An overlook – N1-B Mukluks

Joan picked up some knock-off Uggs at a discount shoe store a couple of years back.

These shoes have become Joan’s favorite cool-to-cold weather boots when camping or post-backpacking when hanging out before our drive home.

Some post-backpacking hot drinks after a long weekend.

The boots work well for the drier conditions found throughout the Colorado Plateau. And are much more comfortable, lighter, and less bulky than our deep cold and wet conditions bunny boots.

His and her bunny boots one cold February evening. PCO Joan.

I must confess that I grew a little envious as I put on my heavy and bulky bunny boots for the colder weather or wore my not-entirely-warm hiking boots for still cooler conditions that are overkill for the bunny boots.

Over the past year, I somehow stumbled upon an article about mukluks. I then realized that Joan’s boots are essentially one-piece mukluks and that a version would make a practical choice for me that serves a similar niche for cold, dry conditions we find ourselves often when camping.

What are mukluks?

Mukluks come from the Inuit tradition and typically contain an inner boot with an outer shell that’s often breathable to lets sweat escape and regulate temperature better than a waterproof shell. They work in a broader temperature range, I find, for this reason.   Unlike Joan’s Ugg-like boots, you can remove the liner to dry out easier if necessary.

These boots aren’t waterproof, nor are they meant as such.

As mentioned, the boots make for very comfortable footwear, and, combined with their warmth, means footwear meant more for camp than hiking.

You also don’t want to use these boots in cold and wet conditions. But that’s where the bunny boots come into play.

Which mukluks?

Many choices present themselves for a mukluk purchase – 

The Steger Mukluks get considered the premium ones overall. Made in Minnesota with aesthetics enjoyed by many, these shoes cost about $200+ a pair.

Another option is the Canadian military issue mukluks. No surprise, many accolades for how warm and toasty people find these boots. At ~$75 to ~$100 used on eBay with S&H, indeed a reasonable choice if it’s your size.

But then there’s the US military issue N1-B mukluks. Described by Bull Moose Patrol as “a great poor man’s option.” At ~$45 for a pair, they are an excellent option for cold-weather footwear.

The sizes don’t seem intuitive, but this guide works well enough –

X-Small fits men’s shoe sizes 5-6
Small fits men’s shoe sizes 7-8
Medium fits men’s shoe sizes 9-10
Large fits men’s shoe sizes 11-12

I wear a men’s size 10 US with a replacement bootie (see below) and thick winter socks; my feet have enough room and feel quite toasty. All without my feet sweating.

Pre-coffee photo via Joan!

The boots feature a long zipper for easy on and off and to let your pants slip in easily. I like to wear these boots with an old pair of fleece pants. For colder weather, I’ll easily slip my quilted M65 liner pants over the mukluks.

Additionally, the boots feature a thick rubber sole for insulation from the ground.

The soles have a grip that allows purchase on snowy/icy ground. While I would not want to use them for extended hiking due to their floppy nature, they work well enough for walks in and around camp.

It is made in the USA, too.

Inside each boot, you’ll find two wool insoles that provide insulation from the cold robbing ground. Note that you can purchase replacement insoles if you find a pair without insoles for less money.

The issued boots also contain wool blend removable booties.

from eBay

My used pair, at $30,  did not contain the liners. Instead, I bought some pac boot liners for under $20.

Purchase your usual size if you find similar shells minus the booties. I pair the mukluks with some heavy, winter-weight boot socks.

Unlike my bunny boots, I find the N1-B mukluks more comfortable, lighter, less bulky, and easier to pack.

Because they breathe so well, they work in both cool (around 40F or so) and cold conditions. They’ve become my “go-to” footwear when Joan and I camp and live in my always-packed duffle bag.

And if you order now versus winter, you will likely find a less expensive option in your size.

Of course, for deeper cold, I’ll prefer my bunny boots. I suspect the Canadian mukluks also fit a similar temperature niche for more comfort vs. bunny boots, if with the caveat about cold and dry versus cold and wet conditions.

With my “corporate schwag puffy.” The photo and sewing patch over the corporate logo, courtesy of Joan.

Overall, an excellent piece of kit and one I’ll use for years to come. And they certainly got used during the colder conditions we’ve found in Utah this past winter and into spring.

If you need or want some cold weather gear that does not break the bank, consider the surplus N1-B mukluks a worthy option.

Disclosure – I purchased these boots with my funds

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