Fraternal or Identical Twins: Snow and Winter Boots

Key Points

  • Snow boots and winter boots sound like the same footwear but have critical differences.

  • Some snow boots double as winter boots and vice versa.

  • The key to comfort is finding the boots that suit your needs.

Are snow boots and winter boots identical twins just wearing different name tags?

As winter hits, the shoes littering the floor inside your front door change. Between growing feet, losing shoes in the garage, and the new puppy's love of chewing boots, someone in your household is bound to need a new pair of winter footwear. Does everyone really need a pair of snow boots and winter boots or will one pair suffice?

Snow boots and winter boots are often talked about interchangeably but they do have significant differences. Sometimes, snow boots double as winter boots and vice versa, but the terms pertain to different products.

What’s the Difference Between Snow Boots and Winter Boots?

Snow boots are footwear meant for winter's snowy, cold conditions. If you want to sled with your kids, shovel the driveway, or work outside in the snow, snow boots are a must-have item to wear. This type of boot usually has higher insulation properties, waterproof elements, and durability.

Winter boots at the beach

Outdoor expert from Hiking and Fishing Magazine Max DesMarais says, "Keeping your feet warm can help to keep the rest of your body feeling comfortable and strong when hiking, fishing, or simply enjoying time outdoors in cold weather. The easiest way to keep your feet from getting cold no matter how low the temperature drops is to invest in a pair of high-quality insulated boots." Snow boots are often temperature rated, so determine what you need for warmth. No one wants cold toes, and snow boots are the correct answer if you are in the winter elements for more extended periods.

On the other hand, winter boots are more on the stylish end of things. You wear winter boots on a regular, everyday basis. Run errands, work at the office, pick up your kids from school, and do other such tasks in winter boots. This type of footwear doesn't always have much, or even any, insulation. They are not always waterproof but rather simply water resistant. That means they keep light rain out but not the snow and ice when Old Man Winter really cranks up the action.

Boots are better than shoes as they generally ride farther up on your foot, but they are more for the style than practicality. Winter boots look great and offer a touch of style in the bleak winter, while also keeping your toes warm.

Winter Boots as Snow Boots

While winter boots and snow boots have two different definitions, winter boots are also sometimes snow boots.

Many winter boot options have higher insulating properties, like snow boots. They may also be waterproof and not just water resistant. If you find a pair of winter boots with snow boot elements and the style you appreciate, it's possible to use winter boots as snow boots. Many winter boots contain elements, like leather, that do not hold up well to water and snow. While this is not always the case, ensure your boot can stand up against those elements before taking them on their maiden voyage.

Tying laces of winter boots

Snow Boots as Winter Boots

Snow boots are generally larger and heavier than winter boots, but that does not mean you cannot wear them for everyday occasions — there's no secret code for snow boots that you must follow or else!

There are lightweight snow boot options with a sense of style. If you do not have the budget for multiple pairs of boots for different occasions, you are better off getting snow boots and using them as your go-to winter footwear.

Judging Winter Boots and Snow Boots

Not all producers are going to label their products correctly. You may see winter boots that are temperature rated for the coldest, snowy days. Moreover, you may see snow boots that are lightweight, stylish, and more suitable for errands and casual wear. As the consumer, you must be cognizant of the product differences and judge what works for you.

You need not worry about higher insulation levels when you want winter boots. Some insulation is excellent for keeping your feet warm in the cold. Watch for boots with 100-200g of insulation, which suffices. Choose your boots based on comfort, budget, and the style you want instead of the waterproofing and insulating capabilities.

Winter boots and colorful socks

When you need snow boots, the appearance takes a backseat. Instead of concentrating on what the boots look like upfront, check their temperature ratings and insulation levels. Insulation measuring 400g and above for snow boots keeps your feet warmest. If you plan to be in the cold longer than a few hours, or if your feet are notoriously cold outside, look for boots with even more insulation.

Waterproofing in the boots is also a fundamental difference. Many winter boots have water resistance, which is an excellent place to start, but it means something different than waterproof. Water resistance means the boots handle light rain or splashes from a nearby puddle. They do not stand up against heavy or deep snow and are never submerged in water or expected to withstand heavy rain.

Winter boots are fine for many outdoor circumstances over the colder months, but snow boots are necessary for walking through snow and getting through storms. When you compare boot options, check for the terms "waterproof" or "water resistant" before you make a final decision.

Winter Boot Options

Winter boots give your feet a sense of style while keeping your toes warm. The Lucky Brand Women’s Basel Ankle Boot is a good example. These boots have rubber soles to keep the moisture out, but leather materials around the feet. Their ankle height keeps the heat in when you run errands, but they aren't boots you want to use walking through the snow. They look great with jeans, skirts, and dresses.

