The Best Winter Boots for 2018–2019

Top-rated footwear for cold-weather adventures
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Editor’s note on October 18, 2018: As cooler temps start to prevail, we scoured customer reviews to refresh our recommendations for the best winter boots of 2018–2019. Some picks—like the Sorel Caribou Boots—remain top-rated customer favorites, while others—like the Vasque Coldspark UltraDry—have been added to the guide.


On the hunt for the best winter boots? We consulted REI staff members and footwear experts Mike Lanning and Liz Hajek Cottrell about what to look for when shopping, and then asked them to recommend boots that deliver warmth, tackle wet weather, hike like pros and transition seamlessly from city sidewalks to snowy trails in winter.

There are four main factors you’ll want to consider when investing in a pair of winter boots: warmth, waterproofness, traction and activity level:

  • Warmth: How much and what type of insulation the boots have.
  • Waterproofness: How efficiently the boots block moisture.
  • Traction: How much grip the boots lend on slick surfaces.
  • Activity Level: What you plan to use the boots for.

These four factors work in concert with each other—strike the right balance and you’re almost certain to keep your toes toasty on your next winter adventure. Ready to invest? Here’s a roundup of the best winter boots available right now.

Sorel Caribou Boots

Best for Cold Temps

Versions: Women’sMen’s

1_Sorel Caribou

  • MSRP: $150–$160
  • Warmth: Four-layer 9mm ThermoPlus™ removable felt liners
  • Waterproofing: Waterproof leather uppers/waterproof rubber bottoms
  • Traction: Lugged rubber
  • Height: Women’s: 9 in.; Men’s: 10 in.

These classic pac boots come equipped with 9mm felt liners made for teeth-chattering temps as low as minus 40 degrees. At the end of the day, you can remove the boots’ liners and let them warm by the fire.

“These boots are great for getting out in the really cold weather or just slipping on quickly on a snowy day. I wore these boots the most when I lived in Minnesota and needed boots for extremely frigid days or for activities such as snowmobiling. I love the removable liners because they are easy to dry after a long day of use.” —Liz Hajek Cottrell, staff member since 2016

“These heavy-duty boots keep my feet warm and cozy all day in freezing temperatures. There’s nothing light about them—they’re full-strength, no-messing-around boots. They’ve let me post-hole my way through snowy meadows and work outside all day without icy toes. They’re almost like carrying a little cabin on my feet.” —Katherine Anderson, REI member since 2008

Bogs Classic Ultra High Rain Boots

Best for Wet Weather

Versions: Women’sMen’s

Bogs Ultra

  • MSRP: $135
  • Warmth: 7mm Neo-Tech insulation
  • Waterproofing: 4-way-stretch waterproof neoprene
  • Traction: Nonmarking and nonslip rubber
  • Height: 15 in.

Originally designed for dairy farmers, the lightweight Bogs Classic Ultra High rain boots feature thick Neo-Tech™ neoprene that takes the sting out of the cold the way a wetsuit dilutes the shock of brisk saltwater. Their tall silhouette delivers longer-lasting warmth than short galoshes, and their handles make them easy to maneuver your feet into on misty mornings.

“Made of waterproof neoprene (dive suit insulation) with sealed seams, they are every bit as warm in slush and wet snow as they are in dry conditions. I find I often slip into them to walk my dog, as they are very fast to put on and take off.” —Mike Lanning, staff member since 1991

“I use these boots probably the most frequently in winter. They are great for throwing on to take the dogs out, and I use them the most at my other job at a horse ranch. They are great ‘muck boots,’ completely waterproof and always keep me warm no matter what the weather. [They’re] also extremely easy to clean off after a day in the mud and snow.” —Liz Hajek Cottrell

Oboz Bridger 7” BDry Insulated Winter Boots

Best for Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking - Women's

 

Oboz Bridger BDry 7

  • MSRP: $185.00
  • Warmth: 200g 3M™ Thinsulate™
  • Waterproofing: BDry waterproof/breathable membrane
  • Traction: Rubber outsoles with silica to improve grip
  • Height: Over-the-ankle

Made for winter hiking, snowshoeing or simply shoveling the driveway, the Oboz Bridger BDry insulated winter boots are warm, waterproof companions for frigid days when you plan to stay active outside. Oboz boots are known for being kind to wider feet, and these prove no different. While they aren’t made to be worn with crampons, many customers raved about how well the Bridger 7”s worked with snowshoes.

