In the flurry of jackets, warm pants, thermals, hats, scarves, and other winter gear, it’s easy to forget about your feet. If you don’t have a solid pair of winter boots to face the elements, going outside can turn miserable very quickly. It doesn’t matter if you’re trekking across arctic tundras or simply walking to the grocery store — if your feet are unhappy, you’re unhappy, plain and simple. Before we jump into the best winter boots of the season, there are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping around.
Things to consider
Warmth and waterproofing
Like anything, there are endless considerations regarding winter boots. The first of these, of course, is warmth. Do you live in a frigid climate or spend weekends skiing, snowboarding, or winter hiking? If so, you’ll want a boot with ultra-warm insulation and a thick, cozy lining. If you’re in a more temperate zone, however, you’ll need something lighter to avoid overheating.
Then there’s waterproofing. If you live somewhere prone to slush, rain, and warmer temperatures, having a waterproof boot isn’t only a smart decision, it’s imperative. Yet, a fully waterproofed boot tends to also mean less breathability, so that may be too much if it’s warmer in your neck of the woods.
Boot height and traction
Boot height is yet another thing to keep in mind. Treks through deep snow might require tall boots you can pair with gaiters whereas walking around the city may be more suitable for ankle or mid-calf boots. Traction is another important factor. If your driveway is a hazardous sheet of ice, finding a grippy boot with reliable tread should be a top factor. If you won’t be walking on treacherous terrain often, traction is less important.
Last — and perhaps least — there’s style. Though this hardly affects the actual function of the boot in practice, there’s no denying that if someone isn’t particularly thrilled with the way a boot looks, they won’t want to wear it. Something to keep in mind, no doubt, but don’t lose sight of what you’re actually trying to accomplish with a proper pair of winter boots.
Men’s winter boots
Merrell Moab FST Ice+ Thermo
If traction on ice is what you’re after, it’s hard to beat Merrell’s Vibram Arctic Grip technology the brand debuted several years ago. Since the unveiling, the tech has blown away the competition thanks to its polymer blend outsole. Designed to perform best on wet ice, it’s the most effective tread you can find short of attaching ice spikes to your shoes.
The company’s waterproof M-Select DRY technology removes moisture from the boot to keep you dry while the bellows-style tongue keeps everything watertight. The Conductor fleece lining is soft, warm, and incredibly comfortable with a stylish fit. As a bonus, the boot features a 5-millimeter deep thermochromatic lug on the bottom that indicates when the temperature hits freezing.
Under Armour Fat Tire Govie SE
The coolest part of this winter boot — the newest member of Under Armour’s Fat Tire family — is the Boa closure system which allows you to crank an integrated dial to achieve the perfect fit. The boot is fully waterproof with GORE-TEX membrane and Cupron copper-based antibacterial treatment to reduce odor when you’re working hard. The cushion is also made from OrthoLite’s open-cell PU foam that’s extra comfy and breathable. To top it off, the boot features Michelin outsoles, delivering the same rugged traction you find in winter tires.
Keen Durand Polar
Built with fleece-lined charcoal bamboo insulation that provides inferno-like warmth, Keen’s Durand Polar is a fantastic choice for frigid winter days. With a traditional lace-up system, the boot’s ultra waterproof Keen.Dry membrane blocks water from penetrating the insole while simultaneously allowing vapor to escape, maximizing dryness while you move.
It’s lightweight and breathable with a cushy Thermal Heat Shield footbed that delivers one of the most comfortable cushions available. A grippy sole offers enough traction to be a fantastic around-town option, as well as the perfect boot for trekking to and from the lodge on ski days.
Sorel Caribou Boots
This classic Pac-style boot has been keeping winter adventurers warm for over five decades — and for good reason. The boot is built with some of the finest insulating materials on the planet and offers a simple, no-frills design. Its waterproof Nubuck leather upper surrounds 9 millimeters of felt with a Sherpa fleece snow cuff at the top, delivering blazing warmth down to 40 degrees below. Its vulcanized rubber shell and seam-sealed construction make it one of the most waterproof boots around and Sorel’s proprietary AeroTrac outsole offers reliable traction, as well.
However, this likely isn’t the boot you want to take hiking, snowshoeing, or on other adventures which require precise footwork, as the boots are heavy and don’t offer much of a snug fit. Yet, with a warmth rating superior to just about any other boot on the market, it’s the perfect option to keep around the house for outside chores or walks in the snow.
