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Winter Boots

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Winter Boots

With so many choices, it can be hard to select the right boots for your wintertime adventures. We'll cover different types of winter boots and discuss key factors to help you decide.

Types of Winter Boots

Casual: This type of boot is affordable and offers basic warmth, but not a lot of technical features or technology.

Snowsports: This is a catchall term for boots suited to activities like walking, sledding and snow play. For sports like skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering, get boots designed for those activities.

Snowshoeing: Boots made for snowshoeing often have waterproof/breathable technology, moderate amounts of insulation and are cut a little lower to make striding easier.

Winter hiking: These differ from standard hiking boots in that they have insulation to keep your feet warm. Winter hiking boots often have waterproof/breathable technology, too.

Need quick recommendations? Check out our picks for the best winter boots.

Winter Boot Features

Some insulated winter boots use branded fills like PrimaLoft or Thinsulate, while others use generic insulation to help feet stay warm. Insulation weight, which can range from 100 to 400 grams, gives one clue to warmth. Some boots also state a minimum low temperature, like 0 degrees F, though this is based on that brand's estimate, not standardized testing.

Many winter boots have fleece linings for added warmth and comfort. You can also boost warmth by wearing thicker socks or using foot warmers. Boots that are too warm can also be an issue; excess sweat can act to chill feet when temps inside the boots drop, which can happen when you stop moving after a period of activity.

Keeping feet dry is a prerequisite to keeping them warm. Boots for high-energy activities like winter hiking or snowshoeing might have waterproof/breathable technologies like a GORE-TEX membrane inside. Some boots might be waterproof but not breathable. (Non-breathable options are best for casual winter use.) Still, other winter boots are made with materials that offer basic water resistance.

You can also add or restore waterproofing on boots. For DIY help, read How to Waterproof Boots.

Taller boots help keep snow and water from sneaking in from above. You can also add gaiters or cover the boot tops with snow pants to keep the wet stuff at bay.

Sole materials on most winter boots retain pliability in below-freezing temperatures to reduce slipping. Deep lugs aid grip on slick surfaces and minimize slush or mud buildup. Even so, traction can be challenging, so consider add-on winter traction devices for icy surfaces.

Winter Boot Fit

If you order based solely on a boot's size chart, stick with a brand that has fit you well in the past to improve the odds of getting a good fit. Between sizes? Go up a half size because you'll likely be wearing thick socks.

More to Consider

Insoles and snowsports socks enhance comfort and support. Boot care products can help keep your boots clean and help them last longer. And don't forget other winter essentials like snowshoes, hats, and gloves or mittens.

More Reasons to Shop at REI

REI carries top brands like Sorel, Kamik, Baffin, Merrell, KEEN, Oboz and Bogs. We also have a snowshoeing gear checklist and a library of snowsports articles to help you enjoy your time on the snow.