When you were a kid, snow days were some of the best days ever: hot cocoa, snowmen, sledding and the sweet smell of freedom. As an adult, snow days bring on added layers of responsibility (like shoveling the driveway), but the kid inside still feels that spark of excitement and promised adventure.
Whether that adventure involves taking on rugged terrain or sledding with the family, the right footwear can be your most important asset. You don’t need just any snow boots, you need the best snow boots for men to take you to some pretty amazing places.
You might find yourself asking, won’t my regular winter boots do the job? Well, the truth is, winter boots today offer great insulation and waterproofing, but they do lack some features that can make or break your day.
For example, snow boots have a sole that is softer and offers more flexibility, which helps maintain traction on slippery surfaces. Also, snow boots tend to be taller than regular boots and often have a snow gaiter to keep the wet stuff out.
Snow Boot Features
Before we begin, let’s get you up to speed on terminology. Your basic snow boot, or any shoe really, consists of three main parts: the uppers, the midsoles or insoles, and the soles (outsoles). The uppers, or top part of the boot, is typically made from quilted nylon or other textile, suede, or leather.
Usually made from compression foam, the midsoles are padded or molded to provide support for your feet. Finally, the outsoles are almost always made from a hard rubber material.
Most winter boots offer solid waterproofing. An additional feature of snow boots are the hard rubber soles that often wrap partly around the upper, creating a more solid water barrier. The uppers will most likely be made from a synthetic water-resistant material or a treated leather.
Lace-up snow boots typically have a gusseted tongue, which helps prevent snow and water seepage around the laces. Finally, the extra height on snow boots helps keep snow from entering through the gap between your leg and the boot. For deep snow, look for a boot with a snow gaiter which cinches around your calf to block snow.
Some boot manufacturers offer warmth ratings for their products. These are expressed in temperatures and reflect the coldest temperature at which the boots will retain warmth.
Keep in mind, however, that this practice is falling out of use with some manufactures, as the accuracy of the ratings depend on individual factors, such as activity level, type of socks worn, and even personal level of health. If a temperature rating is not provided, you can learn a lot about the warmth of the boot by examining the type of insulation it has.
Insulation Types and Ratings
Much of the insulation found in boots today is made from synthetic microfibers. Different brands have different proprietary blends and names for this insulation. Basically, there are microscopic fibers woven together. Even with the tiniest fibers, there are still air pockets in between them when they are woven. This is what acts as a buffer and keeps your feet warm.
It prevents cold outside air from moving in close to your skin. The denser the weave, the more air pockets there are, making the insulation more effective at keeping you warm. You may find insulation ratings expressed in grams. This refers to the grams per square meter of insulation, thus, the higher the number, the warmer the boot.
In some boots on the market today, you will find removable wool or felt insulation. Not only are these made of natural materials, they can be removed from the boot and allowed to air dry after a day in the snow or rain. Again, the level of insulation is determined by the thickness of the liner and is expressed in millimeters. Another type of removable liner used by the company Baffin is made from multi-layer foam.
In spite of the best insulation, if your feet are wet, your feet are cold. It’s important to remember to layer wool or synthetic socks inside your boots. These fabrics wick moisture from your feet, stay warm when wet, and dry quickly.
Consider Your Type and Level of Use
When making decisions about material, insulation and general boot construction, it is important to keep in mind the type of activities you will be doing, particularly when it comes to warmth and insulation ratings. If your activities typically involve a lot of standing around or little movement, you will probably want warmer boots, as your blood circulation won’t provide much warmth.
However, if you are planning active uses such as mountaineering or snowshoeing, you might opt for a thinner boot so you don’t overheat. Also, if you’ll be breaking trail though deep snow, gaiters are a must.
Now that you have some basic knowledge about boot materials and construction, let’s look at some particular boots and see how they measure up.
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus III Titanium Omni-Heat Boot
Height: 7 inches measured from arch
Specific Features: waterproof; sealed seams; light-weight midsole; Omni-grip non-marking rubber sole
These boots are hardcore! Light-weight and warm, these boots keep your feet toasty from snow fort to sunset. This is the third generation of Columbia’s Bugaboot, and practice has indeed made near-perfect.
