The Best Winter Boots for Men Review

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Testing winter boots is serious business. Here we perform comparative Ice bath testing with the Editors' Choice winning Bogs on the right and Best Buy Kamik NationPlus on the left. Few boots stack up to the Bogs Classic Ultra Mid in warmth and water resistance in this test.
Credit: Jediah Porter
What are the best winter boots to protect your feet from cold, wet conditions? We got our cold feet into ten pairs of the best insulated, general-purpose boots on the market and did a lot of stomping in slush to find out. Anyone who lives, works, or plays in even the most temperate snowy climate needs a pair of waterproof, insulated boots. You may only use them for a couple hours on a few days a year, or spend all day for months at a time in your chosen kicks. In either extreme, or anywhere in between, some careful shopping is bound to pay off. After rounding up the top insulated, waterproof models on the market, we ranked them on categories from warmth and water resistance to traction. Read further to see which pair will work best for your lifestyle. See also our Best Winter Boots for Women review for more stylish options.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Winter Boots - Men's

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Bogs Classic Ultra Mid
Bogs Classic Ultra Mid
Read the Review
Baffin Arctic Men
Baffin Arctic Men
Read the Review
Kamik NationPlus
Kamik NationPlus
Read the Review
Bogs Classic High Winter Boot
Bogs Classic High Winter Boot
Read the Review
Sorel Caribou
Sorel Caribou
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award     
Street Price Varies $123 - $130
Compare at 2 sellers
Varies $61 - $65
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$69
Compare at 1 sellers
Varies $82 - $110
Compare at 4 sellers
Varies $104 - $160
Compare at 6 sellers
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User Rating Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Easy to put on, plenty protectiveWarm and comfortableclose fitting and warmHigh and waterproof, durableClassic look, durable.
Cons Not as warm as someClunky for walkingcompromised water resistanceTight fittingWide, sloppy fit.
Best Uses Day to day wintertime useSedentary use in very cold climatesday-to-day cold and snowy climate useModerate temperature usage in very wet climatesShort-distance snowy walks.
Date Reviewed Feb 24, 2015Feb 24, 2015Feb 24, 2015Feb 24, 2015Feb 24, 2015
Weighted Scores Bogs Classic Ultra Mid Baffin Arctic Men Kamik NationPlus Bogs Classic High Winter Boot Sorel Caribou
Comfort - 25%
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Warmth - 25%
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Water Resistance - 20%
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Style - 5%
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Traction - 20%
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Ease Of Use - 15%
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Product Specs Bogs Classic Ultra Mid Baffin Arctic Men Kamik NationPlus Bogs Classic High Winter Boot Sorel Caribou
Weight (Per Boot, size 9) 2 lb 5 oz 1 lb 15 oz 1 lb 12 oz 2 lb 2 lb 6 oz
Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft) 12 in 14.5 in 11 in 13.5 in 11.5 in
Maximum puddle depth before major leaking 9 in 14.5 in 6.5 in 13.5 in 8.5 in
Lining/Insulation 7mm Neo-Tech Neoprene Thermaplush Synthetic 200g Thinsulate 7mm Neo-Tech Neoprene 9mm ThermoPlus felt
Upper Neoprene Nylon Suede and rubber Neoprene Nubuck leather
Toe Box Rubber over neoprene Rubber Rubber Rubber over neoprene Vulcanized rubber
Outsole Rubber Rubber SnowTread Synthetic Rubber Rubber AeroTrack Rubber
Animal products used? No No Yes no Yes
Sizes Available 4 to 14 7 to 14 7 to 14 7 to 21 7 to 17
Colors Available Black Black, Camoflage Brown Black Light Brown, Black, Olive Green, Grey, Dark Brown

  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



Selecting the Right Product


Snow boots, especially for men, epitomize function over form. You might equally dread and eagerly anticipate the conditions that require them. The ultimate choice many consumers make is more often than not a product of what is convenient and available. This nonchalance is a shame. Owning the right pair is a joy. If happy feet make happy campers (or hikers or climbers or skiers), keeping those same feet content and comfortable will make for stoked day-to-day life for snowy-climate-residents. While manufacturers are carefully tuning their offerings, very few consumers put much thought into their winter footwear selection. We are here to change that. Our professional test team has conducted a full OutdoorGearLab review of a broad and deep cross-section of what the market has to offer. Read on to learn what we have learned about selecting the best pair for your purposes.

