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Hands-on Gear Review
Blundstone Thermal 566 Review
Cons: Low flood height, limited usefulness for hiking
Bottom line: The Thermal 566 is a comfortable slip-on boot that is easy to use and stylish.
Our reviewers have worn slip-on boots before, but none as comfortable as the Blundstone Thermal 566. This boots, sometimes referred to by their "Romeo" style, are lace-free like the Bogs Classic Ultra Mid, but are much more stylish. So much so that they look good with a pair of jeans when heading to work on a cold winter day. With a high-quality waterproofed leather outer, they provide excellent weather protection for their low cut height, though higher models like the Vasque Snowburban II UltraDry give the utmost protection. The real calling card of the Thermal 566, however, is their unbelievably plush sheepskin footbed that makes you feel like you are walking on pillows. This removable footbed also translates into warmth, and our feet always felt toasty and warm while wearing these boots. With large handles and full weather protection, we still awarded the Bogs Classic Ultra Mid our Top Pick for Ease of Use Award, though this model deserves an honorable mention for outstanding comfort and looks. Learn more about how to pick the best winter boot by reading our Winter Boot Buying Advice Article.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Winter Boots for Men of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
There are many makers of slip-on style boots, but few rise to the top to provide the kind of fit and comfort we expect, especially sans laces. The Blundstone 566 sets the bar high with an ultra-comfortable, durable leather contender that impressed reviewers with good looks and proven performance.
By using Thinsulate insulation in the upper of the Thermal 566, the Blundstone boots can keep the warmth generated by the foot trapped in the boot. With a medium weight merino wool hiking sock, we experienced no cold foot issues when standing around in the snow splitting wood, or when walking to the bus stop to get to the ski area. The sheepskin footbed is not only delightfully comfortable, but it also provides additional insulation between the TPU outsole and your foot. The full leather outer is free of breathable synthetic fibers like we see on the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni, so it does not breathe as well, causing sweaty feet in milder (over 40 deg. F) temperatures.
The waterproof leather upper on the Thermal 566 sheds snow, slush, and rainwater with ease, and we found no leaking through the leather or along the seam, which joins the sole. The leather requires long-term maintenance in the form of oiling or waxing to keep beading water off. For sloshing through icy puddles, the Blundstone boots performed well, though their Achilles Heel is a low, 3-inch flood height. The low depth to which they can be submerged (before water leaks into the boot) is the lowest in our review, much lower than the Bogs Classic Ultra Mid or The North Face Chilkat 400. This means they are less useful when high top protection is needed.
Fit and Comfort
Ahh, slipping our feet into the soft embrace of the sheepskin lined Thermal 566 makes us think of curling up in front of the fire while the winter storm rages outside. These boots received top marks for their comfort, thanks to the lush footbed and the soft elastic ankle support. These features allowed our feet to easily articulate, and the full grain leather upper has been treated and conditioned so that it is soft and pliable when walking. As a slip-on boot, there are no laces, which means a proper fit quite important. With a variety of different socks, we found an excellent fit, though they just weren't quite as secure as a lace-up boot, like the Salomon X Ultra, when we tried to take it on longer walks.
Ease of Use
The Thermal 566 boot was the second easiest to use in our review, ranking just behind the Bog Classic Ultra Mid. With two tabs to aid in donning the slip-on boot, it was easy to slide our feet in, even when wearing thick wool socks. The tabs are big but not huge, making it possible to operate with gloved hands, though not as easy as the large handles on the Bogs. Stepping out of the Blundstones was a bit more difficult, as the fit is quite secure in the heel, and there is no heel counter to assist, like the one found on the Kamik Nation Plus.
An average performer in the traction department, the Thermal 566 boots earned a 6 in this category, beating models like the Salomon X Ultra and the Columbia Bugaboot. We were able to find purchase in these boots in most snowy and icy conditions but tended to gravitate towards a thicker, more robust sole pattern when conditions were more demanding.
The Thermal 566 insulated boot is a great choice for heading outside to grab wood for the warm fire inside, walking to the corner store in a winter storm, or sloshing through puddles on the way to the office. It takes a simple slip-on leather design, applies cushy features like a sheepskin footbed, and delivers stylish looks for use in mild winter conditions.
At $215, this boot is in the more expensive range and is almost $150 more than our Best Buy winning Kamik Nation Plus. These are high-quality boots made from good materials and will last a long time, so while expensive, they are worth the price you will pay.
This comfortable slip-on boot was our reviewer's favorite for trips around town when the weather was cold and nasty. These boots don't offer the same weather protection as others, but are incredibly comfortable and are easy to slip on for quick trips outside.
— Ryan Huetter
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