Cold and snowy weather doesn’t mean you have to be stuck indoors. When temperatures drop, combine your hat and gloves with a good pair of snow boots and get to work outside. Options that are insulated and waterproof will keep your feet warm and dry in snowy and wet conditions. The best snow boots will also have good traction to increase safety while navigating a variety of surfaces, from packed snow to slippery ice. Read on to learn about what to look for when shopping for boots, and consider some of our top picks.
- BEST OVERALL FOR MEN: Columbia Bugaboot II
- BEST OVERALL FOR WOMEN: Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden II Boot
- BEST MEN’S HIKING: XPETI Men’s Thermator Waterproof Hiking Boots
- BEST WOMEN’S HIKING: XPETI Women’s Thermator Waterproof Hiking Boot
- WARMEST FOR MEN: Kamik Men’s Nationplus Boots
- WARMEST FOR WOMEN: SOREL – Women’s Joan of Arctic Insulated Winter Boot
- BEST FOR KIDS: Gubarun Snow Boots
- BEST FOR TODDLERS: Northside Kids Frosty Snow Boot
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Snow Boots
Winter conditions will not only cause discomfort but can also pose a safety hazard, especially for older adults. With that in mind, it’s important to choose the best snow boots to prevent slipping while also keeping your feet warm and dry. From insulation and traction to comfort and style, there are a few things to consider.
It’s important that snow boots can stand up to wet and slushy surfaces. That’s why most options will feature rubber soles, which are generally waterproof and slip resistant. The upper portion of the boot will also need to stand up to varying conditions. Common materials used on the exterior are leather, suede, rubber, and synthetics. These options will often feature an exterior waterproof treatment for added protection.
The interior of the boot will usually feature insulating materials ranging from natural materials such as wool and sheepskin to synthetic performance options like fleece, neoprene, and polyester. A thin, waterproof membrane is commonly built into the design between the exterior and interior layers.
Insulation is a key factor for keeping your feet warm and comfortable in wet conditions. The level of warmth is generally determined by the interior lining of the boots. The best options are lightweight and will continue to insulate even while wet. One common brand of interior insulation featured in our selections is Thinsulate, which is a thin, synthetic material. These fabrics are made to trap the heat coming off your body in tiny air pockets within the fiber strands. A reflective layer will help to send heat back to the body. Some options have temperature ratings and can boast a protection factor as low as -50 degrees.
While shopping, take note of the weight of the insulation, which is measured in grams. Light to moderate insulation will weigh around 200 grams, while warmer, heavier options will be around 400 to 600 grams. Some liners are removable, which is helpful for drying, as well as for work in various temperatures, but may not be good for more active use like hiking when you want to keep weight and interior friction at a minimum.
Weight and Height
The height of the boot you choose will depend on your preference when it comes to style, comfort, and performance. Options range from just over the ankles to just below the knees. Standard hiking boots will often measure 6 to 7 inches in height, but at that height, it’s more common for snow to slip inside. Boots with taller shafts, about 8 to 10 inches, will offer more protection. Some work options can be as tall as 15 inches, which will keep the snow out but may inhibit range of motion and be harder to take off.
The weight of the boot may indicate the level of performance due to the amount of insulation. The most heavy-duty options, made for tough conditions, can weigh up to 6 pounds. If you need more of an everyday boot for more moderate conditions, you may want to opt for a lighter-weight model for increased comfort.
While durability is key when it comes to choosing the best snow boots, a comfortable fit is essential as well. A soft and breathable liner that cushions your feet should keep you warm and comfy. Removable liners may offer more cushioning but for longer excursions could be less comfortable due to air pockets and slippage.
As mentioned earlier, you may want to also consider the height of the boots you want to purchase. Options that are too tall may limit mobility. This can make them uncomfortable or hard to remove. Lower options may offer more comfort but can be susceptible to snow, and there’s nothing more uncomfortable than wet ankles. Snow collars can help by lining the opening of the boot to keep the snow out.
A supportive fit is another thing to consider for both comfort and stability. Make sure you choose boots without too much extra space at the ankle and heel. Slip-on options may be convenient to pull on and off when going in and out a lot, but won’t offer as much support as lace-up versions.
Soles and Heel
Ice and snow call for sturdy soles and heels. Rubber outsoles are most effective for keeping feet dry, while a textured tread offers support on snow- and ice-covered surfaces. Winter boots that feature a smooth or wavy tread can be very slippery, so opt for a textured sole with nubby, spaced-out bumps to help with grip and stability on ice. A small heel, around half an inch ideally, will also give a little extra traction in slippery conditions while helping to elevate the foot slightly from wet surfaces. Skip heels that are too high since they offer less ankle stability and foot support.
A cushioned midsole will add comfort when you need to be on your feet all day. Some boots on our list feature an EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) midsole, which further helps to disperse weight and provide stability.
Activity Level and Traction
It’s important to consider the level of performance you want to get from your boots. For all-day wear with varying elevations and surfaces, such as those on long outdoor hikes, it’s important that your boots have extra weight and traction. Beyond treaded nubby soles, which will help the sole grip to slippery surfaces, there are a few other features to consider. Some rubber soles are made with technologies that boast a stronger, stickier grip on snow and ice. A wide surface area and a small heel will also offer a bit more traction. However, one of the most important aspects of boot stability is the fit. A boot that fits well, especially around the ankles and heels, will naturally offer more control and traction.
It’s essential for snow boots to have ample waterproofing features to keep your feet warm and dry. Beyond a rubber sole, the best snow boots will have other barriers from wet conditions. Most will feature a thin waterproof membrane between the outer material and the lining as well as sealed seams to prevent water from seeping through the exterior. A waterproof treatment on the exterior fabric will add one more layer of protection.
