When Old Man Winter arrives, one of the first places you’ll notice him is under your feet. If you are without footwear that can handle the colder temperatures and slippery conditions, chances are you won’t last long outside. Nobody wants to be the person complaining all winter about the weather, and the easiest way to not be that person is to start off right with a good pair of winter boots. Sure, you’ll need plenty of other gear too, like a winter jacket for example, but at least you’ll be able to take out the garbage and check the mail without suffering too much.
As bona-fide lovers of winter and everything that comes with it, We here at The Inertia know our way around a good pair of winter boots. We even have a couple Canadians on the crew who wouldn’t be able to set foot outside for nearly half the year without proper footwear. For this review we tapped their life-long knowledge of what makes a good pair of winter boots, and what the best options on the market are.
Speaking of what’s out there – winter boots is a pretty wide category, and when you break things down there’s a multitude of different use cases where one pair might shine over another. With that in mind, we’ve taken the opportunity to share with you what boots work best in which situations. For this review we tested true winter boot classics, newfangled designs and city slickers to bring you the best of the best. If you want to see how these winter boots compare to one another, scroll down to our Comparison Table. For more info about how we tested, check out our How We Tested section. And for buying advice, see our Winter Boots Buyer’s Guide.
The Best Winter Boots of 2024
Best All-Around Winter Boots: Danner Cloud Cap
Best Budget Winter Boots: Columbia Fairbanks
Best Heavy-Duty Winter Boots: Baffin Snow Monster
Classic Design: Manitobah Mesa
Best Winter Hiking Boots: Oboz Bangtail Mid
Best Winter Boots For The City: Olukai Papaku ‘Ili
Best All-Around Winter Boots
Weight: 18.5 oz
Insulation: PrimaLoft 400g
Boot Height: 7″
Upper Material: Suede/Textile
Outsole: Vibram ArcticGrip
Pros: Super easy to get on and off, primo comfort and traction
Cons: Some slight heel lift
If your must-haves for a winter boot are warmth and breathability with exceptional comfort and the ability to easily slip on and off, then please allow us to introduce you to the Cloud Cap by Danner. It’s one of our favorites for just about anything minus high-performance movement or deep snow. But with a 7 inch cuff, you’ll be fine out in most situations. For the ins and outs of winter life, the ability to slip boots on and off is a welcome feature for most, and these boots make that easy. The drawback is a bit of heel lift so you don’t want to be using these for any situation where you’ll be needing to move fast.
What we loved about these boots is the Vibram ArcticGrip outsole that helps keep you upright on snow and ice, and despite being just another bit of marketing-speak, these outsoles are actually a step above the rest. They are so grippy that there is actually a warning about wearing them indoors. The suede upper only gets better with age, and having a soft textile to complete the upper boot makes for easy movement while keeping the snow out. This is a great option for just about any use out there, and we can see this being a go-to winter boot for the majority of winter uses.
Best Budget Winter Boots
Weight: 15.5 oz
Insulation: 200g synthetic
Boot Height: 6″
Upper Material: Cordura Nylon
Lining: Omni-Heat reflective
Outsole: Omni-Grip Rubber
Pros: Comfortable, decent price, nice and warm
Cons: Nylon uppers aren’t as durable as other materials
Warmth? Check. Comfort? Check. Waterproof? Check. Able to climb a mountain? Check. The Fairbanks boots by Columbia is pretty much as good as it gets for a boot under $100. With Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Heat reflective liner inside, the boots do a fantastic job of keeping feet warm yet still breathing out the excess heat and moisture to keep things dry inside.
The grippy outsole makes for stability in unstable conditions, be that snow, mud, or other cold surfaces. We were true fans of this boot, and while it may not have as rugged a construction as some other boots listed here, for the price it gets you playing outside in the cold without having to shell out too much dough. This is our option for people who aren’t active outside all-day, every day, but still want to have some fun in the colder months – it’s nimble enough to wear around town, but rigid enough to take out in the snow without much worry.
