10 Best Snow Boots Reviewed
A world blanketed in downy white can mean snowball fights, winter sports, and snow days. It can also mean mountaineering icy peaks, navigating treacherous avalanche country, and the dreaded task of shoveling your front driveway.
The right snow gear is essential to brave the arctic climate and allow you to take on the fierce beauty of mother nature’s winter wonderland with confidence. When choosing snow boots, the temperatures they’re designed for, their durability, and their price point all play major factors.
The ability to trek and tread through a snow covered landscape is the reward for smart shopping.
10 Best Snow Boots
1. Kamik Greenbay 4
With a 8mm removable thermal liner, your feet won’t overheat on long treks through the powder or, when temperatures continue to drop, provide extra warmth. The hook-and-loop strap is handy for when you want to adjust the fit of the boot near the toe box.
Capable of withstanding temperatures of -40 F, these boots are completely waterproof and weigh less than 2 pounds. The draw string at the top keeps snow out and warmth in, removing the need for excess buckles and clasps so the shaft is streamlined. It’s thick tread on the outsole means that while extremely sleek, the Kamik Greenbay 4 is still one tough boot.
Cost and Value
These boots are designed for snow days and work outside in urban areas; their synthetic material would prove prone to tearing on rugged terrain. For the versatility and innovation associated with these lightweight boots, the price is fair and reasonable. As every day snow boots in the winter season that don’t look like your typical snow boot, the Kamik Greenbay 4 can’t be beat.
Lightweight compared to other brands
8mm removable thermal liner
2. Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni
Omni-grip traction is specially designed for the outsole to give you extra grip. Omni-heat reflective lining has 200g insulation, which means small silver dots reflect heat back onto your feet.
Spend all day in these snow boots and you won’t feel a thing. Their Techlite lightweight midsole and extra cushioning ensure that from snowball fights to an inclement paper route, your snow dogs won’t be barking.
Cost and Value
The features that make these boots so functional like the Omni-grip and Omni-heat mean they’re ideal for outdoor activities, like hiking. Because they’re waterproof, that could include through some frigid streams. 200g of insulation means they’re ideal for moderately cold weather, but not arctic conditions. They’re incredibly comfortable and breathe like sportswear. These features make the slightly higher price point worth it.
Lightweight and heavily cushioned
Great for hiking
Keeps heat trapped inside and circulating
Slightly more expensive
3. Sorel Caribou II
Most families that live in areas where winter means heavy snow have had their Sorel boots for decades. Once solely made in Canada, the company recently relocated to China, though they continue to be manufactured with the same attention to detail. The leather and rubber construction and D-ring lace system make for a tried and true element defying construction.
Thinsulate is the insulation of choice for Sorel, with thin, hollow fibers trapping heat in their boots. Normally, this would be considered a light insulation, but the Sherpa style lining inside provides plenty of extra cushion. No need to double layer your winter socks.
Cost and Value
These boots can be worn shoveling the walk, jousting on snowmobiles, or delivering Christmas packages. They’re solid snow boots at a little over 6 pounds, which means they mean business. They’re more expensive than Kamik or Columbia boots but can be considered family heirlooms, meaning you’ll get decades of use out of them.
Leather and rubber construction
Will last a long time
Soft, sherpa liner
One of the more expensive brands on the market
4. Merrell Moab Polar
M-select is the class of insulation that Merrell developed for its snow boots, retaining and diffusing heat to keep the wearer’s feet warm. M-select Ice Grip outsole is a rubber and nylon construction that provides plenty of traction. It’s like wearing snow tires, but on your feet.
Though these boots don’t have a whole lot of flexibility especially as the shaft meets the heel, they’re very comfortable. An 8 hour hike is nothing with these boots. And being completely waterproof, your feet will stay dry all day. They’re also comfortable at -20 F, which beats a lot of similarly styled boots.
Cost and Value
For those wearers used to sporting a running shoe or sneaker the rest of the year and suddenly find themselves in colder climates, this snow boot is the business. They’ll hug your foot like a second skin, with enough traction to ensure you won’t be missing the tough grip of a heavier duty boot. They’re a solid price for a solid mid-range snow boot.