The boots are lined with Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Heat reflective lining to bounce your body heat right back at you. This, coupled with 200g insulation and excellent waterproofing, helps keep your feet warm, dry and ready to go.
These boots are lightweight, but because they are snow boots with layers of insulation, some users describe them as a bit clunky. These boots also take some time to break in, as they are a bit stiff in the heel at the back of the boot. Nonetheless, these durable boots run true to size, offer great footing and traction, warmth, and comfort.
Related: If you plan to be in deeper powder this season, consider the Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus III XTM OH Cold Weather Boot. These boots have all the same features as the Bugaboot Plus III Titanium, but stand 9.5 inches tall. They also will keep you warmer in colder temperatures with 600g insulation.
Kamik Men’s Blackjack Boot
Height: 9 inches
Specific Features: waterproof upper; flexible rubber shell; sealed seams; padded collar and gusseted tongue, rust-proof metal eyelets
These comfortable boots keep you warm and dry in almost any condition. They have a moisture-wicking brushed nylon lining that pulls sweat away from your feet and provides great breathability. The padded collar at the top of the upper provide comfort when the boots are laced up tightly.
The midsole also boasts a removable comfort antibacterial footbed. The molded synthetic rubber outsole provides traction in slippery surfaces. These boots have a manufacturer’s temperature rating of -40°F/-40°C, but keep in mind that the accuracy of this will vary based on conditions, activity level and other personal characteristics.
Some users report that the footbed is a bit hard and uncomfortable, but they solved this problem with a padded insert. Overall, these boots are reported to be warm, dry, sturdy and comfortable.
Related: If you like having loops for the laces at the top of your boot instead of hooks, try the Kamik Men’s Nationplus Boot. These also give you an extra inch (10 in.) in height to keep snow out. Otherwise, the Nationplus offers the same warmth and comfort characteristics as the Blackjack.
Hi-Tec Terra Lox Mid 200 I
Height: 5 inches
Specific Features: Leather and textile uppers; rubber sole; compression-molded EVA insole; slip-on
At only 5 inches tall, these stylish slip-on boots from Hi-Tec are warm and comfortable for days when you aren’t out in deep snow. These boots don’t have laces, which makes entry and exit quicker, while the elastic at the top keeps them snug around your ankle once they are on.
The 200g Thinsulate lining keeps your feet warm on chilly days, and the compressed EVA footbed keeps the light and agile. Rubber soles provide great traction during any activity. These boots are great for shoveling the driveway, walking the dog, or trekking to work.
If you plan to play in deeper snow, they could easily be paired with gaiters. These shoes run true to size in length, but some users have reported that they run a bit wide, so consider what type of socks you will be wearing.
Related: Another lace-free option is the Hi-Tec Men’s V-Lite Eiger Quick Zip 200 Insulated Boot. These boots have a curved zipper, so they slide on and off easily. Additionally, the Thermo-Dry construction, 200g insulation, and faux shearling lining keep your feet toasty and dry.
Baffin Men’s Endurance Snow Boot
Height: 14.75 inches
Specific Features: taped seams, extendable snow cuff, side-pocket, pull straps at ankle for easy adjustment, removable liner
These are the king of winter boots! At nearly 15 inches tall, they’ll keep out even the deepest snow. Extend the snow cuff for extra height and cinch it tight to use it as a snow gaiter. The waterproof and durable nylon upper makes it fit for any terrain.
To keep you on your feet, these boots have an 8-layer removable inner boot system with a plush lining that wicks moisture away from your skin. These pull-on boots have single-pull wraps at the ankle for easy adjustment even with gloved hands. The rubber waffle footbed provides both comfort and air circulation.
The Endurance snow boot isn’t made for strolling about town, and you may find you have trouble driving a car while wearing them. These boots are intended for cold-weather activities like snowmobiling, ice fishing, hunting or winter camping, and boast a cold temperature rating of -100C/-148F. Buyers consistently report requiring up to a full size larger than their regular shoe size.
