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The best winter hiking boots: for comfort, warmth and performance on rock, snow and ice

The best winter hiking boots
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Choosing the best winter hiking boots for cold-weather hillwalking or mountaineering is a weighty consideration – not least because most serious boots tend to come with an equally serious price tag. But with your comfort, enjoyment and even your safety at stake, it’s important to make the right choice.

Despite being fairly specialist bits of kit, the best winter walking boots still have to be true all-rounders, capable of handling rock, snow and ice. That’s particularly true if you’re planning to tackle classic winter scrambles and graded climbs, since most involve a decent walk-in first. And when you’re mixing winter hillwalking with more technical scrambling and even full-on climbing, you really want your footwear to be precise and stable but also comfortable and forgiving underfoot. So what you need is something offering near the comfort of the best hiking boots but with technical features capable of taking on those specific winter challenges.

The best winter hiking boots

The best winter hiking boots have crampon compatibility. (Image credit: Getty Images)

The ideal solution is a stiff B1 (also known as a three- to four-season) boot, or a B2-rated (four-season) boot with sturdy uppers, but also just enough flex and cushioning to make long approaches and walk-ins a bit easier. Durability and reliable waterproofing are essential for the best winter hiking boots, and a bit of insulation for added warmth in the depths of winter is also most welcome in sub-zero temperatures (see also: winter hiking tips and what to wear hiking in winter).

Combining all those attributes, the best winter hiking boots will enable you to take on anything that the toughest and coldest season can throw at you. This guide features our top picks among the wide range of B1 and B2 boots that are currently on the market, so you can do just that.

The best winter hiking boots: B2 boots for 4-season peak bagging and hill hiking

The best winter hiking boots: Scarpa Manta Tech GTX

(Image credit: Scarpa)

Scarpa Manta Tech GTX

As far as we’re concerned, the latest evolution of Scarpa’s classic B2 mountain boot is better than ever – the best winter hiking boot for the coldest, toughest and most epic winter adventures

RRP: £300 (UK) / €355 (EU) | Weight (per boot): 880g / 1lb 15oz | Materials: 3mm Perwanger Suede and wraparound rubber-PU rand, Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort membrane lining, Vibram Pentax Precision XT outsole | Compatibility: Four-season B2 | Colors: Shark / Lime

Comfortable 
Supportive
Protective
Warm
Fairly broad fit
Too hot and heavy for use outside of winter
Expensive

Frequently referred to as the “benchmark” four-season mountaineering boot, the Scarpa Manta is a perennial favorite among a host of outdoor professionals, from mountain rescue team members to winter skills course instructors. This latest version, called the Manta Tech, is the replacement for the old Manta Pro boot, many of which are still going strong despite being used and abused over multiple winter seasons.

The Manta Tech is built on the same last (opens in new tab) as the previous Manta Pro but has a cleaner, more streamlined look thanks to redesigned uppers. As well as giving the boot a more modern and stylish appearance, this should also be a plus for durability, since there are now fewer panels and reduced stitching. The wraparound rubber rand has also been replaced with a partial TPU rand, which cuts weight. It’s still no lightweight, but then this is a boot built for hard winter mountain use. As such, the insulation has also been beefed up for colder conditions. 

The outsole is the reliable and durable Vibram Pentax Precision XT unit, made from a particularly durable compound. The lug pattern features a front climbing zone for precise edging. Multidirectional lugs and deep channels help to ensure solid traction on mixed terrain and gives you a sole that doesn’t clog too frequently with mud or snow. 

If and when you encounter ice and hard-packed snow, the boot is flat lasted and equipped with a heel welt for an optimal fit with C2 crampons. It really does come into its own with a semi-auto crampon fitted, with no slippage and a very sturdy, secure feel underfoot.

In terms of overall fit, it is medium to high volume, which gives ample room for your chunkiest winter socks. But they are fairly wide compared to other boots on test here. Still, we found them to be very comfortable, with no discernible rubbing or hotspots. Despite the stiffness of the midsole and the sturdy cuff, there is a good amount of ankle flex and a little cushioning underfoot to ward off soreness. Of course, they’re a little too heavy, bulky and sweaty for all-day walking, but then they’re overkill for anything below the snowline. 

