The Best Winter Boots for Hiking and Snowshoeing
Keep Your Feet Warm and Dry with Boots Built to Take on the Snow and Cold
For true outdoor enthusiasts, winter is just another season to spend time pursuing their favorite activities outside. Sure, there might be some snow on the ground, and the temperatures may be a little colder, but with the proper gear, there is no reason to stay inside.
But one of the keys to enjoying any winter adventure is keeping your feet warm and dry. Thankfully, there are plenty of great boots designed to do just that, making it easier than ever to hit the trail for some cold-weather hiking and snowshoeing. If you’re ready to embrace the season—and everything it has to offer—here are the best boots to help you do just that.
What to Look for in a Winter Hiking Boot
Shopping for winter hiking boots is much like shopping for any other footwear. You’ll want a pair that are comfortable on your feet and offer a good fit that isn’t restrictive or confining. You may even consider buying boots that are a half-size larger than you would typically wear, which leaves room to accommodate thicker socks.
But when selecting the best winter shoes for hiking and snowshoeing, there are a few other things to consider. For instance, you’ll want a boot that offers some form of insulation to help keep your feet warm in cold conditions. Several types of insulation are used in the construction of these boots, including Thinsulate from 3M and Primaloft. Some gear manufacturers even use their own proprietary insulation, like Columbia’s Omni-Heat or M-Select Warm from Merrell.
The amount of insulation in a boot is measured in grams and typically ranges from 100g to 800g. The higher the number, the warmer the boot should be, although you will want to avoid simply buying the model with the highest rating. Instead, get footwear that is appropriate for the climate you’ll be hiking in. For instance, a boot with 200 grams of insulation is perfect for places with mild winters with temperatures in the 30ºF range. On the other hand, if you often find yourself outdoors in sub-zero conditions, you’ll want to consider purchasing shoes with 600 or 800 grams of insulation instead.
Any winter hiking boot that you buy should also be waterproof. The most popular type of waterproofing is made by Gore-Tex, although there are others, such as eVent and NeoShell. These materials are integrated into the design of the boot and keep moisture out while allowing perspiration to escape. Modern waterproof membranes perform exceptionally well and are a must-have for winter hiking.
The Best Winter Boots for Hiking and Snowshoeing
If you’re preparing for winter adventures in cold and snowy conditions, these boots should be on your shortlist this year.
Montana-based Obōz makes some of the best winter hiking boots on the market, with several models designed for playing in the snow. Its Bridger line is available for both men and women and features 200g of Thinsulate insulation, making it a good option for active cold-weather pursuits. Proprietary waterproofing and outsoles enhance performance on the trail, keeping your feet warm and dry while maintaining traction even on slick surfaces.
An excellent all-around boot, the Bridger features a tall ankle cuff that helps keep snow and ice from reaching the interior. It also makes it a good choice for use in locations with heavy snow. The boot comes in 8″ and 10″ versions for men and 7″ and 9″ models for women. Price: Varies by model
Salomon Quest Winter Thinsulate Climasalomon Waterproof
Salomon’s boots are some of the most athletic on the market, something that remains true for its winter versions as well. The Salomon Quest Winter is built for technical terrain, making it a good option for alpine hikes and snowshoeing in challenging conditions. This relatively lightweight shoe is very comfortable and features a sleek profile that sets it apart from most cold-weather footwear, which can often be bulky and cumbersome.
Thanks to its 400 grams of Thinsulate insulation, this boot provides plenty of warmth, particularly while on the move. It also features Salomon’s Winter Contagrip outsole, which provides confident-enhancing traction while hiking over snow and ice. Meanwhile, the boot’s midsole is surprisingly flexible, making it easy to adjust to hidden obstacles and changes in terrain that may be covered in snow. Price: $180.
Merrell Moab Speed Thermo Mid Waterproof
Another lightweight and athletic winter boot, the Merrell Moab Speed Thermo Mid Waterproof is another outstanding option for winter adventures. This boot takes comfort to the next level without sacrificing warmth or performance. This makes it an especially good choice for snowshoers looking for footwear that provides plenty of support and flexibility.
Merrell used 200 grams of Primaloft insulation and a fleece lining to insulate the Moab Speed Thermo. The result is a boot that keeps your toes warm even as temperatures drop into the low-20s. Waterproof leather and a moisture-resistant membrane ensure your feet stay dry at all times. Add in an aggressive Vibram sole for excellent traction and support on snowy trails. Price: $170
Keen Revel IV Polar Boot
If you’re concerned about keeping your feet warm in cold temperatures, the Keen Revel IV Polar might be the best boot for you. The company says it is rated for use in temperatures down to -40ºF, thanks in part to its 400 grams of recycled insulation. Comfort is further enhanced by an in-house waterproofing material that keeps moisture from soaking through, while a breathable textile liner prevents overheating.
This boot is available in a regular and high model, both of which do an excellent job of keeping snow out of the interior. If you happen to live in an area where deep snow is common, you’ll definitely want to go with the taller version. Keen’s signature comfort shines through in this boot, which offers plenty of interior space for wearing thick socks. While not as light and agile as some of the other options on this list, this is a reliable and well-made boot to get you through the harshest conditions winter can throw your way. Price: $190 for the regular model, $210 for the high edition
Lowa Renegade Warm GTX Mid
Winter adventurers looking for a rugged, versatile, go-anywhere boot, it’s tough to top the Lowa Renegade Warm GTX. It is an exceptionally well-made shoe that blends a leather upper with a Gore-Tex waterproof and insulating liner. Add in a Vibram sole designed for use on snow and ice, and hikers get a boot that performs equally well on and off the trail.
Extremely comfortable right out of the box, the Renegade Warm GTX doesn’t require any break-in time. It is also surprisingly warm, considering its size and weight. The boot offers outstanding support and balance, making it a great option for winter backcountry adventures that may involve carrying a loaded down backpack. Price: $275
Keen Greta Waterproof Boot
While plenty of winter boots are designed specifically for children, most aren’t made for hiking. But Keen has offered top-notch kids’ outdoor footwear for years, incorporating many of the same features found in its regular boots. The Greta Waterproof model is a perfect example of this approach, as the shoe uses the company’s home-grown Keen.Warm insulation and Keen.Dry waterproof membrane to enhance performance. The result is an excellent boot that is perfect for any outdoor activity.
A soft fleece lining and a special insole designed to collect and reflect heat further enhances the Greta’s performance. Keen says this helps keep the boot cozy down to -25ºF. A blended leather/textile upper provides good durability, too, easily shrugging off the kind of abuse that only a kid can dish out. Price: $85
Salomon XA Pro V8 Winter Climasalomon Waterproof
The XA Pro V8 Winter is another athletic hiking shoe from Salomon, although this one is designed for kids. The boot has the same high-quality materials and construction as the company’s other footwear, just shrunk down to a size that makes sense for young hikers. That translates to a warm, waterproof shoe that provides excellent traction on the trail.
Some of the other excellent features of this boot include a protective toecap, a water-repellent upper, and a midsole that cradles the foot while providing plenty of protection. The XA Pro V8 comes with a soft faux-fur lining and an Ortholite insole for extra cushioning too. Made for active kids who don’t want to be left behind, this boot is perfect for any outdoor winter activity. Price: $100
The XA Pro V8 Winter boot is available from Salomon.
As always, when it comes to choosing the right footwear, comfort and sizing are subjective and highly personal. We recommend trying any hiking shoes on before purchasing. That said, any of the boots on this list should perform well in winter conditions, extending your adventures back outdoors for the entire season.