We have invested countless hours of research, reading reviews and interviewing experts to compile the below list of the Best Winter Boots for Men and Women. To help you find the right boot for yourself, we’ve included a complete Buyer’s Guide with everything you need to know.
The distance between a sore tooth and the wrong boot is not very far—from your mouth to your toe. However, their ability to spoil your existence is much, much closer.
Think about the way you shop for a dentist when shopping for a winter or snow boot. You listen to others’ advice, experience, recommendations and do some research. You are essentially trying to avoid one who disregards your comfort or pain. You want one that gets you through your episode—or your winter season—without ruining your day, week or month.
Chew on this and get the boot that won’t ruin your winter or your taste for the outdoors. Use the quick links below to navigate to your desired section.
Editor’s Picks: Best Winter Boots & Snow Boots 2020
Men’s: Timberland Chillberg Tall Insulated Boots
The best boot is the one you know will keep you dry, warm and off your keister—the sure thing. The Timberland Chillberg Tall Insulated Boot hits closest to the mark, according to our research.
Its insulation factor, its design and construction, atop its grip, add up to the best men’s winter boot on today’s market. Like all boots, fit and size can be personal, but the Chillberg keeps these variances to a minimum. It will get you through a fun, productive winter without a hitch.
Warmth, dryness, cush, support and sparkle: A woman’s dream boot, though the order of these may be contested. The dreamiest boot we came up with is the Timberland Mount Hope Mid Waterproof.
It won’t let your feet down or your taste for a little fashion amid the challenges that a New York, Denver, Twin-Cities or Edmonton snowfall might bring. Rank the Mount Hope amongst the best of women’s winter boots for its genius in blending comfort, function and couture.
Best Winter Boots for Men
Timberland Chillberg Tall Insulated Boots
Best for: Winter hiking; snowshoe travel; snowmobiling; hunting; ice fishing; serious winter field work; snowbound house chores; postal delivery work and similar.
Handsome; snug fit; earth-friendly recycled materials used; toasty; waterproof; bomb sturdy but bouncy light.
Too narrow for some feet (think about moving up a half-size in this case); not cheap, but good value for the dollar.
Whether feeding cattle in deep Wyoming snow, heading to your kid’s football game in a snow storm, strapping on a snowshoe for a peaceful winter hike in the wilderness or sitting in an ice-fishing shed all day in Manitoba, this boot is a treat to the feet and appealing to the eye.
Pop these on for a quick chore or outing in the country on your snowmobile or to grab the snow-blower and clear your home’s driveway and porch. An 8-inch shaft of premium, waterproof leather warrants the “tall” in its name. Its fully gusseted tongue reinforces its snow- and debris-repelling capabilities.
Another in the club of 400-grams of insulation, the Chillberg Tall incorporates a waterproof membrane, too. It’s a leave-no-chill inside kind of boot. Kids or wives who want to win added affection from the man of the house can do worse than buying him these boots for Christmas, Father’s Day or his birthday.
Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni Cold-Weather Boot
Best for: Walking long distances on snow and ice; jobs on winter landscapes; hiking or climbing on snowfields or in extremely wet conditions; strapping into snowshoes.
Sturdy and durable; comfortable; strong grip on any surface; very warm; water and snow resistant; breathable (especially when wearing wicking socks) despite full-grain leather uppers; great shock absorption.
Requires a break-in period, but so do many topnotch winter or mountaineering boots; overly snug when wearing extra-thick socks.
Want a boot that satisfies the most seasoned mountaineer yet suffices as smart urban wear on a rainy or snowy winter’s eve uptown?
The Columbia Bugaboot III combines the unflappability of RoboCop with the determination of a Reinhold Messner to march in stride with the best cold weather boots on the market.
Color these light yet rugged, built for the long haul and, most of all, comfortable as alpine footwear can get. Its Omni-Grip rubber sole lays waste to talus and scree fields while a cushioned insole and midsole absorbs the shock of the rockiest terrain.
Same goes for snow fields. Though weighing in light at 2 lbs., 10 oz., this pair of snow boots can muster the power to snow step and the agility to foot glissade—all a dedicated mountaineer can want from his footwear.
What is its most impressive virtue? It keeps your tootsies toasty due to an Omni-Heat construction that retains the heat from your feet by reflecting it back from the lining of the boot. The gusseted tongue of the Bugaboot, meanwhile, disallows any water, snow or other debris from entering that might further compromise the boot’s warmth.