Best Heavy Duty Winter Boots
Weight: 3 lbs 1.5 oz
Insulation: Multi-layered removable liner
Boot Height: 11.75″
Closure: Lace and drawstring
Upper Material: Leather and nylon
Outsole: Polar rubber
Pros: Built like a tank, will keep you warm at the North Pole
Cons: Heavy and pricey
Sometimes you need a boot that can take you really cool places. And by cool, we mean frigid sub-zero Arctic temperatures. Yes, it’s heavy and bulky, but the Snow Monster by Baffin will take you places that even sled dogs will whimper at the thought of going. Built tough with a layered lining system, you can customize the insulation level to manage whatever temperature is out there.
Baffin boots are made in Canada so they have a good bit of experience when it comes to winter boots. It’s the choice for workers, expedition teams, and anyone who wants to survive a harsh winter in comfort. The boots are also snowshoe-compatible if trudging through a foot of deep snow isn’t your jam. But if it is, then know that these boots will take you there and back, and do so for many years to come.
Best Winter Hiking Boots
Weight: 21 oz
Insulation: 200g PrimaLoft
Boot Height: 8″
Upper Material: Nublock Leather
Outsole: Poly/Silica/Vulcanized compound
Pros: Super comfortable and supportive
Cons: Upper can get stained
People who love hiking don’t want to let a bit of bad weather slow them down. So if you desire to keep the good times out on the trails lasting all year, the Bangtail Mid by Oboz is one of our favorites for a number of reasons. The first is the sheer comfort that comes right when you put them on and only gets better after a few days of breaking in. The next is the warmth through the 200g PrimaLoft insulation, which uses recycled compounds for less of an environmental impact. The boots also have some of the largest make-up of the Vibram ArcticGrip rubber underneath, giving superior traction in the cold. The combination of all of these gives you an exceptional boot that works well to keep your feet warm and dry.
We used these in more locations than just the trail and are confident that you’ll be happy with the comfort and support that these offer, while also staying well-protected from the elements.
Weight: 14.9 oz
Insulation: Heat-MX synthetic
Boot Height: 6.5″
Closure: Leather lace
Upper Material: Full grain leather and suede
Lining: Sheepskin shearling footbed liner
Pros: Classic design, great comfort
Cons: Not super supportive despite the beefy outsole
Manitobah is a certified B corporation, whose values transcend more than just selling footwear. They make a true effort to empower Indidgenous communities and artisans across North America, and the Mesa boot is a prime example. Merging ancient design with modern construction, this boot brings a hearty sole with a classic leather upper (even the laces) to produce a primo winter boot that is warm, comfortable, and breathes easy. We loved how this boot felt right out of the gate and the fit only got better with time.
The lacing does take a bit to get used to and can get icy, but with a bit of practice it is as snug as anything else. If you want a winter boot that has a classic look and feel but need a rigid rubber sole to go over anything, we are big fans of where the Mesa will take you.
Best Winter Boots For The City
Weight: 18.5 oz
Insulation: Quilted fabric lining
Boot Height: 4″
Upper Material: Waterproof leather
Lining: Quilted fabric
Pros: Comfortable, stylish, waterproof
Cons: Not a tight fit, insulation is minimal
We get it that not everyone needs massive amounts of insulation to stay comfortable in the winter. Sometimes just a little bit of lining will do, but extra protection from the elements is usually non-negotiable. For those who have never put on a 5mm wetsuit the Papaku ‘Ili from Olukai might be the winter boot of choice. It can withstand some winter weather, but is more about style and comfort than frostbite prevention. They weren’t the warmest pair we tried, but they did keep feet dry in a massive rainstorm and were easy to clean.
So, if you’re looking for some footwear that will look good and feel great underfoot, but spend more time walking the streets than in the backcountry, these will be a great option. They will still keep you dry in a blizzard and if you’ve got the right pair of socks, you’ll stay warm enough, too.
