10 Best Winter Hiking Boots of 2021-2022

10 Best Winter Hiking Boots of 2021-2022

Today’s winter boots are waterproof, insulated, and compatible with traction aids such as microspikes and snowshoes. While 200 gram Thinsulate insulated mids are fine for commuting and short local walks down to about 20 degrees, we recommend buying boots with higher calf coverage and 400 gram Thinsulate insulation for all-day hikes and mountain climbs in colder temperatures. We are highly experienced winter hikers with many mountain summits and understand what it takes to stay safe and comfortable on long and challenging winter hikes.

Here are our top 10 best winter hiking boot recommendations:

Make / ModelPriceInsulation
Merrell Overlook 2 Tall WP$220400g Thinsulate
The North Face Chilkat 400 II$150400g Primaloft Silver
Salomon Toundra Pro CS WP$200Aerogel
Vasque Snowburban II UltraDry$160400g Thinsulate
KEEN Revel IV Polar$200400g KEEN Warm
Oboz Bridger 10" Insulated$200400g Thinsulate
Columbia Powderhouse Titanium$170600g Thinsulate
La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTX Mountaineering Boots$510GORE-TEX Insulated
Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX Boot$525GORE-TEX Insulated
Lowa Alpine Expert GTX$450400g Primaloft
Note: The boots listed below are single layer boots designed for all-day winter hikes and snowshoeing trips in subzero weather. You can use them for overnight trips if you wear a Rab vapor barrier liner sock or a plastic bag (see our FAQ) to prevent the lining from getting wet from perspiration and freezing overnight. Alternatively, you can buy a double-layer boot that has a removable liner, like the Baffin Borealis (see our review) or a Scarpa Inverno Mountaineering Boot, and sleep with it in your sleeping bag to prevent it from freezing at night. 

1. Merrell Overlook 2 Tall WP Boots

Merrell Overlook Tall
The Merrell Overlook 2 Tall WP is a warm winter hiking boot rated to -40F with 400-gram insulation layered with fleece cuffs for comfort. They have waterproof wraparound rands that provide long-lasting moisture protection with full-grain leather uppers for comfort. EVA midsoles and molded nylon arch shanks deliver cushioning and stability. Snowshoe strap ridges, an arch, and a front gaiter ring help secure microspike and snowshoe bindings while providing gaiter compatibility. The sizing is unisex and no women’s specific model is available at this time. Note: the Merrell Overlook 2 Mid WP version of this boot only comes with 200-gram insulation.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | Amazon | ShoeMall (USA and in-stock) | Merrell (Canada)

2. The North Face Chilkat 400 II

The North face Chilkat 400
The Chilkat 400 II is the North Face’s cold weather winter boot, rated to -40F and insulated with 400 gram Primaloft Silver Eco insulation. I wore these for off-trail hiking last winter and they’re very warm for cold, extended duration, hikes. They have a waterproof full-grain leather upper with a heavy-duty wrap-around rand, protective toe cap, and snowshoe compatible heel cup. A compression-molded EVA midsole provides good support, while extra hell cushioning and forefoot pads provide enhanced comfort. The lacing system has durable rust-proof metal hardware and a gaiter D-ring is provided. They run a full-size small, so size up if you plan to wear a thick sock. A women’s model is available.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | The North Face | Amazon

3. Salomon Toundra Pro

Salomon Toundra Pro CS WP
Salomon’s Toundra Pro was the first winter hiking boot to incorporate ultralight Aerogel insulation developed by NASA for spaceflight. Rated to -40F, these popular winter hiking boots have a large comfortable toe box. a reinforced toe kick for added protection, and a heel cap that is compatible with microspike and snowshoe bindings. An arch in the midsole provides gaiter compatibility, while a fleece-lined tongue and upper boot provide a cushy, comfortable fit. However, some SectionHiker readers report that the toebox seam can separate. While we haven’t experienced this ourselves (through 2 pairs of these boots) it may be a quality issue in the current inventory that could affect you. We’re looking into it in greater depth because these have been really good winter hiking boots previously for many hikers.

The Salomon Toundras run true to size. A women’s Toundra Pro is also available.

Check for the latest price at:
Salomon | Amazon

4. Vasque Snowburban II UltraDry

Vasque Snowburban II Winter Boots

Vasque’s Snowburban II UltraDry boots are beefy winter hiking boots insulated with 400 gram Thinsulate synthetic insulation. They have leather uppers with a waterproof lining to keep your feet dry and a slight arch for gaiter compatibility. The EVA midsole has a thermoplastic urethane shank which is lightweight but helps cushion and protects your feet from sharp rocks while relieving calf stress on descents. A wool collar helps reduce odors and increases comfort for all-day use. Read our Snowburban II Review. The women’s version of this boot is called the Vasque Pow Pow III.

