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The Best Women's Winter Boots

Monday January 13, 2020
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Ladies, are you seeking the best winter boot to keep you warm this season? Once we chose 13 of the best products out there, after researching over 80 different options, we got down and dirty, testing them over the snowiest and most treacherous terrain. In addition to wearing them to work and around town during stormy weather, we took them hiking up 13,000 ft mountains and trudged along ridgelines of volcanoes and glaciers to really put each to the test. After 200+ hours of comparative testing, and over six years of experience sloshing through puddles, snow, and mud, we offer our best recommendations to help all you ladies find the best boot this winter season.


Top 13 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 13
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $249.95 at Amazon$185.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$139.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$145.00 at Amazon$79.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Super cozy liner, completely waterproof, cute style options, comfortable, warm.Comfortable, good traction, waterproof, warm, supportiveComfortable, waterproof, protective, warmWarm, wider-forefoot, waterproof, fantastic traction, stability and supportWarm, breathable, comfortable all-day wear, cute and protective, great price.
Cons Expensive, shaft lacks stability.Poor on ice, shorter construction, technical style, 1/2 size too small.Style is questionable, not as versatile as a shorter bootAggressive and techy look, not cozy, less arch supportLeaky at upper seam, heel is uncomfortable to some, half size too small.
Bottom Line The epitome of comfort and warmth, wrapped in a cute, yet high performing waterproof package.A stable and comfortable winter hiking boot with many uses.This is a really comfortable, waterproof, and protective boot that's ready for the most wintery days.A great winter hiker, perfect for slippery trails and long days.A high value all-around awesome winter boot.
Rating Categories UGG Adirondack III Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Wa... Shellista III Mid Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat Kamik Sienna 2
Warmth (25%)
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Ease Of Use (15%)
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Specs UGG Adirondack III Oboz Bridger 7"... Shellista III Mid Bugaboot Plus IV... Kamik Sienna 2
Maximum puddle depth before major leaking 9 inches 5 inches 4 inches 6 inches 5.5 inches
Measured Weight (one boot, size nine) 1 lb. 5 oz 1 lb. 4.8 oz 1 lb. 6 oz 1 lb. 4 oz (size 7) 1 lb. 6 oz
Type of Boot All-around winter Hiking All around winter Hiking All around winter
Fit Details True to size True to size Runs 1/2 size too small True to size Runs 1/2 size too small
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft, Size 9) 10 inches 7 inches 11.5 inches 7.5 inches (size 7) 11 inches
Lining/Insulation UGGpure wool 200 gram 3M™ Thinsulate™ insulation 200g PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco Omni-Heat reflective lining, 200-grams of insulation 200g 3M Thinsulate
Removable Liner? No No No No No
Footbed EVA O FIT Insole™ Thermal Injection-molded waterproof TPR shell Techlite EVA Molded EVA
Upper Material Waterproof suede and leather Waterproof nubuck leather Waterproof, BLC-compliant nubuck leather upper, knit collar Leather, nylon waterproof leather, water resistant flannel
Toe Box Rubber Molded rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber
Outsole Molded Spider Rubber Granite Peak winterized rubber Winter Grip rubber outsole with IcePick temperature-sensitive lugs. Michelin winter compound rubber Rubber
Company-claimed cold-weather rating -32 n/a n/a -25 -4
Animal products used? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 6 - 11 5 - 11 5 - 12 6 - 10

The Best Winter Boot for Women


UGG Adirondack III


Editors' Choice Award

$249.95
at Amazon
See It

80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Weather Protection - 25% 8
  • Comfort & Fit - 25% 9
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Traction - 10% 8
Height: 8 inches (rolled down) 10 inches | Insulation: 100% UGG Wool
Super cute
Great weather protection
Wonderful traction
Versatile functionality
Flexible shaft
Expensive

Laden with super-soft sheep's wool and built with a durable leather outsole, this award-winning boot isn't only cute and stylish, but technical and protective. The newly updated outsole offers performance that surpasses what you'd expect from a traditional winter boot. It offers traction on hard-packed and icy trails, over scree fields and soft, and over newly fallen snow. The leather construction is completely waterproof with a fur liner to keep the snow out. The collar folds down, offering two modes of wear, one for technical performance and the other for simply wearing around town or to work. This super versatile boot can easily be worn from winter trails, through creek crossing, and back to work. It is warm, protective, breathable, and stylish, earning our highest accolades.

