- With a great pair of winter boots on your feet, snow, ice, and frigid temperatures won't stop you from having fun or getting your work done.
- We considered insulation, tread pattern, lacing systems, and more to find the best winter boots.
- The Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni Cold-Weather Boots are our top pick, thanks to the comfort, support, and amazing insulation properties of these boots.
- If you're looking for women's styles, check out our guide to the best winter boots for women.
My favorite boots are comfortable, supportive, and have great treads for hiking on all sorts of terrain. They're reliable, they look great and they tend to spend many months of the year tucked away on a shelf instead of on my feet. Why? Because they're just not winter boots.
Boots have to provide two qualities to be suitable for use during the winter: insulation and water-resistance. If your boots can't keep your feet warm and they can't keep your feet dry, then they're just not suitable for wintertime use. And of those two imperative qualities, waterproofing is the most important factor.
Once your socks grow sodden after snow, slush, or rain inundate your footwear, the insulation properties of the boots are no longer of much importance. In the winter, a wet foot is going to be a cold foot, and one more prone to blisters and infection. So while you can always help keep your feet warm with a pair of socks (or with layered socks), you have to use waterproof boots if you'll be hiking, working, or just walking around in areas liable to see snowfall or rain during those colder months. It's no coincidence that most of the boots on our list have the word "waterproof" right in the product title.
But what makes a great winter boot, beyond the warmth and dryness? It's largely relative. You need a winter boot that offers sufficient traction for activities in which you partake, but you don't need the same level of aggressive tread pattern for slushy sidewalks as you do for snowbound trails. You want enough support to help prevent a rolled ankle if you slip on ice, but your winter work boots probably don't need a calf-high rise. You want a lacing system that's snug and secure, but you also want it to be as simple as possible, as you might be wearing gloves or dealing with frosty fingers.
In short, you need to choose a boot that fits the places in which you'll use it and the tasks at hand in said locations. Don't choose a winter boot because it has lots of nifty features that seem clever and keen; choose a winter boot that's going to serve your purposes. We've rounded up the best winter boots you can buy for different use cases and styles.
Here are the best winter boots for men:
- Best overall: Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni Cold-Weather Boots
- Best classic: L.L.Bean 10-inch Shearling-Lined Bean Boots
- Best stylish: Red Wing Heritage Classic Moc Toe Boots
- Best rubber boots: Muck Boots Arctic Sport
- Best affordable boots for work: Ever Boots Ultra Dry Insulated Waterproof Work Boots
- Best for working outside: Wolverine Drillbit Waterproof Steel Toe BOA Boots
- Best low-cost: Kamik Men's Alborg Cold Weather Boots
- Best for wearing around town: Timberland White Ledge Waterproof Boots
Updated on 11/18/2020. We updated prices, links, and formatting.
With the Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni Cold-Weather Boots on your feet, you are going to be toasty warm even when the weather isn't, thanks to the advanced insulation and lightweight design.
Pros: Amazing insulation quality, reliably waterproof, good traction on snow, ice, and varied terrain
Cons: Too warm for use except in winter, rather large and bulky
The Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni Cold-Weather Boots will keep your feet dry if you stand in a stream or puddle. Seriously, you could just step right into the water, and provided it didn't crest the impressive seven-inch rise of the shaft, your feet would not get wet. And were the stream or puddle into which you stepped freezing cold, your feet would stay nice and warm, too. That's because these exceptionally well-made winter boots come with 200-gram insulation and an Omni-Heat reflective lining that radiates your own body heat right back at you.
You know those metallic emergency blankets (also called space blankets) that people wrap themselves in after an accident or after running a marathon? Columbia's Omni-Heat technology uses much the same approach. The lining consists of multiple little dots of a radiant metallic material that reflects your foot's warmth back into the boot instead of absorbing it and drawing the warmth away from your extremities.
And to top it off (or... bottom it off, to be more precise) these boots have an outsole featuring excellent traction that's lightweight and offers plenty of energy return. The boots are an ideal choice for winter treks, whether you're hiking across miles of woodland terrain or simply plodding across town on a cold wintry morning.Best classic winter boots
L.L.Bean's shearling-lined 10-inch boots are the warmest of the bunch, but any of the Bean Boots will serve you well through both fall and winter, and they go with most outfits.
Pros: Sturdy, high-end leather and rubber, steel shank for support, not outrageously priced, hand-stitched
Cons: Maybe not the most fashion-forward boots you'll come across this season (or next), but their beauty lies in their utilitarianism
L.L.Bean's boots were introduced in 1912, and haven't changed much since. That's because they haven't had to.
Leon Leonwood Bean did generations of anglers and hunters a serious solid by tacking together these remarkably warm and dry boots. The Bean Boots went on to become the genesis of his stardom more than a century ago. Today, you'll find them everywhere from the backwoods of Maine to the boroughs of the Big Apple.
While many of L.L.Bean's products are being made offshore these days, the company continues to craft a select few of its products stateside, including the beloved Bean Boots.
