Winter hiking boots

The 10 Best Winter Hiking Boots in 2017/2018

Winter is coming (for Game of Thrones fans and avoiders alike…)! Yes, dear Cool of the Wilders, the nights are getting shorter and the mercury on the thermometers is dropping digits like autumn leaves. While the bears, badgers and good-weather hikers are all preparing for their annual hibernation, however, there are those of us awaiting the coming of the snow and chilly weather like kids before Christmas! One problem…feet! We all have them. We all want to keep them. We all want to keep them as cosy and comfortable and equipped for a challenge as possible when we head out on our winter wanders. But how? And with what? Read on for our guide on how to choose a winter hiking boot followed by our selection of the best winter hiking boots of 2017/18!

ProductType of bootBest forCost
Scarpa Manta Pro GTXTechnicalMountaineering$$$$$
La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTXTechnicalMountaineering$$$$$$
Scarpa Rebel Pro GTXTechnicalMountaineering$$$$$
Vasque Men's Snowburban IINon-technicalWalking in deep snow$$
Salomon X Ultra Winter CS WPNon-technicalWinter hiking$
KEEN Summit County IIINon-technicalHiking in deep snow$$
La Sportiva KarakorumNon-technicalA bit of everything!$$$$
Columbia Mens Bugaboot Plus III Omni-HeatNon-technicalHiking in snow$
Merrell Moab PolarNon-technicalHiking in snow$
Oboz Bridger 8" Insulated BDryNon-technicalHiking in deep snow$$

What to look for in winter hiking boots

Type and use

Technical

Technical boots are those designed to cater to the demands of more extreme winter adventures. While they are most suitable for mountaineering and hiking on steeper ground, there’s no reason you couldn’t use these boots for less extreme activities like winter forest walks or other lower level adventures other than the stiffer sole (which can cause sore feet on very flat, hard surfaces) and the price…! All of the technical boots in our selection below boast crampon compatibility, aggressive tread patterns on the soles for grip and an articulated, stiff toe for kicking steps in snow or for more delicate moves on rock.

Non-technical

These boots are designed for gentler activities but maximum warmth. They don’t pack the same performance-wise as technical boots but often have an extra and very generous allowance of insulation, have greater flexibility, and are generally much lighter. Ideal for gentler hikes, forest walks or anything else on less challenging terrain.

Insulation

If you’re going to be trudging through icy or snow-covered ground for hours on end, some form of added insulation is vital. Insulation types vary, with the most common and effective using synthetic materials which breathe and dry more easily than wool or fleece-type materials. Different boots also offer different weight or volumes of insulation, usually measuring between 100g and 500g. If your toes tend to get a bit chilly, the higher the better.

Crampon compatibility

All of the technical boots in our review offer crampon compatibility, but for many this will be overkill. If you’re unlikely to be on steep and/or technical terrain, a non-technical boot will most probably do the job and in any case can be used with non-automatic, strap-on crampons if you do happen to hit any tricky and sharply-angled slopes. For those likely to be walking on icy, steep ground or hard snow, a boot with fully automatic or semi-automatic crampon compatibility is preferable.

Comfort

As with any hiking boot, the comfort levels provided by your winter boots is a key consideration. With many winter boots, the extremely stiff sole can become nigh on crippling after a while if your feet are not used to them and your hike is on any kind of paved or flat surface without snow cover. The easy solution to decision making in this respect centers on whether or not you anticipate heading above the snow line and onto steeper ground or not. If so, a stiffer technical boot becomes an option. If not, the more flexible (and cheaper!) non-technical boots in our selection will most probably do the job!


The best winter hiking boots for 2017/18!

Got all that? Great?! Now, let’s get down to our review of the best winter hiking boots that your feet need to stay toastie this winter!