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Walking in winter boots keeps the feet warm and dry. While the rubber on the Classic High didn't grip ice as well as its competitors, the deeper lugs held their own in softer snow conditions.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Protective winter footwear has been around for as long as people have inhabited cold climates. In fact, in the higher latitudes, these are simply referred to as boots, with no qualifier necessary. Since their earliest migration north, snowy climate residents have needed a foot covering that would protect the entire foot, ankle, and lower leg while keeping it warm in freezing conditions. The earliest solution, called mukluks among the North American Inuit, were slip-on, soft-soled, knee-high footwear made from animal skin. Interestingly, even today, modernized versions of the mukluk are popular among cold weather recreationists like dog sled racers. In short, the winter footwear that we envision today has a surprisingly modern history.

As a whole, the category encompasses a broad and deep range. You'll find lightly insulated hiking boots at one end of the spectrum, and thick, voluminous footwear designed for full days of snowmobiling or sedentary outdoors work on the other. Most consumers require something more in the middle of that spectrum. Most of you will use your boots, most of the time, for walking to the car on a snowy morning or for the occasional few hours of family sledding. You need a pair of boots that are comfortable, fast and easy to put on and take off, and that protect from cold and wet conditions. These middle-ground applications, encompassing what we estimate to be more than ninety percent of what consumers require, can be pretty forgiving conditions. We do not expect our boots to be all that fashionable; they are inherently bulky and clunky. We also do not expect our day-to-day boots to be comfortable for miles of walking. In fact, simply making them loose-fitting, with a little insulation of some sort and some modern materials, extending up over the ankle, is all that is necessary to provide the needed warmth and water resistance. That being said, the subtleties can matter a great deal, and some will want more specialized footwear for cold conditions. In terms of specialized footwear, all the models we tested are suitable for this more general application as well as for use in more demanding conditions.

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Some of the 2015 selection of tested boots. From left to right: Kamik NationPlus, Lowa Oslo GTX, Bogs Classic High, Salomon Toundra, Bogs Classic Ultra Mid.
Credit: Jediah Porter

What defines a winter boot?
Any boot that is insulated and waterproof is a winter boot. The primary differences are in ideal application and comfort.

The Types of Winter Boots Available


There are several types of boots on the market. In fact, the whole market is huge and diverse. To narrow down the entire market into the three divisions we have noted below means some significant lumping must occur. Most users will first need to choose between pull-on or pac style boots, then select the appropriate fit, price-point, and look to suit his lifestyle. Those of you looking for greater performance will do well to consider either insulated hiking boots for high mileage, or more serious pac boots for the coldest conditions. Here we highlight the differences of these styles of boots to make your selection easier. Happy shopping.

Pac Boots


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These are typical or traditional winter boots. The term pac is defined by Dictionary.com as "a soft, flexible, heelless shoe worn as a liner inside a boot or overshoe." A pac boot, in the modern parlance, is a leather, rubber, textile, or hybrid boot with a removable, insulated liner. Sorel consolidated the category with the introduction of their Caribou model in 1962. The Sorel Caribou is still made, and we tested it in this review. Many other manufacturers have since entered the fray and offer models in this style. Generally, these are affordable, neutral in styling, very warm and waterproof, and comfortable for sedentary use or short walks. The design is inherently loose, and therefore doesn't provide very good walking performance. If you work and play outdoors but don't walk a long ways, you have to consider a pac style model. In our test, the Sorel Caribou, Kamik NationPlus, Baffin Arctic Men, and Baffin Maple represent this style.

