Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Winter Boots for Women of 2021

We tested women's winter boots from Keen, UGG, Sorel, and more to find the best and toastiest options
Photo: Edward Kemper
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Thursday September 30, 2021
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Our winter warriors have tested over 44 of the best winter boot for women over the last 12 years. This 2021 update features 15 of the market's top choices, each tested rigorously and completely. From Canada to the USA, all boots have seen the likes of blowing snowstorms, icy walkways, wet spring afternoons, and deep powder. Our experts wear these boots throughout each winter while working in the outdoor industry, both when the temperatures are fair and when they plummet. After years of testing and comparing performance, we offer our insights and recommendations to find the best boot for your needs.

Top 15 Product Ratings

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$188.95 at Amazon$185 List
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Overall Score
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Pros Super cozy liner, completely waterproof, cute style options, comfortable, warmProtective and durable, very warm, breathable, excellent traction, great for hiking, high valueVery protective, warm, durable, excellent traction on icy surfacesComfortable, good traction, waterproof, warm, supportiveWarm, weather-proof, faux-fur collar, tall shaft height, stylish
Cons Expensive, shaft lacks stabilityNot the most stylishExpensive, bulky and heavy, reported issues with leaking after long-term usePoor on ice, shorter construction, technical style, runs smallPoor traction, heavy, less precise fit
Bottom Line The epitome of comfort and warmth, wrapped in a cute, yet high performing waterproof packageAn affordable and high performance winter hiking bootA durable and protective neoprene boot offering warmth and protectionA stable and comfortable winter hiking boot with many usesA stylish and tall boot built to take on bad weather
Rating Categories UGG Adirondack III Keen Revel IV Polar... The Original Muck B... Oboz Bridger 7" Ins... Sorel Joan of Arctic
Warmth (25%) Sort Icon
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Weather Protection (25%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
Comfort & Fit (25%)
9.0
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Ease Of Use (15%)
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Traction (10%)
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Specs UGG Adirondack III Keen Revel IV Polar... The Original Muck B... Oboz Bridger 7" Ins... Sorel Joan of Arctic
Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking 9 inches 7.5 inches 15 inches 5 inches 10 inches
Measured Weight (one boot, size 9) 21 oz 22.7 oz 37 oz 20.8 oz 32 oz
Type of Boot All-around winter All-around winter Outdoor work and chores Hiking All-around winter
Fit Details True to size True to size, wide True to size True to size True to size
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft, size 9) 10 inches 7.5 inches 17 inches 7 inches 13.5 inches
Lining/Insulation UGGpure wool 200 grams KEEN.WARM Recycled PET Fleece lined & 5mm of neoprene 200 grams 3M Thinsulate insulation 6 mm recycled felt
Removable Liner? No No No No Yes
Footbed EVA EVA Removable contured PU O FIT Insole Thermal 2.5mm bonded felt frost plug
Upper Material Waterproof suede and leather Mesh and Leather Neoprene 8mm & rubber Waterproof nubuck leather Waterproof suede leather with faux fur cuff
Toe Box Rubber Leather Rubber Molded rubber Rubber
Outsole Molded Spider Rubber KEEN.Polar Traction Vibram Arctic Grip Granite Peak winterized rubber Waterproof vulcanized rubber
Cold Weather Rating (company claimed) -32C -25F Not stated Not stated -25F
Animal Products? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 5 - 12 5 - 11 6 - 11 5 - 12


Best Overall Winter Boot for Women


UGG Adirondack III


85
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 9
  • Weather Protection 9
  • Comfort & Fit 9
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Traction 8
Height: 10" (8" when rolled down) | Insulation: 100% UGG Wool
Super cute
Great weather protection
Wonderful traction
Versatile functionality
Flexible shaft
Expensive

Our favorite winter boot is the UGG Adirondack III, thanks to its warmth, style, and technical performance. The outsole supplies serious traction and enables both in-town functionality and on-trail superiority. The leather construction proved itself completely waterproof in our tests, offering protection from puddles and streams, and the collar folds down to offer two stylish looks. In addition to its stand-out versatility, we love its plush comfort and warmth.

While it has plenty of uses in cold weather, the Adirondack is not as stable as other winter boots geared towards hiking. It's also expensive. Its suede and leather construction means it needs to be treated with a leather seal to maintain its longevity and ensure performance season after season. These things aside, if cozy warmth and good looks are your jam, we think you'll enjoy this chic and versatile winter boot.

