Ladies, are you seeking the best winter boot to keep you warm this season? Once we chose 13 of the best products out there, after researching over 80 different options, we got down and dirty, testing them over the snowiest and most treacherous terrain. In addition to wearing them to work and around town during stormy weather, we took them hiking up 13,000 ft mountains and trudged along ridgelines of volcanoes and glaciers to really put each to the test. After 200+ hours of comparative testing, and over six years of experience sloshing through puddles, snow, and mud, we offer our best recommendations to help all you ladies find the best boot this winter season.
The Best Women's Winter Boots
|Price||$249.95 at Amazon|
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|$185.00 at REI|
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|$143.12 at Amazon|
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|$145.00 at Amazon||$125.29 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Super cozy liner, completely waterproof, cute style options, comfortable, warm.||Comfortable, good traction, waterproof, warm, supportive||Very protective, warm, durable, excellent traction on icy surfaces.||Warm, wider-forefoot, waterproof, fantastic traction, stability and support||Warm, weather-proof, faux-fur collar, tall shaft height, stylish|
|Cons||Expensive, shaft lacks stability.||Poor on ice, shorter construction, technical style, 1/2 size too small.||Expensive, bulky and heavy, reported issues with leaking after long-term use.||Aggressive and techy look, not cozy, less arch support||Poor traction, heavy, less precise fit|
|Bottom Line||The epitome of comfort and warmth, wrapped in a cute, yet high performing waterproof package.||A stable and comfortable winter hiking boot with many uses.||A durable and protective neoprene boot offering warmth and protection.||A great winter hiker, perfect for slippery trails and long days.||A stylish and tall boot built to take on bad weather.|
|Rating Categories||UGG Adirondack III||Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Wa...||Arctic Ice Tall||Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat||Sorel Joan of Arctic|
|Weather Protection (25%)|
|Comfort & Fit (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||UGG Adirondack III||Oboz Bridger 7"...||Arctic Ice Tall||Bugaboot Plus IV...||Sorel Joan of Arctic|
|Maximum puddle depth before major leaking||9 inches||5 inches||15 inches||6 inches||10 inches|
|Measured Weight (one boot, size nine)||1 lb. 5 oz||1 lb. 4.8 oz||2 lb. 5 oz||1 lb. 4 oz (size 7)||2 lbs.|
|Type of Boot||All-around winter||Hiking||Outdoor work and chores||Hiking||All-around winter|
|Fit Details||True to size||True to size||True to size||True to size||True to size|
|Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft, Size 9)||10 inches||7 inches||17 inces||7.5 inches (size 7)||13.5 inches|
|Lining/Insulation||UGGpure wool||200 gram 3M™ Thinsulate™ insulation||Fleece lined & 5mm of neoprene||Omni-Heat reflective lining, 200-grams of insulation||6 mm recycled felt|
|Footbed||EVA||O FIT Insole™ Thermal||Removable contured PU||Techlite EVA||2.5mm bonded felt frost plug|
|Upper Material||Waterproof suede and leather||Waterproof nubuck leather||Neoprene 8mm & rubber||Leather, nylon||Waterproof suede leather with faux fur cuff|
|Toe Box||Rubber||Molded rubber||Rubber||Rubber||Rubber|
|Outsole||Molded Spider Rubber||Granite Peak winterized rubber||Vibram Arctic Grip||Michelin winter compound rubber||Waterproof vulcanized rubber|
|Company-claimed cold-weather rating||-32||n/a||n/a||-25||-25|
|Animal products used?||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Sizes Available||5 - 12||6 - 11||5 - 11||5 - 12||5 - 12|
The Best Winter Boot for Women
UGG Adirondack III
Laden with super-soft sheep's wool and built with a durable leather outsole, this award-winning boot isn't only cute and stylish, but technical and protective. The newly updated outsole offers performance that surpasses what you'd expect from a traditional winter boot. It offers traction on hard-packed and icy trails, over scree fields and soft, and over newly fallen snow. The leather construction is completely waterproof with a fur liner to keep the snow out. The collar folds down, offering two modes of wear, one for technical performance and the other for simply wearing around town or to work. This super versatile boot can easily be worn from winter trails, through creek crossing, and back to work. It is warm, protective, breathable, and stylish, earning our highest accolades.
