Published Jun 30, 2022 12:15 PM
The best winter boots for women fit you properly and work well for the activity. Depending on your intended use or the climate in which you live, the type of boots needed may vary. We don’t all have the same shape or size feet either, and knowing which ones are suitable for wide or petite feet can also impact your decision.
Note that our picks have outdoor pursuits in mind and won’t necessarily fit the bill in terms of fashion boots, while they all can be worn casually. In compiling this list, we chose function over fashion to ensure you find a safe boot to wear hunting, hiking, or doing chores all winter. Using intentionality and understanding your personal needs, including your budget and style, you can find the best winter boots for you.
Things to Consider Before Buying Winter Boots
The best winter boots for women primarily come down to the intended use and frequency of use. The conditions in which you wear the boots if you are mobile or stationary, and personal preferences collectively influence the best boot for you. Once you’ve identified those things, moving on to the price, materials, durability, and features becomes a priority.
Climate and Terrain
Where you live or visit can make a big difference between the boots you choose. For instance, if you live in Phoenix, AZ, and only travel to Flagstaff to ski twice a year, the type of boot you need will be vastly different from someone that lives in Michigan, where snow is a daily part of their lives for much of the year. If you are traveling to a destination and need boots only for that trip, how much money you’re willing to spend may also change.
The weather and terrain are often what we are discussing when we bring up the intended use. Within that intended use, we must also acknowledge how often and for how long we plan to use the boots.
- Do you need to wear these daily for outdoor chores?
- Are you looking for a waterproof boot to shop in town through the winter and spring?
- Do you want boots you can wear for snowshoeing or winter hiking?
Where you plan to wear the boots and how you plan to use the boots should always be the first consideration in your shopping journey. Then you can move on to your budget and other factors discussed below.
Traction is important no matter the activity when looking into winter boots since many surfaces may be icey or slushy. The best hiking boots for winter adventures need to have a larger focus on the traction than boots you wear in town.
When shopping for winter boots, look at the traction description in terms of materials and lug pattern. The lug pattern is the traction design on the bottom of the boot. For winter boots, having rubber compound that is softer allows the traction to continue to grip even in cold temperatures. Softer rubber may also increase the level of grip and traction on slick surfaces covered in ice or snow.
As a general rule, the deeper the individual lugs are, the more traction you should have. Having a heel brake can also be helpful to avoid slipping when going downhill or on stairs. If you plan to walk in a icey area, having a traction aid like Yaktrax helps.
Winter boots should always have some insulation. Common types of insulation found in boots include:
- Synthetic: the most common type of insulation in boots, synthetic insulations include Primaloft, Heatseeker, Omni-Heat, Neoprene, and Thinsulate. The warmth rating of these insulation types comes from the weight in grams. For example, a boot with 200 grams of insulation works well for cold conditions but only if you perform at least moderate activity levels.
- Wool: a natural boot lining and insulation, wool will come in the form of a felt-like material or on sheepskin. Wool materials often make boots bulkier to achieve an appropriate level of warmth, but the pro of wool is that it continues to insulate even when wet.
- Down: another natural material used in winter boots (although uncommon) is down. Down insulation is not as popular for boots because it doesn’t insulate when wet. However, you may see it used in casual winter boots or winter slip-ons meant to be worn as a camp shoes.
When buying any down or wool materials, we recommend only supporting companies that utilize the Responsible Down Standard or the Responsible Wool Standard. These certifications ensure that animals experience a more humane life and that birds used for down are not plucked alive.
For mud or light snow, you can wear waterproof hiking boots with some gaiters. Still, waterproof materials should be emphasized when looking at winter boots for any activity.
When shopping for boots, take note of the wording used to describe features like water resistance or waterproof. When boots are waterproof, they are impervious to moisture and should repel all water from coming into contact with your feet. Water-resistance only means that it repels some water but can still get wet with enough exposure to moisture.
Since we assume that snow will be present for at least part of the time, we wear our winter boots; having a fully waterproof shoe is necessary. Some boots will use materials like rubber to construct a fully waterproof boot. Others use Gore-Tex liners and exterior coatings to be waterproof. The soles of winter boots should extend up higher than other types of boots and at least over your toes to further protect your feet from moisture.
