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Our winter warriors have tested more than 50 of the best winter boots for women since 2013. This update features 16 of the market's top choices, each tested rigorously and completely across a variety of terrain and snow conditions. From Canada to the USA, our boots have seen the likes of blowing snowstorms, icy walkways, wet spring afternoons, and muddy pre-season puddles. Our experts wear these boots throughout winter, both when the temperatures are fair and when they plummet. After years of testing and comparing performances, we offer our insights and recommendations to help you find the best boot for your needs.
The Baffin Chloe takes top accolades this year thanks to an all-around impressive performance in each testing category. This is a sturdy and robust winter boot that demonstrates superb warmth, traction, coverage, and waterproofing. Baffin's B-Tek Heat and Polywool insulation paired with Diamond Net layering in the liner manages warmth and moisture throughout the day, keeping the feet warm and dry. The 10" shaft and suede upper provide lots of coverage to keep snow and rain out of the interior.
The Chloe is snug, stable, and grippy when marching down slick or snowy slopes. The outsole and upper provide structure and support around the foot and ankle, providing confidence for outdoor pursuits. This boot took on everything from deep snow to puddles and lakes without crippling under cold, blizzardy conditions. Overall, the Chloe impressed us with its versatility and superb performance across the board and is our top recommendation for those in need of an ultra-warm, durable, and reliable boot for the coldest climates and deepest of winters.
Shaft Height:: 6" | Insulation: 200g M Select Warm
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Hiking specific style
The Merrell Thermo Chill Mid WP surprised us in every category with its super versatile design that maintained warmth and breathability throughout our testing period. The cozy liner and midsole support are great for indoor and outdoor work, and the supple rubber compound on the outsole is the perfect amount of traction for trail exploration. The exterior construction is both durable and lightweight, so you won't feel like you're strapped to a 5-pound weight when trudging uphill. These great features are only made sweeter by the fact that this is one of the most affordable boots in our review.
While this is an all-around all-star design, we wish there was more ankle coverage to keep snow away from our socks, and we would welcome a slightly stiffer and taller construction to increase stability and confidence on uneven terrain. We are also a bit wary of the rubber outsole wearing down due to its softer nature, but it held up fine throughout our testing period. Overall, the Merrell Thermo Chill is a major bang for your buck if you're looking for a versatile and high-performing boot that won't break the bank.
Shaft Height: 17" | Insulation: Fleece and neoprene
REASONS TO BUY
Tallest shaft in the lineup
Thick, sturdy sole
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy and bulky
Difficult to drive in
The Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall AGAT (Arctic Grip All Terrain) is our choice for the most protective, waterproof, multi-functional winter boot we've tested. The 17-inch shaft extends to just below the knee and is built with scuba-grade neoprene and fleece to keep your legs warm and dry in the coldest conditions. We love the rigid shaft that stands on its own, making stepping into and out of this boot quick and easy. The extra beefy sole adds additional insulation, while the firm yet pliable rubber composite underfoot sticks exceptionally well to the slipperiest surfaces. If you need an ultra-protective boot that can tackle the coldest and wettest days of winter, this workhorse is built to do exactly that.
The boot's beefy construction makes for heavy footwear. The wide circumference of the shaft makes it easy to stuff your pant leg into the boot but leaves space for moisture to leak in when overly exposed. The cuff is also prone to chafing if you're not wearing pants that are thick enough to protect your leg (particularly for shorter folks). Those minor things aside, the Arctic Ice Tall is an excellent buy if you're seeking exceptional protection and durability in a work boot.
The Keen Revel IV Polar is an exceptional winter hiker. We love its warm and durable construction, breathable materials, and waterproofness. This boot boasted some of the best traction and protection on icy trails and uneven ridgelines. It is compatible with microspikes, gaiters, or a set of snowshoes and is comfortable enough to wear on its own all day long. Enjoy this versatile hiking boot as you splash through the rain, muck, and snow during your snow-capped adventures.
While there is not much we disliked about this boot, it has an inherently 'techy' and outdoorsy design that isn't the most fashionable option to wear with your average everyday outfit. The fit is wider in the forefoot, which is great for bulky socks but might be too wide for those with narrow feet. Regardless, if you work outdoors and winter is synonymous with outdoor adventure, this cold-weather hiking boot is highly dependable.