While it has plenty of uses, it's not as stable in the shaft as other winter boots that are geared towards hiking and super technical performance. It's also expensive. Given the suede and leather construction, it needs to be treated with a leather seal to ensure its longevity and performance throughout the seasons.
Read review: UGG Adirondack III
Best Bang for the Buck
Kamik Sienna 2
This high-value boot performs at a superior price. The waterproof sole keeps water out while the mid-rise construction offers a reprieve from newly fallen snow. The wider collar is not lined with faux-fur (which many appreciate) and the pull tabs on the back of the boot is an easy to use feature. This boot is surprisingly warm, offering protection when the temperatures drop well into the negatives. While there are other lower priced boots like the Columbia Ice Maiden II out there, this award winner proves to be better crafted with a warmer and more durable construction that'll keep you protected throughout the winter.
The only real beef we have with this boot is its fit. It runs a little small, so you'll need to size up a half size, especially if you prefer to wear a thicker sock. Plus, the heel of this boot is high, which you can feel. It pushes the front of the foot forward, similar to wearing a high heel. While this was an issue only a few of our testers found qualms with, others liked the extra mushy support, feeling more comfortable to some.
Read review: Kamik Sienna 2
Top Pick for Winter Hiking
Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof
In search of a true winter hiking boot that performs well on trails and keeps your toes warm? This boot is an exceptional choice. It's our favorite for its high-quality weather performance, a supportive footbed, and a super cozy wool collar. Complete with snowshoe and gaiter compatibility, it features burly traction for your snowy, steep adventures and the best warmth rating of any winter hiking boot. The footbed is quite supportive, stable, and lightweight.
For those heading into the deepest drifts, it may not be the best boot due to the short shaft, especially at the back of the boot. Also, it doesn't perform well on ice given that the rubber is quite hard, and not soft, repelling these harder and slippier surfaces. The smaller size does warrant sizing up a half size, especially if you like to wear thicker socks or want more wiggle room in the front of the boot, which also translates to better standing warmth overall.
Read review: Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof
Top Pick for Protection
The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Ice Tall - Women's
This is one of the highest-scoring products in our review, with a niche as being the most protective, warm, and easiest to use. The supertall construction extends 17-inches up the let, built with weatherproof neoprene and fleece to keep toes warm and dry. We love that the rigid, but breathable, shaft of the boot stands on its own making it easy to slip on and off without even touching its collar. The super beefy sole is thick and protective while the soft rubber composite underfoot actually sticks better to ice than most of the winter boots we've tested! The only thing that's come close is the Columbia Bugaboot IV, a burly hiking boot with awesome traction. If you need a super burly boot that'll tackle the coldest and wettest of weather, this workhorse is built to perform for just that.
With such beefy construction, it's not surprising that this heavier boot isn't the most comfortable or well fitted. Also, the cuff of the boot can chafe (especially if you're shorter) if you're not wearing pants that are thick enough to protect your leg. Given that this is a neoprene boot, it's not our favorite to wear to work or out to the bar, but it does service when blowing snow off your driveway or while chopping wood. Also, some online reviewers who have had this boot for a long time mention durability issues, however, during our testing period, we didn't notice any problems.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our winter boot experts are Amber King and Laural Hunter. Amber King is a Canadian native that transplanted herself to Colorado. She works in outdoor education is a full-time tester for OutdoorGearLab, reviewing over 15 different categories. She has spent over 200+ hours testing winter boots, wearing them in everything from warm Spring storms to super tall snowdrifts in her home town of Ouray, Colorado. Here home is based on the top of the mountain, where snow flys frequently from the early Fall to late Spring. When she's not tromping around the forest in the winter, you can find her snowboarding and ice climbing at the Ouray Ice Park. Laurel Hunter enjoys the winter weather, but can often be found seeking out warm trails for prime mountain biking terrain. When she's not pushing herself physically, you'll find her designing or playing with her dog.
