When the snow starts falling and the thermometer dips below freezing, pulling out your trusty pair of insulated snow boots is a must. Proper winter boots can make all the difference in keeping your feet warm, dry and comfortable as you trek around in the cold and snow. But with so many insulated boot options out there, how do you choose the right pair?
In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about picking the best insulated snow boots for your needs. First, we’ll recommend our top 5 insulated boot picks for both men and women. Next, we’ll go through key factors to consider when shopping for snow boots, like insulation warmth, waterproofing, traction and proper fit. Finally, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about insulated boots so you can make an informed decision.
Let’s get started! Here are our picks for the top 5 best insulated snow boots you can buy today:
Top 5 Insulated Snow Boots
1. The North Face Thermoball Snow Boot
When it comes to reliable, high-performance winter boots, it’s hard to beat The North Face. Their Thermoball Snow Boot tops our list thanks to its combination of ultimate warmth and weather protection.
This rugged snow boot is equipped with a waterproof coating and seam-sealed construction to keep feet dry. A removable, cushy EVA insole provides support and comfort.
But the real star is the 200g PrimaLoft insulation that captures and traps body heat to keep your feet toasty. This lightweight synthetic insulation dries fast and maintains warmth even when wet. A durable, flexible upper and traction rubber sole round out the features on this excellent cold weather boot.
Pros: Ultimate warmth and waterproofing, lightweight and breathable, superior traction, comfortable fit
Cons: Runs small, expensive
Ideal Uses: Frigid climates, backcountry snow activities, daily winter wear
2. Sorel Caribou Boot
For over 50 years, Sorel has been the go-to brand for rugged, durable snow boots. The Sorel Caribou is a winter icon that remains one of the warmest, most waterproof boots around.
The secret lies in the insulated inner bootie surrounded by a waterproof suede and leather upper. It’s rated to keep feet cozy in -40°F temps! The heel and sole are hardy rubber built to grip slippery surfaces.
Pros: Extreme warmth, heavy-duty waterproofing, excellent traction, timeless style
Cons: Bulky, break-in period, expensive
Ideal Uses: Extreme cold and snow, daily winter wear, outdoor work/activities
3. Kamik Nationplus Boot
Canada-based Kamik knows how to make a sturdy, warm snow boot built for frigid conditions. The Nationplus is a great choice for the coldest winter climates on a budget.
Key features include a tough synthetic rubber shell with seam-sealed waterproofing to block wind and moisture. 200g ThinsulateTM insulation throughout provides serious warmth, rated to -40°F! The EVA comfort insole and padded collar lock in heat and feel great on your feet. The rugged tread means solid traction on icy, slippery terrain.
Pros: Extreme cold-rated, highly waterproof, excellent traction, budget-friendly price
Cons: Sizing runs small, not as breathable, basic style
Ideal Use: Daily wear in frigid climates, outdoor work and activities
4. Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV
Columbia’s Bugaboot Plus IV is ready to fend off the wettest, coldest conditions with its combo of patented technologies.
The seam-sealed waterproof leather and textile upper keeps feet bone dry. Underneath, Columbia’s Omni-Heat reflective lining bounces back body heat while 200g insulation retains warmth. The Techlite lightweight midsole provides long-wearing cushion and support. A lugged rubber outsole grips slick surfaces.
Pros: Waterproof, ultra-warm lining, superior traction and comfort
Cons: Narrow fit, runs small, expensive
Ideal Use: Cold, wet climates and activities
5. Baffin Impact Snow Boot
Serious about staying warm? The Baffin Impact delivers hardcore insulation for frigid expeditions.
Its Arctic-level protection starts with a rubber lower topped with waterproof nylon. Baffin’s proprietary Insulated Inner Boot System combines multiple layers of insulation surrounded by high-loft fleece lining. Rated to an incredible -94°F!
The deep, aggressive lugs on the Polar Rubber outsole bite into snow and ice for traction. Whether you’re scaling frozen peaks or braving the Polar Vortex, this boot will keep your feet toasty.
Pros: Insane warmth rating, extremely waterproof, rugged traction
Cons: Overkill for casual use, expensive, bulky and heavy
Ideal Use: Backcountry winter expeditions, extreme cold
Think one of these winter warriors might be “the one” for your needs? Read on as we cover what to look for as you shop.
