Neoprene isn’t just for wetsuits – it also makes a great insulating layer in winter boots such as Dare2B’s Zeno. A warm and smart neoprene boot aimed at more casual snow use – and at a good price point.
Warm snug fit
No adjustable laces or straps
Limited capability on trails
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The Dare2B Zeno boots are a simple, sleek black boot that 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. The neoprene lining 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 with them).
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Mercifully, despite their close fit, they aren’t too challenging to pull on and off thanks to decent stretch and a handy pull tie. The rubber sole offers fairly good 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 to proper hiking.
While the soles may not be grippy enough to deal with slick icy surfaces they’re still very bouncy and light, and proved comfortable even if you’re on your feet all day, and we also liked the tough rubber toe box, which offers extra protection.
•RRP: £100 (UK) / €110 (EU)
•Compatibility: Better suited to snow days and relaxed cold weather walks over wear in challenging conditions
In the field
The versatile looks and plain black colourway of the Dare2B Zeno make this a great everyday winter boot when the temperature drops below zero. Just like a wetsuit bootie, the slip-on neoprene design hugs the foot, provides warmth and feels light and flexible when you’re engaged in outdoor activities. The only downside we found when testing these boots out is that the elasticated front isn’t adjustable enough to achieve a custom fit, and the front straps do trap snow when you walk in deeper drifts – the straps are basically redundant, and Dare2B would have done better to leave the front of the boot plain. That said, these are very comfortable warm boots at an affordable price point, so we’ll forgive them.
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.