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Our women winter warriors have tested more than 50 of the best winter boots for women since 2013. This update features 13 of the market's top choices, each tested rigorously and completely across a variety of terrain and snow conditions. From Canada to the USA, our boots have seen the likes of blowing snowstorms, icy walkways, wet spring afternoons, and muddy pre-season puddles. Our experts wear these boots throughout winter, when the temperatures are fair and when they plummet. After years of testing and comparing performance, we offer our insights and recommendations to help you find the best boot for your needs.
The UGG Adirondack III topped the list, yet again, as our favorite winter boot, thanks to its warmth, style, and technical performance. The outsole supplies serious traction with simplistic lugs, enabling in-town functionality and on-trail superiority. The leather construction proved completely waterproof in our tests, offering protection from puddles and streams, and the collar folds down for a most stylish look when you don't need as much coverage. In addition to its stand-out versatility, we love its plush comfort and warmth.
The Adirondack is a great cold weather boot, but its flexible shaft means that it's not as stable as other winter boots geared toward hiking. It also feels a bit bulky due to the thick wool lining. The supple suede and leather construction should be treated with a leather seal to maintain its longevity and ensure performance season after season — though this is true for any leather shoe. Additionally, the Adirondack is the most expensive boot in the lineup. These things aside, if cozy warmth, good looks, and trail adventures are your jam, we think you'll love this chic and versatile winter boot.
Shaft Height:: 6" | Insulation: 200g M Select Warm
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Hiking specific style
The Merrell Thermo Chill Mid surprised us in every category with its super versatile design that maintained warmth and breathability throughout our testing period. The cozy liner and midsole support are great for indoor and outdoor work, and the supple rubber compound on the outsole is the perfect amount of traction for trail exploration. The exterior construction is both durable and lightweight, so you won't feel like you're strapped to a 5-pound weight when trudging uphill. These great features are only made sweeter by the fact that this is one of the most affordable boots in our review.
While this is an all-around all-star design, we wish there was more ankle coverage to keep snow away from our socks, and we would welcome a slightly stiffer and taller construction to increase stability and confidence on uneven terrain. We are also a bit wary of the rubber outsole wearing down due to its softer nature, but it held up fine throughout our testing period. Overall, this boot is a major bang for your buck if you're looking for a versatile and high-performing boot that won't break the bank. Merrell also offers the Thermo Chill in a men's version.
Shaft Height: 17" | Insulation: Fleece and neoprene
REASONS TO BUY
Tallest shaft in the lineup
Thick, sturdy sole
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy and bulky
Difficult to drive in
The Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall AGAT (Arctic Grip All Terrain) is our choice for the most protective, waterproof, multi-functional winter boot we've tested. The 17-inch shaft extends to just below the knee and is built with scuba-grade neoprene and fleece to keep your legs warm and dry in the burliest of conditions. We love the rigid shaft that stands on its own, making stepping into and out of this boot quick and easy. The extra beefy sole adds additional insulation, while the firm yet pliable rubber composite underfoot sticks exceptionally well to the slipperiest surfaces. If you need an ultra-protective boot that can tackle the coldest and wettest days of winter, this workhorse is built to do exactly that.
The boot's beefy construction makes for heavy footwear. The wide circumference of the shaft makes it easy to stuff your pant leg into the boot but leaves space for moisture to leak in when overly exposed. The cuff is also prone to chafing if you're not wearing pants that are thick enough to protect your leg (particularly for shorter folks). Those minor things aside, the Arctic Ice Tall is an excellent buy if you're seeking exceptional protection and durability in a work boot.
The Keen Revel IV Polar is an exceptional winter hiker. We love its warm and durable construction, breathable materials, and waterproofness. This boot boasted some of the best traction and protection on icy trails and uneven ridgelines. It is compatible with microspikes, gaiters, or a set of snowshoes and is comfortable enough to wear on its own all day long. Enjoy this versatile hiking boot as you splash through the rain, muck, and snow during your snowcapped adventures.