How to Choose the Best Insulated Snow Boots
Picking out the perfect snow boots involves considering a few key factors:
Consider Climate Conditions and Use
Think about the temperature range and typical winter conditions where you’ll wear your boots most. Do you deal with wet, heavy snow or light, powdery snow? Is the ground icy and slick or just cold and dry? Are you doing serious backcountry activities or just occasional neighborhood snow shoveling?
If you live in a region with milder winters around 30-40°F, you can get by with lightly insulated, water-resistant boots. Areas that regularly see freezing temps below 0°F and wind-chills down to -20°F call for serious cold-weather boots with maximum insulation and waterproofing.
Urban, daily-wear boots can be lighter. Deep backcountry adventures and outdoor jobs require extra rugged, reinforced boots with better traction. Match the boot’s capabilities to your climate and needs for the best performance.
Determine Your Insulation Warmth Needs
A snow boot’s insulation makes all the difference for keeping your feet warm and dry instead of cold and soggy. The amount and type of insulation varies widely between models.
Look for the temperature and cold-weather ratings listed for each boot. These indicate the insulation’s effectiveness in real winter conditions. Some lightly insulated fashion boots only protect down to 30-40°F. Extreme cold snow boots can shield against -60°F temps or lower!
For most regions, boots rated from 0°F down to -25°F provide sufficient insulation for daily winter wear and activities. Go with higher ratings like -40°F or more if combating truly frigid conditions.
PrimaLoft and ThinsulateTM are two top-performing synthetic insulation materials to look for. Both trap body heat efficiently while staying lightweight and breathable. Check the insulation weight in grams – 600g to 800g offers ample warmth for most people.
Check the Waterproof and Windproof Rating
Even the warmest boots fail quickly if moisture leaks in. Look for reliable waterproofing features like sealed seams and waterproof membranes. Rubber bottoms also help block external moisture.
The boots’ waterproof rating indicates how high of a water column it can withstand before leaking. Look for AT LEAST 10,000mm for sufficient water resistance. 20,000mm or more provides max protection in wet snow or slush.
Make sure any leather or suede uppers are specially treated to repel water. Durable waterproof coatings on nylon or synthetic uppers works well too.
A windproof design stops icy gusts from sneaking through tiny cracks and cuts. Combining windproofing with waterproofing creates an impenetrable moisture barrier.
Evaluate Traction and Grip
Traction makes all the difference when walking across packed snow and slippery ice. Deep, aggressive lug outsoles with patterns under 5mm provide the best winter grip. Look for reverse traction lugs at the heel and toe to prevent slippage while hiking slopes.
The outsole material matters too. Rubber compounds like Vibram or ArcticGrip optimize traction on frozen surfaces. Some brands add metal studs or coils for maximum grip.
Make sure the treads extend partially up the boot sides too. This improves lateral traction when crossing steep terrain.
Look for Proper Fit and Sizing
Even if a boot checks all the right boxes for features, poor fit leads to discomfort, blisters and cold feet. Try boots on in person when possible, wearing similar socks as you’ll wear in the boots. Walk around and make sure your toes don’t bang the front when going downhill.
There should be just a thumbs-width gap between your toes and the tip of the boot. Consider sizing up half a size if you’ll wear thick wool or insulation socks. It’s smart to size up anyways since your feet swell when cold.
Try different lace tightnesses to eliminate pressure points or pinch zones before you walk out of the store! Breaking in boots properly at home before full outdoor use also helps minimize blisters and hot spots down the road.
Factor In Brand Reputation and Reviews
Sticking with footwear brands known for their snow boots means a better chance of getting a quality product. Outdoor-focused companies like Sorel, North Face, and Columbia have dialed in the perfect combo of insulation, waterproofing and traction.
Reading online reviews from fellow snow adventurers is always wise too. Look for consistent feedback around warmth, dryness, fit and durability across multiple users to identify the best options. Sort boots by star ratings and number of reviews to surface the most recommended.
Consider Price and Value
You can snag inexpensive snow boots for under $50, but these often lack the insulation, waterproofing and durability needed for regular use. The $100-$150 range provides good quality boots with decent warmth and traction.
