In the footwear options we researched for the article: Lightweight Footwear Systems for Snow Travel we wanted to include the lightest pak-type boot we could find to see how it compares in warmth, moisture management, and utility compared to other options. We found the Baffin Outback.
The Baffin Outback incorporates advanced technologies to reduce weight while maintaining comfort, warmth, and durability. This boot is far different from a conventional pac-type boot with a reprocessed wool liner. The aggressive tread on a size 12 boot (right) is 5.25 inches wide – that’s almost a small snowshoe!
A pak-boot typically has a waterproof rubber lower section stitched to a highly water-resistant leather upper, and has a reprocessed wool removable liner for insulation. This construction is usually quite heavy, weighing 3 pounds or more per boot. The Outback weighs 34 ounces per boot, which is light by pak-boot standards, but still very heavy by our lightweight footwear standards. Thus, the questions that need to be addressed in this review are: 1) are the warmth, moisture management, and utility of the Outback boot worth the extra weight, and 2) under what conditions would we consider using such a boot?
First, a description of the Baffin Outback. The 8-inch tall Outback is comfort rated to -40 °C/-40 °F, and is a member of Baffin’s Conviction series (he Mountain is a taller boot of the same design), which incorporates advanced technologies to reduce weight while maintaining comfort, warmth, and durability. This boot is far different from a conventional pac-type boot with a reprocessed wool liner.
The boot’s shell has an expanded polyurethane outsole that has very small air bubbles entrapped in it for extra insulation. The upper is full-grain waterproof seam-sealed leather. The inside of the shell is lined with a thin layer of hollow fiber synthetic insulation with a fleece face. The removable liner has an open-cell foam core covered by a double layer metallic membrane, with a mesh facing on the outside and fleece lining on the inside.
The Outback’s shell (left) is lined with a thin layer of synthetic insulation with a fleece face. The removable liner (right) has an open-cell foam core covered with a metallic membrane, and is fleece lined on the inside. The boot’s liner and tongue overlap to and enclose the leg (left).
I used the Outback while ice fishing, igloo building, snowshoeing, elk hunting, winter car camping, and snow camping and found it to be remarkably warm and versatile. Their traction is superb. Unlike many other pac-boots, the Outback is suitable for hiking, but it’s obviously heavy by our standards, so I only recommend it for hiking or snowshoeing in frigid conditions. I hiked in them in below zero temperatures in perfect comfort. The Outback excelled in the less strenuous activities listed above where heavy-duty insulation was needed to compensate for a lack of heat-generating activity.
I wore the Baffin Outback on a variety of snowshoes (Atlas Backcountry 24 shown), and had no problem fitting my size 12 in the bindings. It functioned perfectly on snowshoes and for snow camping.
I was curious to find out how well the liner wicks away moisture and how much moisture it holds, so I did a simple test by stuffing the liner with wet cotton towels and allowing it to stand for 4 hours. When I inspected it, I was surprised to find that the liner had wicked the moisture entirely through to the outside, where it was readily evaporating from the surface, and the liner itself held only 1.0 ounce of water.
While snow camping I had no problems with the boots accumulating a lot of moisture, even though I snowshoed in them all day. The liners and my socks felt slightly damp when I pulled them out in the evening. In camp, I wore dry wool socks enclosed in a vapor barrier sock inside the boots to ensure that my insulating socks stayed warm. The liners readily dried out inside my sleeping bag overnight.
To answer the questions I raised at the beginning, I found the Outback to be an appropriate footwear choice in really frigid temperatures. They kept my feet warm while snow hiking or snowshoeing during the day while staying mostly dry inside, and were easy to dry out overnight. They performed equally well for snow camping in frigid weather with no additional gear needed other than a dry insulating sock and vapor barrier sock.
Specifications and Features
- Manufacturer: Baffin (www.baffin.com/)
- Sizes: 7-13
- Height: 8 in (20 cm)
- Colors: Cement, Bark, Black
- Materials and Features: Outsole is expanded polyurethane, upper is full grain leather, gusseted padded tongue, inside is lined with a thin synthetic insulation with a fleece face, removable liner has an open-cell core enclosed in a metallic membrane and fleece lining on the inside
- Weight: Measured weight size 12 is 4 lb 4 oz/pair (1.95 kg), manufacturer specification oz ( kg) per pair, size
- MSRP: $