Best of the Rest
Weight: 26.5 oz
Insulation: 9 mm washable felt liner, Sherpa pile snow cuff
Boot Height: 10.25″
Upper Material:Waterproof nylon upper
Lining: Recycled felt
Outsole: Vulcanized rubber shell with herringbone tread
Pros: Warm and waterproof with decent traction
Cons: Felt liner sometimes comes with you when you take the boot off
The Sorel 1964 Pac Nylon might not be the classic Sorel Caribou design (we’re currently testing that model and will update this article when we have a verdict), but for those who shy away from leather, or don’t want to shell out the big bucks for such a premium design, the 1964 Pac Nylon is a solid move. The boot features a waterproof nylon upper, felt lining with a sherpa cuff at the top of the boot to keep snow out, and Sorel’s classic, and incredibly bombproof vulcanized rubber shell that extends from the sole up and over the toes and heel for max protection in less-than-freezing conditions.
In testing, we were impressed with the easy on/off of the boot, although the liner did have a tendency to get yanked out as well when we pulled the boot off, sometime requiring that extra step of shoving the liner back in before leaving the mudroom and heading into the warmth of our home or ski cabin. The only other downside we noticed with this boot is the tread – whereas the Sorel Caribou features a more winter-oriented lug pattern, the Pac Nylon has a herringbone tread that is not quite as good for slippery conditions, but performs a bit better for all-season/city wear as well as deep snow. It’s also worth noting that this style of boot in general fits fairly loose, and doesn’t have a ton of support, making them best for around-town errands and slipping into after a day of skiing or riding, and not quite as dependable for snowy hikes and extended treks.
Weight: 14.9 oz
Insulation: 200g liner, 2mm heat reflective insole (removable)
Boot Height: 6″
Upper Material: Synthetic textile (vegan)
Lining: Polyester fleece
Outsole: 5.5mm rubber zero-drop
Pros: Easy to put on and take off, allows for natural movement of the foot
Cons: Breathability, no mention of sustainable materials
Xero has a well-established foothold in the ever-increasing barefoot shoe trend having started 14 years ago. It’s a rising industry of footwear creating a walking experience more akin to movement in bare feet. These boots serve that goal quite well. While the soles are thin enough to allow natural movement, they are thick enough to not feel cold – in fact they are quite toasty and that might be their biggest weakness. After a few hours in the boot, it becomes a bit sweaty, so the breathability points came down a bit for these. But if you want something comfortable to wear after the slopes, on a dog walk, or for short walks, this is a great boot. For all day use, though, you might want something that is a bit tougher and more breathable.
Weight: 15.8 oz
Insulation: Wool/poly blend
Boot Height: 6″
Upper Material: WildHide leather
Outsole: Poly/silica/vulcanized compound
Pros: Natural feel, premium materials
Cons: Relaxed fit might be too relaxed for some people
People who love barefoot shoes really love them. There’s a good reason why – the thinner outsole provides more foot flex and response from teh ground underneath. This is great in the summertime, but in winter it might be too cold without the right materials. VivoBarefoot has taken their best-selling hiker boot, the Tracker, and winterized it for use in cold climates and snow. The Tracker Winter SG gives you protection from the elements while still allowing the foot to feel what’s underneath it, giving your brain enough to work with to help it make better decisions while out there on the trails.
We found these boots to be a bit larger than others, so it’s wise to size down at least a half size or so.
Weight: 16 oz
Insulation: Synthetic shearling
Boot Height: 5.75″
Upper Material: Synthetic camel suede
Lining: Synthetic shearling
Outsole: Natural rubber
Pros: Super warm, stylish, sustainable
Cons: Difficult to get in/out, prone to getting dirty
Cariuma markets these as boots, but we found the OCA Therma to be more applicable to be considered a shoe. When you get that out of the way, it’s our pick for warm winter shoes to wear anywhere you have a use for shoes over boots. They keep feet warm yet don’t get overly hot, so it’s great for situations when you are spending a lot of time outside in the winter but don’t need to be trudging through deep snow or going on a massive hike. Both those situations wouldn’t be unbearable in these, though, and they are versatile enough to be used for a variety of applications.
The shoes also made from 100% sustainabile, vegan materials, which is a huge plus for many. Even their packaging was one of the most responsible we’d seen, and you can tell that Cariuma is much more walk than talk when it comes to how much they care about the planet. For that reason on it’s own these are a great purchase. Add in the warmth and style points, and you won’t be disappointed with a pair of these on your feet.