For maximum weather protection and features, expect to invest $150-$250. Premium cold-weather brands and boots with advanced technologies can hit $300 and beyond.
Set a budget based on your needs, but remember to balance cost with longevity. Cheaper boots may need frequent replacing while pricier models can last for years.
FAQs About Choosing Insulated Snow Boots
Let’s wrap up with answers to some frequently asked questions about picking and wearing insulated winter boots:
What temperature rating do I need for my snow boots?
Most people are comfortable wearing snow boots rated between 0°F to -25°F for typical winter climates. Go for ratings of -25°F or below for more extreme cold like in the Northern U.S., Canada, or Scandinavia. Ratings aren’t a guarantee, but do indicate the insulation’s effectiveness.
How do I know if a snow boot is truly waterproof?
Check that a boot has a waterproof membrane or coating material like Gore-Tex or rubber. Sealed, protected seams are a must to keep water out. The waterproof rating should hit AT LEAST 10,000mm – higher is better. If you step in a puddle and your socks stay bone dry inside, then you’ve got a waterproof winner!
What insulation material is best?
PrimaLoft or Thinsulate are top options. Both are synthetic fibers engineered to trap heat and stay warm even when wet. This makes them superior over materials like felt or cotton that soak up moisture. Look for insulation weights between 600g to 800g for sufficient warmth.
How tight should snow boots fit?
You want snow boots to fit snugly but not too tight. Feet should not be sliding around loose inside the boot which can lead to blisters. However, toes shouldn’t jam the front when walking downhill. Leave a small thumbs-width gap between your toe and the boot tip. Sizing up half a size accommodates thick socks or toe swelling.
Can I resole snow boots if the treads wear down?
Yes, it’s possible to resole many snow boots through shoe repair shops or cobblers. Contact the boot manufacturer to ask about resoling options for that model. Made-in-USA boots tend to be the easiest to resole. Just don’t wait until the tread is completely bald! Deep lugs under 5mm provide the best winter traction.
Should I “break in” new snow boots?
Breaking in brand new snow boots helps mold them to your feet for maximum comfort. After trying them on in the store, wear them at home for short periods – 15-30 mins at a time. Heat up the boots with a hairdryer to soften the material as you break them in. This minimizes any blisters or hot spots when you venture out into the snow.
How do I waterproof leather snow boots?
Regularly treating the leather with a wax-based waterproofing compound every 1-2 seasons seals the pores and maintains water resistance. Always apply waterproofing wax and sprays in a well-ventilated area away from open flames due to the petroleum solvents. Massage the product fully into seams and stitches.
What tread is best for snow boots?
Look for snow boot outsoles with deep, aggressive lugs 3-5mm high. Multi-directional lugs with gaps between shed snow and ice buildup. Widely-spaced lugs prevent “snowballing”. Rubber lug patterns like Vibram Arctic Grip or Polar compounds provide maximum winter traction.
Do more expensive snow boots mean higher quality?
Not necessarily. Many excellent snow boots cost $100-$200. Higher priced boots around $250+ usually indicate the use of advanced waterproofing membranes and insulation technologies. Set a budget for the features you need. Invest in quality materials over flashy brand names.
How can I make my snow boots last longer?
- Waterproof frequently with wax or sprays to maintain water resistance
- Use boot dryers to fully dry insides after use to prevent moisture damage
- Place cedar shoe trees inside boots when storing to absorb odor and moisture
- Replace insoles once they become compressed and lose cushion
- Clean dirty boots with warm water, mild soap and a soft brush. Don’t submerge leather.
- Check for cracks, apply seam sealant to re-waterproof as needed
Stay Warm and Adventurous This Winter!
We hope this detailed guide gives you the info you need to find your perfect pair of insulated snow boots. Just match the boot features and technologies to your climate, winter activities and insulation needs. Invest in quality materials from reputable outdoor brands for boots built to last.
With a properly insulated, waterproof, rugged pair, you’ll be ready to head out into the cold and snow with warm, dry feet all winter long. Don’t let frigid temps and deep powder keep you inside – get out and enjoy the season with your new snow boots!