Our testing processes assure that we don't miss any important details. We hiked on cold winter days that reached temperatures below zero and walked the dogs each day on packed snowy roads and trails. We tested boots in snow and rainstorms and wore them out to dinner on chilly evenings. We even walked around in creeks and lakes to determine their performance in the nastiest conditions. Some of these boots gave us a whole new love of winter. Wearing each pair from Colorado to Canada, we tested each with a hands-on approach.
Related: How We Tested Winter Boots for Women
Analysis and Test Results
Whether you love the crisp cold days of winter or you're already counting down the days until spring, proper footwear will help you enjoy all the season has to offer. For us, winter means walking around town, standing around bonfires, skiing, fat biking, ice climbing, snowshoeing, and a host of other cold-weather activities. It's a time where hot cocoa and bright lights are entrancing and cold weather is a second thought. If there's one thing we've learned, it's that having the right gear for the weather makes all the difference. Our selection includes a wide range of winter boot options, from technical hikers to boots only built for wearing around town. For each, we evaluate the differences in performance and select award winners based on niche performance and versatility. All the boots tested do well for winter weather though some stand-out more than others.
A boot that performs well isn't necessarily the most expensive. We've taken the time to find well-priced options that'll last you deep into the darkest and coldest parts of winter. Our favorite is reflected by our best buy option, the Kamik Sienna 2. With a less expensive price tag, it is an excellent choice to keep you warm this winter. It's not the least expensive option, but it's far more protective with longevity than the less expensive Columbia Ice Maiden II. The Sorel Caribou is another with a similar price as the Sienna 2, but with a warmer construction and better traction. It's just not as "stylish" with a bulkier fit.
Of the Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat presents the best value with totally bomber traction that sticks to both snowy surfaces and icier terrain. When considering value, but sure to look at the price tag and the scoring in the metrics that matter the most to you. These boots will present the best value to you, as we all have differences in what we seek.
It's not surprising that warmth is one of the most important criteria in our winter boot evaluation. Ideally, winter boots should keep your feet warm whether you're simply standing around in the cold or actively moving, as activity creates heat. A few key factors contribute to the overall warmth of a boot. The warmest boots have thicker outsoles, taller shafts, and high quality insulation. They should also provide good breathability to prevent your feet from soaking in sweat. It is important to consider how you plan to spend your time in the cold — a boot with lower quality insulation will suit you just fine if you don't plan on spending the whole day standing on frozen ground, and you're actively moving.
To objectively measure how quickly the new we tested boots lose their heat, we settled each boot into an ice bath and tracked how much their inside temperature dropped over 20 minutes. This helped us to measure the relative amount of thermal insulation. We also hiked in each pair and stood around on icy surfaces while sipping hot chocolate on cold nights in the winter and noticed which kept our feet the warmest. We even stomped around in cold water to see if the cold would quickly slip away from the boot, or if it stayed. All these tests, in addition to evaluating construction, help us determine which boots are the warmest, and which are suited for temperate winter days.
The warmest boots tested insulated well up the calf and offer amazing underfoot insulation. The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Ice Tall Boots do both. They are super warm with a 17-inch shaft that insulated throughout the calf and at the sole. They kept our feet warm in double negative digits while providing unbeatable protection. The Sorel Caribou has the thickest sole tested and is one of the warmest boats for just standing around in the cold, being loaded with 9-mm of felt lining that doesn't compact or loses warmth, even after years of work. Both of these boots are perfect for standing around in the cold, doing chores around the house and the like. However, the Arctic Tall is more protective of the cold with its tall height that insulates around the calf. The Caribou is about 11-inches tall at maximum, which is about 5 inches lower than the Arctic Tall.
The Sorel Joan of Arctic is another warm-weather boot with 13.5 inches of protection and a faux fur collar. Boots with this collar offer more protection and warmth from the snow as it prevents it from coming into the top. Plus, snow can't leave as readily. Both the Caribou and Arctic Ice lack this feature. The Joan of Arctic gets a lower score than both simply because the underfoot insulation isn't as thick and it only has 6-mm of felt insulation (in comparison to the Caribou's 9-mm). That said, it's not as bulky and more comfortable for everyday wear.
