Sierra Designs Fireside Down Bootie ReviewJanuary 24, 2012
- 700 fill down for very cold temperatures with adequate compressibility
- Taped seams on the sole for shallow puddles
- Very adorable
- Too high-volume for true packability; not efficient for the backcountry
- Not very grippy on slick snow
- Relatively expensive
This boot aims for a cozy little niche somewhere between stylish après ski boot and packable backpacking bootie. It’s best for cold-weather car camping and campfires, but can be thrown in a pack for an overnight yurt trip in a pinch (with very good warmth, adequate water resistance, and acceptable compressibility). However, it’s too bulky if pack space is at a premium.
Most booties are made for being shoved in a stuffsack. Most cozy winter boots are made for looking tres chic. The Firesides sit somewhere in the middle.
Although the Sierra Designs Fireside Down Bootie (which is actually more like a full boot) is not designed to be truly packable, it does more than look good. This is one of my favorite pieces of luxury outdoor gear that I own because the combination between super warm 700 fill down, waterproofing, tough “non-skid” soles for light outdoor use, and relatively low volume.
These booties are not what you would pack for an extended backpacking trek, as they don’t crush as well as a traditional bootie. But I found them to work perfectly for car camping, ski resorting, or a shorter trip where pack space is not so limited (or even wearing around town on a winter day). With all the critical seams taped, you can use these in snow or during wetter seasons, and they feature a durable EVA textured sole to theoretically keep you from slipping (beware that this is not designed to have true grip on ice or slick snow: I have taken many a stumble in them, with and without the aid of whiskey). These boots are 700 fill goose down, so they can withstand very cold temperatures, and the cozy polyester taffeta (i.e. faux fur) lining makes them extra comfortable for bare feet. The cordlock adjustment at the cuff and ankle come in handy for keeping the warmth in and the snow out. Although I have yet to snag them, they also feature 100% recycled polyester ripstop to prevent excessive tearing of the outer fabric.
I find these most useful when my feet ache after a day of resort skiing, or just wearing around a yurt or tent on cold days. The price is a bit steep given their limited functionality (after all, you’ll still need a good pair of highly compressible backpacking booties, and there are better après boots out there…) so don’t mistake this for an “essential” piece of outdoor gear: this is a luxury item that fits somewhere in the nether-world between packable camping bootie and UGG-style boot.
… But if you wear these as much as I do, it’s probably worth it.