The best men’s winter boots
It's time to start gearing up for winter, and a good pair of boots is essential to keeping you warm and safe throughout the season. However, choosing the right winter boots can be a challenge. There are style considerations, in addition to fit, traction, comfort, and insulation needs. Where do you start?
You can start by reading this short shopping guide on all you need to know about selecting quality winter boots. We've also included our top recommendations, like Muck's Arctic Sport Winter Boot -- a warm and waterproof slip-on model.
Types of men's winter boots
Not all winter boots will suit your purposes, and there are various types available. Consider what you need them for -- whether it's a quick walk to the corner store or a trek through snowdrifts -- when choosing a style that works for you.
Winter dress boots typically have a leather exterior that looks sleek enough to be worn with a suit or for an evening out. They have a lined interior that keep your feet warm and rubber soles for traction on icy conditions. They come to either the ankle or mid-calf.
Pac boots have laces and a waterproof outer shell. They are flexible, due to a soft inner liner, and also provide a high degree of insulation. They are ideal for extreme weather conditions and good for outdoor activities like shoveling snow, ice fishing, and snowmobiling -- but not hiking.
Winter hiking boots are designed specifically for hiking in winter conditions, when keeping your feet dry and warm is of critical importance. They provide secure lacing and are designed not to shift. Made from waterproof materials, they have higher cuffs and better traction than regular hiking boots to suit snowy conditions.
Slip-on boots are the only boot type that don't have laces. They are designed to be pulled on, with tabs or handles at the top of the boot to help. Some are insulated while others are not, so be sure to check. Slip-ons are ideal for short outdoor activities, like going to and from the car or to the store.
Considerations when choosing men's winter boots
To keep out snow, select a boot height that covers your ankle. If you're going to be trudging through deep snow, select a taller boot that reaches to mid- or full calf.
Most men's winter boots have a rubber sole and feature nylon or leather uppers, all waterproof materials. Rubber and neoprene (a type of rubber) are also used, especially for slip-on boots. They're also both waterproof materials.
To keep your feet warm, your winter boots must have insulation in the form of a liner. Liners are made from fleece, fur, sheepskin, or synthetic materials. Some boots (hiking boots in particular) feature removable liners, so that when the weather warms up again, you can still use your boots.
Having good traction will keep you safe in wet and slippery conditions. Select a boot with lugs, which are channels and bumps that help the rubber sole grip the ground more securely. You can also choose a boot with heel brakes, which extend from the outsole to help you slow down in case you slip.
Choosing what closures you want in a winter boot is both a style preference and a practical consideration. Laces are the most secure closures, though you should be sure that a laced boot also has a gusset tongue to keep out moisture and cold. Drawstring closures allow you to easily tighten the boot for a good fit without the hassle of laces. Slip-ons usually have no closure, though some feature a zipper either on the side or front.
If you have feet that are prone to excessive sweating, select a boot with a lower portion that features nylon mesh or specialized fabrics, like Gore-Tex, that have micro-sized pores that allow perspiration to escape but prevent water from seeping in.
For basic insulated winter boots, expect to pay between $20 and $60 and between $60 and $120 for fully waterproof ones. High-end boots cost between $120 and $275.
Q. Are leather winter dress boots really waterproof?
A. Leather is waterproof up to a certain point. Over time leather absorbs water, causing it to crack. We recommend treating your leather winter boots with a waterproofing spray; you'll know the treatment is working if the water beads on your shoe instead of soaking in.
Q. Why aren't pac boots recommended for walking long distances in the snow?
A. While pac boots are designed to keep your feet warm in extremely cold weather, they are too bulky to comfortably hike or walk in for long. They are better suited for more sedentary winter activities, such as hunting or fishing.
Men's winter boots we recommend
Best of the best: Muck's Arctic Sport Winter Boot
Our take: A durable high-quality boot that stands up to the cold.
What we like: Slip-on style is easy to pull on and off. Can keep feet warm in single digit and even negative temperatures. Neoprene material is waterproof and tough.
What we dislike: Sizing can be inconsistent.
Best bang for your buck: NORTIV 8's Insulated Waterproof Rubber Snow Boots
Our take: A reasonably priced, insulated winter boot that gets the job done.
What we like: Warm and comfortable to wear. Waterproof. High cuff keeps out snow. Priced under $50.
What we dislike: Sizing runs large. Require a breaking in period.
Choice 3: SOREL's Men's Caribou Winter Snow Boot
Our take: A popular sturdy winter boot from a brand synonymous with snow boots.
What we like: A classic, stylish pac boot with a variety of colors to choose from. Outstanding traction. Inner liner is removable and washable. Leather is waterproof.
What we dislike: Leather may crack over time. Fit runs wide.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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