Winter boots are among the most important things you can buy to stay warm in cold weather. Your feet are highly receptive to the cold. Some thin boots just won’t cut it. They might be fine on wet spring days, but the snow will freeze your toes right through them. They’re simply not made to keep you warm and comfortable.
When you factor in the added stress of hiking it’s easy to see why winter hiking boots are so important. Your normal boots just aren’t made to conquer a snowy mountain. You can try winter hiking in your normal boots, but you’re bound to learn the hard way. Keep yourself from going through the pain of frostbite and the pain of falling on snow and ice by picking the best winter hiking boots for your next cold hike.
Winter hiking boots are designed especially to keep you warm and dry. They feature lightweight waterproof materials and high thermal density linings to keep your feet insulated from the snow and cold. The tread is also immensely important. Taking into account that you might find yourself in a situation where falling could lead to serious injury, it’s easy to see why the grip of your winter boots is important.
Making sure they stay true on snow and ice will save you down the line. Spend some time looking around and make sure the boots you buy fit you well. Stay warm and comfortable in the right boots this winter.
Factors to Consider when Shopping
Not all materials were created equally. Keep that in mind when you shop for your winter boots. Look for high-density lining materials and waterproof and tough outer-shell material.
When shopping you should look for durable materials like leather and strong nylon fibers. These materials should have waterproof coatings to keep your feet dry in the snow. Having wet feet will compound the effects of the freezing cold. You should also consider the weight of the materials used. Heavy boots can slow you down and tire you out in the snow.
It is also important to make sure your boot features a warm dense lining material. These materials will keep your feet warm, but only if your feet fit snug inside. Make sure the lining is thick enough that there won’t be any air gaps up on your ankle to let the cool air in and the warmth out.
You should also examine the materials of your tread to make sure the rubber used is high friction. This will ensure a good grip on uneven terrain. Don’t skimp on your boots materials. Take the time to examine them and don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more for premium materials. You get what you pay for, and when buying boots a little extra money goes a long way.
Check out the design of the boots you purchase to make sure that the construction will stay sturdy after miles of wear in harsh conditions. Use some common sense and check out the shape of the panels and where they connect. If panels connect in high-stress areas of the boot like the toe, heel, and around the ankle, it is often an indicator that the design is not as durable as you’ll need.
You should also check out the quality of the boot’s stitching. Make sure everything is stitched evenly and that the thread used is a high strength fiber. Make sure there are no loose threads or loose stitching that could get caught on a rock or brush.
It is also good to check if the panels are held together by glue in addition to the stitching. This can provide added support. This is usually the easiest way to tell the quality of a boot. By examining small details like the stitching, you’ll also become more cognizant of other flaws on the boots.
In addition to the stitching and construction make sure to verify that the hardware is strong enough to handle repeated use. Ideally, they eyelets and other hardware should be metal, but be aware that some plastics can be painted to look like metal.
The tread of your boot is one of the single most important features. If you can’t walk comfortably then why should you buy them?
Take the time to examine the pattern of the tread to verify there are no vertical or horizontal lines that run the full length or width of the boot. These types of treads will slide all over snow and ice. You should look for patterns that are disruptive to the vertical and horizontal lines across the boot. Often, patterns featuring diamond shapes are the most stable.
Also, avoid and circles in the pattern. They may make it easier to pivot, but will also cause you to twist your leg on slick snow and ice.
In addition to the pattern, you should consider the material of the tread for three reasons. First, will the tread hold up to miles of hiking or will it wear down quickly? Selecting a strong plastic will ensure that your boots are fit to walk 500 miles and potentially even 500 more.
Second on the checklist is the flexibility of the plastic. While you may give up some of the durability by picking a more flexible plastic you will enjoy a more comfortable hiking experience and often better grip. The third factor to consider is the amount of friction that will be present between the tread and the ground. Choosing a boot that will create a lot of friction will help you maintain stable footing even in the worst conditions.
Take the time to examine your treads and make sure they’re fit for your hike.
Make sure you pick the right size boot. This can be easily overlooked as people buy the size they’re accustomed to buying. This can be a terrible mistake. In many cases, your boot size is not the same as your gym shoe size. Make sure they fit properly by getting your feet measured by a professional. It can be weird having somebody handle your feet to determine your exact size, but it will pay off in the long run.
When buying boots you should also consider an insole to make them more comfortable. After all, you’ll be standing in them all day. Go see a doctor to get your feet evaluated and to determine what insoles might give you the most comfortable experience. Taking this step can also prevent health problems in the hips and spine. The benefits are beyond just your comfort.
Everyone has a different style and this all comes down to personal preference. Winter boots generally come in two different styles: the leather professional style and the athletic style made from nylon materials and other lightweight fibers.
The professional looking boot will translate well from the trail to the city streets. If you find yourself commuting to work or leisure activities in the snow you might consider these as an option to keep you warm and safe without attracting any attention to your feet. If they do attract any attention it’s sure to be positive since leather boots have experienced a resurgence in popular style lately.