These are boot for tackling tough terrain in cold conditions, and for that sort of stuff the Scarpa Manta Tech GTX are just about the best winter hiking boots on the market.

Buy direct from Scarpa (opens in new tab)

The best winter hiking boots: La Sportiva Trango Tower GTX

(Image credit: La Sportiva)

La Sportiva Trango Tower GTX

A superb boot for winter scrambles and lower-grade mountaineering routes as well as a capable all-rounder

RRP: £300 (UK) / €270 (EU) | Weight (per boot): 745g / 1lb 10oz | Materials: High tenacity 6.6 nylon with Honey-Comb Guard abrasion resistant zones and FlexTec 3 uppers, Gore-Tex membrane lining, La Sportiva Cube by Vibram outsole | Compatibility: Four-season B2 | Colors: Black & Yellow / Neptune / Saffron & Goji / Olive & Neon

Lightweight
Excellent grip
Precise feel
Outsole can wear quickly
Not insulated
Expensive

When it comes to serious mountain boots, La Sportiva’s Trango series is one of the most famous names in the game. Today, there is a whole raft of boots in the Trango line-up. The Tower sits comfortably in the middle of the range, being more technically capable than the hike and trek-focused Trango Tech or Trango Trek, and just below the “big mountain”-oriented Trango Cube or Trango Tower Extreme. However, the Trango Tower has a little more flex than either of the two latter models, making for a much more versatile and forgiving boot overall, which is why we’ve selected as as one of our best winter walking boots.

This is a B2-rated boot, which means it is compatible with a C2 semi-automatic crampon. That’s an ideal combo for taking on graded winter mountaineering routes. Despite offering a stiff and stable platform for crampons however, it is not so rigid that you can’t also wear them for general hillwalking and scrambling. 

The uppers are synthetic rather than leather, which may put traditionalists off. But remember that this saves a fair bit of weight, makes them arguably easier to look after and means they don’t absorb water either. They also seem to be just as durable as most leather boots and are far more comfortable out of the box. We took them straight into the hills and found they needed next to no break-in period. And though fit is, of course, subjective, the Trango Tower is built on a relatively accommodating last that is available in half European sizes, which means you ought to be able to find a precise fit. 

Performance is as good as anything else out there in its class, particularly when it comes to traction and precision underfoot. La Sportiva’s Cube outsole is exclusively made for them by Vibram. It sticks to rock impressively well, providing reassuring grip and strong edging capability. The one downside is that it is known to wear quickly. However, the Trango Tower is resoleable, which is likely to cost you about $100 / £85 – not cheap, but less than a third of the cost of a new pair. 

The best winter hiking boots: Asolo Piz GV

(Image credit: Asolo)

Asolo Piz GV

A lightweight all-season leather mountain boot with plenty of technical capability, thanks to a precise feel and reassuring grip underfoot

RRP: £263 (UK) / €287 (EU) | Weight (per boot): 640g / 1 lb 6.6oz | Materials: Water-resistant suede and Schoeller soft shell, Gore-Tex membrane lining, Vibram Mulaz outsole | Compatibility: Four-season B2 | Colors: Mimosa / Fire Red

Impressively lightweight
Great out-of-the-box comfort for a leather boot
Not the most protective or supportive owing to lower ankle cuff
Not insulated

When reviewing boots, outdoor kit reviewers often talk about factors like grip, stability, support and even that nebulous thing called “feel”. Those are all important, but ultimately, much of what makes the best winter hiking boots comes down to whether they inspires confidence. Basically, the underlying question is this: can you trust your next step? 

With the Asolo Piz, the answer is a resounding yes. These boots are neat and nimble, lightweight and precise, with reliable traction underfoot – all qualities that are likely to make you regard the knife-edge ridge snaking out in front of you with a sense of excitement and anticipation rather than fear and apprehension. 

