Ladies, are you ready to find the best winter boot that'll take on tall snowdrifts and nasty weather for the 2019 winter season? After researching 80 different options, we tested 10 of the best side-by-side. With snow early and high in the mountains of Colorado, we took to the trails, testing tenacious traction and warmth on these cold wintery slopes. We sipped a lot of lattes, strolled down snow-laden sidewalks, strapped each into a pair of snowshoes, just to see what each could do. We even hiked through cold streams, casting the comfort of our testers aside. After it all, we write up the experiences of our team of women who offer recommendations for the best winter boots for this upcoming season.
The Best Women's Winter Boots of 2019
|Price||$185.00 at REI|
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|$159.95 at Backcountry|
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|$129.20 at Amazon||$139.95 at Backcountry|
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|$249.95 at Amazon|
|Pros||Comfortable, great traction, waterproof, warm, not bad looking||Warm, great weather protection, removable liner, super thick outsole||Warm, weather-proof, faux-fur collar, tall shaft height, stylish||Cute, versatile, relatively warm, decent traction||Super cozy liner, completely waterproof, cute style options, comfortable, warm.|
|Cons||Short in the back||Sloppy and clunky fit, heavy, not very stylish||Poor traction, heavy, less precise fit||Not super water-resistant||Expensive.|
|Bottom Line||The most comfortable winter boot we tested, and it has burly traction, making it perfect for winter backcountry adventures.||A perfect option for winter chores in cold weather.||A tall weather proof boot perfect for bad weather.||A versatile and cute winter boot for all purposes.||The epitome of comfort and warmth, wrapped in a cute winter boot.|
|Rating Categories||Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Wa...||Sorel Caribou - Women's||Sorel Joan of Arctic||Shellista II Mid||UGG Adirondack III|
|Weather Protection (25%)|
|Comfort & Fit (20%)|
|Ease Of Use (10%)|
|Specs||Oboz Bridger 7"...||Sorel Caribou -...||Sorel Joan of Arctic||Shellista II Mid||UGG Adirondack III|
|Maximum puddle depth before major leaking||6 inches||10 inches||10 inches||6.75 inches||8 inches|
|Measured Weight (ounces, one boot, size nine)||1 lb. 3.5 oz (size 7)||2 lb. 1.35 ounces||1 lb. 15.95 ounces||1 lb. 5.90 ounces||1 lb. 5 ounces|
|Fit Details||True to size||True to size||True to size||True to size||True to size|
|Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft)||7 inches||11 inches||13.5 inches||11 inches||10 inches|
|Lining/Insulation||200 gram 3M™ Thinsulate™ insulation||9mm recycled felt inner boot with Sherpa Pile snow cuff||6 mm recycled felt||200g PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco||UGGpure wool|
|Footbed||O FIT Insole™ Thermal||2.5mm bonded felt frost plug||2.5mm bonded felt frost plug||Injection-molded waterproof TPR shell||EVA|
|Upper Material||Waterproof nubuck leather||Waterproof nubuck leather||Waterproof suede leather with faux fur cuff||Waterproof, BLC-compliant nubuck leather upper, knit collar||Waterproof suede and leather|
|Toe Box||Molded rubber||Rubber||Rubber||Rubber||Rubber|
|Outsole||Granite Peak winterized rubber||Vulcanized rubber||Waterproof vulcanized rubber||Winter Grip rubber outsole with IcePick temperature-sensitive lugs.||Molded Spider Rubber|
|Company-claimed cold-weather rating||n/a||-40||-25||n/a||-32|
|Animal products used?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Sizes Available||6 - 11||5 - 12||5 - 12||5 - 11||5 - 12|
The Best Active Winter Boot for Women
Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof
In search of a true winter hiking boot that performs well on trails and keeps your toes warm? The Oboz Bridger 7" BDry Insulated Waterproof boot is an exceptional choice. It's our favorite for its high-quality weather performance, supportive footbed, and super cozy wool collar. Complete with snowshoe and gaiter compatibility, this 7-inch winter hiking boot features burly traction for your snowy, steep adventures and the best warmth rating of any winter hiking boot.
For those heading into the deepest drifts, it may not be the best boot due to the short shaft, especially at the back of the boot. Otherwise, you will love them on your next cold-weather adventure in the backcountry!
Read review: Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof
The Best Everyday Winter Boot for Women
The North Face Shellista II Mid
The North Face Shellista II Mid is perfect for conquering winter sidewalks and gentle trails. This stylish winter boot is versatile and wins an Editors' Choice award for the third year in a row! Boasting great weather protection and reasonable traction, it will keep you on your feet when the roads get slick. The nubuck leather shaft and rubberized outsole are waterproof, providing excellent protection.