Sorel Conquest Waterproof Snow Boot
Best for: Snowmobiling; serious winter tasks; snowshoe travel; hiking in snow and wilderness; ice fishing; hunting.
Very warm; water resilient; versatile; durable and rugged.
Non-removable liner that lends to lengthy dry-out times; insulation and bulk causes sweatiness; can require some breaking in to achieve full comfort; noticeably heavy on extremely long distances in snow.
If you are an outdoorsman who conquers cabin fever by imbibing in more than one winter activity, the Sorel Conquest—true it its name—accomplishes the feat.
This rugged, warm, winter hiker and a snowshoe-friendly boot will cover miles of varied snowbound terrain without eliciting screams from your feet. Its Thinsulate Ultra insulation and agile, rubber-lug outsole brings this rather heavy boot (4 lbs., 11 oz.) into anyone’s comfort zone.
As one might guess, because of its heft, a lot of material goes into this stalwart. Therefore, it induces a bit more sweat than other boots in this niche, especially considering its injection-molded, waterproof thermal rubber.
Unlike many winter boots, the Sorel Conquest fits your foot size, even while wearing relatively thick socks. For bouncing around winter camp, heading out into the wilderness with your Christmas tree permit, splitting wood for the fire or grabbing your bow and stalking elk, the Conquest is everyman’s boot.
Sorel Caribou II
Best for: Winter chores, perhaps snowmobiling and stomping around the neighborhood or nearby park in winter.
Water and snow proof; slips on with ease; easy to dry liner.
Weighty; loose fit; not tailored for mobility (i.e., hiking); weak on durability.
It’s not far-fetched to call this classic the genesis of what the world knows as a “snow boot.” Released about the same time snowmobiles were first mass-marketed and men started sending satellites and space capsules around Earth, the Sorel Caribou struck out on a mission of its own: To keep feet warm while slogging through snow.
A little less sophisticated than a Sputnik or Apollo, the Sorel manages to fend off frigid environments with a nubuck leather upper and removable, washable, recycled felt liner with a Sherpa Pile snow cuff.
A 2.5-millimeter thick midsole of felt and a handcrafted outer sole of waterproof, vulcanized rubber, complemented by Aero-Trac tread, serves as a winter wanderer’s moon boot. Unfortunately, it may seem just about as heavy.
Despite its clunky character, you can step out of the house to shovel snow from the driveway or dig out your kid’s tricycle from an early visit by Old Man Winter without jumping back inside every five minutes.
Kamik Greenbay 4
Best for: Fun in the snow with family; light chores around a winter-bound house; jumping in the car to run errands in the snow.
Drawstring on top keeps snow out; easy to pull on and off; easy on pocketbook; relatively light.
Not the warmest, requiring thick socks with liners; loose fit requires sizing up from your actual foot size; felt lining takes a long time to dry; sole could be thicker to raise its insulation capability; not built for walking a couple miles or more.
Kamik’s winter boot legacy stretches over a hundred years. Its vast inventory reflects the boot maker’s prominence in its market. The Kamik Greenbay 4 Cold Weather Boot caters to getting out in the snow for fun or some chores with snow shovel in hand.
If you are stationary in a duck or goose blind surrounded by ice and snow, your feet might feel like they are disappearing after a few hours, depending on the actual temps. For stepping outside to help the kids build a snowman or snow fort and to keep the driveway clear, these are your gooseberry: effective, affordable, easy to slip on and good for at least a few winters.
The Velcro strap just above the crown of the foot and the easy pull cinch on the top of the shaft make it perfect for quickies such as taking the garbage out in the snow. A 13-inch high shaft and 8-millimeter thick felt liner add to the warm-and-dry quotient of this boot.
Salomon X Ultra
Best for: Winter hikes, snowshoe travel, tasks in the snow, jobs requiring much walking in the snow.
Light, tough, warm, dry, comfortable.
Methodical to lace up; slippery on icy surfaces; short uppers allow any moisture above the ankle inside.
If a boot could exhibit a split personality, the Salomon X-Ultra is the one. It masters the wilds yet fits nearly like a gym shoe. So what is it, really?
A cozy, light, but tough boot which sacrifices a bit of ankle protection for its litheness. Much lighter than its cousin, the Caribou, the X-Ultra definitely requires the aid of gaiters in snow or wet environs to compensate for the brevity of its uppers.