While it has plenty of uses, it's not as stable in the shaft as other winter boots that are geared towards hiking and super technical performance. It's also expensive. Given the suede and leather construction, it needs to be treated with a leather seal to ensure its longevity and performance throughout the seasons.

Read review: UGG Adirondack III

Best Bang for the Buck


Kamik Sienna 2


Best Buy Award

$79.99
(33% off)
at Backcountry
See It

73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 25% 6
  • Weather Protection - 25% 8
  • Comfort & Fit - 25% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8
  • Traction - 10% 6
Height: 11 inches | Insulation: 200-g 3M Thinsulate
Comfortable fit and construction
Very warm and protective
Easy to use
Great price
Reliable
Fit runs small
"Heel" pushes the foot forward

This high-value boot performs at a superior price. The waterproof sole keeps water out while the mid-rise construction offers a reprieve from newly fallen snow. The wider collar is not lined with faux-fur (which many appreciate) and the pull tabs on the back of the boot is an easy to use feature. This boot is surprisingly warm, offering protection when the temperatures drop well into the negatives. While there are other lower priced boots like the Columbia Ice Maiden II out there, this award winner proves to be better crafted with a warmer and more durable construction that'll keep you protected throughout the winter.

The only real beef we have with this boot is its fit. It runs a little small, so you'll need to size up a half size, especially if you prefer to wear a thicker sock. Plus, the heel of this boot is high, which you can feel. It pushes the front of the foot forward, similar to wearing a high heel. While this was an issue only a few of our testers found qualms with, others liked the extra mushy support, feeling more comfortable to some.

Read review: Kamik Sienna 2

Top Pick for Winter Hiking


Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Weather Protection - 25% 8
  • Comfort & Fit - 25% 9
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Traction - 10% 7
Height: 7 inches | Insulation: 200g 3M Thinsulate
Excellent traction on winter trails
Supportive footbed
Cozy and protective wool cuff
Weather-proof
Shorter shaft height

In search of a true winter hiking boot that performs well on trails and keeps your toes warm? This boot is an exceptional choice. It's our favorite for its high-quality weather performance, a supportive footbed, and a super cozy wool collar. Complete with snowshoe and gaiter compatibility, it features burly traction for your snowy, steep adventures and the best warmth rating of any winter hiking boot. The footbed is quite supportive, stable, and lightweight.

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. Also, it doesn't perform well on ice given that the rubber is quite hard, and not soft, repelling these harder and slippier surfaces. The smaller size does warrant sizing up a half size, especially if you like to wear thicker socks or want more wiggle room in the front of the boot, which also translates to better standing warmth overall.

Read review: Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof

Top Pick for Protection


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


Top Pick Award

$143.12
(27% off)
at Amazon
See It

78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 25% 9
  • Weather Protection - 25% 10
  • Comfort & Fit - 25% 2
  • Ease of Use - 15% 10
  • Traction - 10% 10
Height: 17 inches | Insulation: Fleece & Neoprene
Very protective of water and snow
Super-tall construction protects in tall snowbanks
Easy to slip on and off
Thicker sole stays warm in super cold temperatures
Amazing traction on all surfaces
Possible durability issues
Bulky fit
Less stylish

This is one of the highest-scoring products in our review, with a niche as being the most protective, warm, and easiest to use. The supertall construction extends 17-inches up the let, built with weatherproof neoprene and fleece to keep toes warm and dry. We love that the rigid, but breathable, shaft of the boot stands on its own making it easy to slip on and off without even touching its collar. The super beefy sole is thick and protective while the soft rubber composite underfoot actually sticks better to ice than most of the winter boots we've tested! The only thing that's come close is the Columbia Bugaboot IV, a burly hiking boot with awesome traction. If you need a super burly boot that'll tackle the coldest and wettest of weather, this workhorse is built to perform for just that.

With such beefy construction, it's not surprising that this heavier boot isn't the most comfortable or well fitted. Also, the cuff of the boot can chafe (especially if you're shorter) if you're not wearing pants that are thick enough to protect your leg. Given that this is a neoprene boot, it's not our favorite to wear to work or out to the bar, but it does service when blowing snow off your driveway or while chopping wood. Also, some online reviewers who have had this boot for a long time mention durability issues, however, during our testing period, we didn't notice any problems.

