Best Snow Boots Reviewed & Rated for Performance

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.

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By NicoleH:

We've added a few new models and brands to our top ten list of top rated snow boots for this winter! Check out the UGG Butte or Kamik Momentum, or Polar Products for solid insulated boots. Be sure to read through our criteria section for helpful information to help you pick your next pair!

The most important thing that differentiates a pair of snow boots from your regular pair of boots is the fact that they are made for much colder conditions. Whether you need them to protect you from a regular cold winter with temperatures in the low 10s or are expecting to experience weather that is as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit, a good pair of snow boots will offer the insulation to keep you warm and safe. Furthermore, they will be water resistant or waterproof and will enable you to tread through snow without allowing your feet to get wet. Finally, the soles of your snow boots need to be durable, but flexible enough to allow you to safely walk on snowy and icy surfaces without slipping or falling.

Featured Recommendations

Columbia Ice Maiden II
  • Columbia Ice Maiden II
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 200g Insulation
  • Seam-Sealed
  • Price: See Here
Kingshow Globalwin
  • Kingshow Globalwin
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Waterproof
  • Durable Sole
  • Price: See Here
Kamik Nationplus
  • Kamik Nationplus
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • -40 F Rated
  • Rustproof Speed-Lacing
  • Price: See Here

In order to help you with choosing the best possible pair of snow boots for your need, we have gathered in this list the 10 best-rated products available for purchase, describing their unique features, pros, and cons. This means that you will be able to make the right choice based on what you require, while also having plenty of information about what to look for in snow boots.

 

10 Best Snow Boots

1. Columbia Ice Maiden II

Columbia may be known for their rugged, tough, and sporty snow gear, but it doesn’t mean they can’t introduce a luxe piece into their catalog. Conjuring images of Dr. Zhivago in a horse-drawn sled, the Ice Maiden II’s are ideal for the wearer that wants to navigate inclement environs while looking every bit the snow queen. A waterproof exterior and fuzzy lining help to keep the element out while not sacrificing the elegant look.
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Durability
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.

Comfort
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.
Pros
  • Techlite Insulation 200g
  • Removable Inner Bootie
  • Fashionable Design
  • Waterproof
  • Non-Marking Outsole
Cons
  • Not Designed For Extreme Temperatures
  • Runs Narrow

2. Kingshow Globalwin

Any snow boot should include waterproofing and insulation, and the Kingshow Globalwin Waterproof snow boot maintains these elements, then ramps up the styling of the boot with a fun functional look you can pair with jeans, leggings, or snow pants to keep you warm and fashionable. Traction at the base of the Globalwin Waterproof lets you step out in slush and snow without worry of falling, and the cushioning keeps you going all snowstorm long.
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Design
This knee length boot keeps fashion in function, utilizing PU uppers to keep water at bay, and cement construction to maintain the weather proof seams for all day wear and flexible comfort. A number of color options and combinations are available, so you can pair with your winter wardrobe to either make a statement, or create an outdoor insulated cozy look. Fully lined with faux fur, you’ll stay toasty and warm in the Globalwin Waterproof.

Function
The man made outsole helps keep your feet dry in deeper slush and snow, and provides exceptional grip over slippery surfaces with a groove patterned sole for traction. Long traditional lace up vamp allows for adjustable and secure fit with D rings for durability and water resistance. Inside is a mesh covered foot bed, delivering cushioning and some climate control to help with sweating or chills.

Cost and Value
For a taller, well made winter snow boot, the Kingshow Globalwin Waterproof combines comfort, style, and function into one solid pair of snow boots. It’s fully lined faux fur will keep your feet toasty and warm, while rubber outsole and patterned sole give traction and stability. Definitely worth the budget friendly price!
Pros

Waterproof

Fur Lined

D-ring Lace Up

Durable

Mesh Lined Footbed

Cons

Tongue Placement

Lacks Sufficient Arch Support

3. Kamik Nationplus

Proving that producing high tech snow boots isn’t the only game in town, Kamik also offers a classic boot that has a tall but rugged profile, is able to withstand -40 F temperatures, and is comprised of a leather shaft and rubber outsole. It’s not as tall as their Greenbay 4 but it’s taller than a Sorel; halfway between the calf and the knee. It’s perfect for inside or outside the chalet since Kamik believes functionality doesn’t mean sacrificing style.
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Functionality
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.

