Weight: 2 lbs. 6 oz.
Insulation: 200g wool
What we like: Warm, comfortable, and the unique cuff design is both versatile and stylish.
What we don't: Pricey and not as tall as other winter boot models.
UGG might not be the first name you think of for a performance winter boot, but their Adirondack lineup could change your mind. With premium materials, impressive warmth, and a very comfortable fit, the Adirondack III quickly earned its place as our daily boot for a snowy and cold winter in central Oregon. Although rated to keep feet warm in conditions well below freezing, it still maintains the light weight and cozy feel we want in a casual winter boot. Below we break down the Adirondack III’s warmth, traction, comfort, waterproofing, construction and durability, and more. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best winter boots.
The UGG Adirondack III is one of the warmest winter boots we tested. It has a leather upper and full-coverage liner, even underfoot, which is comprised of 200g insulation woven together with real wool. 200-gram insulation is relatively standard for a casual winter boot, but the use of wool is what sets the Adirondack apart. It's generally warmer than other insulators and excels at wicking moisture, regulating heat, and staying warm even when wet. Additionally, the 3-layer insole—which combines three different types of foam including memory and EVA foam—provides impressive insulation from the ground along with a nice, cushioned feel.
The UGG Adirondack has a listed temperature rating of -32 degrees Celsius (-25.6 degrees Fahrenheit), but use caution before you bring it to the depths of the Arctic—manufacturer-provided numbers for boots tend to be quite optimistic. There are a number of factors that contribute to the warmth of your feet, including individual your circulation, the strenuousness of your activities, type of socks, and whether or not your feet are cold before you even put the boots on. In our testing, on a 15-degree Fahrenheit day with over a foot of fresh snow on the ground, the Adirondack III kept our feet on the cold side of comfortable—only slightly warmer than The North Face’s Shellista II (we had the TNF on one foot and the UGG on the other for testing purposes). That's still fairly impressive, however, providing solid warmth well below freezing.
A boot’s height is another indicator of its insulating abilities. It almost goes without saying that all else being equal, the taller the boot, the warmer it will be. The UGG Adirondack III has a shaft height of 7 inches (measuring from the top of the foot to the top of the boot), which drops to about 5 inches when the boot’s cuff is rolled down. With the cuff unrolled, the Adirondack III came up to the lower part of our calf, making it one of the shortest boots that we tested. For most days, this level of warmth seemed completely sufficient, but on the coldest of days (below 20 degrees Fahrenheit), we paired the Adirondack with insulated pants. For full coverage in cold weather, consider a taller boot like the 12-inch Sorel Joan of Arctic (see our in-depth review here).
In terms of traction, UGG made big improvements from the Adirondack II to the newer III, incorporating a molded "Spider Rubber" outsole for a great combination of durability and friction. Unlike the smoother tread of the II, the Adirondack III has a lugged pattern that helps with traction and bite on snow, ice, dirt, and mud. When held up against the TNF Shellista II, the UGG’s lugs are a few millimeters deeper, sharper, and seem to lend extra assurance on slippery terrain. On everything from icy sidewalks to hard packed snow in the parking lot of our local ski area, we were impressed with the high amount of grip the Adirondack III offered.
UGG’s Adirondack III is a noticeably comfortable winter boot that quickly became our go-to choice thanks to its plush interior lining, soft and springy insole, and lightweight and responsive feel. A soft wool with insulative backer lines the entire interior—including underfoot—giving the boot a slipper-like feel that is comfortable even without socks. Around the ankle and lower leg, the wool is thicker and more cushioned (17 millimeters thick, in fact) trapping in heat that might otherwise escape and giving the sense of a warm, soft embrace every time you take a step. In terms of the insole, three unique layers of foam combine to provide insulation and cushion from the ground, while also lending breathability and a soft, molded feel underfoot. All in all, the Adirondack III is an ultra-cozy boot, which isn't always the case in this category.
We assumed that such a warm winter boot would be clunky and uncomfortable, but not so with the Adirondack III. In use, it's surprisingly low-profile, lightweight, and responsive underfoot. While tossing a ball in the park with my dog, I was able to lightly jog without the feeling of having weights on my feet, and walking around the block in the Adirondack feels almost as simple as it would in a pair of tennis shoes. My only gripe is that my boot seems to have an excess of materials across the front (even though I have quite wide feet, I can cinch it up almost to its maximum). When I flex my ankle, I experience some bunching on the top of my foot and lower leg. That said, the UGG still allows for much more of a natural gait than a rubber boot like The North Face’s Shellista II, which moves more stiffly and hinges poorly at the toe.