The outsole sticks to slippery surfaces with temperature-sensitive lugs but reaches its limit on icy sidewalks (like all our contenders). The interior is roomy and toasty, providing exceptional all-day comfort. For a reasonable price, this winter boot is one of our favorites. Wear it around town or on a light trail hike.
Read review: North Face Shellista II Mid
Best Bang for the Buck
Columbia Ice Maiden II
When it comes to combining comfort and affordability, the Columbia Ice Maiden II is the hands-down winner. We are surprised that such an inexpensive boot performs so well in messy conditions! What do we love? First, the cozy liner provides ample warmth all day. Second, these boots are completely waterproof. Third, this boot has decent traction for light winter hiking.
What didn't we like? It's not the most supportive boot or the most stylish. That said, it's a functional boot for winter chores and for taking the dogs out on a mellow trail. If you are looking for a warm, multi-purpose snow boot, the Ice Maiden is an unbelievable deal!
Read review: Columbia Ice Maiden II
Top Pick for Traction
Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat - Women's
If you plan on being in motion, the Michelin Winter Compound Rubber and the nice wide sole of the Columbia Bugaboot completely crush the competition. It offers amazing traction with a great performance as a waterproof contender. It performs well on all the trails and snow as well. It's great for tackling steep slopes, and snowbanks in the winter. Add a gaiter and you'll find a little more protection. It breathes well and offers good overall warmth, when in motion.
Unfortunately, this isn't the boot that you're going to want to wear out to the bar with friends, as it's a little style-challenged. However, it offers great traction. Our testers also appreciate the roomy fit and the low price. So long as aesthetics are not your number one concern, this is a great choice.
Read review: Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat - Women's
Top Pick for Severe Weather
Sorel Joan of Arctic
Seeking a boot that will keep your feet happy when the weather turns? The super cute Sorel Joan of Arctic is an ultra-durable and weatherproof winter boot that kept us warm in double negative digit temperatures! This boot is perfect for any woman living in very cold climates and needs a boot to wear around town or perform winter chores during frigid weather. While we love that its weather protection keeps us protected in 13-inch snowbanks, we didn't love how heavy and clunky this boot feels. The 6-mm liner is cozy and removable, while the traction pattern is great for travel over snow.
Keep in mind that the outsole is lug-less and doesn't perform so well on steep wintery slopes. It's perfect for wearing around town, but it's not our first choice for hiking all day long. Overall, we love the Joan of Arctic for its exceptional performance in bad weather.
Read review: Sorel Joan of Arctic
Top Pick for Winter Chores
Sorel Caribou - Women's
With a burly outsole and protective waterproof upper, the Sorel Caribou is one of the most protective boots tested in this review. The removable 9-mm felt liner, and thick sole keep it warm when temperatures drop deep into the double negatives. This Top Pick for Winter Chores is perfect for shoveling snow, walking the dog, or chopping firewood in cold, nasty weather.
Dubbed a workhorse Pac boot, it's not super stylish or particularly comfortable for all-day wear because it is heavy and bulky. As a result, it's not our favorite for winter hiking of all-day comfort, but it's perfect to wear around town or while tackling your chores in the coldest of weather.
Read review: Sorel Caribou - Women's
Why You Should Trust Us
Our winter boot experts are Amber King and Laural Hunter. Amber King is a Canadian native that transplanted herself to Colorado. She has spent over 150 hours testing winter boots, wearing them in everything from warm Spring storms to super tall snowdrifts in her home town of Ouray, Colorado. When she's not tromping around the forest in the winter, you can find her snowboarding and ice climbing. Laurel Hunter enjoys the winter weather, but can often be found seeking out warm trails for prime mountain biking terrain. When she's not pushing herself physically, you'll find her designing or playing with her dog. Both like to wear winter boots and tend to do so throughout the winter months.
Our testing processes assure that we don't miss any important details. We hiked on cold winter days that reached temperatures below zero and walked the dogs each day on packed snowy roads and trails. We tested boots in snow and rainstorms and wore them out to dinner on chilly evenings. We even walked around in creeks and lakes to determine their performance in the nastiest conditions. Some of these boots gave us a whole new love of winter. Wearing each pair from Colorado to Canada, we tested each with a hands-on approach.
Related: How We Tested Winter Boots for Women
Analysis and Test Results
Whether you love the crisp cold days of winter or you're already counting down the days until spring, proper footwear will help you enjoy all the season has to offer. For us, winter means walking around town, standing around bonfires, skiing, fat biking, ice climbing, snowshoeing, and a host of other cold-weather activities. If there's one thing we've learned, it's that having the right gear for the job makes all the difference. For each boot, we evaluated the differences in performance and selected award winners based on how each does. Below, you'll see that we looked at comfort, weather protection, comfort, traction, and ease of use to determine which are the best options out there.
