Winter Walking: How To Choose the Best Boots for Winter

Lots of autumn or winter nubuck leather boots, concept

Key Points

  • Safely explore the outdoors by selecting the best boots for winter for your environment and lifestyle.

  • Knowing the difference between winter boots and hiking boots makes all the difference if your trek takes you through unpaved or wet terrain.

  • Snow boots are not just a trending style this year, fashion meets function as these heavy-duty boots are built to trudge through snow and ice so you get where you need to go and stay dry.

Whether you are hanging out après-ski or trying to get out to beat the winter blues, a stroll in the snow may sound like a good idea. Though the temps are low and the skies are gray, getting outside every day is a mood-booster and good for your mental health. Get the most out of your winter walk by taking a few general tips into consideration regarding your fashion choices, the most important being your footwear. Don't settle for less. Seek the best boots for winter. Proper footwear keeps you safe and also provides comfort and warmth — and looks good to boot!

Choosing Your Perfect Pair

Before making your purchase, consider your specific environment and the types of trails you like to take. Not all winter boots are made equal. If you live in the mountains, browse different styles than ones designed for the city. 

You may wonder what the difference is between snow boots, hiking boots, and other styles of winter boots that are just made to look chic. Read on for the ultimate style breakdown by category, recommendations for use, and some styling suggestions so you feel like your best self while tackling the ice and snow.

Woman compares different boot styles in department store

The Best Hiking Boots Available

If you’re in the market for a pair of hiking boots you intend on wearing in wintery weather, consider a pair with enough tread to provide traction on ice and snow so you don’t take a tumble. While shopping, check and see if the hiking boots are waterproof, as there's nothing worse in the winter than having wet and cold feet. Check for Gore-Tex in the materials list, as it is built with waterproof technology that also promotes breathability. 

Using a good pair of moisture-wicking hiking socks also keeps everything comfortable and dry on your trek. Different styles of hiking boots provide different levels of insulation, so pick and choose wisely with your local climate in mind. Hiking boots nowadays are more lightweight than ever, so there are options at your disposal that won’t weigh you down and make your walk feel more like a trudge.

Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex

Across the board, the Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex Hiking Boots wins best in class for both men’s and women’s styles. They are lightweight and made of Gore-Tex material as mentioned before, so they are also waterproof. Solid traction on the bottom and support throughout make this boot a go-to option if your walks take place on rocky terrain or you prefer some extra stability going around the neighborhood.

Sorel Kinetic Rnegd Conquest

On the style front, another hiking pair deserving recognition is the Sorel Kinetic Rnegd Conquest Hiking Shoes. Stay photo-ready and nice and dry since the nubuck exterior is waterproof. These are geared more toward the city streets than mountain paths. They have a sneaker build and some added elevation from the plush EVA platform. 100 grams of microfleece insulation on the interior provide all-day comfort.

Thick soled rubber hiking boots

VECTIV™ Fastpack Insulated FUTURELIGHT

If you are looking for a hiking boot that scores high in durability, look no further than these VECTIV™ Fastpack Insulated FUTURELIGHT™ Boots from The North Face. With 200 grams of Heatseeker™ Eco insulation, they maintain warmth no matter how much the temps drop outside. A snowshoe knob on the rear heel adds additional stability while on the trails. If ruggedness and practicality are more your vibe, these boots deliver. They are available for both men and women adventure-seekers alike.

Merrell Moab Speed Thermo Mid WP

These Merrell Moab Speed Thermo Mid WP are another great waterproof hiking boot choice that won’t break the bank. They are comfortable, and versatile, and come in great colors that match your winter wardrobe. Besides being extremely practical, they feature some recycled materials and have some reflective bits throughout the exterior if a walk in the evening is more your speed. 

How To Style Hiking Boots

Planning the appropriate wardrobe for your walk makes it an all-around more enjoyable experience. Prioritize comfort and warmth while still stepping out in style. Slim-leg pants or fleece leggings pair well with boots along with some thick, yet breathable socks. Throw on an oversized flannel or sweater and your favorite puffer jacket, and look cozy-chic. Top off the look with a furry hat and some sunnies for the brightness that reflects off the snow. 

Don’t forget your sunblock! (Yes, you still need it in winter.)

The Best Snow Boots Available

Snow boots are designed to keep you upright and sturdy by default, so browse this type of boot knowing that most of your options have excellent traction and stability to keep you safe. Snow boots are usually a bit heftier than hiking boots, so they might weigh a bit more. 

The pros of snow boots are that they are designed to be waterproof and extend up the leg further, meaning the snow is kept out. Though they are well-insulated and are made to keep you warm, snow boots are typically not as breathable as hiking boots, so keep that in mind when considering the length and difficulty of your walk. Opt for moisture-wicking socks to prevent any excess moisture on the interior of your boots. 

Pair of woman wearing winter boots covered in snow

Snow boots are also usually considerably bulkier than hiking boots, so you may not move as quickly down your path. This isn't a problem for a stroll so unless you’re in a hurry, stop and smell the metaphorical roses while staying generally warmer and drier than you would in hiking boots. 

