The 12 Best Cold-Weather Boots of 2021

Stay cozy and dry all winter long with these top picks

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Best Cold-Weather Boots

TripSavvy / Chloe Jeong

If you've spent any time in the snow during a recent winter, you probably know that having cold feet can make the rest of your body cold, too. And while it may sound like an old wives' tale, it's actually true: your feet are the furthest extremity from your core, and when your skin is cold, your veins narrow to restrict blood flow. That equals cold feet – and an uncomfortable outdoor experience. 

Of course, you don't have to hike miles through knee-high snow to get cold feet. Freezing temperatures will make your extremities cold whether there's snow on the ground or not, and wearing shoes without insulation (or without any level of waterproofing) can make an otherwise fun winter day nearly unbearable. 

But before you plan to stay inside all winter, check out the list of the best cold-weather boots below. The options below are all insulated, waterproof or water-resistant and made for cold-weather wear. So whether you need a stylish pair to cover city blocks in the middle of January or plan on hiking through snowy national parks, there's a good chance you'll find the perfect cold-weather boot on the list below.

Best Overall: Sorel Lined Mid-Ankle Boots

Sorel Lined Mid-Ankle Boots

Courtesy of Sorel

[Note: Missing Pros/Cons + Specs]

The hands-down best boot will depend on several factors, many of which are personal preference: do you like tall boots or short boots? Do you value the convenience of a pull-on or appreciate the style of a full-lace leather boot? But taking into account the variety of women's winter boots, the Sorel Explorer Carnival still stands near the top of the best options for women. It's warm and waterproof enough for walking through fresh snow but stylish enough to look at home in the city. The fleece lining and pull-on heel loop are nice touches, too. 

We recommend the Sorel Caribou Wool Boot for men, with similar features such as a cushy inner liner and grippy rubber outsole for winter traction. The Caribou Boot also comes in a version without the wool liner, but it's worth the $20 upgrade if you're planning to wear it in colder temperatures.

Best Budget for Women: DreamParis Tall boots

DREAM PAIRS Women's Mid-Calf Winter Snow Boots

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Made for snow

  • Looks like a more expensive boot

What We Don't Like
  • Not entirely waterproof

  • Whole sizes only

Weight: +/- 1 lb, 4 oz per shoe | Insulation: 200g Thermolite

While giving the best budget pick to an online-only generic brand may be unorthodox, the DreamParis winter snow boots are highly rated. Like, really highly rated: the tall boots have 4.5 stars out of nearly 10,000 ratings. Buyers also get 200g of insulation, a waterproof construction (though it's likely more like water-resistant near the top cuff), and a faux-fur liner. They have a similar look to any pricier offering from brands like Kamik or Helly Hansen, but are far more affordable at $40-$70, depending on style and color.

Best Budget for Men: Nortiv Winter Boot

NORTIV 8 Men's Insulated Waterproof Winter Snow Boots

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Made for snow

  • Looks like a more expensive boot

What We Don't Like
  • Not made for lifetime wear

  • Only some half sizes offered

Weight: +/- 1 lb, 8 oz per shoe | Insulation: 200g Thinsulate™

Another non-name-brand option, these boots are also highly rated by Amazon buyers. That’s probably because they also have 200g of Thinsulate™ insulation, a faux-fur lining for extra comfort, and mostly waterproof construction. They may not be the best buy for men who work outdoors in the winter or plan on wearing boots most days between December and March, but they’re a good buy if you need a boot for occasional wear in cold, snowy, and wet conditions. Depending on your color preference, you can choose a zipper or lace-up closure.

Best for Winter Hiking: Vasque Breeze WT GTX Boot

Vasque Breeze WT GTX Boot (Women's)

Courtesy of Vasque

What We Like
  • Insulated

  • Extra grippy

  • Tall cuff for warmth/ankle support while hiking

What We Don't Like
  • Very outdoorsy looking

  • Limited colors

Weight: +/- 19 oz each | Insulation: 200g Thinsulate™

Vasque may not be as well-known in the world of outdoor brands as The North Face or Patagonia, but they make some truly excellent winter hiking boots. The Breeze GTX hiking boot cuts no corners when it comes to winter preparedness, with an over-the-ankle shaft, a completely waterproof GORE-TEX construction, 200g of Thinsulate™ insulation, and a Vibram "mega grip" outsole so you can confidently move across snowy surfaces.

