If there's one wardrobe staple that's always (always, always!) worth the investment, it's a good pair of winter boots (and a coat!).
And since this week's winter storm in Canada is a reminder that cold, snowy days are far from over, it's a great time to snap up a pair of boots for remaining wintery days and beyond — especially if they're on sale.
Over the years, I have tried nearly every boot brand you can imagine and while they all have their silver lining, there's one that I always seem to come back to — Cougar.
While the Canadian shoe brand is best known for its iconic Pillow Boot, its trendy Shani Boot is what's keeping my toes warm this winter — and right now, they're 55 per cent off at The Bay (40 per cent off + an additional 25 per cent off applied at checkout).
These mid-height leather boots have a chunky rubber sole and a two-inch heel, keeping your toes well away from ice, slush and snow.
They're temperature rated at -24°C/-11°F and feature 200g of PrimaLoft Gold Insulation. The boots are lined with polar plush, have a removable moulded foam footbed and are waterproof for maximum wear.
Before we get going, here are two relevant facts about me: A) I grew up in Alberta and B) I walk 10,000 steps a day outside (almost) 365 days per year.
Relevant why? A) I know cold weather. Like, bone-chilling, don't leave your house, -50°C with the wind chill kind of cold. And B) I have worn, and worn out, a lot of winter boots.
While there is a bevy of winter boots on the market, it's rare to find a pair that is both warm and stylish. This is why, surprise, surprise, I have fallen in shoe-love with Cougar's Shani waterproof boots.
I was initially drawn to the shoes as I thought they were a spot-on dupe for a pricier pair I had my eyes on, Ganni's Two-Tone Leather Ankle Boots.
Price aside, when it came to decision-making, I have worn (and loved) Cougar for years (this was my go-to pair last winter), so I opted to try the Shani boots.
And trust me, after a two-week stint in Edmonton during the province's record-breaking cold snap, I'm glad I did. The boots kept my toes warm and my feet firmly planted on the ground despite sketchy stretches of ice and deep freeze conditions.
Beyond their practicality, I love the look of them. They're definitely chunky, which may or may not be your thing, but considering how many compliments they've earned me from neighbours, strangers (and my mom), they're a crowd-pleaser.
One thing to note: I wear a size nine and find they fit a bit large. If you're in between sizes, I would recommend sizing down.
What reviewers say
"They are perfect!" according to one Cougar shopper. "Nice sturdy leather and incredibly comfortable. No break-in time whatsoever."
"I live in NYC but rely on Canadian brands to deliver quality," writes another. "These boots are perfect. Warm, comfortable, without a break-in process."
'Best boots I have ever bought'
A third reviewer calls them the "best boots [they have] ever bought."
"They are the comfiest boots right from the start [and] didn't need to be broken in at all," they say. They keep your feet at the "perfect temperature."
Cougar has "great quality" shoes, writes one shopper. However, "the sizing varies greatly between styles."
They're "super stylish and super practical," but they "fit big, so go down half a size," echoes another.
Are they worth it?
I know I've said this approx. five times in the paragraphs above, but it bears repeating: I am a big fan of Cougar winter boots. If you're looking for a pair of chic and practical shoes this winter, the brand's Shani Leather Waterproof Boots have earned the recommendations of myself and several reviewers, all of us praising their style, comfort and warmth. However, the boots fit large, something to remember when placing your order.