Yes, Columbia shoes are good. Columbia has a long track record of manufacturing good quality hiking shoes. I have owned several pairs, and they have all lasted well.
The rest of this article is an answer to this question. I will help you know more about Columbia footwear in general. Combining my Columbia experience with research, I’ve compiled this guide that should help determine whether Columbia is the right choice for your needs.
Table of Contents
- 1 History of the Brand
- 2 Types of Columbia Shoes
- 3 Popular Shoes
- 4 FAQs
- 5 The Takeaway
History of the Brand
Columbia Sportswear was established by a family (and is still a family-run business) that fled from Nazi Germany right before the Second World War. It started as a simple hat-making business. It then slowly grew into an internationally-recognized brand that managed to acquire names such as prAna, Montrail, Pacific Trail, Mountain Hardwear, and Sorel.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Columbia moved its HQ from Portland to Cedar Mill, a small town with a population of just 14,000 people.
In 2010, the brand acquired Outdry Technologies, with this being one of the most important moments in Columbia’s history. This Italian brand developed and patented a special type of fabric composite that is breathable and waterproof. Columbia now uses it to manufacture some of its most popular hiking shoes.
Types of Columbia Shoes
Columbia makes several types of footwear, each focusing on a specific purpose to ensure that you have everything you need for intensive foot movement.
We can separate Columbia’s footwear into four main categories:
The best thing about Columbia’s hiking shoes is that each pair comes equipped with an OmniGrip outsole. As its name suggests, this sole provides the much-needed traction and allows wearers to plant their feet on rugged trails firmly.
Furthermore, most of this brand’s hiking shoes offer good ankle support. This allows the user to carry out extensive foot movement without having to experience any discomfort or instability.
As you may have expected, Columbia’s hiking shoes are stiffer than your typical running shoes, making using them on wet and rocky surfaces safe and enjoyable.
Many trekking shoes designed by this company feature breathable and lightweight materials, which is yet another thing that gives this brand a competitive edge over its rivals as it makes their hiking shoes easy to walk in for hours.
Sporting stable outsoles, providing excellent traction, and being very comfortable and lightweight, water shoes made by Columbia are held in high regard by thousands of fitness enthusiasts worldwide.
One great thing about the water shoes made by this brand is that they come with self-draining functionality. So, while wearing these, folks don’t have to worry about any additional weight negatively impacting their performance.
Furthermore, Columbia’s water shoes often sport grippy outsoles and have well-built ventilation. The latter allows quick drying and makes it easy for one’s feet to stay dry and healthy.
However, these kinds of shoes aren’t for everyone. If you suffer from foot pain, remember that most water shoes – including the ones made by Columbia – do not provide adequate arch support and could only exacerbate your issues.
This is Columbia’s most specialized kind of footwear and one that’s intended to keep your feet cozy and warm during your cold-weather outdoor activities.
And to achieve that, Columbia’s winter boots come with different amounts of insulation to protect one’s feet from cold-weather temperatures. They’re made of thick, durable materials and, therefore, much heavier than the brand’s regular hiking shoes.
Those who often hike during the wintertime know that the low temperature is not the only thing to worry about – icy conditions also make everything very slippery and increase one’s chances of accidentally falling and ending up with a serious injury.
That is why Columbia equips most of its winter boots with the OmniGrip outsoles. These are among the best on the market and provide phenomenal traction on slippery terrain.
Just like all other well-known manufacturers of outerwear and footwear, Columbia also designs, manufactures, and sells trail running shoes. These shoes are light, nimble, and built for running on challenging and uneven trails.
Unlike the regular road running shoes, which are manufactured in such a way that they can be used only on easy, hard-packed trails, Columbia’s trail runners can be used on trails full of snow, mud, and steep inclines.
Genuinely challenging and uneven trails require the use of genuinely aggressive trail runners. Fortunately, Columbia has something for everyone’s needs (and wallets).
You shouldn’t buy a pair of trail running shoes if you intend to use them primarily on man-made surfaces and occasionally on off-road tracks. That’s because the abrasive pavement can and will destroy the lugs on the outsoles of such shoes, leaving you without the necessary traction when you need it.
If you are interested in Columbia shoes, you have probably heard of Merrell and might ask, are Merrells good?
In this part of the article, I’ll look at the best Columbia shoes from the four categories described above – hiking shoes, water shoes, winter boots, and trail runners.
Best Columbia Hiking Shoes: Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Hiking Shoes
There’s a lot to like about these phenomenal hiking shoes. However, the price is the best thing about Newton Ridge Plus II – and its main selling point. This is a pair of genuinely affordable hiking shoes and a great choice for anyone on a budget.
Available in several different sizes and colors, this shoe is made of mesh, suede, and PU-coated leather, with some metal elements on its exterior. I have no complaints about durability: although inexpensive, these Columbia hiking shoes can take a beating.
The Newton Ridge Plus II shoes are more than capable of keeping one’s feet dry and safe. One vital feature of these shoes is that they’re fully waterproof. This results from the PU-coated leather combined with the fully seam-sealed construction.
The presence of lightweight TechLite midsoles ensures comfort. These cushion one’s feet and make it easy to walk for hours over rocky terrain or on uneven trails. I had no trouble with any discomfort or blisters while testing these trekking shoes.
