With the best women's winter boots, the outdoors is a playground. These boots can vary in design, but are essentially warm, water-resistant, with grippy soles designed for walking on ice on the outside and a layer of insulation such as Primaloft, fleece or neoprene to keep feet cosy on the inside.
- Need more boots? Check out our guide to the best hiking boots you can buy
- Stay warm this winter with the best down jackets and puffers
- Is women's outdoor gear up to scratch? Let's put it to the test
The best women's winter boots are often great for walking on challenging and icy terrain and their warm linings will allow you to stay outdoors for longer in comfort, making them ideal for ski and snowboard holidays as well cold weather hikes or just playing outside on a snow day. The best snow boots tend to be pretty expensive – after all, they have to stand up to harsh environments – and we’d recommend investing wisely on a good pair, especially if you’re spending a season working or playing in the mountains. That said, we have also cold-tested a fantastic budget option.
The 10 best women’s winter boots to suit all budgets
A smart and affordable neoprene-lined snow boot aimed at more casual winter use
RRP: £100 (UK) / €110 (EU) | Insulation: Microfleece | Colour: black | Compatibility: Better suited to snow days and relaxed cold weather walks over wear in challenging conditions
Neoprene isn’t just for wetsuits – it also makes a great insulating layer in some of the best snow boots, such as Dare2B’s Zeno. These simple, sleek black boots don’t have the bulky look or feel of larger snow boots but they’re still warm and cosy thanks to neoprene and fleece linings, so you won’t get cold toes even in sub-zero temperatures. Just like a wetsuit bootie, this slip-on design feels light and flexible when on, and offers a snug, sock-like fit which helps to trap in warmth (we’d recommend going up a size if you plan to wear thick socks). The rubber sole offers decent grip on more casual walks but wouldn’t withstand challenging icy terrain, making these boots best suited to après ski sessions or for popping to the park on a snow day, rather than proper hiking. The versatile looks of the Zeno make this a great everyday winter boot when the temperature drops. The only downside we found when testing these boots out is that the elasticated front isn’t adjustable for a custom fit, and the front straps do trap snow when you walk in deeper drifts.
Vivo Barefoot Tracker
A handsome and hard-wearing boot ideal for lovers of the barefoot movement
RRP: $277 (US) / £195 (UK) / €230 (EU) | Insulation: Thermal lining | Colours: Grey/brown | Compatibility: This fully waterproofed and warm boot can be worn on most winter adventures
Who knew a tough, waterproof winter boot could feel so barely-there? Vivo Barefoot specialise in shoes and boots designed to mimic how we walk with no shoes on at all, and their winter boot offering is no exception – the Tracker Hi FG feels pleasingly lightweight once on, and the sole is so flexible you can roll it up for easy packing. Despite that flexibility, these beautiful boots are ready to face the weather – the smart suede nubuck leather outer material is fully waterproofed, and a thermal insole and lining keep things cosy even in sub-zero conditions. A tight lacing system offers good ankle protection, and despite a lack of deep lugs the Tracker is pretty grippy even on slick surfaces. These boots are on the expensive side, but they feel like lovely quality, and should last you for years of snowy adventures. Plus, their leather looks are so versatile you can wear them daily from autumn till spring everywhere from the city to the country.
The Sorel Caribou is a classic, and for good reason – this big beast of a boot is reliably warm and weatherproof
RRP: $170 (US) / £150 (UK) / €170 (EU) | Insulation: Felt inner boot | Colours: Black/grey/tan | Compatibility: Ideal for working in – or just stomping about in – deep snow and cold temperatures
Sorel’s snow boots are classics worn by mountain guides, rangers and ski seasonnaires alike, and their bestselling Caribou boot is our top winter all-rounder from their wide range of styles. Warning – these boots are big and heavy workhorses, and are definitely not at the barely-there end of the snow boot spectrum, making them a better choice for working or playing outdoors rather than for long hikes. Warm, chunky and designed with proper snowbound winters in mind, the Caribou features a wellington boot-style rubber toe that stops any water seeping in and makes the bottom part of the boot easy to wipe clean. The higher section of the Caribou is waterproof nubuck leather lined with warm fleece, and this can be laced tightly enough to keep feet cosy. We love the removable inner booties which act as the boot’s insulating layer, made from recycled felt and which you can take out to wash or to wear around the house as slippers. For seriously cold temperatures, Sorel also make a warmer wool-lined version of the Caribou for an extra $10/£10.
This walking boot is ideal for serious trekking in frosty weather
RRP: $250 (US) / £160 (UK) / €190 (EU) | Insulation: Leather | Colours: Grey/brown | Compatibility: A great hybrid of hiking boot and winter boot
Love to go off the beaten track no matter what the weather? Keen’s Karraig could be your new best friend. This high-performing leather hiking boot is warm, waterproof and instantly comfortable to wear. We like the high, supportive and well-padded ankle, which doesn’t let rain or snow seep in, the protected toe box and the thick soles, which offer great grip even on wet and icy surfaces. The Karraigs aren’t snow-specific boots, and there’s no insulation besides naturally warm leather, but we still found them brilliant when we tested them out in temperatures down to and around 0°C, making these boots a great choice if you want a hardwearing hiking boot for autumn, winter and spring that you can also wear on frosty walks or when venturing above the snow line in the mountains. If you’re planning to be out in deep snow all day long, however, pick a winter-specific boot such as Keen’s insulated Revel IV (scroll down).
