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Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Review: Affordable or Cheap?

LA-born, New York-based lover of menswear, watches, and culture. His work is featured in many prominent menswear publications and reaches hundreds of thousands of guys every year. He knows a good boot when he sees one. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 3, 2024
10 min read

Columbia is one of America’s top outdoor sportswear companies, as recognizable as Patagonia and REI. As a sub-100 offering, their suspiciously cheap Newton Ridge Plus II is exceedingly popular and highly-rated.

Can a boot be this inexpensive and last? Technically, that’s possible. But not this time.

Don't get too rugged
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Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II
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Bottom line: It's comfortable, and the sole is great. But that's the only positive thing here. Otherwise, the thin PU leather doesn't hold up nearly long enough and the boot lets water in like an aqueduct. It's a basic, inexpensive boot. If you need something for the next 6 months, it'll be fine. If you want a boot you can depend on, try something different.

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Pros:
  • The light and flexible outsole offers superior agility, similar to an athletic shoe
  • With its soft mesh lining, thin build, and speed hooks, this boot is as easy to take on and off as a slip-on
  • Columbia offers a wide range of sizes and colorways
  • Lightweight with a solid and responsive footbed, this boot is immediately comfortable and requires no break-in period
Cons:
  • This boot is not waterproof at all
  • The exterior construction isn’t sturdy and rugged enough for long-term endurance
  • The PU leather is light and comfortable, but lacks durability

The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II is a popular go-to as a budget friendly hiking boot. It’s one of the most popular boots on Amazon, so I decided to pick it up.

I’ve worn this boot around town, and on several hikes ranging from four to 10 hours. I’ll explain my experience with the fit and feel of this Columbia hiker so you can decide whether or not it’s right for you.

Overview

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II outdoors 3

The Newton Ridge Plus II comes from Columbia’s Newton Ridge series, which focuses on mountaineering. This line features low-priced gear, and this hiking boot is the most popular.

Columbia has two main promises with this shoe.

  • Built for comfort and responsiveness. The brand’s Techlight midsole has lightweight cushioning and pledges longevity on the trail.
  • The seam-sealed construction and waterproof membrane bootie is supposed to protect you from muck and water. 

Naturally, Columbia makes other standard promises, like excellent grip and fit. They just lean particularly hard into the comfort and waterproofness.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II outdoors concrete 1

Do not buy these boots if you plan on wearing them everyday to work as a landscaper or construction worker, or anything heavy-duty, especially if you’re outdoors.

I would’ve given it a higher value-for-money rating if Columbia’s product descriptions didn’t imply it could handle high-impact situations. It’s not fit for regular tough working conditions in my opinion.

That being the case, this boot is solid for standing all day in. I’ve talked to warehouse managers who don’t operate heavy machines and indoor operations professionals, and they love these boots. 

The Newton Ridge Plus II can even handle long hikes if you’re a hobbyist who hits the trail once or twice a month. 

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II

Thanks to its comfort, flexibility and style, the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II offers good value for money for indoor or urban workers who stand all day, as well as for outdoor hobbyists. However, this thin PU leather boot isn’t crafted sturdily enough for high-impact outdoor job sites, especially if you’re exposed to the elements.

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My Review

First Impression

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II indoors no model 3

This is a pretty basic hiking boot. It looks like every other hiking boot. Frankly, it’s pretty ugly. But I’ll let you be the judge if you decide to wear it.

All of the textures, sectioning, and accents gives the boot a tactical aesthetic on a non-bulky body.

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II indoors no model 4 sole

The next thing I noticed is how soft and bendable it is. It’s so lightweight that I could toss one in the air with one hand and catch it again. I’ve never had a hiking shoe that I could do this with.

Part of the reason it’s so light is because the leather is super thin. There also isn’t the slightest hint of a genuine leather smell. It’s clear off the bat that the Newton Ridge Plus II isn’t built with the highest-quality materials, though there isn’t anything about it that I find offensive given its price.

The boot felt immediately broken-in the first time I put it on in the house. Given the prior mentioned qualities, this wasn’t a surprise. It’s a comfortable boot right out of the box, which is nice.

