10 Best Winter Hiking Boots

10 Best Winter Hiking Boots

Winter hiking boots have evolved tremendously over the past 10 years and are now lighter weight and more comfortable than ever before. Gone are the days when you needed to choose between military surplus boots, plastic mountaineering boots, or heavy pac boots to keep your feet warm. Today’s winter boots are waterproof, breathable, and insulated to keep you warm down to -40 Fahrenheit or more. They’re also optimized for walking over ice and packed snow, and compatible with traction aids such as microspikes and snowshoes. Whether you’re climbing mountains or snowshoeing across mixed terrain, the latest generation of winter hiking boots will keep you warm and dry.

Make / ModelPriceInsulation
Salomon Toundra Pro CS WP$200Aerogel
KEEN Revel IV Polar$190400g KEEN Warm
Vasque Snowburban II UltraDry$160400g Thinsulate
Merrell Thermo Freeze$160400g Thinsulate
The North Face Chilkat 400 II$150400g Primaloft Silver
Oboz Bridger 10" Insulated$200400g Thinsulate
Merrell Thermo Glacier$180400g/ Thinsulate/Aerogel
Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV XTM Omni-Heat$160600g Thinsulate
La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTX Mountaineering Boots$510GORE-TEX Insulated
Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX Boot$525GORE-TEX Insulated

Here are our top 10 best winter hiking boot recommendations:

1. 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. I’ve been wearing the Toundra Pro for the past few winters and think they’re a great cold-weather hiking boot. The Salomon Toundras run true to size. A women’s Toundra Pro is also available. Read our Salomon Toundra Review

Check for the latest price at:
Salomon | Amazon | Zappos

2. KEEN Revel IV

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 in included for added warmth. Wide sizes and a women’s model are both available.

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

3. 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 protect 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:
Vasque | BackcountryAmazon

4. Merrell Thermo Freeze

Merrell Thermo Freeze Waterproof Winter Hiking Boots
The Merrell Thermo Freeze is a mid-sized winter hiking boot with 400-gram insulation. The height of the boot’s cuff is just 6″, so they’re much lighter weight than boots that run higher up your calf. The Thermo Freezes have a protective toe cap and heel cup, but less lateral protection than boots with heavy wraparound rands. EVA midsoles and molded nylon arch shanks deliver cushioning and stability. A generous arch provides gaiter compatibility, but the boots do not have a front gaiter ring so you’ll need to clip them to your laces. A women’s model is available.

Check for the latest price at:
Merrell | Amazon | Zappos

5. 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. 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:
The North Face

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. Merrell Thermo Glacier Mid Waterproof Boot

The Merrell Thermo Glacier Mid WP Winter Boot is insulated with 400-gram insulation, in addition to extra Aerogel over the toes, making them good for people with chronically cold toes.  They have metal lacing hardware that is easier to use, reinforced rubber toe caps for front protection, a fleece liner for warmth, and heat-reflecting insoles that radiate body heat back toward your feet. Compression-molded EVA midsoles and molded nylon arch shanks provide cushioning and stability, while the 5 mm Vibram lugs provide excellent traction on snow and ice.  A women’s version is not available at this time.

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

8. 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 | Backcountry | Zappos

9. 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.

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

10. 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 | MoosejawAmazon

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 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 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

Looks 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!

Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the affiliate links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.

Most Popular Searches

  • best winter hiking boots
  • winter hiking boots
  • merino 250 long neck gaiter

19 comments

  1. Recommendations for extra wide feet?

  2. These all look like great boots. It must be hard to select only 10 when there are some many options. If you ever do a top 20 list, then take a look at the Kamik Nation Plus, because I think these might make that list. These are a pac style boot with a rubber bottom and a removable liner, but they are very light and I am able to hike all day in them. They say -40 F for the temperature range, but I don’t think that is accurate because they only have 200 g insulation. I never see temperatures that cold, but if I were go out during those conditions, it will only be for a day-hike and I’ll put on my Sorels. But these are plenty warm for the overnight trips I do. The liners sometimes get moist from perspiration during the day, but at night I can take the liners out and put them in my sleeping bag where they dry overnight. In the morning, I put them back in and I have nice warm toes. This year I am going to get a 2nd pair of liners so I can switch them out if they get moist and I don’t have time to dry them in my sleeping bag. Another nice feature is they are relatively inexpensive. I think I got mine for around $60.