Great for hiking
Great for narrow feet
Not designed for extreme cold
5. Kamik Nationplus Boot
These boots use Thinsulate for insulation, a common material among the Kamik brand of boots. It manifests in a removable slipper like liner that can be taken out of the boot. This is a feature usually found in ankle-boots, but helpful in a taller boot that might mean its wearer is trekking through higher mounds of snow.
The Thinsulate insulation is composed of three layers of moisture-wicking material that makes perspiration evaporate and keeps the foot dry. The seams of the liner are also reinforced so that it’s more durable and won’t fray. The lacing system has speed laces and rustproof D-rings.
Cost and Value
For the innovation and functionality of Kamik boots, they consistently rank as one of the most economically friendly brands of snow boots. They have more tred than Sorel boots, are every bit as warm as a Merrell, are light for a tall boot, and all for a low price.
Removable slipper liner
Can run small
6. Columbia Ice Maiden II
These boots are rated for -25 F weather, and the hard rubber outsoles have enough traction and endurance to make sure the wearer won’t slip on any embankments any time soon. The shaft is suede and the toe box a canvas and rubber combination, making for a highly versatile and uncompromising design. You can trudge in ice, mud, and into powdery drifts while your feet stay completely dry and toasty with insulation rated at 200g.
The interior of the Columbia Ice Maiden II’s consists of the insulation familiar to all Columbia boots, Techlite. The lightweight midsole and extra cushioning mean long lasting, all day comfort is guaranteed, while the removable, waterproof bootie sock on the inside means your feet will stay dry no matter what.
Cost and Value
For a snow boot that looks this good, you could pay a lot more. But since looks aren’t everything, Columbia has taken great care to make sure these design-heavy boots measure up with their Bugaboot line in every way, from waterproof construction, Techlite insulation, and unparalleled comfort. Only for the most hardcore snow bunnies at a truly attractive price.
Techlite insulation rated at 200g
Removable inner bootie
Not designed for extreme temperatures
7. Sorel Conquest
The Sorel Conquest is all about function and grit. It’s waterproof like every top rated snow boot, but also has a built in gaiter bootie and molded eva foot bed. It has a draw string at the top of the shaft much like the Kamik Greenbay 4, and the barrel lock ensures that snow is kept out and feet are kept dry and warm.
Where most snow boots have either D-rings or quick laces, this has both, as well as an Achilles adjustment strap that lets you tighten or loosen the area around your ankle as needed. The molded eva foot bed is also removable if your feet get too warm on your quest. The 400g graded Thinsulate means these are perfect for very cold temperatures.
Cost and Value
Sorel is one of the best quality snow boot brands money can buy, so for the functionality and versatility of the Sorel Conquest the slightly higher price tag is no surprise. However, with the 400g graded Thinsulate, the combination of Achilles adjustable strap and D-ring/quick laces, as well as the removable molded eva foot bed and waterproof design, you’ll feel like you should be paying a lot more.
400g grade Thinsulate insulation
Heavy duty waterproof design
D-ring/quick laces and Achilles adjustable strap
For extremely cold temperatures
Can be difficult to break in
8. UGG Adirondack II
These fully waterproof, seam-sealed boots have a special eVent bootie that is moisture wicking and vents airflow in the boot so the wearer doesn’t overheat. Exclusive to the brand, the UGG Adirondack II’s have a Vibram outsole with a unique repeating lug tread pattern to ensure that you get maximum traction and durability over rough terrain.
This is an UGG boot, and the comfort of an UGG boot can’t be overemphasized. The fleece inside is plush and thick, allowing the wearer to withstand temperatures as low as -20 F. These boots feel great immediately, so the breaking in period is minimal.
Cost and Value
If you know and value the UGG brand as a guarantee of comfort and quality, then these boots are for you. They will become the most comfortable boots you have for all day wear in the snow, from errands to more vigorous outdoor activities. That being said, they’re some of the most expensive snow boots on the market.