Read review: UGG Adirondack III

Best Bang for the Buck


Kamik Ariel


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 6
  • Weather Protection 7
  • Comfort & Fit 8
  • Ease of Use 9
  • Traction 5
Height: 12" | Insulation: 200g 3M Thinsulate
Stylish tall boot
Great value
Easy zipper access
Not warm in super cold temperatures
Poor quality leather

The Kamik Ariel is one of our favorite tall winter boots. This stylish boot not only looks great with a pair of leggings, but it's protective too. The leather-suede outsole is practical and looks at home whether you're in the forest or strutting about town. We absolutely love the side zipper access for easy removal without needing to re-lace each time. We also appreciate the level of comfort and versatile fit, designed for easy all-day wear. The best part? It's deliciously affordable and won't take a toll on your wallet.

This boot isn't the warmest in cold temperatures. We stayed toasty while in motion, but when we stood still, our feet got a bit chilly. It could also benefit from some higher quality materials, but we're guessing that's what keeps the price low and affordable. While testing the Ariel on a hike, we also noticed the tip of the boot completely scuffed after shuffling through the river for a half hour. These things are relatively minor, though, and certainly not dealbreakers. For women seeking a winter boot at an approachable price, this comes with our highest recommendation.

Read review: Kamik Ariel

Best for Winter Hiking


Keen Revel IV Polar - Women's


85
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 9
  • Weather Protection 8
  • Comfort & Fit 9
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Traction 9
Height: 7.5" | Insulation: 200g Recycled Keen.Warm
Very warm and breathable
Exceptional stability and support
Light
Roomy & wider fit for thicker socks
Techy look

The Keen Revel IV Polar is an exceptional winter hiker, superseding the rest in this review. We love its great fit, extra warm construction, and breathable design. It is compatible with microspikes or a set of snowshoes and is comfortable enough to wear on its own all day long. The fit is wider in the forefoot with a true-to-fit size, ample enough for even the thickest of socks. Enjoy this versatile hiking boot throughout the winter season for all your snowcapped adventures.

While we really can't find anything wrong with this boot, it's inherently 'techy' and outdoorsy looking, which isn't the most attractive for our city slickers. But if winter is synonymous with nature in your book and you need a comfortable cold-weather hiking boot, you've got to check out this diamond in the rough.

Read review: Keen Revel IV Polar - Women's

Best Snow Boot


The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport


78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 8
  • Weather Protection 9
  • Comfort & Fit 6
  • Ease of Use 8
  • Traction 8
Height: 8.5" | Insulation: Cosmo Therm 200g
Comfortable and very lightweight
Plush footbed
Very warm and protective in poor weather
Poor stability around the ankle
Difficult to obtain a specific fit

The The Original Muck Boot Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport is a burly snow boot that's easy to slip into while offering excellent winter warmth. Built for the coldest days of winter, it's rated to -20F and features a thick, heavily lugged outsole. Pull it on and off with ease and enjoy hours in snowy glory. The full nylon design is breathable yet insulated with no water seepage throughout the entire 8.5" shaft. It's waterproof and utterly impervious to precipitation. This is a great buy for anyone seeking a snow-boot design that is lightweight and built to wear all day.

Unfortunately, the comfortable and flexible shaft that's easy to pull on doesn't offer the best ankle support. While the boot's sole is wide and makes up for this instability, we wish we could at least cinch down the lacing system for a more specific fit. Also, the nylon can rip easily. But for those looking for a wider, snow boot style construction, this unique option with a fully-featured and bomber outsole is hard to beat.

Read review: The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport

Best for Protection


The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Ice Tall - Women's


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 9
  • Weather Protection 9
  • Comfort & Fit 4
  • Ease of Use 10
  • Traction 9
Height: 17" | Insulation: Fleece & Neoprene
Huge protection with a tall shaft
Completely waterproof
Easy to slip on and off
The thick sole stays warm in super cold temperatures
Amazing traction
Bulky fit
Less stylish

The The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Ice Tall occupies a niche as the most protective, warm, and easiest to use boot we've tested. The super-tall construction extends 17 inches up the leg and is built with weatherproof neoprene and fleece. We love the rigid and breathable shaft that stands on its own, making stepping into and out of this boot without your hands a possibility. The super beefy sole adds additional insulation, while the soft rubber composite underfoot sticks exceptionally well to the slipperiest of surfaces. If you need a super burly boot that can tackle the coldest and wettest days of weather, this workhorse is built to do exactly that.

With such beefy construction, it's not surprising this boot is heavy. The cuff is also prone to chafing if you're not wearing pants that are thick enough to protect your leg (especially if you're shorter). The Arctic Ice is an excellent buy if you're seeking exceptional protection and durability in a work boot.

