Best Winter Boots for Women of 2021
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|Pros||Comfortable, good traction, waterproof, warm, supportive||Warm, wider-forefoot, waterproof, fantastic traction, stability and support||Warm, weather-proof, faux-fur collar, tall shaft height, stylish||Comfortable, waterproof, protective, warm||Waterproof, easy to pull on, stylish, great for all cool weather wear, comfortable|
|Cons||Poor on ice, shorter construction, technical style, runs small||Aggressive and techy look, not cozy, less arch support||Poor traction, heavy, less precise fit||Style is questionable, not as versatile as a shorter boot||Not breathable, poor traction|
|Bottom Line||Warm, waterproof, with wonderful snow traction, this is a great boot for hiking||This winter hiking boot is warm and burly for winter hikes or chores||When winter comes calling, be sure to be wearing this tall and protective winter boot that offers stylish flair||For warmth, waterproofness, and comfort, this boot is a favorite||A shorter waterproof winter boot that offers a stylish appeal, but isn't as warm as burlier options|
|Rating Categories||Bridger 7" Insulated Waterpr...||Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat||Sorel Joan of Arctic||Shellista III Mid||Blundstone Thermal - Women's|
|Weather Protection (25%)|
|Comfort & Fit (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Bridger 7"...||Bugaboot Plus IV...||Sorel Joan of Arctic||Shellista III Mid||Blundstone Thermal...|
|Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking||5 inches||6 inches||10 inches||4 inches||6 inches|
|Measured Weight (one boot, size 9)||20.8 oz||20 oz (size 7)||32 oz||22 oz||17 oz|
|Type of Boot||Hiking||Hiking||All-around winter||All-around winter||Casual winter wear|
|Fit Details||True to size||True to size||True to size||Runs 1/2 size too small||True to size|
|Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft, size 9)||7 inches||7.5 inches (size 7)||13.5 inches||11.5 inches||6 inches|
|Lining/Insulation||200 grams 3M Thinsulate insulation||Omni-Heat reflective lining, 200 grams of insulation||6 mm recycled felt||200 grams PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco||Thermal Thinsulate|
|Footbed||O FIT Insole Thermal||Techlite EVA||2.5mm bonded felt frost plug||Injection-molded waterproof TPR shell||Removable sheepskin footbed|
|Upper Material||Waterproof nubuck leather||Leather, nylon||Waterproof suede leather with faux fur cuff||Waterproof, BLC-compliant nubuck leather upper, knit collar||Waterproof leather|
|Toe Box||Molded rubber||Rubber||Rubber||Rubber||Leather|
|Outsole||Granite Peak winterized rubber||Michelin winter compound rubber||Waterproof vulcanized rubber||Winter Grip rubber outsole with IcePick temperature-sensitive lugs.||Slip-resistant TPU|
|Cold Weather Rating (company claimed)||Not stated||-25F||-25F||Not stated||Not stated|
|Sizes Available||6 - 11||5 - 12||5 - 12||5 - 11||6 - 11|
Best Overall Winter Boot for Women
UGG Adirondack III
If you're seeking a warm, stylish boot with technical performance, the UGG Adirondack III is our favorite. The outsole supplies serious traction and enables both in-town functionality and on-trail superiority. The leather construction is completely waterproof, offering protection from puddles and streams, and the collar folds down to offer two stylish looks. This boot is our favorite for its plush comfort and warmth, in addition to its stand-out versatility.
While it has plenty of uses, the Adirondack is not as stable as other winter boots that are geared towards hiking. It's also expensive. Given the suede and leather construction, 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
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 relace 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.
We wish this boot was a little warmer in cold temperatures and made from better quality materials. While it performs well when in motion in cold weather, if you're standing still, it gets cold. While testing it 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 great deal, this comes with our highest recommendation.
Read review: Kamik Ariel
Best for Winter Hiking
Keen Revel IV Polar - Women's
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
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.
Best for Protection
The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Ice Tall - Women's
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.
Stylish Year Round Wear
Blundstone Thermal - Women's
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 during the warmer seasons. In winter weather, 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 boot to wear when snowdrifts are high and temperatures are super low. 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
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
Analysis and Test Results
Winter is a time to celebrate the cold and to appreciate the blue-day glimmers of snow. To help you enjoy this season we want to help you find the best winter boot. 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.
A good 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.
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.
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 foot 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.
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 prevent it from coming into the top. Some people, however, don't like the bulk and messiness of that fake fur. Both the Sorel Caribou and Muck Boot Arctic Ice lack this feature. The Joan of Arctic isn't as warm as the Caribou, as the underfoot insulation that isn't 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.
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.
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 is 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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. A stylish option for tackling nasty, urban weather where snowplows are plentiful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Winter Boots All-Around UseNarrow 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
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
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
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 some boots are so simple to slip out of, and others are such a pain, that we wanted to tell you about it.
First, we looked at each lacing system and tested whether you need 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
— Amber King