None of us want winter to stop us from hiking, right?
Well, a good pair of winter boots mean that it doesn’t have to!
This article will list the top 17 best winter hiking boots 2020 and list a few of the things that you should be looking out for when choosing the pair for you.
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- TOP 17 Best Winter Hiking Boots Reviewed 2020
- La Sportiva Men’s Nepal EVO GTX Boots
- Scarpa Men’s Rebel Pro GTX Mountaineering Boots
- Keen Men’s Summit County Waterproof Winter Boots
- Salomon Men’s Toundra Pro Snow Boot
- La Sportiva Men’s Karakorum Hiking Shoe
- North Face Men’s Chilkat III Insulated Boot
- Merrell Men’s Moab Polar Waterproof Winter Boots
- Salomon Men’s X Ultra Winter CS 2 Hiking Boot
- Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus III Mid Calf Boots
- Scarpa Women’s Mont Blanc Pro GTX Boots
- Oboz Bridger 7” Insulated B-DRY Women’s Hiking Boot
- Keen Women’s Durand Polar Winter Boot
- Merrell Thermo Freeze Mid Waterproof Women’s Boots
- Scarpa Women’s Zodiak Plus GTX Backpacking Boots
- Keen Women’s Revel III Cold Weather Hiking Boots
- Merrell Women’s Snowbound Mid Winter Boots
- Vasque Women’s Pow III UltraDry Snow Sneaker
- What is a Winter Hiking Boot?
- How to Choose the Best Winter Hiking Boots
TOP 17 Best Winter Hiking Boots Reviewed 2020
La Sportiva Men’s Nepal EVO GTX Boots
Review: When you say ‘winter hiking boot’ most of the time it means mountaineering boot. And when it comes to mountaineering boots,
La Sportiva is the best. These boots are heavier and stiffer than regular hiking boots – but that’s what you need for mountaineering.
- Compatible with mountaineering crampons.
- 100% waterproof leather and Gore-Tex Duratherm upper.
- Vibram sole and rand.
- Impact break system for steep descents.
- They cost a lot of money! But if you’re going mountaineering, you need the best.
- La Sportiva tends to run a little narrow.
Scarpa Men’s Rebel Pro GTX Mountaineering Boots
Review: Scarpa is right up there with La Sportiva making the best technical mountaineering boots on the market. These boots are lightweight for a mountaineering boot, weather-proof, insulated, and pretty much bomb-proof in terms of durability.
They’re not quite as warm as the Nepal EVOs but that could be useful if you’re dealing with alpine terrain without the sub-freezing temperatures.
- Automatic crampon compatible.
- Very lightweight for such a technical boot.
- Manages to be warm without being bulky.
- Extremely durable and capable of coping with the most rugged conditions.
- A little less insulated than the EVOs above – but this could be a pro if your feet run hot.
Keen Men’s Summit County Waterproof Winter Boots
Review: This winter boot is rated to -40F with insulation particularly focussed around the toes to keep the warmth where you need it most.
They are ideal for people with wide feet and are some of the most comfortable winter hiking boots on the market.
- Well insulated and waterproof.
- Large protective toe cap.
- The rugged rubber outsole is designed to cope well with compacted snow.
- Great for snowshoes and hiking crampons.
- Not ideal for narrow feet.
Salomon Men’s Toundra Pro Snow Boot
Review: This is another -40 F, being Solomon’s warmest boot, and the one you’ll want to be wearing for the coldest conditions. With aerogel insulation developed by Nasa for spaceflight, their warmth is second to none, and they are completely waterproof.
Their aggressive Contragrip sole is well matched with ice and snow, and they have reasonable arch support too.
- Extremely well insulated.
- Completely waterproof.
- Durable rubber sole with great traction.
- Snowshoe and crampon compatible.
- It’s very hard to find a con for these boots.
La Sportiva Men’s Karakorum Hiking Shoe
Review: Another winner from La Sportiva, these boots aren’t quite mountaineering boots, but would cope with the entry level mountaineering.
They offer much more technical control than your average hiking boot, being very stable and with top of the line traction.
- Semi-automatic crampon compatible.
- SBR Air cushion sole contributes to insulation.
