Columbia Bugathermo Techlite boots

Review by Arnie P

Bugathermo Techlite boots

Bugathermo Techlite boots

Columbia Bugathermo Techlite boots were provided by Columbia for the purpose of this review.

These Columbia boots are deceiving in many ways. Looking at the boot, I could not believe they weigh as little as they do. Each boot weights about 1.5 lb. I have trail shoes that weigh about 1 lb each. These boots are waterproof and are thermally heated with rechargeable batteries. The boots I am testing are a men’s size 9. The boots are about 9.25 inches high. The laces pass through 5 pairs of nylon loops at the lower end and 2 pairs of plastic hinged hooks at the top end. The laces also pass thru a center nylon loop keeping the laces well dressed to the boot. The length of the laces seems perfect. Many times I find my laces are too long and I must tie extra knots to prevent the laces from getting under my feet. I like that the boots have a tab loop on the heel end to help put them on.

User manual for Battery heated boots

Included with the boots are:
2 Electronic control modules
2 Rechargeable batteries
2 Micro USB to USB cables
1 USB wall adapter
International users who purchase boots outside the USA get a wall plug adapter kit.
The rechargeable batteries can be charged outside of the boot or inside the boot. This explains why there are 2 Micro USB charging connectors on the Electronic Control modules. The connector to the boot covers up one of the Micro USB connectors. The two batteries are identical, as are the two control modules. When connected in the boot the harness connector on the left boot covers the left Micro USB connector and the harness connector on the right boot covers the right Micro USB connector.

Charging process

The batteries are tested each time the batteries are charged. At the start of the charging cycle the LED in the power switch and a tiny LED on the Electronic Control module will flash 0.5 sec on/off for up to about 4 minutes. If this test fails the previously mentioned LEDs will flash 0.1 sec on/off, indicating a damaged battery. The normal charge cycle is 2 hours and after 5 hours the charging will be turned off automatically to prevent overcharging. When fully charged, the LEDs mentioned will stay on. When charging power is disconnected the LEDs will shut off, regardless of the degree of charge in the batteries.

Temperature control

There are 3 modes of operation, High mode, Medium mode, and Low mode.
High mode (Power button LED is red in this mode)
High mode is used for initial warm up or in very cold conditions. In high mode the heat provided is about 140 F and the batteries will last up to 2 hours depending on the outside temperature.
Medium mode (Power button is Amber in this mode)
Medium mode is for less demanding conditions and in this mode the temperature reaches about 122 F and the batteries will last up to 3 hours depending on the outside temperature.
Low mode (Power button is Green in this mode)
Low mode is for mildly cold conditions and during a lot of activity and in this mode the temperature reaches about 113 F. and the batteries will last up to 4 hours depending on the outside temperature.
Shifting modes (High, Medium, Low)
To shift modes press and release power button. Modes follow the rotation of High, Medium and Low.
Operating options (Typical or Stealth)
The difference between Typical and Stealth mode is that in Typical mode the power LED is always on. In Stealth mode the power LED turns off after 30 seconds.
Typical mode Press and hold power button for 3 seconds, red LED turns on and remains on unless a mode shift is desired.
Stealth mode Press and hold power button for 10 seconds, at 3 seconds the red LED comes on and at 10 seconds the red LED flashes twice for 0.25 seconds on/off and after 30 seconds the LED fades off.
Turning power off
Press and hold power button 3 seconds.

Built in safety

If power switch is held more than 10 seconds it will go into stealth mode and after 15 seconds the system will automatically turn off. This is protection in case the power button is held on accidentally. After the system has been powered off, it goes into sleep mode and after 5 seconds it goes into a deep sleep mode.

Summary

One of the hang tags calls this product the “Future of Warmth Keeps you 20% warmer”. I will be looking into this claim. I will be using Bugathermo Techlite boots for hiking and also walking around town. Over the years, my hiking speed has slowed down and I do need warmer foot gear in colder weather for comfort. I also require good ventilation so I will stay dry and warm in case my feet do sweat during exertion. So far I am pleased with the lightness and comfort of the Bugathermo Techlite boots. Please check back in about a month for an update.
Columbia

side view

back view

back view

Electronic control module compartment

Electronic control module compartment

power button

power button

bottom view

bottom view

charging system

charging system

Update

12-31-2010

This past month was very good in terms of weather, timing, and five great hiking days to put these boots through a lot of varied conditions. I hiked in the Carlisle Great Brook Farm, Billerica Forest, and in New Hampshire.