Here are a few snow boot options to think about:

Caribou Boots

These are another top recommendation from Sorel. Caribou Boots are classic duck-style boots and not only look great, but are fully functional in the slush and snow. They are seam-sealed and completely waterproof — perfect for a full day of snow activities. The upper is made of luxe suede and nylon with a sherpa snow cuff keeping it snug and secure at the top. The classic lug sole keeps traction when it's slick outside.


The cult-favorite ICON from Moon Boots is a fun and stylish snow boot with a retro vibe. Inspired by the 1969 astronaut landing, these funky boots are available in almost any color imaginable with metallics included. ICON boots are surprisingly lightweight as far as snow boots go. They are insulated, super warm, and of course, Instagram-ready. The drawstring at the top keeps all of the snow out and the rubber tread sole keeps you in place. They are designed to be unisex, so this style is extremely versatile.

Faux Fur Lined Winter Boots

Functional Y2K style at an accessible price point? Yes, please! These Faux Fur Lined Winter Boots from Dream Pairs hit the nail on the head. They offer 200 grams of Thermolite insulation to keep you nice and toasty even on the coldest of days. They feature a zip closure for no fuss on and off and look effortlessly cool while holding up in icy conditions. 

Pedestrian wears yellow winter boots and jacket

Prada Padded Gabardine

On the other hand, if you are feeling particularly fancy, these Prada Padded Gabardine Boots may be up your alley. They are inspired by snowboarding gear and combine modern utility with the chic minimalism Prada is known for. They are in fact, waterproof, and have a drawstring top to boot. The sock design is removable, and they buckle at the front. These boots make an outstanding wardrobe staple for winter while still being functional on your walks.

How To Style Snow Boots

Snow boots are one of those styles that are super functional but still make quite the fashion statement. Get the most out of your look by pairing them with dark denim, a zip-up sweater, and a trench puffer coat to up the warmth factor. 

If the weather isn’t too extreme, play with proportions and opt for a fuzzy faux fur coat if you are feeling a bit extra fabulous. Accessorize with matching gloves and a scarf and you’re ready to take on your walk in style.

The Best Winter Boots for City Walks 

Not all walks take place through idyllic snowy countryside or mountains. For all you city dwellers out there, consider these winter boot tips and recommendations. Safety is still important when it comes to taking care while navigating slick sidewalks and city streets. Seek a style with good traction and a waterproof exterior. Ditch your knee-highs and high heel boots; snow boots have entered the chat.

Hunter Intrepid Snow

Get where you're going in comfort and style in these Hunter Intrepid snow boots. They’re crafted from recycled nylon and fleece in the upper and have a contemporary-cool look with the puffed body. The drawstring top closure keeps all the elements out and the Ortholite footbed offers superior comfort and support throughout the longest of days.

Woman walking through cityscape wears high-heeled black boots

Sorel Brex Lace

Sorel has even more great winter books. If you are feeling edgy, sport these Sorel Brex Lace boots with any outfit. They have a super modern feel with clean lines in the sole and elevated heel. An EVA footbed keeps your step plush and the high-traction sole prevents any slips and gives you a little extra height. 

Finally, an elevated boot suitable for running errands.

Emilie Chelsea

Take your lug sole game to the next level in these vegan leather Emilie Chelsea boots from Stella McCartney. A thick platform with an exaggerated tread keeps you elevated over the sidewalks and firmly on the ground. The leather alternative looks just like the real deal, and pulling them on and off makes getting ready a breeze.


These Adiroam hiker boots from UGG turn heads. Don’t roll your eyes quite yet, as these aren’t your typical UGG boots. These hiker-style boots boast a chunky, maximalist sole that is just as functional as it is fashionable. These are sure to turn heads on your walk and keep you dry at the same time, as they are certified waterproof. The classic sherpa lining keeps your feet warm all day. They deliver a bold style statement and extreme traction.

How To Style Winter Boots

Winter boots are a wardrobe staple and are a great base for any cold-weather look. Prepare for a brisk winter walk in the city by pairing your boots with skinny jeans, a chunky knit sweater, and a long coat. Grab your tote bag, headphones, and some oversized sunglasses and you are ready to navigate the streets with ease.

Choosing the right footwear to take a winter stroll in is the difference between taking a pleasant walk and ending up wet and angry on your behind on the ground. Look for a style with traction, water-resistant properties, and enough support for your ankles. No matter if you are on a rocky path or walking a few blocks away, boots are an excellent choice for your winter excursions. When you compare hiking boots with snow boots, keep in mind that hiking boots may be more lightweight and let you remain more agile, but snow boots triumph when it comes to water resistance and stability, though they are bulky and weigh a bit more. 

Person walks through snowy field of grass with winter boots

Whatever type of boot you purchase, consider tread, protection from the elements towards the top, height, and closure type. Do your research on sizing, as different designers may have different recommendations on whether you need to size up or down depending on the style. Wearing ill-fitting winter boots on a walk is a recipe for disaster, so stay safe and take your time on selecting the right style and fit for your lifestyle. 

These Boots Are Made for Winter Walkin'!

Celebrate your style and make your winter wardrobe your own! There are so many different styles to browse. From fur-lined tall boots to chic but minimal short boots, there are viable options for any style profile. You don’t have to sacrifice fashion when it comes to shopping for a pair that keeps you safe and sturdy on and off the trail. 

Happy hunting and stay safe and warm out there!

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