With cold weather right around the corner, it’s time to start looking for a good pair of winter hiking boots. While those lightweight trail-runners and barefoot shoes might be just fine for summer and fall hiking, when the Mercury plummets and the snow starts to fall, you’re going to be looking for a good pair of waterproof, maybe insulated boots. Of course, there are about as many styles and configurations of winter boots as there uses for them and styles of clothing to match. But whether you’re looking for something modern and technical – ready to take on the toughest of winter climbs – or something more rustic and relaxed for shoveling the driveway and tossing snowballs, our roundup of the 10 best winter boots will help you choose some of the best options.
The Bean Boots are classics. Originally designed in 1912 by LL Bean himself, these boots are almost exactly as they were 100 years ago- with modern updates and construction, of course. They’re rubber-bottomed boots with a supple leather upper; you’ll want to properly treat and waterproof the leather with some kind of Wax or Sno-Seal. There still handmade in Maine, as they originally were, are backed by LL Bean’s 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, and an iconic set of footwear that will never really go out of style.
Vasque makes some of the best hiking boots you’ll find, so why would their winter pair be any different? The Snowburban UltraDry’s are intended for active use – hiking, snowshoeing, climbing – and come with Vasque’s UltraDry waterproofing system to keep snow and water out, while 400G Thinsulate insulation keeps your feet warm and toasty. You’ll probably match them with gaiters for really deep snow, but these are otherwise extremely warm, versatile and good-looking boots for anything winter throws at you.
Like the Vasque’s above, Salomon hiking boots are consistently at the top of ‘Best Of” lists when it comes to hiking boots, which is why it’s no surprise to see the X Ultra Winter’s on here. Based on Salomon’s popular 4D hiking boots, the X Ultra Winter is a lightweight hiking boot with 200g Thinsulate multi-loft insulation to keep your feet warm and a climashield waterproof membrane to keep the moisture out. A Contagrip sole keeps your feet firmly planted on wet and uneven surfaces, while the Molded EVA OrthoLite footbed keeps your feet comfortable. The X Ultra Winter’s are intended for hiking use, and are thus extremely light and nimble on your feet (2 lbs, 7 oz) – especially for the protection they offer.
Merell Capra’s are relatively new to the hiking boot scene, but have already garnered some rave reviews in the past few years, for their ultralight, nimble, natural feel – and aggressively cool styling. The Glacial Ice version takes that design and gives it some 200G M Select Warm insulation for the cold temps, as well as M Select Dry waterproofing – while still maintaining that light (3 lbs) and airy feel. They’re perfect for everyday and winter hiking use, though you may want something a little warmer for more extreme alpine pursuits. Vibram Arctic Grip provides traction on all surfaces, and that classic Merrell styling is on full display; we recommend them in Castle Rock for that glacial cold look.
If you’re looking for something a little cheaper but still offers excellent coverage from the elements, the Columbia Bugaboot may just be your choice. They’ve got a tall leather upper which measures 7″ for increased support and protection, and are waterproof, seam-sealed, as well as lined with Columbia’s Omni-Heat reflective lining and 200g of insulation. A Techlite lightweight midsole provides a comfy step. Overall, they are good set of winter boots for a good price, whether hiking, shoveling or snowshoeing.
So you don’t care about the outdoors too much, and just want to look good when winter rolls around – while still keeping your feet dry. These Timberland Schazzberg’s fulfill those needs. 200g of Primaloft keep your feet warm while a Vibram outer sole and waterproof, full-grain leather upper keep the elements out and your feet firmly planted on wet surfaces. All that, and they have a relaxed, classic style that looks good with jeans, chinos, or just about anything else – perfect for shoveling the driveway, errands around town and playing in the snow.
You work outside, and the elements aren’t gentle on your footwear. You need something that can handle anything, and that’s where Chippewa Apaches come in. Made by the legendary bootmaker in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, these boots have that iconic American workwear look, but are coupled with some extreme waterproofing and insulation. With Ruby Dri-Lex® 2000 waterproof lining and 400 Gram Thinsulate™ Ultra, you can be assured – these things are warm and dry. Goodyear Welt Construction and full-grain leather uppers ensure you’ll be wearing – and abusing – these boots for years to come. And does anything look as cool as a pair of aged, waxed, distressed leather workboots? We didn’t think so.
For extreme weather, you need extreme warmth. The Salomon Toundra Pro CSWP use Aerogel technology, which keeps them warm and rated down to -40°F / -40°C. ClimaSalomon waterproofing keeps your feet dry, using a separate bootie inside the boot’s construction to make sure no moisture finds it’s way through. And when coupled with an 8″ ankle, this boot provides serious protection for serious pursuits – in serious weather.
The Chillkat II’s are a very popular pair of boots, meant for the everyday. They have a waterproof, BLC-compliant leather upper with waterproof lining, and a a Dri-Lex® fleece collar and tongue lining and 200 g Primaloft® insulation to keep your feet warm. A Durable TNF Winter Grip™ rubber outsole finishes off the ensemble. These boots are perfect for everyday use, errands, playing in the snow, shoveling – whatever you need them for. However, they really aren’t the best for hiking or more athletic outdoor pursuits. Still, they’re affordable, stylish and built with North Face dependability.
We’ll bookend this list with another classic – Sorel Caribou’s. These boots look a lot like the Bean Boots, and perform much the same – waterproof leather upper, seam sealed, with a rubber shell outsole for mucky weather. The removable boot liner is Thermoplus, offering warmth down to -40 degrees. They’re classic, stylish, and built to last.
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