The Best Winter Boots for Women Review

For this review, we got our hands…..or…..feet on 10 of the industry's best women's winter boots. We put these products to the test, traipsing through snow drifts and splashing through slush. We hiked in them on cold winter days in the desert and we wore them out to dinner on icy evenings. Some of these boots gave us a whole new appreciation for winter, while others left us with numb toes. After evaluating each piece in categories ranging from water resistance to style, we're ready to give you the results of our head-to-head boot comparison. Read on to learn how they measured up and just what are the best winter boots.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Senior Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Winter Boots - Women's Displaying 1 - 5 of 10 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
UGG Adirondack II
UGG Adirondack II
Read the Review
Video video review
Sorel Joan of Arctic
Sorel Joan of Arctic
Read the Review
Video video review
Sorel Tofino
Sorel Tofino
Read the Review
Video video review
Vasque Pow Pow
Vasque Pow Pow
Read the Review
Ahnu Northridge
Ahnu Northridge
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award     
Street Price $220
Compare at 1 sellers
$150
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Varies $150 - $155
Compare at 4 sellers
Varies $112 - $150
Compare at 4 sellers
$180
Compare at 4 sellers
Overall Score 
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Editors' Rating
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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 Incredibly cozy and comfortableVery warm and water resistant, StylishStylish, Great protection from the elementsGood traction and water resistance, Thick insulative soleVery comfortable, Tall boot suitable for hiking, Laces and side zipper
Cons Expensive, A little more techy lookingHeavy and clunky, Not very comfortableNot super warm or extremely comfortableLess Stylish, Hard to take on and offNot super warm or waterproof
Best Uses Light hiking, Around town, General winter useAround town in deep snow or cold conditions, SnowmobilingAround town, General winter useWinter hikingLight hiking, General mild winter use
Date Reviewed Dec 09, 2013Dec 09, 2013Dec 09, 2013Dec 09, 2013Dec 09, 2013
Weighted Scores UGG Adirondack II Sorel Joan of Arctic Sorel Tofino Vasque Pow Pow Ahnu Northridge
Comfort - 20%
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9
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7
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9
Warmth - 20%
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7
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6
Water Resistance - 20%
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8
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Style - 20%
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6
Traction - 20%
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Ease Of Use - 10%
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Product Specs UGG Adirondack II Sorel Joan of Arctic Sorel Tofino Vasque Pow Pow Ahnu Northridge
OGL Weight (size 9.5) 2 lbs 12 oz 4 lbs 3 oz 2 lbs 13 oz 2 lbs 12 oz 2 lbs 5 oz
Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft) 10.25 (high)/8.25 (cuffed) 13 13 9 11
Maximum puddle depth before major leaking 5.5 9 6 6.5 3
Unique Features Cuffable suede shaft Only boot with removable felt liner Faux fur cuff, Water resistant herringbone textile upper Thick, Insulative sole His side zipper and front laces
Lining/Insulation 17mm Tablegrade sheepskin Removable 6mm recycled felt inner boot Fleece lining and 100g insulation 400 grams 3M Thinsulate Ultra Insulation and faux shearling lining 200g Insulation
Upper Full-grain waterproof leather w/ cuffable suede upper shaft Waterproof full-grain leather and suede Herringbone textile and waterproof PU coated leather detailing Suede/mesh outer with UltraDry waterproofing Waterproof nubuck and suede with quilted hydrophobic mesh collar
Toe Box Full-grain leather with Vulcanized rubber Rubber with Omni-Shield Water repellent finish Reinforced toebox lined with water repellent suede Suede and nubuck with abrasion resistant mud guard
Outsole UGG-exclusive Vibram Outsole Vulcanized rubber shell with herringbone patterned outsole Molded rubber Vasque Venture with ColdHold Compound Vibram
Animal products used? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sizes Available 5 to 12 5 to 12 5 to 12 Medium, 6 to 11 6 to 11
Colors Available Sand, Black/Grey, Obsidian, Otter Black/red laces, Dark brown, Light brown, Black, Shale Hawk/mountain, Curry/juicy Brown/Red, Black/Grey, Grey/White Black, burgundy

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products
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Sorel Joan of Arctic
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Sorel Tofino
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Ahnu Northridge
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Sorel Tivoli
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Vasque Pow Pow
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The North Face Janey II
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Tecnica Moon Boot
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Columbia Minx Slip-On
$110
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49
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Review Update Coming Soon
A year after our original review, we're back at it again with five new pairs of women's winter boots! The selection includes The North Face Nuptse Purna, Sorel Tivoli II High, Sorel Carly Conquest, Baffin Loki, and the Kamik Momentum. And of course, we'll be comparing them side-by-side with last year's award winners.

