There’s no better feeling than having warm, dry feet in cold, miserable weather. That’s why having a capable pair of winter boots is so important. The best winter boots should keep you just as warm and dry commuting in the city as they do on rugged terrain during a snow-filled hike in the woods.
We spent nearly three months bundled up in a warm winter coat so that we could research and test 10 pairs of winter boots to tell you that the Sorel Women’s Caribou Boot(available at Amazon) are the ones to get. Its balance of superior waterproofing, warmth, and a timeless, cute style won both our hearts and our tests.
If you spend a lot of time walking in the cold, the Muck Boots Arctic Ice Tall (available at Amazon) are also a fine choice. They’re incredibly comfortable, warm, and made to protect your feet from the ice, slush, and snow. Whether you're shoveling deep snow in your driveway or just walking your dog on an icy street, Reviewed has you covered.
Here are the best winter boots for women we tested ranked, in order:
The Sorel Women’s Caribou boots were the best women’s winter boots that we tested. With their superior insulation and sturdy rubber sole, they yielded the best results of every boot that we called in for testing. The Caribous are instantly comfortable and keep your feet warm without overheating, protecting your feet in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re perfect for heavy snow and are stylish enough to wear on your daily commute. Featuring a synthetic fleece-trimmed cuff, they’re available in black, tan, and grey.
During testing, the Caribous provided excellent traction on ice. The seam-sealed leather upper kept my feet bone dry and the vulcanized rubber shell covering the bottom half of the boot offering excellent protection against deep snow and heavy slush. The best part? The Caribou’s removable recycled felt liners can be swapped out if they get wet, left out to dry, and are replaceable if they wear out. Our testing suggests that you should go a half size up from your regular shoe size when buying these boots, as the Caribou run short and wide.
The only downside to these is that they’re a bit bulky, which could make taking the stairs or driving difficult.
The Muck Arctic Ice Tall boots proved to be the most comfortable boot to wear during testing, out of all of the ones we tested. This came as no surprise, given the bootmaker’s reputation for making crazy comfortable, waterproof footwear. I found that they offered excellent ice traction, breathability, and waterproofing. Despite their rubberized lower, these boots stretched out nicely, to conform with my feet while I was wearing them. They provide good arch support, thanks to their comfortable insoles. That said, it’s also possible to add your own insole or orthotic, to them.
At 17.5 inches tall, the Arctic Ice Tall boots are well suited for stomping around in the mud, puddles, or deep snow. They are made of one hundred percent waterproofed rubber with a neoprene and synthetic fleece lining that keeps your feet warm in temperatures that range between -58 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. During the hike, these boots kept my balance steady and my feet secure, even on slippery ice.
These are a great choice if you’re looking for something sporty and easy to pull on and off. A shaft circumference of 16-inches allowed these boots to glide down my legs, and I have thick calves! The Arctic Ice Tall has a simple design that makes them stylish as well as functional. Be sure to size up if you’re interested in a pair of the Arctic Ice Tall as they only come in whole sizes. If I had sized down, the boots would have been too tight in the toe box.
I’m Cailey Lindberg, the Updates Staff Writer at Reviewed and lifelong New Englander who has owned many pairs of winter boots. I decided to use my years of cold weather experience to help keep your feet protected from the elements.
I put each pair through a variety of tests to see how they would hold up.
I traveled to my childhood home in New Hampshire and went on an hour-long walk with each pair in temperatures of twenty degrees and below. It’s a remote area, with dirt roads, ample ice, snow, and rocky footpaths. To test the traction of the boots in our test group, on ice, I walked up and down the front steps of the cabin where I was staying, five times in each set of boots.
Once these practical tests were complete, I brought the boots to Reviewed’s test lab in Cambridge for objective testing. Under controlled conditions, I also walked in place in four inches of ice water for five minutes, in each pair of boots. This was to test whether or not each pair of boots would be able to keep feet dry, even in the face of deep, slushy puddles.
Finally, I weighed down each of the boots in ice water for 15 minutes and used a wireless temperature data logger known as a “button” to record how much heat retention each pair can provide.
What You Should Know About Winter Boots
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 the 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, are 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: materials such as felt, shearling (the tanned skin of a yearling sheep that was sheared of its wool, just before its life was ended), and wool (the fibrous layer of hair shorn from a sheep) work in much the same manner as synthetic insulators do. They’re natural insulators that, when used to line a boot, will help you to retain your body heat and keep your feet warm.
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.
Other Winter Boots for Women We Tested
Ugg Women's Adirondack III Boots
The UGG Adirondack III Waterproof boots were the most stylish boots we tested. Fortunately, they have more than just good looks going for them: they performed surprisingly well during testing.