With gaiters, they serve as comfy, warm, flexible boots inside snowshoe harnesses. Its seamless Climashield waterproof membrane keeps your feet bone dry. Don’t fret chilly feet unless you are spending extensive time in sub-zero temps. An extra-stiff sole, though proving a bit slippery, provides all the strength a snowshoer or winter hiker requires.
Word of caution: Dare not undersize when buying these; they are an honest fit to your normal foot size. You risk pain if you underestimate their snugness.
Vasque Snowburban II Ultradry
Best for: Winter hiking; snowshoeing; work requiring many hours a day on your feet, especially in winter.
Waterproof; well insulated; attractive design; wide toe box; great grip; surprisingly light for its ruggedness.
Not an inexpensive boot; because its laces use eyelets rather than hooks, it is sometimes tough to wriggle your foot into it and to customize the tightness of the lace along its breadth; not crampon compatible.
This is another winter crusher that can’t make up its mind on whether to step out of a Porsche Cayenne or a Kia Sportage. Its panache aside, this waterproof snow boot is intended to tackle winter from all angles.
Another boot in the 400-gram of insulation class, the Vasque Snowburban II Ultradry finds itself at home inside a snowshoe or on descent from a 7,000-foot-high snowfield. Why wouldn’t it? It’s a Vasque, a name synonymous with mountaineering before Howard Schultz was even old enough for his parents to allow him to sip a cup of coffee.
This boot oozes with eye appeal, thanks to its duo-tone, suede and textile uppers that most importantly repel the sloppiest slush and ford the peskiest freshet all the way up to the top lace. This is the winter boot you buy because you already own a four-season tent, snowshoes, and perhaps a split-board snowboard.
Salomon Nytro GTX
Best for: Winter hiking, mountaineering; snowshoe travel; hunting; ice fishing; all kinds of winter work; a bit clunky but that fur collar still makes is passable for around town in the thick of winter.
Extremely warm and waterproof; nimble but sturdy for serious mountaineering; great ice and snow gripping ability (via Contagrip outsoles)
Can be a bit narrow on some feet but a good break-in often cures this.
If you love the mountains and winter’s solace, Salomon serves up just the boot for you in its Nytro GTX Snow Boot. Pay no heed to its faux fur collar; it is indeed for function not for catching eyes on the trail, though it may just do that.
Hiking, especially in winter’s chill, is all about foot comfort. The Nytro GTX fully addresses this priority, from well-below-freezing insulation value to very supportive midsoles and outsoles.
Moreover, this boot breathes, especially crucial for cloudless winter days on the snow—just like those bluebird days on the snow around the Colorado Rockies or the Front Range. Credit the Clima-Dry, waterproof, breathable membrane.
These light babies (2 lbs., 11 oz.) flex but are rigid enough to handle crampons. These will last you many winter seasons of long-range hiking in the high country.
Merrell Moab Polar
Best for: Jobs requiring winter deliveries; winter hiking; mountain and snowshoe travel; rural or landscape chores; hunting; ice fishing.
Fit to your normal foot size; still warm in sub-zero weather; snug and agile fit; generally well constructed and durable.
Some reports of splitting where uppers meet the rubber; can be too narrow at midsole on some people; may require removal of insole provided with a thicker one for added support; prone to make feet sweat in above-freezing temps.
If you are going to complain about this boot, your beef will likely be, “My feet are hotter than coals!” Yes, the Moab Polar is that warm. It traps all the heat your happy feet circulate, reducing snow and ice to something akin to sand on a tropical beach.
Light and comfy, the only time you may want to take them off is to dry out the sweat from their fleece lining. Its force field against the cold and damp consists of 400 grams of insulation and a flexible thermoplastic urethane shell. Removable foot beds and compression-formed EVA midsoles account for the comfortable, snug fit.
Its traction is enough to make a UPS driver take the toughest route to a doorstep just for fun. The soles on this waterproof boot are an impatient ice fisherman’s best friend.
The only dig on these particular Merrells consists of isolated incidents of splitting where the rubber-composite bottom meets the leather upper. Otherwise, all reports indicate a boot destined for a long life on the snowy trail.
Best for: Snow tasks; short walks in snow; snow play.
Warm; moisture-wicking lining; waterproof; comfy padding; easy lace-up and entry; good kick-around winter boot.