Furthermore, they have a durable which leather provides superior upper protection, maximizing protection with a waterproof, seam sealed construction. The Columbia Women’s Bugaboot have 200 grams of insulation to keep feet warm down to -25°F. As well as that they have Techlite cushioning which enhances midsole support. An Omni-Grip & trade outsole boosts traction on snowy surfaces. Take the Bugaboot with you on all cold-weather excursions. They can also wear to school or work because they're light weight (weigh just 1.3lbs per pair) and go nicely with jeans.
eVent waterproof removable bootie
Able to withstand -20 F
Vibram outsole for maximum traction
9. Baffin Wolf
The Baffin Wolf has a seven layer insulated bootie that’s removable, ensuring that even vigorous activity out in the snow means the wearer won’t overheat. It has a lot of arch support thanks to the flexible and light midsole and a rubber compound outsole. They have two adjustable snap closures at the shaft and ankle to maximize fit. They also allow them to be easily slipped on and off.
By combining typical molding technology with a foam-heavy inner boot, the Baffin Wolf is a snow boot of the most technical kind of functionality. The sole is made up of several thermo-set polymers that combine to make a lightweight, but incredibly strong performance. They also have a drawstring at the top of the shaft.
Cost and Value
These bad boys are best for working outside, especially where the snow is deep. The two adjustable snap closures, drawstring top, and specifically engineered sole make them one of the most technical snow boots on the market to wear every day.
Tall shaft and sporty appearance
Two adjustable snap closures
Specifically engineered insole mold
Removable 7 layer insulated bootie
Not designed for extremely cold temperatures
10. Salomon X Ultra Winter
These boots have a climashield waterproof membrane combined with a Thinsulate insulation interior rated at 200g, so they stand up to the stalwart names in snow boot construction. They too have a molded EVA foot bed and an injected EVA midsole, meaning flexibility and durability on uneven trails and passes. They also have a protected rubber toe and heel caps for a sturdy fit.
An eyelet wrap between the upper portion and middle portion of the laces allows the wearer to “lock” in the tightness of the boot’s lower laces, letting you adjust the upper laces independently. They also have an advanced chassis system that supports high arches and provides comfort and malleability for the wearer that will be hiking for several miles.
Cost and Value
The Salomon X Ultra Winter boot is designed for the athletic snow boot wearer, who wants the most versatile and innovative footwear for their snow sporting needs. The features that make it innovative assure the best performance, such as EVA molded technology, an eyelet wrap in the middle of the laces, and a reinforced chassis system that allows for maximum comfort and flexibility.
Mid-lace eyelet wrap
Great for hiking and mountain sports
While most instances of frolicking in winter wonderlands conjure specific images of snow boots, there are a wide variety to choose from. Some can withstand extremely cold temperatures, while others are designed for warmer winter days. Some are designed for onerous work outdoors, while other have snow sports in mind with their presentation. The features a wearer considers when it comes time to purchase a pair of snow boots greatly depend on what activities they’ll be performing in the snow and in what conditions. Snow boots can be tough and heavy or light and technologically advanced, while others can be fashionable and furry. Any good snow boot will be waterproof, be able to withstand at least -40 F, and provide a good balance of warmth on the inside and traction on the outside. Their aesthetic appeal, however, is entirely up to the wearer and as evidenced, varies widely.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Snow Boots
When going on the snow, keeping your feet heated is paramount. While the snow boots may not be able to generate heat themselves, they can help you retain the heat within the boot. It’s extremely important that your snow boots count with the necessary features to prevent heat from leaving the boot. This retained heat is what keeps your feet from suffering considerable cold, becoming more important as it gets colder.
Aside from retaining heat, it’s also important that the boot doesn’t allow a natural amount of air flow. If you’re on snowy climates, one thing is for sure; the wind will be just about as cold. As you can figure out, cold is not something you want passing through your inner boot and affecting your feet.
In order to properly retain heat, snowing boots must count with a smart sealing system. These systems usually consist of strap seals and specific upper build materials that make sure the heat stays inside. Additionally, the fit of the boot has a role in hear retention. In order to optimize the heat seal, your boots should fit accordingly. This doesn’t mean your boots have to strangle your feet – just keep in mind that an adequate fit is better at retaining heat.
Regardless of the activity you’re performing – whether it’s snow hiking or simply walking on the snow – you should count with heat retention. However, it does become considerably more important when we’re talking about performance, especially hazardous activities like hiking. If your boots fail to retain heat, and furthermore allow cold to reach them, you’ll experience an important decrease in your performance.