The Baffin Escalate may not be focused on style, but its functionality in the weight, warmth, and coverage departments is notably impressive. We love the full coverage design and Baffin's B-Tek Heat insulation that kept us impressively warm in the coldest temperatures. Most importantly, this boot is light as a feather at just 10 ounces per boot for a US women's size 7 and feels like a giant slipper with tread.
While the Escalate has many redeeming qualities, we didn't love a few things about its design. It has a snug fit that may be too tight for wider feet or larger calves, and the construction lacks stability for more intense outdoor activities. The lack of structure in the upper also makes it difficult to get the boot on without sitting down. If you can get by some of these quirks, those who prioritize warmth and protection in ice-cold conditions will likely find the Escalate to fit their fancy.
Since 2013, we've tested over 100 unique winter boots for women and men. We research top brands and products and then put them to the test out in the field. Our testing process includes buying and using every pair of boots in our lineup. We've spent hundreds of hours in the snow and cold, playing, walking, and doing chores for a complete analysis. Testing includes slogging in cold water to check waterproofing and measuring internal air temperatures with the boots soaking in an ice bath to assess insulation. With testing grounds from Southwestern Colorado to Northern California to British Columbia, we provide our insight and recommendations to help you find exactly what you want. Our testing process was designed to ensure we didn't miss any crucial details and spans five metrics and 15 individual tests for each boot:
Warmth (25% of overall score weighting)
Weather Protection (25% weighting)
Comfort and Fit (20% weighting)
Traction (15% weighting)
Durability (15% weighting)
Liz Chamberlain, our current boot expert, is a winter enthusiast based in Truckee, CA. Liz is a downhill extraordinaire, seeking out the many mountain activities the Lake Tahoe area has to offer. Working in retail sales at Truckee's finest bike and ski shops has taught her to take a design-focused lens when approaching gear assessment and sales. With a graduate certificate in sustainable innovation, Liz has a background in material sourcing and functional designs. You can trust her for all insights related to fashion and function. Rounding out Liz's assessments is Amber King, a Canadian native transplanted to southwestern Colorado. She works full-time as an outdoor educator, teaching students even when the cold of winter is rearing its ugly head. Together they have spent over 200 hours testing winter boots, wearing them in everything from warm spring storms to tall snowdrifts in their hometowns out West.
Analysis and Test Results
Winter is a time to finally celebrate and immerse yourself in the cold fronts and deep dive into your favorite snowy activities. Our goal is to help you find the best boots to help you enjoy the winter season and brave the cold spells.
A high-performing women's winter boot doesn't have to be ultra-expensive. We took the time to test products along the entire spectrum of price ranges to find out what works best. We do not review prices until after we have tested each boot. At that point, we apply our honest opinion of value based on the price and performance of each product. 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.
Sitting on the lower end for price yet performing incredibly well across our tests, the Merrell Thermal Chill Mid is a high-value choice. Impressive traction, weatherproofing, and comfort at a reasonable price make this a no-brainer option for all-season functionality. The Columbia Minx Shorty III is also an excellent option for those focused on comfort and waterproofing. While the Minx Shorty III didn't top the charts in any one category, it performed well across the board and is generally a solid one-quiver boot that won't break the bank.
Cold weather can be brutal. Trying to warm your feet back up after a cold day is a difficult task. For this reason, we all need a boot that will help facilitate good thermoregulation throughout the coldest days of winter. For this reason, warmth is one of the most highly weighted evaluation criteria in this review. 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: 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. Lean towards wool or synthetic fibers for the best warmth and moisture-wicking capabilities.
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 10 minutes. This helped us compare the relative amount of thermal insulation. We also hiked in each pair and stood around in snowfields and snowbanks while sipping hot chocolate on cold nights, taking note of which boots kept our feet the warmest. We even stomped around in river water. Using a culmination of the test results, we determined which boots were constructed for arctic conditions and which should probably stick to the streets.
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. We recommend taking 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 boot's construction while you try to evaluate warmth.