Durability
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 tread than Sorel boots, are every bit as warm as a Merrell, are light for a tall boot, and all for a low price.
Pros
  • Low Price
  • Removable Slipper Liner
  • Speed Laces
  • Thinsulate Insulation
  • Rated -40F/-40C
Cons
  • Can Run Small
  • Don’t Offer Much Support

4. UGG Butte

4. UGG Butte
If you’re a fan of UGG, you’ll love their winter snow boot, the Butte. A mid-length snow boot, it’s designed from cow leather uppers and waterproof construction, with Vibram sole and insulation rated to -20 C. Traditional UGGpure wool lining and faux fur collar to help keep you feeling wrapped in warm softness, it delivers insulation and functionality in a well-constructed boot. Packed with the brand name comfort you expect from UGG, it’s sure to win a spot in your footwear collection this winter.
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Insulation
The UGG Butte was made for outdoor wear and tear, especially in the brutal cold of winter. Faux fur lines the collar to pad you in a cozy soft feel and help keep warmth inside, as well as prevent snow from creeping into the boot. Rated for cold weather up to -20 degrees Celsius, you can brave the winter weather without worrying about cold toes or feet hindering you and keeping you inside. Waterpoof construction prevents water from getting into the boot and risking wet cold feet.

Cushion and Traction
The Vibram sole of the Butte keeps a lugged tread pattern, and makes for an excellent base for traction in icy, slushy and wet conditions. Outsole wraps the top of the toes as well, helping to make sure your feet stay dry. Foam molded construction allows for a unique fit and conformation to your individual foot shape. Armed for the worst winter storm, the UGG Butte will keep you on your feet, braving the elements in warmth and style!

Cost and Value
Similar to other UGG brand footwear, it can be considered somewhat pricier than other snow boots, but is well worth the investment for its waterproof construction and -20C insulated warmth rating. Perfect for some of the worst winter weather, it’s an ideal boot for both UGG lovers and others alike, and keeps a great sense of style for winter wear. If you’re in search of functional and insulated quality in your next pair of snow boots, look no further!
Pros

Brand Name

Foam Molded Construction

Traction

Rated for -20 Celsius

Insulated

Cons

Sizing Varies

Price

5. Sorel Joan Of Arctic

5. Sorel Joan Of Arctic
A gorgeous and versatile boot, the Joan of Arctic from Sorel is something you will love slipping on and wearing throughout your long winter days. Sorel has put together a number of features which make this a durable boot that will keep you warm and dry in the snow. With extra insulation, a liner, a frost plug, and a seam-sealed construction this boot is going to be a winter favorite for sure.
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Temperature Rating
It's always important to check the temperature rating of a boot, as you want to be certain that it is designed to withstand the specific level of cold that it will be used in. This boot is rated with the ability to perform in up to -25F/-32C. If you live or play in conditions that meet or are above this temperature, then this boot will be very effective at keeping you warm and dry.

Insulation
While most boots are filled with a material to give it it's insulation, these boots are built with a removable liner. What this means for you is that you can change how warm they are by either adding or removing the liner making them great for warmer winter days, as well as very frigid ones.

Cost and Value
These boots are a bit more expensive, but that has a lot to do with the fact that you're paying for both performance as well as appearance. A lot of winter boots are designed with only performance in mind and they look bulky and bland. These have decorative fur features and an attractive design that makes them look just as good as they feel.
Pros
  • Waterproof suede leather
  • Removable inner boot
  • Felt frost plug
  • Vulcanized rubber shell
  • Great for heavy snow
Cons
  • Can be clunky
  • Run slightly small

6. Sorel Caribou II

6. Sorel Caribou II
Sorel Caribou II’s look like what you think of when you think of snow boots. They have the classic two-toned design of the shaft and toe-box, and a puffy white cuff around the calf. Like other snow boots, they’re waterproof and will keep your feet toasty, with a standard lace-up closure and a rubber sole. In a market of styles that have become more streamlined and sporty, their style is enduring and timeless and reminds their wearer of hot cider, sledding, and hours building the perfect snowman.
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Durability
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.