Best Everyday: Blundstone Insulated

Blundstone Thermal Boot (Men's)

Courtesy of Backcountry

What We Like
  • Easy pull-on design

  • Waterproof with a removable liner

  • Minimalist, classic design

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • May not be warm enough for sub-zero days

Weight: 17 oz each | Insulation: Natural sheepskin liner 

Walk through any mountain town this winter and you'll see Blundstones – or shoes designed to look like Blundstones – everywhere. The no-frills winter boots are low-key cool and, far more importantly, capable of weathering extreme winter elements year after year. The Chelsea Thermal is a unisex pull-on Chelsea boot with a removable sheepskin liner and Thinsulate™ lining on the elastic panels to keep ankles warm. They're cushy, grippy, and made to last through heavy use, helping justify the admittedly high price tag if you plan to wear boots all winter long.

Best for Kids: Northside Frosty

Kid Frosty Winter Boots

Courtesy of Shoe Carnival

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Waterproof and insulated

  • No laces

What We Don't Like
  • Not sure there are any

Weight: 13 oz each | Insulation: 200g Thinsulate™

Kids grow pretty darn fast, and it's not just their height – they can go up two shoe sizes in a season. So why buy an expensive boot when it may not even fit in three months? Northside's Frosty Boot is a great budget pick for kids. It comes in various colors and patterns, but the boot itself is unisex – sizing is by age. The waterproof boots have 200g of insulation and a fleece liner to keep little feet cozy, and a drawstring cuff helps keep snow and cold air out. The boots are secure with a simple Velcro® strap, so kids can pull them on and off by themselves, even if they haven't quite yet mastered shoelaces.

Best for Extreme Cold: Baffin Escalante

Baffin Escalate

Courtesy of Baffin

What We Like
  • Heavily insulated and waterproof

  • Excellent traction on ice and snow

  • Tall shaft for deep snow

What We Don't Like
  • Not especially stylish

Weight: +/- 3 lbs | Insulation: Thermaplush™ inner layer, B-Tek™ foam liner, B-Tek™ Heat fiber insulation

There's a reason why you'll see Baffin on nearly every list of the best cold-weather boots: they're made for seriously sub-zero temperatures. In fact, Baffin's cold-weather boots have not one but four levels of rating: northern rated, arctic rated, tundra rated, or polar rated. Polar-rated boots are tested in the poles and will keep your feet warm to about -50 degrees – which makes them a little overkill for the average buyer. But their Tundra collection hits the sweet spot for anyone who spends days outside in cold, snowy conditions (they're tested in "high-altitude Canadian winters.") The Escalante comes in both men's and women's versions and has a grippy outsole for icy terrain, waterproof materials, and multiple insulation systems to keep feet toasty. The full-shin coverage on the women's is especially well-suited to deep snow.

Best for All-Day Comfort: The North Face Mid-Rise Waterproof Boots

Women’s Sierra Mid Lace WP

Courtesy of Backcountry

What We Like
  • Extra-comfortable foot beds

  • Totally waterproof

  • Extra padding and cushioning around ankles

What We Don't Like
  • Insulation is a little light

Whether you're exploring Wyoming's small-town this winter or working outside all winter long in an urban environment, you'll likely want a winter boot where comfort is the priority. Fortunately, The North Face Sierra Mid manages to max out the comfort without sacrificing style or versatility. Features like an OrthoLite® sock liner, faux-fur ankle liner, and 100g of insulation make it feel like you're wearing slippers all day. 

The North Face's best men option for comfort is the Back to Berkeley III, and aside from some minor swaps like replacing the faux-fur collar with a passed suede option, they're very similar. The "monks robe brown" shade has an outdoorsy look, while "TNF black" and "aviator grey" are better for stylish urban wear. By the way, there's also a women's Back to Berkeley, though the Sierra Mid scores more points for comfort.