Sketchy construction on upper eyelets; not built for longevity.
As with all Kamik boots, the Fargo serves the primary purpose of warmth and dryness in the snow. They aren’t built for long-distance hikes or negotiating extremely rugged terrain, but they do their job when casual activities or chores around town beckon, no matter the snow’s depth.
Seamed suede and nylon upper help ensure dryness when you have to step down into a yard piled high with snow. It is perfect for a short drive to a snowbound park outside town where you simply want some peace and solace from the urban scene.
Though not the consummate outdoorsman’s winter footwear, its rubber outsole performs surprisingly well on slippery surfaces. Moreover, it is comfy because of its easy fit, though moving up a half to full size is necessary, much like most Kamiks. Thinsulate lining caps this boot’s ability to keep your feet toasty during less-than-marathon excursions or tasks.
UGG Men’s Butte
Best for: Work; snowshoe travel; snowmobiling; around a snowy town; hunting or ice fishing.
Brutish beauty; plenty warm; foldable shaft; solid grip on winter surfaces; durable; broad size chart to fit the most difficult feet; easy to clean and preen
Not for thick wool socks because of the liner (think Smartwool or other thin but warm blends); not built for long-haul mountaineering.
Don’t let the fact that this boot is carried by Nordstrom or ringed by fluffy sheepskin rile your machismo to the point of turning away at first glance. It’s a badger in sheep’s clothing. Stylish, solid construction, toasty, plenty of traction: the UGG Butte in a nutshell.
Sub-zero haul to the horse barn? Three-mile jaunt on your snow machine? Need to strap on a snowshoe? This is your boot. You can even leave the gaiters behind, thanks to its hint of fu-fu and full-grain, waterproof leather, not to mention a shaft stretching to 7-1/2 inches that can actually fold down for compact snow conditions in above freezing temps.
Its wool liner keeps the fire burning heel-to-toe while the fully taped seams and eVent membrane seal out an otherwise debilitating high-plateau breeze, the driving snow or ice-covered pond. Vibram outsoles equate to hiking-boot traction. Remove its insole or replace it with a better fitting or more supportive one if needed.
Merrell Polarand Rove Zip Boots
Best for: Around town if you can dodge the deep, wet snow; in and out of resorts or inns when the car is nearby; around the house and yard during winter.
Extremely light and packable; easy entry and exit; nightspot stylish.
Not a conforming fit, somewhat rectangular; not very warm; a bit spendy compared to similar boots.
Merrell steps off the mountain and onto the sidewalk with this winter walker, definitely an urban dweller that needs some indoor shelter and warmth nearby.
This is a boot intended to slip into with your eyes closed—one zipper sans the more unsightly eyelets for lacing up most winter boots. This is not the boot for boldly stepping off the curb and into a slew of slush on top of a snow-clogged street drain.
Because the zipper runs the entire length of the boot’s shaft, moisture tends to find its way inside. However, the Polarand Rove can keep your feet warm on a bar-hopping evening or any out-and-about city endeavor where the warm car or an establishment is always nearby.
Don’t expect to stretch your use of these boots to a snowshoe tour with some friends, but it wouldn’t make a bad kick-around inside a ski resort or on its deck, well above the ski racks and snow base.
Also interesting: The Best Waterproof Hiking Boots
Best Winter & Snow Boots for Women
Don’t think that all women’s winter boots are alike. They aren’t, as evidenced by the following favorites, which range from serious bombers in the snow to warm but fashion-forward. It’s all a matter of degree when it comes to some variances—in terms of the mercury and the look.
Timberland Women’s Earthkeepers Mount Hope
Best for: Outdoor tasks in the field or around the home; snowshoe travel; timeouts from ski runs at a resort; serious street stomping, with style, during the dead of winter.
Fashionable; waterproof; rugged outsole; winter-tight leather uppers; high-traction rubber (34 percent recycled) outsole; light.
Can prove stiff around the crown of the foot and toes at first, but a little breaking in usually resolves this issue.
A hint of mukluk, due to the wide laces and faux fur collar, blends nicely with stylishly seamed leather to lend this boot the look of an Arctic sojourner and Sun Valley recreationist all at the same time.
Inside the Timberland Mount Hope lies cushy warmth while outside lives a waterproof, leather-and-fabric upper that stretches 9-1/2 inches from the arch of the boot. These are ideal for heading out in the dead of winter to feed horses, flashing around in a ski resort, hopping onto a snowmobile, or even strapping into a snowshoe.