These materials are effective to a degree, but be wary of boots that only use a waterproof coating. Unless that coating is water-based (most are solvent-based), it wears off over time and needs to be reapplied to protect your feet. Avoid the risk of wet feet in freezing temperatures by purchasing boots that have either a fully waterproof liner paired with a coating or a made with fully waterproof materials.
Why It Made The Cut: The Merell Thermo Kiruna boot is a waterproof boot built for hiking and walking in winter conditions with a comfortable fit, excellent traction, and durable construction.
- Weight: 2 lbs 1 oz
- Insulation: 200 grams M Select™
- Best Use: winter hiking, walking, and wet conditions
- Ideal traction (5mm lug depth)
- Nearly no breakin period
- Waterproof membrane is very effective
- Supportive and stiff design
- Not true to size (may need got up a ½ size)
- Not great for wide feet
Merrell has a wide selection of women’s winter boots, but the Thermo Kiruna design won out for our best overall winter boots for women this year. The sturdy design isn’t for everyone, but most will agree that it has excellent support for winter hikes or daily walks. The insulation is ideal for cold conditions with moderate activity and virtually no break-in period; you can buy these and step right out the door.
Although they are exceedingly comfortable, waterproof, and have great traction, their sizing may not win you over. We recommend trying these boots on in person before buying them as they are not always true to size. When you try them on in person, wear socks similar to those you plan to wear hiking. If you have wide feet, you may find these do not suit you, but some women with wide feet found they worked for them.
Overall, they are a reasonably priced product with a quality performance. They will keep your feet warm, dry, and comfortable for a few winter seasons at the very least.
Why It Made The Cut: If you need a fully waterproof boot that can keep your feet warm as you work, the Muck Boot Arctic Ice provides the classic protection of a rubber boot with the benefit of insulation.
- Weight: 2 lbs 8 oz
- Insulation: 8mm neoprene, fleece lining
- Best Use: outdoor chores, hunting, other cold, wet, and muddy conditions
- Fully waterproof materials
- Vareity of height options
- Vibrum Arctic Grip outsole
- Slip on design
- Works best for mild winter temperatures
- Not adjustable; works best for women with thin claves
If being waterproof is your primary concern, look no further than the Muck Boot Arctic Ice. You may be familiar with Muck Boots if you work outdoors in wet or muddy conditions. The Arctic Ice Boots are essentially designed the same but with insulation made for winter weather.
Although the Arctic Ice Boots are a warm boot design, they are intended for working outdoors. That means that the insulation is good, but it only really works if you are moving around. The primary draw to these boots is that they are fully waterproof and durable. The sole and portion covering your foot over the ankle is rubber, while the upper is neoprene. Both materials are waterproof and very durable.
Muck Boots also has an Arctic Sport that is very similar in design but with slightly thinner insulation, and an Arctic Ice Extreme with thicker insulation.
Why It Made The Cut: Regarded as the warmest boots in the world, the Arctic Steger Mukluks are unbeatable in extreme weather and cold conditions.
- Weight: varies
- Insulation: 9mm Polypropylene Lined Wool Felt Liner
- Best Use: extreme conditions
- Rated for -40F
- Durable and longlasting design
- Versatile and intended for a many activities
- Not ideal for extremely wet conditions, intended for extreme cold
Mukluks, established in 1985, is a brand loved and trusted by those venturing into arctic conditions. Made in Ely, Minnesota, the Arctic Steger Mukluks are said to keep your feet warm in temperatures -40F and below. The exact temperature rating depends on the design and size of the boot itself, but regardless, they are designed for extreme cold.
They are perhaps the best for cold weather, whether you are moving or not, but they don’t work flawlessly in wet conditions. So, if you live somewhere that has a mix of wet and cold during the winter, be aware these may not be as effective as other brands. Use the Mukluk Snow-Proof Water Repellent on the leather parts of these boots for more water resistance.
While these boots have a pretty high price point, many loyal wearers bought their Mukluks in the 90s and still wear them every winter. Utilizing full-grain leather, canvas, and a rubber outsole, these are an effective and durable option for winter boots.
Best for Hiking
Why It Made The Cut: The Keen Revel IV Polar boots are for women on the move throughout the winter with excellent support, a wide fit, and much-needed warmth.