One reviewer says, “My feet are perpetually cold, and I was in the market for a warm pair of winter hiking and snowshoeing boots so I could better enjoy the winter season outdoors. I spent some time at REI jamming my wide feet into several different pairs of insulated hiking boots, and I was about to give up. At last, I arrived at these. It was love at first wear! They fit true to size ... My toes had the ideal amount of wiggle room, and most importantly, they were not tight on my forefoot like all the others before them. They needed no break in time, they were perfectly comfortable the first time I wore them on a 5-mile hike. I stomped through snow, puddles, and streams to test the waterproofing. My feet were bone dry, and incredibly toasty with only one pair of midweight wool socks. Plus, not a single blister or hotspot. These get an A+ from me, I would recommend them to anybody, especially those with wide feet.”

Vasque Coldspark UltraDry Winter Boots

Best for Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking - Men's

Vasque Coldspark

  • MSRP: $139.95
  • Warmth: 200g 3M™ Thinsulate™
  • Waterproofing: UltraDry™ waterproof/breathable membrane
  • Traction: ColdHold outsoles with multidirectional tread
  • Height: Over-the-ankle

Just like the Oboz Bridger BDry boots, the Vasque Coldspark boots pair 200g of low-bulk Thinsulate insulation with waterproof uppers. Their soles come equipped with Vasque’s ColdHold technology, which features heavy-duty lugs that bite into cold surfaces, so you’re less likely to slip and slide as you make your way from the car park to the trailhead. Reviewers on REI.com used these boots for everything from chilly night hikes to outdoor work in the throes of winter and were impressed by their light weight and how little break-in time they required.

“I use these boots primarily for snowshoeing and really like them. They provide excellent support, great fit and they are very warm. I have used them at altitude (8,800 feet) in deep powder snow at -8 degrees F and they were excellent,” says one happy customer.

Learn More: Beginner's Guide to Snowshoeing

Kodiak Surrey II Boots

Kodiak Magog Boots

Best for City to Trail

Kodiak Surrey

  • MSRP: $170
  • Warmth: 200g Thinsulate™ insulation
  • Waterproofing: Waterproof leather with fully-sealed seams
  • Traction: Slip-resistant rubber
  • Height: Women’s: 6.5 in.; Men’s: 7.5 in.

When outfitting her Lakewood customers with footwear that can transition from the city to the trail, Liz prioritizes comfort over style. “A lot of people want something that’s super cute for hiking,” says Liz. She’s often the one who has to say, “Well, I wouldn’t [go with that style] and here’s why.”

Instead, Liz opts for the Kodiak Magog and Surrey II, which both have 200g of low-profile Thinsulate™ insulation, waterproof leather uppers and fully-sealed seams to combat whipping winds and swirling snow.

“These [Kodiak Surrey II] boots nail the casual ‘camp chic’ look, but perform just as well as my clunky (not so chic) hiking boots when it gets cold and wet. Their break-in period is tiny and their waterproof, insulated construction is perfect for unpredictable Seattle weather. From 25-degree mornings at Crystal Mountain Resort to long, rainy days at Discovery Park, they’ve always kept my feet warm, cozy and dry. They’re my go-to boots when I’m not sure what the day will bring, but I do know I want happy feet.” —Sam Farquharson, copywriter, product content, REI.com

The North Face Shellista II Mid Winter Boots

Best Overall Winter Boots - Women's

The North Face Shellista Boots

  • MSRP: $140
  • Warmth: PrimaLoft® Silver Eco polyester fibers
  • Waterproofing: Waterproof nubuck leather with waterproof thermoplastic rubber shells
  • Traction: Rubber outsoles with IcePick temperature-sensitive lugs
  • Height: Mid-calf

When pressed on which boots are the best for outdoor adventures, Mike Lanning offers a good reminder, “The boots don’t produce the warmth, your body does,” he says. “Doing things like getting a good night’s sleep, eating a hearty breakfast and hydrating well will help you stay warm when you head out on a winter adventure … The proper winter boots simply help you retain that heat.”

With that advice in mind, we perused customer reviews to find the most enthusiastically endorsed boots of 2018–2019. The women’s The North Face Shellista II ranked high on the list for the lasting warmth they bring to frigid conditions—from Montana to Massachusetts. In addition to their streamlined rubber shells, the Shellistas are lined with insulation made from 70 percent post-consumer recycled content that resists moisture and minimizes clamminess.

