Fending off frozen feet: Students share tips for winter footwear

Annie Bartholomew
November 6, 2012

Trisha Lebasseur, a wildlife biology and conservation student shows a customer the Lobben boot in Beaver Sports’ Athletic Department on October 29. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star.

As winter sets in, colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours becomes a reality.  But students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are finding new solutions to battling one of winter’s worst side effects: cold feet.

“If you want to buy boots in Fairbanks I would typically go with waterproof and to negative 40 for the winters here because they’re really long and harsh,” said Trisha Lebasseur, a wildlife biology and conservation student who works in the Beaver Sports Athletic Department. “We have some that will go to minus 40, some that will go to minus 50, some of our boots are more waterproof than others.”

Beaver Sports has all the traditional winter boots you would expect in an outdoor store. Merrel and Keen boots reach negative 40 for longer exposure outdoors and negative 25 for running errands or walking around campus.

Beaver Sports’s newest stock, the Lobben, looks a little bit like an elf shoe with a pointed toe and bright red wool and blue soles. “They’re not the most stylish but they are going to keep your feet super warm,” Lebasseur said. According to Lebasseur, the Lobben’s temperature is built for  negative 50 temperatures. The Lobben is made in Norway and is the warmest boot currently carried at Beaver Sports .

Another boot popular on the Westridge end of campus is the arctic inspired Steeger Muckluk, characterized by its moose hide bottom and tall canvas upper. Trista Crass, a UAF alumna and co-founder of the Fairbanks fashion blog, Arrogantly Shabby, wears her mukluks everyday from October to March. “They are the lightest, warmest boots I’ve ever worn,”  Crass said. Crass  has owned  her Steegers for more than six years.

“They also have a soft sole and wide toe box, so that your foot’s natural movement helps to keep your foot warm while you walk instead of just freezing into scrunched up little ice blocks,” Steeger said.  Steeger’s Arctic Mukluk is  built to withstand colder than negative 40 temperatures, according to their website

For foreign language and linguistics student, Joyce Anastacio, winter boots were a new experience. Anastacio  had never purchased winter boots until she moved to Fairbanks from Kodiak, where the preferred boot was the XTRATUF rainboot.

“I like the knock-off stuff, the really cheap kind with the fuzzy stuff inside,” Anastacio said, who prefers the Ugg style boot. “I wear like five layers of socks – it’s the only way.”

But some students refuse to wear boots all together like geology student Sam Herreid, who only uses boots when mountaineering.

“The problem with boots is that they’re heavy and they chew your feet up if they don’t fit you really well, Herreid said. Herreid uses a trick a friend taught him during a snow shoe race during negative 25 temperatures. Herreid uses recycled plastic bread bags for insulation by putting the bag over his sock and placing the bread-bagged foot directly into the shoe.

“When I’m winter biking, or whatever, people will laugh at you because you have a bread bag coming out of your shoe, which people think that’s funny I guess, but it’s actually extremely effective.” Herreid warns users to be careful not to mix up their shoe bags with their food bags, because they look identical.

Whatever your choice of winter shoe may be, know you’re not suffering alone this winter.

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