Constructed using rubber bottoms and soles, a steel shank, full-grain leather uppers, and 3M Thinsulate, these boots have hardly changed since the start. Of course, there was no 3M nor Thinsulate in the early 20th century, but the design, the leather, and the rubber have all remained the same.
One thing that has changed in L.L.Bean's boot game is variety. There are more than 30 styles of Bean Boots to choose from with an array of linings so there's a pair for each season.
These boots are part of the history of exploration and expedition themselves, having gone to war for the United States Army and forayed both poles. They are also storied to have found their way onto Ernest Hemingway's feet, who, according to GQ, even went so far as to recommend them himself.
The endorsements don't stop there. Popular Mechanics discussed The Never-Ending Greatness of L.L.Bean's Boots, and GQ has sung L.L.Bean's praise for years. One staff member here at Insider Inc. made a pair of these boots last more than 30 years. Here's proof.
Unfortunately, L.L.Bean's lifetime guarantee was discontinued, and purchases only come with a one-year warranty from here on out. We're sad to see this longstanding tradition go, but will still stand by Bean's boots unless the quality itself starts to drop. — Owen BurkeBest stylish winter boots
Red Wing is known by many as one of the longest-running leather boot designers in the United States, and the Heritage 6-inch Moc Toe is an iconic and dependable workhorse boot.
Pros: Trendy, rugged, waterproof, tough soles
Cons: Breaking them in can be a painful chore (but well worth the agony)
I've been testing out a pair of Red Wing's Heritage Moc Toes this year as the weather's been getting cooler, and I get the feeling that they may well outlast me. It might be the leather, which is almost unbearably tough to start (my ankles have the blisters and abrasions to prove it) but softens just enough over time without compromising the stitching at all.
These aren't the kind of boots I'd want to wear on a winter hike, but they're just right for trotting around town while still keeping a semblance of fashion about you.
With humble turn-of-the-twentieth-century beginnings in a small Minnesota town from which it took its name, Red Wing has been sourcing leather to make its boots from a nearby tanning factory that the company bought in the 1970s.
The fashion experts at Esquire call them a work boot "for the weekend" to be worn running errands or heading out on the town. AskMen swears by them, too, but warns that there may be a hellacious break-in period.
All in all, you can't go wrong with any pair of Red Wings, but the classic eight-inch 877s are an icon in and of themselves. — Owen BurkeBest rubber boots for winter
Soft, heavily insulated, and easy to pop on and off, Muck Boots' Arctic Sport boots are great for work and play all winter long.
Pros: Waterproof, lightweight, suitable for multi-season use, tall neoprene shaft, ideal for wading across shallow streams, well-insulated with fleece and thermal foam
Cons: Lining is not removable and can get hot, especially with sweaty feet, not ideal on slick or black ice with little or no snow cover, no laces for those who require ankle support
Muck Boots are a popular choice for all seasons and terrains, but the Arctic Sport boots are designed with an additional 2mm of thermal foam atop 8mm of neoprene, earning a broad comfort rating between -40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
They're great for shoveling the driveway or running to the store while keeping you and your clothes muck-free. They'll also suffice for a light hike, and are excellent on any flatland adventures.
The Arctic Sport boots are also fleece-lined, completely waterproof right to the top, and incorporate a breathable "airmesh" lining, keeping your feet dry from within and without.
The lightweight rubber sole is reparable, so if you find a fissure after a few seasons of wear and tear, a quick patch job will have them ship-shape in short order.
The tall shaft of the boot is 14.5 inches when measured from the arch, making these boots great for light wading in shallow streams.
Weighing between two and two-and-a-half pounds, the Arctic Sport is extremely lightweight for any boot, let alone a lined, waterproof one with a reinforced toe, or "bumper."
All in all, Muck Boots' Arctic Sports might be a bit cumbersome for romping around town for any length of time, but they're fully serviceable for dipping out of the house. — Owen BurkeBest affordable winter work boots
When there's work to be done, the Ever Boots Ultra Dry Insulated Waterproof Work Boots ensure the winter weather won't slow you down.
Pros: Great price point, reliable waterproofing, classic work boot look
Cons: Sizes run too large, break-in period required
A good work boot helps you accomplish your tasks without you even knowing it's there. Work boots need to be supportive and protective yet lightweight enough for the long hours required at the construction site, the farm, or the landscaping job. They need to keep your feet warm and dry in the winter, but not be so heavily insulated as to make feet sweat when your body temperature is raised. And of course, work boots need to be tough enough to endure the abuse that comes with the toughest jobs.
The Ever Boots Ultra Dry Insulated Waterproof Work Boots score high marks when tested against every one of the aforementioned standards, and they even have one more attribute worth noting: They look great. While aesthetics might have little effect on how well you get your work done, you might as well choose a work boot that looks good, right?
Made with full-grain leather, these boots are a great choice for workers in areas where winter precipitation can be heavy. Beyond that waterproof leather, they have watertight stitches, water-resistant laces, and a seal added along the sole to help make sure no snowmelt, rain, or slush ever soaks through to your feet.
