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
KEEN Summit County$180450g Thinsulate
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
Salomon Toundra Pro CS WP$200Aerogel
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. KEEN Summit County

Keen Summit County Winter Hiking Boot

The KEEN Summit County is also rated to -40F, but it has more insulation positioned in the toe box than in the upper cuff to keep your feet warmer. 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 cap, and excellent side protection make these boots ideal for challenging terrain, while a heat-reflective footbed covered with wool adds warmth from below. Read our Keen Summit County Review.

Check for the latest price at:
KEEN | Amazon

2. 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

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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

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 | Backcountry | Zappos

8. Salomon Toundra Pro CS WP

Salomon Toundra Pro CS WP
Salomon’s Toundra Pro CS WP 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 CS WP is also available. Read our Salomon Toundra Review

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


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.


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:

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  1. I’d add the Keen Targhee High Lace to that list. I have the Salomons and they are great, but too warm until Jan/Feb.

  2. No longer advocating the Baffin Borealis, with the removable liners?

    • These boots are really for “hiking” not overnight winter trips. Most people day hike in winter. Winter backpacking is a pretty rare thing these days.

      • I was going to ask the same thing. I started using the Baffins last winter and love them. Thanks for that recommendation.

      • Put up a RGOH winter backpacking trip and you would get lots of interest. You probably go anyway, just saying more and more people are interested in 4 season camping at least from what I see.

      • I tried a pair of Baffin but unfortunately they have a narrower toe box than some of the others you listed. Would love to have a light weight removable liner boot!

      • That makes sense. Do you have any recommendations for folks who DO plan to backpack in very cold, snowy conditions? BTW, love the site. Thanks!

      • Ideally, you want a double boot with a liner so you can dry your sweat in your sleeping bag at night and keep it from freezing solid. These boots from baffin work pretty, well and are amazingly more comfortable than plastic mountaineering boots.


        You can try a vapor barrier sock as well over liner socks to keep the inside of single layer (like those above) boots from getting wet with sweat. That also works but you really need to be diligent about it.


      • My feet tend to get cold very easily thanks to frostbite experiences years ago, and I find the Baffins to be quite a bit warmer than the Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX. Also, with the increased sole flex in the Baffin, they feel much more at home in a “hiking” situation, as opposed to the rigid-soled Scarpas, which I use for technical ice and rock.

      • You’d really wear a rigid mountaineering boot if you wanted to use a full (classical) crampon. They can come in handy in certain terrain and for certain trips. But soft boots are usually fine for most people.

  3. I bought the Salomon Toundra Pro’s last winter based on your recommendation and you’re right – boot technology has come a long way in the past decade.

    I wore the Toundras everyday hiking, snowshoeing, with my universal binding skis and on my tractor and the boots were always warm, dry and comfortable – even in -30C temps here in Northern Ontario Canada.

    Great boots!

  4. 8” and 10” inch winter hiking boots are not comfortable for my short wheels (legs). I prefer shorter boots with water resisting gaiters.

    LL Bean has several good winter boots and over the years have owned several pair of their Snow Sneakers. Lightweight, warm, waterproof, several men & women models and prices to choose from.

  5. I’ve worn the Salomon Toundra Pro’s for two seasons hiking in the Adirondack High Peaks. First.. I love these boots. Second… I wouldn’t rate them at -40 degrees. However, with an uber cold winter last year down to -20 degrees on several hikes… I noticed using a warmer and somewhat thicker sock did.make a difference.

    On another note… About five times my MSR Accents came off while climbing. I can’t explain it. I’ve tried adjusting the bindings to the boot.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Mama Gecko

  6. The incorporation of Aerogel into boots is fascinating. Got to see how well it works and how long it lasts.
    Anything must be lighter than felt pacs.

    BUT… Highly recommend using a 3 mm thick closed cell neoprene divers’ sock over a thin poly liner sock both as an excellent VBL and as good insulation.

    And I’ve found US Divers brand to be the very best of these VBL divers’ socks.

  7. Down under in New Zealand we are having problems with footwear breaking down and falling apart. The problem appears to be with the use of water soluble adhesives in the construction. Most of these are acrylic based which in continuous damp or wet fail. The use of lightweight EVA mid soles exacerbate the problem as they absorb moisture and dry very slowly. The use of petroleum based adhesives as in the past does not suffer this problem and some manufacturers still do use these or the modern equivalent.
    The above list of boots includes some that are not recommended for wet conditions in backcountry or alpine use. Check with your manufacturer or retailer before parting with your hard earned cash.
    You might lose your sole!!

  8. It looks like the Merrell Thermo Glacier does not have a space in the arch for a gaiter strap. Isn’t that a deal-breaker?

    • They work with my gaiter straps, but it’s true that they may not work with some of the thicker ones out there.

      • A few years ago I was looking for a pair of winter hiking boots to serve when my mountaineering boots were overkill. Several NH 48 winter completers on Views From the Top forum recommended Cabelas Avalanche boots. Not a brand that would have been on my radar but I bought a pair and they have been great, not to mention less expensive than anything on this list. Later I bought a pair of NF Chilkats (sp?) To replace an old pair of Sorels. I can’t hike in pac boots – too mushy – and found these impossible to lace tightly. About all they’re good for is padding around town, or snow blowing. YMWV. Just my .o2.

      • Seconding the Cabelas Avalanche suggestion. I’m on my third (winter) season with them and they have been very reliable and warm. Deftly handle all the WMNF terrain with spikes, crampons and snowshoes. Not to mention $50 on sale. They were originally recommended by AMC NH Winter Hiking Series instructors fwiw.

  9. These are all men’s.
    What the hell?

    • Women’s choices are pretty limited for sure. I know Oboz still makes a women’s & the Salomon Toundra is still out there. Been using the Toundras successfully for a couple years.

  10. Nice article. I love the boots. Looking forward to owning a pair.

  11. I’ve owned the La Sportiva GTX Nepal boots for several years and consider them my best gear purchase. My feet have never been the slightest bit cold in them, including -20 conditions on Mt Washington. I got the La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX for a crampon-compatible boot for less cold conditions and they’ve also been great.

  12. After 25 hours of winter (crampon/snowshoe) hiking with my Tondura Pro the thread is ripping out of the leather along the diagonal seams behind the toe box.

    Discovered the ripped seams yesterday when my toes in one boot were wet.

    Check out reviews on REI

    • We’ve added a note to the Toundra Listing below reflecting this. I’ve used mine for years, so this may be limited to a small lot of boots and not the entire annual run. Hard to know for sure.

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