Every Shoe You Need to Thrive in Winter

Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. shares her top picks for shoes and boots geared for the cold.

Closeup on winter boots dusted with snow

Photo by Pratik Gupta

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If you have read any of my other articles, you probably know that I am not a winter person. I don’t like feeling cold—my muscles get angry, my skin dries up, and my toes go numb. I am also the kind of person that doesn’t want to let weather affect how much time I spend outside. So, here are all of the winter shoes and boots I use or recommend to enjoy the outdoors year-round.

Hiking Boot

For hiking in the winter, and for hiking really anytime, I go to Merrell. This brand is known for out-of-the-box comfort (read: no break-in time), durability, and longevity. I have had mine for years and they still hold up. The Merrell Thermo Freeze boots come in both women’s and men’s sizes. These boots have anti-odor tech (say bye to smelly feet) and are waterproof and insulated. They are lighter in weight at under two pounds, and like all Merrells, extremely comfortable.

Another great option for men is the Vasque Snowburban II. These boots are insulated, waterproof, and come up higher over the ankle. They are heavier at 3.5 pounds, but the high-quality materials and warm insulation are worth the weight. These are great for extra ankle stability and will keep your feet happy all day.

A Boot for Around Town

Closeup on a pair of high winter boots

Photo By Emma Dau

When walking around town during winter, I like my boot to be both functional and fashionable (because why not?). My go-to is a nice Sorel boot. I specifically love the Sorel Tovoli boot for women, which comes in a few color options. These are insulating, waterproof, and great to head from walking the town to a sit-down dinner.

For men, these Sorel Cheyanne II boots are a nice option. They are intended for wear in winter and will tell everyone that you come prepared to face the cold. No numb toes here.

A Boot for Playing in the Snow

Now, just because I don’t like the cold doesn’t mean that I don’t love playing in the snow. I like a good snow frolic as much as the next person. But, of course, I boot up—specifically, in the Merrell Thermo Rhea boot. They come up higher over the ankle to the shin, are insulated, warm, comfortable, and let me enjoy running (read: struggling to run) through the snow. These also have wet-ice technology to keep you confident when walking on all winter terrain. For a klutz like myself, that technology allows me to have fun and not worry about falling and hurting something. However, if you do get injured, check out this article for some inspiration.

The Korkers Snowmageddon has similar tech and is a great option for men to hike and play in. With these boots, you essentially get two in one. The shoe comes with two outsoles—one with a winter rubber lug and another with studded rubber lug with carbide studs. The latter is great for slippery ice whereas the former is great for running around through snow. Insulated, warm, and adjustable, these are a great way to enjoy the outdoors through frigid temperatures and intimidating terrain.

A Boot for Relaxing around the Fire

After you conquer that intense hike and you want to rest your feet, put on the Bogs B Moc Wool shoe for slipper-like comfort with intense insulation. I have used these for long drives, resting in front of a campfire, and even running to the grocery store. Another great option for equal-parts insulation and equal-parts slipper is the Teva Ember Moc. I even wear them to walk my dog when I’m too lazy to tie my sneakers.

A group hiking up a snowy mountain

Photo by Todd Diemer

These are just some of the great winter shoes out there. I recommend pairing all of these with wool socks. Brands like Darn Tough and Smartwool are my personal favorites. They are durable, long-lasting, and never smell bad! Let me know what your favorite winter shoe is and let’s chat about all things outdoors.

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Although I've been hiking for most of my life, I didn't start backpacking and camping until college when I joined the University Outdoors Club at my school. My first backpacking trip was ambitious, the Batona Trail in the Pinelands in New Jersey done in two days. To do that, we had to walk a maratho...

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