What Makes A Good Winter Boot
There are six main features to consider when shopping for a good winter or snow boot. And while some are absolute must-haves, there are a few traits that offer some wiggle room depending on your personal style.
1. Weather Resistance and Water Proofing
This is one of the required features you just cant pass on. Even if there isnt snow or rain in the forecast for today, walking through old puddles or melting frost can leave your poor toes vulnerable to frost bite. Moisture collecting inside your boot also creates an ideal environment for fungi and bacteria to grow which can cause a slew of other issues. Most brands tend to label their boots waterproof, weather resistant or water resistant or shout out materials like Gore-Tex, rubber or PVC. But if youre struggling to find mention of any kind of protection from the elements, its likely the boot wont perform well in bad weather.
2. A Slight Heel
3. Solid Arch Support
Speaking of flexibility, a good winter boot falls somewhere within a Goldilocks levels of rigiditynot totally immovable, but not as floppy as your favorite sandals. Per Dr. Cunha, look for a winter boot that doesnt bend too easily in the mid arch. This will provide more shock absorption, and in turn will result in less foot pain in your heels or arches. How can you tell if your boots hit that sweet spot? You should be able to somewhat flex and point your toes, but shouldnt be able to reach your full range of motion.
4. Traction for Slippery Surfaces
Sorel Mens Ankeny Moc Toe Snow Boot
The mens Ankeny Moc Toe Snow Boot from Sorel has a waterproof leather and suede upper, plus seam-sealed waterproof construction, yet it still manages to be lighter than most mens boots. Its as at home on city streets as on the trail, and has a deep herringbone tread to prevent slips in snow, ice, and rain.
La Canadienne Connor Waterproof Boots
These lug-sole Chelsea boots may not look like theyd hold up well through a wet winter, but theyre actually entirely waterproof and weather-resistant. Canadian company La Canadienne is all about creating stylish boots folks can still get practical use out of during the countrys cold and snowy winters. And while this sleek design doesnt come with adjustable laces and wont offer as much warmth as the true snow boots on this list, they are a great option for everyday wear to the office, school or out for dinner with friends.
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Mishansha Mens Womens Winter Ankle Snow Hiking Boots Warm Water Resistant Non Slip Fur Lined
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- CLASSIC DESIGN: High top snow boots design with elastic lacing system and feature artificial leather vamp for fashion appearance Leather: Animal leather and artificial leather are called leather. Mishansha’s brand concept: From the perspective of protecting the world’s ecological environment and responding to the call of the World Animal Protection Association to achieve a balance between humans and animals, Mishansha’s hiking boots are made of artificial leather.
- TPR TOE CAP: These ankle booties are designed with improved rubber material for slip resistance and foot protection and can be used as work shoes.
- WARM INSIDE: Hiking shoes are covered with a thick warm lining to keep temperature and offer comfortable touch.
- UPGRADE SOLE: Winter boots meticulously features flexible EVA midsole and non-skid rubber outsole to provide wear resistance and cushioning support.
- PERFECT FOR: Skiing, hiking, walking the dog, walking, mountaineering, camping, casual, working, shopping, driving, vacation. These winter booties also is a good holiday gift. NOTICE: The warm boot is water resistant not waterproof.
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Dansko Womens Paisley Sneaker
Dansko lovers, rejoice! The company has the Paisley, a winter shoe that offers its signature comfort in a sporty style thats winter ready. Waterproof uppers meet rubber outsoles for dependable traction on slippery surfaces. The shoe also has built-in moisture and odor control, plus a triple-density footbed for good arch support.
Caroline Morse Teel never takes a cold-weather trip without warm winter boots. Follow her on InstagramTravelWithCarolinefor photos from around the world.
Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.
Editors note: Christine Sarkis, Sarah Schlichter, and Carol McPherson contributed to this story.
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Who This Is For
We researched and tested designs meant for light outdoor activity in places that are cold enough to see snow. That means shoveling the driveway, walking an outdoor mall in the winter, or getting from your car to the office. We tested for functionality, not style. Hopefully youll find something you like here, and if you dont, we aim to show you what to look for when you shop.
What does this guide not cover?
Best Winter Boots For Comfort
This pair feels as snuggly as Uggs slippers, but is fully winterized for wearing outside in snowy climates. Made with a seam-sealed waterproof leather upper and lined with a soft wool blend, they have a super-light rubber sole for enhanced grip on wet and frozen surfacesslip them on with jeans or ski pants.
