How to Choose Winter Boots

A good pair of winter boots is a need for those who live in chilly climates. They’re useful for navigating months of snow and ice since they keep your feet toasty, dry, and firmly planted on the ground. Here, we’ll go over everything you need to know about picking the perfect pair of winter boots, from how warm they are to how tall they are to how much they weigh to how well they fit. See our best winter boots and best winter boots for women articles for our top picks.

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1. Use: Casual Wear or Winter Hiking?

Your desired activities should be your starting point when selecting a pair of winter boots. In one camp are casual winter boots, which are suitable for indoor and mild outdoor usage as well as daily use and commuting. The second kind is more backcountry-oriented shoes that resemble regular hiking boots but have greater insulation and grip for the snow and ice. Backcountry types that are thinner and warmer are ideal for outdoor work and more sedentary tasks in the cold, while lightweight ones are best for winter sports like trekking and snowshoeing.

Many pairs of winter boots designed for everyday use have taken on a more modern, streamlined appearance. The Columbia Fairbanks for men and the Columbia Minx Shorty III for ladies are two of our favourite styles since they are both reasonably priced and sleek. In addition, these styles usually have enough traction in most snow situations, the insulation should keep your feet somewhat warm (unless you’re out for a long period), and virtually all of them are waterproof around the feet for walking in light snow and puddles. However, if the terrain and weather are very severe, or if you plan on being out for long periods of time, it is advisable to invest in a sturdier boot.

2. How Much Warmth Do You Need?

To be effective in the winter, a good pair of boots has to be warm, and there is a wide range of quality in this regard. First, we’ll point you that many shoe manufacturers have a temperature rating, however you should always use such information with caution. Even while some shoes claim to be warm to temperatures of -25°F or below, the reality is that, unlike sleeping bags, there is no universally accepted criterion by which to rate the warmth of footwear. Numerous aspects come into play, including the degree of exertion you put in, the quality of your blood flow, the socks you wear, and the boots you wear them in. We pay special attention to the temperature ratings and take them into account, but we always assume that they are on the high side and check all the other parameters as well.

There are many variations of winter boots that provide varying levels of insulation. The most popular kind of fill is synthetic, and it may be identified by brand names like PrimaLoft and Thinsulate and a gramme rating that indicates its thickness. If water gets into your boot or your feet become hot, it’s a big deal, but synthetics resist water and continue to insulate even when wet, so we prefer them. Many lightweight to medium-weight boots contain insulation between 200 and 400 grammes, whereas a pair of cold-weather boots like Cabela’s Predator Extreme may have insulation as high as 1,200 grammes thanks to a thick lining (that boot often is used for hunting, ice fishing, and among workers who are outside for much of the day). Some winter boots contain inside that are packed with sheepskin or wool in addition to synthetic insulation (more on this in “Two-Piece vs. One-Piece Designs” below). The bulk of these models employ synthetic insulation, the effectiveness of which varies greatly across designs.

3. Boot Height

Your winter boots not only keep your feet toasty, but also protect them from the snow and ice outside. The wearer’s height is a major factor, and the design will change accordingly, if snow pants are not pulled over the top or gaiters are not used. Shaft height, the distance from the boot’s insole to its apex, is used for comparison since reports tend to be more or less similar in this regard (more on this below). Some types designed for trekking are as short as 6 or 7 inches, which provides adequate performance unless in really thick snow. The Sorel Caribou is an example of a casual alternative that prioritizes warmth and flair, and its 10 inch height reflects this (the budget Kamik NationPlus has a similar height and design). The Steger Mukluks are roughly 11 inches tall, while the Bogs Classic High Insulated is the tallest option at 15 inches. The optimal height for your boot and other winter gear will depend on how you plan to utilize them, as discussed above.

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The Most Important Features that You Should Consider when Buying Winter Shoes


That’s a major worry. Boots are available that are warm enough to wear even at temperatures as low as -100 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to be ready ahead of time for some things. If you’re shopping for winter boots in the summer, you may not be able to put them through their paces in real cold weather. It is recommended that you inspect the lining. High-quality linings may be constructed from wool, zylex, acrylic, or polupropylene. It’s possible to employ thermal materials like Thinsulate, among others. To keep your feet warm in the winter, look for a pair of shoes with an insulation weight of 400 to 800 grammes. Genuine shearling is the genuine article.


Having a comfortable pair of winter boots is crucial when you have to wear them for extended periods of time. When talking about footwear, what exactly do we understand by the term “comfortable?” In addition to ensuring the foot and arch are supported, a pair of comfortable shoes should also promote good walking form. Insoles and lacing systems should also aid in wearing comfort. Make sure the insole is padded and offers arch support. Whether the shoe was made with specialized orthopedic insoles, check to see if they fit properly. Having pronation control is essential in cold footwear. When you take a stride, the shoes roll inward, protecting your knees and back.

To ensure that your feet stay snug within your shoes, the lacing mechanism should also be given careful thought. Full-laced shoes are more popular since they may be customized to the wearer’s foot. On the other hand, there are some excellent options for footwear that do not have laces. Whether you’re not sure if a pair of shoes will fit your legs, look at the lining.


Besides protecting your feet from the cold, boot linings have a variety of additional uses. The majority of winter boots feature antimicrobial and antibacterial characteristics, which inhibit the development of germs and the subsequent smells that result from them. When you curse and then leave your shoe wet, a foul stench begins to form. Remember these considerations while searching for a pair of winter shoes. Don’t be the guest whose feet give everyone else a bad impression.

The two goals of breathability and waterproofing might often be at odds with one another. This implies that water may easily penetrate the soles of even the lightest, most breathable shoes. An ideal winter boot would use a combination of materials to accommodate for each of these factors. Waterproof full-leather shoes may be too thick to allow air to circulate. Gore-Tex and similar materials have the ability to breathe while yet being waterproof. Wow, that’s a terrific couple.

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