A boot that performs well isn't necessarily the most expensive. In fact, we've taken the time to find well-priced options that'll last you deep into the darkest and coldest parts of winter. Our favorite is reflected by our best buy option, the Columbia Ice Maiden II. With a less expensive price tag, it is an excellent choice to keep you warm this winter, especially if you live in a moderate climate. It did well in most metrics and is a relative bargain. If your main ambition is to get outside and adventure this winter, it might make more economic sense to buy a shoe that can keep you warm and perform well on the trail, like the Oboz Bridger 7" BDry Insulated, which was our favorite winter hiking boot.
It's not surprising that warmth is one of the most important criteria in our winter boot evaluation. Ideally, winter boots should keep your feet warm whether you're simply standing around in the cold or actively moving, as activity creates heat. A few key factors contribute to the overall warmth of a boot. The warmest boots have thicker outsoles, taller shafts, more or higher-quality insulation, and some form of breathability to prevent your feet from soaking in sweat. Also, warmer boots feature insulation in the boot's footbed, keeping tootsies super toasty. It is important to consider how you plan to spend your time in the cold — a boot with lower quality insulation will suit you just fine if you don't plan on spending the whole day standing on frozen ground.
To objectively measure how quickly the new we tested boots lose their heat, we settled each boot into an ice bath and tracked how much their inside temperature dropped over the course of 20 minutes. Unsurprisingly the super Oboz Bridger did really well, losing only 14.7 degrees in 20 minutes. The Columbia Ice Maiden and the Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV also performed highly here.
Of course, we also took each model out in the early morning cold. We wore different boots on each foot to determine which lost warmth faster in the real world. We even wore each boot in an alpine lake, stomping around for at least ten minutes to note which fought off the frigid waters the best. That's when we found that the Blundstone Thermal doesn't keep our feet as warm as our ice bath test indicated. They are indeed toasty boots that lose heat slowly, but we realized their thinner insulation just doesn't hold as much of it. They also lack a furry collar to lock in warm air.
The Sorel Caribou has the thickest sole tested and is one of the warmest boats for just standing around in the cold. As a result, it's an excellent option for those working a ski lift or working outside all day long. The Sorel Joan of Arctic also has a thick sole underfoot, but it didn't insulate as well as the Oboz Bridger or Sorel Caribou. That said, both are still great options for standing around in the cold.
As you'd expect, boots with more insulation are typically warmer. Boots like The North Face Shellista II that have only 200-grams of insulation aren't nearly as warm as the Sorel Caribou. These boots kept our feet warm into the zero and single negative digits but didn't perform as well as models with a thicker sole or less breathable overlays. That said, all insulation is not created equal.
Boots with a super tall shaft, like the 13.5-inch high Joan of Arctic, insulate along the length of leg and hold a ton of heat. The Sorel Tofino (12 inches) also does a great job at tackling high snowbanks.
Depending on where you live and how you're planning to use your boots, you may have very different warmth requirements. For example, women enduring the long winters of Minnesota should consider super warm models like the Sorel Joan of Arctic, Sorel Caribou, or Oboz Bridger. If you encounter deep puddles or wet weather, you may want a tall, waterproof boot. Women who live in regions with milder winters can get away with pieces like the Columbia Ice Maiden II. Additionally, if you'll only use your boots to dash from the parking lot into your office building, then you may be willing to sacrifice warmth for style on a product like the Sorel Tofino II.
Winter weather can bring the dreaded wintery mix of snow, slush, and ice. With the proper footwear, your feet (and pants) can stay protected when you are out and about in nasty weather. We hiked through tall snowbanks to see which boots provided the best protection, so boot height affected the scores. In these situations, a boot with a faux fur collar typically does better than those without. We also evaluated each boot's ability to remain waterproof in wet, winter conditions. To do this, we hiked to an alpine lake and stood in the water in each pair of boots for 10 minutes (or until they leaked, whichever came first). Boots that failed typically failed at a seam.
Keep in mind that every product has a distinct flood level whether that's a poorly sealed seam or the joint where the tongue meets the shaft, that lets water pour into the boot.
Looking for the best in weather protection? Both the Sorel Caribou and Sorel Joan of Arctic performed at the top of its metric. While the Sorel Caribou is a little beefier and offers thicker insulation, the Sorel Joan of Arctic, our Top Pick for Severe Weather, features a taller shaft height and a protective faux fur collar.
The Caribou's waterproof overlays make it waterproof all the way to the collar of the boot, at about 10.5-inches. In comparison, the Joan of Arctic delivers water protection up to just 10 inches of the 13.5-inch boot height. All are excellent choices for the nastiest weather. The most significant difference is that the Sorel Joan of Arctic is lighter, taller, and cuter than the Sorel Caribou. So it earns Top Pick for Severe Weather while the Sorel Caribou is the Top Pick for Winter Chores.
