When looking for winter boots this season, remember that while many brands seem to offer the same features, the difference in quality isn’t always the same. Like some other types of footwear, winter boots are designed to wick away moisture while keeping feet warm. But there are many other features to be aware of, which you can learn about in this winter boot buying guide.
Depending on where you live, the conditions you work in, and how much time you spend outdoors, you need a boot with the height to accommodate your needs. For those working in the stable, barn, or farm during winter, a tall, 16-inch boot is the best choice to keep out snow, mud, ice, and muck. For the casual urbanite or hobby gardener, a mid-calf boot will work well for your needs for outdoor activity this winter.
Strength and Features of the Outsole
For serious outdoorsmen and women, a boot with a tall, thick, and slip-resistant outsole is crucial. Muck Boots with Vibram outsoles, including the Arctic Ice outsole, are great options for those working in freezing or subfreezing conditions where the risk of slipping is high. Other outsole features should include excellent traction for trudging through snow to keep you from slipping on icy sidewalks or snow banks. Rubber outsoles come in different heights for varying needs. You may only need a short rubber outsole—but if you spend a lot of time working outside in winter, consider a tall, thick rubber outsole with an aggressive track pattern.
Many winter boots come with a faux fur or other liner at the top of the boot, but how much does this do to keep out water, ice, or snow? The best winter boot toplines will fit snugly around your calf, and ensure a waterproof seal. Whether boots are slip-on or lace-up, they should offer waterproof protection against the winter elements. Slip-on boots will offer 100 percent waterproof protection when they offer a proprietary feature like self-insulating, waterproof neoprene shell construction. Lace-up boots should be waterproof through features like attachable, weather-resistant covers that fit over boot tops, or interior drawstrings that pull the lining shut. Other lace-up winter boots offer an elastic liner that hugs the calf.
Layers and Linings
No winter boot buying guide would be complete without mentioning these important features that control foot and calf warmth and dryness. Boots made for getting around the outdoors during the coldest time of year should have a neoprene, fleece, and additional liner to ensure warmth while wicking away sweat and moisture as you work or walk. Whether it’s made of leather or a manmade material, the upper of a winter boot should have a waterproof membrane to keep water, ice, and snow from creeping into the boot. While multiple interior and exterior layers and reinforcement are necessary, they can’t make the boot inflexible. Rubber outsoles, fleece and neoprene interior linings, and other layers should work together to create heightened flexibility for outdoor mobility in the snow and ice. Special features like aggressive traction also improve flexibility in the boot upper.