About Winter Hiking Boots
Winter hiking boots come in many shapes and sizes.
Whether you are looking for boots for hiking in snow, wearing with snowshoes, or shoveling your drive you should first answer the following questions:
How warm do you want/need to keep your feet?
Winter boots generally add additional insulation to keep your feet warmer than your typical hiking or backpacking boot. For many people a full leather hiking boot with a waterproof goretex lining provides all the warmth they need for an hour of hiking when temperatures are at or just below the freezing point. But if you're not planning on being active or will be out all day a little insulation in your hiking boots will determine whether you end up miserable with cold feet. Thinsulate is the most common boot insulation in use today and a 200 gram Thinsulate lining provides enough warmth for most common uses. For folks spending the day in the outdoors on a frigid day, a boot with 400 or more grams of Thinsulate may be what is needed to stay comfortable and even safe in the worst of weather. Say you are looking for a snowshoeing boot and like to be out in the woods all day or in typically colder weather. A goretex hiking boot with 200 grams of insulate will give you the extra warmth a normal pair of hiking boots won't but not so much that your feet overheat and start to sweat making your feet even colder. But if you always battle cold feet, the warmest boots you can find are likely your best bet.
What type of winter boot is right for you?
In a snowshoeing boot a waterproof, lighter weight, athletic boot that flexes will offer you the comfort and usability to support many great adventures. Snowshoe racers will even screw running shoes right onto their snowshoes to minimize their weight and maximize the flex. Mountaineers will prefer stiffer boots for attaching crampons or other traction gear. True mountaineering boots feature full length shanks and more supportive uppers that help provide stability and enable the user to kick steps into hardened slopes. Plastic boots were once the favorite among mountaineers for these reasons. For most users though, an insulated leather winter boot will give them everything they need. You can find the stiffness that is right for you. Light hiking boots have the most flex while backpacking boots are much stiffer and more sturdy. For a few extra dollars, there are even new technologies out--like Ice Lock--that embed materials in the rubber soles of winter boots to enhance traction. Of course its always convenient to have a build in ring or loop on your boots if you plan to wear gaiters while out in the snow.
A word about size.
Remember you will probably hike in a thicker pair of wool socks in winter than you would in the summer. You may even wear a sock liner or two pairs of socks for warmth, so you'll want to pick a size that can accommodate the extra volume inside the boot. Too much sock crammed into a snug boot can actually make your feet colder if they restrict the circulation inside the boot. Finally it never hurts to apply a fresh coat of waterproofing to your leather boots before heading out. It's very hard to keep wet feet warm.
You can review our large selection of Hiking Boots for the best boot for your needs.