Après Shoes

While ski and snowboard boots are our bread and butter, we all have to get to the trailhead, ski hill or bar somehow. So this winter, our editors put non-buckled nor Boa-sporting boots and shoes to the test.

Blundstone x L.L. Bean Chelsea Boot

Working as an editor of a ski magazine has taken me around the world, where I’ve squelched through muddy parking lots, post holed from the car to the lodge and braved icy sidewalks all in the name of getting the story. Finding the right footwear for all these activities and looking presentable for a 5 p.m. meeting is a challenge to say the least. Enter the Blundstone, a boot that is equally stylish and functional. For the past year, I’ve been traveling in their classic Chelsea boot, specifically #2308, the L.L. Bean crossover. While the ankle height was perhaps a bit low for a month on assignment in Japan, these trusty boots have been the only shoe I bring for every trip, from Austria to Utah to New England. With two pull tabs, they easily slide on after a day in ski boots. The TPU outsole is grippy and, over a steel shank, the midsole is cushioned just enough to absorb shock while offering plenty of arch support. For those with cold feet, I’m also a fan of the Thermal Chelsea boot, #566 ($250), which adds waterproof leather, Thinsulate insulation and a wool footbed for wintery conditions. —Betsy Manero

Fubuki 2.0

When these boots first popped up in Instagram posts on the feet of influencers and pro skiers, I was wary. They were big and bright, and while the fashion statement was obvious, I wasn’t sure of their ultimate function. After a pair arrived at my house in November, the too-warm, rainy days didn’t quite warrant knee-high, fleece-lined Fubuki 2.0s. But as I chased winter west, all the way to B.C., they increasingly became my boot of choice. As it turns out, they’re also quite popular in Canada—and it’s no wonder. Made with a flexible, lightweight, elastic thermoplastic, these boots pack waterproofness and insulation in one light (520 to 750 grams depending on size) and effective punch. Add in a thick, cleated sole, which prevents rapid heat loss into frozen ground, and the cozy polyester liner and it’s hard to find a comparable boot. Say goodbye to parking lot snow and unexpectedly slush puddles ruining warm, dry socks. Plus, keep the snow out on deep days with the top cinch. Best of all, at such a light weight, there’s no sacrifice to keep your feet dry, well unless you’re driving, then you may need to practice hitting the brakes with an extra-large toe first. —Greta Close

Xtratuf 6-Inch Ankle Deck Boots

I’m an après slippers man who’s worn everything from Target-origin sheepskin and suede to insulated booties while sipping beer on my tailgate. But that comfort comes with wet feet. With the Xtratuf 6-Inch Ankle Deck Boots, I traded a bit of coziness for a whole bunch of dryness. Made of fully waterproof neoprene, they protect against freshly fallen parking lot snow (up to 6 inches, anyway) and feature an SRA slip-resistant outsole. The physics behind that certification are beyond my grasp, but the boots kept me upright on all surfaces except black ice. Even stuffing sweaty ski socks inside them, they were warmer than expected because the Xpresscool evaporative liner wicked away prodigious foot sweat. Still, with no insulation I’d recommend a fresh, post-tour pair of socks. As a bonus, they’ve held up to rainy springtime dog walks and yardwork. Now, I save my slippers for what they’re really meant for: going to the grocery store when I’m too lazy to put on shoes. —Tom Hallberg

Arc’teryx Kragg Shoes

On first take I was wary of these low-rise slip-ons. Nothing about them appeared post-ski proof: the white colorway, the knit fabric, their below-ankle height. The second I put them on, however, my opinion was completely reversed. Elastic and remarkably cushioned, the Kragg shoes enveloped my post-full day tour feet in a forgiving, flexible cocoon. Since then, they’ve become the only shoe I’ve wanted to put my suffocated, blistered feet into after a long day on the skintrack. With an upper made from breathable, stretchy spacermesh (three layers knit together to create one) the Kragg easily accommodates my foot with or without socks. To protect this weave, a rubber guard wraps the toe and heel, and a Vibram Megagrip outsole ensures grip and durability. But the real magic is the roughly inch-thick, foam-like insole which offers all-day comfort, from the trailhead to the bar, grocery store and beyond. Plus, if you’re like me and are predisposed for heel blisters, or you just want extra ease, you can fold the heel down and wear them as slides. While they might be billed as an après climbing shoe, the Kragg has become my go-to travel, errands, office and post-everything shoe. Sure, they’re not built for slushy walkways or muddy parking lots, but they can go pretty much anywhere else. —Greta Close

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