When it comes to fit, they have a slim heel and midfoot, with a slightly asymmetric toe-box that isn’t dissimilar to the shape of a trad climber’s rock boot. This, added to their modest vertical toe profile, makes it easy to jam the toe into small pockets, which is very useful when scrambling. The Vibram Mulaz outsole also delivers contact grip via a front ‘climbing zone’ for precise foot placement on smaller ledges. But it also performs well on mixed terrain, whether you’re moving uphill, downhill or traversing along angled slopes. 

The uppers are made from suede leather and Schoeller softshell fabric with a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex Performance Comfort lining. They have a full wraparound rand with a protective toecap, plus a heel welt to take a semi-automatic C2 crampon. They’re certainly stiff enough to work well in full winter conditions. Unlike most other stiffened mountain boots, however, these have a more structured insole, which means they don’t feel too board-like, and even deliver a bit of welcome arch support. 

The boots’ mid height and pronounced rear cutaway make them very comfortable, giving plenty of ankle freedom and relieving pressure on the Achilles. The impressively low weight also alleviates foot fatigue on long days. If the Piz have a drawback, it is that this slightly lower cut inevitably gives you a bit less protection and support compared to higher boots. There’s also a little less padding around the ankle than you get with other boots. This obviously saves weight but sacrifices a little cushioning and some insulation in winter too – though these aren’t the warmest, with your thickest mountaineering socks they’re still a viable option for frozen terrain.

The best winter hiking boots: Zamberlan Baltoro 1000 GTX

(Image credit: Zamberlan)

Zamberlan Baltoro 1000 GTX

A high-quality, Italian-made full leather boot that is a great choice for tackling ridges, scrambles and scree slopes

RRP: $325 (US) / £230 (UK) / €279 (EU) | Weight (per boot): 800g / 1lb 12oz | Materials: Hydrobloc Perwanger leather and Cordura fabric uppers, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort membrane lining, Vibram Mulaz Evo outsole | Compatibility: Four-season B2 | Colors: Royal Blue / Graphite

Stable and supportive
Excellent grip
Well-made and durable
Not the lightest
Stiff uppers require breaking in

Zamberlan is an Italian bootmaker with serious heritage and a stellar reputation for turning out sturdy, handsome footwear that is built to last. That’s why the brand’s traditionally stylish 996 Vioz GTX boots are our current pick as “best waterproof hiking boot’” in our best all-round hiking boots selection. But if you’re looking for an even tougher Alpine trekking boot with the ability to fit a crampon, then the Baltoro 1000 might be an even better choice. 

This model features a stiffened midsole and a heel welt, which means it can be fitted with semi-automatic (C2) crampons for winter use. Although it’s really designed for Alpine trekking, the Baltoro also works well for adventures elsewhere, including UK destinations like the Scottish Highlands and Islands, Snowdonia in North Wales or the English Lake District. The uppers are formed from high-quality Perwanger leather with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. You also get a PU (polyurethane) toe rand and heel counter for added durability. This saves weight compared to a wraparound rubber rand while still fending off scuffs, scrapes and impacts from rocks and debris. 

The padded tongue and high ankle cuff are faced with tough Cordura nylon fabric, as is the insert at the top of the foot, which enables some ankle flex. That high cuff offers plenty of support – ideal when crossing broken ground or traversing steep slopes, even in snow. The Vibram Mulaz outsole is a proven pattern that offers good traction thanks to well-spaced lugs and a pronounced heel brake, with a front climbing zone designed to help when edging on rock. 

As with a lot of footwear from Italian manufacturers, Zamberlan boots have a reputation for being fairly narrow. However, the Baltoros aren’t as narrow as some other Zamberlan models, though unlike others there is no wide fitting available. What this means is that we’d definitely recommend trying before you buy (advice that applies to all outdoor footwear but is particularly important with stiff leather boots). Secondly, be sure to break them in on some local walks before you head out into the mountains. Once you’ve done that, though, you ought to have a dependable and durable pair of winter walking boots for years to come.