After three weeks of testing, we've started to notice a few things about our newest products…here's a little taste of what we'll be talking about in our updated review!

The North Face Nuptse Purna Boots is cute, lightweight, and comfortable, but unfortunately not very warm. It reminds us a little bit of the Columbia Minx Mid, but the Nuptse is definitely more attractive. It's easy to take on and off, but we didn't love its traction.

We're loving the Sorel Tivoli II High. Last year we tested the the mid-height version, so this year, we're excited to put the new and improved "II" to the test in the high version. We really like Sorel's active-chic update on this classic style. It has a bit of a sporty look, but is still cute enough to pair with tights and a casual winter dress for a chilly evening on the town. Not as warm as its Joan of Arctic cousin, but a great option if you want a boot that does a decent job of pairing warmth, style, and comfort. It runs small, though, so definitely order at least a half size up.

The Sorel Carly Conquest has elicited some mixed feelings from our testers. Although very style-y with a great little heel, it is by far the least comfortable boot of the bunch. Sorel designed this piece with a weird bump right at the heel, which rubs uncomfortably. That said, this is one of the few models we're testing without a faux fur cuff, which makes it more ideal as a fall-to-winter transition piece. It's a little less warm than our current Top Pick for Style, the Sorel Tofino Herringbone, but is more appropriate to pair with early season outfits. We wore it out on Friday with tights and a sweater dress and got lots of compliments. This model also runs a little bit small.

The Baffin Loki leaves a lot to be desired. Our men's reviewer loved some of the Baffin models he tested, so we thought we'd see what the hype was about, but we've been thus far disappointed. This boot is not nearly as attractive as it looks online and the cut is a bit off down the front of the calf, making your ankle look totally shapeless. It's not all that comfortable and there's a big gap at the top where warmth can escape.

The Kamik Momentum is the most affordable option in our review. It's easy to slip on and off given its cinching pull cord closure system, but the insole frequently slips out of place while taking it on and off. It's a lighter weight model that seems to offer a fair bit of warmth and we love the cozy inner lining and faux fur cuff; however, it also just looks a little bit like a kid's snow boot. Not the most stylish out there.

Check back in December for a full review of these new products!

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Amanda putting the new 2014 Sorel Tivoli II High to the test after Boulder's first snow storm.
Credit: Liz Scordato

Selecting the Right Product
Whether you absolutely love winter or you're already counting down the days to the first day of spring, proper footwear can help you enjoy all the season has to offer. At OutdoorGearLab.com, winter means skiing, ice climbing, and a host of other cold weather activities…but if there's one thing we've learned, it's that purchasing the proper gear makes all the difference. While proper footwear is critical for technical activities, it's also just as important for everyday life throughout the winter.

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All the boots! Back L to R: Sorel Joan of Arctic, Ahnu Northridge, North Face Janey II, Sorel Herringbone Tofino, Tecnica Moon Boot. Front L to R: Columbia Minx Mid, Columbia Minx Slip-On, Vasque Pow Pow UltraDry, Sorel Tivoli, UGG Adirondack II
Credit: Amanda Fenn

An awesome pair of winter boots can make shoveling snow less of a chore and they can add style to your winter wardrobe. We ranked the products in this review according to Warmth, Comfort & Coziness, Water Resistance, Style, Traction, and Ease to Take On & Off. Throughout our testing process we identified which boots were best solely for around town, like our Top Pick Award winner: the Sorel Tofino and which ones are suitable for exploring the outdoor winter wonderland, like the Ahnu Northridge.

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Our Best Buy Award winner, the Sorel Joan of Arctic, helped make outdoor chores like scraping off the car in the morning much less painful. These warm boots are only $150.
Credit: Jay Kenis

Need help choosing the boots that will meet your specific needs? Click over to our Buying Advice Guide: How to Choose Women's Winter Boots.