While there is not much we disliked about this boot, it has an inherently 'techy' and outdoorsy design that isn't the most fashionable option to wear with your average everyday outfit. The fit is wider in the forefoot, which is great for bulky socks but might be too wide for those with narrow feet. Regardless, if you work outdoors and winter is synonymous with outdoor adventure, this cold-weather hiking boot is highly dependable.
Shaft Height: 10" | Insulation: 200g Heatseeker Eco Pro
REASONS TO BUY
Great warmth-to-weight ratio
Soft and cozy
Tall for good snow protection
REASONS TO AVOID
Not the best traction
This rendition of the The North Face Shellista IV Mid brought some fashionable and functional improvements to the previous Shellista design. The boot's lightweight and fuzzy construction stood out among the rest for comfort and fit. We were impressed with the Shellista's barely-there feel and slipper-like comfort and found ourselves reaching for this pair when heading to work on cold mornings or for late fall drive-in movie screenings at the local theater. We also loved the 10 inches of coverage the boot provides to keep our lower legs dry when trudging through tall snowdrifts.
The Shellista has a flexible yet durable upper that resists rough conditions but lacks an overall sense of stability. This is fine for casual use but left us hanging when stomping through uneven snow or sliding along icy trails. Paired with an absence of sticky lugs, we didn't feel entirely comfortable on most slippery surfaces. But, if you're looking for an everyday boot that eliminates bulkiness while keeping you warm and dry, this is a great choice.
Danner has built a reputable brand known for durable, high-quality leather footwear for decades. Just like their heritage line of trustworthy work boots, the Danner Inquire Mid Insulated stood out as a leader in functional fashion. The stiff and sturdy leather exterior is softened by the warm and fuzzy Primaloft interior, and the noticeably quality craftsmanship is apparent. We were impressed with the boot's ability to keep us dry and stable on snowy trails and even more impressed by its ability to blend in with our everyday work outfits.
While we love most of the Danner Inquire Midfeatures, we wish there was slightly more coverage to provide more ankle support for security on slippery surfaces and hiking trails. We also love the versatility but wish the boot was slightly less expensive. Other than that, we were pleased with the boot's performance in field tests and its overall ability. Look into the Inquire if you're hoping to find a single, fashionable, cross-functional boot that does it all.
Liz Chamberlain, our boot expert, is a winter enthusiast based in Truckee, CA. Liz is a downhill extraordinaire, seeking out the many mountain activities Lake Tahoe offers. Working in retail sales at Truckee's finest bike and ski shops has engineered her to take a design-focused lens when approaching gear assessment and sales. With a graduate certificate in sustainable innovation, Liz has a background in material sourcing and functional designs. You can trust her for all insights related to fashion and function. Rounding out Liz's assessments is Amber King, a Canadian native transplanted to southwestern Colorado. She works full-time as an outdoor educator, teaching students even when the cold of winter is rearing its ugly head. Together they have spent over 200 hours testing winter boots, wearing them in everything from warm spring storms to tall snowdrifts in their hometowns out West.
Testing for our winter boots for women covers five test metrics:
Warmth tests (25% of overall score weighting)
Weather Protection tests (25% weighting)
Comfort and Fit tests (20% weighting)
Traction tests (15% weighting)
Durability tests (15% weighting)
Since 2013, we've tested around 100 winter boots for women and men. We researched top brands and products in the women's winter boot category and then put them to the test out in the field. Our testing process includes buying and using every pair of boots in our lineup. We put each pair through various tests to rate warmth, weather protection, comfort and fit, and more. We've spent hundreds of hours in the snow and cold playing, walking, and doing chores for a complete analysis.
We assessed each boot for five metrics with 14 individual tests across metrics. The highest weighted metrics were the warmth test and the weather protection, corresponding to 25% of each boot's overall score. Testing includes slogging in cold water to test waterproofing and measuring internal air temperatures with the boots soaking in an ice bath to assess insulation. With testing grounds from Southwestern Colorado to British Columbia, we provide our insight and recommendations to help you find exactly what you want. Our testing process was designed to ensure we didn't miss any crucial details.