Additionally, the Adirondack III’s relatively short shaft height makes it easier to get on and off than most. We found that we had to loosen the top four laces to smoothly pull the boot on, and the rear pull tab was extremely helpful. Compared to a 12-inch tall boot like the Sorel Joan of Arctic, donning and removing the Adirondack is a piece of cake. That said, we found ourselves consistently wishing that the lacing system was more efficient: if you just pull from the top, the laces three or four grommets down won’t budge. Because of this, we had to get into the routine of cinching the boot from the ankle upwards.
The UGG Adirondack III combines a seam-sealed leather and suede upper with an internal waterproof membrane for a solid defense against puddles and wet snow. For most around-town purposes, I found that this combination provided ample waterproofing without giving up much in the way of breathability. That said, keep in mind that the tongue is only gusseted halfway, meaning that there are long vertical openings for water to enter from the ankle upwards. We found that we could immerse the Adirondack in water up to about the third lace without our feet getting wet—any higher than this, and no matter how impressive the waterproofing might be, you’ll still get wet feet. On the other hand, in deep snow, we were able to immerse the Adirondack III almost to its top without running the risk of wetness entering inside.
Boot Height: Protection and Support
The UGG Adirondack has a shaft height of 7 inches (measured from the top of the foot to the top of the boot), or about 5 inches when the cuff is rolled down. This low-calf height places it on the shorter end of the spectrum for a casual winter boot and offers less overall protection from cold and snow than most. If you live in an area with freezing weather or consistently deep snow on the ground in the winter, it's worth considering a taller boot like the 12-inch-high Sorel Joan of Arctic. That said, unlike the bulky, fur-brimmed Joan of Arctic, the Adirondack III pairs well with a gaiter, giving you even more coverage and protection for the times you really need it. In terms of support, the UGG is supple enough that you don’t want to rely on it too much for ankle stability. On the bright side, this flexibility means that you get a lot of freedom of movement, which is a huge bonus for activities like driving or playing in the snow.
On our scale, a size 8.5 Adirondack weighs in at 1 pound 4.8 ounces for one boot. This is a fairly competitive weight—our similarly-sized The North Face Shellista II is 1 pound 6 ounces, and the Sorel Joan of Arctic is 1 pound 15 ounces. For a casual, around-town boot like the Adirondack, weight doesn’t matter so much for carrying on your back as it does for how the boot feels on your foot, and in this respect we think the UGG really shines. As we mentioned above, the Adirondack feels light on the foot, giving you the freedom to walk or run without feeling clunky. Given the solid amount of warmth and protection that it's able to provide, we think that UGG nailed it with a lightweight and easy-to-maneuver build.
The UGG Adirondack III is a remarkably well-made boot with premium materials and a high degree of durability. We’ve been really impressed with the level of detail that is apparent in this boot, from the rands at the heel and toe to the unique shaft that gives you the versatility of choosing the stylishness of a cuff or the sleek and streamlined look of a taller leather boot. And after a winter of use, our boots are no worse for the wear: the tread still is sharp and well-defined, all stitching is in tact, and we’ve noticed no shedding of the internal wool. Finally, it’s a huge selling point that UGG incorporates natural wool into the design of the Adirondack, a material we rarely see in winter boots. This addition is reflected in the cost of the boot, but well worth it for its reliable warmth in wet weather.
The UGG Adirondack III currently comes in five colorways and stands apart from most boots with its ability to be worn in two different styles. When the cuff is fully extended, it looks like a traditional leather boot, with a sleek design, great warmth and water protection, and a build that layers well with a pair of snow pants or gaiters. Roll the fluffy wool cuff down, and you get a more playful, casual boot that is right at home when layered overtop of tighter pants like jeans or leggings. Overall, the thick rubber soul, durable rands, and leather upper of the Adirondack give it more of a rugged than sleek and stylish appearance, but the wool cuff is an ingenious design that lends a great amount of versatility to the boot.
UGG has designed the Adirondack to handle both cuff configurations with ease, but there is one small hiccup to this design: the tongue. The tongue is at an ideal height (slightly above the lip) with a rolled-down cuff, but falls about an inch short of the top of the boot when the cuff is extended. If you want to lace the boot up all the way, this means that the knot will rest on your shin in the gap between the boot’s sides, rather than on the tongue. To keep this from happening, I’ve gotten into the routine of lacing the boot one grommet short of the top. UGG had to opt for this middle ground to accommodate the boot’s versatile design, but it does sacrifice a bit in the way of coverage and style when the cuff is unrolled.