Weight: 32 oz
Insulation: Removable felt
Boot Height: 10″
Upper Material: Leather/Synthetic
Pros: Keeps the snow out
Cons: Laces don’t give a tight fit
For those who love the classic look of Vans but need something to keep the snow out in the winter, the MTE Snow Boot might be the ideal choice. It’s the type of boot that looks good anywhere, and you might want winter to stick around just a bit longer for an excuse to pull these out. They are warm, solid, and dependable boots that feel great when you put them on. They aren’t a high-performance boot, meaning we wouldn’t really want to take them on big hikes, but for outdoor missions in the snow these will treat you well.
We did find that the lacing wasn’t incredibly tight, so make sure you have a good pair of socks on to keep the draft out. Or maybe you have better patience and don’t mind lacing them up tight each time. Even still, the fit wasn’t snug, but that said, it didn’t feel overly loose. So if you want a relaxed fit and a comfortable boot for casual wear, yet still find yourself trudging through the snow, the MTE Snow Boot is a solid choice. They also have a side zip option to help you get in and out, albeit at a slightly higher cost.
Weight: 34 oz
Boot Height: 7″
Upper Material: Waterproof leather
Outsole: Rubber with Ice Bite compound
Pros: Easy on/off, great comfort
Cons: Marks up easily
The Chelsea-style slip on boot has become fairly popular over the past few years, and it’s easy to see why. They look good and give you ease of use by being able to slip on and off. There are a bunch of companies sporting this style but we really enjoyed the combo of waterproofing, warmth, and comfort on Baffin’s Copenhagen. With winter boots being Baffin’s forté, the company has a host of proprietary innovations that allow them to give quality features without a hefty price tag. Their Ice Bite compound rivals the Vibram ArctiGrip by providing superior traction in cold environments. Their interior foam layer gives excellent cushioning and doesn’t pack down right away, with a decent fit that lasts.
We didn’t find much to complain about with these boots, only that the leather can mark up fairly easily. But that’s the case with any good quality leather, so you should know what you’re getting into, there.
Weight: 2 lbs, 4 oz
Insulation: 200g PrimaLoft
Boot Height: 10″
Closure: Lace with side zipper
Upper Material: Synthetic fabric
Lining: Removable felt
Outsole: Vulcanized rubber
Pros: Cool unique style, great comfort and warmth
Cons: Not fully waterproof, laces don’t give much ankle support
DC’s website calls these a “Water-Resistant Shoe” for some reason, although in our minds the DC Reach fits as a winter boot. It did great in the snow and didn’t have any apparent issue, and with the PrimaLoft lining it felt warm and flexible.
The boots have a side zipper for easy on/off and while the laces didn’t create the tightest of fits, it felt comfortable while romping around in the snow. It’s not a performance boot but feels good trudging through the snow and sports a classic skate shoe look that makes for a unique style when compared to the other winter boots on the market.
Winter Boots Comparison Table
|Weight (per boot)
|Danner Cloud Cap
|200g synthetic, Omni-Heat
|Baffin Snow Monster
|3 lbs 1.5 oz
|Oboz Bangtail Mid
|Olukai Papaku ‘Ili
|Cariuma OCA Therma
|Sorel 1964 Pac Nylon
|200g liner, 2mm reflective insole (removable)
|VivoBarefoot Tracker Winter SG
|Vans MTE Snow Boot
|2 lbs 4 oz
|Lace, side zip
How We Tested the Best Winter Boots
The Where and Who
From the chilly north comes our main testing grounds – the coast mountains of British Columbia. Here lead tester Steve Andrews put these boots through the wringer, making sure that no matter what form of snow and ice combo was underneath that people would stay upright navigating the rugged terrain.
We used the same socks to test out all the boots, and while made of merino wool they were nothing out of the ordinary. Seeing as they did have insulating qualities, though, it was only fair to maintain a constant when adding a layer between the foot and the boot.
From there, it was exploring the snowy highlands of the Coast Mountains and Sierra Nevadas. Walking, hiking, and moseying about as we did what suits a good winter adventure – or at least the activities where each respective boot was most suitable. The longer boots that were made for deep snow, made it on the deep days where we trudged through the soft snow and slush. Boots that claimed to be waterproof would get submerged to see if it was for real.