Pull-on Boots


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This is also known as the barn-boot style of footwear and again, encompasses a broad range. The pull-on boot category includes any boots that don't have laces or separate liners and shells. This footwear may be made of rubber, neoprene, textile, leather, or even sheepskin. Warmth and weather resistance varies depending on materials. Pull-on boots are generally convenient, warm, and durable with limited walking performance. If the shoe is well-shaped and designed, they are excellent for short-term and short-distance use. Because of the laceless, slip-on fit, they generally will not work well for walking long distances. And because of the wide upper cuff, they are not secure for use in the deepest snow. In our review we only tested rubber and neoprene pull-on boots. We have not yet tested leather or sheepskin products. Two products in our test from Bogs fit this description. The Bogs Classic Ultra Mid and the Bogs Classic High are both excellent, but subtly different products. In an example of product cross-pollination, according to Bogs, these were "designed to help dairy farmers stay safe and comfy". Whether made by Bogs or others, this style has found widespread appeal and application outside of agriculture. On the market there are a number of products that fit this description but did not meet our high criteria for testing.

Insulated Winter Hiking Boots


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In this category, we include any and all models that are a single piece (meaning no removable liner), insulated, and optimized for walking. In this style the liner, insulation, and outer protective layer are all sewn and laminated together. This allows the boots to fit closely and comfortably while remaining lightweight and inexpensive. It also means that they require a heated space in order to dry thoroughly and expediently since the liners cannot be removed for quicker drying. In order to fit securely for extended distances, they must be laced. In order to protect from winter weather and ground conditions, they must have a cuff that extends up over the user's ankle. Like all the categories of boots, the amount of insulation may be very basic or quite thick. Most commonly, however, these models are lightly insulated. There are versions available in this category from traditional outdoor and hiking manufacturers as well as from hunting companies. In either case, the design criteria are essentially the same. Consider your options from all the companies and you will stack the odds in favor of achieving an excellent fit.

It is important to note that, in the opinion and experience of our testing team, these insulated walking boots are excellent for only day trip hiking and snowshoeing. If you intend to go out for multiple days, camping in the cold and snow, even if you will not tackle any technical mountaineering, you will be best served by insulated, double-layer mountaineering boots such as the La Sportiva Spantik. Single layer boots, whether made for cold weather hiking or climbing, are not suitable for multi-day use because of the difficulty of drying them overnight and the inherent limitation in the amount of insulation. The single-layer insulated hiking boots we tested are best for day-trip distance endeavors. In our test, the Columbia Bugaboot II, Salomon Toundra Mid WP, Lowa Oslo GTX, and Keen Summit County III represent the insulated walking boot category.

When to Wear Winter Boots


When deciding what pair to buy, first narrow down your options by asking yourself how you will use your boots. Most likely, it will be only occasional use, limited to shoveling the sidewalk, walking to the car, taking the dog out, and commuting to the ski resort. We estimate that 90% of consumers fit this description. In this case, almost any model will suffice, but there is bound to be a product that really suits you.

We estimate that 90% of consumers want a winter boot for casual day-to-day usage and need something warm and waterproof that does not need to be highly specialized.

Consider the following generalized trade-offs and envision your needs. Pull-on boots are most convenient, but generally insulate a little less well than pac-style boots. Pac-style boots are warm, comfortable, and stylistically predictable. You'll fit right in with the ski town community or anywhere in Canada. If choosing a pair for day-to-day applications, you need not spend a great deal of money. While insulated hiking boots and the most beefy of pac-style models will serve you very well, we know you will do just as well to stick to a less expensive style. All the models we tested, for instance, are plenty durable and will last for years and years of seasonal day-to-day use.

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Much of one's usage of winter boots will be exactly like this; casual walks around town and running errands.
Credit: Becky Porter

If selecting a pair for day-to-day use, fit them loosely. If you will walk great distances, a closer fit will better optimize performance. Regardless of your goals, you want room to wiggle all your toes. In low performance footwear, it is fine that your heels lift and slide around a bit, but your foot shouldn't slide side-to-side. Shop carefully, especially if doing so online. Some manufacturers fit and size boots loosely already. Among the pac boots, for instance, Sorel sizes theirs so you can purchase your street shoe size and have room for a couple layers of socks, while Kamik brand fits a little more like street shoes. Also in our test Bogs, Lowa, and Columbia fit narrowly while Baffin, Salomon, and Keen fit wider.

If you will use your boots for more specialized applications, there are two general and divergent directions people go. Some will be looking for boots for extended foot-travel mileage, while others require boots for more sedentary use in very cold climates. These two categories have mutually exclusive design requirements.

