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Published Oct. 4, 2021

Walking in a winter wonderland is supposed to be fun, but all too often it turns into a miserable slog that leaves your feet feeling like blocks of ice. If you brave the cold with the wrong footwear, you’re bound to end up soaking wet, frozen, or both. All three of those options are downright miserable. What you need is a boot that’s up to the challenge of winter temperatures and springtime slush. Some snow boots are rugged enough for an arctic excursion, some are built for style, and some are a pretty good combination of the two. Anyone who experiences long, cold winters would do well to have a few different pairs for various occasions. You definitely need at least one.

The problem––particularly with women’s snow boots, unfortunately––is that many manufacturers focus more on appearance than functionality. For some reason, product planners seem to think that all women want from winter boots are bows and fake fur; to hell with insulation and waterproofing. You deserve better. By shopping established brands, you’ll have better odds of finding a boot that keeps you warm, dry, and comfortable no matter what the weather throws at you. We did some digging on your behalf and found boots for every occasion. Some are tough enough for wintertime outdoor adventure and some are comfortable enough to wear around town all day, but they all use high-quality materials and proven features to make them worthy of your hard-earned cash.

Which type of snow boot is right for you? It’s important to decide whether you prioritize warmth, waterproofing, or style. You can generally get two of the three in a purpose-built boot that’s designed to last. We stayed clear of the imitators and wannabes to make sure only legitimate cold-weather footwear made this list. Read on to find one or two that are perfect for your idea of winter fun, then get out there and start enjoying the snow.

The Columbia Ice Maiden II is a versatile snow boot that can do just about everything well. It all begins with the grippy sole, which is closer to that of a hiking boot than the clunky snow boots you remember from your childhood. It might not remove your foot from the cold ground as far as some boots, but it’s bound to be comfortable. The flexible upper portion contributes to walking comfort, too. Sealed seams help keep water out. By combining leather and quilted textile, Columbia made a lightweight snow boot that feels more like a hiking boot. These might not be totally waterproof, but they’re more than adequate for melting snow and a few splashes now and then. There are even ten color combinations to choose from.

When temperatures plummet below zero, the Kamik Momentum is the snow boot to have. This beefy boot is rated for temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. This capability comes courtesy of fantastic insulation and plenty of it. The thick rubber sole wraps over the top of the foot to provide waterproofing and put about an inch of material between your foot and the frozen ground. Large tread lugs provide great traction in loose snow. If you’re wearing these boots it’s certainly too cold to be messing around with laces, so the Momentum uses pull-to-tighten laces that are easy to use with gloves or mittens. Fully synthetic construction helps keep weight down despite the substantial feel of this boot. Choose from 17 color combinations.

If you need a tall boot to trek through deep snow or just prefer the look, check out these snow boots from Aleader. With an overall height of 12.6 inches, these are the tallest boots on our list. A cushioned cuff prevents rubbing against your calves, and faux fur keeps snow outside the boot, where it belongs. The plush lining is as soft as it is warm. A sealed rubber lower portion adds reliable waterproofing. The lace-up shaft lets you get the perfect fit but stops short of the foot to eliminate a way for water to seep in. The skid-resistant sole strikes a nice balance between cold-weather grip and all-day comfort that you won’t mind walking around in. Four color combinations are available, and all are stylish enough to wear around town.

If you live in a region that experiences serious winters, you probably have a closet full of The North Face clothing already. One of the biggest names in outdoor adventure gear also has your feet taken care of with the Shellista II snow boot. The wrap-around rubber sole provides grip in slippery conditions and protects your feet from slush and melting snow when the temperature rises. Rugged Nubuck leather extends to mid-calf with a 13-inch shaft that keeps even deep snow from falling into your boots. The soft, padded cuff protects against rubbing to create a boot that’s comfortable enough to wear all day. Inside, 293-gram PrimaLoft Silver insulation keeps cold temperatures at bay without adding unnecessary bulk. If you want a boot that spans around-town use and outdoor adventure, the Shellista II is the way to go. Consider going up a half size if you like to wear extra thick socks.

Sorel’s Explorer Joan is perfect for light winter duty. This isn’t what we’d wear for the Iditarod, but it’s a great replacement for your everyday shoes when temperatures drop and snow starts to accumulate. It’s also a perfect winter boot for milder climates. As you’d expect from this brand, build quality is the name of the game. Full-grain leather provides durability and waterproofing, while a textile portion improves flexibility and sheds weight. An inner waterproof membrane acts as a second line of defense. Inside, a fleece lining keeps things nice and toasty. The sole offers plenty of grip while feeling more like a normal shoe than a boot. This is our pick for anyone who likes to stay active and doesn’t need a heavy-duty snow boot.

If style is your deciding factor, the Sperry Maritime Repel is the boot for you. This lightweight boot provides protection against cold, wet conditions but it’s still stylish and comfortable enough to be your primary winter footwear. All-leather construction is rugged and looks far less utilitarian than traditional snow boots. Leather laces add a high-end feel to this boot, while a side zipper makes them easy to put on and take off. Advanced insulation provides plenty of warmth without unnecessary bulk. The half-inch-thick rubber sole offers traction on snow and ice and is seam-sealed to keep water out. Sole material is non-marking. Reach for these when winter activities involve snowbanks, slushy sidewalks, and chilly commutes.

When your winter wonderland turns to mud and slush, the Muck Boot Arctic Ice has you covered. This is the waterproof champion of our list. Seamless rubber extends high above the ankle like a rainboot. The Vibram outsole brings renowned comfort, durability, and grip on slick surfaces. In fact, its rubber is specifically designed to stay pliable and grippy in temperatures as low as -60 degrees Fahrenheit to give you secure footing on ice. Aggressive tread bites into mud and other loose surfaces to keep you upright. The neoprene shaft reaches to mid-calf to provide a little extra warmth. Inside, fleece insulates against the cold and adds a soft layer between your foot and the rubber exterior. The Arctic series from Muck Boot includes a few different styles, but this is the one you want for the most demanding conditions.

Types of snow boots

Picking the right snow boots basically comes down to three questions. How cold are your winters, how wet are your winters, and how much time will you be spending outside? While the best (and most expensive) snow boots excel just about everywhere, you can save some money by choosing one that prioritizes your specific needs. If you encounter deep snow for months at a time, look for a traditional snow boot with thick insulation, a heavy sole, and a tall upper that can be laced nice and snug. If your climate is more prone to heavy slush, a waterproof option will serve you better, even if it isn’t as warm. If your winter activities are generally confined to city limits, you can probably forego both and look for something that’s more stylish and can be worn comfortably indoors, too.

Key features of snow boots

  • Insulation: Winter means different things to different people, and running errands doesn’t require the same boot as shoveling the driveway. Insulation can either be designed to keep you warm while getting from A to B, or to withstand extended periods in the harshest of environments.
  • Water resistance: Just because snow is melting doesn’t mean it’s time to break out the casual shoes. Wet feet will ruin your day at the very least, so pick up a snow boot that protects against chilly temperatures and uninvited water.
  • Height: Casual snow boots rise just above the ankle. These are great for walking around town and wearing all day, but comfort comes at the price of warmth. For outdoor winter activities, make the investment in a boot with a tall upper that can keep snow from falling inside.
  • Price: There are definitely bargains to be had when you’re shopping for snow boots, but don’t skimp so much that you sacrifice quality. Try to strike a balance between saving money on unnecessary features and getting what you need.

Benefits of snow boots

If you’ve ever experienced the misery of shuffling along on frozen feet, you don’t need to be sold on the need for good snow boots. If you haven’t, take our word for it. Snow boots are designed to insulate against the cold, provide a barrier between you and the snow, and repel water to keep your feet warm and dry. Winter can take many forms, and snow boots are available in a range of styles and with varying features to work well in different climates. Choose wisely, and you may never need another set of foot warmers again.

Snow boot pricing

Decent snow boots can be found for prices as low as $50. They’ll give you basic protection against the cold and serve as good all-rounders. If you just want to buy one pair, they’re a good place to start your search. More expensive options offer enhanced insulation, better waterproofing, more style, or some combination of the three. Prices for premium options can go as high as $200. As with most purchases, spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be better off, so think about what you want to get out of your snow boots and find a pair with features to match. 

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