The Merrell Thermo Chill Mid is an affordable, purpose-built top-rated winter boot that excels in comfort, fit, and traction — all for a very reasonable price. It has a very comfortable shape that perfectly fits our testers' feet while remaining soft and cushioned. It lacks the warmth and weather resistance of Pac boots, but these do the trick for most mild and moderate winter climates. They'll be just fine in the occasional snowstorm or cold snap. If you are a big winter hiker or want footwear that is comfortable to wear and reasonably protective, these are a great option.Editor's Note: This boot review was updated February 23, 2022, with more information on which boots we'd recommend to friends.
Merrell Thermo Chill Mid Review
Cons: Not that warm, fabric eyelets, low height
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Merrell Thermo Chill Mid
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$159.00 at REI
|$195 List||$148.02 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Great traction, very comfortable, inexpensive||Great traction, excellent fit, very comfortable, warm, affordable||Extremely durable and weather resistant, excellent traction, easy on and off||Convenient slip on design, waterproof to 11.5 inches, good price||Waterproof, warm, cozy|
|Cons||Not that warm, fabric eyelets, low height||Other boots are warmer, relatively low water-resistance height||Not that warm or comfortable, baggy fit||Handles let in water or debris, only come in single whole sizes, not as warm as some competitors||Very heavy, sloppy fit, potential durability issues|
|Bottom Line||This very comfortable and inexpensive winter hiking boot has excellent traction, but won't keep you dry in deep snow||These boots are the total package, with warmth, comfort, a great fit, and a fair price||These slip-on work boots are protective, durable, and convenient, making them perfect for outdoor winter chores||A convenient and protective boot with good weather resistance and a very wide toe box||A classic snow boot that is good for errand running and snow shoveling, but not well suited to long walks|
|Rating Categories||Merrell Thermo Chil...||The North Face Chil...||Muck Boot Arctic Ic...||Bogs Bozeman Tall||Sorel Caribou|
|Weather Protection (25%)|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Specs||Merrell Thermo Chil...||The North Face Chil...||Muck Boot Arctic Ic...||Bogs Bozeman Tall||Sorel Caribou|
|Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking||6.5"||8"||13.5"||11.5"||10.5"|
|Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft)||7.5"||11"||13.5"||13"||11"|
|Measured Weight (per pair, size 13)||2.74 lbs||4.14 lbs||4.48 lbs||4.88 lbs||5.26 lbs|
|Appropriate Activity||Hiking, town||Town, errands, chores||Chores||Chores||Town, errands|
|Fit Details||True to size||True to size||Roomy||Roomy||Roomy|
|Lining/Insulation||200g M Select||400g PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco||5mm CR Flex-Foam Neoprene w/ Fleece Lining||7mm Neo-Tech Neoprene||Removable/washable 9mm recycled felt inner boot with Sherpa Pile snow cuff|
|Upper Material||Waterproof polyurethane-coated leather and mesh||Full-grain waterproof-leather upper||5 mm CR Flex-Foam Neoprene||Rubber||Waterproof nubuck leather|
|Toe Box||Rubber||Rubber||Spandura rubber||Rubber||Rubber|
|Outsole||Rubber||TNF Winter Grip Rubber||Vibram Arctic Grip||BioGrip||Handcrafted waterproof vulcanized rubber shell with Sorel aero-trac non loading outsole|
|Company Claimed Cold Weather Rating||Not listed||-40 F||Not listed||-72 F||-40 F|
|Sizes Available||7 - 15||7 - 14||7 - 15||7 - 14||7 - 17|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Thermo Chill Mid was the most comfortable winter boots in our test to wear while walking long distances. This is great news for hikers and anyone else who wants a boot that prioritizes comfort over anything else but still delivers good protection from winter weather. And it does so at a great price.
The Thermo Chill Mid performs well in cold temperatures, packing a surprising amount of warmth into a very lightweight package. They aren't as warm as the largest boots in our review, but for a hiking boot, we were impressed by the overall warmth. It kept us warm while shoveling the driveway and going on shady winter hikes; even while standing in a frigid creek testing waterproofing, we didn't get cold.