First, perhaps you are looking for winter hiking and snowshoeing boots. This footwear should fit closer than boot for general everyday wear. In order to achieve this close fit, as well as keep weight and bulk reasonable, the insulation will be thinner than in day-to-day models. This thinner insulation, however, is ok. Hiking and snowshoeing, with their physical demands, keep your extremities inherently warmer; just don't count on standing around for long periods of time in cold conditions in your insulated hiking boots.

If you will be standing or sitting around for extended periods in the cold, as in fall sports spectating in the upper Midwest or snowmobiling anywhere, check out the more insulating and sophisticated pac boot designs. You will spend more money, and the boots will be even bulkier, but your feet will thank you. With the greater bulk comes even more compromised walking function, in most cases.

How Do Winter Boots Protect You From the Weather?


Regardless of which style you choose or how you will use it, you will count on it to keep your feet as dry and warm as possible. The waterproofing and insulation will work together to keep the elements out.

There are two primary types of insulation in boots, and a couple others that deserve mention.

(1) Neoprene, as in our Editors' Choice winning Bogs Classic Ultra Mid, is very durable, great when wet, but doesn't offer the most robust cold protection. Boots insulated with neoprene are excellent in milder cold climates where water is just as threatening as the cold.

(2) Synthetic puffy insulation is the other major type of boot insulation.This insulation, as compared to neoprene, is generally warmer, softer, and less effective in wet conditions. Puffy insulation is most effective when it is given space to loft up and capture dead air space. This means that the warmest models are constructed to fit loosely and softly. Walking comfort, however, is best in designs that fit snugly and firmly. Walking performance and insulating value, especially when dealing with puffy insulation, are inherently at odds.

Boots are also constructed to insulate with dense wool felt, sheepskin, and reflective metallic textile. None of these methods are as common as those mentioned above. Felt was historically the standard method of insulating pac style boots, and was very effective as such, but has become cost prohibitive. Sheepskin is common in more fashionable models, and the reflective linings are usually used in conjunction with other methods.

Protecting your foot from water is accomplished in two different ways. The first method relies on waterproof or water resistant external materials or treatment of the external materials to block water. Secondly, whether the external materials are waterproof or water resistant, or not at all, the manufacturer can add a waterproof/breathable membrane to the lining fabric that will let perspiration out but not let wetness in.

In the second case, where the boot is lined with a waterproof/breathable membrane, the user's foot will never get wet from the outside. Unless the lining and membrane become physically damaged, the outer materials and the insulation may become soaked, but that water will never reach the wearer's foot. Soaked outer materials will, however, significantly inhibit breathability. Perspiration from your feet will not go through the membrane with cold water immediately to the outside. Your feet will become wet and cold from your own perspiration. Therefore, for truly dry feet, boots need to keep the outer materials and insulation dry as well.

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While primarily designed for the coldest conditions, the Baffin Arctic pac-style boots also do well in warmer and sloppier winter weather.
Credit: Jediah Porter

This means that, whether there is a waterproof/breathable lining in the boot or not, the external layers need to keep water out. Real animal leather, usually cowhide, can be treated at the factory, and periodically by the user, to block water. This blocking may be best described as water resistance, as even the best leather, regardless of treatment, will eventually saturate and let water through. Synthetic leather can be either waterproof or not at all, and must be treated according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Nylon and other textiles can be treated for water resistance, or laminated with an actual waterproof membrane, breathable or not. In footwear, textiles are most frequently constructed with breathable membranes rather than non-breathable ones.

You will need to replace and augment the water resistance of fabric on winter boots. Rubber and some types of neoprene, especially those types used in footwear, are inherently waterproof and require little to no maintenance by the user.

What Makes Winter Boots Comfortable and Easy to Use?


