The 7 Best Boots for Snowshoeing of 2021

Rugged, winter-ready footwear for playing in the deep snow

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TRIPSAVVY-best-boots-for-snowshoeing

Chloe Jeong / TripSavvy

The Rundown

Best Overall: Vasque Coldspark UltraDry Boot at Amazon

"The Coldspark packs weather protection—not bulk—letting you move in and out of snowshoes easily."

Best Budget: Merrell Alpine Brevig Polar Waterproof at Merrell

"You can wear this boot around town when you're done snowshoeing."

Best for Women: Keen Women's Greta Boot at Amazon

"It’s essential that a boot packs in both heat and comfort, and Keen’s Greta boot achieves that."

Best for Men: Columbia Men's Bugaboot III at Amazon

"Equally suitable for stomping through fields of snow as it is for traversing a frozen city street."

Best Classic: Danner Mountain Pass at Huckberry

"The boot's full-grain leather passed through six different tests before going to the assembly line."

Best for Extreme Cold: Sorel Glacier XT at Amazon

"They're rated to handle temperatures down to -100 degrees, thanks to an inner felt boot."

Best Lightweight: Salomon Quest 4D GTX Forces 2 at Amazon

"Though these boots are light, they don't skimp on snowshoe-friendly features."

Nothing inspires unmitigated, childhood joy more than traipsing through a wide field of deep, untracked snow, snowshoes firmly engaged, poles in hand, and the peacefulness of the nature around you. If you don’t have the right boots for snowshoeing, however, it could be a short-lived burst of happiness as your feet get too wet or cold or uncomfortable in the snowshoe. Boots win out over low-top hiking shoes because the added coverage prevents loose snow from getting inside your footwear. But they also need to be seriously warm, breathable to avoid overheating when you start moving, and burly enough to stand up to the worst winter can throw at you.

Read on to learn more about the best boots for snowshoeing.

Best Overall: Vasque Coldspark UltraDry Boot

Constructed to handle the harshest aspects of winter—ice, deep snow, plunging temperatures, perpetual wetness—the Coldspark UltraDry Boot from Vasque rises to the top because all that weather protection doesn’t make the boot bulky, which lets you move in snowshoes easily. Proprietary UltraDry technology provides 100 percent waterproofing and 200 grams of insulation, plus a breathable barrier to pack in the heat.

Both the footbed and midsole are constructed of durable dual-density EVA, while the uppers have been crafted out of TPU yarn mesh that keeps the boots at a reasonable 2 pounds, 4 ounces. Vasque’s Monolight outsole is made with a temperature-resistant ColdHold compound that's crafted into a multi-directional lug pattern to maximize traction on slick, wet conditions—and it also pairs perfectly with all snowshoe straps.

Best Budget: Merrell Alpine Brevig Polar Waterproof

Merrell Men's Alpine Brevig Polar Waterproof

Courtesy of Merrell

If you're looking for a lower-cost boot that doesn’t crimp on the features, Merrell’s Brevig Polar Waterproof has you covered. All seams have been sealed to lock out water but still let moisture escape, with a bellows-style tongue that keeps out debris. The fleece lining and 100 grams of low-profile insulation will keep your feet warm, and the use of EVA—at the midsole and in the removable insole—means you'll be comfortable for hours. The sticky rubber outsole works nicely with snowshoes and provides solid traction when you kick ‘em off.

Plus, this pair looks stylish enough to wear around town when you’re done snowshoeing. Black or brown synthetic leather uppers meet bold white midsoles and black treads, which are Z-shaped for that perfect retro vibe.

Best for Women: Keen Women's Greta Boot

It’s essential that a boot packs in both heat and comfort, and Keen’s Greta boot achieves that thanks to 200 grams of insulation crafted by charcoal bamboo, along with a quilted collar that provides additional insulation rated to handle temperatures as low as to minus 25 degrees.