Weight: 

  • Sierra Mid:  13 oz per shoe
  • Back to Berkeley III: 1 lb per shoe 

Insulation: 

  • Sierra Mid: 110 g synthetic down
  • Back to Berkeley III: No additional insulation

Best Women’s Style: Joan of Arctic III Waterproof Wedge Boot

Sorel Joan Of Arctic Wedge III Chelsea Boot

Courtesy of Backcountry

What We Like
  • Stylish

  • Waterproof

  • Come in a variety of colors

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Hard to find online

Weight: 13 oz per shoe | Insulation: synthetic liner

It can be hard to find the Sorel Joan of Arctic Wedge III Chelsea Boot in stock online, so if you see it, consider putting it in your cart ASAP. This wedge boot looks effortlessly cool with ankle-length jeans and an oversized sweater but also works if you're rocking a more haute-couture sweater dress, a la Rihanna at NYC Fashion Week. The chunky outsole adds both edgy style and extra grip, and the waterproof coating makes rainy days and parking lot puddles no problem. If the price is too high, check out the Joan of Arctic II boot. It's technically an older style, but they're very similar in design. Pay close attention when ordering as both zipper and pull-on versions are available.

Best Men’s Style: UGG Kirkson

UGG Kirkson

Courtesy of UGG

What We Like
  • Stylish

  • Versatile

  • Made for extreme cold

What We Don't Like
  • Leather requires some maintenance

  • Pricey when not on sale

Weight: 13 oz per shoe | Insulation: 10mm upcycled wool, lyocell lining, and 10mm sock liner

True, UGG's introduction in the US market was with a boot not exactly known for being stylish. But the brand has come a long way since the days of only selling solid-color sheepskin boots, and the Kirkson Boot for men proves it. It's equal parts turn-of-the-century vintage and modern outdoorsman, making it a versatile boot for men who want to look stylish without having a dozen pairs of shoes on rotation. They're rated to -32 degrees C, have a grippy outsole for ice and snow, and cradle your feet with a plush wool lining and a moldable foam footbed.

Best for Snow: Columbia Omni-Heat Boots

Columbia Omni-Heat Boots

Courtesy of Columbia

What We Like
  • Extremely warm

  • Subtle design

  • Waterproof and insulated

What We Don't Like
  • One color option for women

  • Version with taller shaft is pricier

Weight: 13 oz per shoe | Insulation: Omni-Heat™ liner, 200g Thermarator™ synthetic insulation

Most snow-ready boots on the market today have a very similar look – big faux-fur liners around the calf, a rubber bottom, and a leather upper with rustic design details. Fortunately, the Columbia ​​Heavenly Omni-Heat™ Boots (women) and Arctic Trip Omni-Heat™ Boot (men) are a bit more subtle, making them a better bet for winter wear when you don't want to look like you're trying to fit in at an Aspen après-ski bar. 

Fortunately, these boots don't compromise at all on warmth, making use of Columbia's proprietary Omni-Heat™ technology to reflect the heat generated by your body. They also have 200g of insulation, a removable footbed, and a bulky enough grip to keep you secure on icy morning commutes. The mid-calf height should be enough for most people, but a taller option is also available if you regularly contend with deep snow.

Best for Rain: L.L. Bean Tumbled Leather Duck Boot

 L.L. Bean Tumbled Leather Duck Boot

Courtesy of L.L. Bean

What We Like
  • Classic design

  • Waterproof

  • Comes in lined and unlined version

What We Don't Like
  • No half sizes

  • Leather requires upkeep over time

Weight: +/- 1 lb, 8 oz per shoe | Insulation: Fleece (optional)

If it's good enough for boaters and watermen in the coldest and rainiest of Maine winters, it's probably good enough for your outdoor wear, too. The Tumbled Leather boots from LL Bean are a footwear classic, with a waterproof duck boot-style lower and totally waterproof leather upper. They've been in the LL Bean catalog for more than 100 years and have probably never gone out of style. While men will have to settle for just one option, women can choose from two styles: a shorter six-inch boot with a leather cuff, or an eight-inch boot with an extra warm fleece lining. Opt for the fleece liner for winter wear.