As briefly noted above, walking comfort and insulation value will require inherent trade-offs. Similarly, other performance, comfort, and convenience attributes will need to be weighed against each one another. Here are some of our basic observations.
  • Heavily lugged soles grip well on soft snow and mud, but track that material into your house.
  • Soft rubber soles grip well on ice, but wear out more quickly.
  • Squishy insulation is comfortable and warm, but allows the user's foot to slide around while walking.
  • Removable liners dry and replace readily, but make for a more clumsy fit.
  • Thick, padded soles are warm and comfortable, but also make for more clumsy use.
  • Pull-on boots are easy to get on and off, but in most cases do not walk as well as laced boots.
  • The most fashionable footwear is low-profile and leather. Close-fitting, fashionable models aren't as warm as bulkier models, while leather requires regular treatment and care to be water resistant and durable.

Criteria for Evaluation


Whether you're walking to your car on the occasional snowy day outside your mid-Atlantic home, snowshoeing to remote summits in the High Sierra, or working 10-hour days on a winter Wyoming oil field, choosing and using excellent insulated and waterproof footwear will enhance your comfort and safety. We ranked each model on comfort and fit, warmth, water resistance, style, traction, and ease of use to accurately compare the performance across the board. Generally, most consumers will do well with any pair that insulate, fit, and suit your style tastes.

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Typical winter outdoor tasks like cleaning off your car, walking to the mailbox, and getting groceries require special footwear when the snow gets deeper than an inch or two.
Credit: Mike Phillips

Fit and Comfort


The user's tactile experience with his footwear is highly subjective. Basically, each foot and boot combination will differ from the next. People have different shaped feet and each boot company uses a different last, or form, around which it builds its boots. There is no substitute for trying on footwear before purchasing. Thankfully, even most internet retailers offer some sort of option for trying footwear out, and many easy generalizations can be made.

How do you properly fit winter boots?
Your boots should fit loose enough that you can wiggle all your toes. This promotes circulation and keeps your toes warm. For day-to-day use it is alright if your heel lifts, but your foot should not slide side-to-side.

We compared the fit and comfort of all the boots we tested, and found the Bogs Ultra Mid to be the most plush and wearable. We note in each review how wide or narrow the fit is overall, as well as any problem areas in the seams or construction. The Keen Summit County III and Sorel Caribou are excellent for those with wider feet, while the Bogs and Lowa are better suited to slender feet.

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Many will purchase insulated boots for ante- and apres-ski. In this case, look for models that go on and off easy, look alright, and keep the snow and cold out, whether worn with street clothes or ski pants.
Credit: McKenzie Long

Warmth


All of the models we tested are insulated and that insulation can be quantified. Insulation is measured either by its thickness in millimeters, or by the weight of a square meter of the sheeted synthetic puffy insulation. This allows for a cursory comparison of the insulation value of the boots. However, the wearer's warmth experience also relies on the snugness and overall fit as well as the construction methods used. Closer fitting and tight models restrict circulation, leaving the toes poorly supplied with warming blood, or even numb. No matter how much insulation there is, if your heart can't push warm blood into your feet, they will get cold. We recommend purchasing boots with enough room for your toes to wiggle in the front. Our measure of warmth is based on lengthy and comparative testing. We wore boots, a different model on each foot at times, in a variety of conditions and temperatures. From this testing, we were able to generalize their overall and relative warmth. We found that the high, bulky, and loose fitting Baffin Arctic was the warmest, while the sleek and eminently walk-able Columbia Bugaboot II was the least insulating. This points to the inherent tradeoffs in footwear design; in the case of warm winter boots, they'll either be more insulating and less walkable, or more dextrous and less insulating. You can't have it both ways.

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Our Top Pick winning Baffin Arctic brings sophisticated materials to the classic 2-part "pac boot" style. This is the Arctic with the liner removed.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Water Resistance


Cold climates are often inherently wet climates. Whether the water is liquid or frozen, it is often there to give you trouble. Winter boots must deal with this. Manufacturers take a variety of tracks to weatherproof your footwear. Some, like the Bogs Mid, are fully waterproof rubber boots. Others use molded rubber at the bottom, sewn and sealed to leather or textile uppers. Finally, some are constructed of panels of leather and textile just like hiking boots, with the waterproofing coming from a combination of external treatment and inner lining membranes.