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


Testing the warmth and traction of the Columbia Bugaboot IV on a cold day on the glacier.
Testing the warmth and traction of the Columbia Bugaboot IV on a cold day on the glacier.

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 works in outdoor education is a full-time tester for OutdoorGearLab, reviewing over 15 different categories. She has spent over 200+ hours testing winter boots, wearing them in everything from warm Spring storms to super tall snowdrifts in her home town of Ouray, Colorado. Here home is based on the top of the mountain, where snow flys frequently from the early Fall to late Spring. When she's not tromping around the forest in the winter, you can find her snowboarding and ice climbing at the Ouray Ice Park. 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.

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

Taking a temperature reading while performing a warmth test with the Bugaboot Plus IV  left  and the North Face Chilkat models.
Take little jaunts through the woods or go on easy winter hikes. They are also comfortable enough to strap on a pair of snowshoes.

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. It's a time where hot cocoa and bright lights are entrancing and cold weather is a second thought. If there's one thing we've learned, it's that having the right gear for the weather makes all the difference. Our selection includes a wide range of winter boot options, from technical hikers to boots only built for wearing around town. For each, we evaluate the differences in performance and select award winners based on niche performance and versatility. All the boots tested do well for winter weather though some stand-out more than others.

Related: Buying Advice for Winter Boots for Women

Cozy and comfortable  this is our Editors' Choice winner for its great fantastic technical performance that functions with style.
Cozy and comfortable, this is our Editors' Choice winner for its great fantastic technical performance that functions with style.

Value


A boot that performs well isn't necessarily the most expensive. 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 Kamik Sienna 2. With a less expensive price tag, it is an excellent choice to keep you warm this winter. It's not the least expensive option, but it's far more protective with longevity than the less expensive Columbia Ice Maiden II. The Sorel Caribou is another with a similar price as the Sienna 2, but with a warmer construction and better traction. It's just not as "stylish" with a bulkier fit.

Of the Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat presents the best value with totally bomber traction that sticks to both snowy surfaces and icier terrain. When considering value, but sure to look at the price tag and the scoring in the metrics that matter the most to you. These boots will present the best value to you, as we all have differences in what we seek.


Warmth


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, and high quality insulation. They should also provide good breathability to prevent your feet from soaking in sweat. 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, and you're actively moving.


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 20 minutes. This helped us to measure 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 in the winter and noticed which kept our feet the warmest. We even stomped around in cold water to see if the cold would quickly slip away from the boot, or if it stayed. All these tests, in addition to evaluating construction, help us determine which boots are the warmest, and which are suited for temperate winter days.

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. While we don't report our results  we use them to help us measure overall warmth  which is dependent on a variety of factors  not just insulation.
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. While we don't report our results, we use them to help us measure overall warmth, which is dependent on a variety of factors, not just insulation.

Many winter boots are rated to a specific temperature. While these numbers offer a great point of comparison, it's hard to take this estimate at face value. The measured warmth you experience differs based on the socks you wear, your biology, and the perception of the cold. Take these numbers with a grain of salt, but use them to figure out which boots will be warmer than others. More importantly, pay attention to the construction of the boot, which will help you evaluate warmth.

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

The warmest boots tested insulated well up the calf and offer amazing underfoot insulation. The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Ice Tall Boots do both. They are super warm with a 17-inch shaft that insulated throughout the calf and at the sole. They kept our feet warm in double negative digits while providing unbeatable protection. The Sorel Caribou has the thickest sole tested and is one of the warmest boats for just standing around in the cold, being loaded with 9-mm of felt lining that doesn't compact or loses warmth, even after years of work. Both of these boots are perfect for standing around in the cold, doing chores around the house and the like. However, the Arctic Tall is more protective of the cold with its tall height that insulates around the calf. The Caribou is about 11-inches tall at maximum, which is about 5 inches lower than the Arctic Tall.

The Sorel Joan of Arctic is another warm-weather boot with 13.5 inches of protection and a faux fur collar. Boots with this collar offer more protection and warmth from the snow as it prevents it from coming into the top. Plus, snow can't leave as readily. Both the Caribou and Arctic Ice lack this feature. The Joan of Arctic gets a lower score than both simply because the underfoot insulation isn't as thick and it only has 6-mm of felt insulation (in comparison to the Caribou's 9-mm). That said, it's not as bulky and more comfortable for everyday wear.