These fun faux fur-lined boots may look fashion forward, but they also perform well in the cold
RRP: $120 (US) / £115 (UK) / €130 (EU) | Insulation: Omni-Heat reflective lining | Colours: Black/tan | Compatibility: These very comfortable lined boots are great for ski holidays
Ok, so they do look a bit like ski bunny wear – but Columbia’s faux fur-lined Slopesides are designed with substance as well as style in mind, and are deliciously warm and comfy to wear as well as waterproof enough to repel snow. A quilted lining and 200g of insulation make these winter boots as cosy on your feet as your favourite slippers, and there’s also a lining of Columbia’s own-brand Omni Heat technology – which uses little silver dots to trap and reflect body heat and keep feet snug even in sub-zero conditions. Laces are easy to adjust, so you can get a snug warm fit around the legs or leave these tall boots loose on more casual walks. The soles of the Slopesides also proved very good on test, offering decent grip on icy pavements and snowy trails alike. As the name suggests, these boots are a great choice for wearing when you’re not busy skiing on a winter sports holiday, or for popping out for walks in the winter, especially if comfort is at the top of your wishlist. Did we have any quibbles when testing these boots out? The fit of the Slopesides is definitely way off – we couldn’t even fit our feet into our normal size – so go at least one size up, especially if you have wide feet or plan to wear thicker socks.
Keen Revel Polar IV (High)
With rugged soles offering excellent grip, these waterproof winter boots can put up with Arctic environments
RRP: $190 (US) / £140 (UK) / €170 (EU) | Insulation: KEEN.WARM Recycled PET insulation | Colours: Black / Dusty olive and rose dawn | Compatibility: These waterproof boots offer trustworthy warmth down to -40°C, and wouldn’t be out of place in their namesake Polar regions
These hefty boots mean business. Keen’s Revel IV is designed with winter in mind, starting from the bottom, where chunky rubber soles offer brilliantly sticky grip even on slick ice and give great confidence as you hike. Up top there’s a waterproof suede leather outer, a high lacing system that hugs your ankle and a cushiony inner sole that makes these boots feel springy underfoot even after hours of trudging through snow. The Revel IVs are ideal for working long hours outdoors in the cold, hiking in sub-zero temperatures (Keen claim the boots insulate down to -40°C/-40°F, which we couldn’t test, but they were very snug at -5°C/23°F) or dog walking in any weather, and are definitely worth the investment if you get outside all winter long. The Revel IVs aren’t as chunky as some of the other high-performing boots we tested, either, making them a versatile pick. Trying to make environmentally sound purchases this year? Most of this boot is constructed from recycled materials and the design is PFC-free. Two heights are available – we prefer the higher cut, which is great for stomping through deeper snow, but the mid cut boot ($170/£130/€160) offers a little more flexibility of movement for hiking. We give top marks for both.
Hardy boots that deliver big on both style and performance in icy conditions
RRP: $220 (US) / £171 (UK) / €190 (EU) | Insulation: PrimaLoft | Colours: Brown/tan | Compatibility: Excellent grip and warmth make these boots perfect for icy terrain
Icy terrain won’t know what has hit it when tackled by these tough-as-nails winter boots. Danner are best known for their sumptuous, retro-inspired leather hiking boots, but they’ve turned their hands brilliantly to winter boots with the Arctic 600, which packs in some great technology – warm Primaloft insulation, Danner’s own-brand Danner Dry waterproofing and the star of the show, Vibram’s Arctic Grip soles, which really do stick to the slickest of icy surfaces. We were very impressed by this boot on test – we love the handy side zip which makes popping the boots on and off a breeze, the snug lace-up fit and good ankle protection, the tough toe box and the cushioning footbed, which moulds nicely to your feet for a custom fit. Plus, the suede Arctic 600 looks very handsome, and works just as well when worn casually for winter days in the city as on mountain treks, making its price point more palatable.
This winter version of Timberland’s classic leather boot is great for combating the cold in style
RRP: $180 (US) / £140 (UK) / | Insulation: PrimaLoft | Colours: Black/tan | Compatibility: Wear on cold but dry days on your winter travels
Classic Timberland boots on the bottom, warm faux fur-lined quilted fabric on top – these winter boots, made with recycled materials, are a great marriage of urban styling with outdoor-ready warmth. This warm take on your favourite Timberlands is well suited to the cold, with 200g of Primaloft insulation packed in to keep feet warm even in the frost. The quilted fabric upper, made from recycled plastic bottles, is reminiscent of how it might feel to wrap your ankles in a down jacket and really adds warmth when the mercury drops. Just like classic Timberlands, these boots have thick but very light and bouncy rubber soles with good lugs that offer decent traction even on slick icy surfaces. Leather is naturally water resistant as long as you take care of it and keep it in good condition, and the fabric upper of the Heritage boots also repels water, but this design is definitely better suited to cold but dry snow days rather than to wet weather, and it won’t repel heavy rain or thick snowfall. Like many leather boots, the Heritage boots may need some breaking in before they soften and mould to your feet.