We hiked on cold winter days with temperatures well below zero and walked the dogs each day on packed snowy roads and trails. We wore the boots in this review while shoveling, going out on chilly evenings, and during 8-hour work shifts throughout the day. 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.
Analysis and Test Results
Winter is a time to finally celebrate and immerse yourself in the cold fronts and deep dive into your favorite snowy activities. Our goal is to help you find the best boots to help you enjoy the winter season and brave the cold spells.
A high-performing boot doesn't have to be ultra-expensive. We took the time to test products along the entire spectrum of price ranges to find out what works best. We do not review prices until after we have tested each boot. At that point, we apply our honest opinion of value based on the price and performance of each product. When considering value, be sure to do your research and find a boot that balances the performance you need with a price you can manage.
Sitting on the lower end for price, yet performing incredibly well across our tests, we agreed that the Merrell Thermal Chill Mid is definitely a high-value choice. Highly impressive traction, weatherproofing, and comfort at a reasonable price make this a no-brainer option for all-season functionality. The Sorel Winter Carnival checks all the boxes and is also a top contender for value. It is warm, comfortable, stylish, and provides solid coverage and traction. It may not be as durable or last as many seasons as the Sorel Caribou, but it's a fair price for a quality product. The North Face Shellista is also an excellent option for those focused on comfort and fit. The Shellista is a lightweight, warm and fuzzy boot that can serve as a one-stop shop for your winter footwear.
Cold weather can be brutal. Trying to warm your feet back up after a cold day is a difficult task. For this reason, we all need a boot that will help facilitate good thermoregulation throughout the coldest days of winter. For this reason, warmth is one of the most highly weighted evaluation criteria in this review. Ideally, a winter boot should keep your foot warm whether you're simply standing around in the cold or actively hiking. A few key factors contribute to the overall warmth: the warmest options have thicker outsoles, taller shafts, and high-quality insulation. Your boot should also provide excellent breathability to vent moisture while you're in motion. Another important piece of gear is a solid pair of winter socks that can insulate even when wet. Lean towards wool or synthetic fibers for the best warmth and moisture-wicking capabilities.
To objectively measure the insulation of our boots, we set each model into an ice bath and tracked how much their inside temperature dropped over 10 minutes. This helped us compare the relative amount of thermal insulation. We also hiked in each pair and stood around in snowfields and snowbanks while sipping hot chocolate on cold nights, taking note of which boots kept our feet the warmest. We even stomped around in river water. Using a culmination of the test results, we determined which boots were constructed for arctic conditions and which should probably stick to the streets.
Many winter boots are rated to a specific temperature. While these numbers offer a potential point of comparison, it's hard to take this estimate at face value. The warmth you experience will vary depending on the socks you wear, your metabolism, and your perception of the cold. We recommend taking these numbers with a grain of salt, but they should still be useful to figure out which boots will be warmer than others. More importantly, pay attention to the boot's construction while you try to evaluate warmth.
The warmest boots we tested offer serious insulation underfoot and well up the leg. The Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall is a prime example. This boot is super warm with a 17-inch shaft that insulates throughout and offers superior insulation on the sole. It kept our feet warm in single digits while supplying unbeatable protection. The Sorel Caribou has the thickest sole of all our tested models and is one of the warmest boots for just standing around in the cold. It's loaded with 9mm of felt lining that doesn't seem to compact or lose warmth, even after months of wear. This was one of our favorite boots to wear when shoveling the driveway on cold mornings. However, the Arctic Ice Tall is more protective 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.
Boots with a faux fur protective collar offer more protection and warmth from the snow because they help prevent snow from falling inside the boot shaft. However, we recognize that not everyone cares for fake fur's style, bulk, or messiness. From our perspective, the UGG Adirondack III and The North Face Shellista had the most stylish fur collars that blended nicely with the boot design. They also provided great warmth and insulation despite having more shallow soles than burlier boot designs.