As mentioned previously, the height of the boot and rim protection is another key aspect of waterproofing. If snow slips into the top, you could end up with wet socks, so it’s a good idea to look for boots with snow collars to help block the opening. A gusseted tongue, which is a tongue that attaches to the sides of the boot, will also help keep snow or rain out. Gaiters are sold separately and are another helpful option. Often made of durable nylon, they slide over the leg to cover the top of the boot for added protection.
The best snow boots won’t only perform well, but they’ll look good, too. Children’s options will often have bright and playful designs. While adult versions might be a bit more subdued, there are still plenty of colors, materials, and styles to choose from. For men’s selections, sleek leather lace-up options will seamlessly transition from daytime to dinners out. For women, duck-style boots with a full rubber foot are popular, with the bonus of being cute and durable. Other women’s leather and suede options offer a cozy look, especially with added faux-fur accents. A small heel can offer a bit of height while adding extra traction.
Our Top Picks
The best snow boots will keep you safe and dry. These top options were chosen for their ability to perform on a variety of surfaces while offering ample insulation and comfort. Pair one of the following snow boots with a heated vest or jacket and gloves, and you can likely take on those all-day outside jobs with no problem.
The leather uppers are not only water resistant, but they also have an injection-molded shell for additional protection on snowy days. A metallic-dot-patterned thermal reflective lining works to retain and return heat to the body, providing 200 grams of insulation and a temperature rating of -25 degrees.
The company’s Techlite lightweight midsole provides cushioning and shock absorption, and their Omni-Grip rubber aims to offer added traction. The boots are lightweight at 1 pound 12 ounces and have a shaft measurement of just over 8 inches. A fitted collar and gusseted tongue help to keep the snow out.
The boot’s multi-zone tread pattern aims to provide solid footing on snow and ice. With a waterproof seam-sealed leather and textile construction and 200 grams of insulation, your feet should also stay warm and dry.
A soft faux-fur collar and tongue lining along with a removable contoured polyester footbed provide comfort. Available in nine colors, this boot offers style along with functionality. It has a 6-inch shaft and is lightweight at 1.2 pounds.
Rubber toe protection and a nubby rubber outsole help to provide traction for rough terrains. An integrated EVA midsole also helps to disperse weight and provide stability. The rubber sole is paired with a mesh upper and the company’s Hydroshield waterproof membrane to keep water out, while a moisture-wicking lining helps with sweat. To keep your feet warm, the boots feature 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation for a -25 degree temperature rating.
These boots feature Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), a type of flexible plastic that molds to your foot at the ankle and heel for added comfort and protection. Mid-rise with a shaft of 8 inches and at 2.8 pounds, they are sturdy yet lightweight. The boots are available in three color options.
With features similar to those of the men’s version, these boots feature a rubber toe cap and outsole for trail grip and a molded TPU ankle and heel for added support. Made from synthetic fabrics, the boots have a waterproof mesh upper and lining to keep feet dry. They carry a temperature rating of -25 degrees and 200 grams of insulation. A moisture-wicking mesh lining and a flexible EVA midsole make them comfortable for all-day use.
With an 8-inch shaft, these boots are available in five colors and weigh 2.75 pounds. The company recommends sizing up when purchasing.
A seam-sealed leather upper and rubber sole work together to keep wetness out, while a moisture-wicking lining and antimicrobial footbed combat sweat. A 10-inch shaft will help to keep snow from getting inside, while 200 grams of insulation provides warmth. As an added bonus, the synthetic insulating liner is removable for washing and drying. A rustproof lacing system and rubber treads help with stability and traction in snowy conditions. These duck-style boots are available in nine colors and weigh 1.7 pounds.
The removable insulating liner along with a felt layer between the liner and the sole give these boots a temperature rating of -25 degrees. The liner can be taken out for drying or washing after a day of hiking in snowy conditions. A rubber sole and a waterproof suede seam-sealed upper work to keep your feet dry, while a rubber shell and herringbone outsole provide extra grip for uneven or slippery terrains.
The secure lace-up style and warming faux fur bring together style and functionality. With 27 color combinations, there are options to suit any wardrobe. Lightweight at 1.7 pounds, these boots have a shaft of just over 11 inches.
On cold days, these boots will keep your kids’ feet warm with a cozy faux-fur interior. The rubber sole and waterproof upper will help their feet to stay dry, while a nonslip design aims to prevent falls as youngsters play in the snow. A simple hook-and-loop closure offers an easy on and off for little ones.
With 24 playful and colorful options, children can pick out their favorite design. Some options offer buckles or elastic cords for extra support. They are available in both big- and little-kid sizes.
These boots may be for toddlers, but they have all the features of adult versions. With 200 grams of insulation, a temperature rating of -25, and a cozy Berber lining, they are sure to keep your little one’s feet warm while they play in the snow. A waterproof nylon upper and rubber foot will keep their socks dry, and an elastic cord with a cinch toggle will help keep snow from getting inside. An adjustable strap at the ankles adds to a secure fit, and a rubber-textured outsole helps with traction.
For convenience, heel pulls help with getting the boots on and off, and the removable EVA insole can be easily washed. With 41 playful designs, these boots are both functional and cute.
FAQs About Your New Snow Boots
Still wondering which boot height to choose or how to store them? Find the answer to these and other commonly asked questions about snow boots below.
Q. Which winter boot height is best?
Boots with taller shafts, about 8 to 10 inches, will provide more protection from entering snow while still offering plenty of mobility.
Q. How do you store snow boots?
It’s a good idea to store your boots in a spot that won’t be damaged by snow and salt. Consider a mat or tray by the door that can be used for this purpose. For more boot storage ideas, click here.
Q. How long do snow boots last?
A solid pair of snow boots can last many years if cared for properly. Consider new liners to extend the longevity of your boots.