Whatever use you find for these boots, their quilted shaft and faux fur lining make it easy to forget you are wearing boots. Despite their relatively lengthy lacing, the Mount Hope is quite easy to slip on and exit, whether in leggings, skin-tight jeans or some classic Levis. Call these boots winter-tough couture.
North Face Shellista II
Best for: Any winter recreational activity; work that requires a lot of time on the feet in deep snow; doing the town when its covered in snow.
A heavy duty performer without the heft; dry and warm; strong grip; stylish; supportive fit tailored to women.
Not on the low end of the price scale; can require some break-in time to alleviate tightness and rigidity.
This boot champions a thrifty dry. Its efficient use of material to achieve solid protection from the cold and damp minimizes the bulk that this genre of women’s boot usually carries.
Give credit to 200 grams of PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco, crafted from 70 percent post-consumer recycled materials. Its relative trimness makes it compactable in your gear bag on a day ripe for carving some powder on your snowboard or heading out on a girls-only snowshoe trip.
The Shellista II Mid accommodates just about any winter outdoor activity, whether recreational or work related. Its cushy knit collar and smart-looking nubuck leather uppers—stretching up to 8-1/2 inches high—add style to a winter workhorse.
Northface tailors the fit to women by employing an injection-molded, waterproof thermoplastic rubber shell. It goes where no other boot dares because of temperature-sensitive lugs on a rugged outer sole.
Best for: Winter walking throughout town and in parks; running errands; winter events around town.
Chic, statuesque look; warm; waterproof; light and comfy.
Can run a bit small (you may need to move up a size) and short in the toe; not extremely breathable; paying more for looks than toughness.
These uppers are likely to tower over any snowfall shy of Alaska proportions. At 13-1/2 inches high, adorned by fashionable red and flame-orange laces, the nylon shafts on these winter walkers are crowned by haute, faux-fur collars. Warmth runs from toe to knee.
These are noticeable boots because of their forward fashion but also designed for warmth, comfort and decent grip in the snow. Though these boots can run a little smaller than your normal size, you can sacrifice thick socks in this case and still keep your feet warm. A removable memory foam insole gives you some flexibility with fit and support.
This is definitely a boot intended to wow the popular hubs of snowbound cities, but one that can handle a short winter’s walk in the forest. Because of their nylon construction, they are incredibly light. Wear them all day if you like.
Best for: Long walks in the snow, such as trips to the dog park, a city park, or even a short hike along a snow-bordered stream; stepping out on the town when its blanketed in snow.
Easy on the feet; chic looks; excellent wicking ability to keep feet dry and warm; protective lace-up upper; supportive yet flexible; very stable on snow and ice; side-zippers allow for easy entry when not needing full lace-up.
The long, narrow shaft lacks a tab to help pull the boots on; some durability issues with the laces (may need to replace them with stronger ones).
You might call this clever boot the Labrador retriever or Newfoundland of women’s winter footwear. Like these four-legged water lovers whose coats naturally repel dampness and cold, the Ahnu Northridge allows your foot’s sweat vapors to escape without letting exterior moisture enter the boot.
A waterproof eVent fabric, featuring an unusual membrane structure, deserves the credit for this nifty feat. Lightweight for their 9-1/2 inch height and their more than ample support throughout, the Ahnu Northridge also touts a clever stylishness, especially in the wine color.
Visiting the vineyards in the snow anytime soon? These are a perfect fit. Walking the winter landscape of Northern Michigan or downtown Chicago during its worst winter blusters? The laced-up Northridge, crafted of nubuck leather uppers, handles these scenarios with panache. The Northridge exudes a stylishly casual countenance on the outside, while doing nothing but taking care of business with your feet.
Merrell Decora Chant
Best for: Around town in the snow or sleet; walks in snow-covered parks; wearing to and from work.
Easy entry and exit; fashionable; warm and waterproof; lightweight; easily cleaned and dried.
Tough fit for those with muscular or bulky calves
This is the boot you need to wear when you wake up to snow pelting your bedroom window and your car’s windshield is worth at least 10 minutes of scraping. Pop in your Keurig, pop out your toast and slide your feet into the zip-up Decora Chants in just seconds.
