Whether shuffling from car to chairlift or slogging in the frozen woods, a good pair of boots is requisite footwear for surviving winter and fall.
To give you a jump-start on the season, we’ve kicked the rubber on a few soles to find the best ones to boot-up with for the big freeze. Because winter varies so much around the country, from slush and mud to deep powder, we included a variety of boots from puddle-worthy to hell freezing over.
Below, we break the article into five sections: how to choose a winter boot, favorite winter hiking boots, stylish winter boots for men, winter rain boots, and, finally, best snow boots.
How to Choose a Winter Boot
A boot that’s perfect in one scenario may be miserable in another. So before we jump into the boots, let’s take a moment to consider how you’ll use them. Here are a few things to help when choosing a winter boot:
- Do you need a waterproof boot? Will you often be wearing the boots in rainy, wet conditions? Is slushy snow a common occurrence? Waterproof is great, but it often comes at the cost of breathability and excessive heat retention. It can be worth it, but if you live in a milder climate, water-resistant may prove a better fit.
- Does tread matter? These days, shoe sole technology is a science all its own and can truly make or break the shoe. If you find yourself walking and hiking in icy conditions, pay special attention to the tread grip and look for one designed for ice.
- What’s up with liners? Many boots have replaced the liner with insulation directly in the boot. The benefit of the liner is you can remove it and set it out to dry between uses. The downside is liners can sometimes cause extra movement and friction, which can lead to blisters and discomfort.
- Which boot height is best? The main considerations with height are ankle articulation, keeping snow out, and comfort. If you regularly get out in deep snow and want a lot of support, choose a taller boot.
Now that we know what you’re looking for, we can move onto boot selection. Below, you’ll find boots separated into four categories: winter hiking boots, stylish winter boots, winter rain boots, and snow boots. Of course, some boots could belong in more than one category, and this list doesn’t cover every boot out there but is quite comprehensive.
We’ve tested all the boots we could get our hands on and used them through rain, snow, mud, and sun on countless adventures around the world. And we’ve whittled it down to our favorites here. These are the boots we recommend to family and friends, the boots we get excited to wear all winter long.
Men’s Winter Hiking Boots
Bundle up with the proper gear and you’ll find getting the mountain all to yourself in winter is worth the preparation. Whether hiking through the snow or battling icy conditions, these winter hiking boots will get you there and back.
Blending waterproof leather with synthetic insulation, the Summit County boots are the warmest in KEEN’s lineup. We tested KEEN’s Summit County during an epic three-day elk hunt in knee-deep snow and single digits. We found them to be light for their performance at 27.5 ounces each, comfortable, and warm even after snow accidentally slipped inside the boot. To say we were impressed would be an understatement. We found this one fits true to size and accommodates a wide foot well.
You’ve got your elk tag…but trying to cash it in is another deal all together. Enter Wolverine’s rugged King Caribou III. The KCIII has a burly yet spry 900-denier shell that keeps you light on your feet as you bash through the backcountry, and the 800-gram Thinsulate insulation keeps your digits warm.
If traction is your main concern, this Salomon boot is for you. The nine carbide tips embedded in the sole provide extra grip in icy conditions, along with the specialized lug pattern. And with a full Gore-Tex bootie, water stays out even in the wettest conditions. Best of all, Salomon has found a way to combine the comfort of a trail runner with the performance of a snow boot.
Looking to snowshoe in for the weekend or winter hike the local mountain? Well, the Snowburban boot can get you there. The rubber sole is built to provide maximum traction in the cold, and the 400-gram Thinsulate insulation will keep you plenty warm without adding extra weight. Plus, we like that it comes ready for deep snow with a gaiter D-ring attachment point. Get ready to tackle the biggest drifts in comfort.
This boot gives a lot of bang for the buck. The temperature-sensitive lugs will keep you from slipping on ice, and the waterproof construction seals out snow and rain. These seem to run small, so we recommend going up a half-size.
Stylish Winter Boots for Men
Whether hitting the local coffee shop, walking to the office or heading out for a winter date, sometimes you want a boot that is as stylish as it is functional. These stylish boots will keep you looking good all winter long.
Looking for a mild-weather, lace-up winter boot for work? Look no further than Bogs’ Johnny Chukka II. Known for its dairy-man-inspired work boot, Bogs has since ventured into the world of more contemporary work boots. With its no-frills waterproof leather and a moisture-wicking liner, it shows Bogs can milk both function and form.
It’s not chic to shiver. No worries, Timberland insulated a handsome high-top with 400 grams of PrimaLoft to keep these classy storm troopers warm even on the coldest city ventures. Premium leathers and a vintage Pendleton plaid wool liner keeps the Schazzberg boots looking good.
Red Wing makes several models of beautiful, USA-made leather boots that are stylish and functional for winter. They’re pricy, but they’re built to last (we have one pair that’s going on four years of regular wear now). The Roughneck is a handsome, rugged boot. It’s made to last with Briar Oil Slick leather, Vibram Lug outsole for confident grip, triple stitching, and Goodyear welt construction.
Channeling the quintessential hiking boot, UGG crafts its 0˚-rated Boysen from waterproof leather and lines them with classic UGG wool. These are ideal for lumbering through Central Park or après-ski. We’ve been wearing the Boysen around town and to work and love their mountain cool and handsome look.
With a soft leather lining and classic boot styling, these updated Blundstones will keep you comfortable and dapper all winter long. And between the removable foam footbeds and heel-strike shock absorber, these offer plenty of comfort. Plus, it’s nice to forego laces and be able to quickly slide your winter boots on and off.
Winter Rain Boots
In many places—I’m looking at you, Washington and Oregon—winter means rain. And lots of it. For anyone spending the winter dodging puddles and slopping through the mud, these winter rain boots will keep you warm, comfy, and, most importantly, dry.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest and the forecast shows cloud cover and drizzling (again), then Sperry’s Cutwater Deck Boot might be the one for you. With its sneaker design and weatherproof materials, the Cutwater makes the functional transition from hanging at the house to a fashionable appearance at the office.
Like the love child of a sneaker and a classic duck boot, these boots from Forsake offer top-notch waterproof protection and all-day comfort. Plus, the moisture-wicking lining has an antimicrobial finish to keep your feet fresh from sunup to sundown.
If there was a “state boot” of Alaska, it would be the XTRATUF. There are many models of this rugged, all-around slop boot, but the Legacy in 15″ is certainly one of the most popular (read the full Legacy review). These neoprene boots are a staple aboard fishing boats and anywhere waterproof, non-slip, tough boots are needed. XTRATUF makes several models. We’ve used the thin neoprene Legacy a ton and love it for moderate weather, where they rule in rain and slop. If temps drop low, you may want to look at the Legacy Insulated 2.0.
Tromping through the wetlands with a shotgun slung over your shoulder, with man’s best friend wading neck-deep retrieving the fowl, you need a boot that keeps your own dogs dry. Short of pulling on the waders, Hunter’s classic Norris Field Boot is the way to do it—these wet-weather galoshes date back over 150 years in design, have a sturdy argyle sole, and are waterproof enough to track over the river and through the bog.
Best Snow Boots
When the drifts pile up and the temperature drops, it’s time for a full-on snow boot. With height to keep the snow out and insulation to keep toes warm, these snow boots get the job done.
Embracing the age-old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Sorel reached into the archives to bring back its classic color palette with the 1964 Pac Boot. The nylon-sheathed ’64 embodies Sorel’s traditional lines but with modern utility—be that marching miles at a winter carnival or behind the snowblower in temperatures down to -40 degrees F.
L.L. Bean gave its iconic Bean Boot a techie update, insulating the Storm Chasers with 200-gram PrimaLoft and wrapping the uppers with waterproof leather. Designed for warmth in wet snow, these rubber-leather hybrid ducks are dialed for persevering winter chores, for pulling you through the daily rigors of walking the dog and pushing slush.
Insulated with 5mm of fleece-lined neoprene, Muck’s Arctic Excursion Mid is rated to keep your feet warm on bitterly cold rendezvous that pull the mercury down to -40 degrees F. The durable rubber exterior runs over EVA mid- and out-sole to provide miles of no-B.S. comfort well below freezing.
If burly is what you’re after, the Canuk delivers. Made with 600-gram insulation and thermal lining, these boots will keep you comfortable down to -65 degrees F. And Michelin’s Ice Control technology in the outsole provides a firm grip even in the iciest of conditions. You’ll need to pair with some gaiters if you plan to tromp through deep snow. But in cold, icy conditions, these are a go-to boot.
We’ve put these through some early testing high on Loveland Pass in the Rockies. Running through autumn snow and tromping over rocks and ice, they feel remarkably light. They grip the ground wonderfully and are an amazing contender as an all-around winter boot.
This isn’t even Baffin’s warmest boot. That honor goes to Baffin’s Polar series (rated to a preposterous -148 degrees F). Still, rated to -90 degrees F, Baffin’s Icebreaker is plenty warm to fend off the screaming yowies anywhere on Earth. Insulated with a proprietary “arctic rubber” and a multi-layer inner boot, Baffin constructs the Icebreaker to trap heat and reflect the cold. Bonus: The extendable, waterproof snow collar protects blowing snow from funneling in the cold.
Looking for women’s winter boots? Check this out.
Have a favorite winter boot we missed? Let us know and we’ll check it out for future updates. Thanks.