Despite our praise for thick soles, many boots in the lineup have a thinner construction and still provide quality insulation. For example, the 10-inch shaft of the UGG Adirondack is filled with lofty, warm sheep's wool — an organic, natural fiber that offers fantastic breathability and overall warmth. The boot's sole isn't as thick as the Sorel Caribou or Muck Boot Arctic Ice but is similar in thickness to The North Face Shellista IV Mid, which earns a similar score. The Shellista has 200 grams of Heatseeker Eco Pro insulation, a high-quality synthetic insulation that offers a great warmth-to-weight ratio. Thanks to a thinner and lighter overall construction, the Shellista and Adirondack are ideal for everyday wear and are suitable for simple hiking trails or cold nights around town.
Winter can bring a fast-changing mix of snow, slush, and ice. With the proper footwear, your feet (and pants) can stay protected when you're out in near-freezing weather. To test this, we hiked through slushy puddles, tall snowbanks, rivers, and streams, all the while evaluating the materials of each boot. Those that scored the highest had the least amount of snow and water intrusion and offered the best protection in adverse environments.
We found that most weatherproof boots are rubber, neoprene, and/or leather. Look for boots with taped seams that are double stitched and reinforced to keep water out. Keep in mind that most products have a distinct flood level. Sometimes, a poorly sealed seam or the joint where the tongue meets the shaft. We tested and noted the flood level for each boot.
Be sure to evaluate the type of material used in the upper to determine if it is truly waterproof. Some products in this review claim their materials are waterproof when they are actually only snow-proof at best. Additionally, any product made from leather probably needs to be treated with a snow sealant at least twice per season to maintain protection.
If water and snow protection are your priority, the Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall is a clear favorite. Whether you're blowing snow off your driveway, trudging through wet and soggy fields, or tackling tall snowbanks, this 17-inch boot is your best bet. Unlike options like the Sorel Caribou or UGG Adirondack, bad weather beasts with 9-10 inches of snow protection, the Arctic Ice does not have a faux fur collar to keep out the snow. It is, however, the tallest and burliest option out there, backing its protection with 5mm of scuba-grade neoprene and rubber. It's our favorite because it's easy to slip on, it's warm, and its flood level extends to the top of the boot thanks to no seams or laces.
The Sorel Caribou features a removable liner and beefy insulation to keep your toes toasty in cold weather. The Caribou's overlays ensure that it's waterproof nearly all the way to the boot's collar, at about 10 inches. In comparison, the Bogs Crandall II Tall Adjustable delivers only 3mm of waterproof insulation with a shaft height of 13". While the Crandall II was not a top pick, it is a great option for those looking for a rainboot design that offers the waterproofing capabilities of a snow boot.
If you're searching for a highly weatherproof winter hiking boot, the Merrell Thermal Chill Mid and Keen Revel IV Polar both offer bomber weather protection. The Thermal Chill Mid can soak in the river for minutes without letting water in. The Revel IV features leather overlays on the collar with a breathable waterproof membrane and deep tread on the sole. We were pleasantly surprised by the weatherproofing on both of these hikers. Unfortunately, both models are roughly ankle height, so the maximum coverage is only about 5" before your sock or pants become exposed to the elements.
The UGG Adirondack III is another all-around killer winter boot made entirely from leather and rubber and offers amazing protection from both water and snow. It protects the feet from up to 9 inches of snow, and while it may not be as tall as some, it checks all the boxes regarding weatherproofing, comfort, and traction.
If your winters are cold and wet but not deep, we highly recommend the Sorel Explorer II Joan or the Blundstone Thermal. The Explorer II Joan is surprisingly warm and offers protection up to 7.5 inches on sloppy wet days, while the Blundstone Thermal covers about 6 inches or to the top of the ankle. This might not be high enough for some situations, but it will handle slushy curb puddles like a champ. These are stylish and very comfortable options for tackling nasty urban weather.
Comfort and Fit
Those who live and play in the burliest winter conditions know that warmth and comfort are of the utmost importance for winter wear. For those who spend their winters shoveling or working in wet, snowy, muddy conditions, comfort and fit are a top priority.