The more athletic boots will often offer better trail performance thanks to more durable materials that will also cut down their weight. These boots often feature brown fibers as a nod to their more professional leather counterparts. They also feature treads that offer more traction in many cases due to their focus on function.
Whichever you prefer there’s a boot out there for you.
Top Winter Hiking Boots for You
Sorel Men’s Conquest Boot
Sizes: Men’s 7 – 15 (US)
Colors: British Tan, Bark (reddish brown), Boulder (dark brown)
Features: Built in Gaiter Bootie, side clip, reinforced toe box
Best use: Hiking and commuting in snow
The Men’s Conquest Boot by Sorel is a stylish and functional pick. The boot will be in its element both walking through the city and hiking in the snow. The boot features a leather upper that comes in three colors. The leather should be treated with waterproofing to extend the lifetime of your boots and to ensure your feet stay dry.
The design also features tough nylon materials to help give your boot more flexibility where it needs it. The lower part of the boot and toe box are covered in a nice rubber material to ensure that no water gets in and to increase the boot’s durability. All three colors feature brass hardware. This boot will accompany almost any size as they cover from US sizes 7 to 15. These boots will be at home in any situation.
The tread of the boot consists of a pattern of Y shapes. The pattern will prevent you from sliding in snow and will help increase your grip on the ice. The rubber material used on the sole is also sure to create a good grip on surfaces from frozen dirt to city sidewalks. You can count on these boots to keep your footing.
On top of all that these boots feature a built-in gaiter bootie that will help keep your feet dry and to trap warm air in. The gaiter features a drawstring across the top and is a great touch for a winter boot. The boots also feature 400 g Thinsulate Ultra insulation that is rated to -40 degrees F to ensure your feet will never get cold.
These boots are a great all-around solution.
Vasque Men’s Snowburban Ultradry Boot
Sizes: Men’s 7 – 14 (US)
Colors: Beluga/Old Gold, Turkish Coffee/Russet Orange
Features: Thinsulate Ultra insulation, rubber toe cap, and heel kick
Best use: Hiking in the cold
The Men’s Snowburban Ultradry Boot by Vasque is a great boot for keeping your feet warm despite frigid conditions. The boot isn’t the most stylish, but it is clearly made to stay on the trail or to be worn to shovel the driveway. You won’t see many people wearing this boot for a walk to dinner. The boot features a leather and fabric design.
The leather makes up the bottom portion of the shoe and is used in the construction to add stability through the ankle. The leather is waterproof and fairly thick to add durability and warmth to the boot. The fabric does not meet the same waterproof standard as the leather, but it does offer more flexibility to make sure the boots stay comfortable.
Some wearers have reported that the fabric areas can let in water. The boots also have a rubber toe cap and heel kick for some added durability.
The boot has deep diamond and triangle shaped treads that will keep you from losing your footing in the snow. The rubber used on the tread isn’t the most flexible, but the slightly harder plastic is very durable and is sure to last miles. This is a tread you can trust to last for years and to keep you safe in slick situations on the trail.
On top of all that, the boots feature 400 g Thinsulate Ultra insulation. The insulation is sure to keep your feet warm despite freezing conditions outside. The Thinsulate insulations is rated for -40 degrees F.
These boots are great for those that need durable boots for a cold dry trail.
KEEN Men’s Summit County WP Winter Boot
Sizes: Men’s 7 – 11.5 (US)
Colors: Dark Shadow/Yellow, Dark Earth/Bossa Nova
Features: 450 g KEEN Insulation, made in the USA
Best use: Hiking in the snow
The Men’s Summit County WP Winter Boot from Keen is a best seller for a reason. The boot has an athletic style that still features strong leather elements. These boots would be at home on the trail, but you might get away with wearing them out every once-in-a-while.
The boots feature a waterproof leather, nylon fiber, and rubber lower. This allows the boots to have just enough flexibility to be comfortable while still offering enough durability to stay warm. They are fully waterproofed. The leather extends up the sides of the ankle to both add styling and support.
On the back of the ankle, these boots have more of the nylon fiber material to give them some added flexibility where it counts. These boots have a very narrow size range. The top end sizes are limited to only 11.5 which can present and issue for men with bigger feet. These boots are great for almost any scenario.
The boot features a deep V and diamond shaped tread that will give great grip in loosely packed snow. They are also made of two different plastics. This gives the boot flexibility and durability that is unmatched by other boots at this price. These will last you a lifetime and you won’t get sick of hiking in them.
These boots also have Keen’s 450 g insulation. This insulation is denser than the 400g Thinsulate and gives Keen the ability to make boots that will keep you just as warm without the need for so much bulky insulating materials. These boots are a sure bet for anyone who plans on hiking in the snow. Hopefully, they have them in your size!
Merrell Men’s Capra Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
Sizes: Men’s 7 – 15 (US)
Colors: Boulder, Dark Rust, Turbulence, Tahoe
Features: Vibram sole, waterproof
Best use: Hiking in the cold
The Merrel Capra Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot is the lowest cut boot on our list. This gives it a unique advantage for people who like more freedom of movement around the ankle. These boots feature bright colored accents to go along with the leather, fabric and synthetic design. The bright accents may look great on the trail, but won’t translate well to social situations.