Insulation and breathability are two important siblings when it comes to a good pair of winter boots. Too cold, and you get frostbite. Too sweaty, and it’ll be no fun either. The best winter boots were the ones that kept you warm but where excess warmth could dissipate. Some were rated for extreme cold, but we tried to find a well-rounded set that was able to withstand an average North American winter.
Winter Boots Buyer’s Guide
With so many different styles of footwear claiming to be a winter boot, it’s a bit daunting trying to find your personal version of the best winter boots. The following criteria will help you dial it down a bit more, getting you closer to the ideal pair that can match your desired use(s).
Insulation: The primary function of any winter boot is to keep your feet warm. Insulation is key, and materials can range from synthetic fibers to classic natural options like wool or down. The insulation’s effectiveness is often measured in grams – the higher the number, the warmer the boot. However, it’s important to choose based on your climate. You don’t need a boot designed for Arctic temperatures if your area’s winters are mild; overheating can be just as uncomfortable.
Based on this year’s crop of the latest and greatest winter boots, the main consensus has PrimaLoft as the clear winner for warmth and breathability, as well as being lightweight. There’s not much that comes close to it. Add in the fact that they are moving towards more sustainability every year, and odds are they’ll be on top for the foreseeable future.
Of course, that is only when speaking of synthetic materials. Many have come to know and love the feel of sheepskin liner. While a more expensive option, there’s nothing like the feeling of your foot enveloped in natural warmth. It can be a pain to clean and isn’t the greatest when wet, but it sure feels cozy, especially after a long day skiing or snowboarding.
Closure System: Your chosen method of use will determine the best closure system. Plan on being active all day in varied terrain? Laces will probably be the call. Just looking for something warm to put on while taking the garbage out or running some errands in town? Then a slip-on will probably do. Most boots these days are lace-up, but with that comes the extra time to put on and take off. So if you are the impatient type and aren’t getting up to anything too extreme in your winter boots, you might want something that can slip on and off easily. This is particularly important for children’s boots or for those who may struggle with dexterity in cold temperatures.
Traction: Winter means ice and snow, so having a boot with a good grip is non-negotiable. Look for soles made from rubber compounds that maintain their flexibility in cold temperatures, paired with deep lugs in the tread to grip various terrains. Companies like Vibram have made a name for proprietary compounds such as ArcticGrip, which acts similar to winter tires, giving you extra traction in freezing temps. In extremely icy conditions, consider boots compatible with traction aids like crampons.
Waterproofing: Whether you’re trudging through city slush or country snowdrifts, keeping moisture out is crucial. GORE-TEX holds the top nod for waterproofing and breathability, but many winter boots offer premium protection. Often times the boots have a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment that needs to be re-applied every so often to retain the waterproofing qualities. Additionally, some boots feature a rubber shell around the base, which provides an extra barrier against water ingress.
Boot Height: This will be an important factor when there is more snow to deal with. If you’re going to be trudging through six inches of fresh on the regular, you’ll want something a bit longer than that to keep you trudging on. If not, then a high cuff won’t be as much of an issue.
Comfort and Fit: Winter boots should have enough room to comfortably wiggle your toes, but also secure enough to prevent your heel from lifting when you walk. Consider the socks you’ll be wearing; thicker winter socks might necessitate a slightly larger boot. Some individuals might require or prefer specific support features, such as cushioned insoles or orthotic-friendly designs.
Style: Winter boots come in a plethora of styles, from practical and sporty to elegant and trendy. Your choice will depend on the setting in which you’ll be using them (urban environments, rural landscapes, etc.) and your personal fashion preferences. Features like faux-fur linings, leather uppers, and varying heights (ankle, mid-calf, knee-high) all influence both the boot’s aesthetics and functionality.
Sustainability: For the environmentally conscious, there are winter boots made with sustainable practices. This can involve recycled materials, ethical sourcing of down (if used), and boots crafted from vegan materials.
Editor’s Note: Looking to stay warm this winter? Here’s our guides to The Best Puffer Jackets for Men and The Best Puffer Jackets for Women, as well as The Best Women’s Winter Jackets. For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.