While we believe comfort and fit go hand in hand, they aren't synonymous. We examined each boot's liner, footbed, and weight to evaluate comfort and judged how cozy the interior materials are to wear all day. We made a side-by-side comparison to assess the toe box's size, shape, width, heel pocket, and footbed to judge fit. We took notes as we felt out which boots were "true to size" and which boots sat bigger or smaller on the sizing spectrum. Lastly, we considered the stability and support of each boot to offer insights into which boot would be best worn under certain circumstances (i.e., work, fashion, outdoor activities, etc.).
The most comfortable options were light, flexible, and soft with a sturdy, protective fit. The boots with plush liners and solid insulation also rose above the comfort category. Overall, if you're seeking the perfect balance between fit and comfort, the North Face Shellista IV Mid, Danner Inquire Mid, and Blundstone Thermal are some of your best bets. The next-to-sock fit and curved footbeds provide a better sense of support, stability, and movement. These designs use textiles and top grain leathers that offer an ideal balance between stiffness and flexibility to help facilitate both comfort and stability. The plush footbed in the Blundstones also made us feel like we were walking on a cloud.
The Danner Inquire Mid is a modest and versatile option that offers a comfortable and snug fit right out of the box. The Inquire could serve as an everyday work shoe or a simplistic low-top hiking boot. While it provides less coverage and traction than some of the other models, it is a stand-out in all-around style, comfort, and fit. The UGG Adirondack III is built with super soft wool insulation in the liner and is also incredibly comfortable. However, while the wool is super soft and plush, the footbed doesn't offer as much support as the Danner Inquire Mid.
Weight was also a bigger factor than we anticipated in our testing process. Some boots weigh significantly more than others, which became evident when hiking or wearing boots during 8-hour work shifts. Some had bulkier builds with a far better warmth-to-weight ratio, like The North Face Shellista IV Mid. The heavier boots, not surprisingly, provided greater traction, while the lighter boots were generally not quite as warm and did not perform as well in snowy conditions.
Regarding weight, the Sorel Explorer II Joan, Danner Inquire Mid, and Merrell Thermo Chill Mid were the lightest options in our lineup. This can be an important aspect of comfort if you're on your feet and moving around for many hours at a time.
While we appreciated the soft and fuzzy liners, these weren't the only boots that we found comfortable. Arch support and toe box space are a big part of the fit evaluation. Fit is, therefore, a subjective metric, so we make sure to explain the particulars of the curve and contour of each boot shape throughout each review.
Long-time winter veterans know the value of a boot that lasts many seasons without replacement. When we assess durability, we look at the quality of materials used and how the boot is constructed and then analyze how those materials hold up under light, medium, and heavy use in winter conditions.
Neoprene, leather, suede, nylon, and mesh are the most frequently used textiles in this footwear category. We compare each textile to one another to evaluate a product's lifetime. For example, rubber and neoprene can withstand extended exposure to wet conditions, while suede and leather will wear quicker in wet environments.
To test durability, we left our test boots out in the snow for multiple hours at a time, soaked them in the local river, and soaked them in ice baths. We used before and after photo evidence to capture fading, curling of the tongue or upper collar, and ripping or fraying of laces and seams. We tested outsole durability by actively rubbing and scrubbing boot soles on the pavement. We even kicked rocks and took them over rough terrain that would challenge the stiffness and durability of each sole. We checked for evidence of rounding of the lugs and scuffing of the outer edge of the sole.
Leather and suede are two of the most frequently used winter boot materials that are known to have the longest lifespans if cared for properly. These textiles require care and maintenance throughout the season as they are particularly prone to scuffing, weathering, and fading. Hence, cleaning and conditioning treatments are a great way to keep your boots looking fresh. Waterproofing treatments are also a great idea if you plan to use your leather boots as everyday winter wear for multiple seasons. Brands like Blundstone and Danner sell their own waterproofing treatments; otherwise, you can find a variety of treatments through aftermarket brands like NikWax.
We evaluated the strength and buoyancy of laces and eyelets to determine if they could undergo long-term use in heavy snow conditions. We rubbed up on trees and rocks to see how scuffed a boot's outsole and upper could get. We also assessed each boot's durability based on the stiffness of the shaft. Most boots have thick stitching that runs from the heel to the boot's collar, often with a stitched-in loop to help pull the boot on. The stiffer the shaft, the more likely the boot will maintain structure over time.