Grab your heels for a quick transition of footwear once you reach your office with nary a chill to your toes or a second lost. Such is the genius of the Merrell Decora Chant. Casual yet serious when it comes to staying warm and dry, this boot employs a stylish, full-grain leather and pig-suede upper to please the eye, while its EVA midsole ensures comfort and support.
A breathable mesh lining wicks away moisture as you otherwise tussle to and fro with winter’s worst. This is not an extreme hiking or multiple winter-activity boot by any stretch, but your feet remain toasty and dry when heading to the dog park in the snow or enjoying the solace of winter on a walk through the park.
Columbia Minx Mid II Omni-Heat
Best for: Casual events around town and light errands in snow.
Attractive; toasty on the feet; light; comfortable; good grip.
Requires jumping a size because of a narrow fit and short toe for some feet.
Think of this cozy, stylish winter boot as a down sweater or jacket for the foot with a waterproof yet breathable shell. An Omni-Heat reflective lining further seals the winter out and keeps the tootsies toasty.
Contoured polyurethane foot beds provide support and can be removed or replaced for a better fit if needed. Omni-Grip outsoles keep you on your feet when stepping out of your door or from the car onto ice or snow.
You can bandy about all day and night in these boots, weighing in at a feathery 13.2 ounces. You may not even realize you are wearing boots during your daily routine. They are nearly as light and breathable as your favorite sneakers. For the couture-minded who refuse to shrink before winter’s wrath, the Minx Mid II Omni-Heat boot excels.
UGG Adirondack II
Best for: Winter hiking; snowshoe travel; snowmobiling; arduous tasks in the snow; coffee shop and mall wear on snowy days.
Unyielding grip; light; extremely warm; twin-face sheepskin collar that acts as built-in gaiter; easy to enter and exit; waterproof.
Not quite as haute as other UGGs.
As UGGs go, this boot throws fashion to the wind and puts function on its pedestal. But then again, a beefy looking, sturdy, grip-till-death women’s boot with a brand name that rhymes with thug can get by with nixing chi-chi.
When you experience how well this boot grips the ice and snow, you will gladly sacrifice fashion for performance. Easy to enter and exit, plenty warm and easy to clean, this UGG is far from ugly (if not only for its variety of colors), but is intended for women hooked on the outdoors during winter.
It uses the same aggressively patterned Vibram sole that graces most serious hiking and mountaineering boots. Meanwhile, superb shearling insulation slams the door on winter chill—to the extent of chucking your thick wool socks for thinner yet warm, faux-wool blends and even liner socks. The boot is super-light and agile, weighing well under two pounds.
Sorel Women’s Joan of Arctic Wedge Booties
Best for: In the workplace; chores in the yard and around the house; about town in winter.
Light; dressy; comfy; waterproof.
Can run a bit large—size up if so; some tightness at first, but the break-in period is a day or two.
Do these belong in the office or on the farm? Sorel lets you decide. You can shun decision-making altogether and use them for both. A waterproof, full-grain leather upper lends posh whether in the kettle major or black quarry color.
These are unlined boots with a molded rubber outsole and removable EVA foot bed with heel cup and arch support. A micro-fleece top cover helps retain the warmth of this boot, which won’t quite do in a big bank of snow because of its 6-1/2 inch shaft height. However, a molded rubber outsole and molded polyurethane wedge lend some stomping cred to this boot in inclement conditions—without compromising its dressiness. Your calves may become tired before your feet do in this ultra-light boots (16 oz.).
These aren’t going to sustain sub-freezing temps in a blizzard for a great length of time, but they will get the chores done around the house or in the field during moderate snow storms and still be evening-wear ready.
Best for: On the town on a snowy night; long walks in the snow; winter entertainment.
Very warm; comfy fit; feminine look; easy to slip on and off.
Can be a bit tight at your normal size; can scuff and show wear after a hardy season.
The Blondo Sasha looks like it lives two lives: one on the Arctic tundra, the other on a toboggan scooting down a snow-covered hill in New Hampshire or Minnesota.
It will keep the feet quite toasty, regardless, thanks to a seam-sealed waterproof leather and synthetic upper that envelopes polar fleece and faux fur lining—the latter splashing out at the collar to lend a feminine look to a rugged yet casual boot. It’s 10-1/2 inch height and waterproof design will address any Wisconsin snowstorm at a Packers game or a winter’s night on the town in Upstate New York.
