Ahh, the winter boot: such a timeless and charming piece of gear. Maybe it’s because they harken back to being a kid, when snow falling always meant the anticipation of stomping around in a crisp, wonderful world for hours at a time with the promise of hot cocoa at the end. For many grown-ups, the reality of life does sometimes make snow mean a heinous commute to work and having to shovel your driveway beforehand. But hopefully most of your time in the snow involves a ski resort or a peaceful hike in the woods. Below we break down the best winter boots for 2017, from active to casual and just about everything in between. For background information, check out our comparison table and buying advice. Many of the boots are offered in both men's and women's styles, but we've also dedicated a section to our top women's-specific winter boots.
 

1. Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat ($130)

Columbia Bugaboot Plus III OmniHeat men's winter bootCategory: Winter hiking/work
Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz. 
Insulation: 200g synthetic
What we like: Tough, versatile, and a good value.
What we don’t: Not the warmest out there.
Women's: Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat

Many winter boots are specialized for warmth, mobility, or even style, but our top pick, the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III, is a true all-arounder. It’s reasonably light and comfortable for hiking and snowshoeing, but has a tough build that will last you many seasons of snow shoveling or winter commutes. It’s also a good value at around $130, and you can find the earlier Bugaboot models for even less. Packing 200 grams of synthetic insulation along with Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Heat reflective technology, the boot has enough warmth to keep most folks comfortable into the teens, but isn’t overly insulated to make you sweat when the temperatures are closer to 30°F.

What are the downsides of the Bugaboot Plus III? It wears like a traditional hiking boot and isn’t as well prepared for a full artic blast as some options below. Those looking for extra warmth should see our number two pick, the Sorel Caribou. But balance wins out here, and the Bugaboot puts it all together better than anything else on the market.
See the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III

 

2. Sorel Caribou Boots ($150)

Sorel Caribou men's winter bootCategory: Casual/winter walking
Weight: 4 lbs. 10 oz. 
Insulation: 9mm felt
What we like: Various, classic color options.
What we don’t: They are still classically heavy.
Women's: Sorel Caribou Boots

It doesn’t get much more classic than this. The Caribou from Sorel seemingly has been around forever, and we love the combination of comfort, style, and performance. First off, this is a very warm boot with a 9mm felt liner, stout leather upper, and wraparound rubber lower. Most manufacturers nowadays turn to synthetic fill to reduce bulk, but the throwback felt liner insulates well and adds soft cushioning along the interior. You also can remove the liner, which is a great feature to expedite the drying process should the boot get wet in deep snow.

It’s true that Sorel boots used to be manufactured exclusively in Canada and now are made in China, but they are a quality option nevertheless and work well for a wide range of winter uses. Walking long distances, however, is not one of them. Keep to the shorter distances and these boots will be a cozy and warm haven in almost all conditions.
See the Sorel Caribou Boots

 

3. Vasque Snowburban UltraDry ($160)

Vasque Snowburban UltraDry men's winter bootCategory: Winter hiking/work
Weight: 3 lbs. 3 oz.
Insulation: 400g Thinsulate
What we like: Solid performance, plenty of insulation, and clean design. 
What we don’t: Will require some break-in.

Those who want to continue hiking their favorite trails in the winter will love the performance and fit of the Vasque Snowburban UltraDry. With the looks of a hiking boot—and the grip, support and waterproof protection to match—along with a hefty 400 grams of Thinsulate insulation, this is a great option for summiting a local peak or strapping on a pair of snowshoes. They are decently stylish too (in a hiking boot kind of way) with the leather uppers adding a little class in a sea of black rubber. One consideration is that the ankle height of the Snowburbans may be a little low for those who spend a lot of time in deep powder (you can always wear snow pants or gaiters), but for active wear the Snowburbans have a winning formula.
See the Vasque Snowburban UltraDry

 

4. Baffin Impact Boots ($215)

Baffin Impact men's winter bootCategory: Work/extreme temperatures
Weight: 5 lbs. 14 oz.
Insulation: 8-layer lining
What we like: Truly ready for -50 degree temperatures.
What we don’t: Not night-out-on-the-ski-town compatible.
Women's: Baffin Impact

The Baffin Impact is an exercise in excess, but for truly frigid conditions, it’s in a class of its own. The boot is insulated with an 8-layer system of foam and polyester, which is encased in a burly nylon and rubber shell. Winter boots are notorious for having ambitious temperature ratings (usually -25°F to -40°F), but the Impact is rated to -148°F. We haven't tested that claim (and don't plan to), but users have reported being comfortable in the Impact in temperatures reaching as low as -50°F. As cold weather boots go, this is about as good as it gets.