Types of Boots

In this review, we tested a wide range of boots, including models that were on the shorter side, like the Sorel Tivoli, which has a shaft that measures 8.25 inches from the ground up, and tall boots like our Best Buy Award winner, the Sorel Joan of Arctic, which rises more than 13 inches up the calf. We tested chic, feminine boots with faux fur cuffs like The North Face Janey II and tough, rugged pieces like the Vasque Pow Pow that are more hiking specific. Throughout this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of each of these products. Our Buying Advice Guide also has lots of helpful information.

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Tall boot front view. L to R: Tecnica Moon Boot Classic, Columbia Minx Mid Omni-Heat, The North Face Janey II, Sorel Herringbone Tofino, Sorel Joan of Arctic, Ahnu Northridge.
Credit: Amanda Fenn
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Short boot front view. L to R: Vasque Pow Pow UltraDry, Columbia Minx Slip-on Omni-Heat, UGG Adirondack II (cuff rolled up), UGG Adirondack II (cuff rolled down), Sorel Women's Tivoli.
Credit: Amanda Fenn
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Tall boot side view. L to R: Tecnica Moon Boot Classic, Columbia Minx Mid Omni-Heat, The North Face Janey II, Sorel Herringbone Tofino, Sorel Joan of Arctic, Ahnu Northridge.
Credit: Amanda Fenn
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Short boot side view. L to R: Vasque Pow Pow UltraDry, Columbia Minx Slip-on Omni-Heat, UGG Adirondack II (cuff rolled up), UGG Adirondack II (cuff rolled down), Sorel Women's Tivoli.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Criteria For Evaluation

Warmth
It's no surprise that warmth was one of the most important criteria in our winter boot evaluation. If you try to get out and enjoy the wintry wilderness and your toes aren't warm, it's just hard to be happy. Before we get too far into talking about warmth, we want to give you full disclosure: our main tester has notoriously cold feet and the boots that didn't keep her feet warm might be fine for you. That said, we were careful to measure all the products relative to each other in a controlled test. (You can learn more about How We Test over here).

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After wearing the Columbia Minx Mid Omni-Heat boots around town and subjecting them to our warmth tests, we found that they were some of the least warm products in our review.
Credit: Maggie Burns

The boots in this review have vastly different types of insulation, ranging from 17 millimeters of sheepskin (the UGG Adirondack II) to PrimaLoft ECO (The North Face Janey IIs). However, we didn't specifically try to measure the effectiveness of the different types of insulation. Instead, we studied how each boot's construction and design contributed to overall warmth.

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The Joan of Arctic has a mane of faux fur at the top of its removable liner. Peeking down into the boot, you can see the outer suede tongue as well as the removable liner. These were the warmest boots that we tested.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Depending on where you live and how you're planning to use your boots, you may have very different warmth requirements. For example, women enduring the long winters of Minnesota should consider super warm models like the Sorel Joan of Arctics, while women who live in regions with milder winters can get away with pieces like the Columbia Minx Mid. Additionally, if you plan to only use your boots to dash from the parking lot into your office building, then you may be willing to sacrifice warmth for style on a product like the Sorel Tofino Herringbone.

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The Sorel Tivolis only have 100 grams of insulation. Additionally, these short boots don't provide as much calf warmth.
Credit: Skiy Detray


Comfort & Coziness
Winter boots that are comfy and cozy just make life that much sweeter. Although some might think of coziness as a luxury, when you're investing in new cold weather footwear coziness starts to seem far more important. We considered how supportive and comfortable each piece's footbed was and we compared each one's interior lining. After driving in all the contenders, we also noted which ones were most uncomfortable to drive in (the Sorel Joan of Arctics) and which ones we never even noticed (the Sorel Tivolis).

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The Ahnu Northridges were extremely comfortable. These boots have a supportive footbed that is great for hiking.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Overall, our highest scores in this metric went to the Ahnu Northridge and the UGG Adirondack IIs. The Ahnus have super comfortable footbeds that make them ideal for hiking. In fact, they were the only tall boots that we thought really worked as hikers. We instantly fell in love with the coziness that the UGGs had to offer. Like the company's classic tall suede models, the Adirondack IIs are lined with plush sheepskin. Slipping on our Editor's Choice winner is simply a little slice of heaven.

