Are Hiking Boots Good for Snow

When winter arrives, the question on many an adventurous mind is: Are hiking boots good for snow? As seasoned hikers who have trudged through deep snow and packed snow alike, we are here to share our insights. 

We’ve strapped on everything; from a trusty pair of hiking boots to specialized mountaineering boots, and even snow shoes, examining factors like warmth, traction, and waterproofing. 

In our journey, we’ve learned that not all hiking shoes are created equal for handling the winter elements. 

So, are most hiking boots qualified to be snow boots? Let’s tread into this snowy terrain to find out!

Quick Summary

  • Hiking boots are suitable for snowy conditions due to their warmth, traction, and waterproofing.
  • There are different types of boots available for the cold season, such as standard, mountaineering, and winter boots.
  • While some boots can handle light snow, we recommend specialized snow boots or winter hiking boots for deeper snow and harsh winter weather.

What Are Hiking Boots?

Hiking boots are specialized footwear designed for walking and climbing in tough terrains. They provide essential ankle support, are usually waterproof, and are built to handle different weather conditions. 

  • Standard hiking boot models: Ideal for most trails. They are comfortable, provide good ankle support, and have sturdy soles.
  • Mountaineering boots: Built for extreme hiking environments. They have additional insulation and are built to handle snowy and rocky mountains.
  • Winter boots: These are usually insulated hiking boots, conceived to keep your feet warm in cold weather. They are generally waterproof boots and are suitable for winter hikes.

Can You Wear Hiking Boots in the Snow?

You can wear hiking boots in light snowfall, but they shouldn’t be your first choice when venturing into a winter outdoor adventure. While some are indeed waterproof, sporting a Gore-Tex membrane, they are not insulated for extremely low temperatures.

In contrast, winter boots are designed to protect your feet from cold and wet conditions typical of the winter months. They’ll offer heavy insulation to keep your feet warm and are typically waterproof to guard against snow and slush.

I’ve personally used regular hiking boots in snowy weather on various occasions and found that they needed more insulation and weight to provide the stability this kind of weather requires.

What Are the Best Hiking Boots for Snow?

The primary concern of many hikers is to get the right hiking boot that can withstand the tough terrain and icy conditions of winter hiking. Here, we have a list of some excellent options, each with a unique set of qualities that makes them stand out. 

KEEN Revel 4 Mid-Height Snow Boot

The KEEN Revel 4 is a good pair of waterproof boots renowned for their comfort and warmth. They feature a water-repellent material and a high ankle collar, providing excellent shielding from snow melts.

During testing, we found them to be comfortable, with ample arch support, and their lace-up design ensured a snug fit. The 200g KEEN.WARM insulation provided exceptional coziness, even in frigid temperatures.

Moreover, we discovered that their synthetic materials keep the feet toasty, even during longer hikes, and the innovative KEEN.BELLOWS FLEX technology enhanced flexibility, allowing for easy maneuvering in deep snow. These boots are a winter essential, proven by our rigorous testing.

Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Hiking Boot 

The Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry is a reliable winter hiking boot provided with a B-Dry waterproof membrane, which prevents wet feet, a significant factor during winter travel.

Known for its comfortable ankle support, this snow boot also features rubber soles for better traction on slippery surfaces. It’s made from synthetic material, which makes it lightweight, and with a tight cuff, it offers more protection from snow. 

As we tested them, we noticed the model provided a snug fit, preventing chilly air and snow from entering. Moreover, the dual-density EVA midsole delivered remarkable comfort and stability, making them ideal for extended winter hikes.

Salomon Toundra Pro Climasalomon 

Salomon Toundra Pro CSWP is a snow boot designed explicitly for extreme winter hiking. This model features a removable liner, which allows for year-round use.

The boot’s ClimaSalomon waterproof membrane keeps the feet dry, and the high ankle collar gives a proper fit, reducing painful pressure points.

These boots featured a gaiter-compatible design and a robust Contagrip outsole, delivering unparalleled traction on icy surfaces.

Through hands-on testing, we observed that they offer excellent ankle support and a secure fit, preventing snow infiltration. Remarkably lightweight and flexible for its coziness, this snow boot was comfortable during extended use.

Advantages of Using Hiking Boots for Snow

There’s no denying that the right gear can make or break your hiking experience. That’s particularly true when it comes to your choice of hiking shoes.

As the cold season approaches and trails become snow-covered, it’s essential to understand how your regular gear holds up in snowy weather. Let’s explore the benefits trail runners can get if they wear hiking boots for snow.

Traction

First and foremost, a winter hiking boot provides good grip in icy and wet conditions. Compared to regular shoes, a hiking boot has deeper lugs and more aggressive tread patterns, which help prevent slipping on patches of snow and ice.