One customer says, “This was my second winter living in Montana and [I] needed a boot that was comfortable but also kept my feet warm. I have constantly cold feet and had such a hard time with boots my first winter. These boots have been perfect! … Never had any discomfort of any form. I am normally a 9.5 with a high instep, so I ordered a 10 and they provide just enough extra movement for my toes to stay warm. I have worn them hiking in the winter and snowmobiling, and they remained waterproof the whole time. I have also gotten many compliments on their look. I absolutely love these boots and recommend them to anyone looking for a comfortable and warm winter boot.”

Oboz Bridger 8” BDry Insulated Winter Boots

Best Overall Winter Boots - Men's

Oboz Bridger BDry 8"

  • MSRP: $189
  • Warmth: 200g 3M™ Thinsulate
  • Waterproofing: BDry waterproof/breathable membrane
  • Traction: Rubber outsoles with silica to improve grip
  • Height: Over-the-ankle

The Oboz Bridger 8” boots stole our hearts in the Best Overall category, too, thanks to their winning combination of warmth, waterproofness and winterized soles that grip snowy surfaces. The icing on the cake? These boots are lined with wool-topped insoles, which offer comfort and support whether you’re shoveling the driveway in the predawn darkness or summiting a mountain in subzero temps.

One content reviewer says, “I chronically have trouble keeping my toes warm on winter hikes or when snowshoeing. After trying these Oboz I’m very impressed. They keep my toes warmer than any other boots I own and they’re a solid, comfortable hiking shoe on snow covered trails and over rock. I love these boots.”

Winter Boots 101

Warmth

The more insulation, the warmer the boots—right? Well, kind of. If you spend long, inactive periods outside, or if you live in a region that experiences subzero temperatures, then you’ll want boots that offer the maximum amount of insulation. For the rest of us, too much insulation can cause feet to sweat. Trapped inside your boots without anywhere to go, that sweat can eventually cool and cause your toes to turn numb.

Mike, staff member at the Bloomington, Minnesota, REI flagship store who has spent time winter camping in Denali National Park and Preserve and in the Yukon, Canada, suggests investing in boots that offer 200g of insulation. When the cold packs a mean punch, these boots strike back without restricting mobility, making it easy to get outside and keep doing what you love.

Mike’s other piece of advice: If you aim to hike or snowshoe in your new footwear, purchase boots in your regular size. However, if plan to wear the boots on casual outings, consider going up a size. “Any restriction of blood flow is going to affect the ability of your boots to generate warmth to your extremities,” Mike says. Also, steer clear of boots that pinch your legs, as they can cause you to lose feeling in your feet.

Waterproofness

Waterproofness is a vital piece of the puzzle. Planning on trekking through snow or slush? “Having wet feet out on the trail is probably one of the worst things you can do,” says Liz, a staff member at the Lakewood, Colorado, store who loves snowshoeing and has snowmobiled across frozen lakes in Voyageurs National Park.

Based on experience, Liz advises her active customers to opt for waterproof, seam-sealed boots that combat moisture and prevent feet from going numb during long journeys over frozen landscapes.

Traction

Whether you’re eager to join the neighborhood broomball game or simply don’t want to slip when you’ve got to walk Fido in the middle of a blizzard, it’s important to look for boots that grip icy, snow-covered surfaces.

When shopping, pay attention to the lugs—the traction-giving bumps on the boots’ rubber outsoles. For maximum traction, invest in boots with deep, angular lugs, as these patterns hug the ground while expelling mud and muck. Lugs with new ice-gripping technology are also worth exploring.

Activity Level

If you need a practical pair of boots to help you transition from work to adventure, seek out insulated boots with moderately aggressive lugs. That way, you can slip back into the office without leaving a trail of icy debris in your wake.

If you love ice fishing or snowmobiling, look for boots that lend maximum warmth. Pac boots have thick rubber outsoles and removable liners that can be swapped out for a fresh, dry pair.

If you find yourself staring longingly at your snowshoes hanging in the gear closet during summer, opt for low-bulk boots that prioritize mobility. Waterproof winter hiking boots, rather than pac boots, can be an excellent investment if you’re serious about staying active when the weather is frigid.

At times, winter hiking boots aren’t tall enough for deep snow. In these instances, our Expert Advice team suggests investing in a pair of gaiters like the REI Co-op Mountain Gaiters.

How to Choose and Use Gaiters

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