  3. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for your updated list of the 10 best winter hiking boots. Would you recommend these same boots for overnight winter backpacking boots? Although I own and love the Vasque Snowburbans, I have been looking for something similar in warmth, weight and style, but with removable liners for overnight trips. The Baffin Borealis boots (Baffin now sells replacement liners for them) were close, but not as warm as I’d like. I’m now considering the Baffin Yoho boots, although they look like they might be a little bulky. Did you come across any other boots with removable liners (other than the mountaineering boots) when preparing your list? Also, how do you keep your Toundra Pros warm at night when you’re sleeping so they don’t freeze up?

    David

    • Those Baffin boots are really still the best option short of using a mountaineering boot with a removable liner. Personally, I’d rather use them than a pack style boot which is really intended for snowmobiling or dog sled mushing, but not walking. I’m actually using Oboz 10″ bridgers instead of the Toundras these days. For overnights, I wear a plastic bag (a turkey oven bag) inside my socks to prevent sweat from making my socks and the insides of my boots wet from sweat. It’s basically a vapor barrier sock. If your boots do get damp, you’d simply treat them they same way you would a liner – you’d sleep with it your sleeping bag to prevent it from freezing at night. It might even dry out a little.

      • Thanks, Philip. I attended the ADK Winter Mountaineering School in 2017, and we were required to wear boots with removable liners AND vapor barrier bags. I see the wisdom in that (I would prefer not to sleep with my boots in my sleeping bag??), but I just can’t bring myself to wear traditional mountaineering boots on trips where I don’t need step-in crampons. The perfect boot for me would be the Vasque Snowburbans (or any of the other top 8 boots on your list) with removable liners. The search continues.

        David

  4. I wound up getting the Salomon Toundra Pros last winter over the Oboz Bridger 10 inch boots. As a diabetic, I have had no issues with hotspots, blisters whatsoever. With liner socks and light merino wool blend hiking socks my feet have been comfortable and warm, even at below – 30 C on daily hikes. It feels good to have my winter boot research into available options vindicated. Thanks to SectionHiker!

  5. Those Keen’s really look nice, Are they fairly lightweight? Also, they are 8 inches tall, is that tall enough and are they compatible with most MSR snowshoes? I’m a 11 , would you recommend going up a half size?

    • All of the above. I found them true-to-size. I wear a 10.5M-US.

      • Ok great Philip, just to clarify even if they are true to size, is it a good idea to go up 1/2 size for most winter boots, these included? I’m a 11 in most …

      • I don’t. I prefer control, especially if I use them with crampons. I only fiddle with sock thickness if the boots don’t properly fit. When fitting winter boots, your toes should have plenty of space for good blood flow. Wearing thick socks may interfere with that. You just have to experiment to dial in what you like.

      • I’ll just add. Modern winter boots fit so much better than the plastic mountaineering boots you used to have to wear for winter hiking. There, double socks were the norm because the fit was awful and you needed extra socks for blister prevention. Not anymore. I can’t believe that I used to hike in those things!

  6. WINTER HIKING BOOTS-> Any boots listed here

    WINTER BACKPACKING BOOTS-> only boots with REMOVABLE INSULATING LINERS (This is so you can put them in the foot of your sleeping bag overnight to have warm feet in the morning.)

    If you do not have removable liners then the ENTIRE boot must be placed in your sleeping bag soots not a frozen block in the morning.

    • That’s not strictly true. Vapor barrier liners do work with single layer boots. And really, sleeping with a wet liner is not so different than sleeping with a wet single layer boot. They’re both bulky and wet.

      Note: the reason you want to keep them warm is so they don’t freeze overnight. Sleeping with them probably won’t dry them.

      • Phil.
        It’s always a good thing to wear a VBL with any winter boot and I do. My VBL, as posted here s few times, is a 3 mm closed cell neoprene divers’ sock over a thin poly liner. Warm and effective.

        BUT… winter boots without a removable insulating lining are cold as hell in the morning. That is very uncomfortable at the least and in sub-zero temperatures could be dangerous. Yes, the boots, worn with a VBL, will be dry but very cold.

  7. Thanks for your always great reviews. On this one I was a little surprised to see the Salomons drop so far down on the list. Would you elaborate a bit on that? Thanks.

  8. I own the La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTX Mountaineering Boots, have taken them out in ridiculously cold temps and never felt the slightest bit of cold in my feet. Amazing boots.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *