It doesn’t matter if you’re shoveling, taking your kids sledding, or walking to work, a great winter boot needs to be comfortable, waterproof, warm, and offer exceptional traction on snow and slippery surfaces.
Unfortunately, unlike the winter boots for women that we found, not one boot in this guide proved to be 100% waterproof. Nonetheless, we feel comfortable recommending the Kamik NationPlus Boot (available at Amazon) as our Best Overall pick. They’re warm, sturdy, and proved to be head and shoulders above the rest of the boots we researched when it comes to keeping water outside, where it belongs.
If you’re interested in maximum warmth, the Sorel Caribou 1964 PAC (available at Amazon) boots are the way to go. While they’re merely water-resistant, they offer remarkable heat retention in the most frigid winter conditions.
The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.
Kamik NationPlus Boot
Constructed using water-resistant leather and a seam-sealed, synthetic rubber shell, the Kamik NationPlus is a good-looking boot. Kamik rates these boots to be able to keep your feet warm in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. I also like that their 11.5-inch tall shaft height makes you feel protected and secure without being too rigid.
While they’re not waterproof, the NationPlus Boots offer the best water resistance of any of the boots we found.
The only negative for the NationPlus Boot is their heft: they weigh roughly 20% more than the next heaviest set of boots we found, the Sorel Caribou 1964 PAC.
With their tall, 9.25-inch shaft, vulcanized rubber lower, and a fur cuff designed to keep snow from getting into the top of the boot, the Sorel Caribou 1964 PAC are a wintertime classic.
These boots keep a lot of heat during wear, ensuring that your toes will stay warm as you dare the winter chill on the way to work. And when treading on ice, we these boots provide adequate traction.
Sadly, they aren't waterproof: the 1964 PAC begin to leak just two minutes and 39 seconds into wearing them. So, they might offer adequate protection from stepping in an occasional shallow puddle, but the longer you wear these boots in snow or slush, the greater the possibility that your feet will get wet. That said, should your feet get soaked, Sorel makes it easy to get dry and moving again, quickly: The thick felt liners of the 1964 PAC can be removed and swapped out for a dry set. Additional sets of boot liners can be purchased online.
You should know that, like our Best Overall pick, the 1964 PAC’s bulk keeps them from being the nimblest of boots. They’re fine for tasks like walking and shoveling. However, wearing them while driving a car or climbing a ton of stairs can be a heavy drag.
Depending on the climate you live in, you might not need a heavy pair of winter boots like our Best Overall pick. If a thick pair of wool socks is enough to keep you warm on your commute, Sorel’s Caribou Street Boots could be for you. Significantly lighter and more nimble than their Sorel Caribou siblings, Jon found them comfortable to wear and, while walking on slippery surfaces, made him feel sure-footed thanks to their adequate traction.
These boots retain heat without issue, even more so than our Best Overall pick. However, they failed at waterproofing fairly quickly, and even their laces get waterlogged! Wet feet are cold feet, making these boots less than ideal for cold weather wear.
The Blundstone 1461 boots boast an all-leather exterior, Thinsulate insulation, and a shearling (sheepskin) liner and insole. Unlike most other Blundstone boots, which pull on easily, thanks to generous elastic panels in their throat, the Blundstone 1461 lace up. Being able to tightly lace their five-inch shaft provides a good measure of ankle support and protection against lateral movement.
The 1461 ranked in the middle of the pack for heat retention and lose a little bit of heat during wear. However, given that they weigh 2.8 pounds per pair (compared to the 4.4 pounds of a set of Kamik NationPlus) we felt that they offer a pretty good mass-to-insulation ratio.
As much as we enjoyed these boots, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that the 1461s leak just seconds into being used in slushy weather.
Muck boots are legendary for their ability to keep your feet warm and dry. The Arctic Sports Mid certainly live up to this reputation, with a fleece-lined neoprene “bootie” made of nylon surrounded by a shell of various types of insulating foam. The result is an extremely waterproof, warm boot that breezes through any winter task, though they are a bear to get on and off regularly and the style isn’t great for daily life.
Fit-wise, the Arctic Sport Mid are true-to-size, but they trade some comfort for durability and ruggedness, with a design that even Muck calls “aggressive.” There are no laces here (you just slip your foot in and pull the boot up), though there is a stretchy binding that wraps around your calf to keep snow out and warmth in. It’s an effective solution, but it’s tight enough that it can definitely rub your leg raw on a hike if you don’t have tall enough socks.
As their name suggests, the Muck Apex Mid Zip do not have laces. Instead, they employ a waterproof zipper that runs up the middle of the boot, closing a waterproof membrane around your foot. The zipper makes getting the boots on and off very easy compared to traditional winter boots.