According to a 2023 report, fractures represented 43% of the injuries reported by the mountain bikers and hikers the study evaluated, which led to the conclusion that wearing boots with good traction can reduce injuries during winter expeditions.

Lightweight

Hiking boot options are typically designed to be lighter than snow boots. This difference arises from the materials used, with hiking footwear often built using a combination of synthetic fabrics and lightweight leather, whereas snow boots often use heavier materials to maximize warmth and weather resistance.

This quality can provide greater comfort and agility. Less weight on your feet makes it easier to navigate tricky terrains and maintain balance in unpredictable snowy conditions.

Support

Winter trails often involve uneven terrain covered with snow, ice, or mud. Hiking boot models are specifically designed to provide ample ankle support and a secure fit, which is crucial in such situations.

Models with gusseted tongues also help keep debris out, making your hike more comfortable and enjoyable. 

Breathability

When you’re walking or hiking, particularly in challenging conditions such as snow, your feet naturally perspire.

Without a way for this moisture to escape, the inside of your boots can become damp. Hiking boot models that are designed with breathability in mind help to combat these issues.

The breathable material allows the sweat to evaporate and escape the boots, maintaining a dry environment for your feet.

This not only guards against blisters but also helps keep your feet toasty, as dry boots provide better insulation against cold temperatures.

Versatility

Lastly, compared to winter shoes, hiking boot options offer unmatched versatility. They are not just for snow but can also handle rain and muddy trails.

With removable liners for added coziness, the ability to attach crampons for extra adherence, and compatibility with snowshoes, a decent pair of boots can adapt to various environments. 

Disadvantages of Using Hiking Boots for Snow

However, our expertise in this field allows us to conclude that, despite their many benefits, regular hiking boot models are not always the best choice for extreme environments.

Certain characteristics can pose challenges for outdoor enthusiasts and may diminish the overall experience. Let’s delve into these drawbacks: 

Waterproofing

It’s important to remember that while many hiking boots are labeled as ‘waterproof’, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re suitable for sustained exposure to snow.

The term ‘waterproof’ often means the boot can keep water out to a certain degree but submerging them in snow for extended periods can often lead to dampness seeping in.

This is simply due to the water-resistant materials being overwhelmed by the persistent moisture.

Lack of Insulation

Hiking boot models, even those with Gore-Tex, may not provide the same level of coziness as specialized boots.

study by the Stanford University Medical Center found that feet can lose heat rapidly in cold situations, especially when wet. While wool socks can help maintain heat, they might not be enough to compensate for the lack of insulation in regular boots. 

Stiffness

Many boots are designed to be quite stiff to provide plenty of support during challenging treks. However, when walking on snow, this stiffness can hinder foot flexibility and make your trek more difficult.

study by Cornell University found that boot stiffness can negatively affect balance and gait. 

Insufficient Coverage

One of the defining characteristics of the traditional hiking boot is that it tends to sit just above the ankle. While this design is usually sufficient for most hiking expeditions, it can prove inadequate in snow.

In snowy weather, the snow can easily surpass the height of the hiking boot, potentially entering the boot. This can lead to uncomfortably wet and cold feet – a situation that could rapidly escalate to a more serious condition like frostbite in extreme temperatures.

Cost

High-quality hiking gear can be quite expensive, sometimes even more so than winter-specific footwear.

If you’re a hiker who also ventures outdoors during the colder months, investing in a separate pair of boots for snow could provide the most versatility in terms of performance and comfort, potentially saving you money in the long run. 

FAQs

What type of boots are best for snow?

Generally, insulated, waterproof hiking boots with mid-cut style provide the best shielding against packed-down snow. They usually have a bulky design to accommodate thicker socks and offer better traction for walking on slippery surfaces.

Are waterproof hiking shoes good for winter?

Yes, most hiking shoes that come with a waterproof liner can protect your feet from getting wet and freezing in cold weather. However, they might not provide the same level of coziness and shielding as specialized snow boots.

Are normal boots good for snow?

Regular boots might not offer adequate protection in snowy weather. They lack the necessary insulation, waterproofing, and traction devices, such as microspikes or crampons, needed for hiking in the snow.

What is the difference between hiking and snow boots?

Standard hiking boots are typically lighter and more flexible than snow boots. On the other hand, snow boots provide more insulation, have waterproof or water-resistant materials, and often have built-in or attachable crampons for better grip on snow and ice.

Christina Utz

Christina Utz

Christina Utz is a professional writer, mountain addict, and hiking enthusiast. She successfully finished a rock climbing class and a wilderness survival course, and by the age of 24, she hiked more than 1800 miles and finished over 260 different trails! Her expertise in hiking and outdoors helped numerous people to fulfill their adventurous spirit!
E-mail: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *