model standing on rock wearing canvas pants and Danner Arctic 600 Best Boots

The Best Winter Boots for Men in 2021-2022

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. Here we outline the best winter boots for men.

To give you a jumpstart on the season, we’ve kicked the rubber on a lot of soles to find the best winter boots for men. Because winter varies so much around the country — from slush and mud to deep powder — we included a variety of boots from puddle-stomping to hell freezing over.

Below, we break the article into five sections:

Of course, some boots can slot in more than one category. And this list doesn’t cover every boot out there, but it’s quite comprehensive. We have a separate article if you’re looking for the best winter boots for women.

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.

The Best Winter Hiking Boots for Men

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.

Best Overall Winter Hiking Boot: Vasque Breeze WT GTX

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A great winter hiker needs to hit all the marks. It should be warm, waterproof, and durable enough to withstand repeated wet/dry cycles.

It should be tall enough for support when hiking variable terrain and keep the crud out without being overly restrictive. And it should have great traction and pay attention to details, like places to hook a gaiter and functional speed hooks.

Built to winter specs without being overbuilt, Vasque’s Breeze WT GTX ($200) surpasses our winter hiker expectations. The Nubuck and synthetic upper is wrapped with a rubber rand, keeping the weight down, the boot stiff, and the protection and support high. The gusseted tongue folds high over the ankles and prevents snow from siphoning in while protecting the shins from bashing through the crust.

Laces glide through the leather loops over the toes and tighten around the ankles with alloy speed hooks that snugly close the upper boot around the ankles. The boot feels secure and incredibly stable, which we appreciate on shifting soft surfaces like deep winter snow.

Vasque even put a D-ring over the toes to clip a gaiter for truly deep drifts. A GORE-TEX bootie lines the entire boot and keeps the foot dry in puddles up to 4 inches deep.

Underfoot, we appreciated the softer rubber compound in the Vibram Megagrip outsole. It has sharp edges to bite through the crud but remains soft and grippy long after the temperatures dipped below zero. Overall, the boots have excellent traction in wet, sloppy terrain.

The Breeze WT GTX insulates the feet with 200g Thinsulate insulation. The light insulation also keeps the weight down, the price reasonable, and the profile streamlined. Compared to many winter hikers we tested, the Breeze neither looks nor feels bulky on the feet.

While many three-season boots have you covered on the shoulder seasons of summer, we found the Breeze a solid “winter” three-season choice.

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Best Budget: Quechua Snow Hiker

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If you’ve traveled to Europe, you’re probably familiar with Quechua. The outdoor megastore is like our REI in the States. Hugely popular, Quechua only sells its own brand and is primarily appreciated for its budget-friendly pricing. It’s the go-to brand for first-time hikers dabbling with the sport or who don’t want to break the bank. The rub? It wasn’t available in the States. Until now.

The Snow Hiker ($90) is the first product from Quechua available in the U.S. And at $90, it’s a very attractive price point for hikers looking to broaden their trail season.

These insulated boots provided out-of-the-box comfort, and they have all the essential features you want in a winter hiker. The ankles ride high on the sides, providing support and keeping hard snow from bashing the ankle bones. The cuff dips behind the Achilles for forward and backward mobility.

They’re both waterproof and breathable, and the insulation is comfortable down into the low digits. A solid toe bumper deflects sharps hidden under the white stuff. And we found the 5mm lugs insanely grippy on snow and sloppy trail.

Impressively, it does all this in a lightweight boot. Our demos weighed in just over 2 pounds — for the pair!

We found the Snow Hiker runs narrow, so you’ll want to size up or try before you buy. And we ideally want to see a D-ring up front to clip a gaiter. At $80, there are going to be some compromises. But we’re happy to see this brand finally available in the States, and we expect it will match the growing outdoor interest shown in 2021.

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Crispi Briksdal GTX

Yes, Crispi boots are expensive. But for those who do big miles off-trail in rough terrain in the winter, they’re worth the investment. Crispi is an Italian manufacturer that focuses on hunting boots. For those who haven’t chased elk through the mountains, know there’s nothing outside of full-on mountaineering that tests footwear like hunting.

And Crispis have proven themselves in the roughest terrain and cold weather. Meant for mountain exploration in winter, those who want a pair of boots that will stand up to cold, wet, off-trail terrain should start their search here.

The Briksdal GTX ($400) is a stiff model on a board last. It has a GORE-TEX insulated lining, as well as a protective rubber rand guards toes against bashing rocks. Its heavy Nubuck leather upper provides durability against abrasive contact, and the Vibram sole will grab earth, rock, and snow for traction.

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Danner Recurve 400G

danner recurve

The Danner Recurve ($220) is a wonderfully versatile winter boot. It hits a great compromise of light weight and durability with a fairly soft, flexible sole. While Danner designed this as a hunting boot, the Recurve could handle winter mountain hiking and shoulder season trails with aplomb.

One of our editors tested it while elk hunting in the Rocky Mountains. They held up great even after 48 miles of continuous hiking to haul out an elk — half of that with a 100-pound pack on his back. The 400g Thinsulate insulation kept his feet warm in the mornings down to about 15 degrees F, while the Danner Dry membrane kept out water even when slogging through streams.

The Vibram outsole, while relatively soft and pliable, held up to steep climbs off trails. It’s worth noting that for super-steep terrain, the sole might be a tad on the soft side, especially if you plan to kick steps. But in rough conditions, it did suffice.

These weigh in at 48 ounces a pair. For an insulated, 7-inch boot that can withstand the rigors of elk hunting, that’s pretty light indeed.

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Used and Abused: Crispi Nevada GTX Hunting Boot Review
Used and Abused: Crispi Nevada GTX Hunting Boot Review

Arguably the most important piece of equipment hunters own is footwear, but it's easy to get lost in a sea of options. For this review, we wore, thrashed, and threw as much harm as possible at the Crispi Nevada GTX boots during a spring hunting trip in Colorado. Read more…

Wolverine ShiftPlus Polar Range BOA

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Winter’s bane isn’t the cold, the ice, or the rain. It’s working boot laces with gloves on in the cold, wet, icy rain. Wolverine’s ShiftPlus Polar Range ($230) closes around the foot with the easy-to-use BOA mechanism. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s bombproof.

The 600g PrimaLoft Aergol insulation packs a warm punch without adding the bulk or weight. The full-grain upper rides over a Vibram Arctic Grip outsole that adds traction over slick, icy surfaces.

The boots are easy to break in and fit like a favorite pair of tennis shoes, right out of the box. This makes them easy to walk in, but the soft toe in these boots won’t hold up to steep hikes.

For more technical terrain, we’d reach for the Vasque Breeze WT. Still, the ShiftPlus is light, warm, and dry and a fantastic choice for hikers taming snowy trails in brutally cold conditions.

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KEEN Revel IV Mid Polar Boot 

Keen Revel IV Polar

Immediately out of the box, the Revel IV ($180) feels amazing. The padding is generous, and the volume is ample. The boots have extra volume over the top of the foot and in the toebox, which is critical for keeping the toes warm. This also makes it a good fit for a variety of foot widths.

Beefed up with waterproof, salt-resistant leather and rubber rands, the Revels resist wear and tear and ice-melting chemicals that can be hard on boots.

The boot rides over 5mm, sharp-edged lugs that really bite into the crust. And like the Vibram’s Arctic Grip (used in Danner’s Mountain 600), KEEN has its own slip-reducing rubber pads. They give you noticeably better traction on slick, wet ice.

With so many good attributes, we almost awarded the Revel IV as our favorite boot this winter. While the slip-resistant outsole is certainly appreciated, we found we just don’t need it when hiking in winter.

We also appreciated how the Vasque Breeze feels more secure around the foot. The Vasques were a little stiffer, and hence more predictable and stable when hiking across pockmarked snow trails. And the fully gusseted tongue adds more weather protection, keeping wet snow from siphoning in.

Still, the Revel IV is a very capable winter boot. It is offered in both an 8-inch version and a tall one. If you’re really stepping out into deep powder — like elk hunts in winter — we’d recommend investing in the high-collar boot. It’s also rated down to -40 degrees, which makes it a true polar boot.

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The Best Hiking Gifts of 2021
The Best Hiking Gifts of 2021

Need some hiker-friendly gift ideas? You've come to the right place. From headlamps to gear pouches and the latest footwear, we've got a guide full of hiking gift ideas for you. Read more…

Best Men’s Stylish Winter Boots

Whether hitting the local coffee shop, walking to the office, or heading out for a winter date, sometimes you want a boot that’s as stylish as it is functional. These boots will keep you looking good all winter long.

Best Chelsea: Blundstone 566 (Thermal)

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Blundstone’s sleek silhouette has earned the Ozzie Chelsea iconoclast status. The brand’s Thermal Boots have a touch of Thinsulate under the leather vamp that stretches their utility beyond the Australian outback.

The Blundstone 566 ($230) is deceivingly slim — so slim, in fact, that when we unboxed the boot, we weren’t sure we received the right model. But don’t let its svelte lines keep you inside. The Thinsulate liner punches above its weight, is fully waterproof, and is warm enough to wear to work on frigid days. What seals the deal, though, is the fat shearling footbed that feels like you’re walking on plush carpeting.

Two generous pull tabs and elastic stretch panels make it easy to pull the boot on and off.

The boot feels a little stiff, and the low cut won’t keep deep snow from funneling in. But for hikers looking to kick the classic styling well into the cooler months, the Thermals are a solid bet. The fit is true, but keep in mind that Australian sizes run one full size smaller (for example, a U.S. 10 is an Australian/U.K. 9).

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Durable Outdoor Winter Slip-On: Blundstone Thermal Boots Review
Durable Outdoor Winter Slip-On: Blundstone Thermal Boots Review

From an old-growth rainforest on Victoria Island to Southern California beaches — and the snow-covered streets of ski towns — Blundstone's hearty pull-on Thermal Boots have your feet covered. Read more…

Danner Mountain 600 Insulated

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With handsome looks built from a rugged history, Danner has been making quality boots out of Portland, Oregon, for nearly 90 years now. We’ve been wearing the brand’s boots for about 30 of those years.

Danner recently fell back on its classic laurels, ushering in a new category, “performance heritage.” The insulated Mountain 600 ($220) is a fully waterproof boot that has a classic mountain look that will appeal to a lot of buyers.

The Mountain carries over a lot of what we liked in the Danner Arctic: 200g PrimaLoft insulation, a soft, felty liner, and Danner’s super-grippy Vibram slick-resistant rubber lugs (the Arctic Grip pads on the sole feel like sandpaper to the touch). Outside of full-on spikes or Yaktrax, these sticky lugs offer the best anti-slip traction on ice.

At just over a pound per boot, the pair feels really light on the feet. It’s way more agile than a traditional boot, and the lacing mechanism only adds to this sense of security. While the Mountain is capable of backpacking and hiking, the boot isn’t really a winter hiker. It’s shorter and more streamlined for streetwear. But it’s easy on the eyes and a great boot for hiking through any frozen urban landscape.

Danner’s Mountain 600 is insanely popular and is offered in more than 10 color schemes, in both suede ($190) or full-grain leather ($210). For true winter warmth, we recommend opening the wallet and forking over the extra cash for the 200g PrimaLoft insulated version ($230).

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High-End Pick: Allen Edmonds Park City Lace-Up Weatherproof Boot

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Allen Edmonds was likely your grandfather’s favorite shoe. The U.S.-made quality has always been stellar, but the brand has fallen out of favor with younger buyers over the years. The brand has revitalized its look to appeal to a new generation of customers. One of our favorite formal winter boots for fall is the Park City boot ($445).