Snow boots with jeans

The Dr. Martens Women’s 2976 Lenore Chelsea Boot is another fabulous winter choice. These pull-on boots also have rubber soles with ample tread to keep you upright in icy conditions. Their leather materials protect your feet, keep them warm, and look good. The boots have an air-cushioned sole for added comfort, and the interior features faux fur to retain warmth.

Dr. Scholl’s Create Ankle Boot features a wedge heel that looks great for casual or elegant occasions. The boots close with a zipper and contain a rounded toe. The faux suede does not appreciate snow, but the boots are shock absorbers and comfortable for all-day wear. The decorative side buckle gives them even more style.

While it's best to not get caught in a blizzard in these, they do work great for many other low-key occasions.

Snow Boot Options

Snow boots often have a more rugged appearance, focusing more on functionality than style. The JSWEI Waterproof Winter Snow Boots have a lightweight fur lining and a non-slip tread to help wearers beat the winter elements. They lace closed; tie them as tight as you want to keep the snow and ice out. Their extra plush lining gives wearers a constant temperature that keeps the winter chill away.

The Polar Brand features a Faux Fur Warm Thermal Waterproof Walking Boot that rides up the calf to retain extra heat. These boots come in many colors and also lace closed for tightness around the calf. The premium faux fur lines the boots from top to toe, insulating the feet while allowing for moisture-wicking and breathability. The practical option includes quality rubber soles that are waterproof and anti-slip. The boots are easy to pull on and off with an inside zipper, so you do not have to lace and tie them for each use.

The rugged, durable Sorel Winter Boots have extra traction in the soles. They withstand temperatures down to 25 below and feature faux fur cuffs to keep the snow outside where it belongs. Feet enjoy 200g of insulation, and the foot support makes the boots comfortable for walking long distances.

Snow boots

Finding the Warmth You Need

The insulation in your chosen boots is the key to your toe’s warmth. Whether you decide on winter boots, snow boots, or some of each type, you need the right level of insulation. You need insulation and warmth if you are outside longer, either in the snow or just on the sidewalks.

The Dream Pairs Women’s Mid-Calf Winter Snow Boots are a good fit for warmth. These boots are temperature rated to keep feet warm in conditions as cold as 25 below. They are waterproof, wind resistant, and ride up on the calf to provide warmth partway up the leg. They also contain a cushioned footbed for added comfort.

The Columbia brand carries a Minx Mid iii Snow Boot that also includes extra warmth. The waterproof, breathable membrane allows feet to stay warm and dry across the board, from taking the garbage out to hiking in the winter. The insulation in these boots has a reflective lining to keep feet warm, even in deep snow. The boots flex well with the quilted ankle support, and the faux fur keeps rain and snow from entering from the top.

The Koolaburra by Ugg has a fashionable winter boot appearance with the warmth of snow boots. The boots have waterproof suede and faux fur lining for warmth. The rubber sole means no water comes in from below, and feet remain dry no matter how deep the puddles get.

Finding Your Perfect Pair

There are many ways to find winter or snow boots that suit your needs. Setting a budget for yourself is always a good idea so you don't go overboard on spending. Once you have a price point, narrow your search and look only at boots within that range.

Style is essential to most people, but you want to get the elements you need in boots before concentrating on style. Check for warmth, insulation, and waterproofing before you look too closely at the style options. Style is a priority if you need winter boots, not snow boots.

Read descriptions on boots, but also check the reviews. Descriptions come from the producers, and any boot sounds good. As you read the reviews, find out the truth about the performance those boots have given to other consumers. If you read mostly good reviews, you know those boots would also do an excellent job for you.

Furry winter boots

Winter and snow boots fit differently than average shoes, so it is crucial to consider the sizes carefully. You want something that fits snugly but also has room for extra socks if you want extra toasty toes. Try on a few different sizes when you look in stores, and take the socks you plan to use most with those boots. If you buy online, consider buying half a size to a size larger than usual.

Always check the return policy to ensure you are able to exchange the boots for another size if the initial size does not work for you and your piggies.

Make the Right Decisions for You

You may not have perfect circulation, making your feet colder than others. That could lead you to want boots with a higher level of insulation. As you look for winter or snow boots, you must make the right decision for your feet and comfort level. It also helps to have insulating socks that moisture-wick so your feet do not get overheated and sweat, turning them into an absolute nightmare.

Consider how you plan to use the boots and shop around from there. Winter boots are a good fit if you want boots to wear to work. If you are tromping through the snow or building snowmen with your kids, snow boots are what you need. Many consumers have one or more pairs of each.

While winter boots and snow boots may be mistaken for identical twins, they aren't! They are each the star of their own show.

For more up-to-date info on the latest boot trends, styles, and purchasing options, check out BootAuthority.

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