Sizing and Fit
The UGG Adirondack III is a women’s boot that comes in a range of sizes from 5-12. We find that it fits true to size around the foot, and slightly large at the midfoot and lower calf. Here, the Adirondack seems to have an excess of fabric, right where the boot flexes at the ankle. This extra space allows room for thick socks or tucking bulky pant legs into the boot, but with standard wool socks or leggings, it results in a bunching of fabric and a rather loose feeling. Unfortunately, this seems to be a common theme among the winter boots we tested, and actually is less of a problem with the UGG than most.
It’s important to keep in mind that boot fit can be an extremely important factor when it comes to keeping your feet warm. A loose boot will let in drafts or snow, and more dead air inside a boot means the more your body will have to work to keep it warm. But even more importantly, you don’t want too tight of a fit, which will impact circulation and result in cold feet and toes. In short, it’s important to nail the fit on the Adirondack if you want to reap the full benefit of its -32-degree Celsius rating (or anything close to it).
UGG's Adirondack line is super popular, including the standard boot reviewed here, a tall version, and a quilt version. The UGG Adirondack Tall ($325) is the same boot as the standard Adirondack, but with a shaft height that measures a full 12 inches (5 inches longer than the boot reviewed here). The Adirondack Quilt keeps the same build and design features of the standard, but only is available in black with a white, sneaker-like sole, and substitutes a quilted nylon in place of the suede for a look that is at home on the city streets. Both the Patent and Quilt Adirondack have 7-inch shaft heights and come in at $250, the same price as the standard version.
What We Like
- With wool insulation and a waterproof design (up to the third lace), the Adirondack III kept our feet warm and dry on snowy days down to about 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lightweight design and use of leather rather than rubber gives this boot a relaxed, responsive feel that’s comfortable for all-day walks and winter hikes.
- Style-wise, you get two boots in one: roll the cuff down for a playful, casual look, or keep it extended for a classic leather boot.
- Premium build quality. UGG nailed the details here and the Adirondack lives up to its price.
What We Don’t
- When the boot is fully extended to its 7-inch height, the tongue doesn't extend to the very top of the boot.
- The fit is slightly narrow in the toe box but roomy midfoot. This does allow for thick socks and is a common profile among winter boots, but we did experience some bunching around the ankle.
- Lacing system is not one-pull, meaning you’ll need to tighten the laces at each grommet.
|UGG Adirondack III||$250||2 lbs. 9.6 oz.||200g wool||7 in.||Yes|
|The North Face Shellista II||$140||2 lbs. 12 oz.||200g synthetic||8.5 in.||Yes|
|Sorel Joan of Arctic||$190||3 lbs. 14 oz.||6mm felt||11.8 in.||Yes|
|L.L. Bean 8" Shearling-Lined Boot||$225||3 lbs. 2 oz.||200g synthetic||8 in.||No|
The UGG Adirondack tops the charts in terms of premium materials (wool and leather) and a versatile design. But it does come at a cost—$250 is a high price to pay for winter boots. For $110 less, The North Face’s Shellista II Mid offers similar levels of warmth and waterproofing in a build that’s almost as versatile as the Adirondack. The Shellista’s half-rubber upper gives it a bit of a gum-boot feel, but eye-catching colorways, supportive and plush padding at the ankle, and nice design touches make it one we’d take around town or to the mountains. You can’t turn down the cuff like we love on the Adirondack, but the Shellista’s design does allow you to layer it under or over pants. If performance and value are your top priorities, the Shellista is a great choice, but there’s no replacing the durability, comfort, and premium feel of the Adirondack III.
For those who like the wool cuff of the Adirondack III, it’s worth checking out the ubiquitous Sorel Joan of Arctic. This boot takes the style points of the Adirondack to the next level, with a 12-inch shaft height, suede upper, oversized metallic grommets, and generous faux-fur cuff. In terms of performance and materials, it’s no match for the UGG, and you’ll give up a great deal in terms of traction, comfort, agility, and warmth. However, for a tall boot that can layer overtop of clothing and will provide warmth and waterproofing up to the mid-calf, the Joan of Arctic is an eye-catching option.
Finally, if the Adirondack has caught your eye, L.L. Bean's 8" Shearling-Lined Boot is worth a look as well. Similar to the UGG, the L.L. Bean is made with premium materials, including suede, leather, and sheepskin shearling, and put together with a noticeable attention to detail. It features that classic duck-boot look with a light brown rubber sole, and it doesn’t hurt that the boot is hand made locally in L.L. Bean’s Maine factory. However, although the L.L. Bean retails for almost the same price as the Adirondack, it has less insulation and a non-waterproof build, making it far less of a performance piece.