Come winter snowfall, durable boots are a life-or-death decision. Whether you’re surrounded by pristine, feet-deep drifts in small-town Wisconsin or wading through rivers of melting gray slush here in New York, snowy footpaths can have a serious effect on your well-being, and you don’t want to get caught sodden-footed and without the proverbial “good boot.”
In 2020, there’s a multitude of options out there from a plethora of brands that claim to offer the most rugged exteriors, best insulation, and the grippiest treads, so we’ve rounded up some of the most outdoor-sy brands in the mix and pinpointed the best snow-proof pick from each of them. And whether it’s a heritage leather boot that still boats the same design that it did at the turn of the (last) century or a high-tech futuristic confection, there’s definitely a shoe here for you — and for your next brush with inclement weather.
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A longtime purveyor of head-to-toe hiking gear, this Portland, OR-based brand is responsible for a slew of outdoorsy goods for getting around in inclement weather. Their Ice Maiden boots — in addition to having a primordial, GoT-esque ring to them — have an eye-popping 586 reviews, almost all of them 100% glowing. “These boots have been Minnesota-winter tested,” said one reviewer. “I love these boots for not only short trips to the market and commute but also winter trail hikes.” We don’t think we could hype these boots anymore, but there’s a final bonus: they’re currently 25% off!
Columbia Ice Maiden™ II Boot, $, available at Columbia
This Australian heritage brand has been turning out super-rugged clodhoppers since 1870, and their signature Chelsea rugged silhouette and double pull-tab for easy on-off is now recognizable the world over. Their best-selling Thermal boot is a sheepskin-lined, waterproof leather option for trekking-around in the snow.
Blundstone Antique Brown Thermal Boots, $, available at Zappos
This top-notch-quality Danish brand has been creating scientifically comfortable and responsibly made footwear since 1963, and our beauty editor swears by the brands’ streamlined Ukiuk boots after a weekend spent skiing in Jackson Hole. The subtle exterior belies a seriously heavy-duty construction, with waterproof Gore-Tex exterior and PrimaLoft insulated for keeping feet super-toasty.
Ecco UKIUK 2.0, $, available at Ecco
A (relative) newcomer on the rugged-footwear scene; Portland, OR-based Keen has been making complex, hyper-supportive footwear for hiking, mountaineering, and simply hoofing around in yucky weather since 2003. Their Hoodoo boot is a multi-layered option insulated with their exclusive, breathable-yet-waterproof KEEN.DRY material and built with super-grippy soles. “My first impression when pulling these out of the box is how lightweight they are for a winter boot,” explained one of 68 satisfied reviewers. “We’ve gotten several feet of snow in Oregon lately, and these have kept my feet warm and dry walking to work through fresh snow and warmed up my cold toes after skiing all day.”
KEEN Hoodoo III Lace-Up Boot, $, available at Keen
We have British heritage brand Hunter to thank for the knee-high “wellie” and all of its associated rainbow hues. Fans of this shape and knee-skimming height will appreciate a snow-proof version of the classic silhouette, insulated with enough quilted layers — and super-grippy sole — to keep out drips and flakes.
Hunter Original Waterproof Insulated Snow Boot, $, available at Nordstrom
1912 was the year the Maine-based outdoor retailer started making its iconic winter duck boot, and not too much has changed about the design since then. Leon Leonwood (not kidding) Bean had the idea to combine a traditional leather upper with a waterproof rubber sole to keep feet warm and dry — an earth-shattering notion at the time — and after working out some design kinks, the boots were deemed hardy enough to accompany a team of explorers to the Artic in 1921. These days, it’s just about choosing which iteration is right for you — we’re partial to the monochrome, shearling-lined 10” height our selves. Don’t take our word for it, though — consult one of the 605 reviews, which declare these boots “the best in the world”, “beautiful and comfortable”, and “worth the wait”. Don’t knock the price too hard, either — they’re still manufactured in Maine.
L.L. Bean 10” Shearling-Lined Bean Boots, $, available at L.L. Bean
Nothing denotes the most luxurious après-ski experience like the high-falutin’ French outerwear brand Moncler, known for both high-performance gear and footwear and high-style runway shows. (So what if we don’t have a second home in Gstaad — a girl can dream!) Their Italian-made, slope-friendly quilted snow boots would fit right in at the Alpina Hotel, but don’t be shy about wearing them to the bodega on the next snow day, either.
Moncler Cora suede-trimmed quilted shell ankle boots, $, available at Net-A-Porter
This revered hiking-footwear brand was founded in Vermont by a former cowboy-boot designer, and now its high-performance kicks are some of the most favored by outdoor enthusiasts. We love the sci-fi colorways and the laundry list of bells and whistles boasted by this snowproof ankle-height style. A fleece lining, waterproof leather exterior, added toe insulation, heat-reflecting insole, and comfortable EVA midsole are just a handful of the many reasons to pull the trigger on this bad boy — and guess what else? Yup, it’s on sale.
Merrell Thermo Snowdrift Mid Shell Waterproof, $, available at Merrell
Since its founding in 1996, this San Francisco-based company has created gear rugged enough for scaling the Himalayas — and stylish enough for your average urbanite. If you’re staring down multiple inches of snowfall and need a lot of coverage to stay dry, TNF’s “tall” Shellista IV style in a nearly-knee height will do the trick. With 56 near-perfect reviews adding up to 4.7 stars and a marked-down retail price, these salt- and waterproof kicks are a perfectly protective option. (They’re also made with recycled, insulating PrimaLoft.)
The North Face Shellista IV (Tall), $, available at The North Face
Don’t assume this preppy heritage brand is all Dad-favored boat shoes — they’re also responsible for some really stylish winter footwear. While their Duck Boot is an iconic option for inclement weather, we’ve got our eyes on the newly-released Maritime boot — a waterproof, fur-lined option with some luxe-looking bells and whistles. “These boots are feminine and adorable,” commented a reviewer. “They are comfortable and warm — perfect for cold days in Ohio.”
Sperry Maritime Repel Suede Snow Boot, $, available at Sperry
We didn’t intentionally save the best for (almost) last — this list is in alphabetical order, after all. But just because Sorel is bringing up the rear doesn’t mean we like it any less. In fact, there may not be another brand that embodies snow-proof footwear quite as fully as the Canadian brand, and it’s hard for us to choose from among their many beloved, highly-insulated styles. However, 676 reviews don’t lie — it’s their top-rated Caribou boot that gets our vote this for this winter season. With a waterproof nubuck leather exterior, removable felt lining, and a grippy sole, these are a solid choice for inclement weather.
SOREL Caribou Boot, $, available at SOREL
What began as a simple shearling boot worn by Australian surfers after days of hanging ten has evolved into a serious boot empire that — despite somewhat a somewhat polarizing moment in the spotlight circa 1999 — has maintained a grip on its relevance thanks to collaborations with cutting-edge brands like Eckhaus Latta and Heron Preston and a legitimately functional and effective product line. And that’s what brings us to the moment in time in which we recommend the brand’s much-hyped Adirondack boot as a solid winter-weather choice. Life’s funny, innit?
Ugg Adirondack III Waterproof Boot, $, available at Nordstrom
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