The best winter hiking boots: AKU Tengu GTX

(Image credit: AKU)

AKU Tengu GTX

A lightweight and capable mountaineering boot with a neat and nimble feel, plus plenty of clever on-board tech – though the lacing system seems to make it a little tricky to dial in a precise fit

RRP: £290 (UK) / €340 (EU) | Weight (per boot): 725g / 1lb 9oz | Materials: Suede and nylon with wraparound PU rand, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort membrane lining, Vibram Curcuma outsole | Compatibility: Four-season B2 | Colors: Blue & Black / Black & Orange

Lightweight
Supportive
Protective 
Lacing system not the best
Not insulated

On paper, the AKU Tengu tick virtually all the boxes when it comes to the best winter walking boots. The design incorporates a high-ankle cuff for plenty of support and protection, tough uppers with a wraparound rand for durability, a Gore-Tex lining for reliable waterproofing, and a Vibram sole for reliable traction underfoot. 

Actually, there’s even more to the boot than that – it’s just that most of the really clever stuff is hidden from view. Structurally, the boot is made up of a dual-density PU midsole with a carbon fiber shank. This consists of a durable “Exoskeleton’”along with a lightweight inner section for better cushioning. As a result, they feel supportive yet comfortable, being stiff enough to take a C2 crampon and climb competently, yet with enough cushioning for easy walking. The burly toe box is equally good for scrambling or kicking steps in snow. 

In terms of fit, they have a slim heel and a broader forefoot with a narrow toe. The extra width gives more room for thick socks, ensuring better warmth and circulation in frozen conditions. That’s just as well, since the suede and nylon uppers are not the thickest and have no additional insulation. On the other hand, this keeps weight down, so for a full-on B2 boot, these are impressively light. If you’re looking for a technically capable boot for fast-and-light, done-in-a-day mountaineering missions, this is a great choice.

If there’s a caveat to that last statement, it would be to check the fit of these boots suits you. AKU boots are generally known for their excellence in this department, with sophisticated tech and lasting to try and guarantee a close, precise fit. Indeed, some reviewers have praised the Tengu in this regard. Unfortunately, we didn’t get on quite so well with it, experiencing noticeable heel slip no matter how tightly we laced the boots. Even trying a thicker insole didn’t help. It’s a minor niggle though, and one that may not affect all foot shapes and volumes. Just because it didn’t suit us doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t suit you.

The best winter hiking boots: B1 boots for three- to four-season hiking

The best winter hiking boots: Hanwag Makra Combi GTX

(Image credit: Hanwag)

Hanwag Makra Combi GTX

A lightweight and precise, crampon-compatible scrambling boot, ideal for Alpine-style rock routes and tackling snowy slopes or glacier crossings

RRP: £240 (UK) / €270 (EU) | Weight (per boot): 625g / 1lb 6oz | Materials: Suede and Cordura nylon uppers, Gore-Tex membrane lining, Vibram Pepe outsole | Compatibility: Four-season B1-B2 | Colors: Black & Shcwarz / Asphalt & Orange

Impressively lightweight
Comfortable, accommodating fit
Well-made and durable
Relatively poor grip on mud and grass
Not the best cushioning underfoot

The Makra Combi GTX from German bootmaker Hanwag is very comfortable and exceptionally light for a “proper” mountain boot. In fact, despite its beefy looks, it’s the lightest of all the boots we tested in this best winter hiking boots buying guide. Its low weight is down to the use of suede and Cordura fabric uppers and a special honeycomb sole structure. 

The great out-of-the-box comfort comes from a wonderfully soft, supple ankle cuff and a generously padded tongue, as well as the fact that it is built on Hanwag’s Wide Alpine last. This results in a slightly broader forefoot to prevent pressure points when hiking or climbing. It also means you can wear thicker socks to keep feet warmer in winter conditions, which partly offsets the boots’ lack of insulation. 

As such, it’s a boot that is suitable for four-season use, with a rear heel welt to take a semi-automatic C2 crampon. And despite the use of lightweight materials, it’s still durable enough for rock, snow and ice. Those Cordura panels proved plenty tough enough on test, while an all-around rand also gives added protection. 