Read review: The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Ice Tall - Women's

Stylish Year Round Wear


Blundstone Thermal - Women's


73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 6
  • Weather Protection 6
  • Comfort & Fit 9
  • Ease of Use 9
  • Traction 7
Height: 7" | Insulation: Thermal Thinsulate & Sheepskin Footbed
Versatile for all-seasons
Waterproof and protective
Very cozy footbed
Breathable
Lacks protection from tall snowbanks
Not the warmest for the coldest days of winter
Expensive

We found ourselves wearing the Blundstone Thermal throughout all the seasons. While advertised as a winter boot that can most certainly be used in cold weather, we think of it as a year-round option. The removable sheepskin insole is ridiculously cozy for the cold months and can be removed and replaced with a non-insulating option in warmer weather. In winter, we found ourselves easily tromping through puddles, fully enjoying its 100% waterproof performance. The leather outsole is durable, and the construction is superior to many contenders. It's also super easy to slip on and kick off at the end of the day.

Given the 7 inch height and a minimal level of insulation, this isn't the ideal boot in high snowdrifts and super low temps. However, this is the boot to buy for those seeking a stylish casual winter shoe that can be worn to work, into town, or on the trail. It also does well for basic outdoor chores around the house.

Read review: Blundstone Thermal - Women's

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price Our Take
85
$250
Editors' Choice Award
Wrap yourself in comfort and versatile functionality all winter long
85
$170
Top Pick Award
A versatile winter hiking boot that boasts excellent traction and warmth
82
$230
A winter hiking boot that boasts a city slicker style but also works for any adventure on the trails
79
$195
Top Pick Award
Protective warmth built into a tall neoprene winter boot
78
$180
Top Pick Award
Pull-on and kick off this traditional snow boot with a durable lugged outsole that'll do well while walking the dog or hiking local trails
77
$185
Warm, waterproof, with wonderful snow traction, this is a great boot for hiking
75
$145
This winter hiking boot is warm and burly for winter hikes or chores
74
$210
When winter comes calling, be sure to be wearing this tall and protective winter boot that offers stylish flair
73
$140
For warmth, waterproofness, and comfort, this boot is a favorite
73
$230
Top Pick Award
A shorter waterproof winter boot that offers a stylish appeal, but isn't as warm as burlier options
71
$130
Best Buy Award
Don this stylish winter boot on easy trails and on your winter commute to work
70
$125
A good price for good performance
66
$170
A warm, bulky, and durable boot built for getting winter chores done around the house
65
$140
A versatile and comfortable winter boot
61
$170
This all-day wear faux-fur winter boot boasts stylish protection for wear everyday

Testing the warmth and traction of the Columbia Bugaboot IV on a...
Testing the warmth and traction of the Columbia Bugaboot IV on a cold day on the glacier.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Why You Should Trust Us


Our winter boot expert Is Amber King, a Canadian native transplanted to southwestern Colorado. She has spent over 200+ hours testing winter boots, wearing them in everything from warm spring storms to super tall snowdrifts in her hometown of Ouray, Colorado. She works full-time as an outdoor educator, teaching students even when the cold of winter is rearing its ugly head.

Our testing process was designed to ensure we don't miss any crucial details. We hiked on cold winter days with temperatures well below zero and walked the dogs each day on packed snowy roads and trails. We tested in snow and rainstorms and wore these boots out to dinner on chilly evenings. We even walked around in creeks and lakes to find weak points in seams and truly test for leakage and weather protection. Some of these boots gave us a whole new love of winter, while others we preferred to keep on the shelf.

Related: How We Tested Winter Boots for Women

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Analysis and Test Results


Winter is a time to celebrate the cold and to appreciate the blue-day glimmers of snow. Our goal is to help you find the best winter boot so you can enjoy the winter season, so we took the time to research and test the best options on the market. For each, we assess warmth, weather protection, comfort & fit, ease of use, and traction. With experiences in cold weather ranging from the USA to Canada, we provide our recommendations to help you find exactly what you are looking for this season.

Related: Buying Advice for Winter Boots for Women

We enjoy hanging out around town in the Blundstone Thermal boot, a...
We enjoy hanging out around town in the Blundstone Thermal boot, a great casual option for three-season use.
Photo: Amber King

Value


A high-performing boot doesn't have to be mega expensive. We took the time to find well-priced options that'll last you deep into the darkest and coldest parts of winter. Our favorite for value is the Kamik Ariel, a high-top leather boot built for most winter conditions. The Kamik Sienna 2 is another stylish option that won't break the bank. The Sorel Caribou is another model that's fairly priced but with a warmer construction. Its fit is bulkier, though, and not nearly as stylish.

The Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV also provides an excellent value with a totally bomber sole that sticks to both snowy surfaces and icy terrain. The Keen Revel IV Polar is our favorite hiking boot that also offers a superior value option, despite the higher upfront cost. When considering value, be sure to do your research and find a boot that balances the performance you need with a price you can manage.


Warmth


We all need a warm boot that'll offer insulation throughout the coldest days of winter. It's not a surprise then that warmth is one of our most important evaluation criteria. Ideally, a winter boot should keep your foot warm whether you're simply standing around in the cold or actively hiking. A few key factors contribute to the overall warmth of a boot. The warmest options have thicker outsoles, taller shafts, and high quality insulation. Your boot should also provide excellent breathability to vent moisture while you're in motion. Another important piece of gear is a solid pair of winter socks that can insulate even when wet, such as those made from wool or synthetic fibers.