The leather and textile uppers provide waterproofness that’s further reinforced with Keen.Dry, a breathable waterproof membrane, and any unlikely odors that might build up are quickly eliminated thanks to its Eco Anti-Odor control. Dual-density EVA rides in the midsole and removable insole while the Keen.Freeze rubber outsole provides serious traction in slick conditions. Keen’s trademark toe cap also makes it easy to strap on the snowshoes.

Best for Men: Columbia Men's Bugaboot III

Equally suitable for stomping through fields of snow as it is for traversing a frozen city street, the Bugaboot III from Columbia delivers a reliable winter-ready boot. A waterproof leather upper pairs with seam-sealed construction to offer 100 percent protection from moisture, and the injection-molded shell provides durability and comfort without adding weight. Rated for minus 25 degrees, the Bugaboot III uses 200 grams of insulation to amp the heat with a lightweight midsole for long-lasting comfort and superior cushioning. Underneath, Omni-Grip non-marking traction rubber soles bite into icy terrain, and the sloped profile of the boot itself fits well with snowshoe straps.

Best Classic: Danner Mountain Pass

Danner Mountain Pass Boot

Courtesy of REI

Portland, Oregon-based Danner has been crafting some of the best outdoor footwear since 1932, garnering loyalty from shoppers who know that the company's high-end boots deliver years of reliable service. You can embrace Danner’s well-earned reputation, and lean into their iconic look with the Mountain Pass, a winter-ready boot that works with snowshoes—and in pretty much any other cold-weather situation.

Over the decades, the brand has continually updated its construction methods, shaving off weight and enhancing out-of-the-box comfort. The full-grain leather used in the uppers passed through six different tests before going to the assembly line, making them some of the strongest all-leather boots available. Three layers of varying-density foam line the footbed for maximum cushion and support while the stitch-down construction allows for a wider platform to increase stability and connection to snowshoes. Yes, they are more expensive than other winter-ready boots, but the boots qualify for Danner’s recrafting services, which will extend their life through many winters to come.

Best for Extreme Cold: Sorel Glacier XT

The bomber Sorel Glacier XT boots are for those days when it’s downright frigid outside, but you can't resist the allure of a day spent trekking snowy trails. They’re rated to handle temperatures as low as minus 100 degrees thanks to a 13-millimeter thermoPlus felt inner boot that also has Omni-heat, a lining composed of silver dots that reflect your body heat. A 2.5-millimeter midsole made of bonded felt as well as a removable 13-millimeter midsole layer insulate you from the frozen earth, while the water- and wind-resistant PU synthetic textile upper protects you from the elements. Better still, if things start to get too hot, you can remove the inner boot or the midsole layer to adjust the insulation.

These boots pull on with relative ease and include standard lacing as well as cinch cords at the top entry point to really seal out the elements. The hand-crafted outsole is made from vulcanized rubber with the brand’s aero-tac treads. Make no mistake: These boots are bulky and might require more finagling to get them to attach to your snowshoes, but they’ll keep your toes toasty throughout the winter.

Best Lightweight: Salomon Quest 4D GTX Forces 2

In many ways, winter boots serve as a kind of armor against the harsh elements of the season. And, much like the steel-plated armor of medieval yore, winter boots are often heavy. Thankfully, Salomon has addressed this slight in their Quest 4D GTX Forces 2 winter boots, which weigh in at a relatively light 23.4 ounces. And Salomon still packs in loads of snowshoe-friendly features. Leaning into their trail running pedigree, the boots have a solid, precise fit right out of the box, with a Sensifit element wrapped around the midcourt area that’s snug and comfortable. The boot rides on the brand’s 4D Advanced Chassis, which lets the boot strike confidently in uneven terrain and fit well into snowshoe platforms.

In addition to a Gore-Tex waterproof and breathable membrane, the nubuck leather uppers have been treated with additional DWR to fend off moisture, and a gusseted tongue locks out debris. You’ll also appreciate the protective toe cap, which aligns well with snowshoe bindings, and the durable outsole, which has an aggressive lug pattern that works well on hard or slick surfaces.

