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The North Face Chilkat 400 II Review

These boots are the total package, with warmth, comfort, a great fit, and a fair price
the north face chilkat 400 ii winter boots review
Credit: The North Face
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $159 List | $159.00 at REI
Pros:  Great traction, excellent fit, very comfortable, warm, affordable
Cons:  Other boots are warmer, relatively low water-resistance height
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 12, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 10
  • Warmth - 25% 9.0
  • Weather Protection - 25% 6.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 9.0
  • Traction - 15% 9.0
  • Durability - 15% 7.0

Our Verdict

The North Face Chilkat 400 II is an all-around winter boot performer, keeping users warm, dry, and comfortable at a great price. They use plenty of synthetic insulation and a waterproof membrane to keep heat in and water out, and the fleece-lined interior is heaven on a cold winter day. They feel great as well, with a snug fit and laces that effectively tighten the boot for comfortable walking. Other boots are warmer, and other boots have a higher cuff, but no other boot provides such a well-rounded performance. When the temps plummet and the snow piles up, our testers reach for this boot more than any other footwear.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on October 12, 2022, with information about a newly released version of the Chilkat boot.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $159 List
$159.00 at REI
$195 List$148.02 at Amazon
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Pros Great traction, excellent fit, very comfortable, warm, affordableExtremely durable and weather resistant, excellent traction, easy on and offConvenient slip on design, waterproof to 11.5 inches, good priceWaterproof, warm, cozyGreat traction, very comfortable, inexpensive
Cons Other boots are warmer, relatively low water-resistance heightNot that warm or comfortable, baggy fitHandles let in water or debris, only come in single whole sizes, not as warm as some competitorsVery heavy, sloppy fit, potential durability issuesNot that warm, fabric eyelets, low height
Bottom Line These boots are the total package, with warmth, comfort, a great fit, and a fair priceThese slip-on work boots are protective, durable, and convenient, making them perfect for outdoor winter choresA convenient and protective boot with good weather resistance and a very wide toe boxA classic snow boot that is good for errand running and snow shoveling, but not well suited to long walksThis very comfortable and inexpensive winter hiking boot has excellent traction, but won't keep you dry in deep snow
Rating Categories The North Face Chil... Muck Boot Arctic Ic... Bogs Bozeman Tall Sorel Caribou Merrell Thermo Chil...
Warmth (25%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Weather Protection (25%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
9.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
9.0
Traction (15%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Durability (15%)
7.0
10.0
10.0
6.0
5.0
Specs The North Face Chil... Muck Boot Arctic Ic... Bogs Bozeman Tall Sorel Caribou Merrell Thermo Chil...
Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking 8" 13.5" 11.5" 10.5" 6.5"
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft) 11" 13.5" 13" 11" 7.5"
Measured Weight (per pair, size 13) 4.14 lbs 4.48 lbs 4.88 lbs 5.26 lbs 2.74 lbs
Appropriate Activity Town, errands, chores Chores Chores Town, errands Hiking, town
Fit Details True to size Roomy Roomy Roomy True to size
Lining/Insulation 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 200g M Select
Upper Material Full-grain waterproof-leather upper 5 mm CR Flex-Foam Neoprene Rubber Waterproof nubuck leather Waterproof polyurethane-coated leather and mesh
Toe Box Rubber Spandura rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber
Outsole TNF Winter Grip Rubber Vibram Arctic Grip BioGrip Handcrafted waterproof vulcanized rubber shell with Sorel aero-trac non loading outsole Rubber
Company Claimed Cold Weather Rating -40 F Not listed -72 F -40 F Not listed
Animal Products? Yes No No Yes No
Sizes Available 7 - 14 7 - 15 7 - 14 7 - 17 7 - 15

Our Analysis and Test Results

Product Update Note — October 2022
The North Face discontinued the Chilkat 400 II (above, left) to make way for the Chilkat V 400 (right). The updated boot still uses 400g of insulation, but has switched from Primaloft to TNF's proprietary Heatseeker Eco insulation. The new boot has a revised lacing system and a slightly sleeker look but appears quite similar in materials and functionality. We've purchased a pair of the Chilkat V 400 for testing and will report on our findings at the end of our test period. We are currently linking to the new Chilkat V since it is more readily available.

These boots performed well in every one of our testing metrics compared to other top-rated winter boots. They achieve this result by blending the attributes of Pac boots and winter hiking boots, remaining warm and weather resistant while also delivering a comfortable fit and sticky sole.

Performance Comparison


the north face chilkat 400 ii winter boots review - the chilkat 400 ii is a great all-around performer and is our top...
The Chilkat 400 II is a great all-around performer and is our top choice for winter boots.
Credit: Sam Willits

Warmth


The Chilkat 400 II kept us warm on most cold winter days. It uses high-quality 400g synthetic insulation and a fleece liner to seal in heat, and the cuff extends far enough up the calf to keep the feet far away from cold air. The sole is relatively thick, effectively insulating the feet from cold, snowy ground. It does all of this in a remarkably light package, providing the best warmth-to-weight ratio in our test, by far.


Other boots may be warmer, but considering that the Chilkat has a sleek and low-profile foot, moderate shaft height, and comfortable fit, we are impressed by the amount of heat that these boots can deliver. If you live in the coldest winter climates, you may experience a day or two of the winter that overpowers the Chilkat, but they are plenty warm for 99.9% of users. And, they are much less expensive than other boots that provide just a bit more warmth.

the north face chilkat 400 ii winter boots review - synthetic insulation and a fleece-like liner provide warmth...
Synthetic insulation and a fleece-like liner provide warmth throughout the Chilkat 400 boot.
Credit: Sam Willits

Weather Protection


The Chilkat 400 II has great weather protection for all but the most brutal winter storms and the deepest snow. A rubber shell around the foot and a waterproof upper, lined with a proprietary membrane, keeps water out of the boot up to the top of the tongue, which is 8 inches off the ground. We can't remember the last time we stepped in a puddle deeper than eight inches in the wintertime, but our testers did make sure to wear their pants over their boots when walking in deep snow to keep the powder from making its way into the boots.