Final Verdict

Footwear is subjective, and just because a shoe is made for outdoor elements doesn't mean it has to be sporty or covered in fur. Taking that into consideration, we think the mid-height winter boots for men and women from Sorel are the best bet if you're buying just one winter boot this year. The brand has a reputation for cold-weather durability, and the styles work equally well with ski pants or jeans and sweaters.

What to Look For in Cold-Weather Boots

Price

Keep in mind the rule of cost-per-use when it comes to winter boots: if you live in an area with a heavy winter climate and these will likely replace your regular shoes for a season, invest in a pair that’s warm and comfortable. If there’s just occasional snowfall, it might be worth going for a more budget-friendly pair. 

Warmth and Temperature Ratings

These guides provide a baseline for just how cold it can get before you start to feel cold in the boots—but this should be used as the most general of guidelines because individual factors like socks and physical activity can make a huge difference. 

Insulation Types

Most boots have synthetic insulation like Primaloft and Thinsulate, which keep bulk down and the coziness levels high. If fill’s available to look at, a 200- to 400-gram range covers most needs, though people in harsh- to extreme-cold environments should look for something a little higher. Non-synthetic linings like sheepskin or wool will get wet but still keep you dry—and are often removable for a quick dry before the next day’s wear. 

Fit

Always try on winter boots with the socks you’re most likely to be wearing in them—and be sure to leave a little extra room there too. It’s also a good idea to pay attention as you’re trying them on at home to where the boot hits on your leg and if there’s any chafing taking place.

FAQs

How should you clean your boots?

Just use a clean, slightly damp cloth to clean dirt off of your boots’ uppers.  

Do you need an additional traction system?

It depends on where you’re located and what you’re using the boots for. If you get infrequent snow, the majority of well-made cold weather boots will do the job just fine for running errands and shoveling the walk. If you’re working in more precarious conditions or tend to skip snow and have things skip straight to the ice, then an additional traction system might not be a bad idea. 

Boots with removable liners are great if you wear your boots each day and need them to dry out quickly overnight after a day in the snow. It’s rarely a bad idea—the liners make wearing the boots a bit more cushion-ey and soft, too.

What makes something a cold-weather boot?

In the most ideal of winter conditions – that is, no ice, no snow, no puddles, and no extreme cold – you can wear any boot as a winter boot, provided you have thick enough socks. But in general, winter-specific boots are made for those non-ideal conditions. They always have some insulation for extra warmth, should be waterproof (all the ones we've selected are waterproof or water-resistant), and should have some kind of outsole (bottom) designed for traction in wet and slippery conditions. Beyond that, some are more focused on style and versatility, while others keep your feet warm in borderline arctic conditions. They may also run slightly larger than a standard street shoe size as it's anticipated you'll be wearing thicker-than-average socks.

 If you live in a city, you may not need to worry too much about being able to walk through deep snow, just like how people that live in remote mountain towns (like me) don't need to worry too much about always being on-trend. If you'll wear boots almost daily, you'll likely want to invest in a more durable pair – but if they're just an occasional need, there's no reason to spend hundreds.

 Remember that getting a boot with too much insulation or one rated for conditions far colder than your typical environment can be a downside. Too much warmth actually is a bad thing as it can cause your foot to sweat, and when the moisture inside your sock and boot cools down, your feet will get very cold. That's why a breathable boot is a good thing, though it may sound counter-intuitive for winter wear.

Why Trust TripSavvy

TripSavvy writers are experts in their subject areas and remain objective in their assessments. While writing this review, Suzie Dundas relied on personal experience from more than a decade of living in the mountains as well as customer reviews, other expert recommendations, and her knowledge of outdoor gear and technology. Not every item on this list will be perfect for everyone, but we think most people can find a great winter boot based on the list above.

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