The Sorel Caribou (far left) sports the thickest sole of the PacBoot options. This sole insulates against cold weather and kept us warm in super cold weather that dropped to the double negative digits. The Joan of Arctic also does a great job (middle) while the Tofino II is cute  but not very warm (right).
The Sorel Caribou (far left) sports the thickest sole of the PacBoot options. This sole insulates against cold weather and kept us warm in super cold weather that dropped to the double negative digits. The Joan of Arctic also does a great job (middle) while the Tofino II is cute, but not very warm (right).

Other warmer boots may not have the thickest sole but offer quality insulation. For example; the UGG Adirondack (10-inches tall), our Editors' Choice winner 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 Caribou or Arctic Ice but is similar in thickness to the North Face Shellista III (11.5 inches tall) which earns a similar score. The Shellista has 200-grams of PrimaLoftSilver insulation, one of the most durable and high-quality synthetic insulation types out there. Both have thinner soles underfoot, so they aren't as warm as the top scorers mentioned above. Both of these boots are meant for everyday wear and are suitable for simple hiking trails and weather that dips into the negatives.

The Oboz Bridger Insulated boot is our favorite winter hiking boot for its exceptional warmth and breathability. Here we test it on a glacier in a snowstorm.
The Oboz Bridger Insulated boot is our favorite winter hiking boot for its exceptional warmth and breathability. Here we test it on a glacier in a snowstorm.

Of the hiking boot options, the Oboz Bridger 7" and the Columbia Bugaboot IV stand out as the best. The Bridger boot is a bit shorter (7 inches tall) than the Bugaboot (7.5 inches), 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. This means during active use, it can move moisture from the inside of the boot, out. The Bugaboot IV is decent, but the OmniHeat liner, that is supposed to lock in heat, does just that. It also locks in moisture, so our foot felt much swampier than in the Bridger. As a result, it is warmer and good enough to keep you actively warm when temperatures fall into the negatives. Both have a very thick sole, so they both offer great stand-around warmth as well.

This boot's protective outer and warm wool liner offers fantastic performance through slush and water. One of the many reasons it earns our Editors' Choice award.
This boot's protective outer and warm wool liner offers fantastic performance through slush and water. One of the many reasons it earns our Editors' Choice award.

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 like the Muck Boot Arctic Ice. Women who live in regions with milder winters can get away with models like the Columbia Ice Maiden II, Sorel Tofino II, or the Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat Boot.

These are all boots that'll offer sufficient warmth to about zero degrees before cooling down. They are all quite breathable with thinner soles and much more comfortable. 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 Blundstone Thermal or Sorel Explorer Joan.

Boots come in all shapes and sizes. The more insulation with a breathable design is typically the best. Those with faux fur keep in warmth better and keep out pesky snowflakes flying around.
Boots come in all shapes and sizes. The more insulation with a breathable design is typically the best. Those with faux fur keep in warmth better and keep out pesky snowflakes flying around.

Weather Protection


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 simply because they are better at keeping snow and water out of the top.


We also evaluated each boot's ability to remain waterproof in wet, winter conditions. To do this, we stood in alpine lakes and rivers in each pair of boots for 10 minutes and marched to agitate the seams of the boot. Boots that failed typically failed at a seam where two different materials came together. The most weatherproof boots are those built from rubber, neoprene, and/or leather, and feature taped seams that are double stitched and reinforced to keep water out. Keep in mind that most products have 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.

Be sure to evaluate the type of material used in the upper to determine if it is truly waterproof. Some products in this review claimed that materials were waterproof when they were only snow-proof at best. Additionally, any products made from leather need to be treated with a snow sealant at least twice a season (depending on use) to maintain its protection.

Here we measure the relative waterproofness of the Kamik Sienna 2 in comparison to the rest during our waterproof tests. It does okay  but not nearly as well as the tallest and completely water sealed competitors.
Here we measure the relative waterproofness of the Kamik Sienna 2 in comparison to the rest during our waterproof tests. It does okay, but not nearly as well as the tallest and completely water sealed competitors.

If water and snow protection is your priority, the Original Muck Arctic Ice Tall is our favorite for weather protection. Whether you're going out to blow snow, trudge through a wet, soggy field, or tackling tall snowbanks, this 17-inch boot, built from neoprene and rubber, 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. Using a pair of winter pants in its rain-boot like design seems to do a good job keeping out the snow.

