ease. The Shellista's stand-out feature is an undeniably soft and heat-retentive faux fur interior that wraps your feet up like a warm fuzzy blanket. The relatively lightweight construction is a welcomed change to some of the bulkier designs in our review, providing warmth and coverage on the coldest of days. If you want a warm and classic winter boot without extra weight, this is a great option to add to your footwear collection.

Editor's Note: We updated this review on February 23, 2022, to include more information about the boots we would recommend to a friend.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award   
Price $104.26 at Backcountry
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Pros Lightweight, super soft interior, durable leather exteriorFull coverage protection, highly durable, reliable tractionGood value, ultra warm, great traction, highly waterproofWarm, great weather protection, removable linerLightweight, flexible, good coverage, adjustable calf
Cons Unimpressive outsole tractionPricey, very heavy, retains moisture, difficult to drive inOnly ankle-high coverage, hiking-specific style, narrow fitClunky fit, very heavy, not very stylishNot the warmest, limited traction, not sturdy enough for trail use
Bottom Line One of the most comfortable choices in our lineup, with a soft, heat-retentive interior and durable, waterproof exteriorThis highly durable boot is completely waterproof and great at insulating, though it's a bit too bulky to wear on low-snow days or during high-output activitiesThis well-priced boot hits all the marks with a winter-friendly design that maintains great traction, weatherproofing, and warmthA warm, bulky, and durable boot built for a lifetime of Alaska-grade winters but that isn't light or comfortable enough for extended use or mobile activitiesThis lightweight, breathable boot is fashionable for everyday wear but best used for milder winters
Rating Categories The North Face Shel... Muck Boot Arctic Ic... Merrell Thermo Chil... Sorel Caribou - Wom... Bogs Crandall II Ta...
Warmth (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Weather Protection (25%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
5.0
8.0
Durability (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Traction (15%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Specs The North Face Shel... Muck Boot Arctic Ic... Merrell Thermo Chil... Sorel Caribou - Wom... Bogs Crandall II Ta...
Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking 7" 16" 6" 10" 10"
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft) 10" 16" 6" 10.5" 13"
Measured Weight (per pair, size 7) 2.25 lbs 4.59 lbs 1.79 lbs 3.78 lbs 3.03 lbs
Type of Boot All-around winter Winter workwear Winter hiking All-around winter Winter workwear
Fit Details True to size Runs big True to size Runs big Runs big
Lining/Insulation Heatseeker Eco Pro (200g) Fleece M Select Warm (200g) 9mm recycled felt liner 3mm Neo-Tech waterproof insulation and low-pile faux fur
Removable Liner? No No No Yes No
Footbed OrthoLite bioDEWIX Kinetic Fit BASE N/A BLOOM EVA
Upper Material Full-grain leather and ballistic nylon Rubber Waterproof PU-coated leather and mesh Waterproof nubuck leather 52.5% textile/47.5% rubber
Toe Box Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber
Outsole Surface Control rubber Vibram Arctic Grip A.T. M Select GRIP Aero-trac rubber Rubber
Company Claimed Cold Weather Rating Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated -40°C/-40°F
Temp Change in Ice Bath -6.5 F -9.5 F -5.2 F -6.9 F -13 F
Animal Products? Yes No Yes Yes No
Sizes Available 5 - 11 5 - 11 5 - 11 5 - 12 6 - 12

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Shellista IV Mid is one of our favorite all-around performers, and it has seen a few updates over the years. It transfers from the town to the trail with ease, and the newest version offers improved protection and ease of use. With 200 grams of insulation, the Shellista IV has great heat retention capabilities and a commendable warmth-to-weight ratio. That said, the boot came up short in the traction category, leaving us with slippery ascents and descents on steeper trails, despite its overall street-to-trail capabilities. Regardless, the boot is a great everyday option for those who prioritize cozy, lightweight footwear in the coldest of weather.

Performance Comparison


the north face shellista iv mid winter boots women review - the shellista easily sheds snow with a higher moisture content, even...
The Shellista easily sheds snow with a higher moisture content, even after a full morning of shoveling and snow-blowing.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

Warmth


Built with 200 grams of PrimaLoft Heatseeker Eco Pro insulation, 85% of which is post-consumer recycled material, the Shellista IV offers plenty of warmth in cold temperatures compared to the winter boots competition. The boot is tall enough to cover 11.5 inches of the leg, hitting the lower shin for most of our testers. The 2-inch thick outsole insulates from the ground, locking in the warmth generated from movement. The full-grain leather upper is thick enough to retain heat but light enough to maintain breathability and ventilation. Full-grain is taken from the outer hide of an animal and is generally more porous, allowing the textile to have a breathable nature while still insulating heat.


In our ice bath dunk tests, the internal temperature of the Shellista IV dropped a mere 6.5 degrees F, which is on the lower end of the spectrum for boots in our lineup. We took this boot out for a 5-mile hike after our first fall snowstorm and found that it maintained warmth throughout the journey. It truly feels like walking in a shin-high slipper, making it one of the more comfortable options for all-day use.

the north face shellista iv mid winter boots women review - while the shellista didn't keep our pants dry, it kept everything...
While the Shellista didn't keep our pants dry, it kept everything from the lower calf down to the foot toasty warm on early morning shoveling missions.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

Weather Protection


The Shellista IV is made from full-grain leather and ballistic nylon, two strong materials that provide superb protection and maintain long-term durability. The shaft comprises a patchwork-like upper, with sections of full-grain leather and nylon, providing lateral support around the sides of the foot and rear support around the upper ankle. The outsole is The North Face's lightweight Surface Control rubber compound. At roughly 2 inches thick, this provides a solid barrier between your feet and the snow below.