Other warmer boots may not have the thickest sole but offer quality insulation. For example; the UGG Adirondack (10-inches tall), our Editors' Choice winner is filled with lofty, warm sheep's wool, an organic, natural fiber that offers fantastic breathability and overall warmth. The sole of the boot isn't as thick as the Caribou or Arctic Ice but is similar in thickness to the North Face Shellista III (11.5 inches tall) which earns a similar score. The Shellista has 200-grams of PrimaLoftSilver insulation, one of the most durable and high-quality synthetic insulation types out there. Both have thinner soles underfoot, so they aren't as warm as the top scorers mentioned above. Both of these boots are meant for everyday wear and are suitable for simple hiking trails and weather that dips into the negatives.
Of the hiking boot options, the Oboz Bridger 7" and the Columbia Bugaboot IV stand out as the best. The Bridger boot is a bit shorter (7 inches tall) than the Bugaboot (7.5 inches), but the insulation and construction make it a warmer boot overall. Even though both boast 200-grams of synthetic insulation, the Bridger is far more breathable. This means during active use, it can move moisture from the inside of the boot, out. The Bugaboot IV is decent, but the OmniHeat liner, that is supposed to lock in heat, does just that. It also locks in moisture, so our foot felt much swampier than in the Bridger. As a result, it is warmer and good enough to keep you actively warm when temperatures fall into the negatives. Both have a very thick sole, so they both offer great stand-around warmth as well.
Depending on where you live and how you're planning to use your boots, you may have very different warmth requirements. For example, women enduring the long winters of Minnesota should consider super warm models like the Sorel Joan of Arctic, Sorel Caribou, or Oboz Bridger. If you encounter deep puddles or wet weather, you may want a tall, waterproof boot like the Muck Boot Arctic Ice. Women who live in regions with milder winters can get away with models like the Columbia Ice Maiden II, Sorel Tofino II, or the Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat Boot.
These are all boots that'll offer sufficient warmth to about zero degrees before cooling down. They are all quite breathable with thinner soles and much more comfortable. Additionally, if you'll only use your boots to dash from the parking lot into your office building, then you may be willing to sacrifice warmth for style on a product like the Blundstone Thermal or Sorel Explorer Joan.
Winter weather can bring the dreaded wintery mix of snow, slush, and ice. With the proper footwear, your feet (and pants) can stay protected when you are out and about in nasty weather. We hiked through tall snowbanks to see which boots provided the best protection, so boot height affected the scores. In these situations, a boot with a faux fur collar typically does better than those without simply because they are better at keeping snow and water out of the top.
We also evaluated each boot's ability to remain waterproof in wet, winter conditions. To do this, we stood in alpine lakes and rivers in each pair of boots for 10 minutes and marched to agitate the seams of the boot. Boots that failed typically failed at a seam where two different materials came together. The most weatherproof boots are those built from rubber, neoprene, and/or leather, and feature taped seams that are double stitched and reinforced to keep water out. Keep in mind that most products have a distinct flood level, whether that's a poorly sealed seam or the joint where the tongue meets the shaft, that lets water pour into the boot.
If water and snow protection is your priority, the Original Muck Arctic Ice Tall is our favorite for weather protection. Whether you're going out to blow snow, trudge through a wet, soggy field, or tackling tall snowbanks, this 17-inch boot, built from neoprene and rubber, is your best bet. Unlike the Sorel Joan of Arctic, another bad weather beast with 13.5 inches of snow protection, it does not have a faux fur collar to keep out the snow. Using a pair of winter pants in its rain-boot like design seems to do a good job keeping out the snow.
Another very protective Pac boot is the Sorel Caribou with beefier insulation and some insulation that lines the top, to keep out snowy weather. The Caribou's waterproof overlays make it waterproof all the way to the collar of the boot, at about 10.5-inches. In comparison, the Joan of Arctic delivers water protection up to just 10 inches of the 13.5-inch boot height. All are excellent choices for the nastiest weather. The most significant difference is that the Sorel Joan of Arctic is lighter, taller, and cuter than the Sorel Caribou. Of them all, the Arctic Ice Tall boot by the Original Muck company is by far the most protective of poor weather.
