The best hiking boots for winter

Your hiking boots can make or break your experience on the trail. Take the time to find the best winter hiking boots for you.
Your hiking boots can make or break your experience on the trail. Take the time to find the best winter hiking boots for you. (BestReviews)

While many hikers hang up their boots when the mercury drops, the diehards keep going even when the ground is covered in frost (or slush or snow). If you are a winter hiker (or desperately want to be), you’ll need a rock-solid set of winter hiking boots to keep your feet warm and comfortable when it’s cold and wet outside.

For warm and dry hiking in the coldest, wettest conditions, the best winter hiking boots are the Timberland Women's White Ledge hiking boot.


What to know before you buy hiking boots for winter

Where and when you’ll hike

Even if you’ll be generally hiking in colder weather, terrain and conditions can vary tremendously in different regions. You’ll need a different type of winter hiking boot if you are hiking in cold but generally dry conditions than you will if snow is several feet deep.

Consider the terrain, too. If hiking for you is a long, relatively flat and paved trail, you’ll focus your search for the best winter hiking boots on good arch support. Prefer steep inclines and loose rocks? Ankle support and toe protection will be key.



The materials you choose will support the type of hiking you do, the terrain you hike and the prevailing conditions. There are four basic materials for hiking boots: full-grain leather, split-grain leather, synthetics and vegan leather.

Full-grain leather is the heaviest and most durable material, good for the harshest conditions. On the other end of the spectrum are lightweight synthetic boots, which don’t provide as much waterproof protection.

Most hikers find a good middle ground with a combination of leather and synthetic for waterproof and comfortable winter hiking boots.

Hiking boots for winter features


Winter weather often means cold, wet conditions. Your boots should be waterproof out of the box and stay that way all season. You may need to add additional protection at the end of each season depending on your use.

Support for the ankles

Mid- or high-topped winter hiking boots should include added ankle shanks to provide support on uneven terrain.

Comfortable foot support

Proper arch support means you can hike in comfort all day without adding orthotics or special pads. Look for ergonomic footbeds or designs that are made especially for high or flat arches for the most support.

Added foot protection 

Toe bumpers and other types of rubber protection around the foot not only help you to better grip the trail as you climb hills but also to avoid injury from trail debris (i.e., rocks and fallen tree limbs).

Heel brakes

If your hiking route includes steep downhills, heel brakes are a must-have winter hiking boot feature. These rubber extensions on the back of the boot allow you to dig in to slow your movement as you descend.

Hiking boots for winter cost 

Hiking boots are a crucial and somewhat expensive piece of gear. You’ll spend between $90-$300 for the best winter hiking boots.

Hiking boots for winter FAQ

How do you properly fit hiking boots?

A. Hiking boots are like regular shoes' wacky cousin. They perform the same function, but they are sized differently and require more attention.

Get fitted for hiking boots at the end of the day when your feet have swollen a bit. Wear the socks you intend to hike in.

When you lace up your boots, the tongue should lie flat on the top of your foot, and the ankle and sides of the boot should gently hug the entire foot (no squeezing).

To determine if you have the correct size, slide your toes all the way forward until they are touching the front of the boot. If you can insert a finger in between the back of your foot and the boot, the size is correct.

Walk around to make sure the level of sole flexibility is comfortable for you and the ankle support feels appropriate.

Do you have to break in your hiking boots?

A. Most hiking boots require a breaking-in period that can last anywhere from one or two hikes to an entire season.

If this is the case, start with short walks, gradually increasing the distance as the boots begin to become more flexible. Note that all-leather, heavy-duty winter hiking boots can take an exceptionally long time to conform to your foot, but once they do, they are as comfortable as hiking barefoot.

Which hiking boots for winter should I get?

Best of the best hiking boots for winter

Timberland Women's White Ledge: available at Amazon (also available in men's)

Our take: For the worst weather conditions, these are the go-to winter hiking boots.

What we like: Warm cushioning inside and extra ankle support keep feet comfortable on all-day treks in cold weather. These boots are waterproof and perfect for slush, rain and mud.

What we dislike: These Timberlands can get heavy over long hikes.

Best bang for your buck hiking boots for winter

Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot: available at Amazon and Dick's Sporting Goods (also available in men's)

Our take: With extra padding and extra support, these boots keep your feet warm and dry.

What we like: These waterproof boots have an extra layer of padding on the ankles to keep your legs sturdy and stable. The shock-absorbing sole features a memory foam insert. This keeps feet both cushioned and supported at the same time.

What we dislike: If you like to wear heavy wool socks for winter hiking, you'll need a larger size than normal. These boots run small.

Honorable mention hiking boots for winter

Keen Men's Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot: available at Amazon and Dick's Sporting Goods (also available in women's)

Our take: These are excellent if you want to hike in your boots right out of the box — they don't require any period of breaking in.

What we like: These boots are all about keeping your feet protected and your ankle stable. They have extra supportive ankle shanks and toe guards to protect from hazards on the trail. They are waterproof and have good arch support.


What we dislike: The boots keep feet very warm and for that reason aren't great for hot summer hiking.


Suzannah Kolbeck is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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