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.
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.

Another very protective Pac boot is the Sorel Caribou with beefier insulation and some insulation that lines the top, to keep out snowy weather. 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. Of them all, the Arctic Ice Tall boot by the Original Muck company is by far the most protective of poor weather.

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. The Columbia Bugaboot IV is another with a taller shaft height to protect from snow, but a taller puddle height to protect from water (6 inches vs. 5 inches). Both of these boots fit nicely underneath a pair of snow pants or hikers, offering a similar level of overall protection. Both kept our feet dry in super wet weather.

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).
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).

The UGG Adirondack III is another all-around awesome winter boot that is made completely of leather, and offers amazing protection from both water and snow. It, like the super cute Sorel Tofino left our feet bone dry, all the way up to the top of the tongue, keeping water and snow out of the boot, even when wearing just a pair of leggings. The Tofino II protects from puddles 8.5 inches in depth, while the Adirondack II protects from puddles 9 inches in depth. The Kamik Sienna, our Best Buy award winner offers great weather protection too with a waterproof sole that didn't leak until it was agitated for about 30 seconds. It doesn't have a faux fur cuff like the Adirondack II or the fluffier Tofino II, but it fits nicely over or under a pair of pants.

This stylish boot is very protective and stylish. Wear the cuff up to keep out snow on trails or wear it down for a shorter look around town. The leather construction is both waterproof and keeps the snow out.
This stylish boot is very protective and stylish. Wear the cuff up to keep out snow on trails or wear it down for a shorter look around town. The leather construction is both waterproof and keeps the snow out.

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 cuff. At 7 inches tall, this may not work for everyone, but it will handle icy, slushy curb puddles like a champ.

The North Face Shellista III offers great protection from the snow with its knit cuff that grabs snow and keeps it out of the boot. here  we break trail around our property while going for an evening stroll in the mountains.
The North Face Shellista III offers great protection from the snow with its knit cuff that grabs snow and keeps it out of the boot. here, we break trail around our property while going for an evening stroll in the mountains.

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 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, to recommend whether the boot is true to fit, or if you should size up (or down). We also consider the stability and support of the shoe and offer insights into its relative 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 take the biggest pieces of the pie.

The UGG Adirondack III is a less stable boot  but its super cozy liner and flexible shaft makes it a shoo-in for everything from winter hiking to chores around the property  to strolling around town.
The UGG Adirondack III is a less stable boot, but its super cozy liner and flexible shaft makes it a shoo-in for everything from winter hiking to chores around the property, to strolling around town.

The Shellista III has a more stable footbed and shaft that offers more support around the ankle and the calf. We also appreciate the soft liners that feel good to wear all day. The Adirondack 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 III. The footbed for both is comfortable and supportive, with the Shellista III offering more arch support and a wider toe box.

The North Face Shellista has a more rigid construction than the UGG Adirondack and it is gifting with a super soft lining that is comfortable for all-day wear.
The North Face Shellista has a more rigid construction than the UGG Adirondack and it is gifting with a super soft lining that is comfortable for all-day wear.

Of the winter hiking boots we tested, the Oboz Bridger 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 the fit isn't as supportive with arch support as awesome as the Bridger. This hiking boot stands out as one of the most supportive we've ever tested, offering quite a specific fit that we love!

The interior and stable fit of the Oboz Bridger makes it the most comfortable hiking shoe. It is stable on uneven terrain  with arch support   and is ridiculously comfortable.
The interior and stable fit of the Oboz Bridger makes it the most comfortable hiking shoe. It is stable on uneven terrain, with arch support, and is ridiculously comfortable.

Alternatively, more protective boots like the Sorel Caribou, Muck Arctic Ice, and Sorel Joan of Arctic have a much bulkier fit, with a much heavier weight. The Arctic Ice is the heaviest and bulkiest, while the Caribou is next, with the Joan of Arctic finishing the last of the bulkiest. If you're seeking a nice balance with weather protection and comfort, the Joan of Arctic is your best best. 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 and one we didn't use to give a rating to each boot. After wearing the boots, handing them off to friends, and reading other 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. Many winter boots are bulkier

The Oboz Bridger is our favorite winter hiker for its precise and comfortable fit that makes you feel supported and stable.
The Oboz Bridger is our favorite winter hiker for its precise and comfortable fit that makes you feel supported and stable.