If you seek a highly protective winter hiking boot, the Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated provides bomber weather protection. It features leather overlays with a breathable waterproof membrane. This is a great option for hiking in wet and snowy weather. The Columbia Bugaboot IV is another with a taller shaft height to protect from snow, but a taller puddle height to protect from water (6 inches vs. 5 inches). Both of these boots fit nicely underneath a pair of snow pants or hikers, offering a similar level of overall protection. Both kept our feet dry in super wet weather.
The UGG Adirondack III is another all-around awesome winter boot that is made completely of leather, and offers amazing protection from both water and snow. It, like the super cute Sorel Tofino left our feet bone dry, all the way up to the top of the tongue, keeping water and snow out of the boot, even when wearing just a pair of leggings. The Tofino II protects from puddles 8.5 inches in depth, while the Adirondack II protects from puddles 9 inches in depth. The Kamik Sienna, our Best Buy award winner offers great weather protection too with a waterproof sole that didn't leak until it was agitated for about 30 seconds. It doesn't have a faux fur cuff like the Adirondack II or the fluffier Tofino II, but it fits nicely over or under a pair of pants.
If your winters are cold and wet but not deep, we highly recommend the excellent Blundstone Thermal, which is waterproof up to the top of its cuff. At 7 inches tall, this may not work for everyone, but it will handle icy, slushy curb puddles like a champ.
Comfort & Fit
While cold weather can be brutal on your feet, a comfy winter boot can make your day. To evaluate comfort, we examined each boot's liner, footbed, and weight and judged how cozy the interior materials are to wear all day. To judge fit, we determined how precisely we could snug it down around our feet and ankles. We also considered whether most folks would need to size up or down for each boot. Then we went online and compared our findings to what other wearers experience, to recommend whether the boot is true to fit, or if you should size up (or down). We also consider the stability and support of the shoe and offer insights into its relative toe box width and arch support.
The most comfortable options are those that aren't bulky and offer a sensitive but protective fit, with touchable materials that feel good to wear all day long. It's not surprising that boots with plush liners and comfortable insulation take the cake here. Of the more stylish and more versatile boot options, the North Face Shellista III and UGG Adirondack take the biggest pieces of the pie.
The Shellista III has a more stable footbed and shaft that offers more support around the ankle and the calf. We also appreciate the soft liners that feel good to wear all day. The Adirondack is built with super soft wool insulation right in the liner. This material is quite soft, but the shaft of the boot isn't nearly as supportive as the Shellista III. The footbed for both is comfortable and supportive, with the Shellista III offering more arch support and a wider toe box.
Of the winter hiking boots we tested, the Oboz Bridger is the most comfortable by far. The Oboz features a wool topped collar and a sculpted footbed for excellent arch support. There are no pressure points anywhere on our feet, and we have plenty of room for our toes to move. The Columbia Bugaboot IV is also a great hiking option that offers a supportive footbed, though the fit isn't as supportive with arch support as awesome as the Bridger. This hiking boot stands out as one of the most supportive we've ever tested, offering quite a specific fit that we love!
Alternatively, more protective boots like the Sorel Caribou, Muck Arctic Ice, and Sorel Joan of Arctic have a much bulkier fit, with a much heavier weight. The Arctic Ice is the heaviest and bulkiest, while the Caribou is next, with the Joan of Arctic finishing the last of the bulkiest. If you're seeking a nice balance with weather protection and comfort, the Joan of Arctic is your best best. While it's not as warm as the other two, it is a more comfortable boot to wear all day because of its thinner outsole which offers more sensitivity and coordination in bad weather.
Fit is a subjective metric and one we didn't use to give a rating to each boot. After wearing the boots, handing them off to friends, and reading other online user reviews, we have some thoughts on the subject. The most significant differences arise from a given boot's intended use. Active winter boots will provide a more supportive fit than bigger and burlier boots, which are comparatively loose and a little sloppy. Many winter boots are bulkier
Winter Hiking Boots
The fit of an active winter hiking boot is more important than more casual winter boot categories. While you can lace all the hikers we tested tight enough to get a precision fit, there are differences. Our testers with wider or higher-volume feet, or those looking for wiggle room, opted for either the Oboz Bridger Insulated or Columbia Bugaboot IV, both of which have more space in the forefoot. If you need arch support and a wider toe box, the Bridger has you covered. Another reason it earns our Top Pick for Hiking.