To objectively measure the insulation of our boots, we set each model into an ice bath and tracked how much their inside temperature dropped over 20 minutes. This helped us compare the relative amount of thermal insulation. We also hiked in each pair and stood around on icy surfaces while sipping hot chocolate on cold nights, noticing which kept our feet the warmest. We even stomped around in cold water. All these tests helped us determine which boots are constructed for arctic conditions and which should only be worn during the warmer shoulder seasons.

We take some time to measure insulative warmth during tests where we...
We take some time to measure insulative warmth during tests where we dunk boots in snowy-water bins to look at how temperature changes over 20 minutes. This helps us measure overall warmth, which is dependent on a variety of factors, not just insulation.
Photo: Amber King

Many winter boots are rated to a specific temperature. While these numbers offer a potential point of comparison, it's hard to take this estimate at face value. The warmth you experience will vary depending on the socks you wear, your metabolism, and your perception of the cold. So take these numbers with a grain of salt, but they should still be useful to figure out which boots will be warmer than others. More importantly, pay attention to the construction of the boot while you try to evaluate warmth.

The Muck Boot Arctic Ice is warm and perfect for protecting you...
The Muck Boot Arctic Ice is warm and perfect for protecting you while you blow snow on those super cold days.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

The warmest boots we tested offer serious underfoot insulation and insulate well up the leg. The Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall is a prime example. This boot is super warm with a 17-inch shaft that insulates throughout and offers superior insulation on the sole. It kept our feet warm in negative double digits while supplying unbeatable protection. The Sorel Caribou has the thickest sole of all our tested models and is one of the warmest boots for just standing around in the cold. It's loaded with 9mm of felt lining that doesn't seem to compact or lose warmth, even after years of wear. Both of these boots are perfect for standing around in the cold or doing chores at the house. However, the Arctic Ice Tall is more protective of the cold with its tall height that insulates the calf. The Caribou is about 11 inches tall, 5 inches shorter than the Arctic Ice. The Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport also features a very thick sole and offers excellent warmth down to -20F. It has a nylon construction that's loaded with 200-grams of insulation, offering both breathability and warmth while you walk.

Boots come in all shapes and sizes. More insulation on a breathable...
Boots come in all shapes and sizes. More insulation on a breathable design is typically the best. Those with faux fur keep in warmth better while also keeping out pesky rogue snowflakes.
Photo: Amber King

The Sorel Joan of Arctic is another fantastically warm option with 13.5 inches of protection and a faux fur collar. Boots with this kind of collar offer more protection and warmth from the snow because they help prevent snow from falling down inside the boot shaft. However, we recognize that not everyone cares for the style — and bulk and messiness — of that fake fur. The Sorel Caribou and Muck Boot Arctic Ice both lack this feature. The Joan of Arctic isn't as warm as the Caribou because the underfoot insulation isn't quite as thick. It only has 6mm of felt insulation (in comparison to the Caribou's 9mm). It is more comfortable, though, with a less bulky construction that can comfortably be worn all day long.

The UGG Adirondack III offers warmth and support on this hiking...
The UGG Adirondack III offers warmth and support on this hiking mission as we ascended 13,000 feet into the sky. This boot is incredibly versatile with excellent commuting and hiking performance. Its warm and breathes well.
Photo: Amber King

Other warm boots may not have the thickest soles but still provide quality insulation. For example, the 10-inch shaft of the UGG Adirondack is filled with lofty, warm sheep's wool — an organic, natural fiber that offers fantastic breathability and overall warmth. The sole of the boot isn't as thick as the Sorel Caribou or Muck Boot Arctic Ice but is similar in thickness to the 11.5 inch tall North Face Shellista III, which earns a similar score. The Shellista has 200 grams of PrimaLoft Silver insulation, one of the most durable and high-quality synthetic insulation types out there. Both the Adirondack and Shellista have thinner soles underfoot, so they're not as warm as the top scorers mentioned above. They are, however, ideal for everyday wear and are suitable for simple hiking trails or when the weather dips into the negatives.

The Keen Revel IV Polar is one of the warmest hiking boots tested...
The Keen Revel IV Polar is one of the warmest hiking boots tested. We use it regularly for after-work hikes, and while teaching all-day at our main testers outdoor school. 400 grams of insulation is built for some of the coldest days of winter.
Photo: Amber King

Of the hiking-focused boots, the Keen Revel IV Polar is superior to the rest. It is loaded with 200g of insulation and is surprisingly breathable. Next are the Oboz Bridger 7" and Columbia Bugaboot IV. The Bridger is a bit shorter than the Bugaboot, but the insulation and construction make it a warmer boot overall. Even though both boast 200 grams of synthetic insulation, the Bridger is far more breathable. The Bugaboot IV is warm, but the Omni-Heat liner locks in heat, meaning it doesn't breathe as well. Of the three, the Keen Revel offers the best in breathability, featuring breathable patches throughout its construction. Over time while hiking, this ultimately makes it the warmest of the bunch.