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The UGG Adirondack IIs have a full sheepskin lining! So cozy!
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Water Resistance
From snow to slush to the dreaded "wintry mix," winter can bring all sorts of unpleasant precipitation, but with the proper footwear you'll be dreaming of snow angels in no time! We carried out a series of water resistance tests that measured how deep of a puddle each boot could handle. We were surprised to find that some of the shorter boots like the Columbia Minx Slip-On actually kept our feet dryer than taller boots like the Ahnu Northridge. (While the Columbias have waterproof fabric behind the side zipper, the Northridges do not).

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Amanda wades across Boulder Creek on a cold November day. The Vasque Pow Pow UltraDry is at its best. Not a drop of water seeped through.
Credit: Skiy Detray

On the other hand, tall boots provide significantly more protection from high snow drifts. For example, the Tecnica Moon Boot won't keep you dry if you try to wade a creek, but if you're walking through a powdery snow drift, the nylon upper keeps more snow from coating your pants than a short boot would. Additionally, boots like the Sorel Tofino Herringbones and The North Face Janey IIs both have water resistant uppers that shed snow and rain. Overall, the Sorel Joan of Arctics far out-performed all the competitors, withstanding puddles up to nine inches deep and snow drifts up to 13 inches deep.

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The suede upper on The North Face Janey II effectively repels water.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Style
We often take style in consideration when rating women's clothing, but in this review we weighted the style metric more heavily than usual. Footwear plays a key role a woman's overall look and generally it's not something like a jacket or coat that you take off once you get to your destination. On cold or wet winter days, you may have your boots on all day long, so it's important that they match your style…because we all know that if you don't like the way they look, you probably won't be happy with them, especially if you're wearing them on an everyday basis.

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There's no reason you can't look stylish all winter long. The Sorel Tofino Herringbone boots help make snow shoveling a little more attractive.
Credit: Skiy Detray

The boots in this review ranged significantly in style…from the funky, retro Moon Boots to the attractive North Face Janey IIs and the rugged Vasque Pow Pows. We thought that the Sorel Tofino Herringbone was one of the most stylish boots in our review, and we gave it our Top Pick Award for its combination of style and performance. This boot is topped with a plush faux fur cuff; however, faux fur definitely does not suit everyone's style. When reading this review, be sure to consider whether there are aspects of a certain model that might keep you from wanting to wear it on an everyday basis.

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The Tecnica Moon Boots don't jive with everyone's style, but they certainly make a statement. These boots are also quite warm and they're awesome to wear after a day of skiing.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Another aspect to think about is whether you typically tuck your pants into your boots or not. There are some practical reasons to tuck your pants in, for example, if it's snowy or wet out, the bottom of your jeans will stay dry. Right now, it's also just more in style to tuck your pants in. That said, the tucked in look isn't for everyone and it can also be difficult to pull off if you like wearing more flared pants and have a penchant for short boots. It is inherently harder to tuck wider-legged pants into short boots. Similarly, it is impossible to wear tighter pants over the top of boots with thick fur cuffs. So, be sure to think about what types of pants you own and whether you want to primarily tuck in or not. This was one reason we loved our Editor's Choice Winner, the UGG Adirondack IIs. These boots have a cuffable suede shaft that can be worn up or down, making them a bit more versatile.

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Pants tucked in or not? Here, Amanda and Steph wear the UGG Adirondack IIs (left) and the Sorel Tivolis (right) underneath their jeans.
Credit: Skiy Detray

Traction
Winter can bring icy sidewalks and snowy trails, so it's important to know that you won't end up wiping out every time you hit a patch of ice. We studied each model's outsole and then tested each one by hopping across stones in an icy creek, cruising over dry rocky surfaces, and skating around on slick driveways. After hiking and walking around town in each of these boots, we came to some important conclusions about traction.

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Navigating icy rocks across Boulder Creek in the Vasque UltraDry Pow Pows. These boots were the top performers in our waterproof and traction metrics.
Credit: Skiy Detray

Firstly, the depth of the treads made a big difference in traction. While the Sorels had relatively shallow treads, hikers like the Vasque Pow Pows had deep, grippy treads. One of the highest performing boots in this metric combined deep treads with a Vibram rubber outsole. When we hiked in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks in the Ahnu Northridges, the deep Vibram treads helped us scramble easy over rocky surfaces. Several models, including The North Face Janey IIs and both pairs of Columbia Minxs, were fitted with "lugs" that stuck out from the the outsole rather than treads that were carved in. We found the traction on all three of these boots to be inferior to that of its competitors.

