The Best Camp Shoes: The North Face ThermoBall Bootie

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Over the last couple of years, I’ve been spending more and more time car camping. I discovered The North Face’s ThermoBall booties when I saw another gal wearing them while I was camping with a group. I’d spent a few too many nights awkwardly shoving my socks into sandals when the temps dropped, and I knew I needed a better option. I commented on how they looked like they’d be great camp shoes, and she gushed about them. After seeing hers, I bought my own. She was right: these booties kick butt.

I’ve worn these booties from the remote corners of southern Utah to the busy campgrounds outside Lake Tahoe to the grocery store down the street from my house. They’ve been just what I need: warm, comfortable, durable, and easy to slip on and off.

Fall camping outfit idea
The North Face ThermoBall bootie review
Warm camp shoes: The North Face ThermoBall bootie review

ThermoBall Bootie Sizing

I bought a size 7, my normal size. I have a very wide forefoot, but these have plenty of room in the toe box for me, even with thick socks. One downside of these booties is that they’re only offered in whole sizes. Since I wear a whole size anyway, the choice was easy for me. For half-size wearers, I would recommend sizing up in most situations, especially if you have a wide foot like me. That said, if heel slippage is a concern for you or you have a narrow foot, I would try the smaller size.

Be sure to note that these booties do not have any sort of option to tighten the ankle. Since these are slip-ons, that means I notice a little bit of heel slippage, but it’s not enough to make a real difference to me. If they’re a tight fit for you, they have a little fabric loop on the back to help pull them on and off.

Since they’re kind of like slippers, the insoles have no structure and are fully flat. The sole is nice and cushy, not firm or stiff, but they won’t provide any support for your foot.

Best warm camp shoes: The North Face ThermoBall bootie review
Best warm camp shoes: The North Face ThermoBall bootie review

Function and Warmth Factor

I love these booties when I’m out on car camping trips (so nice for those midnight bathroom trips!), but they get tons of use at home, too. I wear them for dog walks, driving to and from the ski slopes, or just quick outings to the store. They’re a good in-between shoe: as easy to throw on like slippers, but durable enough to function as shoes.

The warmth factor is great. In addition to the insulated upper, the extra height around the ankles and over the top of the foot makes a noticeable difference. They work well for me in temps down to the 30s. They beat the heck out of thick socks in Chacos, and are so much more convenient than the fuss of full-on winter boots. I’ve gotten them a little wet in light rain or near puddles and streams, but they stay warm and don’t soak through easily.

The North Face ThermoBall bootie review

The soles have good traction and are surprisingly capable out in the woods. (I still wouldn’t recommend taking them for a full hike, though.) Once, thanks to my own planning error, I ended up walking a couple miles in these, hauling gear out to a campsite on dirt roads with some mud. Surprisingly, my poor choice of footwear didn’t end up being a hindrance.

The insulation is fully synthetic and quite lightweight. Since they’re warm, they can make your feet sweat in a hurry, so I’d recommend wearing socks with them whenever possible. The inside is the same slick material as the outside, it’s not fleecy.

Even after a year of heavy use across a huge range of conditions, they’re in great shape. The tread still looks and feels good, I haven’t torn the insulated portion, and they wipe clean easily with a damp cloth.

Parting Thoughts

These booties are one of my favorite buys of the last couple years. Having a pair of warm slip-on shoes is surprisingly useful in a whole range of situations. At $69, they’re a good value versus most other insulated booties from comparable brands. As of right now, they’re available in a nice range of colors and prints, too.

You can find the ThermoBall booties at several online retailers like The North Face site, Zappos, REI, and Backcountry. I even found a few pairs available on sale here and here.

Fall camping outfit idea

Outfit Details

The North Face ThermoBall traction bootie – shaded spruce/faded rose
The North Face osito beanie (old version, current version linked)
Tracksmith downeaster crew – berry
Vuori performance joggers – black camo

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