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Should You Even Buy Winter Boots? Well, It Depends

Do you really need a pair of boots just for winter? Or can you make a pair of three-season boots work?


If you buy your boots like they’re an investment, you want them to be versatile. So it can be a hard pill to swallow to drop a few hundred on a pair of winter boots that you’ll only get to wear for one season out of the year. Can you make that three-season boot a year-rounder?

But, maybe you just want a boot that gets the job done. If that job is specifically getting your feet to your destination with all 10 toes dry and intact, then a master-of-one-season boot could be what you really need. When you’re waffling between whether or not you should even buy winter-specific boots, make sure you know what you’re getting into.

The Case for a Seasonal Boot

Winter boots usually come equipped with some form of insulation like Thinsulate. Not only will they keep your feet warm, insulated winter boots often come with other features that make them better equipped to take on snow and rain. That can mean a waterproof Gore-Tex lining, impermeable sole construction and slip-resistant soles. If you’re feeling luxurious, you can also opt for fur or fleece-lined boots. They’ll toast your feet like a marshmallow and feel as soft as one, too.

While all of these qualities can make a polar vortex much more comfortable, there are some downsides. Watertight properties can be a great thing when you find yourself facing a downtown tundra, but most waterproof boots are made using cement construction which makes them harder to resole compared to a Goodyear welted styles. That said, if you invest in a decent pair of winter boots, they should last you a long time before you even have to think about crossing that bridge, especially if the only play they’re getting is in the snow between December and March.

If your day to day requires you to be outside a fair amount or if your winters are lengthy, you’ll probably want to invest in a pair of solid slush stompers.

X Ultra Winter CS WP 2 Boots by Salomon $180

Shearling-Lined Bean Boots by L.L. Bean $230

Avalanche Butte by Ugg $300

1460 Pascal Boot by Dr. Martens $269

The Pros and Cons of a Versatile, Seasonless Boot

While the specificity of a winter-ready insulated or lined boot makes it great for the frigid months, it also makes them less than ideal when the temperatures don’t warrant thermal base layers beneath wool sweaters and down-filled jackets (that’s why they’re called winter boots, my guy). If you want to get the most use out of your boots, a non-insulated leather boot might be a better option for you.

During the cold season, it’s easy to winterize your boots using the proper accoutrements like appropriate winter socks, boot liners and shearling insoles. When the warm weather comes back to play, you can easily continue wearing your boots sans winter accessories. That means more space in your closet and more bang for your buck.

But, who wants to go through the trouble of buying all the extra accessories? Aside from the initial investment into the boots themselves, stuffing your them with these space sucking boot implements will cause them to stretch out slightly, a fact you probably already know if you’ve ever owned a pair of shoes with Horween Chromexcel leather. And when you make it to spring and summer with stretched out boots, you can fill them with insoles. Sure, you can wear your year-rounders through every season, but that also means more frequent maintenance. If you don’t like the idea of spending your Sundays doing boot upkeep, you might want to steer away from a boot that could be a jack of all trades.

Go with unlined boots if you live in a milder climate where winters don’t dip below freezing for months on end. And if you’d prefer a versatile style, make sure you stock up on the accoutrements and maintenance products, too.

Wool Insoles by Glencroft $5

Felt Insole by Moneysworth & Best $7+

Shearling Insoles by L.L. Bean $30

boot socks by american trench gear patrol
American Trench

Boot Socks by American Trench $30+

Waddington Ribbed Cashmere-Blend Socks by Pantherella $65

Ice Socks by Wigwam $18

Leather Insole by Saphir $15

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