All in all, the Makra Combi is a capable rock-hopper with the added ability to handle snow and ice, since the midsole is stiff enough to provide a stable platform on frozen terrain. Although they’re most at home when scrambling, the accommodating fit and hard-wearing construction means they are decent all-rounders for winter hillwalking too. Just wear your chunkiest mountaineering socks to ward off the cold, and perhaps consider adding an aftermarket insole if you like extra cushioning and arch support underfoot (see: Hiking insoles: what they are and why you need them).

The best winter hiking boots: Meindl Air Revolution 4.1

(Image credit: Meindl)

Meindl Air Revolution 4.1

Well-cushioned, luxuriously padded and breathable, this four-season hiking boot works well for year-round use, including winter conditions as long as you don’t stray into the steepest or most technical terrain

RRP: £282.50 (UK) / €330 (EU) | Weight (per boot): 700g / 1lb 8.7oz | Materials: Suede and mesh uppers, Gore-Tex membrane lining, Vibram Alpin Rigid outsole | Compatibility: Four-season B1-B2 | Colors: Grey & Orange / Ochre & Petrol

Well-cushioned
Breathable
Comfortable
Lightweight
Not the most protective or supportive due to lower ankle cuff 
Not the stiffest for technical terrain

If you prefer the sturdy dependability of a leather boot to the flexibility of a lightweight fabric boot, even in summer, then it is possible to find “one boot to rule them all” – that is, a boot that you can wear year-round, even when winter rolls in. This means you don’t have to worry about switching footwear from season to season. It also guarantees a better level of protection and support throughout the year – ideal for those with long-standing ankle issues or who like to tackle rough and rugged terrain.

Most examples of year-round, four-season boots look fairly traditional, being made from full-grain leather – Altberg’s Mallerstang and Scarpa’s SL Active are two classic examples (and actually, both are well worth a look if you’re after a classic four-season B1 boot). But they do tend to be a little hot and heavy in milder weather. 

The Meindl Air Revolution 4.1 is an altogether mode modern alternative, though. Rather than being full-grain leather, the uppers are made from suede leather and mesh, with a Gore-Tex lining. This saves considerable weight while also making for a more breathable construction. In fact, Meindl have put a lot of thought into keeping your feet cool in these boots. They employ the brand’s Air Revolution technology, with a clever dual-layer tongue that incorporates ventilation channels to circulate cool air into the boot and pump out warm, moist air. The idea is to keep your feet drier and more comfortable across a wider temperature range.

The brand’s own classification system puts the Air Rev 4.1 in their Grade B / C category, signifying a boot designed for multi-day trips, demanding trekking, extended hikes in the high mountains, poor mountain paths, scree and fixed rope routes. As such, the Air Rev 4.1 sort of sits midway between a robust hiking boot and a “proper” mountain boot.

Despite the hillwalking-focused design, however, they still boast many of the features associated with mountaineering boots. This includes lacing that extends almost to the toe, a wraparound rand, a Vibram Alpin Rigid outsole and a midsole with a PU wedge and integrated heel welt. This means the boot isn’t quite as stiff as those with a full-length or three-quarter length shank but is still suitable for occasional crampon use. Thanks to that heel welt it is even compatible with a C2 crampon. 

We’d recommend these if you’re a year-round hillwalker who likes to take the odd summer trip to tackle higher alpine regions. They can certainly tackle icy or snowy sections of an alpine trek, and can also cope with frozen fells or the less demanding winter peaks. Basically, if you carry 10-point crampons and a straight piolet-style ice axe, the Air Revolution 4.1 will be the boot for you. For anything more technical, you might want a slightly more capable boot (perhaps the Meindl Himalaya or Jorasse, for example). 

For their weight, however, these boots are impressively protective and durable, while also being breathable and extremely well-cushioned. They’re the most comfortable boots for year-round hiking, trekking and hillwalking here. Just don’t push them beyond their limits in winter conditions.