- Water repellent, breathable and durable leather upper with Dry-Best waterproof lining.
- Anti-torsion plate provides a supportive midsole.
- Only moderate insulation.
North Face Men’s Chilkat III Insulated Boot
Review: At first glance, these boots look to be made for casual winter hiking, but the heavy-duty rand that wraps around the whole boot begs to differ.
It has a snowshoe and crampon compatible heel cup with full-grain leather, completely waterproof upper.
- 200g Heatseeker insulation.
- Winter Grip rubber sole with IcePick lugs that are temperature sensitive and adjust to the conditions.
- Pretty lightweight for winter boots.
- A durable rand that wraps around the whole boot.
- The thick insulation may mean you need to size up to allow room for it and your socks.
Merrell Men’s Moab Polar Waterproof Winter Boots
Review: These boots are ideal for hiking in the snow. They are mid-rise boots making them a versatile winter option.
They have a heavy duty rand that wraps around the whole boot for extra waterproofing, protection, and warmth, and their IceGrip outsole is designed to cope with challenging winter terrain.
- 400g insulation.
- Relatively affordable.
- Molded EVA footbed and midsole offers cushioning and support.
- Merrell’s M-Select Dry treatment waterproofs the leather and synthetic upper.
- Not suitable for mountaineering.
Salomon Men’s X Ultra Winter CS 2 Hiking Boot
Review: If you love Salomon boots but don’t want to go quite as gnarly as the Toundras above, these boots are for you.
They provide all the increased weather-proofing and traction that you need for some solid winter hiking without going overboard.
- Advances chassis provides stability.
- Contragrip outsole is capable of handling snow and a little ice.
- Reasonably affordable.
- 200g Thinsulate insulation and full-grain leather upper provide plenty of weather-proofing.
- Not suitable for technical mountaineering.
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus III Mid Calf Boots
Review: For a more affordable option, Columbia offers a solid entry-mid level boot that is comfortable and insulated.
The 200g insulation give this boot a -25 F rating, which combined with the advanced traction outsole make, makes these boots a great option for winter hiking.
- 200g insulation coupled with reflective technology for extra warmth.
- High-rise style provides ankle support.
- Omni-grip rubber sole provides excellent traction.
- Durable rand wraps around the whole foot with a crampon compatible heel cup.
- Sizing runs small so size up or removable the thick insole for extra space.
Scarpa Women’s Mont Blanc Pro GTX Boots
Review: When the situation calls for an ice axe and mountaineering crampons, these are the boots you need to complete the package.
Scarpa makes the best mountaineering boots along with La Sportiva. They are top of the line quality with unbeatable waterproofing, support, and durability.
- Compatible with automatic and semi-automatic crampons.
- Integrated gaiter keeps snow and ice out of your boot.
- The nylon shank and PU midsole for stability.
- Gore-Tex lining for waterproofing and breathability.
- The price matches the quality – they cost a lot.
- Sizing runs small and narrow so size up.
Oboz Bridger 7” Insulated B-DRY Women’s Hiking Boot
Review: These are some of the supportive and comfortable winter boots for women on the market. They are ideal for people who need arch support but also want all the durability and insulation of a top quality hiking boot.
They are lined with Oboz’s B-DRY waterproof membrane and plenty of insulation for handling cold temperatures.
- Reflective wool covered insole provides insulation.
- The nylon shank and PU midsole provide support.
- Durable toe and heel caps are snowshoe compatible.
- Thinsulate 400g insulation.
- Sizing runs small.
Keen Women’s Durand Polar Winter Boot
Review: The Keen Durand Polar boots are for Keen lovers with narrower feet who don’t fit the Summit County Winter Boots. They are also a little more versatile, having more of a rocker design for easy walking, and a little less rugged exterior.
But, they are still very, very well insulated, waterproof, and compatible with snowshoes and hiking crampons.
- 400g Keen insulation.
- Keen.Dry waterproof membrane.
- Rubber outsole with protective toe cap and heel cushion for shock absorbance.
- TPU midsole and shank provides support, and the factory insole can be removed to replace with your own.
- Not suitable for mountaineering.
