Vasque Women’s Pow Pow boots
Waterproof Suede and Nylon Exterior
Waterproof UltraDry™ membranes
400g Thinsulate™ Ultra polyester fiber insulation
Durable rubber sole with versatile tread
High ankle support and protection
What I wanted:
While Iceland is more temperate than many people expect, it is COLD in March! Temperatures can fluctuate between just below freezing to just above freezing with occasional snow, and it is still considered to be winter. I knew I would be hiking in these conditions and I wanted to be prepared.
To get me through these Iceland winter hikes, I knew I would need something solid, warm, and as waterproof as possible. If I had to step through puddles and trek through snow, I wanted to make sure my feet would stay warm and dry. And since I have trouble finding shoes that fit well, I really wanted them to be comfortable.
In doing extensive research online for warm waterproof boots, I eventually happened upon the Vasque Pow Pow boots. The reviews were promising with few complaints (addressed below) so I decided to bite the bullet and spend more money than I have ever spent on footwear. This isn’t saying much though, as I always have trouble spending a lot of money on clothes and shoes. However, as I get older I realize that it makes more sense to spend more up front for a quality product instead of less on poor products that need replacing over time.
The negative reviews that I had read were primarily about accurate fit and bulk. I knew that I could exchange them for a different size if the fit was wrong, so I tried not to let that part bother me. The bulk was a little concerning since I would be traveling, but I expected winter hiking boots to have some kind of bulk. Besides, this wasn’t a backpacking trip, so I wouldn’t be lugging them around in a bag. Some other complaints were about getting the boots on, which seemed sort of trivial to me as I was most concerned about comfort.
Ordering these online, I was nervous about how they would fit. I have extremely high arches and have been using SOLE arch supports in most of my shoes lately. I typically wear a 7.5/8US and normally lean towards 8 if I anticipate needing my insoles or if the fit runs large. I also expected to be wearing thick socks for hiking and cold weather, so I ordered size 8.
Upon receiving the boots, I tried them on with the original insole, something I always do in the hopes that there might be the perfect shoe out there made for my feet. Alas, I needed to remove the insert and put in my own. Sometimes this makes the fit a little tighter, so I was concerned, especially since I expected to wear thick socks on my hikes. Fortunately, the fit was snug, but still comfortable, even with thick socks. They were super cozy too, and I found myself dreaming of slippers made from the same material as the Thinsulate™ Ultra polyester fiber that lined the interior.
They were indeed heavy, but again, for me they would be hiking boots and that was okay. I knew anything too lightweight wouldn’t give me the protection from the elements that I needed.
In the field:
Satisfied with the fit and warmth of the Vasque Pow Pow boots, I packed them up and headed off on my Iceland trip. As soon as we encountered snow, the boots were on my feet. I had doubts that the cold or water would seep in, but I was delighted to find that my feet were snug and dry after hours of gentle walking in snow and slush. In fact, I was surprised that my feet were actually hot! Cursed with perpetually cold feet, this was something I was ecstatic about. I found that I no longer needed my thickest socks, and that I could rely mostly on the fuzzy interior to keep my feet warm. There was a night that I stood outside to photograph the Northern Lights and when I retreated from the cold, my feet were the only parts of me that were warm.
I was next impressed by the stability of the boots while hiking. They keep your ankles from wobbling and the sole is thick and solid for stepping on uneven terrain. Just what a good hiking boot should do.
We also encountered areas of compacted snow that were slippery. We brought ice traction grippers to slip onto our feet for such conditions, but I was happy enough with my boots. Keep in mind that the boots are not made for gripping ice, but they did a decent job keeping me upright most of the time. :)
The final test that I put my boots through was unintentional, but well worth the mistake for future peace of mind. One of my goals for the trip was to photograph the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon at sunset. Unfortunately, our van got stuck in the snow, making us late to the lagoon. Rushing to catch the tail end of sunset, I was careless in setting up my tripod at the water’s edge. I had learned that the water levels could change quickly, but I had forgotten in my haste. Following my relief in capturing a “safe shot” at the very least, I looked down to realize that my feet were totally submerged in the glacial water. I panicked and stepped onto dry land, hoping that not much water had seeped through. I watched in awe as water rolled off in big droplets, revealing the perfectly dry suede exterior. This blew me away and has become the main reason I decided to write a Vasque Pow Pow boots review.
What could be improved:
I don’t have much to say under this section, as I was pretty happy with my purchase. However, in an attempt to address all angles I will mention just a couple of points.
While I was doing day hikes, I would not recommend these for anything much longer. They are not meant for such use, which is why I even hesitate to mention this at all. They are too heavy for extreme hiking in my opinion, but great for shorter hikes.
Ironically, while others complained about getting the boots on, my only issue was getting them off. However, once I figured out that the laces needed to be pretty loose and that I could grip onto the handy loop at the back, I was golden.
Overall I was completely satisfied with my boots. They served my purposes – day hiking and keeping my feet warm and dry. They exceeded my expectations for comfort and waterproofness. When a product that I already own inspires me to write a review, that usually means I want to rave about it.
Where to buy them:
Vasque just released a new model (as of the summer of 2015) with stylish updates, pictured at the beginning of this post. You can support this site by purchasing through this link:
The Educational Tourist - Great review! I hope to be in need of such a pair of boots one day when we visit a very cold spot! Thanks for the great tips. Also, can’t help but love a pair of boots called pow=pow!!
traciehowe - Thank you! Definitely keep them in mind! Yes, the name is awesome. At first I kept wanting to call them “Pow Wow” for some reason! ;)
Gabby | The Globe Wanderers - Tracie your photos are just spectacular. You’re my new travel photography inspiration!! I will achieve shots like this one day :). The boots sound great… i’m always on the look out for comfy footwear (I have the opposite problem to you – very flat arches.. and hammertoes – Attractive!) so I usually struggle. Will definitely look into these :).
traciehowe - Thanks so much, Gabby! You’re so sweet! I especially appreciate your comment considering that this post has the fewest photos I think I’ve ever included in one post! :) Sorry about your foot problems… it’s no fun to have uncomfortable feet! That’s precisely why I was so excited about these boots!
Valerie Perry - Isn’t Iceland magical?! I only had the pleasure of spending 24 hours there- can’t wait to go back.
I’m going boot shopping this weekend for a National Park trip so thanks for the timely review!
traciehowe - Yes, I’m in love with Iceland. You must go back and spend some more time there! I’m glad you got a chance to read my review before your National Park trip!
Kimberly Erin - Interesting, it’s great to hear that your feet actually stayed warm as I have Raynauds disease and so the cold is an issue for me… but the heaviness is something I would def have to look into as I don’t know about investing in day shoes, Id like a little more use from them.
traciehowe - Does Raynauds Disease affect your hands too? I have a friend who I believe has the same issue. I’m sorry to hear that. My problem hasn’t been diagnosed, but my feet are always colder than the rest of my body. I bet there are some warm fuzzy shoes out there for you that aren’t quite as bulky. ;)
Gemma Two Scots Abroad - Great critique, see you bought the correct boots for the right terrain (and season!) I bought snow boots as I wanted super ankle support for the West Highland Way and it ended up causing Achilles strain! Lesson learned, read blogs first!
traciehowe - Oh no! That’s no good! Well, I hope your next pair do a better job. :)
Carolann - One Modern Couple - This is a great review – we’ve been doing more and more hiking and I’m always commenting on my need for better shoes for it! Depending on our luggage situation, I may just have to invest in a pair of these!
traciehowe - Yes, good shoes meant for hiking are essential! Thanks for your comment, Carolann!
Bethaney - Flashpacker Family - Having decent shoes really helps in these conditions. We spent the winter in Utah and waterproof, non-slip footwear was essential.
traciehowe - Absolutely, Bethaney! It’s amazing what a difference a quality pair of shoes can make.
Doreen Pendgracs - love your photos of Iceland! Glad you found hiking boots that have met your needs. Keep on trekking!
traciehowe - Thanks, Doreen! I will! :)
karla - I live in a tropical country so boots are not really a thing. It is more like a “fashion statement” rather than function. Years back, when I was going to Europe in April ( winter), I made a mistake of bringing one of those fashion boots only to realize that it was a waste. It did nothing for me. Iceland is a bucketlist destination of mine and since I pretty much find myself traveling during winter ( I don’t know why) I have been eyeing to invest in good shoes. Thanks for sharing this, I shall take a better look into it and see if it is what I want.
traciehowe - That sounds like an unfortunate mistake. But, you live and learn, right? Thanks for your comment, Karla!
Mike - HoneyTrek.com - those boots sound SOLID! I am going to suggest them to my wife Anne, as she is currently in the market for boots. Have you seen them for sale at sporting good stores? or just specialty footwear places?
That’s a great sign when you look down and see the water beading up rather than freezing your feets before a long hike home!
traciehowe - Thanks, Mike! I hope Anne finds them suitable for her needs. There are links to buy them online within the post at the bottom. I haven’t looked for them in stores, but you might check REI if there is one in your area.
Joe Ankenbauer - Not sure what I enjoyed more, the boot review or the pictures! That’s how you test out a pair of boots!
traciehowe - Haha! Thanks, Joe! :)
Kimberley Cohen - Do you still have and wear these boots? I’m curious how they have held up for you. Mine have stretched quite a bit such that I have little ankle support and they are super easy to get on – like slippers. Trying to decide if I should get the PowPowIII. But if they only last 2 yrs…..sigh ….any feedback would be appreciated.
traciehowe - Hi Kimberley! My boots don’t get worn that often because I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to wear them, so I don’t know how well I can answer your question. They’re still in great shape after about 3.5 years, but I have only worn them a handful of times. The quality seems so great that I can only imagine them holding up well, but that’s about all I can say. Sorry I can’t help more.
Rowan - Hi there! I’m not sure if you’re still responding to these messages. I just bought a pair of these boots online (the Pow Pow III) and I’m wondering if they get more flexible with use? They’re so high up on the calf, it’s hard to walk and flex my ankles in them. Like walking around in snowboarding boots. But they are very warm and fit fine other than that. I was just worried about how easy it would be to walk in them. I am thinking of returning them but thought I’d try to find some reviews first. Thanks for your feedback.
traciehowe - Hi Rowan,
Sorry for my late reply! I assume you’ve made your decision to keep or return them by now, but I will comment for the sake of others if they’re curious, though I don’t know how helpful it will be. I honestly only wear them occasionally for situations such as the ones I describe in the post. I wouldn’t want to hike very far with them, but that’s because they’re pretty heavy. The flexibility never bothered me personally though. Feel free to reply if you kept them and can comment.