These boots have a snug heel that didn't slip while on the trail. The Columbia Bugaboot IV provides the most versatile fit, with a roomy toe box and less sculpted footbed. The Oboz delivers a little less space than the Columbia but will work for those looking for a medium or narrower fit. In general, the fit on all three boots is precise and offers optimal stability for travel over winter trails.
Winter Boots All-Around Use
Narrow Fit: While most boots can be made to work with a narrow foot, these are our top recommendations. They provide a precise fit and allow you to cinch down the boot.
Our recommendations: Columbia Ice Maiden II (needs a half size up), Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat (need to size up a half size), UGG Adirondack III, Sorel Tofino II, Sorel Joan Explorer (a sneaker-like boot)Roomy Fit: A boot with a roomy fit is best for those with medium to wide feet, or for those looking to wear thicker socks.
Our recommendations: The North Face Shellista III, Kamik Sienna 2 (has a heel, best buy award winner)Sloppy or Big Fit: These boots have a bulky or sloppy fit that will do well with any size foot if you aren't planning to walk too much. They also work well with thicker socks if you think you need em'.
Our recommendations: Sorel Joan of Arctic, Sorel Caribou, Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall (Top Pick for Protection)
Ease of Use
It's that moment when you're finally out of the cold, and you're so ready to be in your house slippers. Your boots are wet and snowy, your hands are cold, but you can't seem to kick them off. The feeling is similar when you're trying to get out the door quickly. It's just inconvenient to have shoes that are hard to take on and off. This metric is not weighted very heavily, but some boots are so simple to slip out of, and others are such a pain, that we wanted to tell you about it.
First, we looked at each lacing system and tested whether you need to spend extra minutes lacing and unlacing the boot. (An important factor is whether or not you can lace up a boot with a simple pull, or if you have to tighten the laces up the shaft manually.) Then we practiced pulling each boot on and taking it off again. Boots with a rigid shaft and wider neck are easier to wrangle. Boots that scored the highest are easy to take on and off and featured either lace-less or a single-pull lacing system.
Hands-down the Muck Boot Arctic Ice is the easiest boot to slip into and kick-off. It has no laces and a rigid shaft with a large area around the cuff allows you to easily slip your foot in and out. If you feel like using it, it also has a nifty pull tab that makes it easier to grab the boot to get your foot in and out. The Blundstone Thermal is similar to its laceless design, but the boots do not have a ridge on the back of the heel to aid in removal, so they require hands to get them off rather than a kick.
Boots with laces with a one-pull system that tightens them all up with a single pull are also quite easy to use. Both the Columbia Omni Heat Heavenly and Ice Maiden II have this feature. Neither of these boots is rigid enough to stand up on their own, so you do need two hands to get into them, but a single pull of the laces means that from top to bottom, the entire lacing pattern tightens, offering a specific and easy fit. To get them off, simply unlace and kick the boot off…it's that easy.
The Sorel Caribou, Joan of Arctic,, and Tofino II all have a rigid upper that doesn't bend or twist when you step into the boot and are quite easy to use as well. While their laces are more labor-intensive than a slip-on option would be, they tighten easily. There is enough room in all of these boots to simply slip your foot in without lacing them up, with the Tofino II being the easiest. The Joan of Arctic has nifty pull tabs on the side that adds to its ease while the Caribou has a shaft that's not as rigid and requires a little more work to get into the boot.
Of the hiking boots tested, Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV is the easiest to use. Its wide collar opening makes it easier to slide your foot into and out of the boot. Plus, all of the eyelets are closed loops, so no need to unhook the laces. The Bridger is okay to use, but you need to unlace and loosen to get them on and off. The smaller fit of the boot doesn't allow you to simply slide it on either.
