Fashion History – Lobben boots
Back view of a burgundy Norwegian dress with plaid pattern skirt, red lobben booties and a beaded barrette that features a salmon
  1. What are lobben boots?
    • Lobben boots come in various colors
    • Lobben boots come in different styles
  2. When to wear or not to wear lobben boots
  3. Lobben boots – dog mushers’ favorite footwear
  4. How to style lobben boots

What are lobben boots?

Norwegian Arctic explorers developed the lobben boots. Scandinavians have worn lobben boots since 1955. Originally, lodden boots stem from Nesna, Norway, but today a small family-owned company produces them in Tartu, Estonia. Lobben boots consist of boiled and pressed, felted wool, for which they are light. The thick and dense wool provides excellent insulation, and comfort at temperatures between -49F and 23F (-45oC and -5oC). The ¼ inch (6 mm) thick wool felt insoles provide extra insulation (and height). Lobben boots may have a cotton lining. Since the boiled wool breathes, your feet to stay dry, even if your feet are perspiring. The natural lanolin of the wool repels (melt-) water of snowflakes on them.

calf high lobben boots
Calf high lobben boots in gray with blue sole and lace cut in moccasin style in the front

Lobben boots come in various colors

Lobben boots come in black, gray or red sometimes with a quilted look. Typically, the lace of their front closure matches the sole and/or decorative braid trim colors along the top of the boots. The number of eyelets depends on the style. Some styles of lobben boots come with blue instead of black colored polyurethane soles. The soles’ deeply ridged profile provides excellent traction on snow and/or ice.

kids red lobben boots
Red kids quilted  lobben booties

Lobben boots come in different styles

The upper part of the lobben boots can be round or sewn like a moccasin. When you are likely to walk in deep snow a lot, opt for the rounded top. The moccasin design lobben collect snow that withdraws heat from your feet by heat conduction. This means walking thru high snow with them is a recipe for cold feet. However, they are the more stylish choice when all you do is just walking on cleaned ways, or ice.

The second design has a seam just in the middle of the foot. It looks like a barrel roof, sort of.  Any snow would fall off to the left or right.

When to wear or not to wear lobben boots

Lobben boots are unsuitable in cold wet weather or in the melting season when puddles are all over the place. The wool felt would just soak up the water. The result? Wet, cold feet and a couple of days later a bad cold.

Lobben boots are great during snowfall with temperatures in the single digits or lower (lower than -12.8C). They are best to avoid cold feet at frigid temperatures in dry weather when you are outside for a longer amount of time. For instance, when dog mushing.

Lobben boots – dog mushers’ favorite footwear

In recent years, their popularity increased among Alaskans because they are the first choice of many Yukon Quest and Iditarod mushers who have a sort of celebrity status in Alaska.

How to style lobben boots

Of course, lobben boots look great with traditional Norwegian clothes like a tradional Norwegian Lice jacket or dirndl like shown in the photo below.

lobben boots styled with traditional clothes
Example of how lobben boots are traditionally styled

Lobben boots look great in casual outfits with jeans. Try them with a pair of jeans and an Irish cable-knit sweater. Alternatively a Fair Isle sweater in its original color combination also works well. Jeans, a plaid shirt or a striped shirt repeating the colors of the lobben boots also looks great. For a more dressed up look try a black or red pair with black pants and a white button-down shirt.

Quilted lobben booties with striped tights, a little red dress and an embroidered belt
Quilted lobben booties with striped tights, a little red dress and an embroidered belt. See the embroidered trim along the ankle and at the back of the shoes

Lobben booties look great with a solid color dress (best in the color of the boots) and tights in winter.

Do you own a pair of lobben boots? How do you style them? Let me know, I am curious

When you are interested in fashion history you may also like to read about the origin of the pea coat.

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Photos: N. Mölders

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