Merrell Thermo Freeze Mid Waterproof Women’s Boots
Review: This is basically an insulated version of Merrell’s 3 season waterproof boots.
You won’t be doing any mountaineering and if you’re hiking in any amount of snow you’d do well to pair these with some gaiters, but they are a solid choice for snow and ice walking in the winter.
- 400g Insulation.
- Molded nylon arch shank and EVA midsoles provide plenty of support.
- Lighter weight than high-rise boots.
- PU coated leather and mesh upper is waterproof.
- Minimal toe cap won’t provide much protection.
- Not compatible with snowshoes or crampons.
Scarpa Women’s Zodiak Plus GTX Backpacking Boots
Review: This top-level boot from Scarpa is designed to feel like a trail boot but behave like a mountain boot. It provides superior control and stability in technical terrain while remaining lightweight and versatile.
It is not strictly a winter boot, with minimal extra insulation provided, but it’s superior traction, waterproofing and versatility make it worth considering if you’re not going to be encountering sub-freezing temperatures.
- Durable rubber rand over the toe and heel sections.
- Reliable Gore-Tex waterproofing.
- Triple density EVA midsole with extra stability from PU.
- Well suited for wide feet but is designed to have a snug sock-like fit.
- Make sure you try them on before you buy them to make sure the shape suits your foot type.
- Minimal insulation.
Keen Women’s Revel III Cold Weather Hiking Boots
Review: These boots offer a mid-rise option to the Keen boots above, but maintain a good level of insulation, solid waterproofing and reliable traction making them a great winter hiking boot.
They have a Nubuck leather upper and durable rubber outsole with a well-sized protective toe cap.
- Highly waterproof with Keen.Dry waterproof and breathable membrane.
- 200g Keen, warm insulation.
- Trapolator insulation technology in the sole.
- Not crampon compatible and mid-rise height will benefit from gaiters if you’re walking through snow.
Merrell Women’s Snowbound Mid Winter Boots
Review: If you’re after serious waterproofing and cozy insulation, these boots have got it all.
Rated to -40 F, they are very warm, with sticky rubber outsoles and a thick rubber rand that completely envelopes the bottom third of the boot for fail-safe waterproofing.
- Merrell’s Opti-Warma provides plenty of insulation.
- An air cushion in the heel and EVA foam footbed provides plenty of cushioning.
- Ideal for snowshoeing.
- Waterproof leather and synthetic uppers with thick rubber rand.
- Tread may not be enough for really icy conditions.
Vasque Women’s Pow III UltraDry Snow Sneaker
Review: If it’s mostly walking in snow that you’re going to be doing, then these boots are up to the job.
They provide all the insulation you need for walking in cold temperatures with waterproof leather and synthetic uppers and Vasque’s Nordic Rover outsole for traction.
- 400g Thinsulate insulation.
- The rubber heel cup is compatible with snowshoes.
- High-rise style provides extra ankle support and warmth.
- Very waterproof.
- Runs small and narrow.
What is a Winter Hiking Boot?
This is actually quite an important point… because there is more than one category of winter hiking boots.
Mountaineering boots are specifically designed for technically difficult and icy alpine conditions. They have superior traction and are compatible with crampons. They are usually quite stiff and heavy.
Winter hiking boots are basically regular hiking boots with a little more insulation, waterproofing, and traction.
Snow boots are more designed for walking through cold and snowy conditions and focus more on insulation and waterproofing and less on support and stability. They are usually what you’ll go for if you’re going to doing some snowshoeing.
The list above provides a good mix of all three kinds of winter boots.
If you’re just looking for a boot that will handle a bit of rain and maybe some snow but you’re not going to be doing any mountaineering with an ice axe and crampons, most 3 season waterproof boots will be fine with a good quality pair of wool socks.
If this is the case, check out my article on the best boots for wide, flat or narrow feet to find a boot for your foot type.
How to Choose the Best Winter Hiking Boots
This is the main thing that sets most winter boots apart from regular 3 season boots. When hiking in really cold conditions, your blood circulation may not be enough to keep you warm, especially if you factor in the wind chill.