Not only will cold slow you down and make it notably more uncomfortable for you, this is also a matter of safety. People tend to underestimate the importance of heat in cold environments, not realizing the huge impact cold will have on them. Believe or not, cold can actually hurt you, and don’t doubt it will if you’re not properly equipped. One of the biggest mistakes amongst beginner snow hikers is underestimating the importance of decent boots.
Every single part of your body must be prepared to endure very cold circumstances. Feet are no exception. Cold can eventually numb your both feet whole, and furthermore, it can really damage the skin if feet remained exposed for too long. The numbing will represent a huge reduction in your performance, and it can quickly escalate to become a reduction in your mobility too.
Additionally, the numbing can affect your sense of touch. This means that your feet don’t quite feel the surface they’re stepping on, and thus fail to obtain a firm grasp of the surface. This also means you’re not able to fully determine the orientation or elevation of the surface you’re walking on.
If by any reasons your feet start numbing from the cold while hiking, we recommend to immediately stop the activity and to make your way back down the mountain. Like we explained, numbness can elevate from a performance factor to a security hazard.
In the last point, we talked about heat sealing and retention. It is highly advised to look for an upper build sealing that also protects your feet from water leaks. Water is already an annoying obstacle during regular hiking, but this measure becomes especially important in cold weathers.
Performance-wise, water within your shoe is terrible. If you’re in a snowy environment, chances are any natural water nearby is pretty cold. Soaked feet are not only utterly uncomfortable, but they also expose you to feet fungi, bad scents, blisters, and calluses.
However, when we talk about waterproofing we’re not just talking about the inner part of the shoe. Waterproofing also refers to the ability of the snow boot to repel water from its materials. In simpler words, applying materials that do not absorb water. This is a fairly simple point – bulky snow boots are already heavy enough, if they soak during contact with water their weight could potentially become twice as much.
Water within the shoe would also interfere with our first criteria; heat accumulation. If water manages to leak into the inner shoe, not only will it make your feet cold at that moment. It will also affect the inner accumulation of heat, and prevent further heat accumulation within the inner build.
It also becomes an obstacle to multiple shoe elements. For instance, the contact between the foot and the insole is obstructed. Additionally, the insole itself becomes soaked if it’s not waterproof – leading to a very sloppy performance and a lack of inner traction. The leakage would also affect the socks, exposing feet to irritation.
We recommend the use of further waterproof equipment, such as socks that offer protection from water and waterproof insoles. In case of leaks (whether it’s because of a fabric malfunction or natural deterioration), this equipment will considerably reduce the impact water has on both your feet and your performance.
Waterproofing is especially important because it’s not a temporary obstacle. The effect from water (soaked insoles, wet socks and feet) will follow you around until you’re done hiking or performing activities on the snow.
Though, keep in mind that certain products offer water protection in place of waterproofing. There’s a huge difference between these two features. While they may seem similar at first sight, waterproof products offer a much more complete protection against water. Water resistant products offer simpler protection, such as walking through a river or preventing rain from leaking in. But, when it comes to submersion or prolonged exposure to water, water resistant products are not the most optimal choice.
Think of it as waterproof and water resistant watches. Waterproofing will allow you to completely submerge the watch (up to certain depth depending on its protection), while water resistance protects it from splashing, rain, or brief exposure to water. Keep in mind that completely waterproof products tend to be costlier than that of water-resistant models.
Equipment for cold wear, such as snow boots, need to be adequately prepared for it. This often involves a high-top design, a thick rubber midsole with a substantial outsole slugged design. While all of these features are necessary, they start adding up quite a bit of weight when they’re all together.
Thick protection is necessary when we’re talking about cold environments, especially if activities such as snow hiking are involved. However, excessive bulk has one huge downside; weight. While environment protecting features are important, weight tends to have a big impact on the quality of the shoe. We’re not talking about performance yet – even casual wear can become tiresome when having to drag a very heavy boot around, especially during extended use.
However, modern technology allows manufacturers to deliver these functions at a much lower weight than ever before. In fact, some of the lightweight technology we’ll mention has proven to be more efficient than their heavier counterpart. This innovation applies to pretty much every element of the shoe; from the upper build fabrics, to the insole, midsole, and heel/outsole design.
The midsole materials, for example, went from the traditional rubber to EVA midsole. Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) is a somewhat new compound that resembles some of the features offered by traditional rubber. It also improves some other functions, and even offers some aspects of its own that are not present in rubber. Although, there’s a big misconception regarding EVA products and their use.