Comfort
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 while 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.
Pros
  • Thinsulate Insulation
  • Leather and Rubber 
  • Will Last A Long Time
  • Soft, Sherpa Liner
  • Rated -40F/-40C
Cons
  • Cost A Bit Above Average 
  • Rubber will crack after a few years

7. Polar Products Nylon

7. Polar Products Nylon
Polar Products is well known for insulated footwear that delivers time and time again, and the Nylon snow boot is another model that packs technology and insulation into a solid option for winter wear. Available in a number of textures such as textile, suede or leather, you can select the option best suited to your winter weather and waterproofing needs. Near knee-high boot length provides an option for deep snow wear, and rubber sole provides amazing traction during slippery winter conditions.
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Traction
The rubber outsole of the Polar Products Nylon maintains excellent traction in the slippery winter elements with patterned sole. Outsole wraps around the toe box of the boot, helping to maintain waterproof quality where you need it most from your snow boot. Great for consideration for winter sports like snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or just taking a stroll through the fresh snowfall.

Warmth
The Polar Products Nylon is a fully lined snow boot, helping to maintain insulation and warmth inside to keep you cozy. Mid-calf lace up allows for a snug fit with D-ring hardware, ideal for wet conditions or deeper snow. Waterproof construction makes sure that you stay dry in slush and melting snow, so you can get outside no matter what the conditions.

Cost and Value
Quite budget friendly, the Polar Products Nylon boot is great for winter weather and snow sport wear. It’s patterned rubber sole provides great traction in slippery snow and ice, while mid-calf length allows for some deep snow wear. Fully lined interior maintains warmth in cold weather. And, it has great options for a new pair of snow boots with uppers constructed with leather, suede or textile uppers.
Pros

Traction

Waterproof

Fully Lined Insulation

D-ring Lace Up

Price

Cons

Lacking Support

Run Small

8. Columbia Bugaboot Plus III

8. Columbia Bugaboot Plus III
A rugged ankle-boot that looks more like athletic footwear than a snow boot, the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III is a study in functionality and durability. It has features specifically designed to trap heat in and keep water out, as well as being some of the most comfortable pairs of snow boots on the market. Rated at -25F/-32C, these are the perfect choice for all outside activities in the winter months.
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Functionality
These snow boots have some pretty amazing features, including the non-marking Omni-Grip outsole that is specifically designed for walking in the snow. The Omni-Heat reflective lining has 200g insulation, keeping you warm with the aid of small silver dots reflecting heat back onto your feet.

Durability
Spend all day in these snow boots and you won’t feel a thing. Their Techlite lightweight midsole is made for support, cushioning and shock absorption, while still providing you with enough energy return so that you aren’t fatigued at the end of the day. With all of these amazing features, you will be happy to hear that the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III is a durable pair of snow boots, ready to last you for several seasons.

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, you can rest assured that your feet will stay dry and warm, even when met with deep and slushy snow, while the 200g of insulation means they’re ideal for moderately cold weather, but not arctic conditions. They’re incredibly comfortable and breathe like sportswear, which means that these boots offer excellent features for an average price.
Pros
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight 
  • Great For Hiking
  • Keeps Heat Circulating
  • Non-Marking Grippy Outsole
Cons
  • Eyelets Are Of A Lower Quality
  • Some Users Don’t Find Them Warm Enough

9. KEEN Elsa

9. KEEN Elsa
With an array of fun and funky designs and colors, this is a boot that is sure to stand out in a crowd. Not only is it visually appealing, but it also has all of the important features that make it a useful and well-performing snow boot. The seam-sealed waterproof construction is also paired with water repelling materials so that no moisture will be able to penetrate any part of this boot. This boot also has a heat reflecting feature, which provides a thermal barrier to keep you nice and toasty warm.
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Temperature Conditions
If you live in a climate that gets extremely frigid, then these boots may not be best suited for you. For those who live in more general climates, where winters are cold but not arctic cold, then these will withstand most temperate conditions. They are rated as being effective up to -4F/-20C, so as long as you are around or above that then you should find these to be great boots.