The protective outer and warm wool liner of the Adirondack offers...
The protective outer and warm wool liner of the Adirondack offers fantastic performance through slush and water.
Photo: Amber King

Weather Protection


Winter can bring the dreaded wintery mix of snow, slush, and ice. With the proper footwear, your feet (and pants) can stay protected when you're out in that nasty weather. To test this, we hiked through slushy puddles, tall snowbanks, rivers, and streams, all while evaluating the materials of each boot. Those that score the highest offered the best protection in all of these challenges.


We found that most weatherproof boots are those built from rubber, neoprene, and/or leather. Look for boots with taped seams that are double stitched and reinforced to keep water out. Keep in mind that most products have a distinct flood level where water can pour quickly into the boot. This is sometimes a poorly sealed seam or the joint where the tongue meets the shaft. We tested and noted the flood level for each boot.

Be sure to evaluate the type of material used in the upper to determine if it is truly waterproof. Some products in this review claim their materials are waterproof when they are actually only snow-proof at best. Additionally, any product made from leather probably needs to be treated with a snow sealant at least twice per season to maintain protection.

The Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall offers the best protection overall...
The Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall offers the best protection overall. Made with Neoprene and rubber, and insulated with polyester fleece, they are tall, waterproof, and offer a durable construction that'll last a long time.
Photo: Amber King

If water and snow protection is your priority, the Arctic Ice Tall is a clear favorite. Whether you're blowing snow off your driveway, trudging through wet and soggy fields, or tackling tall snowbanks, this 17-inch boot is your best bet. Unlike the Sorel Joan of Arctic, another bad weather beast with 13.5 inches of snow protection, it does not have a faux fur collar to keep out the snow. It is, however, the tallest option out there, built of neoprene and rubber. It's our favorite because it's easy to slip on, it's warm, and its tall flood level extends all the way to the top of the boot.

Another very protective Pac boot (meaning a boot with a removable lining) is the Sorel Caribou. It offers beefy insulation to keep out snowy weather. The Caribou's overlays ensure that it's waterproof all the way to the collar of the boot, at about 10.5 inches. In comparison, the Sorel Joan of Arctic delivers water protection up to just 10 inches of the full 13.5-inch height. All are excellent choices for the nastiest weather. The most significant difference is that the Joan of Arctic is lighter, taller, and cuter than the Caribou (in our humble opinion). Of them all, the Muck Boot Arctic Ice provides the most protection in poor weather.

The Keen Revel IV Polar offers impressive water protection until it...
The Keen Revel IV Polar offers impressive water protection until it gets to the cuff in our puddle tests.
Photo: Amber King

The Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport is a snow boot style option with full protection from the bottom of its ultra-thick sole to the top of its 8.5-inch shaft. The construction is completely seamless and waterproof.

If you seek a highly protective winter hiking boot, the Keen Revel IV Polar and Bridger 7" Insulated offer bomber weather protection. Both feature leather overlays with a breathable waterproof membrane and are great options for hiking in wet and snowy weather. The Columbia Bugaboot IV is another that protects from water excellently, up to 6 inches. All of these boots fit nicely underneath a pair of snow pants or hikers, offering a similar level of overall protection, and will keep your feet dry in wet weather.

Different heights offer different levels of protection. The Muck...
Different heights offer different levels of protection. The Muck Boot (tallest here) is the best, followed by the Oboz Bridger (totally waterproof for its size), the Kamik Sienna (right), then the Shellista III (left).
Photo: Amber King

The UGG Adirondack III is another all-around awesome winter boot that's made completely from leather and rubber and offers amazing protection from both water and snow. Like the super cute Sorel Tofino II, it will keep your feet bone dry in the deepest of puddles. The Tofino protects up to 8.5 inches, while the Adirondack protects up to 9 inches. The Kamik Ariel is an excellent high-value option with a 12-inch height that protects well from snowbanks. Sadly, the leather only reaches 5 inches — above that, it becomes less waterproof and leaks. While this offers just the right protection from most winter weather, just be aware of super deep puddles or river romping.

The Kamik Ariel provides good protection around the leather outsole...
The Kamik Ariel provides good protection around the leather outsole from both water and snow.
Photo: amber king

If your winters are cold and wet but not deep, we highly recommend the excellent Blundstone Thermal, which is waterproof up to the top of its 7-inch cuff. This might not be high enough for everyone, but it will handle slushy curb puddles like a champ. These are a stylish option for tackling nasty, urban weather where snowplows are plentiful.