Unlike most people believe, EVA is not a rubber derivate – it’s a type of foam. You may have heard of this compound lately on all types of shoes, although mostly on performance ones. In comparison to rubber, this compound is much more flexible, counts with low-temperature resistance, stress-cracking resistance, and protection against UV radiation. Lastly, and most importantly for this parameter, it’s much lighter.
In addition to using different materials, applying them in a different manner also makes the shoe lighter. For instance, manufacturers employ these materials in denser amounts, rather than in greater volume. When you combine low volume, with high density, and a lighter material, you obtain a considerably lighter boot.
Performance-wise, weight has always been (and continues to be) a huge factor. In sports that involve running and jumping, every single ounce of difference is considered an advantage amongst professional competitors. While an ounce might not make that much of a different in such a voluminous build, such as snow boots, you want to focus on finding a shoe that is light in general.
When snow hiking, for example, dragging a boot that weights 2kg is considerably tougher than doing so with a boot that weights 600g. You might not feel it at the very moment you put them on – but when we’re talking about 2-3 hours of hiking, those extra 1.4kg will sure be noticeable.
The longer you perform (or simply walk), the lighter your boot should be. A lightweight approach will reduce the effort you need to take a step. If you take 10 steps, you might not notice a thing. Walk a thousand steps however, and the difference is crystal clear.
There are many aspects behind the protection a snow boot should deliver. Basically, it comes down to two different types: external protection, and internal protection. Customers tend to focus on the external protection, which as you can guess, is the one responsible for protecting your feet from external elements (water, rocks, snow). Some of them make the mistake of forgetting about the internal protection.
Now, it would make sense to think that your feet are safe as long as they’re protected from the exterior. But that’s not the case. In a good snow boot, there should be no physical element in the inner shoe that would harm your feet. However, it’s not physical elements that you need internal protection from.
Things such as impact and shock can be just as harmful to your feet as physical external elements. Some people would argue these two are even a greater threat that any external hazards. If a boot isn’t equipped with adequate cushioning and shock-absorbing materials, activities as simple as walking can generate a considerable amount of stress on your heels, your arch, and even your forefoot (toes included).
Additionally, any further impact activity or rough sport such as hiking will produce a much larger amount of stress on your feet. Thus, we consider cushioning and shock-absorbing features to be paramount while selecting the best snow boots. The lack of these features would make any shoe a bad option, let alone a boot that is meant to endure rough environments.
Yet, this doesn’t make external protection any less important. The elements have proven to be a pretty rough obstacle if you underestimate them. Waterproof or water resistant protection, like we mentioned above, is one of the most important aspects of protection in a snow boot – and any shoe that is meant to be near water.
Some snow boots (and boots in general depending on their purpose) may have a toe cap plaque. This plaque is usually found on construction boots and footwear of similar activities, meant to provide additional protection to the toes in case something landed on them. Though, this feature has been quickly adapted to hiking boots and boots in general, given that protection is one of the main aspects people seek for when they decide to purchase boots.
The upper build materials have a big role in external protection. These materials are the only thing standing between you and the exterior. Thus, they should be able to endure pretty much any circumstances you put them up to (as long as they meet the boot’s purpose). Certain external elements, such as branches and debris, should pose no threat to a boot that features adequate upper build materials.
Keep in mind that it is possible that external elements penetrate the boot regardless of the materials, although it’s unlikely. In these cases, a high-quality boot should be able to stop the penetrating object from reaching your foot. While the first layers of material might receive damage, your feet will be safe. You might lose the boot – but it’s much better than receiving direct damage on a foot during a hike.
Grip & Traction
Snowy environments are unpredictable; the uneven surface and the things it may cover can quickly become hazardous. People tend to underestimate snow; it sure is harmless while you hold it in your hands, but environments covered by snow are a completely different story. When stepping on snow, especially when hiking, you need to know there’s something under the surface – even if it’s more snow. Taking a false step and sliding is the last thing you want.
To avoid this, the primary thing you should focus on is a strong grip. Having a grasp of the surface is a must when you’re on snow. If your shoe lacks grip and fails to work as a solid platform, your feet will just bend sideways with every step due to the irregular surface.