Related: If the Endurance seems like overkill for you, Baffin’s Wolf Snow Boot might be a better fit. Standing 11 inches tall, these boots have a draw cord snow gaiter and two easy-pull adjustment straps.
Helly Hansen Men’s Garibaldi D Ring Winter Boot
Height: 11 inches
Specific Features: waterproof materials; cushioned insole; felt insulation
The Garibaldi Boot is a stylish answer to the winter boot conundrum. It isn’t as bulky as some other boots on the market, yet it measures up to the best. The upper is made from a combination of leather and nylon for comfort and flexibility.
The Moc-Toe design with the u-shaped leather upper is reminiscent of your favorite sneaker. Add to this solid waterproofing, felt insulation, and a cushioned insole, and you’ve got boots that will keep you warm and comfortable for hours. The faux fur lining around the top helps keep deep snow from entering the boot.
These boots are a good all-purpose boot, from driving across town, to firing up the snow-blower, to building the perfect snowman. Most buyers report they run true to size. The largest complaint appears to be the lack of a loop on the back of the boot to help pull them on.
Related: For a more modern look, check out the Helly Hansen Lynx 2 Cold Weather Boot for Men. The Lynx 2 has a leather upper with a rubber sole that wraps up over the toe box. It’s warm liner keeps your feet toasty on even the coldest days.
Bogs Men’s Ultra Mid Waterproof Winter And Rain Boot
Height: 10 inches
Specific Features: 7mm insulation; non-slip soles; easy-on pull handles; DuraFresh odor protection
Originally designed as a muck boot, the Bogs Ultra Mid has a durable, 100% waterproof hand-lasted upper, which basically means that it was hand-produced by molding the plastic over a model or “vamp”. Inside, you’ll find a comfortable four-way stretch inner bootie with 7mm insulation and a comfort rating down to -40°F.
The footbed contains a rubber sponge liner for extra insulation and cushioning an DuraFresh odor protection. The non-slip, non-marking rubber outsole gives you sure footing on almost any surface.
The easy-grip handles on both sides of the boot make the easy to slide on, however, the holes in the handles and the wide, stiff opening at the top don’t block deep snow from entering the boot. Also, because these boots have rubber uppers, they aren’t as breathable as some other boots, and you may find that you have wet feet due to sweat. These boots are a bit clunky, but overall a solid choice for waterproofing and warmth.
Related: For a boot that offers a bit more breathability, try the Bogs Men’s Classic Mid Winter Snow Boot. It retains most of the characteristics of the winter and rain boot, but the top half of the upper is made of stretchy neoprene. This both allows for better airflow as well as reducing the likelihood of snow entering through the top of the boot.
Sorel Men’s Paxson CH Casual Ankle Boot
Height: 6 inches
Specific Features: waterproof; felt-lined collar; stretch insets at sides; sealed seams
Designed primarily for wet days in the town or city, these boots can pair with your snowsuit or slacks. These pull-on boots allow for easy entry and exit, and the soft felt around the top keeps you comfortable all day long.
The molded footbed provides support and comfort, though some buyers report that the boots do not have enough arch support. While these are not hard core snow boots made for breaking trail, they are perfect for a few inches of sloshy, wet snow.
Buyers report that these boots can be a bit tough to slide into, but once you’re in, your feet are snug and supported. If you plan to wear these in colder weather with thick socks, consider getting half a size larger than you normally wear. In-short, these are solid all-around boots.
Related: If you like the Sorel brand but are looking for a heftier winter boot, check out the Sorel Men’s Caribou Extreme Snow Boot. These lace-up boots measure in at 9 inches tall for better protection from the snow. These boots are designed for active uses, such as snowmobiling or winter camping, but also fit right in around town.
Whether you’re going out on the town, shoveling snow, or exploring the backcountry, the right snow boots are key to a successful adventure. With a wide variety of styles, features and insulating ratings, you’re sure to find the best boots now that you know what to look for. So, bring on the snow days!
If you found this article to be at all helpful, or if you have comments about your experience with any of these boots, let us know by leaving comment. In fact, leave a comment even if you just want to share your latest snowy adventure!