As determined adventurers, many of us will not let the cold of winter be a deterrent when it comes to spending time outside. However, feeling frozen down to our toes is not a comfortable way to spend that time. That is where warm, insulated winter boots come in.
Thinsulate is a material used to insulate heavy-duty winter gear. It should keep your feet warm when used in an insulated boot and provide some extra cushion.
Choosing between the two is primarily based on how cold the weather will be when you use them. For instance, a rated 400g can keep your feet warm down to 30 or 40°F (-1.1 to 4.4°C), while 800g should keep you warm down to closer to 20°F (-6.7°C), assuming you are at least lightly active.
Let’s break down Thinsulate and the pros and cons between 400g and 800g boots so you can figure out the best option for you using this short boot insulation guide.
What is Thinsulate?
Thinsulate is a thin synthetic material that was trademarked by 3M only a few short years ago. It acts as insulation for clothing and footwear in extreme cold. Thinsulate is one of the most frequently used synthetic insulates, although there are several other options. These include Zylet, HeatSeeker, Primaloft, and OptiWarm.
Thinsulate works by trapping air molecules inside of the microfiber filaments. Air is one of the best insulators, and it can also block out the continued entrance of colder exterior air and stops the warmth on the inside from escaping.
To put it plainly, in warmer weather, you will want and need less insulation or a lower weight. When you camp in winter, you will want more insulation.
Two Popular Types of Insulate
The two most common tops of insulate that you will find used in boots for cold conditions include Thinsulate and Shearling insulation.
As described above, Thinsulate is a lightweight but heavy-duty synthetic material that gives your boots extra stability and insulation while providing them with another layer of cushion.
Shearling insulation is another excellent warming option for your boots but is like the snuggly version of Thinsulate. It is soft, made from a fine fleece to make the shoes comfortable and keep your feet warm even in challenging weather conditions.
The primary difference in function between these two products is that these boots are meant for daily use. The Shearling insulation is not as durable and, therefore, does not hold up when used during rugged activities.
What is 400 gram Thinsulate?
Boots insulated with Thinsulate come with a variety of weight insulation. For this article, we are primarily comparing 400g and 800g Thinsulate boots. They suit different purposes. Thus, depending on how you intend to use them, pay attention to the shoes’ weighted insulation.
The grams of Thinsulate indicate the thickness of the boot’s insulation and not the overall weight of the insulation. The way that is listed can be confusing for some. To give you an example, in a 400g insulated boot, each square meter of that Thinsulate weighs 400 grams. Your boot will not have a square meter inside it, so it will weigh much less than this.
In a 400g Thinsulate boot, less heat can escape than a 200g but more than an 800g. Thus, the weight of the insulation changes the temperature rating of the boot.
The density of the Thinsulate also changes the capacity in which you can use them since they will be heavier and restrict movements more the higher the gram boots they are.
A boot with 400 grams of Thinsulate works for chilly days and evenings, even if you engage in light activity. They are also very functional as work boots.
What is 800 gram Thinsulate?
Boots insulated with 800g of Thinsulate can protect your feet from the cold in colder situations than 400g can. They are best suited to days around freezing temperatures and will continue to protect your feet even in light activity.
As you get to 800g and above, your boots will start to become heavier and allow you less mobility as the insulation becomes thicker. If you plan on using these as work boots, this is important to understand.
When to Choose 400 G Thinsulate?
It is best to choose 400g Thinsulate boots if you want to have something you can use all day long during the winter. They allow you to maintain your full range of motion while still feeling warm.
Although they are most effective for temperatures slightly above freezing, they can still receive temperature ratings down to -40°F (-40°C). An excellent example of 400g Thinsulate boots and waterproofed for wet conditions are the Kenetrek Mountain Extreme boots.
When to Choose 800 G Thinsulate?
Boots fortified with 800g Thinsulate are meant for extremely cold conditions. They begin to limit your movement, but they still allow enough mobility to function as work boots in severely cold winter weather.
Boots with 800g Thinsulate insulation can have a temperature rating down to -60°F (-51.1 °C), although they are generally the most functional around freezing temperatures. A good example of these for hikers, hunters, and outdoorsmen are the Rocky Ranger Waterproof Boot.
If the temperature rating is the most important part of your boot, it is worth looking into an exact Thinsulate temperature chart to determine your best option.
Benefits of Thinsulate
There are benefits of Thinsulate beyond being lightweight and effectively keeping your feet warm even in cold weather conditions.
Although Thinsulate is not typically created to be waterproof, it is water-resistant. They help to keep your feet dry in boots unless they are submerged over the rim of the boot.
Once you come back from an outdoor adventure, a hunt, or a workday out, then you can easily pop the Thinsulate material into your home washer. Many other insulation types are dry-clean-only, but this washing capacity makes keeping the boots clean more convenient.
In summary, the number of grams associated with insulation varies based on the boot’s temperature rating and how much activity you plan to do while wearing them.
It is best to use 400g Thinsulate boots if you:
- Want full mobility
- Only need maximum warmth down to 30°F (-1.1°C)
- Want a temperature rating around -40°F (-40°C)
In the cause of 800g Thinsulate boots, use them if:
- You are alright with slightly inhibited movement
- Want a boot for below-freezing temperatures
- Need a boot that can protect your feet down to -60°F (-51.1°C)
There are also options for more or fewer grams of insulation. Choosing between these will steadily decrease both the temperature rating and the boot’s mobility as you increase the grams of the boot.
1. Why can’t I use my regular hiking boots for winter hiking?
It is not a good idea to wear typical 3-season boots for winter hiking because of the lack of insulation. However, 3-season boots are also bound to be less waterproof when trying to stand up against abrasive snow and icy conditions.
2. How accurate are warmth ratings for boots?
To figure out the accuracy of a warmth rating for a boot, go to the company page. They should give you a description of how they test and settle on the boots’ warmth rating. More tests that exercise the boot’s ability to hold up and insulate in lower and more abrasive weather conditions are better.
3. How much insulation should winter boots have?
Good winter boots should have at least 200g of insulation for a comfortable walk-around-town kind of boot when you are active. If you plan on doing less activity or you have poor circulation go with at least a 400g insulation.
4. What are the most popular forms of insulation in winter hiking boots?
Thinsulate is one of the most popular forms of synthetic insulation since it remains light while still being very effective at insulating in winter temperatures below freezing. Another for everyday boots is Spearling insulation.