The warmest boots we tested offer serious insulation underfoot and well up the leg. The Baffin Chloe takes the top spot for this metric. This boot has a multi-layered insulation system with a Polywool blend that insulates internal temperatures and adds breathability and wind protection to the liner. The Chloe demonstrated the smallest internal temperature change after our snow bank and ice bath tests. The Baffin Escalate also performed very well in this metric, just behind the Chloe, despite its incredibly lightweight design. Baffin's proprietary heating technologies deliver on their "tundra-rating" temperature claims for both of these boots.
The Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall is another prime example of a warm and protective boot. With a 17-inch shaft that insulates throughout and offers superior insulation on the sole, it kept our feet warm in single 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 months of wear. This was one of our favorite boots to wear when shoveling the driveway on cold mornings. However, the Arctic Ice Tall is more protective when the snow is really deep, thanks to a tall shaft height that insulates the calf. For comparison, the Sorel Caribou is about 11 inches tall, 5 inches shorter than the Arctic Ice.
Boots with a faux fur protective collar offer extra protection and warmth from the snow because they help prevent snow from falling inside the boot shaft. However, we recognize that not everyone cares for the faux fur style. From our perspective, the Columbia Minx Shorty III and The North Face Shellista IV Mid had the most stylish fur collars that blended nicely with the boot design. They also provided solid warmth despite having more shallow soles than burlier boot designs, though the Shellista is considerably warmer than the Minx.
Despite our praise for thick soles, many boots in the lineup have a thinner construction and still provide quality insulation. For example, the 10-inch shaft of the UGG Adirondack III is filled with lofty, warm sheep's wool — an organic, natural fiber that offers fantastic breathability and overall warmth. The boot's sole isn't as thick as the Sorel Caribou or Baffin Chloe but is similar in thickness to The North Face Shellista IV Mid.
Winter can bring a fast-changing mix of snow, slush, and ice. With the proper footwear, your feet (and pants) can stay protected when you're out in near-freezing weather. To test this, we hiked through slushy puddles, tall snowbanks, rivers, and streams, all the while evaluating the materials of each boot. Those that scored the highest had the least amount of snow and water intrusion and offered the best protection in adverse environments.
We found that the most weatherproof boots are constructed of 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. 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.
If water and snow protection is your priority, the Muck Boot 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. It is the tallest and burliest option out there, backing its protection with 5mm of scuba-grade neoprene and rubber. It's our favorite for protection because it's easy to slip on and warm, and its flood level extends to the top of the boot thanks to no seams or laces. The Baffin Chloe has a notably tall shaft at 10 inches and is waterproof up to 9 inches. This boot performed like a rain boot when dunked into lake water and shed snow just as easily.
The Sorel Caribou features a removable liner and beefy insulation to keep your toes toasty in cold weather. The Caribou's overlays ensure that it is waterproof nearly all the way to the boot's collar, at about 10 inches. The Bogs Crandall II Tall Adjustable delivers 3mm of waterproof insulation with a shaft height of 13 inches. While the Crandall II was not a top scorer for this metric, it is a great option for those looking for a rainboot design that offers a bit of extra insulation.
If you're searching for a highly weatherproof winter hiking boot, the Merrell Thermal Chill Mid and Keen Revel IV Polar both offer bomber weather protection. We soaked the Thermal Chill Mid in the river for long stretches, and no water infiltrated. The Revel IV features leather overlays on the collar with a breathable waterproof membrane and deep tread on the sole. We were pleasantly surprised by the weatherproofing on both of these hikers. Unfortunately, both models are roughly ankle height, so the maximum coverage is only about 5 inches before your sock or pants become exposed to the elements. If you think you'll be in water or snow deeper than that, we recommend grabbing some gaiters.
The UGG Adirondack III is another all-around excellent winter boot made entirely from leather and rubber and offers amazing protection from both water and snow. It protects the feet up to 9 inches of snow and checks all the boxes regarding weatherproofing, comfort, and traction. If your winters are cold and wet but not deep, we highly recommend the Columbia Minx Shorty III or the Danner Inquire Mid Insulated. Both boots have lower shaft heights but boast great snow and water-wicking uppers. They also have high-performing tread that allows them to take on a variety of terrain and snow conditions.