If you seek a highly protective winter hiking boot, the Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated provides bomber weather protection. It features leather overlays with a breathable waterproof membrane. This is a great option for hiking in wet and snowy weather.
A great boot that is cuter than both Sorel options discussed above is the Sorel Tofino II. It left our feet bone dry after submerging in puddle depths of 8.5 inches and protects against snowdrifts of 10.25 inches high with a faux fur lining to keep the snow out. The North Face Shellista II Midprotects in puddles up to 7 inches, and snowdrifts up to 10 inches, and doesn't have the faux fur collar, but instead features a knit back and leather shaft.
If your winters are cold and wet but not deep, we highly recommend the excellent Blundstone Thermal, which is totally waterproof up to the top of its cuff. At 7 inches tall this may not work for everyone, but it will handle icy, slushy curb puddles like a champ.
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 considered each boots' volume and how precisely 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. Then we went online and compared our findings to what other wearers experience.
Our Editors' Choice is The North Face's Shellista II, which features a cozy smooth liner that is soft to the touch and a plush, comfortable footbed that provides ample support. We love it for all-day wear. We also love the fur-liner of the UGG Adirondack III, which offers two different heights of wear. The newer update is cuter and more comfortable than ever before.
Of the winter hiking boots we tested, the Oboz Bridger Insulated WP is the most comfortable by far. The Oboz features a wool topped collar and a sculpted footbed for excellent arch support. There are no pressure points anywhere on our feet, and we have plenty of room for our toes to move. The Columbia Bugaboot IV is also a great hiking option that offers a supportive footbed, though it's not as good as the Oboz. It's an excellent choice for those who prefer less arch support or who like to wear a thicker sock.
Fit is a subjective metric. But after wearing the boots, handing them off to friends, and reading online user reviews, we have some 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.Winter Hiking Boots
The fit of an active winter hiking boot is more important than more 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 Oboz Bridger Insulated or Columbia Bugaboot IV, both of which have more space in the forefoot. If you need arch support, the Bridger has you covered.
These boots have a snug heel that didn't slip while on the trail. The Columbia Bugaboot IV provides the most versatile fit, with a roomy toe box and less sculpted footbed. The Oboz delivers a little less space than the Columbia but will work for those looking for a medium or narrower fit. In general, the fit on all three boots is precise and offers optimal stability for travel over winter trails.
Winter Boots Around Town
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: Columbia Ice Maiden II (Best Buy), Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat (need to size up a half size), UGG Adirondack IIIRoomy 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 II mid (Editors' Choice), Sorel Tofino II (Super cute!)
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.
Our recommendations: Sorel Joan of Arctic (Top Pick for Severe Weather), Sorel Caribou (Top Pick for Winter Chores)
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. We also 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 the 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 also performed better in colder temps.
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 or Arctic or Sorel Tofino II is a great option. Similar to a snowshoe, it floats 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.
If you plan to get on steep trails this winter, we highly recommend a boot with lugs. For that, an active winter hiking boot is your best bet, and the Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV provides the best traction in the test. Its lugs are wide, and the Michelin Winter Compound rubber stays soft and grippy in cold conditions. The Oboz Bridger also provides excellent traction, with the deepest and most aggressive tread we tested. The lugged rubber is soft, so it is awesomely grippy on rocks.
If you're looking for more stylish boots that also have decent traction patterns, The North Face Shellista II Mid and the Columbia Ice Maiden II are both great options. Both feature a softer rubber and wider lug pattern that grips to slippery rocks and packed snow. All are great options for winter chores and light hiking.
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 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 all the way 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 lace-less or a single-pull lacing system.
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. While their laces are more labor-intensive than a slip-on option would be, they tighten well with one pull, making it easy to get out the door and on with your day.
Of the hiking boots tested, Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV is the easiest to use. Its wide collar opening makes it easier to slide your foot into and out of the boot. Plus, all of the eyelets are closed loops, so no need to unhook the laces.
The very easiest to use is the one lace-less boot we tested, the Blundstone Thermal, which is equipped with two tabs to pull each boot on quickly. The boots do not have a ridge on the back of the heel to aid in removal, so they require hands to get them off rather than a kick.
While we love The North Face Shellista II Mid for its great coziness, performance, and versatility, we aren't too impressed with its lacing system. With many sets of eyelets and cotton laces (nylon laces move more easily through the eyelets), it is the slowest to put on and take off.
Unlike the Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat that requires just one pull of the lace to tighten throughout the shaft of the boot, the Shellista II requires a manual lace-up, earning it a lower score in this metric.
Do you have cold weather in your future? A high-performing winter boot will keep you warm and protected through the worst weather winter brings. Be sure to make your choice wisely and find the best women's winter boot for you this season!
— Amber King and Laurel Hunter