Carlisle Great Brook Farm

I hiked with my wife on an overcast day with a temperature about 45 F and a slight wind. It was fairly humid and the air felt cold. The newly fallen leaves presented slippery conditions, especially on the steeper slopes. Between using my hiking poles and good traction on my boots I did not fall. My feet were dry and comfortable at all times on this hike.
Carlisle Great Brook Farm

Carlisle Great Brook Farm

Billerica Forest

I hiked with a friend of mine on a fairly sunny day. The temperature was a humid 50 F and the dampness made me feel cold. This hike was at a moderate pace so we tended to stop occasionally for a short rest. This is when I usually notice my feet cooling and I either walk in place or start hiking. I did not notice any cooling in my feet during these short rest periods. We did some bushwhacking on this hike and the boots handled the rough surfaces very well. I walk with my knees close to each other and occasionally the flaps on the battery case interfere with each other. It seems to depend on the terrain and my hiking speed. It is not happening as often so I will probably adapt to this situation.
Billerica Forest

Billerica Forest

Bald Mountain and Artist Bluff

I was alone on this hike and found out too late that I had not brought any traction devices for my boots. This was a very cold day at near 0 F and a 15 mph wind and and about 8 inches of powder snow. Near the summit the trail gets steeper and there are a lot of boulders to scramble over. I decided it was too unsafe to continue, especially since I was alone. I then proceeded to climb Artist Bluff which was a little easier but there was a lot of snow in the evergreen trees making for a very beautiful scene. I was glad to get back from this hike as the cold was starting to get to me but my feet were warm and comfortable. I did not have to energize the boots.
near Bald Mountain summit

near Bald Mountain summit

view of Cannon Mountain from Artist Bluff

view of Cannon Mountain from Artist Bluff

Blueberry Mountain

I hiked this with 2 friends of mine from the ski club. I was wearing my boots inside the club for about half an hour before we departed in our cars for the trip to the trail head. During this trip my feet did feel a bit cold even with the car’s heat on. However shortly after I got out of the car and started hiking my feet became warm and comfortable. The temperature was about 12 F and there was a slight wind at the summit. I was able to borrow traction devices for this hike as there was about 6-10 inches of snow on this trail, but I did not put them on immediately. I planned on putting them on when I would be needing them. Hiking up, there were several steep areas near the summit where the traction devices would have helped had I put them on. At the summit, we made tea with my friend’s stove. The sky was slightly overcast but the views were very nice. This is very near Mt Moosilauke, but not nearly as difficult to climb. After our tea break I put on the traction devices since going downhill is always a lot harder for me. The traction devices fit well over the boots and I had no problem with slipping on the way down. This was my first major hike in snow this season. This was a 5 mile hike which we did in about 5 hours. I was warm and comfortable except for the short time traveling in my car.
going up Blueberry Mountain

going up Blueberry Mountain

Lincoln Woods
I again was with my 2 friends from the ski club. It was overcast and a light snow was falling over about 6 inches of snow that was already on the ground. The weather forecast was for the light snow to turn to rain. The temperature was 30 F and there was no wind. About an hour into the hike, the light snow turned to a light rain. It was so light it was not very noticeable. The total hike was over 3 hours and at least 2 of them were in light rain. When I got back to the ski club, I checked my boots and they were dry, the bottoms of my pants were very wet and they were covering part of the boots. I very seldom come back from a hike in the snow and not have wet boots. The boots warm up and the snow melts and I usually have wet boots as a result.
light rain in Lincoln Woods

light rain in Lincoln Woods

The boots performed well in under a wide range of temperatures. The performance in light rain was better than I expected. Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say about the Columbia Bugathermo Techlite boots.

A last look

We have had a very snowy and cold January. With a total snow fall of about 84 inches and a low temperature of about -10 F, I had the opportunity to test the Bugathermo boots in ways I had not expected.
In spite of the fact that I do not enjoy snow shoveling, this month, I had a lot of snow to shovel and it was more pleasant mainly because of the comfort of the Bugathermo boots. Usually, when I shovel snow, my feet get cold because I stand on the freezing ground and don’t move my lower body much. While wearing the Bugathermo boots, my feet stayed warm and toasty. Even at -10 F, I did not need to turn on the boot heaters. My face and hands did get cold and that gave me an excuse to come into the house to warm myself.
One day, my daughter informed me that a news team had visited our local Plaza to film a 30 foot high pile of snow that morning. I went to the Plaza and donned my Bugathermo boots and traction gear and climbed up this very steep pile of snow. I have climbed a lot of snow covered mountains with heights over 4000 feet during the winter in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Climbing the pile of snow was as difficult as climbing any section of snow-covered trail I have encountered in the New Hampshire mountains. In some places the snow was very hard and icy and other places I would start sinking about halfway to my knees. I would not have been able to do this without traction devices and the ascent would have been very difficult with most snowshoes.
climbing a pile of snow

climbing a pile of snow

arriving at top of pile of snow

arriving at top of pile of snow

This was a good test for balance and maneuverability. I was completely stable going up, as well as coming down. Despite the post-holing, very little snow entered the tops of my boots and the lacings remained secure and flexible while walking. Post-holeing is when one or both feet sink into the snow. When your foot is removed the hole that remains looks like a post hole. One of the reasons to use snow shoes when the snow is deep.
Although these boots do not have a groove at the heel for traction devices, my Kahtools MICROspikes did not come off is the Bugathermo boot even when I post-holed a few times.
I am very pleased with my results with the Bugathermo boots. I was very comfortable using the Bugathermo boots at -10 F without using the heaters. There were a few times when I wished the tab to pull on the boots was a little bit larger. If I get a chance to use the Bugathermo boots this season with snowshoes I will add the results to this report. These are the lightest and warmest of any winter boots I have worn.  I wish to thank Columbia and 4alloutdoors.org for the opportunity to test these boots.

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