A gear tester with AllThingsWaterproof called the Ever Boots Ultra Dry Insulated Waterproof Work Boots "ideal for construction, landscaping, gardening" and more, while a MyWorkWear writer noted the affordable price and the "high-quality materials and exceptional workmanship."
Consider stepping down a half-size because, in our experience, these boots tend to run large.Best winter work boots overall
Even when the temperature drops well into the negatives and the snow is blowing in sideways, you can head out with confidence while wearing a pair of Wolverine Drillbit Oil Rigger Boots.
Pros: Easy to lace up even with gloves on, warm and waterproof, intelligent tread pattern
Cons: Rather heavy and large
The Wolverine Drillbit Oil Rigger Winter Boots are some seriously heavy-duty footwear. And speaking of heavy, let's get one thing out of the way early. These boots are too cumbersome, both in terms of weight and bulk, for use on long hikes or even for days spent strolling around town in the winter. But for working outdoors, shorter slogs around your property or neighborhood, shoveling snow, snowmobiling, hunting (when heavy hiking isn't required), and for other highly physical activities, they're ideal.
If you really wanted to step up your work boot game you could go with Danner or Red Wing, but those are still twice as much as Wolverines. The brand offers more styles than we'd care to count, and you can find everything from bona fide steel toe work boots to more classic, thick leather boots built for the ages.
These are superlative boots for extreme winter conditions primarily thanks to their excellent insulation and water-resistance. The boots' arch and ankle support are provided by a molded EVA insole and an upper that almost reaches mid-calf.
But the feature that sets these boots apart from the rest is the BOA lacing system. Rather than pulling the laces tight by hand and then tying a bow to secure the boots, you tighten and secure the wire lacing of these boots simply by twisting a dial. The laces pull tight evenly and are held secure by the ratchet-locking mechanism of the dial, and simply popping the dial forward about a half-inch loosens the laces.
This allows you to put on or remove your boots and to tighten or loosen the laces even while you're wearing bulky gloves. Anyone who knows the frustration of fumbling over laces with frost-numbed fingers is nodding right now.
Take it from me: They're excellent boots that are indeed almost strangely easy to tighten and loosen. And yes, I am wearing my pair as I write just to help me connect with the assignment. (No, I'm not kidding. I'm wearing these boots right now, inside ... at my desk.)
A writer with HuntersHandbook praised the BOA lacing system, saying it allows for "a glove-like fit that's easy to adjust on the fly." Multiple gear writers also mention the Vibram Arctic Grip outsole of this and other Wolverine boots, noting its excellent stability in snow, ice, or loose ground. — Owen Burke + Steven JohnBest low-cost winter boots
As a great budget winter boot option, you'll get at least a couple of seasons out of Kamik's sturdy, reliable, faux-fur-lined winter boots.
Pros: Affordable, wide selection, over a century of shoemaking experience
Cons: Not the most durable boots in the world, but great at this price range
Kamik has been making affordable winter boots in Canada since 1898, and for the past 25 years, Kamik has been striving toward sustainability. The company has its own boot and recycling programs and 73% of its goods are North-American-made.
A removable polyester felt liner keeps things toasty inside while a faux-shearling collar helps to seal in the heat. Kamik claims that the boots are rated down to -58 degrees Fahrenheit, but, frankly, if you're entering temperatures anywhere in that range, you may want to invest a little more in a higher-tech boot.
The downfall of many a cheap boot — apart from poor lower-to-upper binding — is riveted eyelets, which are wont to pop off in short order. Kamik only makes a handful of boots this way, though. Our pick, the Alborg Cold Weather boot has D-ring eyelets sewn on with leather patches, which should hold up at least a couple of seasons.
Who said winter boots can't be handsome and stylish? The Timberland White Ledge Waterproof Boots keep your feet warm, dry, and supported, plus they look great.
Pros: Classic stylish looks, out of the box comfort, built to last for years
Cons: Sole too thin for some uses/users, narrow toe box
There is an elegant simplicity to the Timberland White Ledge Waterproof Boots. They are made almost entirely of full-grain leather with a dark oiled finish that only gets better looking with age. The eyelets and hooks are brass colored and will also take on a faint patina as the seasons roll by.
These boots will look right at home whether you're wearing them with coveralls as you conduct highway repairs on a freezing winter morning or at the bottom of a pair of designer jeans as you make your way into the lodge to grab a coffee or cocktail.
The White Ledge boots have a multidirectional lug pattern on the sole, providing you plenty of grip when you're trekking along the trail, climbing a hill with a steep grade, or standing in one spot while working. The breathable dual-density EVA footbed provides support and helps to prevent your foot from overheating, while a generously padded collar and tongue help ensure these boots are comfortable the very first time you slip them on.
You can treat these boots like hardware for work or for hiking, but you might also consider reserving them for winter nights out on the town.
The professional gear writers are effusive, with a review on BootBomb.com calling them ideal for use on "slippery slopes" or "muddy riverbanks" while also noting their "fine looking design." A tester from Today's Camping Gear called them breathable and comfortable and appreciated their moderate weight.Check out our other winter gear guides