The lengthy laces allow you to conform its fit to your calves, though you might have to size up, especially if you prefer thick socks. Zippers on the side, however, allow for easy and quick entry before lacing up. This is a boot for trendy encounters with winter’s most frigid moments.
Buyer’s Guide: How to choose Winter & Snow Boots
If you have ever examined a contour map—one of those you use to plot your route on a hike or backpack—you can begin to understand the multiple dimensions of a good winter boot. Like a cairn on a mountain trail, some of these dimensions make up the foundation of the boot—its sturdiness and durability—while the remaining dimensions or stones complete its purpose and effect.
Some cairns are stubby, some are towering, some are wide and some narrow. Each results in a different effect, just as each facet to the best winter boots produces its own effect. Your desired destination is the one producing the most positive effects on your favorite winter pastimes and obligations (boots aren’t just fun, no matter how much we wish they were).
When starting out on the trail to the boot of your dreams, look at each facet of the boot separately to come up with the total composite. It’s just like assessing a trail destination on your map: You examine the route section by section in order to reach the end successfully.
Types of Winter Boots
One of the first noticeable differences in winter boots is their cut or the length of the shaft (i.e., upper) on the boot. Some hit barely above the ankle while others stretch two to three inches above the ankle and others anywhere above that to just below the knee: low, mid and high cuts, respectively.
Low Cut Boots
Low cuts are naturally less clunky that full-on winter treads, but sacrifice protection for their stealth unless you add a pair of impenetrable gaiters to the equation. This genre of winter boots more easily caters to the desire for a sleeker, more stylish design—one not looking out of place in your office or at a restaurant for lunch. This doesn’t mean, however, the boot must sacrifice grip, warmth and comfort for its style. A waterproof, insulated, low-cut boot that is complemented by gaiters can be just as rugged for winter’s wrath as it is a low-profile snow crusher in the office.
A mid-cut winter boot usually speaks to sturdiness, agility, stability and weather resilience without too much bulk. Depending on the exact height of the mid-cut boot, it’s meant to bomb through snow while keeping the feet comfy, circulating, warm and dry. If it is not much higher than a low-cut boot, you can again resort to a gaiter for full protection from the snow and damp.
A high-cut winter boot offers full lower leg protection when built right, but does add more sweat potential. After all, not only are your feet sweating, but your lower leg as well. Still, the exterior elements are kept at bay when the zippers or lacing are designed to keep chunks of snow or other loose, cold debris out. Extremely high cuts make for food fashion statements in the women’s winter boot genre. Again, however, the appeal or brashness of a high-cut boot need not supersede the boot’s function. Many high-cuts perform well on tasks or recreation in the snow.
Parts of a Winter Boot
Though warmth and dryness are probably the most important aspect to a winter boot, let’s start from the bottom up when looking at the anatomy of a boot, for simplicity’s sake if nothing else. An assessment of each part of the boot will help you reach your desired destination when it comes to buying, just like reading your contour map en route to your desired campsite.
The Sole Story
The outsole is the grinder in your boot and the stabilizer—the element that keeps you off your butt and on your route, be it the snow-covered driveway, the far end of a work site or the top of a butte overlooking a frozen lake.
The most widely used and consensus favorite for stability and traction is the Vibram sole with variously designed lugs on its bottom—those protrusions that resemble the grid of a waffle maker.
Some are so high tech that they respond to varying temperatures of the surface on which you’re trodding. Others don’t need to take temperatures in order to hug the ice or snow and these are usually deep, thick lugs that are all the better for shucking the mud, ice chunks or other debris from beneath your stride.
As for parts of the outsole, the heel brake serves to prevent a slide or slip. It is instrumental in descending a snowy slope.
The shank of an outsole provides added support, an insert between the midsole and outsole. It reinforces the midsole’s load-bearing capabilities. It can cover a portion or the entirety of a sole.
Plates are somewhat flexible inserts between the two soles and below the shank. Like steel toe boxes, they act as protectors from bruises and hard impacts.
The midsole is all about support and therefore, comfort on the move. It is most commonly made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and polyurethane. The former is comparatively light, cushy and less expensive than the latter. EVA varies in densities along the midsole, providing support where the demand is highest. This might be the midfoot, heel or even the toe box.
Polyurethane meets the demand of rugged terrain, that which may be encountered on a snowshoe trip or on a geologist’s or biologist’s field research. It is firmer and therefore more durable than EVA.