Other boots in this review have higher cuffs and higher tongues to allow deeper submersion without letting water into the boot. If you frequently find yourself in deep snow or deep water, like during stream crossings when snowshoeing, hiking, and hunting, you might need a boot with a higher shaft. But for the winter conditions that most users will face, these boots provide plenty of weather protection and water resistance. During our submersion testing, they did not allow any water into the boot's interior.

the north face chilkat 400 ii winter boots review - the lowest spot where water could penetrate the interior of the...
The lowest spot where water could penetrate the interior of the Chilkat is on the side of the tongue, which is eight inches off the ground.
Credit: Sam Willits

Comfort and Fit


The Chilkat is extremely comfortable footwear. The fleece lining is soft against socked or bare feet, and the insulation compacts gently to cradle your paws in comfort. The fit is spot-on for those with narrow to average feet, and the boots are true to size in length. Most other Pac boots have a wide and roomy forefoot that makes the wearer feel like their toes are swimming in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, but the Chilkat has a narrower toe box that fits more like a winter hiking boot.


The fit of these boots feels like a mix between a large Pac boot and a snug hiking boot. The calf section is flexible to allow for plenty of comfort on long walks, and the foot feels supported by the footbed, despite plenty of insulation in the vicinity. Our testers reached for this boot day after day in the winter largely because of how comfortable and well-fitting it is. It truly offers comfort that rivals some of the best women's hiking boots we've reviewed.

the north face chilkat 400 ii winter boots review - the excellent lacing system allows the chilkat to be laced up tight...
The excellent lacing system allows the Chilkat to be laced up tight and snug, and the narrow toe box creates a more comfortable fit than other large Pac boots.
Credit: Sam Willits

Traction


The Chilkat 400 II has an aggressive lug design that is more akin to winter hiking boots than Pac boots. The lugs aren't deep, but they are sharp and angular, with plenty of room between lugs to absorb rough objects on the trail. A brake pad at the heel with multiple straight and angular lugs can also grab ground irregularities in a last-ditch effort to prevent a slip from becoming a fall.


These boots handled every condition we threw at them, from steep dirt trails thinly covered in a dusting of snow to deep powder in the driveway to firmly packed snow in parking lots. We trust these boots with our knees on the snowiest and most slippery days.

the north face chilkat 400 ii winter boots review - the aggressive lugs on the chilkat are inspired by winter hiking...
The aggressive lugs on the Chilkat are inspired by winter hiking boots, meaning that these boots won't slip when you need them to stick.
Credit: Sam Willits

Durability


We are impressed by the durability of the Chilkat. It has a rubber shell around the foot and a thick leather upper, with a strong nylon tongue. The components assemble tight stitching and large-diameter threads with redundant stitching to ensure that the panels stay sewn together even if a couple of threads are cut. We also like the metal eyelets that the thick laces are threaded through; there are no brittle plastic components to potentially break on the coldest days.


Our experience tells us that the soft synthetic insulation and lining of this boot will pack down over time, which will make them even more comfortable and contoured to the user's exact foot shape. However, this will also slightly decrease the insulation's warming power. We have also seen similar padded footbeds and heel cups develop holes from wear as heels are slammed into the boot and pulled out forcefully over and over again, but this is only speculation based on experience.

the north face chilkat 400 ii winter boots review - redundant stitching and metal eyelets ensure that the chilkat is...
Redundant stitching and metal eyelets ensure that the Chilkat is built to last.
Credit: Sam Willits

Should You Buy the North Face Chilkat 400 II?


The North Face Chilkat 400 II is a high-performance boot that delivers excellent comfort, great warmth, and plenty of weather protection at a great price. It also has excellent traction and is built to last, making it the total package for a winter boot. Certain users will want a boot that excels in specific performance metrics for use in niche tasks, but this is the best choice if you want one winter boot to do it all. These boots cost less than most of the competition, which is great news for consumers looking for a new quality pair. They are comfortable and durable and truly a well-rounded option. There are warmer boots to be had, but more warmth and protection generally cost a lot more, and these are more than adequate for the typical user. No other boot in our lineup performed as well across the board at such an attractive price, the hallmark balance of true value. This makes our job easy, as we can recommend these boots to users on a budget and those who are willing to pay any amount to get the best boots. They are a great value.

the north face chilkat 400 ii winter boots review - the north face chilkat is our choice for the best winter boots out...
The North Face Chilkat is our choice for the best winter boots out there for users who want one boot that does everything well.
Credit: Sam Willits

What Other Winter Boots Should You Consider?


If you won't be doing activities and prize winter chores over hobbies, the Muck Boot Arctic Ice Mid is the better choice. With a waterproof design and rubber shell, it can get mucky with the best of them while keeping you warm enough. If your temperatures will be below zero with a high number of hours in the cold, the Baffin Impact might be the better option for sheer warmth even though it lacks the precision and smaller size required for driving and other activities. If you hope to hike or the snow won't be deep, the budget-friendly Merrell Thermo Chill Mid could be the better choice. While it isn't a good chore boot, it is the better hiking or walking option for comfort and weather resistance.

Jeff Dobronyi
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