Check for the latest price at:
VasqueAmazon

5. KEEN Revel IV High Polar Winter Boots

KEEN’s Revel IV High Polar Boots are rated to -40F with 5 mm lugs for added traction in snow. These winter boots have KEEN’s large signature toe box and run a bit wide, so they’re good for people who have a hard time jamming their feet into narrow boots. A beefy toe kick, heel ridge, and excellent side protection make these boots ideal for challenging terrain. A thermal heat shield insole is included for added warmth. Wide sizes and a women’s model are both available.

Check for the latest price at:
KEEN | REI | Amazon

6. Oboz Bridger 10″ Insulated BDry Winter Boots

Oboz Bridger 10” Insulated BDry Winter Hiking Boots
Oboz Bridger 10″ BDry Winter Boots are lined with a waterproof membrane and insulated with 400 gram Thinsulate. The uppers are covered with synthetic leather for added protection, along with a beefy toe cap, and snowshoe compatible heel cup. An arched sole and front D ring provide gaiter compatibility, while aggressive lugs provide excellent traction on snow. The Bridgers have a PU midsole and nylon shank for added undercarriage protection and come with a wool-covered reflective insole for added warmth. A 9″ women’s model is also availableRead our Oboz Bridger 10″ Review.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | Amazon | Campsaver

7. Columbia Powderhouse Titanium Omni-Heat 3D Outdry Boot

Columbia Powderhouse Winter Boots
The Columbia Powderhouse is the best boot for winter hiking if you have really cold feet. The Powderhouse has 600-gram insulation and is rated down to -65F. A wraparound waterproof rand provides good lateral protection, while a robust toe cap and heel cup work well with microspikes and other traction aids. An arched midsole and front gaiter clip ensure gaiter compatibility, while a padded tongue and collar provide all-day comfort. The extra tall cuff also helps seal in heat. The fit runs slightly wide, so these are a good option for people with larger feet. A women’s model is also available.

Check for the latest price at:
Columbia

8. La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTX Mountaineering Boots

La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX Mountaineering Boots
While most winter hikers use lightweight insulated hiking boots with microspikes for traction, there are times when a stiff-soled mountaineering boot and full mountaineering crampons are required. The La Sportiva Nepal Evo is a single skin leather mountaineering boot lined with Gore-Tex Duratherm, a lightweight and waterproof insulation layer. They have a rigid TPU last and innovative lace locks so you can get the lacing tight enough to front-point with crampons. An integrated mini gaiter helps seal the top of the boots for greater warmth and keeps out debris, while front and rear welts enable compatibility with all crampon types. Sizing is unisex.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | La SportivaAmazon

9. Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX Boot

Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX Mountaineering Boot

The Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX  is a waterproof mountaineering boot with an integrated gaiter like the La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX, listed above. It’s insulated with Gore-Tex Comfort, another waterproof breathable liner layer. It has a sturdy PU midsole and nylon shank for rigidity and shock absorption, with front and rear lugs that provide universal crampon compatibility. The fit runs wide and has a large toe box, while all-metal lacing hardware lets you lock in a good fit for front pointing. A women’s model is also available.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | Amazon

10. Lowa Alpine Expert GTX Boots

Lowa Alpine Expert GTX
The Lowa Alpine Expert GTX Mountaineering Boots have a Gore-Tex waterproof-breathable membrane and 400g PrimaLoft synthetic insulation to provide weather protection and warmth. The uppers are a mix of split leather and microfiber, while alpine Vibram outsoles provide excellent traction. Anatomic footbeds provide a comfortable fit while the insoles are aluminum-coated with a fleece cover for added warmth and comfort. They are step-in crampon compatible and can be resoled, ensuring years of use. A women’s model is also available.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | Backcountry

How to Select Winter Hiking Boots

Winter boots should be waterproof and insulated to keep your feet dry and warm, they should have laces, they should be comfortable so you can wear them all day, and they should be compatible with traction aids like microspikes and snowshoes. While the amount of insulation you need will vary, winter boots with non-removable synthetic insulation are the lightest weight and therefore the easiest to hike in. Boots made with synthetic materials are also lighter weight and more waterproof than leather boots.

The reason you can’t use your regular 3 season boots or shoes for winter hiking, comes down to waterproofing and insulation. Most insulated winter hiking boots are guaranteed waterproof out of the box. Many have lowers made with rubber or waterproof synthetics so you don’t have to worry about the fabric absorbing water. If you do get moisture in your boots, insulated winter boots will still keep them warm. The same can’t be said about leather hiking boots, even when treated with waterproofing creams and sprays. If your regular hiking boots absorb water in winter, they can freeze and lead to frostbite.