Final Verdict

Unlike many winter boots, the Vasque Coldspark UltraDry (view at Amazon) aren't going to weigh you down with every step. And the overall svelte design doesn’t sacrifice on warmth or performance, either, with 100 percent waterproofing and 200 grams of insulation. But if you want to go classic, look no further than Danner’s Mountain Pass (view at Huckberry). They look charmingly old school but will easily handle all the elements, with out-of-the-box comfort, full-grain leather uppers, and a stitch-down construction that widens the footbed to better pair with your snowshoe.

What to Look for in Boots for Snowshoeing

Materials

Modern winter boots break out into two general categories: leather and synthetic uppers. The former offer a classic aesthetic, long-term durability, and the ability to re-apply waterproofing in case it ever wears down. Synthetic boots vary more considerably, with everything from textiles to rubber. They're often treated with DWR to repel moisture and have an integrated waterproof/breathable membrane that lets your feet breathe and stay-dry through wicking properties that pull sweat away from your feet and socks. Some pairs have tech linings that reflect your body heat back into your boot to improve insulation. Outsoles are typically made of rubber or a proprietary compound to provide grip on snow and ice, and insulation is typically synthetic and can be anywhere from 100 to 300 grams.

Fit

If you haven’t tried a pair of winter boots in a while, you’re in for a surprise—most don’t require a break-in period. But you should still walk around for a few days to identify hot spots before going out on an epic snowshoe excursion.  To avoid blisters and discomfort, be sure that the heel sits nestled in the boot and doesn’t move and that there’s plenty of wiggle room in the toe box while wearing a thick pair of socks; some snowshoers go up a half size to find the right fit. Boot height should also be considered. If you plan on navigating through deeper snow, go with boots with higher collars to keep snow from getting inside; for packed trails, you can wear a pair that fits just over the ankle. Most boots will work with most snowshoe harnesses, but if you have your own pair of snowshoes, it’s always a good idea to assure that the boot fits seamlessly.

Price

Expect to pay at least $70 for a solid pair of snowshoe-worthy boots. That price will get you the essentials—waterproof/breathable protection, a bit of insulation, solid padding and grip under foot, and a bit of over-the-ankle protection that you need. Go up in cost to take advantage of higher-end materials like full-grain leather or synthetic fabrics that’ll stand up to seasons of routine use, as well as snowshoe-friendly features like a robust toe cap, sweat-wicking liners, and smarter lacing and strap systems.

FAQs

What makes a boot snowshoe-specific?

Most of the same properties that work in a solid winter boot will work with snowshoeing: protection against moisture, insulation to keep you warm, moisture-wicking and breathable liners to prevent overheating, and solid lacing to assure a snug fit. The only thing you don’t necessarily need is a super-aggressive outsole since the snowshoe itself will be the piece of footwear making contact with the snow and ice. That said, getting a boot that does have solid grip on snow is a great option for when you’re not in the snowshoes and therefore expands the product’s applications throughout the season.

Do they need to be insulated?

That partly depends on the temperatures in which you’re snowshoeing, but in most cases, even a bit of insulation is a good idea, typically around 100 to 200 grams. Thicker socks can also help improve the insulating properties inside the boot, but be sure you get a boot that has a breathable and waterproof membrane. This lets air escape when you start to heat up, which keeps your socks from getting soaked with sweat.

How should I clean my boots?

First, know that prolonged exposure to moisture is the bane of pretty much all shoe materials, so after you’re safe and warm, be sure to wipe off any lingering snow or water with a microfiber cloth. For deeper cleans, you can use after-market cleaning solutions specific to your boot material, including leather or synthetic fabrics. Leather boots should also be periodically treated with wax to lengthen the life of the product.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Borchelt has spent many winter seasons stomping around snow-covered fields and trails around the world, from Chamonix, France, to the Utah backcountry, and has road-tested dozens of winter boots for snowshoeing along the way. He's tramped through frozen ski resort parking lots, the slush-covered streets of Washington, DC, and the dense piles of snow in Japan’s winter paradise of Hokkaido. Each product has been detailed and evaluated for comfort, fit, warmth, protection against the elements, and durability—along with a nod toward those that look good even when you’re doing nothing more than braving the winter for a cup of coffee.

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