Leather Quality and Care

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II model on tree 2

The polyurethane leather is flexible and comfortable. 

However, the thin plasticky feel makes it clear that this isn’t a top-quality hyde. As with most PU-treated leather, Columbia definitely uses the leftover material after the top grain has been stripped for use on more upscale shoes.

The PU treatment makes the cheap leather more durable than it would be naturally. If you subject this shoe to too much weather or high-impact activity too often, it will definitely crack. 

Treating cracks with leather cement will put this comfortable shoe on life support, but it won’t look as pretty. Unlike high quality leather boots, the Newton doesn’t “age like fine wine.”

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II model on rock 1

If I was grading this shoe on effort, I’d give them higher marks for weather-proofing. The mesh waterproof membrane feels soft and breathable, and the thick mesh tongue is webbed to the shaft of the shoe.

Sadly, the Newton is only a tad more waterproof than your average athletic sneaker. 

Simply walking through tall dewey grass after the rain subsided was enough for my toes to get wet.

On the bright side, cleaning the upper is simple. Just a moist rag and a drop of solution will do. Since the leather is so thin and soft, conditioning is almost never necessary. 

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II indoors no model 6 close up

I’d say just to condition it as the wrinkles start to deepen. Cracking is inevitable with PU leather, but this will help it from happening sooner than it needs to.

Sole

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II model on rock 2

Functionally, the sole is where the Newton Ridge Plus II really shines. This surprised me at first since the insole doesn’t look or feel special. It isn’t especially soft and it’s not ortholite or gel.

It’s an EVA insole on a well structured footbed. It’s responsive and super supportive. Your foot slowly and subtly sinks into the insole as you walk each time you put it on.

This boot has made my five-mile and 10-mile trail hikes a much less grueling experience. I’ve also comfortably stomped around the concrete floors of New York for hours at a time in it. Columbia definitely delivers when it comes to their claim of efficient energy return.

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II outdoors 1

The brand’s Omni-Grip outsole works really well with the insole. It’s receptive to movement and adds a spring to your step. On dry solid floors, it almost feels as if there’s air between the outsoles and the ground. 

Regardless, the outsole provides effective traction on dirt, rocks, and wet surfaces. I’m sure the insole would do well in mud, but I’d avoid it for the upper’s sake. 

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II model on tree 1

Overall, the Newton’s sole makes it an excellent option for you if you stand for hours at a time at work, as long as you aren’t exposed to the elements or need toe protection. It’s also perfect for that occasional hike, even the occasional hours-long hike.

Fit and Sizing

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II indoors no model 8 back side

The Newton Ridge Plus II runs true to size. Upon putting them on, they feel like they might run a bit slim, but this immediately goes away since the leather is so thin.

Another big plus is that this boot comes in a universe of sizes, from size seven to 17, in regular or wide. They come in half sizes until 11.5, so bigger gents with half sizes can just size up.

Since the collar is soft and the leather is thin, this shoe is easy to take off without even undoing the laces. Thanks to the top two rows of speed hooks, the laces are easy to loosen.

Break-in Period

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II outdoors concrete 2

There’s 100% no break in period with his shoe. 

Not only was I able to run, pivot, and jump with ease the first time I put them on, but I walked around town for three hours that day.

The next day, I did a ten mile hike.

Sure, PU leather will eventually crack and die, but at least you can wear this boot right out of the box, making full use of its lifespan.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

On average, the Newton Ridge Plus II has drawn favorable reviews around the internet. Similar to my own opinions, fans of the boot praise it for its comfort, springiness, and value for money.

Many reviewers wear this boot as a casual shoe and for occasional hikes. One reviewer mentions that he comfortably went on a 13-mile hike the first time he wore these.

This boot seems to last people anywhere from ten months to a year and a half.

Reviews are mixed when it comes to water resistance. I should mention that those confirming the boot’s water resistance are often giving their review soon after their first few wears. There are many months-after updates taking back the initial affirmation.

The most negative reviews come from those who, I believe, are simply using the boot for the wrong reasons.

Construction workers who wear them everyday claim it fails on the endurance front. A gentleman in the military initially leaves a positive review, applauding the immediate comfort and provided agility. He later updates the review, takes back his kudos, and mentions that daily use in military situations caused the boot to fall apart.

