9 best snow boots to help you beat any winter storm
From comfy après-ski options to technical footwear for longer hikes, here are the best mountain-ready boots for winter.
You might think you can get away with wearing your regular shoes in snowy climes, but one quick slip on the ice will have you thinking otherwise. Plus, even the most incredible mountain view can’t detract from the misery of having freezing-cold, wet feet. What do you need to think about when buying a snow boot? Warmth and waterproofing are of course key, and good grip on the sole is paramount. After that, it depends on what you’ll be using your snow boot for. A week’s ski holiday without much walking and you might want a comfy après ski boot that is really easy to take on and off.
But if you plan on winter hiking or just want a boot that is comfortable should you choose to, then you’ll want something more rugged and technical. Ditto if you live in a mountain town or are planning to do a ski season. Our pick of the best winter snow boots includes a mix of men’s and women’s models, though most brands offer an equivalent model for the other gender.
This winter version of Keen’s bestselling Terradora hiking boot is a really comfy wear from the beginning. The lining is warm and soft, and it has a super-lightweight feel with good bounce. It felt like a boot you would enjoy walking a long way through snowy landscapes in; it’s compatible with snow shoes for walking in deeper snow. The grip was seriously impressive on slippery surfaces and the waterproofing proved reliable. This is a solid snow boot choice. Available in sizes 2.5-8.5, also sold in black.
Canadian brand Sorel’s snow boots are perennially popular and with good reason, as they look great and work exceptionally well in wintry conditions, including deep snow. You always see people wearing them in ski resorts and mountain towns. The Caribou has a warm woolly lining, and rugged rubber at the base and sole, which, as you’d expect, has excellent grip. The lace-system means it takes a while to get them on and off, but we’d say they are more than worth that minor faff. Available in sizes 8-12; also sold in dark brown. There is a women’s equivalent boot on sale.
These fashion-focused boots from The North Face are made from Thermoball, a lightweight synthetic alternative to down. It felt like we were wearing a snug pair of slipper boots. They can be rolled down half way, are super-easy to get on and off and even if they do get a little wet, they’ll still retain their warmth well. The grip was good though not the grippiest of the boots on test. Available in sizes 3-9.
The Bugaboot is definitely at the technical rather than après end of the snow boot spectrum. Recently, it was the boot of choice for a BBC crew filming in Antarctica, yet that functionality comes at a very decent price. It’s an incredibly well-insulated boot that will keep your feet warm down to minus 32 degrees, but it was also comfortable with some spring to it, while the tread offered top-level grip. A great choice for winter hiking or for those who spend lots of time being active in frozen settings. Available in sizes 3-9, also sold in grey, and there is an equivalent men’s boot.
Danner is a reliable American hiking boot brand, and the Raptor is one of their strongest winter lines. It’s well insulated with Primaloft, waterproof for both snow and thaw conditions and the grip works really well. It’s comfy enough for everyday use, and popular with locals who live in snowy places. The lacing does take a while though, so avoid the Raptor if you’re after an easy on/off ski holiday option. There is a grey version and a women’s equivalent line.
On a ski holiday, when you’re constantly coming in and out of the chalet and heading to the ski locker room and hire shop, there can be a lot of taking your boots on and off faff to contend with. So, a pair of après ski boots that are easy to slip on and off should not be sniffed at, such as the Arctic Apres AG Short from Muck Boot. It has excellent traction on snow and even wet ice, the most slippery surface of all, and it’s fleece-lined for extra comfort and warmth. Available in sizes 3-9. There is no exact men’s equivalent boot, but the Arctic Excursion Ankle Boots are fairly close in function.
If you like fast winter hiking with the odd break into running, but don’t want to go splat on the ice, this lightweight, mid-height snow boot is the one for you. Salomon has taken their trail running tech and put it in a winter boot, with the addition of a deep grippy tread and good insulation. It has extra protection at the toe and the heel, and this boot felt durable too. Available in sizes 6.5-9, and there is a women’s equivalent model.
The Aotea from Bavarian-based Hanwag has one of the most grippy and durable soles on the test, thanks to a research collaboration with Michelin tyres. It’s also an extremely sturdy, yet comfortable and flexible boot with decent room around the toes. It would be a good choice if you want to walk a lot in winter weather, and is best worn with a pair of thick socks. A men’s equivalent of this boot is the Anvik GTX.
The Ribelle is a snow boot for the serious mountaineer rather those who just need something sturdy and warm to walk home from the pub on a wintry night. Favored by mountain guides, or those who hike or do via ferrata in Alpine environments, it’s a reliably waterproof and lightweight boot, with great grip and a Sock-Fit to add extra control of movement. It’s compatible for use with crampons, and there is a women’s equivalent.
Verdict: best snow boots
When it comes to comfort, winter hiking function and value we were impressed with the Keen Terradora Wintershell and Columbia Bugaboot for women, while the Sorel Men’s Caribou and Salomon X Ultra were both top men’s snow boots.
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