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Ankle Support In Boots
Even the lightest boots will be heavier than a favorite pair of summer sandals. For this reason, it is important to support the ankles, which might not be used to carrying so much weight. Just because boots have high tops, it does not mean that they provide ankle support. Look for padded sides, a firm structure, and lacing all the way to the top to make sure the ankle will be well supported.
Boot Outsoles And Grip
Snow boots have a different lug pattern and rubber compound than their on-dirt hiking boot cousins. The compounds are softer and dont harden even when temperatures drop, which helps them to grip on snow and ice. In addition, the lug patterns are aimed to prevent snow build up. The outer soles themselves are very thick and absorb energy well to isolate your feet from any jarring impacts while walking. Vibram made some headlines with their Arctic Grip compound that’s specifically designed to stick to slippery and icy surfaces, which we see in designs like the Merrell Thermo Overlook, Danner Arctic 600 Side-Zip, and Muck Boot Arctic Ice. In general, hiking-ready models have the best traction, while casual and work boots can be a little cumbersome and prone to slippage. Regardless of the boot, in very icy conditions well still turn to a winter traction system .
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Best Winter Boots For Skiing
The retro-fabulous Moon Boot first gained popularity following the Apollo 11 moon landing in the 1960s, and then more recently blazed back into fashion again. Made in Italy, this newly-released pair is fully waterproof, lined in fleece and has a flexible rubber soleperfect for navigating slick mountains before you strap on your skis.
Best Snow Slipper: Ugg Classic Short Boot
Get this if: Youre getting on a plane and traveling to winter weather or going skiing.
Why its great: The Ugg Classic Short Boot and the Ugg Classic Short II Boot is a functional winter shoe thats easy to drive in, cozy and warm, treated to be weather-resistant, and lined with real wool that will not stink after a few uses.
Thats the perfect combination of features for après-ski, when you need to change out of hard boots, get damp feet warm, then probably drive somewhere. Its also a perfect solution for winter travel, acting as travel shoe, warm slipper, and winter boot at your final destination.
Its hard to separate the Ugg brand from its reputation as a polarizing year-round fashion choice. But this wasnt always the case. These boots are a legitimate piece of outdoor gear, originally invented to keep surfers feet warm after getting out of cold water. And we think they still do the job better than any other similar option.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: There is no traction advantage. These boots wont give you any special grip on snow or ice. That said, if you wear them mostly on pavement, in cars, around airports, or indoors, its less of an issue.
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Waterproofing For Winter Activities
Besides water-resisting properties of the boot upper material, there are other features in boots that prevent water, snow, or slush from entering the boot. One is a gusseted tongue. A gusseted tongue is attached to the boot with triangular pieces on the sides so that there is no space through which water could seep.
Another important characteristic of water-resistant boots is a cuff or gaiter. A cuff is a snug lining that curves at the top of the boot to form a kind of collar. This catches snow that would normally go into the boot, and encourages the snow to fall to the outside of the boot. Similarly, a gaiter is meant to stop snow from getting in through the top of the boot. Also called top closures, gaiters are tubes that extend upwards from the top of the boot and tighten around the calf. Gaiters can be bought separately, but they are also included in winter boots. They can extend anywhere from just above the boot to all the way up to the knee.
For Winter Walks Ski Resorts And Everything In Between
Stella McCartney / Stocksy / Design by Hallie Gould
When it comes to the winter season, we always seem to reach for our knee-high boots or heeled boots, and, although stylish, they arent always practical. Enter: Snow boots. Built for the coldest months of the year, they are the perfect wardrobe staple to conquer the cold temperatures and feet of snow.
Finding a quality snow boot that you actually want to wear can be tricky. You want to look for a rubber or heavy-duty lug sole, water-resistant materials , and perhaps even a shearling or faux fur lining for extra style and warmth. Below, we have rounded up 27 of the best snow boots that will cover you for every occasion.
Nothing says an like an iconic pair of Moon Boots. The rubber soles grip slippery surfaces and you can easily slip in and out of them with the metal fastenings. They’re an easy pick that will elevate any ski outfit.
Hunter’s Padded Snow Boots are designed with an OrthoLite footbed for long-lasting comfort underneath the foot. With a robust rubber sole and adjustable toggle to cushion the foot, you’ll be ready for any kind of winter weather.