Aside from proper equipment, there’s a tiny bit of practice when it comes to walking on the snow. While it’s not a super complex skill to master, knowing how to move around on snow can make it much easier for you. If on top of that you count with the right equipment, you’ll be all set for hitting the snow like it was any other surface.
Now, we’ve seen a question that troubles a lot of users while they’re looking for shoes: “What’s the difference between grip and traction?” The answer is fairly simple.
The grip of a shoe is what allows you to hold onto the surface – to literally grip to it. A completely flat sole with a very smooth surface will barely have any grip, as it will fail to firmly grasp the surface. On the other hand, a snow boot with a fairly thick sole should be able to keep you on almost anything you step on (given that the balance is right).
The traction, on the other hand, is the quality of the contact between the outsole and the surface. In this case, a smooth, flat outsole delivers efficient traction. Keep in mind, though, that a slippery shoe has good traction – but this doesn’t make it practical or efficient.
An example of traction is a car tire and the highway; the material of the tire has super smooth contact with the road. Thus, mobility is considerably easy and is possible with even a slight impulse. The less traction there is, the harder it is to perform a continuous sliding motion.
Depending on the activity you’ll perform, you should opt for more grip and less traction, the opposite case, or simply an equal balance of both.
In order to obtain a better grip, you should look for snow boots that feature a thick sole with some kind of irregular surface (as in not smooth). Rubber slugs, for example, make a great job at gripping to the surface – especially on environments that involve dirt or snow. Aside from acting as a firm platform, these slugs dig into the snow, providing you with much more stable gaits.
It’s important to remember that low traction or no grip doesn’t necessarily translate into a bad shoe. It all depends on what you’ll use them form. In the case of snowing boots, you’ll want to get as much grip as you get, instead of a smooth outsole design.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What type of closure should I get?
A: Straps deliver a much more firm support. Though, this doesn’t mean laces aren’t a functional solution. As long as the laces go up as high as the tongue, it should be able to deliver a firm fit. The best option would be combination consists of both laces and straps. Laces provide support throughout the whole tongue, while straps will place some more support on key points such as the shin and ankle area.
Q: How much room should there be on the toe box?
A: Regardless of the activity your performing, weather it’s just walking or going on a hike, you should count with enough toe box space. The most optimal fit consists of a comfortable type of tight; meaning they’re adequate for your size, but still give you enough room to move your toes around a bit. The fit should not be loose or tight.
Q: Are these boots suitable for snow hiking?
A: Multiple of the products listed on this guide are suitable for snow hiking. Though, please make sure to refer to each product individually to inform yourself about the specific uses and capabilities of each pair.
Q: How much does it cost to rent snow boots, and is it worth it?
A: Renting snow boots costs anywhere between $5 and $10 per day. This is a great option if you’re going to be on the snow for just a few days, as snow boots are generally too expensive to buy a pair and use it 4 or 5 times a year. If you don’t live in a snowy environment, renting snow boots will be considerably cheaper (and efficient) than purchasing a pair on your own.
Q: How to waterproof snow boots?
A: Depending on the amount of water protection you’re looking for, you might (or might not) be able to provide the waterproofing function to the shoe yourself. You can follow our guide on how to waterproof shoes for further detail. Keep in mind that obtaining waterproof shoes is the best way to go, rather than waterproofing them yourself.
Q: Do snow boots prevent the snow’s temperature to get to your feet?
A: Yes, this is known as insulation. Snow boots have a determined insulation capacity. Thermal insulation basically consists of retaining heat, or keeping cold outside (insulating it). Depending on your boot’s capacity, they may or may not endure certain temperature and circumstances. Make sure to refer to the product description for specific detail.
Q: How do I seal snow boots?
A: Make sure you properly apply the respective closure of your shoe; no straps should be left off or strings untied. Any closure or sealing measure that is left off will affect the waterproofing protection of the shoe. Additionally, make sure the closures are properly tightened as indicated by the product description or manufacturer instructions.
Q: What shoe height should I look for in a snow boot?
A: The higher you go, they more protection you’ll get. Keep in mind that a high-top boot may not be as easy to move around with in comparison to a mid-top boot. Lastly, if the environment is really cold, we recommend going at least mid-top high; low-top boots will leave your shins out of the protection zone.