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Why Boots No Longer are Temperature Rated

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My March/April 2001 newsletter has an article about insulated boots. At that time if you looked in a Cabelas catalog or had gone into any sporting goods store that sold boots you would have seen a temperature rating with all of the other information provided with the boots. Most of the boots regardless of the brand were rated from -20º F to -100º F. I took the opportunity to call I believe every brand sold and introduce myself giving my background in the insulation business and was curious as to where they did their testing to arrive at the rating applied to the boots. I never did get an answer since those with whom I spoke were only customer service people. You can go to the archives and click on the month and year to read the entire article. It is titled “Insulated Boots”.

I recently picked up a publication North American Hunter winter 2014 edition. While looking through it I came across a section “Editor’s Choice”. One of the items listed was a boot “Wolverine Ridgeline Xtreme”. It is made with 1000 gram Thinsulate Ultra insulation and 100 percent waterproof Gore-Tex lining. This is the first time I have ever seen Gore-Tex referred to as 100 percent waterproof, so it probably is. What was not in the description written by the editors who gave the boots a test was the temperature that they were used in. They do say and I quote; “the boots were extremely comfortable’. I then went to the Wolverine web site to see what temperature they rated the boots for. And guess what they did not show a rating, and as I perused the web site I did not see any temperature rating on any of their boot models. Since Cabelas carry’s almost every boot brand made I went to their web site and again still no temperature ratings.

So I called Wolverine and asked the customer service woman if she could tell me. She went into their web site and whatever information was available to her and did not find any temperature ratings on the boots. At this point she put me on hold and asked some people in maybe product development and when she came back her answer surprised me. They as well as every other boot manufacturer had eliminated temperature ratings on the boots for legal reasons. It seems it all started with the boots the made for children getting cold feet and I think frost bite, that was her words to me. Then it led to adults having the same problem. She said that people buying a boot for -20 degrees F could stay out for maybe an hour but if they stayed out for 7 hours they would get cold feet. This is certainly a problem for them, but I can tell you they have done nothing to try and correct the problem.

When you make cold weather clothing for children and that includes every article of clothing from their head to hand wear and foot wear you must take into consideration that these little people have yet to develop any significant muscle mass which is where heat comes from in the human body. Therefore, what you make for use by children and women (women also do not have the same muscle mass men have so the same holds true), in cold climates has to be very well tested before you put it on the market. When it comes to adult men testing is also as necessary as it is for children when it comes to footwear and hand wear. Feet and hands are extremities that get blood last in the human body. Wearing a hat will not make the slightest difference. Having warm feet and hands will certainly make your head warmer.

Before I ended the conversation with her I suggested that she go to the Wiggy’s web site and scroll down to see the video that I did “The Myth of Waterproof Breathable”. She actually did it and while I did not identify myself I did say that boots shown in the video looked similar to the one I was looking at in the magazine. I did clue her in that the problem with cold feet had to do with the Gore-Tex retaining the moisture in the boot and that I never did think of Thinsulate as an acceptable form of insulation. She did tell me that after she viewed the video she was going to make the people she spoke with aware of it. Did she recognize the voice on the video as the same voice on the phone; possibly. Will they now call Gore and 3-M to question what I have been saying for years about their products? Who knows? Representatives of both of those companies know what I think of their products so this is not new information for them.

Boot manufacturers have been making boots in this manner for over 30 years I believe. Faced with law suits has only ended their practice of publishing erroneous temperature ratings for their boots, however, it has not caused them to see what is otherwise available and look at the physics of why their boots are not performing. These boot companies do hundreds of millions of dollars in business so money is not an object. It is their lack of intelligence. They simply do not want to walk away from the promotional aspect of continuing to deal with these suppliers. They in my opinion do not care if their customers have warm feet or not. This attitude permeates the entire outdoor industry. It is loaded with young people who do not have much of or any background in the industry so they function with the status quo. Those higher up in the corporate structure are as ignorant of the situation as the lower level people so who can the lower level people learn from, no one.

If you want warm feet, first you need my Lamilite socks and that will help when wearing boots made by these companies. Then you should have my Overboots if you truly want warm feet at -20º to -30º below zero and stay out for hours, I know because I have been there many times hunting here in the Rockies in November and if you want warm feet below -30º F then you need my mukluks, and I also know about that because I was lost in the Fossil Ridge Wilderness in a blizzard for three days and the temperature was about -50º F. My pack boots are also excellent as low as -4º F. also be aware that I sell significant quantities of the footwear products to Alaskan residents and now to the U.S. Border patrol. Since I am not selling them my boots I assume they are wearing my Overboots over the other brands that they are issued. Why? Because it is necessary to have the Overboots in order to stay out on patrol for many hours.

My advice is to go back to the retailer or manufacturer for that matter and voice your complaint, they will listen.

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