6 Best Winter Boots in 2020

To determine the best winter boots, we looked at the following criteria: materials, waterproofing, warmth, sole traction, and style. While we prioritized natural materials because of their inherent waterproof capabilities, we also considered synthetic materials. Sole traction is also a critical factor since it can be the difference between slipping or falling versus stability. And we also focused on warmth since we know that winters can be harsh for many people.

After taking all of the above into consideration, we nominated the Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden II Insulated Winter Boot as our Top Pick. We felt that they were the best winter hiking boots for women because of their improved rubber sole, the tall nine-inch shaft, and the 200-gram insulation that promises to keep you warm at temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep reading to learn about the rest of our top picks.

Top 6 Best Winter Boots in 2020

 #1  Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden II Insulated Winter Boot

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: These Columbia boots are the best winter hiking boots for women because they feature an Omni-Grip rubber sole for improved traction and 200 grams of insulation.

Pros
  • Omni-Grip traction rubber sole
  • 200g insulation for warmth
  • 9” tall shaft
Cons
  • Lacks waterproof seams

We selected the Columbia Ice Maiden II as our best winter hiking boots for women because we like that they have an Omni-Grip rubber sole. This means that you have more stability in slippery conditions. You’ll like that this boot is made from all-natural materials with a 100 percent leather and textile upper and a full rubber sole. This is also a taller boot with a shaft that measures nine inches for added warmth in your lower legs.

These Columbia boots contain 200 grams of insulation which is rated for temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit. However, while the upper is waterproof, a common issue we noted was that the seams are not waterproof. Still, you’ll like the stylish look of this shoe that includes an adorable faux fur fringe at the opening and a lace-up design. Choose from seven color options. While you’re thinking about your next hike, take a look at some of the best men’s hiking socks.

 #2  Kamik Men’s Nationplus Winter Boot

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: A tall winter boot with waterproof seams and the ability to withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees makes this choice the best men’s winter hiking boots.

Pros
  • Waterproof sealed seam
  • Rated for -40 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Moisture-wicking and antimicrobial
Cons
  • Natural and synthetic composition

We didn’t forget about the men. Our Honorable Mention goes to the Kamik Men’s Nationplus Winter Boot. We think it’s the best men’s hiking winter boot because it features a sturdy construction composed of 100 percent leather and a full rubber sole. But more importantly, it’s rated for temperatures as far as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. This shoe also has a slight one-inch platform sole.

But we like that this boot has a 10-inch shaft with sealed waterproof seams. You’ll also appreciate the 200 grams of proprietary Thinsulate insulation that keeps you warm, and the rustproof speed lacing system for a sturdy fit. We were most impressed by the moisture-wicking lining and the antimicrobial footbed that helps to repel odor and keep you dry. Choose from seven color options. If you’re worried about hypothermia while you’re on your hike, take a look at the best men’s wool socks too.

 #3  The North Face Women’s Shellista II Tall Winter Boot

Award: BEST WATERPROOF

WHY WE LIKE IT: A sturdy pair of boots that are as stylish as they are functional, with a waterproof design and lightweight form factor, make these the best winter boots for college students.

Pros
  • Lightweight 1lb 6oz design per
  • Stylish, fashion forward design
  • 200g PrimaLoft Silver insulation
Cons
  • Not ideal for sustained exposure outside

When it comes to cold weather, The North Face is one of those brands that’s synonymous with sturdy gear that can take whatever Mother Nature throws your way. This set of Women’s Shellista II winter boots is our top pick for waterproof functionality and our choice for the best winter boots for college students. We like that this pair of boots features a full 360-degree waterproof design that includes the exterior, sealed seams, and a waterproof rubber sole.

You’ll like that each boot only weighs one pound and six ounces, for a lightweight fit that you can wear all day. If you prefer natural materials, you’ll also like that the upper is made from waterproof leather with wool and suede accents. But you’ll also get 200 grams of PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco to keep your feet warm. There’s also a cushioned footbed for added comfort. And the rubber sole features a TNF Winter Grip and temperature-sensitive IcePick lugs for improved traction. For another cold-weather option, you might want some of the best ski boots.

 #4  Dream Pairs Women’s Mid Calf Winter Boots

Award: BEST SYNTHETIC DESIGN

WHY WE LIKE IT: A great sturdy synthetic winter boot alternative for people who prefer ethically sourced components, with fantastic insulation and a dual closure design.

Pros
  • Great7.5in height for added warmth
  • 200g Thermolite insulation
  • Dual closure design with ankle strap
Cons
  • Only available in whole sizes

For some people, natural materials such as leather or suede are an automatic disqualifier. We included this Dream pairs Women’s Mid Calf Winter Boots because they’re the only fully synthetic option in our guide. You’ll appreciate that these are mid-calf boots with a shaft that measures seven and a half inches tall.

And although these are synthetic boots, you’ll like that they also contain 200 grams of Thermolite insulation that’s rated for as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. We like that this boot offers a dual closure design that features laces and a sturdy ankle strap to give you a better fit. However, these boots are only available in whole sizes. So, if you’re a half size, you’ll need to order the next larger size. If you’re worried about your comfort on your next hike, you’ll also want a pair of the best compression socks.

 #5  Mishansha Men’s Women’s Ankle Winter Boot

Award: BEST ON A BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: A great low-shaft unisex winter boot with a reinforced toe cap to keep your feet protected while you’re out enjoying the snow and cold.

Pros
  • Ideal for cold weather outdoor activities
  • Toe cap for increased protection
  • All-natural materials design
Cons
  • Water-resistant, not waterproof

While most winter boots focus on keeping your feet warm and dry, this set of Mishansha winter boots goes the extra mile by also including a reinforced toe cap. This means that these are the best boots for outdoor winter activities. That toe cap features anti-collision reinforcement to keep you protected. But these are also the only low-shaft ankle winter boots in our guide.

But we also like that this is another winter boot that is made with all-natural materials. The upper features a water-resistant suede leather while the sole is made from rubber. You’ll appreciate the fully faux fur lined interior and removable fur insole for improved warmth. And the rubber sole is made with shock-absorbing EVA and anti-skid material with a grooved texture for better grip. Plus, these are unisex boots that are available in eight different colors. For your next hike, you might want to also grab some of the best tactical pants too.

 #6  Sorel Women’s Joan of Arctic Winter Boot

Award: BEST QUALITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best stylish winter boots in our guide with a fully waterproof design and a focus on warmth and cushioned comfort make these a smart buy.

Pros
  • Includes removable 6mm felt inner liner
  • Sturdy waterproof design
  • 2.5mm bonded felt frost plug in midsole
Cons
  • May be too wide for some wearers
  • On the expensive side, compared to some picks

There’s no reason you should be forced to sacrifice on style just because you want to keep your feet warm all winter. These Sorel Joan of Arctic winter boots are the perfect convergence of form and function which is why we think these are the best stylish winter boots. We like that these women’s boots feature a taller shaft with a faux fur cuff and lace-up opening. You’ll appreciate the all-natural materials that include a completely waterproof design made from a suede upper and rubber sole with a herringbone design for enhanced grip.

We also like that these boots are designed to keep you warm with a removable six millimeter felt washable inner boot and the additional two and a half millimeter bonded felt frost plug in the midsole for additional insulation. However, we did note that people with narrower feet may feel these boots are a little big. So, we’re also nominating these as the best winter boots for wide feet.

How We Decided

Winter boots are essential if you live in a part of the country that gets cold or experiences snow. To create our guide, we focused on the following core features — materials, waterproofing, warmth, sole traction, and style. You’ll note that we looked at boots for men and for women, as well as featuring some unisex options.

Except for our Best on a Budget pick, all of the boots in our guide are made from natural materials. We included the Best on a Budget recommendation because we know some people are against wearing natural materials like leather or suede. So, a synthetic alternative is important for them.

Waterproof functionality is also important. But be sure to check between water-resistant and waterproof. Waterproof means that ideally water will never seep into your boots. In contrast, water-resistant means that your boot can sustain a certain amount of exposure to moisture before they begin to penetrate the exterior. Again, only our Best on a Budget was rated as water-resistant whereas the rest of our picks are all designed to be truly waterproof.

Warmth is a subjective feature, but it’s still important. You’ll note that only our Best Quality pick failed to specify the gram-level of insulation. However, the remainder all contain 200 grams of insulation. But keep in mind that while 200 grams is usually considered ideal for someone coming in and out of cold weather, some people may find that level to be too high or insufficient.

All of the recommendations in our guide were designed with soles that offered either grooved or lug designs. Lug designs are best if you know that you’ll receive either a lot of wet snow or will frequently be walking on slippery surfaces. And finally, keep the style in mind. The majority of our picks are taller boots that give you further protection for your ankles or calves. However, if you prefer shorter winter boots, choose our Best on a Budget.

Best Winter Boots Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. Materials
    Keep in mind that winter boots are likely to come into contact with slush, snow, or rain. That means you want durable materials that won’t fall apart after a few wears. Look for boots with uppers made of sturdy materials such as nylon or leather.
  2. Waterproofing
    Again, no one wants to walk around with wet feet because you’ve been trudging through the snow and ice. A good pair of winter boots should feature a waterproof coating or design to keep your feet dry. This means these can also double as a snow boot. Keep in mind that you should focus on boots that are waterproof both in the upper and on the soles. But also think about boots that feature designs that incorporate a snow collar that helps to prevent snow from falling into your boot. This is especially important if you’re walking through high snow or happen to be outside when it’s snowing.
  3. Warmth
    Especially if you plan on spending a lot of time outside when it’s cold, you want boots that don’t just keep you dry but also help you stay warm. If you’re planning on spending extended time outside for outdoor activities, look for boots that offer at least 200-gram insulation. This level of insulation is ideal for a couple of hours outside. But if you’re going to be outside for longer than that, look for higher insulation levels. However, keep in mind that “warmest” is subjective and can be different for everyone depending on their metabolism and tolerance for cold temperatures.
  4. Sole Traction
    Winter and slippery surfaces are inevitable companions unless you live closer to the equator. You’ll want to look for a pair of boots with a good traction design. Ideally, look for boots where the sole has wider spaced lugs, and a wide stable surface to give you a better grip and minimize slipping. If you’re going to spend time in deep snow, also focus on the traction design. Avoid PVC or smooth tread patterns as these can be incredibly slippery on ice or wet snow.
  5. Style
    Of course, everyone’s personal preferences are different. Some people may prefer a boot with laces while others may want a slip-on style boot. Likewise, features such as color, patterns, or accessories such as metal hardware on the boots are all going to depend on your tastes.

Winter Boots FAQs

What are the warmest winter boots?

The warmest winter boots can truthfully vary depending on your metabolism, comfort level, and how long you plan on spending time outside. However, you should focus on boots that contain at least 200 grams of insulation as a baseline. Also look for options like removable liners that are made from felt or faux fur. Meanwhile, if you’re planning on spending a lot of time outside, look for higher insulation levels such as 400 or even 600 grams. But if you find that the boots by themselves aren’t keeping you warm, think about investing in a good quality pair of wool socks.

What are the best waterproof winter boots?

In our guide, we nominated the Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden II Insulated Winter Boot as our Top Pick because it featured a waterproof upper and lower. However, except for our Best on a Budget recommendation, all of the boots in our guide are rated for waterproof protection. These boots can also be a go to when you are looking to shovel snow.

What boots are best for walking on the ice?

The best boots for walking on ice will feature lug designs on the soles. This is why we included our pick from The North Face, which was our Best Women’s Boot recommendation. It was the only boot in our guide that focused on a lug-based sole design.

What are the best boots for hiking?

Our Best on a Budget pick from Mishansha is a great option for hiking since it’s the only boot in our guide with a reinforced toe. This means that you’re less likely to accidentally injure yourself or stub your toe while out hiking or walking through uneven terrain in the cold or snow.

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Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. She is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, consumer goods, and tech. She also writes for Inverse, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. When Dorian's not writing she's collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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