Some boot manufacturers provide temperature ratings for their products, but there’s no standard way for measuring the warmth of winter boots. Understand that these ratings are estimates at best and that users will have varying experiences based on their activity level, health, weight, sex, metabolism, and other factors.

Some winter boot manufacturers publish the thickness of the insulation in their boots, while others don’t. For example, some boots have 200 gram Thinsulate insulation, a popular synthetic insulation, while others use 400-gram insulation. All of the boots listed above have 400-gram insulation or the equivalent, so they can be used well below zero. This is the insulation we recommend if you hike in the backcountry, where winter hikes may last far longer than anticipated.

Key Winter Boot Features

Temperature ratings

While you need to take the manufacturer’s temperature ratings with a grain of salt, they are a good indication of the relative warmth of a boot. While it’s difficult to make warmth comparisons between boots that have different kinds of insulation, knowing the amount of insulation used in boots can help you compare the warmth of different models made by the same manufacturer.

Gusseted tongue

This is just like a regular boot tongue, except the sides are closed and sewn to the side of the boots to prevent water from leaking into the boot when you step in puddles.

Reinforced toe cap

In addition to providing more protection, a beefy toe cap won’t collapse the front of the boot when worn with microspikes or crampons.

Lugs

The soles of your boots should provide good traction when walking on loose or packed snow. Look for boots with a deep tread like a Vibram sole, although you’re likely to augment your boot with microspikes.

Cuff

Look for boots with a soft cuff that closes off the gap between your leg and boot.

Gaiter ring

A gaiter ring is a small ring attached to the top of the boot that you can hook your gaiters onto. It’s not the end of the world if your boots don’t have one since can still hook the gaiter to your boot laces.

See Also:

Check Out All of SectionHiker's Winter Gear Guides!

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44 comments

  1. Phil,
    Are any of these boots a true wide in width, or is the keen a wide. I have tortilla feet, which are wide in the forefoot and mid, but not the heel. Any help is appreciated!

    • For what is worth. I also have wide forefoot/mid (I take at least a EE width) and have struggled finding winter boots that are not too narrow. I purchased a pair of Keen Summit County boots two winters ago and found them to be plenty wide. I know it is not the same boot as listed above, but any Keen shoes/boots I have bought in the past all are wide enough at the front.

  2. The Keens are normally available in a wide, but they’re not on the Keen website at the moment – probably due to supply chain disruption. While the Northface Chillkat is not listed as a wide, I used mine quite a lot last winter and they do run wide, for what its worth.

  3. Love my Keen Summit Country winter boots, purchased after reading a review of them on this site. Will probably replace them with another pair of Keens when the time comes.

  4. The Salomon Toundra is only available in unisex this year, which we all know means men’s. I emailed them to complain!

    • Amazon has some women’s Toundra’s available. But I doubt they’re going to last long. They may also be shipped from the UK where they still have available inventory. Great boots, but the supply chain issues are going to make all winter hiking boots pretty scarce. I wouldn’t wait to buy new ones if you want to do any hardcore winter hikes/winter summits this year.

  5. I will offer the following tidbit… if you have a large foot, 13 or better (as I do), then not all of these boots will operate cleanly with all snowshoes. I ended up with Oboz Bridgers 10″ and they actually articulate the binding without rubbing the boot on the snowshoe platform. The Titaniums and Toundras both rubbed (or caught) and were not workable. Both on MSR Denali Ascents and Tubbs Flex Alps.

  6. Michael Schlesselmann

    Hi Phillip. Any recomendations for under (or close to) $100. Just moved to Minnesota, and want to dip my fully protected toes into winter hiking and maybe backpacking, but don’t want to shell out a ton of money on top of other winter specific gear I will end up needing to buy. Got any budget friendly suggestions? Thanks!

  7. Hi Phillip. Any recommendations for insulated hiking boots (could be 200 grams where I live) with a wide toe area, without a correspondingly wide mid-foot and heel areas? Like the way Altra and Topo Athletic trail runners are shaped. I lost four toenails last winter, wearing a pair of Solomons on a 3-day trip. Thanks.

    • Altra does make boots as well. I haven’t used them and it looks from their website that they might be limited to a mid-height boot but could work for you depending on the weather/terrain you’re facing.

      If you had a toenail issue though it sounds like your boots might have been the wrong size less than the wrong shape. A wider footbox isn’t going to keep your nails from pushing into the front of the shoe.