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Scurrying over sandstone in Arches National Park. The Ahnu Northridges were just what Amanda wanted on this hike out to Delicate Arch.
Credit: Liz Scordato


Ease to Take On & Off
It's that moment when you're finally out of the cold and you're so ready to be in your house slippers. Your boots are wet and snowy, but you just can't seem to kick them off. The feeling is similar when you're trying to get out the door quickly…it's just inconvenient to have shoes that are hard to take on and off. This metric is not weighted very heavily, but there was such a vast difference between how simple it was to take some boots off and how much of a pain others were, that we decided to add in this category.

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The short Columbia Minx Slip-On Omni-Heat boot was the easiest in our review to take on and off. This product does not have any laces and its inner lining is super slick.
Credit: Liz Scordato

The Sorel Joan of Arctics and Vasque Pow Pows were some of the most difficult boots to remove. A lot of times, we actually had to use our hands to pull them off, instead of being able to kick them off. On the other end of the spectrum, the Columbia Minx boots were surprisingly simple to take on and off. We had mixed feelings about the side zippers on the Ahnu Northridges and The North Face Janey IIs, but we loved that the Tecnica Moon Boots were so easy to slip on and off, thanks to their structured polyester sides.

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Slipping out of ski boots and directly into the Tecnica Moon Boots. A well-deserved swap after a day on the slopes.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Accessories
Don't just keep your feet toasty warm. Take a look at the Merrell Chesham Convertible Mitten and the Outdoor Research Metamorph Gloves to keep your hands nice and snug as well.

Editor's Choice Award: UGG Adirondack II
The competition for our Editor's Choice Award was stiff, but in the end the UGG Adirondack II came out on top. This boot is comprised of a full-grain leather upper, a Vibram sole, and an unbelievably cozy sheepskin lining. This versatile piece has a cuffable suede shaft that you can wear rolled up. It's comfortable enough to wear hiking, but stylish enough to wear around town. Although the UGGs were the most expensive in our review, ringing up at $240, we think that they are an amazing investment that will make your winters better for years to come.

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We loved the Editor's Choice winning UGG Adirondack II for its waterproof full-grain leather upper and cozy sheepskin lining. This boot performed during light hikes, but was cute enough to wear around town.
Credit: Skiy Detray

Best Buy Award: Sorel Joan of Arctic
The Sorel Joan of Arctic is a warm, stylish, highly waterproof boot that only costs $150. Not only is it the best winter boot, frankly, we think this is better than a Best Buy, it's an absolute steal! This model is a great option for women who live in cold climates and are looking for footwear that they can wear while performing outdoor chores. The Joan of Arctic is stylish enough to wear out to dinner with friends, but will keep your warm and dry when it's time to leave. Our only real complaint about this piece is that it's heavy, clunky, and not very comfortable. Definitely not suitable for activities like hiking, the Joan of Arctic is ideal for around town general use.

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The stylish and warm Sorel Joan of Arctic will only set you back $150. Our Best Buy Award winner is great for general winter use in cold climates. They'll keep your toes warm, but you might have to sacrifice a bit on comfort.
Credit: Christina Dickerson

Top Pick Award for Style: Sorel Tofino
The Sorel Tofino is also an excellent bargain at just $150, but we opted to award it our Top Pick for Style. Although the North Face Janey IIs earned slightly higher style points, the Tofinos combine style with outdoor performance. This boot is not suitable for hiking, but it does offer a fair amount of warmth and plenty of protection from snow and rain. We loved this piece's fluffy faux fur cuff, textile upper, and chic leather detailing. With the Sorel Tofino Herringbone, you don't have to give up style for the season.

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The Sorel Tofino Herringbone won our Top Pick Award for Stylish Winter Boot. We loved the classic herringbone patterned textile uppers and the slim, feminine toe box as well as the plush faux fur cuff.
Credit: Skiy Detray

Best for Specific Applications
Best all-around winter hiker: Vasque Pow Pow
Best tall winter hiker: Ahnu Northridge
Best boot if you never tuck your jeans into your boots: Sorel Tivoli
Best aprs ski boot: Tecnica Moon Boot

Amanda Fenn
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