The Story

My first contact with Steger Mukluks is about 9-10 years ago. Back then I was still living in Germany, but tried to find as much infos as possible about arctic expeditions and travelers specifically with Alaskan Malamutes. There was not much to be found, other than Joe Henderson, who travels in the Alaskan Arctic for months every winter and choses Steger Mukluks as his main boot. Of course, counting back from him, the way of living by the Inuits in the past and today is the way to look at. No matter if you look into Greenlandic, Canadian, Siberian, Chukchi or Alaskan Inuits. Tradition is holding up. And with a modern approach to it, you can adapt old techniques into modern traveling. Unfortunately Kamik are rather unusable in most areas, as we tend to walk on pavement and gravel or, going back to the dog sledding part, stand on sled runners which would make for slippery driving. Even skiing would be complicated. So, Steger Mukluks were my choice about 7 years ago, when i received my first pair and started my first season as a sled dog guide up in northern Sweden. -45C on the runners didn’t bother my feet one bit and since then I would never change to a different system, other than warmer weather boots, means I just go to hiking boots, rubber boots or trail running shoes. No need for more than that.

In detail

The “Arctic” comes with or without Ribbon and in size width such as Regular, Wide and Double Wide. I used to wear the Wide (in -45C in northern Sweden) and switched to Double Wide (in -25C on Svalbard), since it always adds a little extra, obviously. Buy them with proper space (tighter at the beginning of your wear, they will widen a bit though) for extra socks, vapor barriers and what ever you need additionally  to stay warm. You’ll get a 9mm wool felt liner, a 9mm wool inlet with an extra contour sole, out of rubber, to it. Which increases the insolation level pretty well. The idea behind the Mukluk is to have a flexible, breathable, proper insulated, lightweight boot that flexes with your foot to support the blood flow in them. And yeah. That’s exactly what this amazing combination of Moose Hide, natural rubber and canvas is. If you are Dogsledding, doing an Expedition on skis or just try to stay warm while ice fishing, this shoe is made for it. 

The lacing system might require some getting used to –  Usually my guests sure do – makes for a solid nice fit with a good ankle support for a soft boot like that. 

Tip: For easy slipping in and out, people, like me, tend to just wrap them loosely around the ankle. 

You can wear your pants in different ways to make them work with the boot. I prefer to role the canvas down and put my pants firmly over the wool inner shoe, role up the canvas again and then lace up. since i am wearing knee pads throughout the winter, I will always have the pads where i want them to be and the lose fit pants are not moving a bit. Otherwise, you can just put the pants over the mukluk canvas and then lace up. Which makes for an additional water resistance, if you have wet snow.

That said. Although you can buy water repellent directly from Steger Mukluks, it will never be as water resistance as most winter boots you will find on the market. Cold and dry arctic and sub-arctic conditions, that’s what this shoe is made for. Means, crossing overflow or even just having wet snow conditions suck with those ones!

That also counts in the problematic for moving in and out of the cabin in your dog kennel, or what have you. You might have some snow attached to the boot and it will melt in. If you have a busy day with lots of in and out walks, you will notice it on the Moose Hide and later in the wool liner.

The rubber, when exposed to much heat, such as a drying locker or similar, will take a beating and start shrinking (as seen on the picture below – heal part), which eventually causes the rubber to harden out as well as to disappear at the ankle section and you will start walking on the Moose Hide instead. In particular for the dogsledding part of it, it is worth mentioning that some brake systems with additional spikes, or what have you, on it – designed to give you more grip for the boot – are destroying the rubber in the long run. 

I use them every day as soon as temps are dropping under -5C. Doesn’t matter if i have to go into town, clean the dog yard, run my dogs with a racing or greenlandic sled, or if i am going out on a multiple day/week expedition skiing next to the big heavy loaded sled. I wear liner socks on milder days and just add a pair of thick Norwegian wool socks to it. On skis I will add a layer of vapor barriers in between the liner and the wool sock and take that stuff off right away after setting up the camp (steamy business) and have a nice breathable camp shoe. 

Conclusion 

A modernized version of an arctic classic used for generations in arctic and sub-arctic terrain is still alive in the Steger Mukluks Arctic. – http://www.mukluks.com 

Warm, breathable, lightweight, highly comfortable and flexible. And it looks awesome!

It comes with a price – the water resistance is low. With http://www.overshoesneos.com you would be set for that though.

Article Review Steger Mukluks “Arctic”

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