      • But not insulated and not for winter use in snow.
        Do you have toenails? You’re not hiking enough.

      • I’ll do ~450 miles this year. Probably fairly small by your total but I also work Mon-Fri and have to drive to get to the white’s… :) The only time I’ve had toenail issues is when my shoes were too small or I negligently didn’t trim my nails.

        I figured by Altra calling it an all-weather it might be applicable for his conditions.

      • I realize that. But it just has a eVent liner. It’s just “supposedly” waterproof.

      • I tried the Altra uninsulated but supposedly waterproof “RSM (rain, snow, mud)” boots and found they are too delicate to wear with traction devices over rough terrain. Where I hike, we rarely get deep snow, and instead get mixed snow, ice, mud and rock. The Altras shredded in no time. Altra gave me a purchase credit, which I applied to warm-weather shoes. I’ll try Keens. My wife likes hers. I just wish trial and error weren’t so painful. Thanks for the tips.

  8. “KEY WINTER BOOT FEATURES”:
    7.) removable insulating liner

    A removable liner permits you to put it in the foot of your sleeping bag overnight to have a warm boot in the morning. Just TRY to warm cold boots on a bitter cold morning! Your toes will be painful from the cold and breakfast and breaking camp will be miserable, if not dangerous to your toes.

    Aure, if you are just day hiking you can go home and warm your boots overnight in the house. Not so in a winter camp. Even in a “hot tent” you can’t and shouldn’t keep the tent warm enough all night to keep boots warm.

  9. How is is possible the Toundra Pro stay in the top 10? My wife bought a pair in Jan thinking they’d be OK for light use. She’s used them for +/-20k and is returning them because the toe box seam has cracked! Now I’m reading reviews that it’s been an issue for years.

    Lost faith that Section Hiker provides independent reviews.

    • We stand by our recommendations. I’m sorry that her boots cracked. Most people have a very good experience with these boots. I’ve owned multiple pairs without an issue.

      • Second Philip’s Recommendations here. We point all are winter hiking students to the boots on this list, including the Toundras. Sounds like you got a bad batch. My women’s Toundras have performed flawlessly for years and I will buy them again when mine wear out.

      • The boots you reviewed did not have seam on the side of the toe box.

        How many winter hiking kilometers have you put on a single pair of the Toundra boots that have the toe box seam?

        People on REI gave them 3.6 stars.

        https://www.rei.com/product/105397/salomon-toundra-pro-climashield-waterproof-boots-mens

      • I have a lot of female hiking friends, including SectionHiker contributors, who swear by their Toundra’s and they haven’t had any issues that I know about.

        As for REI reviews – I ignore them because I’ve found them to be very unreliable. Most online reviews are fraudulent. They also don’t represent a pure hiking population, but anyone who ever bought the boots (going back 5 years). It’s pretty hard to draw any kind of reliable conclusion about a product’s performance for winter hiking from that kind of a sample since it probably spanned multiple models.

        I’m not saying that your wife didn’t experience a product failure. It sounds like she did. But I don’t appreciate it when people claim that I’m in the pocket of manufacturers. I’m most definitely not. My highest priority is my readers. Just look through all the negative product reviews I publish and all of the free information I provide people.

      • I left a review on the Salomon website last week. What I didn’t say is it’s the SECOND pair to split on the toe box with hardly any use.

        May try the Bridger 10″ if they have the wide version available. Can I make a request? How about Top 10 Best WIDE Winter (summer too) Hiking Boots : )

      • I’m told Oboz did not make any insulated boots this year.

        I picked up another pair of the Toundra Pro (now Toundra Force). Keeping my fingers crossed the 3rd pair will be O.K.

      • their factory was shut down for 90 days due to covid. They’re a no-show this winter.

  10. I generally have really cold feet but they also sweat profusely. I wear a pair of Danner Mountain Pass boots with GORE-TEX lining that I have had for years and love, along with Darntough socks. But they’re not great in the winter. I think I got frostbite on one of my toes last winter. On the other hand I also snowshoed up Mt. Tremont with temps in the single digits and had no problem, but that was an odd exception. So it seems to depend on the day, the depth of the snow, and how fast I’m moving.

    Anyway, what I can’t seem to figure out is how to compare GORE-TEX to the different levels of Thinsulate. If I’m finding the GORE-TEX to be only so-so on the warmth, what level of Thinsulate (400g, 600g) is warmer but not insane (since my feet sweat like crazy)?

    Thanks!

    • Gore-tex makes an insulated liner that is used in leather mountaineering boots, but I have no idea what its insulation value is relative to Thinsulate. Regular gore-tex has no insulation value. Looking at the Danner product page for Mountain Pass boots – I’d say that your boots are not insulated at all.