The downside of so much warmth is that it doesn’t handle mild winter conditions well and isn’t very breathable. The boot also weighs nearly 6 pounds for the pair, so it’s not intended for covering much ground. But if you live in an area where the temperatures consistently dip well below zero, we heartily recommend protecting yourself with the Baffin Impact.
See the Baffin Impact Boots

 

5. Salomon X Ultra Winter CS ($180)

Salomon X Ultra Winter CS winter bootCategory: Winter hiking
Weight: 2 lbs. 7 oz.
Insulation: 200g Thinsulate
What we like: The most nimble winter boot here.
What we don’t: A light amount of insulation.
Women’s: Salomon X Ultra Winter CS

Salomon is a highly accomplished footwear brand, taking the top spot in both our hiking boot and hiking shoe rankings. Their best cold weather boot, the X Ultra Winter CS, is based on their excellent X Ultra lightweight hiking shoe but with a higher ankle and 200 grams of Thinsulate synthetic insulation. The level of warmth falls short of the leading winter hiker on this list, the Vasque Snowburban above, by a significant 200 grams, so it’s not as good in frigid temperatures. But if you’ll be working hard on the trail, the X Ultra Winter CS is light, nimble, and has a very precise fit.

As with most Salomon shoes, the X Ultra Winter CS has a trail-running shoe chassis and feels like it. There isn’t much isolation from the ground, but it’s a great for moving fast on hardpack or snowshoeing. And the light insulation makes it a good option for those prone to cold feet on shoulder season hiking and backpacking trips.
See the Salomon X Ultra Winter CS

 

6. The North Face Chilkat II ($110)

The North Face Chilkat II men's winter bootCategory: Winter hiking/work
Weight: 3 lbs. 2 oz.
Insulation: 200g Heatseeker
What we like: A great everyday winter boot.
What we don’t: Not for the extreme cold.
Women’s: The North Face Chilkat III

The second version of The North Face’s most popular winter boot, the Chilkat II is an affordable and well-made option. With 200 grams of insulation and a fully waterproof construction, it’s a great choice for areas of the country that see some snowfall and cold temperatures but don’t have the sustained misery of a Northern Minnesota or a Montana. The beefy rubber lower and robust leather uppers are designed for multiple seasons of use and abuse and make the boot well suited for activities like winter hiking and snowshoeing. And a lower ankle height and more flexible upper means the Chilkat II isn’t as much of a liability for everyday wear and driving. This all-around capability has lead to a strong following, just be sure to size up if you’re on the fence as most have found that these boots run small.
See the TNF Chilkat II

 

7. Merrell Capra Glacial Ice ($170)

Merrell Capra Glacial Ice winter bootCategory: Winter hiking/casual
Weight: 2 lbs. 5 oz.
Insulation: 200g M Select Dry
What we like: Light, nimble, and comfy. 
What we don’t: Traction falls short of expectations.
Women’s: Merrell Capra Glacial Ice

All new for winter 2017, Merrell’s Capra Glacial Ice is a light and capable cold weather hiker. Winter boots are prone to feeling heavy and bulky, so it’s been a pleasant surprise that the Capra does a fine impression of a lightweight uninsulated boot (with a competitive weight of 2 pounds 5 ounces to back it up). We’ve been equally impressed with their versatility: with 200-gram synthetic fill, they’ve hit a sweet spot for snowshoeing in frigid temperatures (we’ve had them down to about 0°F) without being overly warm for daily wear around town. More, the Capra has a soft collar, laces up securely around your ankle, and has proven to be completely waterproof.

The big news with the Capra Ice is the use of Vibram’s Arctic Grip outsole: a tread compound designed specifically for wet, icy conditions. Overall, it has performed reasonably well in snow and patches of ice this winter. But following a night of freezing rain, the shoes felt just slippery on the glassy surface as the competition. Despite not completely living up to the traction expectations, we’ve been very happy with the lightweight feel, comfort, and performance of the Capra Glacial Ice.
See the Merrell Capra Glacial Ice

 

8. Bogs Classic High Insulated Boot ($120)

Bogs Classic High Insulated women's winter bootCategory: Casual/winter walking
Weight: 5 lbs. 4 oz.
Insulation: 7mm Neo-Tech
What we like: Simple, warm, and surprisingly good-looking.
What we don’t: Less of a backcountry boot, very heavy.
Women’s: Bogs Classic High Insulated

Built with a traditional waterproof rain boot in mind, the Bogs Classic High Insulated take those signature looks and add a healthy dollop of warmth and protection. A -40°F temperature rating puts this boot on par with the Sorel Caribou above, but you’d really never know it just by looking. The lower profile makes them far better suited for daily wear—as does the flexible neoprene upper material—and they’re a classic choice for running to and from classes in cold places like the Midwest. Predictably, they’re also extremely waterproof and hold up very well in slushy conditions. Keep in mind that the Bogs Classic High Insulated are best for use around town as the boot lacks the traction and precise fit we look for in a hiking option, but they’re our favorite rain/winter boot hybrid design. For serious outdoor use, try the burly Bogs Sitka Waterproof. 
See the Bogs Classic High Insulated Boot

 

9. Keen Anchorage ($130)

Keen Anchorage men's winter bootCategory: Casual/winter walking
Weight: 2 lbs. 4 oz.
Insulation: 200g KEEN.WARM
What we like: This is not a clunky boot and has great walkability.
What we don’t: Slip-on style leads to a looser fit.

It’s no accident that winter boots often are named after areas renowned for frigid temperatures. And Anchorage, Alaska, is a great pairing for this boot, which can pull double duty for town use and the occasional foray into the wilderness. A rugged, winter variation of the Chelsea boot, the waterproof Anchorage is a simple pull-on and off style with elastic panels on the sides of the cuff and two looped pull tabs. The convenience you gain with the slip-on design results in slightly loose fit, but unless you’re traversing a slope, you probably won’t notice much of a difference. An aggressive rubber sole provides maximum traction on snow and ice, and the insulation is warm enough for sub-zero temps, but not so much they become swampy when indoors. 
See the Keen Anchorage

 

10. Merrell Moab Polar ($110)

Merrell Moab Polar winter bootCategory: Winter hiking/work
Weight: 2 lbs. 12 oz.
Insulation: 400g synthetic
What we like: A good winter hiker; price.
What we don’t: Lower ankle height.

The Merrell Moab Polar is a quality winter hiker and a great budget alternative to the Vasque Snowburban and Salomon X Ultra Winter above. Undercutting those models by $50 and $70 respectively, the Moab provides very competitive performance along with a long-lasting construction.

Those familiar with the Moab line of hiking shoes and boots will recognize the tread pattern, although Merrell uses a different compound for better grip in ice and snow. The conversion works fairly well, but snow does have a tendency to build up between the tightly spaced lugs. With a low ankle height and less precise fit than the competition, the Moab is best for snowshoeing over relatively easy terrain. And don’t be tricked by the 400 grams of insulation: it’s approximately as warm as many 200-gram models like the North Face Chilkat above.
See the Merrell Moab Polar

 

11. Kamik NationPlus ($85)

Kamik Nationplus winter bootCategory: Casual/winter walking
Weight: 3 lbs. 10 oz.
Insulation: 200g synthetic
What we like: Good value, reasonably warm, and comfortable.
What we don’t: A step down in overall quality.

Budget-friendly winter boots are typically heavy, don’t last super long, and aren’t very comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. But for quick trips out of the house, they’re all you really need. Kamik’s affordable NationPlus covers the basics with 200 grams of synthetic insulation, a tough rubber lower, and full waterproofing. And a nice bonus: the boot runs slightly warmer than the other 200-gram models on this list. Comfort and overall build quality are a clear step down from a Sorel, but so is the price. For $85—and we’ve consistently seen them for less—they’re easy on the wallet and all you need for playing with the kids or keeping your driveway and sidewalks snow free.
See the Kamik NationPlus

 

Women’s-Specific Winter Boots

1. Sorel Joan of Arctic ($170)

Sorel Joan of Artic women's winter bootCategory: Casual/winter walking
Weight: 3 lbs. 13 oz.
Insulation: 6mm felt
What we like: Great blend of fashion and function.
What we don’t: Takes a bit of breaking in.

A modern take on the classic Sorel boot, the Joan of Artic offers a really nice blend of function and fashion. Fully waterproof and with excellent footing on snow and ice, the Joan of Arc is rated to -25 degrees Fahrenheit to ward off cold spells. And with a removable liner, it’s easy to dry them out should you trounce around and get the insides wet. And despite having Manhattan-good looks, Sorel’s trademark wraparound rubber lower is ready for all sorts of use and abuse. It’s the combination of durability and style that puts the Joan of Artic in a class of its own. You do have to pay a decently high price for these boots, however, and they won’t keep you any warmer than some models that cost significantly less. But for having the whole package, as well as the longevity to back up your investment, the Sorel’s are our top women's pick.
See the Sorel Joan of Artic

 

2. Merrell Decora Chant ($190)

Merrell Decora Chant women's winter bootCategory: Casual/winter walking
Weight: 2 lbs. 4 oz.
Insulation: 200g synthetic
What we like: Low-profile good looks.
What we don’t: Fashion comes at a price.

A go-to winter boot for finicky feet, the Merrell Decora Chant is all about casual comfort. This 10-inch tall boot is outfitted with a zipper on the inside to make it a cinch to get on and off, all while retaining a clean looking leather exterior. The Decora Chant really can shine during a snowy night in the city too: the full-grain leather upper is complimented by the addition of a faux fur collar. You pay extra for Merrells to get a foot-friendly footbed and insole, and feedback has been largely positive with their work. The comfort technology includes nylon arch support and an air-cushioned sole. As with the Columbia Bugaboot and The North Face Chilkat above, this boot is not made to take on the frozen tundra but can handle a moderate amount of below-freezing winter adventure.
See the Merrell Decora Chant

 

3. Columbia Minx Mid II Omni-Heat ($120)

Columbia Minx Mid II Omni-Heat winter bootCategory: Casual/winter walking
Weight: 1 lb. 10.4 oz.
Insulation: 200g synthetic
What we like: Comfortable, low profile fit.
What we don’t: Not for serious conditions.

With light insulation and a foot and leg-hugging fit, the Columbia Minx is a very comfortable option for mild winter conditions. The Minx isn’t as capable in deep snow as the Joan of Arc and our top-rated Bugaboot above, but its woven upper fabric has a nice feel that is far less bulky. As with the Bugaboot, Columbia inserts its Omni-Heat lining into the Minx to give it a boost in insulation, but it still falls on the low end of the spectrum in terms of warmth. The flexible nature does make it easy to cover long distances, however, and it can be a fine partner on long winter walks provided you avoid heading too far off trail. As is typical in Columbia’s winter boot collection, the Minx line is extensive and includes a range of boot heights and styles.
See the Columbia Minx Mid II Omni-Heat

 

4. Ahnu Northridge ($185)

Ahnu Northridge women's winter bootCategory: Winter hiking/work
Weight: 2 lb. 4 oz.
Insulation: 200g Thinsulate
What we like: Colorful and fun.
What we don’t: Dual zipper and lace design slows the on/off process.

Ahnu is a relatively new footwear brand, but quickly has built a reputation for their women’s-specific designs and bold colorways. Rather than adapting a men’s boot to fit a women’s foot, Ahnu creates dedicated lines of shoes for women. The Ahnu Northridge is based on their popular Montara hiking boot and has great support for winter hikes and short-distance snowshoeing. 200 grams of insulation puts it in the milder category, but it still should provide good warmth even when the temperature dips below freezing. The Northridge also is among the lightest boots on this list and gives the Salomon X Ultra Winter a run for its money in that regard. And despite its casual looks, the hiking boot structure means it’s easy to throw on a pair of MicroSpikes or other footwear traction device to walk safely over ice.
See the Ahnu Northridge

 

5. UGG Australia Adirondack II ($225)

UGG Australia Adirondack II women's winter bootCategory: Casual/winter walking
Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
Insulation: 17mm sheepskin
What we like: Quality materials and great looks.
What we don’t: Too casual for deep wilderness adventure.

The UGG Australia Adirondack II is for those that consider sheepskin linings and full-grain leather as an ideal pairing for roughing it in the winter. Ugg Australia has built a reputation for high-end footwear and the Adirondack is ready for the finest ski-après scenes all over the world. The design is absolutely beautiful—words rarely reserved for winter boots—and can be worn with the cuffs down or up for a little extra coverage. While its exclusive Vibram rubber design holds its own in snow, the boot definitely trends towards casual and therefore we wouldn’t make it our winter hiker. Take good care of the leather outers and you should have these boots for a long time. You can even replace the sheepskin liner should you wear it out.
See the UGG Australia Adirondack

 

6. Northside Kathmandu Snow Boot ($100)

Northside Kathmandu winter bootCategory: Casual/winter walking
Weight: 2 lbs. 7 oz.
Insulation: 200g synthetic
What we like: Sorel looks at a discount.
What we don’t: Tread isn’t as grippy in snow and ice.

Sharing more than a passing resemblance to a Sorel design, the Northside Kathmandu is popular for winter commutes and casual wear. Style-wise, this boot is very similar to the Joan of Arc above, with a tall profile (11-inches vs. 11.5 for the Joan of Arc), metal eyelets, and faux fur along the cuff. They differ in traction, and the Joan of Arc gets the clear edge in ice and snow as it has a better tread pattern and grippier outsoles. The Kathmandu also is a little less warm and will run cold if you’re standing for an extended period of time. For shorter jaunts or use around town, however, it’s a quality boot and a great value. As a bonus, the Kathmandu is offered in a nice variety of colorways. 
See the Northside Kathmandu Snow Boot

 

Winter Boot Comparison Table

Boot Price Category Weight Insulation
Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat $130 Winter hiking/work 2 lbs. 14 oz. 200g synthetic
Sorel Caribou Boots $150 Casual/winter walking 4 lbs. 10 oz. 9mm felt
Vasque Snowburban UltraDry $160 Winter hiking/work 3 lbs. 3 oz. 400g Thinsulate
Baffin Impact Boots $215 Work/extreme temperatures 5 lbs. 14 oz. 8-layer lining
Salomon X Ultra Winter CS $180 Winter hiking 2 lbs. 7 oz. 200g Thinsulate
The North Face Chilkat II $110 Winter hiking/work 3 lbs. 2 oz. 200g Heatseeker
Merrell Capra Glacial Ice $170 Winter hiking/casual 2 lbs. 5 oz. 200g M Select Dry
Bogs Classic High Insulated Boot $120 Casual/winter walking 5 lbs. 4 oz. 7mm Neo-Tech
Keen Anchorage $130 Casual/winter walking 2 lbs. 4 oz. 200g Keen.Warm
Merrell Moab Polar $110 Winter hiking/work 2 lbs. 12 oz. 400g synthetic
Kamik NationPlus $85 Casual/winter walking 3 lbs. 10 oz. 200g synthetic
Sorel Joan of Arctic $170 Casual/winter walking 3 lbs. 13 oz 6mm felt
Merrell Decora Chant $190 Casual/winter walking 2 lbs. 4 oz. 200g synthetic
Columbia Minx Mid II Omni-Heat $120 Casual/winter walking 1 lb. 10.4 oz. 200g synthetic
Ahnu Northridge $185 Winter hiking/work 2 lb. 4 oz. 200g Thinsulate
UGG Australia Adirondack II $225 Casual/winter walking 2 lbs. 14 oz. 17mm sheepskin
Northside Kathmandu Snow Boot $100 Casual/winter walking 2 lbs. 7 oz. 200g synthetic

 

Winter Boot Buying Advice

Boot Types and Best Uses

A winter boot can mean a lot of things, from a boot used for hiking and snowshoeing to something for shoveling your sidewalk. Although there are not defined categories in the winter boot market, there are clear differences between models that we break down below:

Casual/Winter Walking
A growing casual boot type is what we refer to as around-towners. These are not the absolute warmest or best at resisting the elements, but they offer plenty of both for wintertime city walking and ski town après. The boot’s construction tends to have less rubber and more leather and suede, although some models, including the women’s Sorel Joan of Arc, do a great job at incorporating both. And finally, a lower profile build makes them more amenable to walking.
Winter boots traction

Winter Hiking Boots
​Looking a lot like beefed up hiking boot—because they are—get a pair of winter hikers for your snowshoeing and hiking adventures. They’ll typically have a lower ankle height and less insulation than the other boot types, but you can cover much greater distances thanks to a lighter weight and improved range of motion. Since you can stay pretty warm even in sub freezing temperatures when active, the amount of insulation in these boots is completely sufficient for most folks.

Work/Extreme Temperatures Winter Boots
Made for the depths of winter, these are the traditional winter snow boots. They’re big, bulky, warm, and tough. They also take the function over fashion approach with heavy applications of rubber, nylon, and/or leather that performs best in deep snow and frigid temperatures. Keep in mind the heavy construction does add weight and you won’t want to cover major distances with these on your feet. They’re also often too stiff to comfortably use while driving. Instead, what you get is a super high level of warmth that is great for activities like shoveling, ice fishing, and short ventures outside the cabin.


Comfort and Temperature Ratings

Some, but not all, brands will include a comfort or temperature rating for their winter boots. And they’re often very impressive numbers, claiming a rating of -25°F or lower. To start, let’s be clear: there is not a standardized test to rely on for measuring a temperature rating. And as such, comfort ranges are not a guarantee that you’ll be warm at the listed temperatures. We can almost guarantee you will not be—particularly if you’re standing still. As we all know, how well a boot keeps you warm is dependent on a number of individual factors, including age, level of activity, and whether or not you run hot or cold. We recommend using the comfort temperatures as guidance but stay conservative with your real-world use.
 

Insulation Types

Synthetic
The most common insulators nowadays are synthetics stuffed between the inner lining and outer shell of the boot. Primaloft and Thinsulate by 3M are popular synthetic insulations that have a strong presence in the jacket, glove and ski boot world, and have an equal standing with winter boots. They’re non-bulky and lightweight and continue to insulate even when wet. Proprietary synthetic insulations for The North Face (Heatseeker) and Columbia (Omni-Heat), among others, offer comparable performance to the name brands (including the synthetic fill in our top-rated Columbia Bugaboot Omni-Heat). For an indicator of warmth, check for the number of grams being used in the boot. Light to midweight boots will have 200 grams, while heavy-duty cold weather boots have 400-plus grams.

Felt and Sheepskin Linings
Some boots eschew modern technology and opt for warmth through a thick lining of felt or sheepskin, including the classic Sorel Caribou. While bulky, these insulation types surely can be effective. Unlike synthetic insulation that is encased by the boot, felt and sheepskin linings can get wet if exposed to the elements, but they will continue to insulate. And the nice part is that many of these linings are removable, so you can set them by the fire to dry in-between runs on the sled hill.
Winter Boot liner

Down-Fill
Down insulated boots are not commonplace outside of insulated booties, and for times when you will be in direct contact with the snow (read: most uses outside of a cold cabin), they are not the most secure option. Moisture spells the end of down’s effectiveness in insulating. As such, we recommend steering clear unless you’re in the market for a basecamp shoe that is for use exclusively inside your tent.
 

Waterproofing

The majority of snow boots are waterproof, but if you run into a pair that states they’re not, don’t necessarily discount them. In fact, some of the warmest boots, such as the Baffin Impact, are not fully waterproof. A boot like the Baffin is really only meant for the most extreme cold, so the chance of finding a deep puddle that has not fully frozen isn’t likely. For mild weather wet snow or changing conditions, it’s still a good idea to choose a waterproof boot, but many folks in the Midwest and Canada will be just fine with a boot that isn’t completely waterproof.
 

Boot Height

The amount of coverage needed in your winter boots will vary based on intended use. Over-the-ankle boots like the Merrell Capra Glacial Ice have a shorter height and will not have the same level of warmth as a mid-calf option, but they’re easier to get on and off—especially if you get a slip-on model. They don’t do as well in deep snow, but combined with some snowshoes and gaiters, they’re a great option for trouncing around in the woods.
Winter Boot Height Comparison

A mid-calf boot has an extra degree of protection from the cold and wet. And the boot’s insulation will often continue the length of the boot’s upper, providing a significant bump in warmth. More, for some models, it’s an opportunity to incorporate style and personality into the boot. The extra height does inhibit range of motion in mid-calf-height traditional winter boots (which can affect how easy they are to drive with), and negatively impacts how convenient the boot is to get on and off.
 

Upper and Lower Materials

Rubber is the most common winter boot material, and is used liberally around the lower portion of boots. It does a phenomenal job of protecting your feet and toes from wind and moisture, and is highly durable and long lasting. Downsides are that those rubber lowers can be stiff and the lack of bend around the ankle is a detriment while driving. In addition, rubber does not breathe well, so your feet can get sweaty in milder temperatures or when you’re working hard.

The upper portion of winter boots has a construction that more closely resembles a hiking boot and makes greater use nylon or leather. These materials will absorb the moisture from snow more than a full rubber boot, but they are far more comfortable and stylish. And their more breathable nature improves temperature regulation.
 

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 don’t harden even when temperatures drop, which helps them continue 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. That being said, we still turn to a traction system (covered below) in very icy conditions. 
Vibram Arctic Grip

Traction Systems for Winter Boots

Winter boots have outsoles designed for walking on snow, but the reality is that even the best rubber compound and tread pattern won’t grip all that well on a sheet of ice. To safely hike or even walk around town if the conditions are really bad, we use an additional traction system (also referred to as a traction device). There are a variety of designs on the market, from chain-style Yaktrax for casual walking to the Kahtoola MICROspikes for heavy-duty ice and backcountry use.
Kahtoola NANOspikes traction system

For wearing with winter boots, one of our favorite traction systems is the Kahtoola NANOspikes. Designed for running in winter, we’ve found their minimalist style to work wonderfully on icy sidewalks and trails. The 10 small carbide tips provide excellent grip (we were particularly impressed with their secure traction in freezing rain), and the NANOspikes are lightweight and take up very little space in a bag. The downside with all traction systems is they take a little time to put on and take off and can be overkill for mixed conditions, but they’re the best way to cover ground safely on icy days.
Back to Our Top Winter Boot Picks  Back to Our Winter Boot Comparison Table

Skiing 2015-2016

Ski Gear Reviews

If your ski gear is even a few years old, there’s new technology out there that will help make good days on the snow even better. There are important considerations when making a purchase...
Cold winter night

Best Winter Jackets of 2017

When the heart of the coldest winter months arrives, it’s time for a serious jacket. Our picks for the best winter jackets and parkas below are among the warmest on the market—they are packed with...
Snowshoes

Best Snowshoes of 2016-2017

With a wide and stable footprint and solid underfoot traction, snowshoes open up your favorite summer running and hiking trails for winter fun. Below we break down the best models for the 2016-2017 season including recreational snowshoes...
Best Down Jacket

Best Down Jackets of 2017

Nothing beats a great down jacket, whether it’s for causal use or tearing around the backcountry. Below we break down the best down jackets of 2017, including the top down sweaters, ultralights, and winter down jackets. You’ll find a healthy range of...
Synthetic Insulated Jacket

Best Synthetic Insulated Jackets of 2016-2017

If you’re looking for a jacket that offers solid warmth at a good value, synthetic insulation is the way to go. You don’t get quite as high of a warmth-to-weight ratio as down, but synthetic jackets resist moisture...
Ski Jackets

Best Ski Jackets of 2016-2017

From cold to snow to wind to sweat, choosing a ski jacket is all about managing the conditions that you might encounter on the mountain. The right ski jacket for you depends on the specific kinds of skiing you enjoy most—skinning up a sunny ridgeline...
Ski Gloves

Best Ski Gloves of 2016-2017

Monday, August 24, 2015
Nothing can kill a great ski day like cold fingers, so make sure to choose a quality glove that fits the type of skiing you do most. The options range from gauntlet-style synthetic nylon gloves to undercuff leather gloves from powerhouses...
Fleece Jacket

Best Fleece Jackets of 2017

There are a wide variety of insulating jackets available, but the most comfortable and affordable choice is the classic fleece. These polyester jackets have been providing cozy warmth...
Camera for skiing and snowboarding

Best Cameras for Skiing and Snowboarding

Options abound when choosing a camera for skiing and snowboarding, from action cameras that can be mounted on your helmet to pocketable point-and-shoots and professional-grade mirrorless models...