- Weight: 2 lbs 6 oz
- Insulation: 200g of KEEN.Warm insulation
- Best Use: winter hiking, snowshoeing
- Provides mobility while still being supportive
- Excellent traction even in cold weather
- Rated for -25F
- Effective waterproofing
- Good for wide feet
- Not always true to size
- Can feel a bit clunky
The Keen Revel IV Polar boots are among our top options for winter hiking boots for women. All Keen shoes and boots work pretty well for women with wide feet. Still, we recommend trying these boots on in person if possible, as they do not always run true to size.
Despite the -25F temperature rating, unless you are moving around in these boots, we don’t think they keep you warm down to those temperatures. They have a somewhat stiff feel that may give mixed reviews, but the overall comfort and support while walking in the snow, rocks, and ice make that design worth it. They are warm, especially while you are hiking, so you won’t need bulky socks in milder winter temperatures.
Overall, these are an excellent find. The price is average for winter boots of this caliber, and they get the job done on and off the trail.
Why It Made The Cut: The Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden II Snow Boots are an affordable and effective winter boot that functions well for daily wear in town or on winter walks.
- Weight: N/A
- Insulation: 200g insulation
- Best Use: winter walks, casual winter wear
- Leather reinforced toes and heels
- Reasonable price
- Stylsih design
- Rated for -25F
- Insulates best when in motion, not standing still
Columbia has several winter boot options at reasonable prices. The Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden II are among our favorites in their line of winter boots, though. These are an excellent value for the price and ensure your feet stay toasty warm even on the coldest winter days.
As these are more of a budget boot, they will not perform as well as other options on the list for outdoor work or winter hiking. They lack support around the ankle, but this could be a pro or a con. Many women enjoy having a more supportive boot, while others like the flexibility these provide.
The durability of the boot is somewhat questionable, but for casual wear, they should last you a few years, at least.
How We Made Our Picks
If you live in a northern climate, you are likely familiar with the cold winter months. Whether you like it or not, having a quality pair of winter boots can go a long way, no matter the activity.
To help you narrow down your picks, we did our due diligence with extensive research and testing to put together a list of the best winter boots for women. Beyond what’s mentioned in the “things to consider before buying” section, we focused on functional designs as well as the following:
- Materials: are the materials durable and reinforced in high-wear areas like the toe box, cuffs, and laces? Can any of the materials be repaired? Are the materials functional for the chosen activity?
- Insulation: what is the insulation thickness, and does it continue to insulate when wet? At what temperature does the insulation stop working? Does the insulation wear with use? Does the boot insulate only when in motion or can you comfortably wear them when stationary?
- Waterproofing: how far does the outsole extend up and over the toe and sides of the shoe? How much of the boot is fully waterproof? Is the boot waterproof or only water-resistant? Does the boot utilize a waterproof lining, fully waterproof material, or a waterproof coating that will need to be reapplied?
What are the best winter hiking boots for women?
The best winter hiking boots for women are the ones that fit your feet and your outdoor needs. The intended use of the boots and frequency of use in cold, wet conditions can determine the style and type of boot necessary. For this list, we chose the Merrell Overlook II as the best winter boots for women, and they function quite well for hiking as well.
What are the most comfortable winter boots for walking?
In our opinion, the most comfortable winter boots for walking are the Xero Shoes Alpine Boots. Xero Shoes are a minimalist shoe design that mimics barefoot walking. These shoes are durable, functional, and comfortable for winter walks around town or on well-maintained trails.
How do I keep my feet warm in winter boots?
The best way to keep feet warm in winter boots is to choose appropriate boots for the given activity and weather conditions. That means that if you are outside for long periods walking in snow and slush, the boots not only should be insulated, but they should be fully waterproof as well. Then, consider looking into warm socks. Sitting or standing will reduce circulation to your feet, so if possible, stay moving. Lastly, make sure your boots are dried in between wearing them.
Does wearing two pairs of socks help keep your feet warm?
Wearing two pairs of socks should not be necessary when you have quality socks and boots. Many hikers used to wear two pairs of socks to reduce friction and hot spots, not to keep their feet warm. Invest in a good pair of socks designed for cold conditions, and you should be fine.
The best winter boots for women not only need to fit, but they also need to be functional for the intended activity. Since winter looks different depending on where you live, and the level of warmth, and comfort, traction can be so vast, we tried to include a variety of options that may work for your lifestyle. From the best ice fishing boots or slip-on winter boots you can keep by the door to walk the dog and take the trash out, there is the best boot for you.
If you couldn’t find the winter boots that suit you on our list, check out one of our many other boot reviews and refer back to our buying considerations while shopping.