The Muck Apex Mid Zip short, with a shaft that barely reaches above the ankle. This makes them more suited to urban environments, but less capable in deep water and snow; they stay dry in about four inches of water or slush, but anything deeper and you’re likely to get your feet quite wet. You should know that these boots are designed to keep your feet warm in temperatures as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a region where it gets colder, you’ll want to consider a different pair of boots.
As the North Face Chilkat Nylon’s name suggests, its upper is primarily made up of nylon, with a waterproof membrane, thick rubber soles, and a fleece inner lining. In our tests, the Chilkat proved particularly adept at keeping out mud, water, snow, and everything in between.
If you live somewhere that winter means rain and slush and some frigid temperature, this is a solid boot. But if you need something to handle more extreme snow, ice, and frigid cold, our top picks will handle the cold, snow, and rain better than these.
Not for extreme temperatures
Ugg Men's Seton TL
The Ugg Seton Chukka Boot boasts a thick rubber sole and a removable wool lining that Ugg claims is meant to resemble “authentic” shearling. These boots are warm, though they’re not particularly waterproof. Water splashes in and past the tongue fairly easily in the slush, though these may handle light snow and rain just fine.
Comfort-wise, the boots are a bit stiff even after several miles of walking. They should break in slightly better over time (though Chukka-style boots don’t always loosen up). Lacing them up to get them on and off is more of a chore than with the other boots we found and they still feel fairly clunky to walk around in.
A great pair of insulated boots should be versatile, capable of helping you track through deep snow on a hike through the backwoods, or of keeping your feet warm as you walk your dog around the sidewalks of your neighborhood.
You’ll want to match the temperature range of the boots you pick with how cold it gets where you live. If the boots you wear are too warm, your feet will sweat. This can lead to them feeling cold and getting blisters. If they’re not warm enough, your feet will, not surprisingly, be cold.
You should know that there’s no oversight for measuring the temperature rating of boots: every manufacturer uses their own means of testing temperature range. A large part of this is due to the fact that there are so many different types of boot insulation materials out there:
Synthetic Insulation: some synthetic insulations, like 3M’s Thinsulate, are practically household words. Others, such as Primaloft, Optiwarm, Heatseeker, and Zylet, not to mention the proprietary insulation used by outdoor brands like Keen and Columbia, might not be known as well. However, they're all designed to do the same job: keeping your feet warm. No matter the kind of synthetic insulation in your boots, most work in fundamentally the same manner. The insulation, made up of artificial fibers, creates an insulative layer, designed to trap your body heat inside of the boot.
Natural Insulation: Natural insulative materials such as felt, shearling (the tanned hide wool of a yearling sheep), and wool (the fibrous layer of hair shorn from a sheep) work in much the same manner as synthetic insulators do. When used to line a boot, it will help you to retain your body heat and keep your feet warm.
Breathability and Waterproofing
Breathability and waterproofing play just as important a role in keeping your feet warm as a boot’s temperature range does. If your boots aren’t able to get rid of the moisture inside of your boot, such as sweat, the boot’s insulation will become damp and, in some cases won’t be able to keep you as warm as it would if it was dry. The same goes for keeping water out: if your boots aren’t waterproof or at least water-resistant, water from puddles, slush, and melting snow will get into the boot, lowering the temperature inside of it, making you feel uncomfortable.
Materials such as Gore-Tex and other membrane fabrics allow water vapor from inside of your boot to escape, but won’t allow liquids to get in. Rubber has been used to waterproof boots for years. It may not allow water vapor to escape a boot, but there are few materials better for keeping the elements out.
If you decide to buy boots other than the ones we recommend, take the time to research the materials used in them to keep your feet dry before pulling the trigger on a purchase.
A well-fitted pair of winter boots should be tight at the heel, to keep the boot from moving around as you walk. If the boot has laces, they should be able to be tied tightly enough to provide additional support to your ankle, but not so tightly that it cuts off blood circulation to your feet. A loose boot provides no ankle support on uneven or slippery terrain, which can lead to injuries. That the boot is too loose can also lead to the person wearing it developing hotspots or blisters.
You’ll want the boot’s toe box to provide an air gap between the boot’s interior and your toes, allowing for blood circulation. As you walk, the air gap will warm, thanks to the body heat you generate, adding to the boot’s overall insulation.
Finding a pair of winter boots that fit well can be difficult. As such, you may have to try on multiple pairs to find a boot that works for you. This is easy to do if you plan on buying them from a brick-and-mortar store. If you’re shopping online, it can be a lot more difficult. Many retailers, including Amazon, let you try on boots and return them as long as you haven’t worn them outside.
When taking a new pair of winter boots for a spin, be sure to wear the sort of socks that you plan on using them with, as the thickness of the sock can have a significant impact on their fit. A thick pair of rag wool socks, for example, will take up nearly a half-size in your boot.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.