Winter Snow Boots — TNF Four Shadows GTX and Two Shadows


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 16, 2010      

Good shoe options, on sale now at backcountry.com.

One of my gear goals this winter was to come up with some “knock around” winter boots that were light on my feet, warm, and kept me dryer than my usual athletic shoes. Ideally, they’d even work as snowmobile boots. Four Shadows boots from The North Face have fit the bill, and made mountain living much more comfortable.

Four Shadows GTX North Face

TNF Four Shadows GTX on left, Two Shadows on right.

When I saw the Four Shadows, I was stunned at how close the design was to my perfect fantasy boot. For starters, even though these shoes are high cut, my pair of size 28.5 only weighs 49.6 onces. That’s astoundingly light for a full-on snow boot. The weight savings is due to an upper that’s constructed in similar fashion to a trail running shoe, as well as a sole that’s obviously intended to compromise between weight and durability. And while the sole appears to be minimally lugged for ice and snow gription, it lives up to its claim of being “TNF-winter-grip,” probably due to both the sharpness of the lugs, and perhaps their claimed “temperature sensitivity.”

Ok, they’re light and the soles don’t skid like slippers, but how warm and how dry? That is indeed the question with any boot that doesn’t use an inner. In a word, it’s tough to put enough insulation in a non-double type of boot to make any practical difference in warmth. The Four Shadows has some 400g PrimaLoft insulation stitched into the upper. This seems to make the boots slightly warmer than otherwise, but my roomy fit combined with two pair of Smartwool socks has a much greater effect. Still, everything helps, and the full package is toasty. In fact, they’re so warm I’d consider taking these to Denali as my camp boot (though I won’t, because I want a more versatile system for that sort of thing).

Of more importance to me than a bit of insulation is the Gore-Tex membrane in the Four Shadows. In summer, a GTX boot is too hot for me because they don’t breathe as well as a simple, non-membrane upper. But give me slush and rain, or snow, and they just plain work (though you can defeat even the best GTX boots if you spend hours hiking in super wet conditions, as the flexing of the boot will eventually force water through the membrane in some spots.) I’ve tested the Four Shadows during numerous days of snowmobiling, trailhead gab sessions and home snow shoveling, and the Gore-Tex has indeed worked. My feet don’t get as sweaty and moist as in a Sorel, but wet conditions stay outside where they should be.

Downsides of these shoes are few to none. They’re pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get. I like the high upper of the Four Shadows for snowmobiling, but could do without it the rest of the time. Durability seems to be fine, though some of the more exposed stitching on the upper toe of both models needed some protective epoxy to prevent snowmobile abuse from things like the traction jaggies on the sled running boards.

Two Shadows has a lower upper and something they call “Hydroseal” waterproof membrane. If this stuff breaths at all, it does so minimally and thus I found these to be good boots for quick hits such as snow shoveling, but my feet get too moist during the long haul. Nonetheless, the Two Shadows is still super lightweight, has the Winter Grip sole, and is insulated. Thus, Two Shadows is a good budget option (street price $125.00) if you can’t afford the Four Shadows (street $140.00), but know the limitations of having a non-breathable boot. For example, they may need a boot dryer if you use them regularly, and they’ll be colder once your feet sweat.

As for other features that lengthen the list, booth shoes have a nice stable last, and excellent heel stability via a feature they call their “Heel Cradle.”

Good shoe options, on sale now at backcountry.com.

Comments

5 Responses to “Winter Snow Boots — TNF Four Shadows GTX and Two Shadows”

  1. Sam February 17th, 2010 8:59 am

    These look great and I actually like the high tops for shoveling snow. It seems like whenever I wear something with a low top I end up with wet feet.

  2. Mark February 17th, 2010 9:38 am

    North Face has done pretty well in producing fairly nice shoes at prices that are modest too. Too bad they haven’t gone in for polyurethane midsoles, but then again, nothing made in China does. If you want a light, mid-cut boot good for dry, summer peak bagging in CO, check out the Lowa Zephyr.

  3. Rick February 17th, 2010 10:46 am

    I have used the Vasque Breeze GTX for snow shoveling, as that is what I do while laid off from landscaping. They do remarkably well with traction, and warmth down to 10 degrees F., while wearing medium weight pair of SmartWool socks. The boots are mid cut, so I wear gaiters. These boots are definitely for continuous activity outdoors.
    I wear the same boots for landscaping in the summer, with lighter weight wool socks, and my feet don’t sweat. Lucky me!

  4. EMS February 17th, 2010 11:42 am

    I bought a pair NORTH FACE Gore-Tex winter boots for my birthday at East Mountain Sports. They are pretty good.

  5. Sledges October 4th, 2010 8:16 am

    This look very nice! I know a certain someone that would love these.

    Simon

Got something to say? Please do so.





Anti-Spam Quiz:

You can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box to left, but you must leave a brief comment to do so, which records your email and requires you to use our anti-spam challange. If you don't like leaving substantive comments that's fine, just leave a simple comment that says something like "thanks, subscribed" with a made-up name. Check the comment subscription checkbox BEFORE you submit.
If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.

:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
  
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.

  Your Comments

  • Joe Stock: Rick, you're skiing too low and following the masses.... Mike, get in touc...
  • Michael: Jeff, I'd also make sure the rubber boot sole isn't interfering with comple...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Ok boys and girls, I spent an hour fooling around with a Dynafit "shark nos...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Jeff, if you're trying to do precise release settings, you probably need to...
  • Jeff: Anyone struggling with pre-release on the Radical 2.0? I had two very pain...
  • Joseph: I'm at 3.3kg now including the airbag and all safety gear. 1st aid, tools, ...
  • jasper: Atfred, I have my BD Saga 40 jetforce bag at 23 pounds (10400g). Which incl...
  • MarkL: David - I realize your post was a while ago, but just in case...The plastic...
  • harpo: I have two Life Link releasable grips still inservice, one on a LL variable...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Interestingly, I often carried a much lighter pack while ski touring in the...
  • atfred: With all this talk about lightweight packs, carbon cylinders, etc., I would...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Ok, thanks Bob, I'll look at it. You're probably right. Lou...
  • Bob: Lou, It seems to me that the shape of the boot toe on the TLT7 could poten...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Lee, the empty carbon cylinder can easily be shipped back to Europe, by air...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi guys, I've experimented for years with boot position on ski, I agree, 5 ...
  • Lee: Unless things have changed this is not available in US if you need to send ...
  • PieterG: @Todd: if you are currently mounted at bootcenter and you opt for a shoe wh...
  • Matus: Dave, thanks for clarification. If the backpack fits it is great. With carb...
  • eggbert: Thanks Lou for chasing this down. I looked at the Diamir site and they put...
  • Todd: Thanks Lou. The older binding is on a K2 Coomback (the older 102? underfoot...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Todd, depends on the ski and other ergonomic factors. For example, if you'r...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hack, the trigger handle stows quite nicely. The cylinder can also be unscr...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Gary, they fit fine inside if I'm wearing layers, and can be mounted on the...
  • Todd: I'm possibly going to update my boots and what I'm looking at has a shorter...
  • Jay: This is probably caught up in number 5, but several recent incidents have s...
  • hacksaw: Is it easy to "disarm " the pack for heliskiing?...
  • Gary: Cool small air bag pack, but where do your skins go for the downhill?...
  • Michael: sweet, wasn't aware that was an option. Looking even more appealing. Now ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: The carbon cylinder is filled with nitrogen, and apparently is not very eas...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Eggbert, the release of the Vipec has nothing to do with the shape of the b...

  Recent Posts


Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

Switch To Mobile Version