Technical winter hiking boots

Scarpa Manta Pro GTX Hiking Boots

Scarpa Manta Pro GTX Hiking Boots

The Manta Pro GTX is essentially the perfect all-rounded for winter hiking for those who don’t fancy the price or added weight of the La Sportiva Nepal EVO (below). Boasting B2 crampon compatibility, an incredibly high-quality build, a Gore-Tex liner and enough insulation to keep your feet warm well below zero, these are superbly tough, versatile and reasonably lightweight boots ideal for both winter hiking and mountaineering in more moderate climates.

Pros

  • Only 3lbs 6oz per pair (size 42)
  • B2 crampon compatibility
  • Gore-Tex lining
  • Great ‘transition’ boot from hillwalking into mountaineering
  • Very durable
  • All-day comfort

Cons

  • Other than the price (and even that represents great value for money), they’re hard to find!

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTX Boot

La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTX Boot

The all-time favourite of mountaineers just about everywhere, La Sportiva’s Nepal EVO is a beast of a boot that combines technicality with comfort. It’s not the cheapest boot out there, granted, but you get a lot of ‘damn, that’s good’ for your dollar! The construction and overall quality is second to none, and a pair of Nepal Evo’s will last you a lifetime if cared for properly. They boast a waterproof breathable Gore-Tex membrane, insulated lining, and a durable leather upper to keep your feet toasty wherever you might be headed (short of an 8000er!). A true contender for the title of both best men’s winter hiking boot and best women’s winter hiking boot!

Pros

  • Very warm
  • Detachable tongue prevents snow sneaking in at the top of your forefoot
  • Extremely sturdy and durable (one pair could easily last you a lifetime)
  • Unbeatable quality
  • Step-in crampon compatibility
  • Break in easily for such a tough boot

Cons

  • Very pricey, but still offer great value for money
  • Quite heavy (4lbs 9oz)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Scarpa Rebel Pro GTX Boot

Scarpa Rebel Pro GTX Boot

For an ultra-lightweight technical, insulated boot that’s just as happy in the hills as it is on the snow-clad peaks, look no further than the Rebel Pro GTX. It features a Gore-Tex Insulated lining for added warmth, comfort and weather-proofing, great breathability, step-in crampon compatibility and bomb-proof ruggedness. Again, this is a fairly pricey option but for the extra spend you get a very durable, well-made, versatile boot in return. Compared to the other technical boots in our list, it’s a lot lighter but just a fraction short in terms of insulation.

Pros

  • Very light (1lb 9oz for a pair of size 42s)
  • Versatile
  • Step-in crampon compatibility
  • Rugged and durable
  • Comfortable despite still sole

Cons

  • A little less insulation than the Nepal EVO and Scarpa Manta

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Non-Technical winter hiking boots

Vasque Snowburban II Insulated Boots

Vasque Snowburban II Insulated Boots

Boasting 400g of Thinsulate insulation, UltraDry lining, and ColdHold soles for super-grippyness, the Snowburban II is a toasty, functional, super-comfy boot ideal for hikes where things aren’t getting overly technical and/or steep. Although weighing in at a slightly ponderous 3lb 6oz per pair, the UltraDry lining and insulation (largely responsible for the increased poundage) not only keep the cold and damp out, but wick away any sweatiness while you’re on the move.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Very warm
  • Very durable
  • Great grip in powder snow!

Cons

  • Flat and flexible sole makes them poor performers on steeper terrain
  • Quite heavy (3lbs 6 oz)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Salomon X Ultra Winter CS WP Performance Boot

Salomon X Ultra Winter CS WP Performance Boot

While lacking the insulation and overall warmth of competitors such as the Keen Summit County and Vasque Snowburban, Salomon claim the X Ultra Winter is suitable for hikes down to 21ºF (-6ºC). Compared to its other non-technical brethren, moreover, this very agile, comfy boot is a lot lighter, grippier and performs better on long day hikes due to excellent breathability and comfort-boosting sole construction.