The North Face Shellista III Mid has a little fur collar that does...
The North Face Shellista III Mid has a little fur collar that does good work keeping snow out in tall snowbanks. Here we explore some wildlife tracks around our property.
Photo: Amber King

Comfort & Fit


While cold weather can be brutal on your feet, a comfy winter boot can make your day. To evaluate comfort, we examined each boot's liner, footbed, and weight and judged how cozy the interior materials are to wear all day. To judge fit, we determined precisely how we could snug it down around our feet and ankles. We also considered whether most folks would need to size up or down for each boot and considered the stability and support of each to offer insights into toe box width and arch support.


Comfort


The most comfortable options are those that aren't bulky and offer a sensitive but protective fit, with touchable materials that feel good to wear all day long. It's not surprising that boots with plush liners and comfortable insulation take the cake here. Of the more stylish and more versatile boot options, the North Face Shellista III and UGG Adirondack III take the cake. The Blundstone Thermal is a lighter lower cut boot that is also a big favorite amongst our testers. The Muck Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport is the lightest boot we tested at just 16 ounces per boot, making it a great option for all-day wear.

Not only do the UGG Adirondack III&#039;s protect during winter hikes and...
Not only do the UGG Adirondack III's protect during winter hikes and explorations, but the super cozy sheepskin liner is great for lounging around...even at high altitude.
Photo: Amber King

The North Face Shellista III has a more stable footbed and shaft, giving more support around the ankle and the calf. We also appreciate the soft liners that feel good to wear all day. The UGG Adirondack III is built with super soft wool insulation right in the liner. This material is quite soft, but the shaft of the boot isn't nearly as supportive as the Shellista. The footbed for both is comfortable and supportive, with the Shellista offering more arch support and a wider toe box. The Blundstone Thermal has a lightweight construction with a super cozy removable sheepskin liner, built to wear all day. The Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport isn't as stable around the ankle as the options tested here. However, its lighter weight is attractive to many for all-day wear.

The Oboz Bridger Insulated boot is an excellent winter hiking boot...
The Oboz Bridger Insulated boot is an excellent winter hiking boot for its exceptional warmth and breathability. Here we test it on a glacier in a snowstorm.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Of the winter hiking boots we tested, the Keen Revel IV and the Oboz Bridger are the most comfortable by far. The Bridger features a wool topped collar and a sculpted footbed for excellent arch support. It's very supportive. The Revel IV is similar in its support but has less arch support and a wider profile. It's the boot we chose to easily accommodate a thicker pair of socks. The Bridger is great, but we'd recommend sizing up a half size as the volume of the boot isn't as roomy to accommodate thicker socks and toe wiggles.

The cozy sheepskin footbeds of the Blundstone Thermal boots are hard...
The cozy sheepskin footbeds of the Blundstone Thermal boots are hard to compare. This makes them a favorite for all-day wear around town and while doing chores.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Alternatively, more protective boots like the Sorel Caribou, Muck Boot Arctic Ice, and Sorel Joan of Arctic have a much bulkier fit and heavier weight — with the Muck Boot Arctic Ice being the heaviest and bulkiest of this trio. If you're seeking a nice balance between weather protection and comfort, the Joan of Arctic is your best bet. While it's not as warm as the other two, it is a more comfortable boot to wear all day because of its thinner outsole, which offers more sensitivity and coordination in bad weather.

Fit


Fit is a subjective metric. But, after wearing the boots and handing them off to friends, we have some well-rounded thoughts on the subject. The most significant differences arise from a given boot's intended use. Active winter boots will provide a more supportive fit than bigger and burlier boots, which are comparatively loose and a little sloppy. Many winter boots are on the bulkier side.

We appreciate the specific fit of the Keen Revel IV Polar. The...
We appreciate the specific fit of the Keen Revel IV Polar. The numerous eyelets allow you to tighten and loosen wherever it's needed. We appreciate the extra space in the footbed which makes it easy to pair with a thicker pair of socks.
Photo: Amber King

Winter Hiking Boots

The fit of an active winter hiking boot is more important than casual winter boot categories. While you can lace all the hikers we tested tight enough to get a precision fit, there are differences. Our testers with wider or higher-volume feet, or those looking for wiggle room, opted for either the Keen Revel IV Polar or Columbia Bugaboot IV. Both of which have more space in the forefoot. If you need arch support and a wider toe box, the Oboz Bridger has you covered. We also like the Danner Mountain 600 Insulated, a stylish option with a less roomy toe box.

These boots have a snug heel that didn't slip while on the trail. The Keen Revel IV Polar and Columbia Bugaboot IV provide the most versatile fit, with a roomy toe box and less sculpted footbed. The Oboz Bridger delivers a little less volume in the toe box but has a more precise fit with optimal stability and arch support.