This monochrome pair from Larroude will take you from the hiking trail to the ski lodge. Lined with a soft faux shearling, you’ll be walking on cloud nine.
Take a winter hike in Sorel’s Brex Lace Boot . With a lace-up front, gusset sides, waterproof leather, and a chunky heel, you’ll be the coolest person on the trail.
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Cole Haan Womens Zerogrand Explorer Hikers
Cole Haans Zerogrand Explorer Hikers have lasted me through multiple Boston winters. Theyre stylish enough that I dont feel like I have to change out of them when I get to my destination, but waterproof and warm enough to stand up to slush and snow. Plus, they have Cole Haans famous Grand.Os technology, which makes these boots ultra-comfortable.
Chaco Borealis Peak Waterproof Lace
We are big fans of Chaco not just for its weather-proof footwear, but for its impressive sustainability efforts, too. For example, the insulation of these boots is made from a coffee-based composite rather than a man-made foam. Although the shaft is not so high, it does meet Dr. Hallers ankle-supporting requirements and can be aided by utilizing certain lace-tying methods.
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Bos & Co Hudson Waterproof Boots
Another Canadian brand focused on combining fashion and function, Bos. & Co. has a number of snow-ready boots that dont actually look like your typical snow boot. Case in point: this chic riding boot that comes lined with super-soft merino wool and has tread tough enough to handle even the worst winter weather. The footbed is also made of memory foam, meaning you can wear these beauties all day without your feet tuckering out early.
What Should My New Pair Of Winter Boots Be Capable Of
When it’s frosty and unpleasant outside, you need a shoe that can meet high demands. The bitter cold is no problem with the right winter boots! Every shoe needs to be comfortable, of course. But what’s so special about winter boots?
Snow, rain, dew: Shoes are constantly exposed to moisture during the winter months. This is why good snow boots should always be waterproof. Wet feet could ruin your winter hike altogether. Some models have breathable outer material. Moisture from sweat can escape as water vapor while the shoe remains waterproof on the outside.
Perhaps the most important feature of snow boots is insulation from the cold. The feet should stay warm, even in double-digit negative temperatures. Outdoor enthusiasts are still active in winter when the temperatures get cold. That’s why the lining on modern winter boots must meet high demands. Cold feet aren’t just uncomfortable: they reduce circulation through the mucous membranes as well. This gives viruses and bacteria a free ride. A warm lining made of fleece, cotton, or synthetic fibers protects feet from the cold and keeps them toasty warm.
The surfaces you tread on during the cold months pose a higher risk of injury. Rigid soles are a must for winter boots. If the ground is frozen, your footing should still remain safe and firm. The soles of winter boots have a deep, firm profile, similar to winter tires. This allows them to maintain a grip on icy surfaces and snow-covered hiking trails.
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Boot Care And Treatment
To keep your winter boots lasting as long as possible, its worth taking proper care of your investment. For starters, its always a good idea to keep them clean to avoid any breakdown in the materials. The grime that you pick up when walking through a slushy parking lot can wreak havoc on a boot if it isnt cleaned out. Warm water, dish soap, and a simple brush can do the trick in most cases. Further, many of the designs above have leather in the construction, which is a material that benefits from occasional treatment to avoid drying and cracking. A quality sponge-on design like Nikwaxs Conditioner works well on full-grain leather, keeping it in good shape while adding a water-resistant coating to the top. For boots that dont have a waterproof membrane or coating, youll want to treat them from the start . Another benefit of adding a leather dressing right away is that it helps soften the leather and shorten the break-in period.
Ecco Womens Shape 35 Ankle Bootie
Booties are great for travel, since they offer warmth and support without being as hard to pack as a full boot. Eccos Shape 35 Ankle Bootie is a classic choice, featuring a side zipper for easy on/off at airport security. This pair is also very lightweight, making them easy to pack and unlikely to tire out your feet and legs.
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Columbia Ice Maiden Ii Boots
There are 11 different color options to choose from for this cozy snow boot, but were partial to the classic camel brown and red combination. One of the best things about this fleece-lined boot is just how lightweight it is, so even if you spend the day trudging through the snow, your feet and legs wont feel nearly as tuckered out. The fluffy trim at the top isnt continued throughout the shaft, however there is a lighter, thinner lining that provides ample warmth while that decorative trim actually prevents snow or rain from seeping in through the top.