LL Bean Snowfield
These boots are just like your favourite insulated jacket – they’re super snug but are only designed to keep you warm on dry days
RRP: $159 (US) / £152 (UK) | Insulation: Fleece lining | Colours: Black/carbon/cream | Compatibility: Keep toes cosy on cold but dry winter days
All-American brand LL Bean are the makers of the iconic Duck Boot, a wellington and leather boot hybrid which is excellent in the rain. For cold dry weather, however, we prefer their snug-as-anything Snowfield boots. Think of them as being like your favourite down jacket shaped into boots – light, airy and instantly very warm against the bitter cold, but pretty useless when wet. The Snowfield is water resistant enough to deal with light snowfall but will quickly get sodden in rain or sleet – but it’s delightful in freezing dry weather, and proved very warm indeed on test, with a thick layer of Primaloft insulation to combat the chill and a narrow faux fur-lined top that can be laced up snugly. We also rated the sole – it’s thick but very bouncy, and grippy enough to keep you padding happily about on snow for hours. We recommend picking the black or grey versions of the Snowfield over the cream, which can quickly look dirty.
Mountain Warehouse Vostock
The good-looking, reliable Vostock is a great pick if you’re after a taller winter boot
RRP: £200 (UK) | Insulation: Thermal Thinsulate lining | Colours: Tan | Compatibility: A versatile taller boot with great soles for tackling cold and wet weather
Mountain Warehouse’s excellent Vostock winter boot gets regular high reviews from fans, who have worn it everywhere from Iceland to Norway. Mountain Warehouse vouch for the warming properties of the boot down to -30°C/-22°F, and they’re definitely very cosy, with a Thinsulate lining designed to add warmth without too much bulk and a fully waterproof leather upper that keeps sleet and snow at bay. The taller cut of the Vostocks also offers a nice bit of extra warmth. We always rate Vibram soles on test, and these are no exception, offering excellent grip even on ice and packed snow, although we did find the soles rather stiff and unforgiving, and wouldn’t hike for miles in these boots – save them for winter holidays, snow days or working outdoors. The tan leather can stain slightly with regular use in wet weather, so you may want to treat your new boots with a leather protector before you head for the hills.
What to look for when buying the best women’s winter boots
The key element that makes the best women's winter boot stand apart from a standard hiking or outdoor boot is insulation – they’re designed to keep your feet cosy even in sub-zero temperatures. Some snow boots come with a temperature rating (-10°C/14°F for example), which means they’ve been tested and proven to perform at that low temperature. Otherwise, look to see what materials are used in the construction to trap in warmth – insulation such as Primaloft, which is also used in insulated jackets, is great at keeping feet warm, as are thermal fleece and neoprene linings. Some brands, such as Sorel, make boots with removable fleece booties inside which you can keep on your feet like slippers when you’re indoors. Note that winter boots will never be as breathable as light fabric hiking boots – they’re only suitable for the cold.
Any boots designed to tackle snow should have a waterproof or at least water resistant (sometimes labelled snow proof) outer layer. Boots which claim to be fully waterproof can usually deal with deep snow and rain, and are recommended if you’re hiking or working outdoors in winter conditions. ‘Snow proof’ or water-resistant boots only repel light snow fall – these are better for casual city walks and for wearing if you’re travelling to a snowy destination such as on a ski holiday, as they’re likely to be warm and insulated but not suitable for really wet conditions. Some snow boots use rubber to create a wellington boot-like lower portion of the boot, which is great for keeping rain and snow out but does render the boot less breathable, so your feet might overheat in warmer weather.
Winter boots should be designed for walking on challenging surfaces such as ice, snow and wet terrain, so picking a pair with good soles is key. Look for chunky rubber soles with deep ‘lugs’ (the studs on the sole) to ensure you have a good grip on ice – shallow lugs are only suitable for less challenging walking. High-performing winter boots often feature the same technology found in hiking boots, such as Gore-Tex waterproofing and tough, bouncy Vibram soles, both of which we always rate highly on test.
Just like with hiking boots, the best snow boots should feel comfortable and roomy, with plenty of space to move your toes and no tightness anywhere. You won’t usually need to break in fabric snow boots – they should feel deliciously comfy from the get-go. Leather winter boots, on the other hand, may require some breaking in before they soften and mould to your feet. You’ll want to wear thick socks (ski socks or winter hiking socks are ideal) inside your snow boots, so take some with you when you’re testing pairs out – you may need to go a size large than your usual. If the boots you’re trying out lace up, check that they feel snug and secure once done up, and that they support your ankle. There should be plenty of room for your toes to flex, but your feet shouldn’t slip around within the boot. Soles should feel cushiony and very grippy, but not too heavy. Ideally there won’t be much room between the opening of the boot and your leg, to avoid snow getting in – and the taller the boot’s cuff, the dryer your leg will be in a drift.
An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.
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