Sherpa Collar and Lining
The lining on the collar and inside of the boot is made from a faux fleece known as sherpa. This gives it a warm and comfortable feeling, while also looking attractive and wintery. The lightness of the material makes it extremely breathable, so it won’t make your calfs sweaty or irritated.

Cost and Value
Since these aren't designed for extreme conditions, the price is reflective of their limitations. This means that you are getting a well designed and effective boot for a lot less than some of the others we have looked at. The tradeoff is that if you are going up into the mountains, or live in very cold areas, this boot may not be enough to keep you completely warm.
Pros
  • Natural Odor Control
  • 100g of insulation
  • Heat Reflecting Strobel
  • Sherpa Collar
  • Metatomical Footbed Design
Cons
  • Limited Temperature Range
  • Not Fully Waterproof

10. Kamik Momentum

10. Kamik Momentum
Kamik is no stranger to cold outdoor weather, and the Momentum is a snow boot that is made for longer durations in the elements and wet weather. With insulation consisting of 200g Thinsulate, it’s rated to -25F, perfect for northernmost winters where temperatures can plummet. Waterproof construction with nylon uppers and gusset tongue top the PEAK snow and ice traction sole at the base of the Momentum. If you need some serious snow boots, Kamik has made this specifically for those who need something for the extremes!!
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Insulation
When winters strike in the northernmost areas, temperatures can plummet, and winds can cause serious concerns when hitting below 0. The Kamik Momentum is made with 200g Thinsulate to insulate your feet against brutal cold temperatures, and is rated to -25F. Lining helps wick away moisture and provides breathability so you won’t get cold feet. Faux fur collar helps keep out the snow and provides a soft plush feel.

Construction
Uppers of the Momentum are made with a waterproof nylon to keep you dry, and gusset tongue to provide some padding as well as keeping snow out of the boot. Seam sealed construction maintains waterproofing throughout the boot, and a bungee lace system gives a quick snug fit. PEAK snow and ice traction sole provide amazing grip in slippery weather, especially icy conditions. Removable footbed has been anti-odor treated, so you can wear for longer durations without worrying about how the closet will smell later!

Cost and Value
For Kamik brand construction and insulation, the Momentum is quite reasonably priced for a solid snow boot. Rated to -25F, it keeps insulation paramount, and waterproof construction to help keep you dry in extreme temperatures and winter conditions. Great for those who need the extra warmth, or anyone in search of a solid, quality pair of snow boots.
Pros

200g Thinsulate

Rated for -25F

Waterproof Nylon Upper

Faux Fur Lining

Bungee Lacing System

Cons

Lining Durability

Lace Durability

 

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 -20 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

Heat-Retention-The-Best-Snow-Boots-Reviewed

Heat Retention

When spending time in the snow, keeping your feet warm is paramount. While your pair of snow boots may not be able to generate heat themselves, they can help you retain the heat that your own body produces within the boot. It’s extremely important that your snow boots come with the necessary features that prevent heat from escaping the boot. This retained heat is what keeps your feet from suffering the consequences of being exposed to low temperatures, and it becomes more and more important as it gets colder.

Aside from retaining heat, your snow boots also have the task of preventing natural airflow, more precisely the entry of cold outside air into the boot itself. If you’re in snowy climates, one thing is for sure; the wind will be just about as cold as the snow beneath your feet. As you can guess, cold is not something you want passing through your inner boot and affecting your feet, so less air flow means more warmth for you.

In order to properly retain heat, snow boots must be equipped 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 heat retention; in order to optimize the heat seal, your boots should fit snugly. 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 in the snow – making sure that your feet are warm is imperative, seeing that it can influence your performance, especially during athletic activities such as hiking. If your boots do not perform adequately, allowing for cold air to reach inside them, you may find yourself seeing a drop in your performance levels, or even experiencing some rather unwanted symptoms. Not only will feeling cold slow you down and make you uncomfortable, but it can also pose a safety threat.

Every single part of your body must be prepared to endure very cold circumstances, with your feet being no exception, which is why a decent pair of snow boots is so important. Exposure to the cold can eventually numb the entirety of both your feet, and it can damage the skin if this happens for a prolonged period of time. The numbness you feel will represent a huge reduction in your performance, and it can quickly escalate to becoming a reduction in your mobility as well.