Pros

  • Ice Grip rubber sole offers great traction
  • Ideal for moderate winter hiking in less frigid climates
  • Performs well in terms of dexterity and nimbleness

Not too heavy (2lbs 7oz)

Cons

  • Only 200g of Thinsulate insulation

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


KEEN Summit County III Winter Boot

KEEN Summit County III Winter Boot

Though not quite as grippy or light as some of its competitors, the Summit County III regains brownie points for its all-day comfort, quality waterproof leather materials and 400g of toe-toasting insulation. While this may be a little too flexible in the sole for steeper hikes, the Summit County is ideal for any other type of non-technical wander and just might be the best insulated boot out there for those who prefer leather to synthetic fabrics! A lighter alternative to the Vasque Snowburban while offering similar insulation at a slightly cheaper price.

Pros

  • 400g of insulation
  • Made with waterproof leather
  • Very comfortable
  • Reasonably priced
  • Classy looker

Cons

  • Fairly heavy (3.2lbs/1.45kg)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Karakorum

La Sportiva Karakorum

For the ideal ‘bridge’ boot between technical mountaineering boots and insulated winter hiking boots, look no further than the all-time classic and highly versatile La Sportiva Karakorum. These incredibly rugged boots are as much at home on a gentle forest walk as they are in the high mountains and offer B2 crampon compatibility to boot. They aren’t quite as well insulated as the top end (400g) insulated and non-technical boots in our review but offer a very robust alternative with much greater dexterity and all round performance.

Pros

  • Flexible sole in a semi-technical boot (a con for some, granted…)
  • Versatility – ideal for everything barring very technical mountaineering
  • A great ‘bridge’ boot between more flexible trekking boots and stiffer mountaineering boots

Cons

  • Take a while to break in
  • Not as waterproof as competitors
  • Heavy (4lbs/1820g per pair)
  • Pricey

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Columbia Mens Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat

Columbia Mens Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat

The Bugaboot Plus III is an extremely comfortable, well-made boot that combines all of the best features available in its competitors at a lower cost. While it only has 200g of insulation, the Bugaboot III is warm enough when temperatures are around 30ºF (-1ºC), is very comfortable, and offers the feel of a standard hiking boot with increased grip and weather-proofing.

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Versatile
  • Rugged and durable
  • Weighs 2lbs 14oz

Cons

  • Only 200g of insulation
  • Not as warm as competitors

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Merrell Moab Polar Waterproof Winter Boot

Merrell Moab Polar Waterproof Winter Boot

Offering 400g of insulation and weighing only 2lbs 12oz, the Moab Polar is a toasty hiking boot that comes in lighter than most non-technical competitors while offering the same insulation. While not as high around the ankle as other boots in our review, the Moab Polar boasts fantastic grippiness, a very rugged construction and is a lot cheaper than most rivals for the title of best insulated winter hiking boot!

Pros

  • 400g of insulation
  • Relatively cheap
  • Weighs only 2lbs 12oz

Cons

  • A touch low on the ankle

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Oboz Bridger 8 Insulated BDry Hiking Boot

Oboz Bridger 8″ Insulated BDry Hiking Boot

Waterproof, very breathable and made with very tough, rugged leather, the Bridger 8″ is a boot you can rely on when the weather takes a turn for the inclement. With an 8-inch collar height, comfy EVA midsoles, 200g of Thinsulate insulation and winterized rubber soles, the Bridger is both comfortable and built to deal with deep snow and rugged trails. It might not be as warm as competitors such as the Keen Summit County III or Vasque Snowburban, but it’s a fraction lighter, just as comfy and the slightly shorter (7” collar) version might just be the best women’s winter hiking boot for those of you not veering onto the super steep or technical stuff!

Pros

  • Very breathable
  • B-fit thermal wool-topped insoles very cosy
  • Best for casual winter walking

Cons

  • Only 200g of insulation
  • Quite heavy (3lbs 1.2oz)
  • Pricey

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


From snow-bashing bruisers to toasty thwarters of foot-freeze, the above list offers a little bit of something for everyone. Whether you’re heading on high to scale a snowy peak or just trudging through the white stuff on lower-level hikes, we’re sure there’s something in there that will keep your feet comfy and cosy until Spring!

Happy hiking everyone!
hiking boots gear guide

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