Boots with lots of eyelets and laces take a little more time to work with. For example; the UGG Adirondack III and the North Face Shellista III fall into this category. The Adirondack III doesn't have any many eyelets as the Shellista III, but we found that it takes a little more effort to get a precise fit than Shellista III. When you pull its laces, they bunch at the top, but not at the bottom, similar to the Shellista. However, the newest update of the Shellista III boot has two eyelets on each side at the top. This new design allows you to pull the laces (of the bottom of the boot), and simply lace up the top. Once you find a fit you like (and you can set it for slide-in action), all you need to do is slip your foot in and do up the eyelets. The Adirondack doesn't have this feature, and only has one pull tab at the back of the boot, while the Shellista III has two along the sides, making it easier to get on.
The Kamik Sienna 2, our best buy award winner, also requires manual lacing action. The eyelets on this boot are quite large, and while we found it easy to slip our foot in and out of, we found the laces falling out of the eyelets easily, similar to the Sorel Tofino II. Aside from that, this boot, along with the others mentioned above, are the easiest to put on and take off.
If you want to stay on your feet through winter, a bomber outsole is key. We studied each model's outsole by measuring the depth of the tread and noting the pattern. We also created an icy ramp and walked up and down it. We also did some slip-sliding across an icy driveway. In addition to these objective tests, we skated around on ice patches, hiked around town, and got out into the nasty stuff to determine which boots stuck, and which ones didn't. In the end, we learned that those with the largest lugs and surface area did best on technical terrain while flatter soles work best on deep snow. Boots with temperature-sensitive rubber that is softer and more pliable, perform better in colder temps and over icy surfaces.
While all the boots tested provide traction, some are better than others. If you plan on being out in deep snow throughout the winter, a sole with a lot of surface area like the Sorel Joan of Arctic or Sorel Tofino II is a great option. Similar to a snowshoe, it floats on top of the surface, without the necessity for deep lugs. The outsole has a wave pattern that provides some traction, but the lug-less design is not ideal for steep snow slopes. The Kamik Sienna 2 has a similar lug-less design that floats well on snow, but it slipperier on steeper, hard-packed trails.
If you plan to get on steep trails this winter, we highly recommend a hiking boot with lugs. For that, an active winter hiking boot is your best bet, and the Columbia Bugaboot IV and Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall provides some of the best traction in the test. Its lugs are wide, and the Michelin Winter Compound rubber stays soft and grippy in cold conditions.
Both of these boots stuck better to the iciest surfaces the best. The Arctic Ice Tall did a little better than the Bugaboot IV with its super-wide lugs, interlaced with a softer rubber compound on the center, that grips to the tiniest patch of friction. We were slipping less in this boot, making it and the Bugaboot IV prime choices for icy activities like Ice Fishing or navigating sidewalks after an ice storm.
The Oboz Bridger is another great hiking boot that offers a burly traction pattern to combat steep snow trails. However, we found that the rubber is a much harder compound than both the Bugaboot IV and Arctic Ice Tall, so it was treacherous tackling super icy terrain with this boot. That said, trails interlaced with dirt and ice, it did just fine. The UGG Adirondack II scores higher than the Bridger because it was able to tackle the same types of the trails as the Bridger, but did much better on ice, given its softer rubber compounds. The lugs aren't as deep either, so it floats better over deeper snow.
If you simply need a more stylish boot that'll get you around town and on simple, easy trails for the winter, you should check out the The North Face Shellista III and Columbia Ice Maiden II. Both feature a softer rubber and wider lug pattern that grips to slippery rocks and packed snow. Both are great options for winter chores, wearing around town, and light hiking.
Do you have cold weather in your future? A high-performing winter boot will keep you warm and protected through the worst weather winter brings. You want to make sure it is warm, breathes and offers decent traction and weather protection to get you through the worst days of winter. While there are many choices on the market, the selection we present to you represents the best products on the market, with choices ranging from winter hikers to around-town stylish options. Be sure to identify what you need from your winter boot before making big choices that'll make you winter ready for skiing, winter hiking, or strolling around town.
— Amber King and Laurel Hunter