Beautifully designed and luxurious, they feature the same real sheepskin lining of the Classic UGGs with gorgeous high-quality leather, which stretches out quickly.
The Adirondack III can protect your feet in temperatures as low as -25.6 degrees Fahrenheit. During testing, my feet felt comfortable and supported while hiking. They gripped ice surprisingly well and proved to be reasonably water-resistant.
You should know that they run a half size small in the toe box and are made for narrow feet.
The Sorel Joan of Arctic is a good all-around winter boot. Like Sorel’s Caribou boots, the Joan of Arctic features a removable felt liner, seam-sealed waterproof construction, and a vulcanized rubber outsole. During testing, we found that they didn’t grip ice as well as our Best Overall pick, nor did they provide the same level of comfort and support while hiking.
These boots run small. So, you may need to go a full size up from what you normally wear if you plan on wearing thick socks with them. Beware of them if you have thicker calves, as Sorel doesn’t provide a maximum shaft circumference for this model.
Despite these drawbacks, the Joan of Arctic Boots are a solid choice for winter that offers a good blend of fashion and functionality.
Timberland Women's Jayne Waterproof Fleece Fold Down Boots
The Timberland Jayne Fold Down boots are stiff leather and take time to break in comfortably. During our hiking test, I found that they had poor traction on ice and, thanks to their poor insulation left my feet feeling cold after twenty minutes outside. These boots accumulated salt stains easily, so be prepared to do routine maintenance on them if you want to keep them looking their best.
If fashion is more important to you than warmth and you insist on purchasing these, know that they run true to size length-wise, but are narrow in the toe box.
The Columbia Ice Maiden II Boots were the most affordable out of all of the products we tested. They might be an acceptable choice if you live somewhere with mild winters. Despite being rated as keeping your feet warm in temperatures down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit, this was not my experience. During our hiking test for these, I noticed that my feet felt cold, almost immediately. These boots run true to size, with soft suede that stretches easily and offers moderate water resistance.
Unfortunately, I found that they provided no arch support, making them a bad choice for someone with flat feet or another orthopedic foot condition. This could, however, easily be solved by inserting an insole or custom orthotic as the suede conforms to your foot.
If you’re set on owning a pair of L.L. Bean winter boots, the L.L.Bean Women’s Bean Boots Shearling Lined 10-inch boots are the ones to buy.
While no temperature range is provided for these boots, I found that their shearling lining kept my feel extremely warm during our hiking test. This boot’s leather upper is soft and easy to wear in and kept water out during our lab tests. You should know that Bean Boots run big, so order a whole size down for your best fit length-wise. They come in narrow, medium, and wide sizes to accommodate a variety of foot types.
Despite how much I liked them, there were some drawbacks.
While out hiking, I noted their lack of traction on ice, which caused me to skid. They have no arch support and your feet could begin to ache over long distances. However, this issue can be solved by equipping them with a good third-party insole.
Luxurious shearling lining
L.L. Bean Women’s Bean Boots, 8-Inch Thinsulate
With their premium full-grain leather and are hand-stitched construction, the L.L.Bean Women’s Bean Boots Thinsulate 8-inch boots will serve you well for years to come
As they’re rated to keep feet warm in temperatures ranging between 45 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit, I found them cold to wear while out on a test hike. While the bottom of the boot is lined, the upper shaft is made of unlined leather, allowing the cold to seep in. Despite having a gusseted tongue for waterproofing, our testing showed they may not hold up in a deep slush puddle.
While I can’t recommend them for the deep cold of an east coast winter, these boots should provide adequate warmth in milder winter conditions and would also be well suited to wear in the fall or spring.
The North Face Thermoball Boots are constructed using soft fabrics and are lined with synthetic fleece, giving them a luxurious feel. Sadly, they performed poorly.
During testing, the Thermoballs offered no ankle support, which puts you at risk of injuring yourself while tromping around in the ice and snow. I found them to be narrow and tight in the toe box when I first wore them. Once they were broken in, they stretched out, leaving my feet to slide around uncomfortably inside of them. This threw off my balance while hiking.
During testing I found they can get damp easily, making them less than ideal for withstanding winter at its worst.
Sperry Women's Maritime Repel Snow Boot with Thinsulate
Despite their name, the Sperry Women’s Maritime Repel Snow Boot with Thinsulate are not snow boots.
During our lab tests, we found they offered minimal water resistance and, while out on a hike my feet were colder in them than any other boot I tested. As these boots feature the same no-tie laces as Sperry classic sneakers do, it’s not possible to tighten them in a manner that will support your ankles.
My time with these boots was such a bad experience that I can’t recommend them.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.