      • Yeah, that makes sense. I just find the different types of GORE-TEX confusing and, when I bought them, someone said my toes would be toasty.

    • Gor-Tex is a material designed to keep water like rain or stream crossings outside of the boot or garment, but to still let water vapor or sweat escape from inside. Any warmth it contributes comes from it being wind resistant. Thinsulate is a synthetic insulating material. So there is no translation. Since it sounds like you’ve actually been wearing uninsulated boots you might try 200g to start.

    • Here’s an update (in case anyone cares). I bought the Columbia Powderhouse Titaniums with the 600g and hiked North Moat on Sunday. I had a base layer toe sock and some thick wool socks over those. My feet were toasty on the way up, one of my big toes got a tad chilled on the way down. So I think the 600g was probably the right insulation level.

      • Were you wearing microspikes? Microspikes can sometimes cause the toebox to collapse and limit bloodflow to the toes, making them cold.

      • Yeah, I had micros on, but I had room to wiggle my toes. I bought a new, larger pair of micros specifically for these boots. I just have absurdly cold extremities. They get cold in the summer (though my core stays nice and toasty).

  11. I’ve been trying out the Merrell Overlook 2 mid (not tall) the past couple of weeks. Some thoughts so far:

    1. I was hoping they would be waterproof. It says waterproof, but sadly they leak pretty bad through the leather areas. Expect wet feet if you walk through a deep puddle or shallow stream, or even just wet grass or rain. They are not at all waterproof, or even water resistant. The leather appears to have no water repellent properties at all. I tried 4 of these boots and they all leak. Snow gear around these parts has to double as rain gear most of the winter season.
    2. They would be extremely comfy for use where you wouldn’t expect to see any liquid moisture. If it’s so cold that everything is frozen solid, then all good. Really warm boots if they stay dry.
    3. They take a metric century to dry out, even in front of a fan. Forget having dry feet again if your boots get wet during a backpacking trip.
    4. They have a very pronounced arch built into the midsole. If it’s too much, you can’t do anything about it really. Too bad they couldn’t leave it a little more flat in the midsole so people could pick their own arch support with an insole.
    5. Traction on wet rocks, sticks, and logs can be unpredictable. This is likely due to the different types of rubber used in alternating outsole lugs. Some of them grip well on non-snow surfaces, while others don’t. Once on snow, it’s much better, but if you need reliable traction on other surfaces, these can be frustrating to use.
    6. Plenty of toe room to wiggle those little piglets around or wear thick socks, or even put a toe warmer in there. I ordered a half size larger than normal and it fit great for winter use.

    • Slap some snow seal on them and they should be good to go. They sound perfect otherwise.

      • Sno Seal, yeah it’s spelled funny.

      • I’m actually going to try out the Baffin Borealis boots. They seem like they are easier to keep waterproof and vastly easier to dry out the insulation on multi-day trips if needed. They have some of the neatest innovation I have seen in a very long time regarding footwear. And they look super cool in the red liner coloring, like some sort of boots from the future. Hopefully they work out. My snowboarding boots are built very similar, and are excellent for moisture control and heat retention, so the Baffins should be a keeper if they fit right.

        I hike a lot in the Olympic Mountains on the SE and E sides, which during the winter requires some significant travel through the lower rainy parts before getting high enough up to hit the snow level. So everything has to be super waterproof or life is going to be hell the following days after getting stuff too saturated. Been there. Hated it. LOL

        To be fair to the Merrell boots, a custom fit gaiter would go a long way to keep water out of the boots if fitted to cover all the leather down past the seam to the rubber. But would still be an issue for deeper puddles and small stream crossings. Not sure how well Sno Seal works for the mesh fabric on the tongue, but could slow down the intake of water enough to make it last a lot longer in wet conditions.

  12. Philip, Have you had any experience – or been gven any beta – on the La Sportiva Makalu boot? Thx

  13. What do you think of the Asolo Arctic GV? They do not mention Thinsulate in the description. TIA!

    • I think they’re a lightweight mountaineering boot. These are not as warm as heavier boots and not as comfortable as non-hiking insulated winter boots. I’ve used ones like this before and found them ok, but I wouldn’t want to do long winter hikes in them and certainly not overlights because they don’t have a liner. They’re insulated with something called Gore-tex comfort, but that’s a company I simply don’t trust when it comes to insulation or much else. You haven’t told me what or where you plan to use these, so I can’t make a fuller recommendation.

  14. Hey Philip – do any of your first 7 recommendations (non mountaineering boots) accept hybrid crampons? Thanks

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