The Kamik Ariel offers a versatile fit with both a zipper and...
The Kamik Ariel offers a versatile fit with both a zipper and lace-up design. The fit is neutral and feels low to the ground, offering stability and superior comfort for all-day wear.
Photo: amber king

Winter Boots All-Around Use

Narrow Fit

While most boots can be made to work with a narrow foot, these are our top recommendations. They provide a precise fit and allow you to cinch down the boot.

Our Recommendations:
  • UGG Adirondack III
  • Sorel Tofino II

Roomy Fit

A boot with a roomy fit is best for those with medium to wide feet, or for those looking to wear thicker socks.

Our Recommendations:
  • The North Face Shellista III
  • Kamik Sienna 2
  • Kamik Ariel
  • Muck Boot Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport

The Muck Boot Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport has a roomy fit with a...
The Muck Boot Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport has a roomy fit with a flexible shaft that is incredibly lightweight. A good option for all the people - with both wide and narrow feet.
Photo: Edward Kemper

Sloppy or Big Fit

These boots have a bulky or sloppy fit that will do well with any size foot if you aren't planning to walk too much. They also work well with thicker socks if you think you need 'em.

Our Recommendations
  • Sorel Joan of Arctic
  • Sorel Caribou
  • Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall

The Muck Boot isn&#039;t the most comfortable with its larger fit and...
The Muck Boot isn't the most comfortable with its larger fit and heavier construction, but the footbed is nicely cushioned for all-day wear
Photo: Eddie Kemper

Ease of Use


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, your hands are cold, but you can't seem to kick them off. The feeling is similar to 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 since some boots are simple to slip out of and others are a pain, we think it's worth mentioning.


First, we looked at each lacing system and determined whether it was necessary to spend extra minutes lacing and unlacing the boot. (An important factor is whether or not you can lace up a boot with a simple pull or if you have to tighten the laces up the shaft manually.) Then we practiced pulling each boot on and taking it off again. Boots with a rigid shaft and wider neck are easier to wrangle. Boots that scored the highest are easy to take on and off and featured either no laces or a single-pull lacing system.

Look ma, no hands! The Arctic Ice boot is the easiest to slip on and...
Look ma, no hands! The Arctic Ice boot is the easiest to slip on and off.
Photo: Amber King

Hands-down, the Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall is the easiest boot to slip into and kick off. It has no laces and a rigid shaft with a large area around the cuff. If you feel like using it, it also has a nifty pull tab that makes it easier to grab the boot to get your foot in and out. The Blundstone Thermal is also a laceless design, but the boots do not have a ridge on the back of the heel to aid in removal, so they require hands-on pull tabs to get them off rather than a kick.

The Muck Boot Arctic Ice Nomadic Sport is another that requires the pull of one tab to get it on. To take it off, you can simply kick it off, similar to the Blundstone Thermal. We also appreciate that the Kamik Ariel has zipper access in addition to the lace-up design, which means you simply need to zip it up or down to get in or out.

We love that you need to lace this boot only once and use the zipper...
We love that you need to lace this boot only once and use the zipper to get in and out of it! A huge extra we appreciate for this high-value contender.
Photo: amber king

Boots with a lacing system that tightens up with a single pull are also quite easy to use. The Columbia Heavenly has this feature. This boot is not rigid enough to stand up on its own, so you do need two hands to get into them, but a single pull of the laces means that, from top to bottom, the entire lacing pattern tightens, offering a specific and easy fit.

Pull once and all the laces tighten up with the  Heavenly Omni-Heat.
Pull once and all the laces tighten up with the Heavenly Omni-Heat.
Photo: Amber King

The Sorel Caribou, Joan of Arctic, and Tofino II all have a rigid upper that doesn't bend or twist when you step into the boot and are also quite easy to use as well. While their laces are more labor-intensive than a slip-on option would be, they still tighten easily. There is enough room in all of these boots to simply slip your foot in without lacing them up, with the Tofino II being the easiest. The Joan of Arctic has nifty pull tabs on the side that add to its ease, while the Caribou has a shaft that's not as rigid and requires a little more work.

These metal eyelets makes it a cinch to lace up and tie the Bugaboot...
These metal eyelets makes it a cinch to lace up and tie the Bugaboot Plus IV.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

Of the hiking boots tested, the Columbia Bugaboot IV is the easiest to use. The wide collar makes it easy to slide your foot in and out. Plus, all of the eyelets are closed loops, so no need to unhook the laces. The Keen Revel IV Polar, Danner Mountain 600 Insulated, and Oboz Bridger all require some lacing, with the Keen Revel being the easiest of the bunch. All have only two eyelets to lace and unlace. The smaller fit and cozy collar of the Oboz Bridger makes it harder to slide your foot in and out though.