The best winter hiking boots: Lowa Cevedale Evo GTX

(Image credit: Lowa)

Lowa Cevedale Evo GTX

A very robust and well-made boot that strikes a good balance between stiffness and flex, making it a good option for winter hill walks that might also involve negotiating slightly steeper mountain terrain

RRP: $360 (US) / £285 (UK) / €335 (EU) | Weight (per boot): 825g / 1lb 13oz | Materials: Suede and fabric uppers with wraparound rand, Gore-Tex membrane, Vibram Scalatore Evo outsole | Compatibility: Four-season B1-B2 | Colors: Lime

Robust 
Supportive
Protective
Warm
A little heavy
Not the best cushioning
Not the most refined fit

The word “workhorse” was pretty much invented for products like the Lowa Cevedale Evo GTX. It sums up these boots perfectly. They are robust, protective and supportive – no surprise then that this model is the German brand’s most enduring and popular mountaineering boot. The uppers are made from chunky suede leather, with a high wraparound rand. They are backed with a Gore-Tex liner for reliable waterproofing. This belt-and-braces construction also means that although they are not insulated, they are still warm enough for winter conditions. 

The midsole is stiff enough to perform competently on snow and ice too, with a heel welt for a C2 crampon and a full-length nylon shank. A rigid toe box also means you can happily kick steps in steep snow. But despite these capabilities, we still wouldn’t describe them as a full-on mountaineering boot – rather, we’d say they sit somewhere between that and a heavy hiking boot. The reason for that is that the sole unit has a slight rocker and that nylon shank has enough spring to accommodate a natural walking action. The Vibram sole offers good traction on varied surfaces, although there is also a front contact zone for scrambling on rock. You also get plenty of padding around the ankle cuff for enhanced comfort, with a slight rear cutaway that helps to reduce pressure on the Achilles.

The fit is medium volume with a slim midfoot and a fairly narrow toe box. We thought they seem to be sized a little smaller than other boots on test. We also noted that the heel didn’t seem to cup the foot as well as some other boots, but fortunately the excellent dual-zone lacing system is so easy to adjust that it is possible to dial in a precise fit, with no heel slip. Weight-wise, these lie towards the heavier end of the spectrum, but they are still good boots for big miles in wet and snowy mountain terrain.

Negatives were minor. If we were being critical, we could point to the thinner sole unit, which isn’t the most forgiving underfoot. The flat-lasted construction also means that the fit is not quite as refined as the more precise, anatomically sculpted lasting of some other boots.

What to look for when buying the best winter hiking boots

The best winter hiking boots

Look for winter boots that have a stiffened sole, some insulation, a high ankle cuff and a wraparound rand for increased foot protection. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Stable and supportive boots are essential if you’re venturing into more technical terrain in winter conditions. The same applies if you’re trekking in high-alpine areas with exposed rock, snow and ice. 

In addition to the comfort and grip that you want from virtually all outdoor footwear, you’ll need a boot with a stiffened sole suitable for fixing a crampon, along with some insulation for warmth, a high ankle cuff and a wraparound rand for increased foot protection.

In the following overview, you'll come across a few terms that you might not be familiar with. If you're in need of a jargon buster, check out our explainer on the parts of a hiking boot

Fit and comfort

A well-chosen pair of men’s winter hiking boots should last several years. When it comes to the best boots, comfort is just as important as performance, so you actively look forward to getting out into the mountains. Poor-fitting boots can cause blisters, coldness, toe injuries, general discomfort and even accidents, all of which will discourage you from going hillwalking again. Of course, you should always take time to break in boots after purchasing them.

All brands have their eccentricities – such as a tight toe box – and some tend towards being larger or smaller than you might expect for the size, so try before you buy if possible. Factor in the need for a good hiking sock too – our guide to the best hiking socks you can buy will point you in the right direction.

Weight

Although weight is always a consideration with outdoor kit, more extreme conditions and technical terrain will inevitably demand sturdier and therefore heavier hiking boots. Having said that, mountaineering boots are getting lighter all the time without compromising on performance, thanks in part to advances in materials and construction methods, as well as a gradual change in ethos. The rise of “Alpine-style’” mountaineering and climbing, which espouses a fast-and-light approach, has encouraged gear manufacturers to prioritize low weight as a critical factor in boot design. 

