Forgive me, but I’ve always thought of UGGs as girlie boots. Where I’m from they are a fashion statement preferred by teens at the mall, and consequently nine tenths of the downtown UGG shop is dedicated to such pink and frilly footware that a high latitude adventurer would be embarrassed to enter.
Knowing that, I was amazed when Les and Ali of Arctic Tern recommended them. Because my time to Northwest Passage departure was too short to allow any research at all, I simply swallowed my pride, went to the above mentioned shop, and bought the only pair of men’s boots I could find, the UGG Classic Short.
The UGG Classic Short is a sheepskin boot whose leather shell and wool lining are a single piece of material. The shell is a light-weight suede of medium height with a lining is 17mm grade “A” Twinface sheepskin to which is attached a sole of flexible, molded foam. According to UGG, sheepskin is a naturally thermostatic material and will regulate foot temperature to body temperature in a range between -30 Fahrenheit and 80 Fahrenheit, which is quite a claim. Though “naturally high tech,” nothing about the boot feels the least bit rugged or outdoorsy. In fact, its sensation going on is more that of a bedroom slipper.
Two points in defense of UGGs
1) During the passage it struck me how similar these UGGs are to traditional Eskimo Muk Luks, which are made of soft sealskin. Like Muk Luks, the UGG is much more suited to the very cold (i.e. dry) conditions of an Arctic winter than the more typically muddy summer conditions.
2) The UGGs my hosts wore were not the Classic Short, but rather a much more rugged boot similar to the UGG Polson. Given their tougher shell and sole, they were more versatile than my boot by far and could take wet days on deck and muddy days on shore with ease. Still, they suffered from having a boot top just that much too short (jumping from the dinghy to the beach had to be done with care) and the permanent liner whose insulation couldn’t be dried properly once wet.
In the final analysis the UGG boot’s warmth meant it had potential, and a common refrain aboard Arctic Tern was that we wished UGG made sea boots.