Adidas Conrax Boa
The Conrax Boa from Adidas is the weapon you want if you’re planning technical athletic adventures outside during the winter months. Designed with the same sports engineering as Adidas tennis shoes, the boot offers above average cushioning and foot control via its stable padded cuff and patented Boost midsole technology. The latter uses encapsulated PU to provides exceptional rebound that won’t lose cushioning like traditional EVA.
Additionally, the soles perfectly accommodate ice cleats and its Boa closure system allows a custom fit, along with quick, easy adjustments during your expeditions. Adidas’ lightweight boot provides stellar warmth, offering a waterproof thermo-welded upper and 200g PrimaLoft Sport insulation.
Columbia Bugaboot Plus Omni-Heat Michelin
This mid-temp, all-around winter boot showcases Columbia’s Omni-Heat tech in the lining which traps heat with reflective silver dots while providing airy breathability. Along with 200 grams of insulation and an upper built with a blend of leather and nylon, the boot is also seam-sealed to achieve 100 percent waterproofing. Some may find it slightly stiff but its comfort factor makes up for it with a supremely soft Techlite midsole. Topping off the features is its rubber outsole constructed with Michelin anti-slip winter compound that keeps you sure-footed even on the most perilous terrain.
Women’s Winter Boots
Vasque PowPow III UD
This badass mountaineering boot with UltraDry waterproofing technology offers all the technical features you need to summit a peak while still maintaining the around-town style for running errands or lounging around a cabin. With Vasque’s premium ColdHold Compound, the dual density rubber provides superior traction while featuring high-tread lugs with razor siping.
The boot showcases a broad toe box, molded rubber heel kick, and excellent arch support, making it comfortable, customizable, and stable. Warmth-wise, it features a waterproof suede upper paired with a terry loop merino wool liner alongside 400 grams of 3M Thinsulate Ultra insulation, making the Pow Pow capable of blocking out cold on the fiercest of winter days.
BOGS Arcata Stripe
Fully waterproof with 7-millimeter Neo-Tech subzero insulation, the Bogs Arcata Stripe showcases comfy high-pile lining with a soft, faux-fur trim cuff. Its self-cleaning outsole is built with GlacialGrip technology, featuring enough traction to scurry along icy trails without fear of slipping and sliding. The boot offers 8 inches of height to protect you from the elements, a removable bootie, and comfy, dual-density EVA cushioning. The liner is treated with odor-fighting DuraFresh biotechnology and the fact it’s removable means you can wear it in the fall months, too.
Salomon Heika LTR CS
You’d be hard-pressed to find a women’s winter boot that’s cozier than Salomon’s Heika LTR — it’s the perfect option for sipping cocoa in a winter cabin or trekking through the snow on scenic walks. The boot’s durable Contagrip outsole blends materials of different densities mapped across the bottom of the foot, delivering softness in lesser used spots and harder, thicker material where it tends to wear quicker.
Perhaps most impressive is how Salomon’s ClimaSalomon technology and waterproof Nubuck leather actively keeps you dry if you encounter slush. Lastly, the boot’s Ortholite sock liner and Thinsulate membrane maintain impressive warmth for those strolls through winter wonderlands.
The OTBT Fanfare is a rugged yet fashionable ankle-high boot with one of the coolest and most unique pull-down traction systems available. As part of the Off Road collection, the boot features OR Rotator System technology which uses a small key on the bottom of the boot you can flip out and lock, providing reversible spikes for grip and traction when you’re on a winter hike.
Once you’re back indoors, simply flip the key up to walk around inside without scuffing the floors. The boot also features waterproof leather and a heat-retaining sole, making it as warm and wind-resistant as it is grippy.
Helly Hansen Veierland 2
If you live in a milder climate and need a boot for winter that confidently protects you against rain and occasional slush — without making you too hot — Helly Hansen’s Veierland 2 is a superb choice. The extra tall, 15.5-inch boot is made almost entirely out of rubber with a gummy outsole that offers solid traction, skipping the insulating layer so you won’t overheat. The boot is easy to slide in and out of and is engineered to avoid that rubbery sensation typical of traditional galoshes. Bonus: A decorative gusset at the top makes it stylish for urban wear.
The North Face Shellista
This comfy, ultra-warm Pac boot by North Face is built with 200 grams of PrimaLoft Silver Eco insulation to trap heat and keep your feet cozy. The mid-calf boot is constructed with Nubuck leather draped in a knit collar that’s both stylish and warm. The injection-molded TPR shell around the foot area assures a dry interior in a slim, bulk-free package.
Ice and other sketchy terrain are easy to traverse, courtesy of the boot’s TNF Winter Grip outsoles with IcePick technology– a grid of temperature-sensitive lugs that provide traction. The only drawback to this awesome boot is that its snug design is bit tricky to get in and out of.