Additionally, the numbing can affect your sense of touch. This means that your feet won’t quite feel the surface they’re stepping on, and thus fail to obtain a firm and stable grasp on it. If you’re not able to fully determine the orientation or elevation of the surface you’re walking on, you are simply waiting for an accident to happen. So, if for 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 and you should never take that risk.

Waterproofing

In addition to heat sealing and retention, it is highly advised to look for an upper build sealing that also protects your feet from being affected by water leaks. Water is already an annoying obstacle during regular hiking, but this measure becomes especially important in cold weather.

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 can lead to fungi, odors, blisters, and calluses, but can also up your chances of experiencing hypothermia as your feet will inevitably get more and colder.

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 and if they soak during contact with water their weight could potentially become twice as much.

  • Interior

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.

  • Leaking

The leaking of water 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.

  • Additional Options

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 of water (soaked insoles, wet socks and feet) will follow you around until you’re done hiking or performing activities in the snow. If you happen to then get a fungal infection or other issues, this can last days, weeks, or even longer making you both uncomfortable and unhappy.

It is important to keep in mind that certain products offer water protection in place of waterproofing. There’s a huge difference between these two features, and 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 puddle 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.

Weight

Equipment for cold wear, such as snow boots, needs to adequately prepare you for when the temperature drops; this often involves a high-top design, a thick rubber midsole with a substantially lugged outsole 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, the excessive bulk has one huge downside – weight. While environmental protection features are important, weight tends to have a big impact on the quality of the shoe. We’re not even talking about performance yet – as 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 environmental 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 counterparts. 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 a more modern 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 that needs to be dispelled.

Contrary to what most people believe, EVA is not a rubber derivate – it’s a type of foam. You may have heard of this compound being used in all types of shoes, although mostly in performance ones. In comparison to rubber, this compound is much more flexible, counts with low-temperature resistance have stress-cracking resistance, and protects 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 difference 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 weighs 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, that extra 1.4kg will sure be noticeable.

The longer you plan on performing (or simply walking), 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.

Protection

There are many aspects of 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 external factors, 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.

  • Internal Protection

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 than 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 when 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.

  • External Protection

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 intended for similar activities and is meant to provide additional protection to the toes in case something lands on them. This feature has been quickly adapted to hiking boots and boots in general, given that protection is one of the main aspects people look for when they decide to purchase boots.

The upper build materials have a big role in external protection as well; 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 may 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 to your 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 in 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 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.

  • Grip – 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).

 

  • Traction – 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 lugs, for example, do a great job of gripping to the surface – especially on environments that involve dirt or snow. Aside from acting as a firm platform, these lugs 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 for. In the case of snow boots, you’ll want to get as much grip as you can, 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 a combination that 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 in the toe box?
A: Regardless of the activity your performing, whether it’s just walking or going on a hike, you should have the right amount of 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: Will snow boots stretch?
A: In order to get the most effective product, you are ideally going to be purchasing a pair of snow boots that are snugly fitting. Loose boots will let in cold air and moisture, making them ineffective and a waste of your money. If you do happen to buy boots that are a bit too tight, there are a few tricks you can try to help stretch them. Unfortunately, the materials used in snow boots are designed to not have much give, so if your boots pinch your toes, or are painful to walk in, then you are better off returning them and purchasing a pair that fits. The benefit to this inflexible material is that your perfectly fitting snow boots won’t stretch with use. You are far more likely to have to replace your boots due to degradation then you are because they have loosened.

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 more efficient) than purchasing a pair of 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 from affecting your feet?
A: Yes, this is known as insulation. Snow boots have a determined insulation capacity. Thermal insulation basically refers to the retaining of heat or keeping the 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 details on what temperature they are effective in.

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 when compared 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.

Sources

  1. eBay, Important Features in Snow Boots, Mar 03, 2016
  2. BigSkyFishing, Importace of Winter Socks,
  3. Mountain Warehouse, Hiking with Snow Boots, Oct 23, 2013
  4. Shoe Zone, How to Wear Snow Boots , Jan 25, 2017
  5. Big Sky Fishing, How to Keep Your Feet Warm in Winter,


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