In our test, only the Lowa Oslo GTX ever let actual water through to the feet. This was a tiny amount through a tongue seam following prolonged submersion. The Bogs Mid and High were both the most visibly and durably waterproof. The Bogs products, as well as most other the models in our test, put the bulk of their waterproofing material and technology on the exterior of the boots. Whether this is done with rubber, treated leather, or waterproof nylon, waterproofing the exterior keeps the insulation free of external water. Internal perspiration may still dampen or even soak the insulation and liner materials. Regardless of how it gets wet, moisture in the insulation and liners can compromise their heat-retention. You get colder in wet boots. It works the other way as well: less insulating boots feel wetter as your perspiration gets cold.

Notably, the Keen Summit County III and Lowa Oslo GTX are the only models in our test with a waterproof/breathable membrane. Both kept all external moisture away from the foot. In both cases, however, the membrane is located essentially right next to the wearer's foot. This means that the outer leather and insulation can, and did, get soaked with water. This compromises breathability and insulation value, both leading to the feeling of cold, damp feet. Consult our extensive description of waterproof/breathable technology and limitations in our Hardshell Buying Advice article for more details on this topic.

Finally, water resistance scores must reflect the fact that boots are only as waterproof as they are high. Essentially, each one will leak over the top, and some models are higher than others. The Baffin Maple had the shortest cuff, while the Bogs Classic High was the tallest.

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Testing winter boots is serious business. Here we perform comparative Ice bath testing with the Editors' Choice winning Bogs on the right and Best Buy Kamik NationPlus on the left. Few boots stack up to the Bogs Classic Ultra Mid in warmth and water resistance in this test.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Traction


Just like cold climates are wet climates, cold and wet climates offer slippery footing. There are inherent limitations to the grip of rubber soled footwear, though some do better than others. In super icy conditions consider an aftermarket metal-spiked traction aid. Our testing revealed some subtle differences in traction. The relatively smooth soles of the Bogs Mid don't grip as well on soft snow as the deep lugs of the Sorel Caribou. The hiking specific Lowa, Keen, and Columbia have lower-profile soles for better grip on a variety of both wet and dry surfaces, while the Baffin models, designed for ultra cold, each have deep and sharp-edged lugs that grab well on loose and packed snow.

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Testing for icy grip was as simple as wearing different boots on each foot and sliding around.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Ease of Use


Whether you're slipping your boots on and off for the short drive to the ski area or lacing them up for a long snowshoe hike, you want kicks that are easy to get in and out of. The easiest to use products dry readily and allow you to walk smoothly and confidently. In some applications you will want to lace up for more active endeavors or in other cases leave them loose and ready for slip-on, slip-off usage. We considered all of these criteria in our assessment of ease of use. Especially given their performance, the Bogs Classic Ultra Mid was by far the easiest to use. They slip on and off easily and absorb virtually no water if completely submerged. The modular pac styles, like the Baffin Maple and Sorel Caribou, are a little trickier to get on and off, but the removable liners can be dried readily.

Style


Style matters. You'll wear these boots to the office, to the bar, to the ski area, and out in your front driveway. You want subtle style and inconspicuous colors. Consider whether you'll wear your pants inside the cuffs, over the top, or if you will want to mix and match these styles. The hiking style boots generally work better inside of pant cuffs, while both models of Bogs can go either way. The pac style boots seem to work best with pants bunched up above them. Wide-legged pants will fit overtop and wearing pants inside them is uncomfortable at best. None of the test models we tested were stylistically offensive nor could any be described as having bold styling. Some bring a more classic look, while others appear no different than any non-insulated hiking boot. In each individual review we expand on the look of each model, but we can recommend the Kamik NationPlus and its classic look or the Lowa for it's streamlined and sleek hiking boot appearance.

