Re: Cold weather boots ? brand , insulation ?
I want to say something about boot materials and construction. Few people learn the good stuff and how to look for it in footwear. I have had very bad results with EVA foam, which is commonly used in midsoles in cheaper footwear. Any plastic or rubber that has a "V" in the name is probably vinyl based and is probably not a stable product. I bought a couple of pairs of Merrell hiking boots on half price sale, they were comfortable out of the box, so I figured to stick the spare pair in storage for later use.
A few years later, the sole fell off one boot while hiking along an easy sandy trail. I got back home, and easily tore the sole off the other boot. The EVA foam had deteriorated and gotten very soft. There was no rand on the boots, you could see the various layers of EVA foam from the side of the sole.
I dug out the spare pair of boots, tugged on the soles, and they tore off easily. The EVA foam had deteriorated, even though they had never been worn and were stored in their box under a bed under controlled temperature.
I have done research on the European top footwear manufacturer website and came across the info that EVA was not a stable material and quickly broke down. It may be good for sneakers that are worn a year or two and are thrown out. You do NOT want EVA foam in hunting or backpacking boots you expect to own for many years. The higher quality boots will have PU foam in their midsole construction, and it is rated to last at least twice as long.
All the foams tend to break down in time. I don't think that Limmer uses any foam in their classic all-leather hiking boots. They are specifically intended to be resoled, such as classic Danner stitchdown soles are. If you intend to resole boots in the future, then foam midsoles become an issue. The foam will have to be replaced along with the outer soles. This is probably why randed boots with foam midsoles are generally listed as not being resolable.
Further and perhaps more importantly, as any vinyl plastic or foam rubber breaks down, hazardous byproducts that are dangerous to your health will be produced. You want to avoid all plastics and rubbers that are not stable and suffer rapid breakdown. For this reason, I will no longer buy cheap sneakers or shoes that use EVA foam in their construction. Some of the top European footwear companies are on a campaign to get all such materials out of their footwear due to the environmental issues. As Lowa states, their footwear last twice as long and half as much waste ends up in landfills, half as much energy is used in making and shipping the shoes, and far less toxic byproducts result being released into the environment.
This is not true of ASIAN sourced footwear that is based on low prices and high production rates and frequent replacement schedules. I have literally had to pack up mailordered Asian clothing that stunk from the chemicals they were releasing and send it back for a refund. China seems to be the worst offender, but it is common in all cheap Asian products to sacrifice a lot in many areas to get a low price.
It is not only economically more sound in the end to buy QUALITY American and European footwear, but it is much better for your health. The money you save by avoiding future foot and health problems from using cheap and toxic Asian footwear is even greater than the economic benefits of footwear that costs twice as much but lasts three times as long. Do some research and notice if the adhesives and materials used in construction are safe for your health. If it is not mentioned on the website, then it is probably full of toxic materials. Environmental health issues are being addressed by all the top manufacturers that build up to a quality level rather trhan down to a price.
Avoid all "branding" companies such as Merrell who do not own their own factories. They have not a lot of say over the quality control. A pair of Merrell shoes I bought several years ago has rapidly worn through the thin outsole into the foam midsole. I bought them for a trip to Russia as they were comfortable and I would do a lot of walking on the trip on concrete. After three failed pairs, I now know that Merrell is made to impress you in the shoe store then fail you in the field after a relatively short lifespan.
You should know some of the companies to stick with, who build in their own factories: Danner (USA), Whites, Meindl, Lowa, AKU, Crispi, and quite a few others. Most of my good boots are made by Danner and AKU right now, but that is based mainly on personal fit and availability. There are other brands just as good but fit is important and they have to be available at a price you can afford. I have learned what suits me and I buy boots on sale where I have to pay no more than the price most folks pay for Chinese boots. A couple of ski boots, custom cowboy boots (which I almost never wear) and my Italian motorcycle boots are the only boots I have paid over $200 for.
None of the Italian boots I ever bought have been a poor fit or poorly made. Not a one. I can't say that about any other country, even the USA. There are or were lots of companies in the USA making trashy shoes and boots that I got stuck with all my life. If you think you get a good pair of shoes or boots just because it has a USA tag in it, then you will probably get taken to the cleaners. It has not been hard for the Chinese and Asians to compete against such companies, at a low cost. They just don't compete against the good stuff, and that's a fact.