La Sportiva Trango Tower GTX

Stiff soles, like those of the La Sportiva Trango Tower GTX, are what you want with your best winter hiking boots (Image credit: La Sportiva)

Support

The tougher the terrain, the greater level of protection and support you’ll require. If you’re tackling exposed rock, scree, snow and ice, you will need more support and rigidity to help with steeper ground, prevent the likelihood of slippage and ankle injury, and provide more protection.

In addition, winter adventures in the hills and mountains generally means carrying more gear, in the form of extra clothing and safety equipment – which may include crampons, a rope, an ice axe, a mountaineering rack, climbing harness, climbing helmet and other hardware. This means a bigger pack (typically around 45 litres even for a single day route) and a heavier load. 

This is likely to affect your balance and natural stability, further increasing the need for more supportive boots and good grip. They are essential for traversing technical terrain.

Price

Unfortunately, there’s no real way of getting around the fact that serious kit usually costs serious money. But it helps to think of a good pair of winter boots as an investment. If you look after them, you ought to get several seasons’ use out of them – so in that sense, investing time and some hard-earned cash on quality boots ought to offer plenty of value for money. From a safety perspective, you’d also be daft to compromise your own wellbeing in the mountains for the sake of saving a few bucks. 

Of course, we appreciate that there’s a limit to everyone’s budget, so we’ve selected the best winter hiking boots at a range of different price points. And if you’re really strapped for cash, look out for the chance to make big savings in seasonal sales, shop smart by taking advantage of discount codes and offers, ask retailers to price-match, or consider buying used equipment. Though the thought of buying someone else’s boots might not appeal, since fit is unique from person to person, it’s not uncommon to find barely-worn boots being sold by people who have discovered that a specific boot isn’t quite the right size or fit for their feet – slightly too broad in the midfoot perhaps, or too narrow in the toebox, or with too much volume overall (space in the boot). Conversely, that might mean they’re the perfect fit for you.

Seasonality

All-round hiking boots are often referred to as “three-season” boots, which means they’re suitable for use from spring through to fall. When winter rolls around though, if you’re venturing into mountainous terrain, you will almost certainly need a true “four-season” boot. This designation implies they are suitable for winter hillwalking and mountaineering. 

The major difference between a three-season boot and a four-season boot – aside from general toughness – is the stiffness of the sole. Four-season boots have a rigid shank embedded in the midsole, which stiffens the boot both longitudinally and torsionally (ie, from toe to heel and from edge to edge), preventing it from flexing or bending too much in either direction. As well as providing increased stability on uneven terrain, this also ensures the boot can be safely used with a crampon. 

Crampon-compatible boots are usually rated either B1, B2 or B3. Similarly, crampons are usually classed with a matching C1, C2 or C3 system. So, a C1 crampon is best used with a B1 boot, a C2 crampon with a B2 boot and so on. Having said that, you can match a B2 boot with a C1 crampon, but not the other way around. Here’s why:

A B1 boot has a stiffened midsole with a half or three-quarter length shank to accommodate a flexible C1 “hillwalking’”or “glacier walking” crampon. These have step-in bindings and (usually) 10 points.

A B2 boot has a fully stiffened midsole with a full-length shank. In addition, it has a noticeable heel welt (a pronounced ledge at the heel of the boot) to fit a C2 semi-automatic crampon. This is a crampon with a rear binding fitted with a clip or lever, and a flexible basket at the toe. C2 crampons are usually fitted with 12 points.

A B3 boot is a true mountaineering boot with a full-length shank. They are usually too rigid to walk comfortably below the snowline. They have a heel welt and a toe welt to accommodate a fully automatic C3 crampon, which has heel and toe slips. A C3 crampon usually has 12 or 14 points, and may have modular front points that can be switched from dual points to monopoints for tackling challenging ice climbs. 

All the boots featured here are either B1 or B2-rated.

An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.