Editors' Choice Award: Bogs Classic Ultra Mid


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Most at home in sloppy conditions, the Bogs Mid Ultra proved to be a solid all-around performer.
Credit: Jediah Porter
The top-scoring winter boot in our test was the Bogs Classic Ultra Mid. Interestingly, this is also the most unique model we examined. Other than another Bogs product, no other footwear we tested represented the slip-on barn boot style. However, Bogs executes this simple construction in impeccable fashion. The fit is close, and the lining is smooth. They go on easy and stay put for at least a moderate amount of walking. They come with an included insole that is almost as comfortable and supportive as an aftermarket model. If your feet are narrow-to-average in volume, the fit of these boots is perfect. If you have wider feet, these will not work as well for you. The neoprene insulation and rubber coating combine to provide simple and waterproof protection from the cold that doesn't absorb water at all. This means that the Ultra Mid, even after a thorough soaking, will dry readily and quickly. The only downsides to these comfortable boots are that in soft snow the traction is not as good as boots with deeper lugs. Also, the handles on the cuff, which make these boots so easy to put on and take off, reduce the height of water resistance. They are still water resistant up to nine inches, which we find adequate for almost all occasions. Overall, we found these boots to be the most versatile, comfortable, and easy to use boots in every day winter situations.

Best Buy Award: Kamik NationPlus


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The Kamik NationPlus was an easy choice for our Best Buy award.
Credit: Jediah Porter
Among all the winter boots we evaluated, for all of our testers the Kamik NationPlus inspired the most favorable first impression. The fit is comfortable, light, and cushy. Our extended testing only improved that first impression. The warmth and water resistance scores come out right in the middle, while the NationPlus model has the greatest walking comfort of all the Pac style models in our test. Finally, they are the least expensive in our test, by far. High performance and low price makes them an easy choice for our Best Buy award. Unique in our test, the NationPlus Kamiks also come in a wide fit, referred to as the NationWide model. This is an excellent attribute, as Pac style models generally suffer from overly sloppy fit in order for one boot model to accommodate various foot shapes. This allows for a close-fitting and comfortable winter boot no matter your foot size or shape.

Top Pick Award for Working in Extreme Cold: Baffin Arctic


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The Baffin Arctic is a Top Pick for its cold-weather, long term protection value.
Credit: Jediah Porter
When looking for the best boot to wear in winter, many people prioritize warmth over everything else. If that is the case, this is the pick for you. The Baffin Arctic Men is the most specialized winter boot in our test. Its tall, drawstring cuff and highly insulating construction is far from the most versatile or stylish, but it is purpose-built for function. It is the warmest boot we evaluated by far. You can also remove the liner for overnight drying and for replacement as it wears out, extending the value of these boots. We find it comfortable for sedentary use in very cold climates, such as working outdoors all day or winter sport spectating. If you work or play in the northern latitudes, consider the Baffin Arctic, it will keep you warm and dry.

Top Pick Award for Winter Hiking: Lowa Oslo GTX


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The Lowa Oslo GTX in action in warm, sloppy conditions in Ouray, Colorado. Even when conditions are warm, waterproof and lightly insulated footwear can be nice. In this case, the Lowa keeps out crud in day to day use without the stifling bulk and insulation of a larger product.
Credit: Jediah Porter
Especially when compared to its closest competitors in our test, the Lowa Oslo GTX is an excellent insulated hiking boot. Whether you are hiking miles and miles in your November elk hunting grounds or snowshoeing multiple Vermont summits each weekend, the Oslo will serve you well. It fits close and clean, like a good hiking boot should, but Lowa adds in solid waterproofness and light insulation. We find this boot the most comfortable insulated boot for extended periods of walking. On top of the performance attributes inherent in this design, the Lowa is a stylish, low-profile insulated shoe. The high-scoring style points will appeal to anyone looking for a casual, warm boot for around town use throughout the winter.

Accessories


In the inevitable situation that your boots do get wet on the inside, whether from snow or from sweat, a good boot drier can really make the difference. The TurboDry from DryGuy circulates warm dry air directly into the toe box to make sure the boot dries out completely.

When walking or hiking on snow sometimes you need a little extra traction. Aftermarket traction aids can be the perfect way to supplement your winter boots and provide extra grip for walking on ice or slick, steep snow. Both Yaktrax and Kahtoola MICROspikes are easy to slip on over boots and give you very secure footing, even in the slipperiest of conditions.

Lastly, if you need additional flotation, reference our Best Snowshoe Review to see our favorite models. Snowshoes can be strapped on to insulated hiking boots and used to keep the hiker on top of the snow when walking on deep drifts. The combination of quality winter boot and quality snowshoe will make for a fun, warm, and dry day of winter recreation.

Jediah Porter
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