Of the test group, we found the Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall, Keen Revel IV Polar, and Sorel Caribou to be the top-performing boots in terms of durability. The strength of these boots is predominantly characterized by tough rubber outsoles and thick uppers that provide insulation and great protection from the elements. We took these boots on walks over long rocky beaches and through riverbeds and kept them on for fall wood-splitting sessions. We feel that these boots are nearly indestructible even after months of testing.
A bomber outsole is key if you want to stay on your feet through winter. The last thing you want is to slip on ice or down a slope, so we tested each boot for its ability to keep you on your feet through inclement weather. We studied each model's outsole by measuring the depth of the lugs and assessing the tread pattern. We skated around on ice patches, hiked on trails near town, and got out on the hills of our favorite ski resorts. We even used a natural ice ramp at the end of our neighborhood cul de sac to test traction going uphill and downhill. In the end, we learned that those with the largest lugs and surface area did best on technical terrain and inclines, while flatter soles and wave patterns work best on the street or in wet conditions (rain or puddles).
Rubber compounds are a huge part of the traction and functionality equation. Over centuries, engineers have fine-tuned rubber compounds to optimize grip, durability, and performance at different temperatures. Like most of the earth's compounds, rubber acts differently under varying temperatures and climates. While Vibram's Arctic Grip may be great in sub-zero temperatures, it may not act the same in milder spring temperatures. We did our best to test each boot and determine its best arena for use.
While all the boots tested provide some level of traction, some are better than others. If you plan on being out in deep snow throughout the winter, a sole with a lot of surface area is your best option, like the Sorel Caribou or Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall. The rubber compound on the Arctic Ice is stiffer, while the Caribou is more soft and supple. This means the Arctic Ice is less reliable on icy inclines, while the Caribou is better at grasping icy inclines because the lugs can better stick to the ground.
For hiking-focused boots, the Keen Revel IV Polar and Merrell Thermo Chill Mid have exceptional traction on snow and didn't seem to get sticky on warm pavement. They also have a nice snug fit around the heel pocket, which is key to avoiding blisters and lack of grip. If you plan to get on steep trails this winter, we highly recommend either of these boots. A hiking boot design will have great traction, weatherproofing, and durability for active winter use.
The Sorel Caribou and Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall have some of the deepest lugs in the group. While the UGG Adirondack II, Merrell Thermo Chill Mid, and Danner Inquire Mid have shallower lugs, they also provided great traction on snowy hikes.
The wavy sole patterns on the Sorel Explorer II Joan, Sorel Winter Carnival, and Blundstone Thermal proved to have unreliable traction on uneven snowy surfaces but maintained solid grip for everyday errands and activities. These would be best for warm indoor workwear, casual streetwear, or everyday winter comfort.
A Note on Winter Hiking Boots
The fit of an active winter hiking boot is important for those who want to take on the winter's iciest trails. Hiking boots often have a more snug and shapely design with a low collar to offer stability and security with a comfortable range of motion. Everything from the outsole to the laces are chosen and constructed with active use on varying terrain in mind.
Our testers with wide or high-volume feet, or those looking for more wiggle room, opted for the Keen Revel IV Polar, which has more space in the forefoot and below the arch. If you're looking for the best arch support, the Danner Inquire Mid has you covered. We suggest the Merrell Thermo Chill Mid for folks with narrow feet. Each one of these options offered superb traction on inclines, with slightly different levels of ankle coverage depending on the shaft height. If you opt for a comfort-focused snow boot that has good traction, like the Sorel Caribou or the UGG Adirondack, you may find that the fit around the foot is a bit looser which can cause discomfort over 5+ miles of hiking.
A high-performing winter boot can keep you warm and protected from whatever the weather may bring. Be sure the boot you settle on is warm, breathable, and offers decent traction and weather protection to get you through the burliest days of winter. While there are many choices on the market, we chose the top players from some of the most renowned brands in the footwear industry. We've assessed the industry's tried and true products and determined the value of each design in our lineup. We've done the hard work, so you don't have to. Enjoy!
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.