The Shellista IV offers great protection from snowdrifts up to 11 inches high. The faux fur insulation at the collar keeps snow out, so it doesn't sink into the boot's shaft. The seams, however, are only water-resistant, not entirely waterproof. While this boot does well in snow and rain, it was not made to withstand soaking wet conditions.

the north face shellista iv mid winter boots women review - the shaft height on the shellista isn't exceptionally tall but the...
The shaft height on the Shellista isn't exceptionally tall but the collar seals up tight enough to limit snow intrusion.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

Water seeped into this boot at about 6-7 inches from the bottom of the outsole, around the lower lacing during our puddle tests. When we walked deeper into a river, water entered the interior from the front tongue and lacing region. While we didn't experience full flooding as we did with the previous year's model (the Shellista III), our socks definitely got wet. This boot offers protection from flying snow, slush, and small puddles, but it is by no means a rain boot. It's protective for most things that winter will throw at you, but its performance breaks down in extremes.

the north face shellista iv mid winter boots women review - we submerged the shellista's in our local river to test for water...
We submerged the Shellista's in our local river to test for water intrusion in fully wet conditions.
Credit: Amber King

Comfort and Fit


The comfort and fit of this boot have been exceptional year after year. If you're seeking a comfortable midsole with a plush-lined interior, this is a keeper. The upper is flexible enough to move with you but not as stable as other boots in our lineup. The Ortholite insole provides great arch support, more than most of the boots we tested, even though it is still on the thin side.


The midsole is quite supportive, with a regular width toe box that offers the perfect amount of room for average feet. Those with narrow feet and high arches may want to gravitate towards thicker socks to fill the space beneath the instep. We would consider the fit true to size, and it can be altered with different sock thicknesses. If you're on the fence or like a thicker sock, we'd recommend sizing up a half size. Aside from that, we could spend all day in these boots, from the time we roll out of bed to the time we get back in it.

the north face shellista iv mid winter boots women review - one thing we don't love about the shellista is the lack of...
One thing we don't love about the Shellista is the lack of stability. There is no visible exterior shaft which limits structure and support in the ankle region. Paired with lesser traction capabilities, this is not a great hiking boot.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

Durability


The Shellista IV is designed with full-grain leather and ballistic nylon. These two textiles are known to be long-lasting, high-quality materials. Full-grain leather comes from the toughest part of the hide, where you will find the strongest fiber strength and porous composition. This type of leather is considered top-of-the-line and highly durable. The DuPont-designed ballistic nylon is a high-tenacity woven textile that runs over 1000 denier. It is essentially a military-grade protectionary fabric wrapped into fancy footwear.


The tongue rip-stop nylon is lighter and thinner than the upper materials. It is great at insulating and known for the strength of its fibers, though we question its ability to tear or rip if it were to get snagged by a tree branch or bush. Despite these notions, our field tests proved this is one of the lightest, strongest, quality-made boots in the lineup.

the north face shellista iv mid winter boots women review - the shellista's updated look is a bit more fashionable and friendly...
The Shellista's updated look is a bit more fashionable and friendly than past models. The lighter leather and paneled upper is trendy and capable of everyday wear.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

Traction


The Shellista IV offers enough traction to get you from Point A to Point B on most surfaces and winter-laden pursuits, but it fell short compared to the external lug designs on the burlier all-terrain winter boots we tested. The traction pattern is far from aggressive, with its pros and cons. We found it easy and comfortable to stroll along the pavement, fresh snow, and wet surfaces. However, when it came to packed snow and uneven, choppy snow, we were slipping outward or backward on each step, feeling a lack of stability.


The Surface Control rubber is grippy enough to keep you on your feet, but we would prefer some external lugs and a little more surface area on the edges of the sole to add traction on uneven surfaces and inclines. For this reason, we would recommend a burlier model from our review of top-ranked women's hiking boots for more technical applications. For those who don't plan on winter hiking, the Shellista will have you covered for everyday pursuits.

the north face shellista iv mid winter boots women review - exploring around the neighborhood in our test boots was key to get a...
Exploring around the neighborhood in our test boots was key to get a feel for the boot's warmth and durability ratings under average, everyday use.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

Should You Buy The North Face Shellista IV Mid?


The North Face Shellista IV Mid stands out as a comfort icon, taking on simple hiking trails and pavement surfaces with ease. Its outer construction is stylish and functional and provides warmth when temperatures are below freezing. While it's not the most waterproof option out there, nor does it have the best traction, it'll undoubtedly suffice as you travel from the coffee shop to your car and up the mountain to your favorite ski hill. It's easy to take on and off and offers fantastic all-day comfort. The Shellista IV Mid falls in the middle of the spectrum on pricing, and we feel it is worth the money spent based on its' all-around commendable performance. It is soft, warm, and comfortable with a mountain-chic style that you can wear from work to the local town trails. It's versatile and protective, offering performance that should last you for many years. We've tested different versions of this boot over the last four years, and it's kept up its relative warmth and proven to be a durable design.

the north face shellista iv mid winter boots women review - here we break some trail around our property while watching the...
Here we break some trail around our property while watching the clouds move in for another storm. The Shellista proves to be a protector, keeping our feet warm and dry on these escapades in deep snow.
Credit: Amber King

What Other Winter Boots Should You Consider?


If you need something that offers better weatherproofing, the UGG Adirondack III is a similar styled all-around boot that performed better overall and in our tests for warmth and weather protection. The cuff can go up or down, and the sole offers enough traction for most hiking terrains. If your outdoor plans are more chore than fun, the Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall AGAT - Women's is a top contender with its high style and design, you won't mind getting this warm option dirty with whatever work has to throw your way.

Liz Chamberlain
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