Understandably, a few reviewers even question whether or not the upper is actually leather. It is, by the way. It’s just mediocre-quality leather that’s been treated for synthesized durability.

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Alternatives

Danner Trail 2650

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Like the Newton Ridge Plus II, the Danner Trail 2650 is a hiking shoe that’s lighter than the average trail boot with a slimmer silhouette.

Unlike the entry-level Newton though, the Danner boasts much more sophisticated hiking boot technology. 

It’s made with a genuinely waterproof Gore-Tex lining that’s also breathable. Meanwhile, its irregularly-treaded Vibram soles and TPU shank provides athletic-level support and traction. 

The Columbias are easy to run in because they’re so light, while the Danners are built specifically and strategically for long-term trail runs.

The Danners take the slim look to the next level, sporting a sneaker-like aesthetic. Naturally, they’re also a good $100 more than the Columbias.

Danner Trail 2650

This boot is loaded with features like an external heel counter, 100% waterproof Gore Tex lining, and Vibram’s irregular tread soles, which can tackle any terrain with ease. Plus, it's super light. If hiking is your hobby, you’ll love the Danner Trail 2650.

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Timberland White Ledge

Timberland White Ledges outdoor 2

Similar to the Columbias, the Timberland White Ledge is a popular budget hiking boot.

In addition to price, the two boots have a lot of other things in common. They both have comfortable soles, convenient speed hooks, a dynamic sectioned-off aesthetic, and claims of waterproofness that aren’t quite there. 

Though light, the White Ledge isn’t as light as the Newton, though it’s more durable. For many people, it also comes with a much longer break in period. 

The one quality I prefer is that the White Ledge has a buttery nubuck upper that doesn’t look as cheap as the Columbia’s PU leather.

Timberland White Ledge

The Timberland White Ledge is a versatile hiking boot, robust enough for outdoor activity, while still lightweight and stylish enough as a casual urban shoe. Its slip-resistant and agile rubber sole, velvety nubuck upper, and supportive padded collar offer great value for money, especially since these are one of Timberland’s lower-priced offerings in the category.

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My Overall Thoughts on the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II

What I Like

  • Right out of the box, this boot is so light and flexible, you can walk long distances and run with agility.

  • I love the dynamic style and how easily it pairs with casual outfits, especially jeans.

  • The soft mesh lining and the speed hooks make this boot easy to take on and off.

  • Columbia offers this model in a wide range of sizes and unique colorways.

What I Don’t Like

  • Though light and comfortable, the PU leather looks thin and cheap.

  • This boot isn’t built for long-term endurance.

  • In my experience, the upper isn’t at all waterproof.

Who is the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II For

There are three main markets for the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II.

– If you’re an indoor worker who stands all day, this shoe provides excellent comfort. Some examples include warehouse workers who don’t use big tools or operate machinery, transportation professionals, or office operations folk. I wouldn’t recommend this boot to restaurant professionals or anyone who can be exposed to falling knives.

If you’re an occasional hiker, even a long-distance one, this boot is a bang-for-buck option.

– If you like the style, go for it. This boot partners well with rugged casual outfits.

The Verdict

The main strengths of the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II is its style and its immediate comfort. 

It may not be the longest lasting boot, but at least you can start wearing it out as soon as you take it out of the box.

Overall, none of this boot’s shortcomings are offensive given the affordable price. Just know what you’re getting into and what you plan to use the Newton Ridge Plus II for, and you’ll enjoy your experience with it.

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II

Thanks to its comfort, flexibility and style, the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II offers good value for money for indoor or urban workers who stand all day, as well as for outdoor hobbyists. However, this thin PU leather boot isn’t crafted sturdily enough for high-impact outdoor job sites, especially if you’re exposed to the elements.

Check Price

FAQs

Are the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II vegan?

No, they are made of real leather with a polyurethane coating.

Are the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II true to size?

Yes, the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II runs true to size.

How wide are the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus IIs?

The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II runs true to size on the Brannock device when it comes to width. They’re offered in a men’s medium D-width, and a men’s wide E-width.

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