This warmth is made possible by using synthetic insulation in the boot lining. Synthetic insulation is the warmest insulation used in winter boots, compared to felt or fleece. The warmth of the Thermo Chill is even more surprising given its ultra-lightweight. This is the lightest boot in our review but far from the coldest. It is suitable for hikes on cold winter days, walking around town, and even shoveling or doing chores in the cold snow.
These aren't the tallest winter boots out there, but they still offer decent weather protection. They are constructed with leather and mesh uppers treated with polyurethane for long-term waterproofing. We stood in the creek for minutes and minutes, and water never made its way through the fabric of the boot.
A small notch in the boot shaft about one inch below the top of the tongue, on each side, is the first place that water can enter this boot. At 7.5 inches off the ground, this is about average for our test. It is relatively rare that we find ourselves stepping in puddles deeper than 7.5 inches in the wintertime, but nonetheless, other boots (like Pac boots and slip-on work boots) offer more weather protection.
Comfort and Fit
These boots are very comfortable to wear, especially for long distances. The insulation and soft fleece lining create a cozy environment for the foot, and the footbed, arch, toe box, and heel pocket all fit great, right out of the box. From our first time stepping into these boots, we knew we had a very comfortable shoe on our hands, and as we wore the boots through a short break-in period, they only became more comfortable footwear.
We like the lacing system on the Thermo Chill, which allows the user to customize the fit. The laces start around the top of the base of the toes, which is similar to where the laces start on a pair of sneakers. The upper lace eyelets are durable hooks that secure the laces with ease. Overall, the fit and comfort of these shoes are similar to that of summer hiking boots. In fact, we sometimes forgot that we were wearing a more insulated boot. The lightweight is another comfortable feature and a big reason why we picked this boot for top honors in the winter hiking sub-category.
The Thermo Chill Mid has an aggressive tread pattern that works great on wet and slippery trails. The lugs are sharp and angular, with plenty of negative space to absorb surface irregularities. The rubber is relatively sticky, allowing these boots to bite into dry and wet surfaces. These hiking boots have the best traction out of any winter boot in our review.
Achieving good traction isn't rocket science, and we are glad to see that some winter boots are getting the memo. The Thermo Chill has a tread pattern that looks exactly like an off-road or all-terrain tire on a Jeep or pickup truck. This boot instills confidence that the user won't be sliding around on the trail.
The Thermo Chill Mid has a decent durability. The rubber is about average hardness and should last many trail miles before the tread wears down and affects grip. The materials used in the boot's construction are strong, and all seams are double stitched for redundancy. The internal insulation and footbed pack out to the shape of the user's foot after about 25 miles of use, but that adds comfort, and the materials won't start to wear out until many more miles of use.
Our main concern is with the eyelets. For most of the boot's length, the eyelets are made of fabric, not metal, which helps save weight and increases the likelihood of a blown-out lace eyelet. We didn't see this problem in our testing, but this component is the obvious weak point in the construction.
Should You Buy the Merrell Thermo Chill Mid?
The Merrell Thermo Chill Mid is the best winter hiking boot on the market, and it comes at a great price. It has comfortable features and an excellent fit that our feet love. It also provides enough warmth and weather resistance to be a general winter boot for users in temperate climates where the snow doesn't pile up too deeply, and the winter precipitation falls as rain as much as snow. Considering their excellent comfort and decent warmth and water resistance, we think these boots are a great value. For winter hikers, hunters, and those who do a lot of walking in the cold, these are worth their weight in gold. They'll keep your feet happy and protected after miles and miles on the trail or sidewalk. If you are looking for a boot that will protect you from the deepest snowdrifts and very coldest temperatures, you'll have to shell out more cash. But if your winters involve rainy storms and the occasional snowfall, these will probably do the trick and keep you comfortable the whole time.
What Other Winter Boots Should You Consider?
If your winter adventures will come with deeper snow, the The North Face Chilkat 400 offer a higher ankle and added warmth. With a slight bump in price, they could be the solution for a cross-over between hiker and a more traditional winter reboot. Alternatively, if you need something with more protection for outdoor chores, the Muck Boot Arctic Ice Mid is a convenient boot for shorter outdoor work. If you just need to be warm and bulk isn't an issue, and precision isn't needed, then the Baffin Impact is one for your shortlist.
— Jeff Dobronyi
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