The 11 Best Cold-Weather Boots of 2021

Stay cozy and dry all winter long with these top picks

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TRIPSAVVY-v2-best-cold-weather-boots

Chloe Jeong / TripSavvy

If you've spent any time in the snow, you probably know that having cold feet can make the rest of your body cold, too. That equals 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 and waterproof or water-resistant, so they're made for cold-weather wear. 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.

The Rundown
Buyers get 200 grams of insulation, a waterproof construction, and a faux-fur liner.
They’re a good buy if you need a boot for occasional wear in cold, snowy, and wet conditions.
Best for Winter Hiking:
Vasque Breeze WT GTX at Amazon
The Breeze GTX hiking boot cuts no corners when it comes to winter preparedness.
The no-frills winter boots are low-key cool and, far more importantly, capable of weathering extreme winter elements year after year.
The waterproof boots have 200 grams of insulation and a fleece liner to keep little feet cozy.
Best for Extreme Cold:
Baffin Escalante at Amazon
The Escalante has a grippy outsole for icy terrain, waterproof materials, and multiple insulation systems.
The chunky outsole adds both edgy style and extra grip, and the waterproof coating makes rainy days no problem.
Best Men's Style:
Ugg Kirkson at Nordstrom
It's equal parts turn-of-the-century vintage and modern outdoorsman.
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.

Best Overall: Sorel Caribou Boots

Sorel Caribou Boots
What We Like
  • Grippy sole

  • Cushy liner for extra comfort

  • Seam-sealed outer

What We Don't Like
  • Looks a lot like L.L. Bean Bean Boot

Weight: Approximately 2 pounds per shoe | Insulation: Removable 9-millimeter washable recycled felt inner with Sherpa pile snow cuff.

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 winter boots available, the Sorel Caribou Wool Boot stands at the top of our list. It has features such as a cushy inner liner, a grippy rubber outsole for winter traction, and a seam-sealed waterproof leather outer. It packs a tough punch and looks like a duck boot, but with a bit more muscle. The men's version is available here.

Best Budget (Women): Dream Pairs Women's Mid-Calf Winter Snow Boots

Dream Pairs Women's Mid-Calf Winter Snow Boots
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 pound, 4 ounces per shoe | Insulation: 200 grams of Thermolite

The DreamParis winter snow boots are affordable and highly rated. Like, really highly rated. Buyers also get 200 grams 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 easier on the wallet.

Best Budget (Men): NORTIV 8 Men's Insulated Waterproof Winter Snow Boots

NORTIV 8 Men's Insulated Waterproof Winter Snow Boots
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 pound, 8 ounces per shoe | Insulation: 200 grams of Thinsulate

Another non-name-brand option, these boots are also highly rated by online shoppers. That’s probably because they also have 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation, a faux-fur lining for extra comfort, and a 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

Vasque Breeze WT GTX
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: 1 pound, 7 ounces each | Insulation: 200 grams of 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, 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation, and a Vibram "mega grip" outsole so you can confidently move across snowy surfaces. A women's version is available here.

Best Everyday: Blundstone Women's Thermal Chelsea Boot

blundstone-thermal-chelsea-boots
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: 1 pound, 1 ounce each | Insulation: Natural sheepskin liner 

Walk through any mountain town this winter and you'll see Blundstones—or shoes designed to look like Blundstones—on the feet of stylish winter wanderers. 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 boot with a removable sheepskin liner and Thinsulate lining on the elastic panels to keep ankles warm. They're cushy and grippy, and they're made to last through heavy use, helping justify the admittedly high price tag. A men's version is available here.

Best for Kids: Northside Kid's Frosty Winter Snow Boot

Northside Kid's Frosty Winter Snow Boot
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Waterproof and insulated

  • No laces

What We Don't Like
  • Nothing

Weight: About 1 pound | Insulation: 200 grams of 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; the boot itself is unisex and sizing is by age. The waterproof boots have 200 grams 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 Escalante
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: About 3 pounds per pair | 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 subzero 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 below zero—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 for deep snow. A men's version is available here.

Best Women's Style: Sorel Joan of Arctic Wedge III Zip

Sorel Joan Of Arctic Wedge III Chelsea Boot
What We Like
  • Stylish

  • Waterproof

  • Come in a variety of colors

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Hard to find online

Weight: 13 ounces per shoe | Insulation: Synthetic liner

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
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 ounces per shoe | Insulation: 10 millimeters of upcycled wool, lyocell lining, and 10-millimeter 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 25 below zero, have a grippy outsole for ice and snow, and cradle your feet with a plush wool lining and moldable foam footbed.

Best for Rain: L.L. Bean Women's 8" Bean Boots, Tumbled-Leather Chamois-Lined

 L.L. Bean Tumbled Leather Duck Boot
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: 1.5 pounds 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 6-inch boot with a leather cuff, or an 8-inch boot with an extra warm fleece lining. Opt for the fleece liner for winter wear. A men's version is available here.

Best for Snow: Columbia Men's Arctic Trip Omni-Heat Boot

Columbia Omni-Heat Boots
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 ounces per shoe | Insulation: Omni-Heat liner, 200 grams of 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. The Columbia ​​Heavenly Omni-Heat Boot (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. 

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 200 grams 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. A women's version is available here.

Final Verdict

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 Sorel Caribou boots for men and women 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 the boots will essentially replace your regular shoes for a season, invest in a pair that’s warm and comfortable even at a higher cost. If there’s just occasional snowfall, it might be worth going for a more budget-friendly pair. 

Warmth and Temperature Ratings

These ratings are good guides for just how cold it can get before you start to feel cold in the boots. The colder the rating, the more cold the boot can supposedly withstand. Of course 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; a 200- to 400-gram range covers most needs, though people in harsh- to extreme-cold environments might 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.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How should you clean your boots?

    Most winter boots are built to withstand harsh treatment, so you should be able to use a clean, slightly damp cloth to clean dirt off of your boots’ uppers without issue. Consult the manufacturer's instructions, of course, especially for caring for liners.

  • 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 cushiony 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.

    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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