The last feature worth mentioning is the model’s advanced traction technology, i.e., the use of Columbia’s well-known OmniGrip outsoles. The deep lugs and multi-zone tread patterns on these shoes provide the wearer with the right kind of grip in every environment – you won’t have to worry about traction.
- Superb traction technology (OmniGrip)
- Durable & water-resistant
- Very affordable
- Somewhat bulky
Best Columbia Water Shoes: Columbia Drainmaker III Water Shoes
- Weight: 0.75 lbs
- Waterproof: No
- Colors Available: 4
If you’re a cliff-diver, wild swimmer, kayaker, or just a simple shoreline stroller, you may consider getting yourself a pair of quality water shoes. Columbia’s Drainmaker III model is a great choice – it’s a lightweight, protective, and comfortable shoe in 4 eye-catching color combinations.
Due to its open-mesh construction, the model has outstanding breathability and dries out quickly. The overall feel is very lightweight and comfortable – a pair of Drainmaker III shoes weighs only 0.75 pounds and features ample padding and cushioning.
There are two advanced footwear technologies here – OmniGrip and TechLite. The former ensures superb traction while the latter provides stability and support while also contributing to the overall durability of the shoes.
The only thing I didn’t like about this water shoe is the look and feel of its laces. They’re of mediocre quality, frequently come undone by themselves, and are longer than they’re supposed to be. This is something that Columbia will have to improve in the future.
But overall, I consider Drainmaker III to be a phenomenal water shoe. It’s an especially great choice for folks who want their water shoes to be as lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying as possible.
- A lightweight & comfortable water shoe
- Breathable, supportive, and very stable
- Several attractive designs
- Issues with the laces
Best Columbia Winter Boots: Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Winter Boots
Relatively affordable, super waterproof, and lightweight, Columbia’s Bugaboot Plus III is among the best winter boots in its price category. It is a great bargain compared to many pricier products of this type, with no compromises in performance or overall quality.
The best thing about these winter boots is that they effortlessly keep one’s feet warm and cozy, with the main culprit behind this being the Omni-Heat interior fabric. On the other hand, the model’s TechLite shell membrane enhances its waterproofness.
I found Bugaboot Plus III to be somewhat short and narrow in terms of fit and comfort. But still, getting your feet in and out of these boots is a breeze. The speed-lacing hooks and eyelets allow for a secure and quick fit.
The traction is just as good. After all, these winter boots are equipped with Columbia’s proprietary OmniGrip outsoles. You’ll have no trouble traversing steep, hard-packed snow and slippery ice in these boots.
The Bugaboot Plus III is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for relatively inexpensive boots for hiking or working. Its excellent warmth-to-weight ratio alone turns it into a genuinely worthwhile purchase.
- Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
- Great value for the money
- Genuinely waterproof
- Narrow fit
Best Columbia Trail Runners: Columbia Montrail FKT Trail Runners
Out of all trail running shoes designed by Columbia, the Montrail FKT has the least aggressive grip. And while this turns it into a phenomenal choice for those who run only on well-established trails, it also makes this shoe unsuitable for running on slippery or muddy terrain.
And that’s the only major disadvantage of these trail runners – they excel in every other department. For example, they’re equipped with innovative midsoles sporting 7 layers that all work together to deliver optimal comfort during your trail running sessions. This complex construction is rarely found in trail runners that cost less than $150.
Another feature I liked is the seamless upper. There are a couple of different reinforcements in the model’s upper, which all give the wearer a tighter fit. You will never have to tighten the laces too much on these shoes to achieve a secure fit.
Montrail FKT is true to size and sports a relatively spacious toe box. The upper, the heel cap, and the shoe tongue are well-padded. They cushion the feet and make the shoes even more comfortable than they are, but they also make them a bit warm in hot weather.
With its innovative midsole, tight construction, and cool design, this Columbia trail runner is an excellent deal. Those who want extraordinary comfort during their trail running sessions should consider getting themselves a pair of these superb shoes.
- Extremely comfortable trail runners
- Tight and secure fit
- Eye-catching design
- Poor traction
Are Columbia waterproof shoes good?
Columbia waterproof shoes are highly regarded by hikers, runners, and casual wearers alike, especially the Gore-Tex technology models. Of all Columbia waterproof shoes, Newton Ridge Plus II stands out the most, thanks to its PU-coated leather.
Are Columbia shoes good for hiking?
Yes, Columbia shoes are a good mid-range option for hikers. They’re durable, made out of quality materials, and often come with features found on much pricier hiking shoes. They are an excellent choice for beginner hikers who don’t want to splurge too much money on hiking essentials.
As you can see from my reviews of the brand’s most popular hiking shoes, water shoes, winter boots, and trail runners, the company offers a wide range of affordable but well-made footwear – there’s something for everyone.
If you want a pair of inexpensive but reliable shoes, you won’t make a mistake by going with Columbia. If you want to step up your hiking/trail running game, on the other hand, your best bet is to check out the shoes made by brands such as Salomon, Merrell, La Sportiva, Keen, Oboz, or Altra.
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.