Made in their Wisconsin factory, the boots feature a waterproof membrane between the Horween leathers. The upper is stitched down to a soft, air-blown Vibram Gloxi outsole. It’s comfortable and has fantastic wet surface traction.

Wearing more like a foul-weather Chukka, the boot doesn’t have a lot of ankle support and is slightly oversized to accommodate a thicker sock for insulation. (If you want a more secure fit, size down half a size.) This is entirely forgivable for an office boot.

In fact, our only gripe might be the braided gold laces borrowed from a traditional workbook. If you’re already in for $445, we’d recommend upgrading to a nicer lace. (Check out Pisgah Range’s assortment of handcrafted lace upgrades.)

Needless to say, $445 is a steep price. But if you’ve gotta suit up, these stylish boots carry well from the office to weekends.

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Best 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 dry.

Best Rain Boot: Huckberry All-Weather Duckboot (AWD)

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While we love the classic look of the traditional duck boot, they come up short in several mandatory requirements. The sizing runs large, the traction is sloppy, the midsole lacks support, and they aren’t all that warm. Huckberry tackles all these issues and brings a better duck boot with its All-Weather Duckboot ($188).

Sure, the AWD could appropriately imply “All-Wheel Drive.” A modern take on the classic duck boot, Huckberry’s All-Weather Duckboot is capable of tackling light hikes, trips to the ski hill, and around-town errands in inclement weather. And it does it better than the duck boots of yesterday.

The full-grain leather upper is welted to the rubberized leather rand. It’s 100% waterproof (up to the gusseted tongue) and breathable. A light inner liner doesn’t sport any fancy insulation. But we found it keeps the feet warm and the padded ankle collar traps warm air inside the boot, covering a wide range of winter activities.

What steals the ride, though, is the plush EVA midsole. It’s soft and cushiony and feels like you’re wearing your favorite sneaker rather than a fat, clunky, winter boot. The midsole is bonded to a Vibram outsole. Rather than featuring overly aggressive traction (or barely any at all), the lugs are generously sipped, allowing plenty of ports for underlying water to siphon out from under each step.

Clean styling and functional, the AWD is a refined interpretation of the classic duck boot, better in nearly every way.

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Best Budget: Xtratuf 6″ Deck Ankle Boot

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We’ve worn our Xtratuf 6″ deck ankle boots ($90) nearly year-round. They’re easy to slip into and have a little tab in back that helps kick them off the heels.

They don’t have a lot of support, so don’t expect to do heavy work in them. And the neoprene starts to lose its insulation value around 40 degrees F. But we always keep our pair by the back door. They’re great for quick errands and running trash outback, and they’re just about perfect for gardening.

The highest accolades we could probably give them don’t actually come from us. It comes from my sprinkler guy. All he wears are low-cut rubber boots, saw our boots and asked where we got them. He now lives in his 6″ Xtratuf Deck Boots.

At the risk of likening these to Crocs, these boots are quickly becoming the hottest shoe for winter, and Xtratuf seems to be aware of it. You can choose from 10 colors to match your mood.

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Best Men’s Snow Boots

Best Overall: Baffin Control Max Heavy-Duty

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If your winter starts in October and ends sometime before the summer solstice, then you’re looking for a workhorse that can lift the soles and spirits.

Baffin’s Control Max ($260) has a whopping bottom end, dipping all the way to -94 degrees F. We’re going to throw our hands up in mercy at that spec. We haven’t tested them to that level and, hopefully, you won’t have to either. But we have worn these for a few winters and have really come to appreciate the warmth-to-weight ratio of this deep winter boot.

The boot is methodically constructed around thermoregulation. Outside, a waterproof leather exterior is triple-stitched to the rubber rand. Inside, a series of heat-reflecting aluminum membranes, foams, and moisture reservoirs move moisture away from the foot and trap the heat.

Underfoot, a waffle-comb footbed traps additional heat in honeycomb-like air pockets. And the entire boot rides over an aggressively lugged “arctic rubber” that’s tacky on ice.

The boot laces shut with four pairs of giant D-rings. The fit can be a touch sloppy, so they’re not our first choice for hiking, where we want a precise fit. But the rings and laces are easy to manipulate with heavy gloves. All in all, the double boot construction does a wonderful job of trapping heat and insulating you from the cold ground.

If your activity level is high, you’ll want something more nimble. If you live in a milder climate, these will be overkill. Our coldest days in these boots were in the low double digits and they didn’t feel overly hot, but we reached for the Bogs on days in the 20s.

The profile is massive underfoot, but the 3.5-pound boot doesn’t collect crud and feels lighter than it looks. If you’re looking for the ultimate cold-winter snow boot, or a boot that works during long periods of inactivity in the cold, the Baffin Control Max will keep you warm and cozy through it all.

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Best Budget: Kamik Nation Plus

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Kamik just can’t be beat when it comes to budget boots. And the Nation Plus boots ($90) are a fan favorite (just look at the 2,000 Amazon reviews). They’re waterproof, warm, and impressively durable for the price.

This is a fully waterproof lace-style leather boot bonded to a rubber sole. The removable liner traps heat using 200g 3M 200B Thinsulate and gives them a whopping rating to 40 below. We did find the rating plenty warm when hanging around town doing errands or stationary activities, like watching a winter carnival parade.

The Nation Plus soles have a lot of traction for a snow boot — much more than Sorel’s venerable Pac Boot. Paired with its flex and snug lacing system, we found the boot helps you navigate ice and deep snow more easily than Sorels, too.

These are big, burly snow boots. What you gain in warmth and height, you sacrifice in mobility and weight. For more active adventures, we recommend a winter hiking boot.

The list price is $90, but we’ve found these on sale for as low as $60. If you are looking for a sturdy, cold-weather boot for occasional use, this one is a no-brainer.

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Columbia Bugaboot Celsius Plus

Columbia Bugaboot Celcius Plus

Columbia has been kicking its Omni-Heat technology for over a decade now. Its patented insulation works by reflecting the wearer’s body heat back to the body.

This year, Columbia released an updated version of their venerable boot line with the Bugaboot Celsius Plus ($150), featuring its latest Omni-Heat Infinity technology. It’s Columbia’s gold-standard 400g insulation and reflects upward of 40% greater than the former technology. The boot is protected with a rubberized Techlite shell, adding durability and weatherproofing.

Underside, the boot rides over a generously sipped outsole for better traction on slick, wet surfaces.

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Bogs Bozeman Tall

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When the mercury drops but winter chores pile up, it’s time for a full-on snow boot. Whether chopping wood or walking the dog, the neoprene Bogs Bozeman boots ($150) are rated to -72 degrees F and will keep your feet warm and dry through the sloppiest of conditions. The cushioned sole offers excellent rebound and makes for a comfortable all-day boot.

And one of the standout features is the weight, or lack thereof. Each boot weighs just over 2.5 pounds, and the seamless construction reduces extra materials, keeping these boots 30% lighter than comparable boots. They look burly and are built to last, but we were pleasantly surprised that they don’t feel cumbersome.

Don’t need this much coverage? The Bozemans are also available in a mid version ($145).

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Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Winter Boots for Men

Winter boots come in all sorts of shapes and styles. As our list of recommendations demonstrates, the winter boot market contains everything from extreme weather work boots to stylish formal footwear. With so many options, it can feel daunting to sift through the pile and select the perfect pair.

When choosing the best boots for you, it’s important to understand some of the key factors that differentiate one pair from the next. In this comprehensive buyer’s guide, we thoroughly explain each of these factors to help you make a confident and informed choice.

Temperature Ratings

Any winter footwear worth its weight will offer plentiful warmth. Many winter boots come with a specific temperature rating. While these ratings can be a helpful guideline, the actual feel of a pair of boots will always be a better indicator of warmth than a manufacturer’s rating.

Often, boots claim to have very impressive temperature ratings well below zero. Because there is no standardized test for boot temperature ratings, always take these numbers with a grain of salt. The warmth of a boot comes from various factors, including sock thickness, activity level, personal cold tolerance, and much more.

A winter boot rated to -10 will likely feel warmer than a boot rated to zero made by the same manufacturer. Using temperature ratings to compare boots from a different manufacturer is a less reliable practice. We certainly recommend trying boots on to get a real impression of their warmth and comfort.

Huckberry All-Weather Duckboot (AWD)
(Photo/Huckberry)

Insulation Type

Winter boots utilize a variety of different insulation types to achieve the desired combination of warmth and comfort. The most common types of insulation are synthetic, felt, and sheepskin.

Synthetic

Most modern winter boots are equipped with synthetic insulation. Between the outer shell and the inner lining of the boot, synthetic materials provide lightweight and durable warmth. Perhaps the most important benefit of synthetic material is that it can insulate even when wet.

Popular name brand synthetic insulation options include Thinsulate and PrimaLoft, though many other quality options are available. No matter the name brand, the total weight of synthetic insulation will always be a better indicator of warmth than the name brand.

Many manufacturers include the insulation weight in their boot specifications. Lightweight to midweight boots will usually have a fill rating of 200-400 g. If you are seeking heavy-duty boots for extreme cold, look for a fill rating of at least 300 g.

Felt and Sheepskin

Felt and sheepskin are materials that have long been used to insulate winter footwear. While synthetic insulation is by far the current norm, some manufacturers opt for classic and traditional materials.

The downside of felt and sheepskin insulation is they tend to be heavy and bulky. Still, these materials can be warm and comfortable. Usually, felt and sheepskin are utilized in a boot’s lining where they can be in direct contact with the foot. While these materials provide warmth even when wet, they may become extra heavy when saturated and require lots of time to dry.

Weight

As you might expect, heavier boots are usually built for the worst conditions, while lightweight winter boots are better for moderate temperatures and less demanding uses. As the thickness of outsoles and the fill rating of insulation increases, the overall weight goes up. Lightweight winter boots are great for active use, but they often sacrifice some stability, grip, and warmth.

Boot Height

Almost all winter boots are ankle-high or higher. Boot height is a major factor that determines the intended function of the boot.

On the low end of the boot height spectrum are lightweight hiking-style boots such as the Quechua Snow Hiker. Lower-cut boots typically measure around 7 inches from the footbed to the top of the boot. Lower-cut boots are ideal for hiking, as they tend to be relatively light and flexible.

The downside of lower-cut boots is they allow snow to seep in, especially when post-holing through a deep snowpack. If you find yourself in bottomless snow with a pair of ankle-high boots, a pair of gaiters may offer a simple solution.

If you plan to use your boots in regions with lots of snow accumulation, you’ll probably want to pick boots at least 8 inches tall. Work boots and boots for extreme weather are designed to sit higher on the leg, keeping the elements out and the warmth in. On this list, the Baffin Control Max is a high-cut and extremely warm boot ideal for the coldest, snowiest conditions.

Waterproofing

Nothing beats a reliable pair of boots that keep your feet warm and dry no matter how bad the weather gets. Waterproofing is the difference between blissful comfort and soggy misery.

Waterproofing is ultimately a product of the materials incorporated into a boot’s design. Features such as rubber outer layers and an exterior water-resistant treatment are standards of the most waterproof boots.

All of the boots we’ve selected are designed to keep water out as much as possible. Some of the more robust included models feature a two-piece system that includes an outer waterproof barrier and an inner removable liner. On this list, the Kamik Nation Plus is a great and affordable two-piece boot that successfully keeps moisture out.

One-piece boots typically feature a waterproof membrane sandwiched in between the outer material and the lining. While one-piece boots usually don’t have the failproof waterproofing of many two-piece styles, they tend to be lighter and more flexible.

On this list, the KEEN Revel IV is a burly one-piece boot that refuses to let the weather in. Plus, it comes in two different heights.

Breathability

The downside of built-in insulation and waterproof membranes is decreased breathability. While boots that trap heat are certainly desirable, overheating can be a real concern, even in extremely cold weather. For this reason, a reasonable degree of breathability is an asset in winter boots.

Generally, lightweight hiking-style winter boots are more breathable than gravy duty work boots or two-piece models that thrive in extreme cold. While hiking or performing other strenuous activities, breathability can help to prevent sweating and blisters.

Ultimately, breathability is a trade-off. Winter boots simply cannot be completely waterproof and extreme weather-ready and fully breathable at the same time.

If you’re simply looking for top-notch warmth or waterproofing, breathability doesn’t need to be a major consideration when selecting boots. If you plan to wear your boots for active use in a wide range of conditions, be sure to select a breathable pair.

Outer Material

A winter boot’s exterior material will significantly affect its waterproofing, breathability, and weight. Rubber and leather are the most common outer materials.

Rubber

The waterproof qualities of rubber boots are unbeatable. For decades, brands such as Muck Boot and Xtratuf have been well regarded for their nearly impenetrable rubber boots. In constantly wet and rainy regions such as the Pacific Northwest, rubber boots are a rightfully popular choice.

The downside of rubber as an outer material is its lack of breathability. In the same way that rubber boots successfully keep moisture out, they also keep moisture in. For long hikes and active use, rubber is not the ideal outer material.

Leather

Leather boots have been a popular winter footwear choice for hundreds of years. While leather does not provide the impenetrable qualities of rubber, it is a supple, durable, and relatively water-resistant material.

Compared to rubber boots, leather models tend to breathe slightly better. If you plan to wear your boots in a wide range of weather conditions, leather boots are an excellent and versatile choice.

Outsoles and Grip

The outsole is the part of a boot that makes direct contact with the ground underneath. Good grip is essential to a winter boot’s value and performance.

True winter boots come with outsoles designed to provide reliable grip in cold and snowy conditions. To account for subfreezing temps, many winter boot outsoles feature soft rubber compounds that don’t overly harden in the cold. Additionally, thoughtfully designed tread patterns can prevent snow and mud from building up.

Outsole compounds and tread patterns vary wildly across the winter boot market. Generally, models geared toward hiking will have a deep tread and superior grip. Work boots typically come with heavy, bulky outsoles that prioritize durability above grip.

In severe conditions, you may want more winter traction than your boots can offer on their own. No matter how deep and sticky your tread is, chances are it won’t help on solid sheets of ice.

Traction devices such as Yaktraxband and MICROspikes can be fixed onto the bottom of winter boots for improved grip on ice and hardpack. These devices have metal components designed to dig into ice and improve traction — just like tire chains on a car.

Fit and Sizing

Properly sizing winter boots can be a tricky process. Unlike with most footwear, you’ll likely wear extra thick socks with your winter boots, and it’s important to consider this when picking a size.

Ideally, your winter boots will be comfortable and free of major air pockets and hot spots. Of course, the best fit for you depends on the type of activity you’re using the boots for.

If you’ll be hiking or working on your feet, we recommend a snug fit for maximum performance. If you plan to use your boots for hanging out casually or simply wearing about town, a looser, comfort-first fit is the way to go.

As always, there’s no substitute for trying on shoes, and we highly recommend you do so if possible.

vasque-winter-boots

FAQ

Do You Need a Waterproof Boot?

What makes a boot winter-worthy is weather protection. Insulation and waterproofness keep the feet warm and dry. So consider waterproofness a requirement, not a nice-to-have.

Ask yourself if you’ll frequently be in rainy, or wet conditions or if slushy snow is a common occurrence. If so, prioritize waterproofness. Just be aware that it often comes at the cost of breathability and excessive heat retention.

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.

Vibram makes an arctic-grip lug that has a tackiness on slick, icy surfaces. It’s not as grippy as microspikes, but it adds extra confidence when walking on 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 that 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.

Be aware that taller boots can have different diameters. If you have larger calf muscles, you may need to try a few pairs on to see if they fit your legs.

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