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Reviews > Footwear > Winter Boots > Empire True North Boots > Owner Review by Gail Staisil

Owner Review:
Empire True North Boots
March 27, 2009
Reviewer Information
Name: Gail Staisil
Age: 56
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kg)
Email: woodswoman2001 AT yahoo DOT com

Location: Marquette, Michigan USA

For the last 19 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably, but my base weight is less than 18 lb (8.16 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.

Product Information

Empire Canvas Works
Model True North Boots
Fabric (Uppers)
Supplex Nylon/Bison Leather
Polypropylene felt liners
43 EU (Men's 10)
Manufacturer  Weight NA
Weight (Complete with insole and liners provided) 
1 lb 5.9 oz (0.62 kg) each or 2 lb 11.8 oz (1.24 kg) for the pair
Model Year 2007 - Manufactured in Duluth, Minnesota USA
MSRP $160 US


Product DescriptionEmpire True North Boots (photo by manufacturer)
The Empire True North Boots are lightweight mukluk-style boots fabricated for cold weather use. There are two main parts to each boot including the outer shell and the removable inner liner. The outer shells of the boots that I own are made primarily out of Supplex Nylon and Bison Leather. The manufacturer recently switched to using 12 ounce cotton canvas instead of Supplex Nylon for reportedly increased breathability. The current model also has a decorative ribbon trim placed vertically adorning each lateral side.

The inner liners of the True North Boots are made out of polypropylene felt. The liners actually are two layers of fabric with the inner surface resembling fleece. The sole of each liner is made out of very comfy sheepskin leather fleece. Overall the liners are very soft and don't have a lot of structure. While this may be adequate insulation protection for many people I prefer using two nested pairs of thick double-felt liners for more warmth and rigidity rather than the provided liner. However, I have worn the True North Boots with the liners that were provided with them during day activities of several hours duration and they have been sufficiently warm and comfortable. The manufacturer also provides removable insoles fabricated with closed cell foam.

True North Boots are available in Unisex European Sizes 36-45. A conversion chart is located on the manufacturer's website to convert them to US Men's and Women's Sizes. My boots are a Size 43 which allows me to use two liners (which is two sizes up from my normal size according to their chart).

The overall height of the boots is about 13 in (33 cm) in height. Because I was used to wearing much higher mukluks before the True North Boots I wondered if I would find them too short for deep snow conditions and for extra leg protection. However the top of each boot has a drawcord with a cordlock that seems to effectively seal out any snow from entering and I've been quite pleased with the height overall.

Also notable is the lengths of webbing sewn directly onto the bison leather. This reinforces or adds structure to each boot over the very flexible leather. A pull tab is located above each heel where the Bison Leather and Supplex Nylon merge with a seam.

Field Information Wearing the True North Boots with ski bindings

Unequivocally, what I like the best about the True North Boots is that they are not only comfortable but also easy to wear with little effort required to put them on and remove. This is highly important when spending multiple days in frigid weather where belongings can easily freeze. The liners are also easy to remove and replace in the field without a struggle. The liners can be easily stowed in my sleeping bag when desired without the bulk of the outer boots.

I have worn the True North Boots during several multi-day sledge trips (usually four-to-six days in duration each trip) during the last two years in Ontario, Canada and Michigan, USA.
The terrain included hilly boreal and deciduous forest, frozen lakes and bushwhack travel. Elevations ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to 1800 ft (549 m). They have been worn in temperatures ranging from -31 F (-35 C) to 41 F (5 C). They have been comfortable during all temperatures.

The leather does wet out during above freezing temperatures but the felt liners have kept my feet dry on the inside. During one trip with many days of frigid travel down to -31 F (-35 C) my feet were completely warm while pulling my sledge and during the many hours at camp each night.

Lacing Details

Each outer boot features many webbed loops for lacing options. The loops circle around the edge of the toe area as well as up the side of each boot. When I first received the boots I laced them using all of the loops as shown on the picture from the manufacturer's website (picture above). During the first day of an extended sledge trip (while wearing snowshoes) I felt that there was too much pressure on the toe box areas with the laces crisscrossed over my toes. I loosened the laces in the toe box and then secured that area with a square knot with the laces before I snugged down the area across each instep and the ankle upwards. Although this helped somewhat my toes were still feeling pressure. The next day I re-laced the boots without using the four loops in front and it's been heaven ever since for me as far as comfort. I could easily remove those loops by simply cutting them off but they have not been a nuisance in any way.

As aforementioned the manufacturer also provides cordlocks to cinch down the laces around each ankle area before lacing further upwards but I have also preferred not using them so I removed them. The top of the laces can also be secured with a cordlock but I prefer using a square knot to fasten. There is still a length of cordage left when I pull the laces snug so I use the extra cord to wrap totally around each boot before tying the square knot. I have made my own adaption to the way I lace the boots but it works best for me.

Warm feet at thirty-one degrees below zero

Most of the time that I wear the True North Boots I am also wearing snowshoes. I do wear them alone around camp without slippage and I have walked several miles at a time in them on crusty snow conditions where I didn't need snowshoes. I have also worn them with traction devices on ice surfaces. They have also been worn on two extended trips where I was primarily traveling on backcountry skis rather than snowshoes. Although the boots are somewhat bulky I don't feel that they have impeded my stride and they have fit in my snowshoe bindings as well as backcountry ski bindings.

The rubber soles of the boots have a raised-dotted surface pattern. The soles are fabricated from post-consumer tire rubber. The soles can be replaced by the manufacturer if worn down but that hasn't been an issue likely partly due to my type of usage.


During the past two years my True North Boots have seen a lot of extended use. Surprisingly there appears to be little evidence of wear. The leather uppers have remained soft and flexible as I treat them after each extended trip with a waterproof spray. The Supplex Nylon is in great condition and the webbing loops are all securely in place. The soles do not show any signs of wear most likely due to using them only on snow conditions.



I have worn the Empire True North Boots on many sledge trips and dayhiking trips during winter the past two years. They have been worn during frigid cold temps with powder snow as well as warmer conditions with slushy snow. I usually wear them with light wool socks and two felt liners. They have been worn combined with snowshoes, traction devices, backcountry skis and by themselves.

Even though I have made several changes to the way I wear the Empire True North Boots I have been highly pleased with their performance for all of my activities. They have proven to be comfortable, reliable and easy to use. I hope to get several more years of wear out of my pair of True North Boots before they need replacement.

  • Good Traction
  • Comfortable in wide variety of temperatures
  • Liners are easy to remove
  • Durable
  • Quick lacing
  • Easy to put on and remove
  • Fit in most snowshoe bindings (have used them with several types) 
  • Could use a more rigid felt liner 
  First Photo of True North Boots: Courtesy of Manufacturer

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Reviews > Footwear > Winter Boots > Empire True North Boots > Owner Review by Gail Staisil

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