Winter is coming and though we spent the last one pent up inside our homes, reasons to get back outside abound — even in subzero temperatures. That being said, your usual canvas sneakers just won't cut it when they hit the slick, snowed-over pavement. You need to get yourself a proper pair of winter boots. However mild or intense your winters are, here's what to look for in a good pair of winter boots and which ones we recommend.
More seams means more ways for water to sneak into your shoes. Look for shoes that have sealed seams or are made with waterproof materials like rubber and Gore-tex. Many winter shoes will feature a rubber shell spanning from the toe to the heel which are instrumental in several inches of snow or puddles. The taller the the rubber portion and heel, the better. Above that, the tongue has to be gusseted to keep debris, rain and snow from entering. Good winter shoes will have gusseted tongues that reach high up the boot
Winter shoes have to keep your tootsies warm. They can do this a number of ways. Many brands choose some kind of insulating lining like Thinsulate and Primaloft in varying amounts to achieve temperature ratings well below freezing. Synthetic sherpa and natural shearling are also common materials to keep your feet warm. Synthetic sherpa tends to be lighter and less expensive, but it also has a tendency to become odorous after a while compared to natural shearling.
As temperatures near freezing, the ground is less and less reliable for keeping you upright. Rain turns to snow and ice, all of which are at in cahoots with gravity and against you. Traction is vital. Winter shoes often have more prominent lugs on the soles to better dig into and grab ahold of icy ground. Some companies even use sole materials which are engineered to remain soft and grippy even in subzero temps.
Product selections by Evan Malachosky
Snow Boots for Men
Sorel took its popular Caribou Boot — known for being waterproof, tall and warm — and it more "Street," which really just means they won't be so jarring in a city setting. These are a sleek gray color with a contrasting outsole and seam-sealed rubber mudguard.
Now in its third decade of hiking category dominance, Danner's Mountain Light makes light work of every other boot like it. It has a waterproof Gore-Tex liner, one-piece retro leather upper to keep water out and a Vibram outsole for traction support.
The North Face doesn't just make fleeces, jackets and bags. They make boots, too, as evident by this fleece-lined Tsumoru number. It has a high rubber mudguard, a treated mesh upper and a HydroSeal waterproof membrane. Needless to say, your feet won't get wet in these.
Want something more classic? Perhaps with a lush wool liner? Look no further than Overland's Hubert Boot. It's tall, built from waterproof leather and has a breathable wool liner embedded inside.
Despite the name, these are indeed men's boots — not ones for kids in grades K through 6. They're a classic hiker like Danner's, and they have plenty of history, too, but at a more affordable price: $190 instead of $380. It's made from waterproof full-grain leather, features a waterproof membrane and can be resoled.
Envision it: designer Italian boot meets Duck Boot. That's exactly what Ross & Snow's Phillipe boot is. It's entirely waterproof, has a rubber mudguard and a shearling liner.
Although UGG has become synonymous with its slouchy suede slippers, the brand makes plenty of other boots — like the Emmett Snow Boot. It'll surely keep you dry, with solid traction to boot.
Looking for something low-key for a place where the snow barely sticks? Go with Camper's Walden Boot, a waterproof Gore-Tex chukka with a removable insole.
Kodiak's Thane Boots like a combat-ready, but they're best used in snowy settings. An upper made from leather and canvas keeps water out while keeping your feet warm.
Kamik's Nationplus Boot is an affordable boot you can (and should) beat to death. Wade into a foot of snow wearing them; skip through slush puddles. Nothing will be problem for them. They're tall, waterproof and mostly rubber up until the ankle.
Blundstone's long lineage of bush boots goes...arctic? The Thermal 10800s offer warmth and protection from wet conditions, courtesy of a fully waterproof liner and tightly woven insulation.
While Duck Boots might be considered a style best saved for muddy hunting trips, they're a hell of an option for snowy conditions, too, especially when you get a shearling-lined pair like these.
Sometimes it's nice to slip into a pair of boots so big you'll be 100-percent confident you'll come out of them both warm and dry. Lands' End's Expedition Boots — despite being suede — promise this. The entire bottom is rubber, the suede upper is durable and there's a removable felt liner.
Part space suit accessory, part safety blanket, Hunter's Snow Boot is short but doesn't skimp on protection from the elements. Its fleece-lined, waterproof and it comes with a heel spur for easy removal.