The Best Winter Boots for Women Review

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Amanda wears the Ahnu Northridge on a winter hike in Eldorado Canyon State Park in Colorado.
Credit: Nate Greenberg
For our updated 2015 review, we got our hands…..or…..feet on 11 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.

To help you find the absolute best women's winter boot for 2015, we've updated our review to include some of the season's hottest new releases, including the Sorel Tivoli High II. Our Editors' Choice - the UGG Adirondack II - remained the same, but our other two award winners changed this year! We crowned the top performing Sorel Joan of Arctic our Top Pick for Warmth and gave the affordable and comfy Kamik Momentum our Best Buy Award. Read on to learn more about what we found in our updated review!

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Senior Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Winter Boots - Women's

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Sorel Joan of Arctic
Sorel Joan of Arctic
Read the Review
UGG Adirondack II
UGG Adirondack II
Read the Review
Sorel Tofino
Sorel Tofino
Read the Review
Sorel Tivoli High II
Sorel Tivoli High II
Read the Review
Kamik Momentum
Kamik Momentum
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Top Pick Award  Editors' Choice Award      Best Buy Award 
Street Price Varies $142 - $170
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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 Very warm and water resistant, stylishIncredibly cozy and comfortableStylish, great protection from the elementsCute, comfortable, fairly warm
Cons Heavy and clunky, not very comfortableExpensive, a little more techy lookingNot super warm or extremely comfortableNot as water resistant
Best Uses Around town in deep snow or cold conditions, snowmobilingLight hiking, around town, general winter useAround town, general winter useAround townAround town
Date Reviewed Jan 14, 2015Jan 14, 2015Jan 14, 2015Jan 14, 2015Jan 14, 2015
Weighted Scores Sorel Joan of Arctic UGG Adirondack II Sorel Tofino Sorel Tivoli High II Kamik Momentum
Comfort - 20%
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Warmth - 20%
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Water Resistance - 20%
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Style - 20%
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Traction - 10%
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Ease Of Use - 10%
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Product Specs Sorel Joan of Arctic UGG Adirondack II Sorel Tofino Sorel Tivoli High II Kamik Momentum
Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft) 13.5 10 (high)/8.25 (cuffed) 12.5 12.5 11.5
Maximum puddle depth before major leaking (inches) 8 3 3 3 2.75
Upper Waterproof full-grain leather and suede Full-grain waterproof leather w/ cuffable suede upper shaft Herringbone textile and waterproof PU coated leather detailing Waterproof suede leather Waterproof nylon upper with synthetic nubuck overlays
Toe Box Vulcanized rubber Full-grain leather Rubber with Omni-Shield Water repellent finish Vulcanized rubber Synthetic rubber
Outsole Vulcanized rubber shell with herringbone patterned outsole UGG-exclusive Vibram Outsole Molded rubber Molded rubber Kamik's PEAK Winter Outsole
Unique Features Only boot with removable felt liner Cuffable suede shaft Faux fur cuff, water resistant herringbone textile upper Updated styling can be dressed up or down Super cozy inner lining
Animal products used? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Sizes Available 5 to 12 5 to 12 5 to 12 5 to 12 6 to 11
Colors Available Black/red laces, Dark brown, Light brown, Black, Shale Sand, Black/Grey, Obsidian, Otter Hawk/mountain, Curry/juicy Dark brown, olive green, light brown, black Black, gray, dark brown, purple, white

  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



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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The products in our updated 2015 review. Back (L to R): Sorel Tivoli High II, Sorel Conquest Carly, Baffin Loki, Sorel Joan of Arctic, Sorel Tofino. Front (L to R): UGG Adirondack II, Ahnu Northridge, Kamik Momentum, The North Face Nuptse Purna.
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 and off. Throughout our testing process we identified which boots were best solely for around town, like our Top Pick for Warmth: the Sorel Joan of Arctic and which ones are suitable for exploring the outdoor winter wonderland, like the Ahnu Northridge.

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Our Top Pick 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 Women's Winter Boots


In this review, we tested a wide range of boots, including models that were on the shorter side, like the Vasque Pow Pow, which has a shaft that measures 9 inches from the ground up, and tall boots like the Baffin Loki, which rises more than 14 inches up the calf. Generally speaking, we found shorter boots more comfortable for activities like hiking and even driving; in these scenarios, tall shafts can restrict movement or feel bulky and clunky. However, if you opt for a shorter boot, the inherent trade-off is less protection from tall snow drifts and less warmth around the calf. If you live in an area with lots of snow, you will almost certainly want to opt for a model with a tall shaft.