The design features a sole made of multiple rubbers that extend up to meet the patterned nylon and leather upper. This pattern gives the boots added strength without sacrificing flexibility. The leather extends up the boot to the opening along the sides to add some stability. The back of the ankle is a synthetic material to give some added flexibility.
All materials on this boot are waterproof and thick enough to keep you warm. They range from sizes 7 to 15 which will accommodate almost anyone. These are a safe bet for most hikers.
The soles feature a geometric tread that will give great grip in the snow. The soles are made up of multiple plastics to give the boots some extra grip without sacrificing and durability. These boots will see some wear on the treads but will offer supreme grip in slippery situations.
These boots are fully insulated and will keep your feet cold. They are very competitive with every other boot on our list when it comes to insulation and warmth.
These boots are a safe bet for any hiker who is interested in a slightly shorter boot.
The North Face Men’s Chilkat II Luxe Winter Boot
Sizes: Men’s 7 – 14 (US)
Colors: Dark Shadow Grey, Coffee Brown, TNF Black, Utility Brown
Features: Waterproof, high-quality ergonomic shell, leather upper
Best use: Casual hiking and social situations
The Chilkat II Luxe Winter Boot from The North Face is a great mix of style and functionality. This boot is sure to keep you warm and survive the coldest northern winters while still being stylish enough to wear to casual dinners and outings. These boots feature a lower made of injection molded, anatomically engineered, waterproof rubber with forefoot grooves to provide some extra stability. The lower portion of the boot is fully waterproof and strong enough to survive any terrain.
The rubber is significantly stronger than most alternatives. The upper portion of this boot is easily the most stylish on this list. It is made of a nice leather with a great grain texture. The leather is waterproof to provide more protection while maintaining its styling. This boot will look at home in most situations. They can be found in almost any size and are sure to fit the average person’s needs.
The sole features a great pattern of diamond and triangle grooves with other shapes dispersed throughout to keep you from sliding on snow. The treads are also varying in size both big and small to help on all different types of terrain. The sole is made from three different plastics to ensure both comfort and traction without sacrificing any durability.
They have a lighter insulation and will fall short in extreme conditions, but for the average user, they’ll do the trick. It’s also worth noting that in temperate climates these won’t get too hot while some other boots will. The 200g insulation gives the boot a lighter feel than most.
Overall, this is a great boot for the casual hiker who may end up wearing them to happy hour after the trails.
Salomon Men’s X Ultra Winter CS WP Performance Boot
Sizes: Men’s 7 – 13 (US)
Colors: Absolute Brown, Triple Black, Black/Brown
Features: Gusseted tounge, molded OrthoLite footbed
Best use: Hiking in the cold
The Men’s X Ultra Winter CS WP Performance Boot from Salomon is the perfect hiking boot for more moderate climates. They feature a very athletic style while still maintaining some classic leather accents and a leather body. These boots will look at home on the trail and be able to hold their own in some social situations. The boots come in three great colors that are sure to please picky critics.
The boot is mid-cut which will allow for some extra mobility around the ankle. The lower of the boot is constructed with rubber and fabric that is waterproof and warm. The upper is nearly entirely leather. The leather is both durable and waterproof. These boots will fit most men with their wide range of sizes. These boots are great for hiking on cool days.
The boots have a great tread that looks athletic and performs as you’d expect. You’ll get a great grip in snow and on the ice. They are a fairly stiff rubber so the grip and comfort aren’t quite as good as they could be. For that trade-off, you’ll have very durable treads.
The insulation is on the lighter side. These feature a 200g insulation that will keep your feet warm in most situations. Don’t expect these boots to perform well in -40-degree weather, but in all but the coldest situations, they’ll handle themselves well.
These are great boots for a more moderate winter.
Tecnica Unisex Moon Nylon Fashion Boot
Sizes: Men’s 6 – 11 (US)
Colors: White, black, navy, purple, pink, denim, turquoise, bougainville, red, orchid
Features: Extra tall, extra insulated, elaborate lacing
Best use: Casual hiking and winter fashion
The Unisex Moon Nylon Fashion Boot is definitely a standout on our list. These boots are much taller and larger than any other boot on the list. The design allows them to stay warm, but at a size disadvantage to the wearer.
The variety of colors is sure to please anyone. They also come in a wide range of sizes that will even accommodate smaller feet. These boots feature a fully synthetic fabric design that will look great in any occasion.
The tread on these boots isn’t the greatest. It is a sparse pattern but will do just fine in most casual situations. These boots won’t perform up to some standards on the mountain but will be just fine in casual situations. The insulation on this boot isn’t the densest, but what it lacks in density it makes up for in volume. These boots trade form factor for warmth and are sure to keep you comfortable.
Overall, these boots are great for the casual hiker looking for something outside the box.
Hiking boots can vary greatly in style, materials, durability, tread style, and price. It’s important to know what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you aren’t. This list should cover all of your needs. Do you have any winter hiking boot questions? Do you have experience with any of the boots on this list?