Insulation is measured in grams and ranges between 200 and 400 for winter hiking boots. It pays to know how cold your feet tend to get (are you a typically hot or cold person?) and how cold the conditions you’re hiking in will be to work out how well insulated you’ll need your boots to be.
Most 3 season boots are waterproof, but winter boots will have that extra x-factor as staying dry is crucial to staying warm and safe. Look for thick rubber rands around the boot that will help with slushy conditions.
Winter often means ice or at least compacted snow, so extra traction is also a must. The more traction the better when it comes to ice. Look for a rugged rubber sole and crampon compatibility if you’re going to be going anywhere remotely alpine.
Winter boots typically tend to be stiffer, heavier and provide more stability and support than regular boots. Supportive shanks, EVA midsoles and high-rise ankle support will not go amiss.
This depends on the conditions you’ll be hiking in and your experience level. Don’t try and take on alpine hikes that require crampons unless you’re experienced or traveling with a guide.
There are different types of crampons. The kinds of crampons you’ll be using will determine what kind of boots you need.
Ice or mountaineering crampons will demand mountaineering boots like the La Sportiva and Scarpa boots on this list. Walking crampons are flexible and will fit most walking boots, but may result in some wear and tear if your boots aren’t durable enough.
Some More Winter Specifics…
There are a few little specific things to look out for that aren’t necessarily deal breakers but can make a big difference to your comfort and convenience.
This means that the tongue is connected to the side of your boots so there’s no opening at the edges of the tongue for debris or snow to get in.
This is a little metal ring at the front of your boot where the laces start that allows you to hook your gaiters on. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have one though as you can always just hook the edge of the gaiters onto your laces.
Reinforced Toe Cap
If you’re going to be doing any amount of hiking over rocky landscapes, a toe cap can help protect your toes and the boot, adding valuable durability.
The technology in women’s boots is advancing, making the difference between really good women’s boots and a small male boot quite pronounced. It’s worth looking for women’s specific boots as they are often lighter weight, with more cushioning and a slightly different support system.
If you think you might be overnighting it, check out my article on the best cold weather tents. Oh and maybe some hand warmers wouldn’t go amiss – you never know when you might appreciate some instant warmth for your fingers!
Can You Wear Hiking Boots in Winter?
Yes! Definitely! But it does depend on what kind of winter conditions you’ll be facing. If you’ll be going into an alpine environment where there could be ice then you’ll definitely need mountaineering boots.
If you’re going to be doing regular hiking but in the winter, then 3 season, waterproof hiking boots are definitely adequate.
How to Size inter Hiking Boots?
Sizing winter hiking boots is the same as regular boots, and just like regular boots, sizing can vary between models and brands.
The safest way to ensure a snug and secure fit is to try the boot on with socks the same thickness as the ones you’ll be wearing when you hike. If you wear a custom insole you should also try taking the factory insole out and seeing if yours will fit.
How Much Insulation is Needed for Winter Hiking Boots?
This depends on the kinds of conditions you’ll be facing and how cold your feet tend to get when you’re hiking.
Some people just feel the cold more than others. If you’re going to be facing temperatures significantly lower than freezing, you’ll want to look for boots with a minimum of 400g insulation.
If you’re just looking at walking in snow but the temperatures wouldn’t be too severe, 200g insulation would probably be fine.
What is the Warmest Women’s Winter Hiking Boot?
But there are many others to choose from depending on your needs.
What Should I Look for When Buying Winter Boots?
The most important factors are waterproofing, insulation, and traction. But you also need to make sure that the boot actually fits your foot shape!
Should I Buy Winter Boots One Size Bigger?
It’s usually good practice to buy hiking boots half a size bigger than your everyday shoes to allow for your feet to swell once they get warm and the blood is pumping from all of your walkings.
It also allows your toes a bit of extra room to make sure they don’t crash into the ends of your boots when you walk downhill.
Sizing up one whole size might be a bit much though. Wearing really thick socks won’t necessarily take up the slack, and if your foot moves inside your boot, you’re more likely to end up with blisters.
That concludes this article on the best winter hiking boots 2020!
You should be well prepared to choose your best cold weather hiking boots now and hopefully excited for your next snowy adventure.
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