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Are winter-specific hiking boots really necessary? What about socks?

I've just started to do some winter hiking with micro-spikes and snowshoes in NH. Should I be looking into a winter hiking boot to provide more warmth?

Also, I'm looking to buy socks for my brother who is new to hiking (non-winter).  He has told me his feet tend to run warm so I'm looking for recommendations on the best socks for him.


6 Replies

Many times, a good all leather boot, well waterproofed, will do the job in many situations, especially with warm socks,  A full coverage overboot will increase the range and versatility.  The rest of your clothing makes a difference as well.  An early response by a cooling body is to shut down circulation to the extremities .

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

You might have to try out the different options to see what you like.  May be some of the REI folks here might have some thoughts.  I cannot state an opinion on winter boots.  I do not have any.

On socks even those have changed a bit since I last purchased them (2014-2017).  They used to be labelled like heavy medium and light.  I moved from the medium socks to the light (weight) socks to reduce sweating.  I also wear liner socks.  I will look at my medium (weight) socks in cooler temps or to sleep in.   My hiking boots are all leather.  I have a friend who found that his feet did still seat in boots.  So, he changed over to his trail runners.

Sorry, likely not the best help.  I have just found that folks are different and often need to look at the options to see what works.



Footwear has always an individual thing! I can only give you my opinion on what works for me. 

There are two brands of boots that I totally love and suggest that you check them out!

1. Crispi Boots 

2. Oboz Boots

I have found both great for the backcountry during all 4 seasons! 

As for socks, you live near the best sock producers in the world (my humble opinion)

DarnTough out of Northfield, Vermont.

The socks are pricey, but are guaranteed for life no questions asked. They have socks for anything you can imagine. I only wear DarnTough period! Well worth the purchase!


Hope that helps,



And then there are the people whose feet and body do not tolerate stiff winter boots.  It’s tough to find boots that have traction but do not lock your feet into position so there is very little flexibility!  So, yes, feet are so individual and shoes have to respond to your body, and your feet.


As others have noted, footwear is incredibly subjective and really needs to be dialed in to each specific person.

That said, I also typically have hot feet and they perspire in Winter if I overdress.

Here's my setup:

  • Merrell Thermo Overlook 2 waterproof boots from Merrell. They're soft, waterproof, and have great traction. Really comfortable.
  • Sock liners (Injini toe sock liners, to be exact)
  • Darn Tough Midweight crew socks

It may sound counterintuitive to wear liners and socks if you have hot feet but the liners do an amazing job of wicking moisture away from your feet. That will keep your feet dry and comfortable while helping prevent blisters.

And here in Illinois, I keep a set of micro-spikes handy between November and March (I leave them in my car so that I always have them)

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I second (or third) the opinions on Darn Tough socks.  Love them!