Brown and black hiking boots on top of a layer of leaves and snow.

Winter hiking can include difficult trekking conditions such as slippery slopes, deep snow, cold winds, and below freezing temperatures. It’s important to choose shoes that are specialized for wintery conditions, which could make or break your trip. Some special considerations when choosing winter hiking boots include...

  • Shoe Size - It is imperative that you don’t wear shoes that are too tight as this will restrict blood flow resulting in cold feet. Your shoes should feel snug, but you should be able to wiggle your toes. Wearing thicker socks may be able to remedy issues with being in-between sizes.
  • Cut - Outdoor hiking boots and hiking shoes can be low-, middle-, or high-cut. High-cut boots are usually the best choice for winter hiking boots because they will cover your ankles and keep snow and slush at bay. Plus, they will provide the most stability on trails or through woods that are partly or fully snow-covered.
  • Insulation/Climate Control - Keeping your feet warm and dry is especially important when choosing winter hiking boots. Look for waterproof hiking boots, such as Gore-Tex© hiking boots, or boots with Gore-Tex© liners. Gore-Tex© is made from the same material as Teflon© and is a waterproof and windproof membrane. It also keeps feet dry by allowing vapor to escape.
  • Construction - For increased dryness and warmth, look for winter hiking boots with the fewest seams for water to seep through. Some boots are constructed with full-grain leather for maximum support and even feature a Gore-Tex© lining for dryness and comfort .
  • Reinforced Toe Cap - Crampons and microspikes can sometimes cause the front of the shoe to collapse, which can cause blisters. To prevent this, look for a reinforced toe cap.
  • Gusseted Tongue - This is when the tongue is sewn into the shoe, which can help prevent snow leaking through the shoelace holes.
  • Soft Cuff - A soft cuff will reduce the gap between the top of the shoe and your leg, which will trap heat and keep snow from falling into your boot.
  • Lugs - Winter hiking boots will have deeper lugs to help with traction for slippery conditions.
  • Microspike and Crampon-Compatibility - If you anticipate walking in icy conditions, microspikes (for flat terrain) and crampons (high-angle slopes) will be important. Be sure to try them on before your trip so you can remedy any issues that may cause discomfort.

Choosing the right boot is very important to your winter adventures. While this list isn’t all-inclusive in terms of features you should look for, it does lay a good foundation when looking for the boot you need. If you have any more questions on your winter hiking boots, come visit us at your local Sun & Ski Sports.