The Line on Liners
Liners are simply as they sound, the lining attached inside the boot and to the uppers or shaft. They may be synthetic with ingenius wicking capabilities to keep your feet dry or of natural materials such as wool or sheepskin. They may even be mixes of various materials.
They enter the equation of comfort on their ability to shed moisture, retain heat and allowance for socks of various widths as well as circulation of the foot.
Liners, as much as the general design of a boot, can determine whether you must size up or down for the boot when it comes to your natural foot size.
A good liner adds little weight to the boot and keeps your feet dry and warm, all while not allowing them to slip around inside the boot and create blisters.
The Lowdown on Uppers
When shopping for a boot you will encounter phrases such as split-grain leather, nubuck leather, synthetic leather and waterproof membranes, all used in the construction of uppers(or shaft) on a boot.
Split-grain leather commonly finds itself as a partner to nylon or nylon mesh for a lightweight boot that breathes. The “split” in its name refers to the splitting of the rougher inner-cowhide from the smoother exterior.
Despite its comfort, it is more prone to absorbing water and incurring abrasions than other upper materials or composites. A waterproof liner entitles a boot to be truly called waterproof.
Nubuck, resembling suede, is a buffed, full-grain leather that resists water and abrasion better than split-grain leather. Durable but flexible, you must allow it a little more break-in time than other materials inside a boot.
Synthetic leather, synonymous to polyester and nylon, finds common usage in today’s winter boots. Lighter than leather, less costly and not as posh, synthetics dry faster than leather. Their break-in period is relatively short, but they tend to show wear sooner than genuine leather. This is mostly due to their necessary volume of stitching.
What Should You Look For When Buying Your Boots for this Winter?
When shopping for winter boots, use the knowledge you gained about its composite parts to determine which one fits your needs and taste.
First, determine what you like to do in winter, must do in winter and even wish to do in winter (e.g., start snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing or hunting).
How much of your boot’s purpose will be dedicated for work and how much for play?
Where will this work or play take place?
What kind of ground conditions and temperatures?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin putting the requisite pieces of a boot together to come up with the winning winter boot for you. Winnow the semifinalists down and put them on a list, if needed. This way, you have some wiggle room in the pocketbook should your top choice stretch your budget a bit too far.
Tips Specific to Women’s Boots
The most glaring differences in finding the right winter boots for women as opposed to men lie in the fit and the look—in that order. To talk about fit one must also talk about socks. Know which socks you will use inside your boots and try new prospective boots on using those socks.
A boot’s fit is greatly influenced by the thickness and slippage of a sock. Find a sock that feels snug, wicks moisture and suits the temperatures in which you will be hiking. Toe-seam sturdiness can affect the fit and comfort of a boot.
Next, throw your normal shoe size out the window if you are a woman in search of a winter boot. Read reviews on boots to learn which ones tend to run small or big. The correct boot may be a full size larger or smaller than your normal shoe size. Boots that come in halves when it comes to size (i.e., 6-1/2, 7-1/2, 8-1/2) help tremendously when trying to find the boot that feels just right.
Are you an avid cycler or runner?
You might want to closely examine boots with high-cut boots or those with long shafts. Your well-developed calves might pose problems with the fit in the uppers.
Do you own high arches?
They require more arch support from the insole and midsole than the run-of-the-mill boot. Removable foot beds help. You can then find a new over-the-counter foot bed that works or use one customized by your podiatrist.
As for style, only your own eyes can determine the desired look you seek, but never prioritize it over function. If a boot doesn’t feel good on your foot, you will be spending money on something that collects dust on your shoe rack.
The best winter boot is part function, part feel, part appeal, part cost and more than partly, protection from the elements and their slippery surfaces.
If you understand the nature and construct of your foot, the most likely places you will be wearing your boots and the story behind each part of a boot, you are likely to find the correct bearing to your ultimate destination: a warm, dry, comfortable, enduring winter boot that you look forward to wearing on your cold-season outings and adventures.
Most importantly, don’t leave your decision-making solely to your eyes or latest trends, which may be functional but are often only empty enticers meant to jack the price up on an otherwise inferior boot.Read more about our Editor’s Pick Men’s Winter Boot here at Outdoorgearlab.
Also check out: The Best Waterproof Work Boots
Good to know: How to dry your Winter Boots – Watch the video below…
Image credits: All product images courtesy of the respective manufacturers/brands.