Which ones are easy to put on? These boots don&#039;t require too much...
Which ones are easy to put on? These boots don't require too much effort, but you do need two hands to pull them on. Thank goodness the laces move easily through the eyelets with just a single pull.
Photo: Amber King

Boots with lots of eyelets and laces take a little more time to work with. The UGG Adirondack III and the North Face Shellista III fall into this category. The Adirondack doesn't have as many eyelets as the Shellista but still takes a little more effort to get a precise fit. When you pull its laces, they bunch at the top, but not at the bottom. The Shellista does this too; however, the newest update has two eyelets on each side at the top. This design allows you to pull the laces (at the bottom of the boot) and simply lace up the top. Once you find a fit you like, all you need to do is slip your foot in and do up the eyelets. The Adirondack doesn't have this feature and only has one pull tab at the back of the boot, while the Shellista has two along the sides, making it easier to get on.

Traction


If you want to stay on your feet through winter, a bomber outsole is key. We studied each model's outsole by measuring the depth of the tread and noting the pattern. We also created an icy ramp and walked up and down it, and did some slip-sliding across an icy driveway. In addition to these objective tests, we skated around on ice patches, hiked around town, and got out into nasty stuff to determine which boots stuck and which ones didn't. In the end, we learned that those with the largest lugs and surface area did best on technical terrain while flatter soles work best on deep snow. Boots with temperature-sensitive rubber that is softer and more pliable perform better in colder temps and over icy surfaces.


While all the boots tested provide traction, some are better than others. If you plan on being out in deep snow throughout the winter, a sole with a lot of surface area like the Sorel Joan of Arctic or Sorel Tofino II is a great option. Similar to a snowshoe, it floats a bit on top of the surface, without the necessity for deep lugs. The outsole has a wave pattern that provides some traction, but the lug-less design is not ideal for steep snow slopes. The Kamik Sienna 2 and Kamik Ariel have a similar lug-less design that floats well on snow but is slipperier on steeper, hard-packed trails.

A look at the &quot;wavy traction&quot; patterns of the Sorel Tofino II (top)...
A look at the "wavy traction" patterns of the Sorel Tofino II (top) and Sorel Caribou (middle). The Sorel Caribou (lowest) features a different outsole providing better traction on more technical terrain.
Photo: Amber King

If you plan to get on steep trails this winter, we highly recommend a hiking boot with lugs. For that, an active winter hiking boot is your best bet, and the Columbia Bugaboot IV provides some of the best traction in the test. Its lugs are wide, and the Michelin Winter Compound Rubber stays soft and grippy in cold conditions. The Keen Revel IV Polar is another consideration with its fat traction pattern. We also like the Muck Boot Arctic Ice and Muck Boot Arctic Nomadic Sport that sticks surprisingly well to icy surfaces.

The Queen of Traction, the new Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV boots have...
The Queen of Traction, the new Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV boots have massive lugs that grip like crazy.
Photo: Laurel Hunter

The UGG Adirondack III (left) and Arctic Ice Tall (right) both offer...
The UGG Adirondack III (left) and Arctic Ice Tall (right) both offer great traction. Both have a super soft rubber composite. While the Adirondack's is soft throughout, the Arctic Ice has it in the center of the lug, with deeper lugs for better traction overall.
Photo: Amber King

The Oboz Bridger is another hiking boot that offers a burly traction pattern to combat steep snow trails. However, we found that the rubber is a much harder compound than both the Columbia Bugaboot and Muck Boot Arctic Ice, so it can be treacherous tackling super icy terrain with this boot. That said, on trails interlaced with dirt and ice, it did just fine. The UGG Adirondack III scores higher than the Oboz Bridger because it can tackle the same types of trails, but with its softer rubber compounds, it does much better on ice and rocks. The lugs aren't as deep either, so it floats better over deeper snow.

A look at the outsoles of several boots tested. We find that those...
A look at the outsoles of several boots tested. We find that those with a wider lug pattern with lots of surface area and a softer rubber composite does better than the others.
Photo: Amber King

If you simply need a more stylish boot that'll get you around town and on simple, easy trails for the winter, check out the North Face Shellista III. It features a softer rubber and wider lug pattern that grips slippery rocks and packed snow. It's a great option for winter chores, wearing around town, and light hiking.

Conclusion


Is there a cold winter storm threatening on the horizon? A high-performing winter boot can keep you warm and protected from whatever weather it might bring. You should be sure the boot you settle on is warm, breathable, and offers decent traction and weather protection to get you through the worst days of winter. Although there are many choices on the market, the selection presented here represents the best products out there. We've done the hard work, so all you need to do is choose. Enjoy!

Taken to the freezing temperatures of Ontario Canada, we test winter...
Taken to the freezing temperatures of Ontario Canada, we test winter boots in the cold and snow. What do you need your boots to do this winter season?
Photo: Amber King

Amber King