THE NORTH FACE
THERMOBALL TRACTION V MULES
Like walking on a cloud.
(This review originally featured in Wild #188, Winter 2023)
By James McCormack.
There’s nothing better after a long day in the outdoors than to get out of the shoes or boots that have been imprisoning your feet for hours. In summer, around camp, it’s easy to slip into thongs or even tramp around in bare feet. But in winter, when your feet still need a bit of warmth, many people simply stay in their shoes or boots. Crazy! That’s why I’ve long been a fan of insulated booties, and why I can’t, for the life of me, understand why more people don’t take them on trips.
Recently, I scored a pair of The North Face’s Thermoball Traction V Mules. I’ve worn them most days since (even in May, my house is like an icebox). Now, I’m going to steal a line from a review I read online, and full disclosure, it’s one from TNF’s own website, but it’s a line I wish I’d written myself because it’s so true. Titled ‘It feels like I am walking on a cloud’, Miles writes, “These are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. It’s like wearing a puffer jacket on your feet.” Man, is that ever spot on! I just would have added that they’re super toasty and warm, too. Oh, and grippy as well.
Not only are they comfortable, the backs are collapsible, meaning you can slip into and out of them like a pair of regular slippers. Or you can pull them up when you need a more secure fit. Speaking of times when you want a secure fit, that’s precisely when you’ll appreciate the rubber soles, as they provide far more grip than many other hut booties. Yes, the soles come with a weight penalty; I have other booties that weigh less. But they also don’t have grippy, durable soles that can be worn on damp surfaces. Speaking of which, the Thermoball insulation works even in the wet. That’s if they even get wet, mind you; the Traction V Mules are treated with a non-PFC DWR finish. One last thing to note is that if you need something that extends a little higher, say for apres-ski touring, you can get Thermoball Traction Booties as well. Now I just need to score a pair of them too.