Honest Review: Kodiak Moncton Winter Boots

It makes sense that a company founded in Canada creates boots that can kick winter’s ass while appearing stylish and respectful. Editor Vince Hempsall takes them on a rampage.

The Kodiak Group Holdings Company has gone through many owners since it was established in Kitchener, Ontario in 1910, but the common thread throughout its history has been the leather boot. Co-founded by Charles Greb, the business specialized in mining, logging, and farming boots and in the 1950s it refashioned its manufacturing process to create a truly waterproof leather boot. Soon after it became the official combat boot of the Canadian Army and has since been worn by the likes of hockey great Gordie Howe to the entire 2010 Canadian Winter Olympics team. Today, Kodiak work boots are well-known and trusted but in recent years the company has expanded into the lifestyle category. I was sent a pair of the new Moncton Winter boots to see how they fare in our little mountain city renowned for its backcountry snow and its urban scene.

Snapshot: Kodiak Moncton Winter Boots

    1. Pros: This is a stylish leather boot that kicks ass on the trail and looks good kickin’ back at a classy restaurant.
    2. Cons: The rubber outsole could be tackier. I experienced some challenges on ice.
    3. Price: Cdn$200
    4. Who Should Buy: Those who want a winter boot that’s warm, stylish, and tough.
    5. Who Shouldn’t Buy: Northerners plowing through six feet of snow in -30°C.
    6. Helpful Hack: Let your boots air dry rather than use a heat vent otherwise the leather will shrink and crack. There are lots of other tips here.
    7. Author’s overall rating: 9/10

The Test

I live in Nelson, British Columbia, which is famous for its hilly streets: think paired-down San Francisco plopped in the middle of the mountains. The city is also famous for it’s dining scene considering there are over 70 restaurants, cafés, and eateries in seven square kilometres that service a population of only 10,000. But in the winter months, it can be hard to slog between them given the city enjoys an average snowfall of five feet. Having one boot that can get up and down the steep streets in all that snow while still looking stylish is a big ask. But the Kodiak Moncton Winter boots delivered.

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The Verdict

I’ve written dozens of footwear reviews over my career but I’m embarrassed to say not one of them was for a Canadian company. So when Kodiak asked to rectify that, I agreed. To be clear, though, I had some trepidations about the brand: I’ve heard they make excellent work boots but I don’t require steel toes for sitting at a computer; nor do I typically purchase my clothing at places like Canadian Tire. So when I learned the product I’d be reviewing was a winter boot that was firmly entrenched in the “Lifestyle” category, I was skeptical. That all changed when I unboxed the Kodiak Moncton boots: supple brown leather, gusseted tongue, stylish stitching. I was impressed. And I wasn’t the only one. When I first wore them outside, my engineer neighbour even commented on how good they looked. I could comfortably wear these winter boots to a fine-dining restaurant, which is probably a first for me given that most of my snowy footwear is big, bulky, and more appropriate for a dogsled expedition than a night on the town.

I fully submerged the Kodiak Moncton boots through the ice for a minute and a half and my foot stayed dry and warm. Impressive!

Could something so stylish hold up to the rigours of a Kootenay winter, though? Granted, we don’t experience the frigid weather here like, say, Manitoba, but there were a few nights when temperatures dropped to -15°C and the 400-gram Thinsulate insulation kept my toes snug and warm. The Kodiak Moncton boots also have a high cuff that rests six centimetres above my ankle bone and a padded collar that cinches tight so I didn’t have to worry about snow getting into the boot when wading through calf-deep drifts. The most impressive feature of the boots, however, is their waterproofing. In theory, the gusseted tongue allows the Kodiak Moncton boots to be fully submerged to the ankle without any leaking so I decided to test it. I hiked in deep snow to a stream and then stomped through a thin layer of ice and dunked a boot into the freezing water for over a minute. Not only did my socks stay dry, my foot remained perfectly warm as well.

The one issue I had was the outer sole. The tread is seven millimetres deep ensuring excellent traction in both light and deep snow, but more than once I slipped on ice while navigating a steep street. Granted, the roads were steeper than the average seven percent gradient you’d find on a wheelchair ramp, but I wonder what makes up the proprietary rubber on the Kodiak outsoles and whether they could be made tackier. That said, most Canadian cities don’t boast San Francisco-style streets so the grip of the outsoles should be sufficient. Overall, I was stoked to be able to get around my mountain town this winter easily, warmly, and stylishly. And it’s no surprise that a Canadian footwear brand makes a kick-ass pair of winter boots. In short, the Kodiak Moncton winter boots are the best urban snow stompers I’ve ever owned.

Kodiak Moncton Winter Boots – The Deets

  • $200 Cdn
  • Waterproof leather with waterproof, seam-sealed membrane
  • 400 gm Thinsulate insulation for winter warmth
  • Padded collar helps seal out the cold
  • Removable, recycled footbed with OrthoLite foam for comfort
  • Slip-resistant rubber outsole
  • Comfort rated: -20°C / -4°F
  • Colours: Brown or Black
  • More info: kodiakboots.ca

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