Comfort and Fit
Those who live and play in the burliest winter conditions know that warmth and comfort are of the utmost importance for winter wear. For those who spend their winters shoveling or working in wet, snowy, muddy conditions, comfort and fit are a top priority.
While we believe comfort and fit go hand in hand, they aren't synonymous. We examined each boot's liner, footbed, and weight to evaluate comfort and judged how cozy the interior materials are to wear all day. We made a side-by-side comparison to assess the toe box's size, shape, width, heel pocket, and footbed to judge fit. We took notes as we felt out which boots were "true to size" and which boots sat bigger or smaller on the sizing spectrum. Lastly, we considered the stability and support of each boot to offer insights into which boot would be best worn under certain circumstances (i.e., work, fashion, outdoor activities, etc.).
The most comfortable options were light, flexible, and soft with a sturdy, protective fit. The women's winter boots with plush liners, solid insulation, and cushy footbeds also rose above in this metric. Overall, if you're seeking the perfect balance between fit and comfort, The North Face Shellista IV Mid, Danner Inquire Mid, and UGG Adirondack III are some of your best bets. The next-to-skin fit and curved footbeds provide a better sense of support, stability, and movement. These designs use textiles and top-grain leathers that offer an ideal balance between stiffness and flexibility to help facilitate both comfort and stability. The plush footbed in the Blundstone Thermal was also notable for how soft and warm it is, making us feel like we were walking on a little cloud.
The Danner Inquire Mid is a modest and versatile option that offers a comfortable and snug fit right out of the box. The Inquire Mid could serve as an everyday work shoe or a simplistic low-top hiking boot. While it provides less coverage and traction than other models, it is a stand-out in all-around style, comfort, and fit. The UGG Adirondack III is built with super soft wool insulation in the liner and is also incredibly comfortable. However, while the wool is super soft and plush, the footbed doesn't offer as much support as the Inquire Mid.
Weight was also a bigger factor than we anticipated in our testing process. Some boots weigh significantly more than others, which became evident when hiking or wearing boots during 8-hour work shifts. Some had bulkier builds with a far better warmth-to-weight ratio, like the Shellista IV Mid. The heavier boots tended to provide greater traction, while the lighter boots were generally not quite as warm and did not perform as well in snowy conditions.
Regarding weight, the Baffin Escalate, Columbia Minx Shorty III, and Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Winter stood out as the lightest boots in our lineup, all of which weigh well under 1.5 lbs for a pair. This can be an important aspect of comfort if you have an injury or work on your feet for many hours at a time.
A bomber outsole is key if you want to stay on your feet through winter. The last thing you want is to slip on ice or down a slope, so we tested each boot for its ability to keep you on your feet through inclement weather. We studied each model's outsole by measuring the depth of the lugs and assessing the tread pattern. We skated around on ice patches, hiked on trails near town, and got out on the hills of our favorite ski resorts. We even used a natural ice ramp at the end of our neighborhood cul-de-sac to test traction going uphill and downhill. In the end, we learned that those with the largest lugs and surface area did best on technical terrain and inclines, while flatter soles and wave patterns work best on pavement or in wet conditions (rain or puddles).
Rubber compounds are a huge part of the traction and functionality equation. Over centuries, engineers have fine-tuned rubber compounds to optimize grip, durability, and performance at different temperatures. Like most of the earth's compounds, rubber acts differently under varying temperatures and climates. While Vibram's Arctic Grip may be great in sub-zero temperatures, it may not act the same in milder spring temperatures. We did our best to test each boot and determine its best arena for use.
While all the boots tested provide some level of 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 is your best option, like the Sorel Caribou or Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall. The rubber compound on the Arctic Ice is stiffer, while the Caribou is more soft and supple. This means the Arctic Ice is less reliable on icy inclines, while the Caribou is better at grasping that kind of terrain because the lugs can better stick to the ground. The Baffin Chloe has a sort of blended lug pattern that felt grippy to the touch and performed well across all types of terrain.
For hiking-focused boots, the Keen Revel IV Polar and Merrell Thermo Chill Mid have exceptional traction on snow. They also have a nice snug fit around the heel pocket, which is key to avoiding blisters and keeping a firm grip. If you plan to get on steep trails this winter, we highly recommend either of these boots. A hiking boot design will have great traction, weatherproofing, and durability for active winter use. The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Winter is excellent as well, offering good flexibility and traction on most terrain.