Outside of the tall vs. short designation, we tested chic, feminine boots with faux fur cuffs like the Sorel Tofino and tough, rugged pieces like the Ahnu Northridge that are more performance-oriented. Choosing between fashion and function is fairly critical when purchasing a new pair of boots. If you need footwear that you can wear out to happy hour with friends, then a boot like the Vasque Pow Pow just isn't going to cut it. On the other hand, if you're hoping to head out on winter hikes, the Sorel Conquest Carly will definitely not cross over from fashion to function. Several models we tested do double duty. In fact, our Top Pick for Warmth, the Sorel Joan of Arctic will keep your feet super warm (read: functional), but look great with most wintry outfits (read: fashionable).

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 about these different categories of boots and which ones will best suit your climate and needs.

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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The Sorel Tivoli High II features 100 grams of insulation, but was warmer than The North Face Nuptse Purna, which has 200 grams of insulation.
Credit: Nate Greenberg

The winter 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 Nuptse Purna). 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 Ahnu Northridge. 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 Conquest Carly.

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The Sorel Conquest Carly is stylish, but just not very warm. That said, we think it's ideal for transitioning from late fall to early winter.
Credit: Mark Fenn

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 a car in all the contenders, we also noted which ones were most uncomfortable to drive in (the Sorel Joan of Arctic) and which ones we never even noticed (The North Face Nuptse Purna).

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The Ahnu Northridge is a great winter hiker. Its Vibram outsole easily cruises over slick surfaces, its breathable materials won't leave you swampy, and its supportive footbed will keep your feet happy!
Credit: Nate Greenberg

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 Editors' Choice winner is simply a little slice of heaven. Even one year later, the Adirondack's sheepskin liner is still relatively plush. It could use a new sheepskin-lined insole, but we still love the feeling of comfort and cushioning just as much (if not more!) than when we first tried them on back in 2013.

Another top performer in our comfort metric is our Best Buy Award winner, the Kamik Momentum. This product has a super plush synthetic lining that extends all the way into the bottom of the boot. As with the UGGs, we really enjoyed slipping this boot on while barefoot for quick trips outside. The footbed does a good job hugging the foot and the faux fur cuff only increases its coziness. Interestingly, another newcomer to the 2015 review earned the lowest scores in our comfort metric. The Sorel Conquest Carly make look super stylin', but it has a design flaw along the back of the heel that left us limpin'.

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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. Every product has a distinct "flood level" - whether that's a poorly sealed seam or the top of the tongue - that let water pour into the boot. However, many models also had a "slow leak" level; when we left our feet in the water for several minutes, we noticed spots that slowly let in moisture. Our "Maximum Puddle Depth" measurement reflects the point at which your feet will get wet if you stand in that depth of water for three minutes or less. Keep in mind, however, that water seeps into boots very differently than snow. In order for your feet to get wet you have to be out for a significantly longer period of time and even then if the snow is really dry and fluffy it might not seep in at all. So, unless you are planning to ford a creek or brave a gushing gutter, the flood level might not be that important to you.

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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

We were surprised to find that some of the shorter winter boots like the Vasque Pow Pow actually kept our feet dryer than taller boots like the Ahnu Northridge. We found that these differences stem primarily from design flaws such as non-water right zippers or seams that aren't entirely sealed. 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 both have water resistant uppers that shed snow and rain. The final thing to consider in this metric is how well the shaft adjusts to the width of the calf to seal out snow and rain. Models like the Baffin Loki have a wide non-adjustable gap between the shin and the calf that can easily allow snow to fall in if you're not careful. Overall, the Sorel Joan of Arctic 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 Baffin Loki provided plenty of water resistance in puddles, but when wading through deep snow drifts, snow easily fell down into the boot thanks to the wide gap at the top of the boot.
Credit: Nate Greenberg

Style


We often take style into 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 winter boots in this review ranged significantly in style…from the funky, retro Moon Boot to the attractive Conquest Carly and the rugged Vasque Pow Pows. In last year's review, we awarded the Sorel Tofino Herringbone our Top Pick for Style thanks to its combination of style and performance. This year, however, we decided to re-think our awards, especially given the fluffy faux fur cuff that tops the Tofino. We recognize that faux fur definitely does not suit everyone's style, and since style is so subjective, we awarded a Top Pick for Warmth instead. 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 - and it's pretty much your only option if you're wearing skinny jeans. 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 Editors' Choice Winner, the UGG Adirondack II. This winter boot has a cuffable suede shaft that can be worn up or down, making it a bit more versatile.

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The attractive Sorel Conquest Carly offers style and water resistance. Now, if only it was more comfortable...
Credit: Mark Fenn

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 winter boots, we came to some important conclusions about traction.

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We were super happy to discover that the Kamik Momentum provides stellar traction - even over some of the slickest terrain that winter has to offer.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Firstly, the depth of the treads made a big difference in traction. While the Sorels had relatively shallow treads, hikers like the Vasque Pow Pow had deep, grippy treads. One of the highest performing products in this metric combined deep treads with a Vibram rubber outsole. When we hiked in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks in the Ahnu Northridge, the deep Vibram treads helped us scramble easy over rocky surfaces. Several models, including The North Face Nuptse Purna, were fitted with "lugs" that stuck out from the the outsole rather than treads that were carved in. We found the traction of this boot 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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Thanks to its stiffer shaft and high volume foot fit, the Baffin Loki is extremely easy to pull on and take off. Here, Jessica enjoys this boot's warmth and comfort on a chilly camping trip.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

The Sorel Joan of Arctic and Vasque Pow Pow were some of the most difficult winter 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 Kamik Momentum was surprisingly simple to take on and off thanks to its slick inner lining, somewhat shorter shaft, and quick pull cord cinch system. We had mixed feelings about the side zipper on the Ahnu Northridge, but we loved that the Tecnica Moon Boot was so easy to slip on and off, thanks to its structured polyester walls.

Editors' Choice Award: UGG Adirondack II


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Great for everything from winter hiking to around town errands, our Editors' Choice winner is comfortable and versatile! We loved its cozy sheepskin lining, as well as its overall performance. As long as you like its rugged-chic style, we would recommend this boot to anyone!
Credit: Jessica Fenn

The competition for our Editors' 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 or down. It's comfortable enough to wear hiking, but stylish enough to wear around town. Ultimately, this is why this piece earned our Editors' Choice Award even though the Sorel Joan of Arctic received higher overall scores. The Adirondack II is just more comfortable for everyday wear and since most women don't need the ultimate warmth provided by the Joan of Arctic, we opted for the more comfortable and more versatile Adirondack. Although these 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.

Top Pick for Warmth Award: Sorel Joan of Arctic


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The stylish and warm Sorel Joan of Arctic will only set you back $150. Our Top Pick for Warmth 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: Amanda Fenn

The Sorel Joan of Arctic is a warm, stylish, highly waterproof boot that kept our tester's feet toasty down into the negative degrees. This model is ideal for women who live in super cold climates and are looking for footwear that they can wear either for outdoor chores like shoveling snow or around town on frigid days. Although it is super warm, it's generally heavy, clunky, and not very comfortable, so it just isn't a great option unless it's really really cold outside. It is also the product in our review with a removable liner, which is a stellar performance feature for those who need to wear this boot day in and day out and have to ensure that it will be dry the next morning. Outside its performance, the Joan of Arctic is stylish enough to wear out to dinner with friends and was actually several of our testers' favorite stylish boot. When you leave the restaurant or store, this boot will definitely keep you warm and dry on your walk back to the car, but it is not suitable for activities like hiking where mobility and light weight are key. We also loved the Joan of Arctic for its amazingly low price of only $150. We think it's an absolute steal! (Pssst - don't love faux fur? Be sure to check out the newest addition to the Joan of Arctic family: the Joan Of Arctic Knit Boot).

Best Buy Award: Kamik Momentum


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Our Best Buy Award winner is just $85! Although it has a few drawbacks, including a lack of style, the Momentum provides fairly high performance and lots of comfort at an unbelievable price.
Credit: Emily Gordon

One of the five new additions to our updated 2015 review, the Kamik Momentum stole the show with its combination of comfort and affordability. We were surprised that such an inexpensive boot would keep our feet so happy! At only $85, the Momentum is by far the least expensive boot in our review. While products like the Sorel Tivoli High II, which rings up at $140, were considered for our Best Buy Award, ultimately the Kamik provided enough performance at such a low cost that we couldn't dream of presenting our Best Buy to any other product. Let's start out with our favorite things about this model: it has a super touchable liner that provides warmth and just makes your feet feel enveloped in comfort. It also offers plenty of warmth, great traction, and is super easy to pull on and take off thanks to its cinch cord closure system. That said, this model does not offer the most water resistance (it flooded in three inches of water) and due to its plush lining it is also slow to dry. The other thing that we didn't love about our Best Buy Award winner is that it sort of looks like a little kid snow boot. We never wore it out to dinner with friends, but it was the ideal option for casual errands around town, a quick trip out on a dog walk, or stints shoveling snow. If you don't mind the lack of style and are just looking for a warm, multi-purpose snow boot, the Kamik Momentum is an unbelievable deal!

Best for Specific Applications


Best all-around winter hiker: Vasque Pow Pow
Best tall winter hiker: Ahnu Northridge
Best après ski boot: Tecnica Moon Boot
Best fall to winter transition boot: Sorel Conquest Carly

Amanda Fenn
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