Best hiking boots for winter

Gear

Winter hiking boots are specialized footwear that can be the difference between an exhilarating hike and one that is marked by pain all over your body. Take the time to choose the best winter hiking boots for you.

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Which hiking boots for winter are best?

No matter the distance or terrain, hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors. When the weather gets cold, many hikers hang up their boots for the season. But if you want to expand your explorations and hike year-round, you’re going to need a proper pair of hiking boots for winter.

For stability, durability and performance in the coldest, wettest conditions, the Timberland Women’s White Ledge are the best hiking boots for winter.

What to know before you buy hiking boots for winter

When you are looking for cold-weather hiking boots, take the time to choose the best hiking boots for winter.

Materials

Hiking boots for all seasons are available in a variety of materials, including:

  • Full-grain leather
  • Split-grain leather
  • Synthetics 
  • Vegan leather

For lightweight boots that still provide good protection against winter weather, consider some combination of synthetic fabrics and full- or split-grain leather. This combination is durable and comfortable for most hikers.

Conditions for use

Consider the conditions you’ll be in when hiking. If your terrain is icy and unstable, look for winter hiking boots with extra-grippy soles and ankle support. Hiking in wetter conditions? Waterproofing is key.  

Hiking goals

The type of hiking boot you buy will be influenced by the type of hiking you plan to do. If you are only an occasional hiker and don’t spend every day outside in winter weather, you won’t need as hefty a winter hiking boot as a person who is thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. 

What to look for in quality hiking boots for winter

Good ankle support

Ankle shanks on mid- or high-topped hiking boots offer excellent additional ankle support. This means you can traverse treacherous terrain without worrying about injury.

Proper arch and foot support

While some hikers might add custom orthotics to their hiking boots for even more comfort, the best hiking boots for winter already come with an ergonomic footbed that provides proper arch and foot support. Some brands of boots are also specially designed for either high or flat arches, so shop accordingly.

Waterproofing

Winter weather doesn’t just mean cold — it often also means wet. More than any other potential hazard, getting wet in cold weather can quickly debilitate a hiker. That’s why waterproofed boots are not optional for winter hiking.

Foot protection and heel brakes

Foot protection in the form of toe bumpers not only helps you get a grip on difficult ascents, but also prevents injuries from tree stumps, rocks and other debris on the trail.

Heel brakes are an excellent feature for steep descents. This extension of rubber from the heel allows you to really dig in as you lean back when headed down a mountain. 

How much you can expect to spend on hiking boots for winter

The best hiking boots for winter don’t come cheap. Expect to spend between $90-$300 for high-quality, long-lasting boots.

Hiking boots for winter FAQ

How do you find the best fit in hiking boots for winter?

A. Hiking boots don’t always follow the same standard size as your shoes. It’s important to find a boot that is neither too tight nor too loose, especially when you add thick winter hiking socks.

Shop for hiking boots at the end of the day when your feet are at the largest. Wear the socks you intend to hike in.

Step into the hiking boot and slide your foot all the way to the front of the shoe (this area is called the toe box). If you can insert one finger between your heel and the back of the boot, this is a good fit. Lace up your boots and notice how much pressure the tongue places on the top of your foot. It should feel more like a hug than a squeeze.

Walk around in your boots. You want a little bit of flexibility in the sole and a supportive-feeling ankle. 

Do hiking boots require a breaking-in period?

A. Because they do not fit in quite the same way as shoes, most hiking boots do require a breaking-in period. This helps your feet adjust to the support of the boot and the way it feels on your feet.

Take short walks in your boots, gradually increasing the distance as your boots get more comfortable. Do not walk to exhaustion or until blisters form. This process should not cause pain.

What are the best hiking boots for winter to buy?

Top hiking boots for winter

Timberland Women's White Ledge

Timberland Women’s White Ledge (also available in men’s)

What you need to know: These waterproof boots are designed for poor weather conditions.

What you’ll love: The sole is sturdy and supportive with rubber lug soles. They have excellent ankle support and warm cushioning on the inside for all-day hiking comfort.

What you should consider: These boots are heavier than other brands.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top hiking boots for winter for the money

Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot

Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot (also available in men’s)

What you need to know: The additional padding means this boot stays warm and comfortable in cold, wet weather.

What you’ll love: The sole is shock-absorbing and has a memory foam insert that cradles your foot as you hike. These boots are waterproof and offer extra padding around the ankles for solid support in varied terrain.

What you should consider: Order a size up to wear with heavy winter socks — these boots run small.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Worth checking out

KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot (also available in women’s)

What you need to know: There is no “breaking in” period for these durable, rugged hiking boots.

What you’ll love: An external support shank provides additional stability in the ankle on rugged terrain. These boots are waterproof and keep your feet dry and comfortable. They have a thick toe guard to protect against trail hazards.

What you should consider: These keep feet so cozy that they might not work for warm-weather hikes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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