The Sorel Caribou and Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall have some of the deepest lugs in the group. The UGG Adirondack II, Merrell Thermo Chill Mid, and Danner Inquire Mid have shallower lugs, but they provide great traction on snowy hikes.
The wavy sole patterns on the Sorel Winter Carnival and Blundstone Thermal proved to have unreliable traction on uneven snowy surfaces but maintained a solid grip for everyday errands and activities. These would be best for warm indoor workwear, casual streetwear, or everyday winter comfort.
A Note on Winter Hiking Boots
The fit of an active winter hiking boot is important for those who want to take on the winter's iciest trails. Hiking boots often have a more snug and shapely design with a low collar to offer stability and security with a comfortable range of motion. Everything from the outsole to the laces is chosen and constructed with active use on varying terrain in mind.
Our testers with wide or high-volume feet, or those looking for more wiggle room, opted for the Keen Revel IV Polar, which has more space in the forefoot and below the arch. If you're looking for the best arch support, the Salomon X-Ultra 4 Mid Winter has you covered. We also suggest the Mid Winter or the Merrell Thermo Chill Mid for folks with narrow feet. Each one of these options offered excellent traction on inclines, with slightly different levels of ankle coverage depending on the shaft height. If you opt for a comfort-focused snow boot that has good traction, you may find that the fit around the foot is a bit wider or looser, which can cause discomfort over 5+ miles of hiking.
Long-time winter veterans know the value of a boot that lasts many seasons without replacement. When we assess durability, we look at the quality of materials used and how the boot is constructed and then analyze how those materials hold up under light, medium, and heavy use in winter conditions.
Neoprene, leather, suede, nylon, and mesh are the most frequently used textiles in this footwear category, and each excels in different environments. For example, rubber and neoprene can withstand extended exposure to wet conditions, while suede and leather will wear down more quickly in wet environments.
To test durability, we left our test boots out in the snow for multiple hours at a time, soaked them in the local river, and soaked them in ice baths. We used before and after photo evidence to capture fading, curling of the tongue or upper collar, and ripping or fraying of laces and seams, though most boots held up quite well for months of wear and tear. We tested outsole durability by actively rubbing and scrubbing boot soles on the pavement. We checked for evidence of rounding of the lugs and scuffing of the outer edge of the sole. To make the durability testing more systematic, we also smashed the boots against rocks, trees, ice, and pavement to really challenge the integrity of the exterior.
Leather and suede are two of the most frequently used winter boot materials that are known to have the longest lifespans if cared for properly. These textiles require care and maintenance throughout the season as they are particularly prone to scuffing, weathering, and fading. Hence, cleaning and conditioning treatments are a great way to keep your boots looking fresh. Waterproofing treatments are also a great idea if you plan to use your leather boots as everyday winter wear for multiple seasons. Brands like Blundstone and Danner sell their own waterproofing treatments; otherwise, you can find a variety of treatments through aftermarket brands like NikWax.
We evaluated the strength and buoyancy of laces and eyelets to determine if they could undergo long-term use in heavy snow conditions. We rubbed up on trees and rocks to see how scuffed a boot's outsole and upper could get. We also assessed each boot's durability based on the stiffness of the shaft. Most boots have thick stitching that runs from the heel to the boot's collar, often with a stitched-in loop to help pull the boot on. The stiffer the shaft, the more likely the boot will maintain structure over time.
Of the test group, we found the Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall and Baffin Chloe to be the top-performing boots in terms of durability. The strength of these boots is predominantly characterized by tough rubber outsoles and thick uppers that provide insulation and great protection from the elements. We took these boots on walks over long rocky beaches and through riverbeds and kept them on for fall wood-splitting sessions. These boots barely showed any wear, even after months of testing.
A high-performing winter boot can keep you warm and protected from whatever the weather may bring. Be sure the boot you settle on is warm, breathable, and offers decent traction and weather protection to get you through the burliest days of winter. While there are many choices on the market, we chose the top players from some of the most renowned brands in the footwear industry. We've assessed the industry's tried and true products and determined the value of each design in our lineup. We've done the hard work, so you don't have to. Enjoy!
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