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 and a wider toe box, the Bridger has you covered. Another reason it earns our Top Pick for Hiking.

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 All-Around Use

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
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

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 (needs a half size up), Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat (need to size up a half size), UGG Adirondack III, Sorel Tofino II, Sorel Joan Explorer (a sneaker-like boot)

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 (has a heel, best buy award winner)

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 (Top Pick for Protection)

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 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.

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

Hands-down the Muck Boot Arctic Ice 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 allows you to easily slip your foot in and out. 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 similar to its laceless design, but 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.

The Ice Maiden makes for a really comfortable shoe and super easy to get a specific fit. One pull  and you're done!
The Ice Maiden makes for a really comfortable shoe and super easy to get a specific fit. One pull, and you're done!

Boots with laces with a one-pull system that tightens them all up with a single pull are also quite easy to use. Both the Columbia Omni Heat Heavenly and Ice Maiden II have this feature. Neither of these boots is rigid enough to stand up on their 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. To get them off, simply unlace and kick the boot off…it's that easy.

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 quite easy to use as well. While their laces are more labor-intensive than a slip-on option would be, they 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 adds to its ease while the Caribou has a shaft that's not as rigid and requires a little more work to get into the boot.

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

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 Bridger is okay to use, but you need to unlace and loosen to get them on and off. The smaller fit of the boot doesn't allow you to simply slide it on either.

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.
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.

Boots with lots of eyelets and laces take a little more time to work with. For example; the UGG Adirondack III and the North Face Shellista III fall into this category. The Adirondack III doesn't have any many eyelets as the Shellista III, but we found that it takes a little more effort to get a precise fit than Shellista III. When you pull its laces, they bunch at the top, but not at the bottom, similar to the Shellista. However, the newest update of the Shellista III boot has two eyelets on each side at the top. This new design allows you to pull the laces (of the bottom of the boot), and simply lace up the top. Once you find a fit you like (and you can set it for slide-in action), 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 III has two along the sides, making it easier to get on.

Here we use the pull tabs of the Shellista III to get our foot into the boot. The new and updated design is much easier to use than it's ever been.
Here we use the pull tabs of the Shellista III to get our foot into the boot. The new and updated design is much easier to use than it's ever been.

The Kamik Sienna 2, our best buy award winner, also requires manual lacing action. The eyelets on this boot are quite large, and while we found it easy to slip our foot in and out of, we found the laces falling out of the eyelets easily, similar to the Sorel Tofino II. Aside from that, this boot, along with the others mentioned above, are the easiest to put on and take off.

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. 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 that is softer and more pliable, perform better in colder temps and over icy surfaces.


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.
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.

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 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 has a similar lug-less design that floats well on snow, but it slipperier on steeper, hard-packed trails.

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.
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.

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 and Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall 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 Queen of Traction  the new Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV boots have massive lugs that grip like crazy.
The Queen of Traction, the new Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV boots have massive lugs that grip like crazy.

Both of these boots stuck better to the iciest surfaces the best. The Arctic Ice Tall did a little better than the Bugaboot IV with its super-wide lugs, interlaced with a softer rubber compound on the center, that grips to the tiniest patch of friction. We were slipping less in this boot, making it and the Bugaboot IV prime choices for icy activities like Ice Fishing or navigating sidewalks after an ice storm.

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.
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.

The Oboz Bridger is another great 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 Bugaboot IV and Arctic Ice Tall, so it was treacherous tackling super icy terrain with this boot. That said, trails interlaced with dirt and ice, it did just fine. The UGG Adirondack II scores higher than the Bridger because it was able to tackle the same types of the trails as the Bridger, but did much better on ice, given its softer rubber compounds. 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, you should check out the The North Face Shellista III and Columbia Ice Maiden II. Both feature a softer rubber and wider lug pattern that grips to slippery rocks and packed snow. Both are great options for winter chores, wearing around town, and light hiking.

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?
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?

Conclusion


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. You want to make sure it is warm, breathes and offers decent traction and weather protection to get you through the worst days of winter. While there are many choices on the market, the selection we present to you represents the best products on the market, with choices ranging from winter hikers to around-town stylish options. Be sure to identify what you need from your winter boot before making big choices that'll make you winter ready for skiing, winter hiking, or strolling around town.


Amber King and Laurel Hunter