Don’t be the guy who tries to navigate the snow and ice of winter in sneakers. You’ll look dumb even if you don’t slip and fall, and why risk frostbite when you could put on a pair of thick-soled, well-insulated wonders that will protect your feet from the elements (and protect other footwear from the ravages of snow and salt). We’re talking of course, about a pair of rugged winter boots.
Looking for a new pair? It can be hard to get more insulation and more traction without investing in a bulky, awkward boot that doesn’t look good. Alternatively, it’s also easy to spend money on a more stylish pair that doesn’t actually do the job well.
But fear not: it’s not impossible to find rugged boots that also look great. Every one of our picks is waterproof and insulated with cozy lining and/or high-tech heat retaining layers. They come equipped with traction-enhancing soles designed to help you keep you upright, and there’s a range of styles perfect from everyone from the urban explorer trudging to work to the active guy who won’t let even the coldest of temperatures keep him out of the great outdoors.
The 200-gram insulation and silver thermal reflective liners inside these leather boots are enough to keep your feet warm in -25 degree weather.
Pros: The non-marking traction rubber makes it harder to slip and fall on the ice, while the responsive cushioning built into the lightweight soles help keep feet warm during long hikes. Despite all that tech, these shin-high boots are lightweight: the pair weighs just a hair over one and a half pounds.
Cons: They aren’t the most breathable boots in the world, so if you’re planning on spending a lot of time outside expect some foot sweat.
You get durability, comfort, and style in this boot, which is at home on the mountain, and in the office.
Pros: This boot features a Techlite lightweight midsole for superior comfort and extra cushioning, plus the brand’s Omni-Grip traction rubber sole for slip-free movement. It’s made from waterproof full-grain leather and suede lightweight construction as well as a durable mesh tongue for breathability.
Cons: They’re not bulky, but the styling on these boots isn’t great.
These are ideal for those spending hours and hours outdoors because they keep your feet warm without copious sweating.
Pros: Cold feet are the quickest and easiest way to ruin a hike, or anything outdoorsy. That’s why we appreciate Columbia’s waterproof, seam-sealed winter boot with an Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining. It’s made from leather and has a supportive midsole for added comfort. Plus, you get major traction.
Cons: The higher height of these boots means your ankle is somewhat restricted, so they’re not great for navigating more treacherous terrain.
We have already sung the praises of the Blundstone Classic 500 as the ultimate do-it-all dude boot. It's a tough, comfy choice perfect for everything from hiking Italy’s Cinque Terre to shoveling manure.
Pros: The thermal version adds insulation to that same versatility and casual style in the form of an inner layer of Thinsulate and a removable sheepskin footbed. Along with the waterproof leather outsole and seams, these features keep feet warm and dry in even the most brutal winter conditions.
Cons: The ankle-high silhouette probably isn’t great for accumulations of more than a few inches of snow.
Drawing on the classic Danner hiking boot style, this winter boot provides a lot of warmth that's great for snow shoveling or just kicking around winter destinations.
Pros: A cozy layer of 400-gram PrimaLoft Gold insulation and Danner Dry waterproofing protect feet from the worst Mother Nature can drum up—but a blend of leather and wool on the outside means it has a look that’s more heirloom than high-tech. Grippy Vibram Megagrip technology makes it easier to stay upright on slick trails and sidewalks.
Cons: The wool on the outside of the boot looks cool but isn’t exactly stainproof, so these aren’t great for those who like to keep their boots clean.
If you find yourself navigating thick layers of snow, these warm waders are an excellent choice.
Pros: The 100 percent rubber construction of these boots makes them naturally waterproof. The Zylex liner wicks away moisture and adds an extra layer of protection.
Cons: Without laces, you might need to wear extra-thick socks to keep these things snug on your feet.
Seeking comfort and security? These winter hikers come complete with some breathing room. Made with a soft mesh upper reinforced by a breathable Gore-Tex membrane, these boots feel light and airy on the trail.
Pros: They’re lined with Merrell’s Opti-Warm insulation, 200 grams of Thinsulate, and an ActiveHeat insole with silver reflective film between polyester layers that keeps in body heat and keep out the chill while stomping through the snow. The Vibram Thermo 6 sole which grips on wet ice like an octopus, traction that will inspire confidence while taking on rocky winter trails or just walking the dog on a cold day. There are even ridges that make it easy to strap on a pair of snowshoes.
Cons: While plenty of customers sing their praises, more than one has said that the waterproofing on these boots can break down after a little while.
Dressy enough for a night on the town or a shift in a not quite fully casual office, the Winterhaven is the perfect cold-weather companion for urban explorers. L
Pros: Tightly insulated and seam-sealed, they’re tough enough to withstand a dunking in a slush puddle, yet each shoe weighs less than a pound. Best of all, the hiking-inspired lacing system means the boots stay snug while running to catch a bus or keeping warm by cutting it up on the dance floor.
Cons: The sole lacks the textured grip of the other boots on this list, so save these for urban environs.
Portland, Oregon-based Sorel updated its classic boot with modern materials to create this versatile pack boot.
Pros: The sole and bottom portion of the boot are rubber; the top, from the bottom of the laces to the mid-calf, is nylon. Both are waterproof materials, and the seams between them are waterproof too. The best feature, however, might just be the removable inner boot. It’s a 9 mm, recycled felt liner with Sherpa Pile snow cuff, warm enough to cause sweaty feet if worn into the slightly less frigid months.
Cons: The inner boot and outer shell add up to a thick boot that looks and feels bulky. They’re great for blizzardlike conditions, but overkill for standard snowstorms.
We love making dunking on Tom Brady as much as anyone, but the fact remains that Brady-endorsed Ugg makes some great boots perfect for standing outside in December rooting aginst the Pats.
Pros: Take these combat boots, available in black or cordovan (a reddish brown). They’re made of waterproof leather, lined with wool, and finished with antiqued metal hardware. There’s also a comfy insole, made from a blend of polyester-viscose blend and foam.
Cons: These boots are on the pricier side, and it seems like you’re paying for the brand name more than the actual boots.
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