3 Best Snow Hiking Shoes

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
3 Best Snow Hiking Shoes
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Keep your feet warm on your next chilly adventure with the right pair of snow hiking shoes. After trudging through ice and snow in different pairs of shoes, we picked our chosen models that will keep you warm and protected all winter long.

The current offerings are actually pretty superb when it comes to high-quality snow-specific designs, features, and overall performance. Your toes will definitely remain comfy throughout the adventure.

We’ve done the investigation, field-testing, and even lab testing to rank our selections of the best snow hiking shoes available. To get you started right away, we have selected top picks for different categories. 

How we test hiking shoes

For this guide, we’ve subjected each model to a battery of real-life hiking tests, clocking up 30-50 miles of chilly outdoor jaunts. We’ve also brought all the shoes inside our RunRepeat shoe lab for closer inspection and analysis of the materials and technologies integrated into the models.

Our ranking process involves:

  • Putting in the time, energy, and our own money to buy the snow hiking shoes for our wear tests. This ensures the 100% objectivity of our assessments.
  • Taking each pair on actual hiking excursions to get a personal experience of its fit, comfort, insulation, traction, and overall performance. We test all the models further to see how they perform during moderate to extreme winter conditions.
  • Dissecting the shoes to see and measure all of their components. We also quantified the properties of the shoes. One example is the midsole and outsole hardness which we record by pressing our durometer to the said parts, displaying the hardness level in the HA unit of measurement.

Best snow hiking shoes overall

What makes it the best?

The Salomon X Ultra 4 came out on top as the best overall snow hiking shoe on our test hikes and in the lab. Its Gore-Tex lining keeps our feet warm and dry in rain and snow, the toothy outsole displays fabulous grip on all terrain and with a fully integrated support system, we can hike confidently all year round.

The Salomon X Ultra 4 passed our classic puddle test with flying colors! The Gore-Tex worked wonders and didn’t let a drop of water into the shoe. The high ankle collar helps to keep water and snow out. We pumped smoke into the lab to test for breathability - we rated the shoe as the least breathable 1/5. This is a bonus in cold weather as it keeps the warm air right where we want it - in the shoe!

The Contragrip outsole has toothy lugs measuring 4.5 mm, a little over the average of 4.3 mm. With 41 well-spaced lugs, including a sturdy one at the heel, we find them to work perfectly in snow, mud, gravel and wet grass.

The high collar supports our ankles, and Salomon’s integrated support system delivers a lockdown which is second to none. In the lab, we rated the heel counter as a stiff 5/5, and we experienced no heel slippage whatsoever. There is no doubt in our minds that the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX is a superbly stable shoe and is a force to be reckoned with.

Our measurements at the forefoot show that the Salomon X Ultra 4 is not for wide-footed hikers. Measuring just 108.2 mm, it is 3 mm narrower than average. Hikers with wide feet are advised to look elsewhere.


  • Instant comfort
  • Impeccable waterproofing
  • Very lightweight
  • Exceptional grip
  • Excellent support and lockdown
  • Stable platform
  • Roomy toebox


  • Quicklace is not for everyone
  • Too-high collar
Full review of Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX

Snow hiking shoes with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

Our winter adventuring doesn’t need to stop just because the snow has fallen. After testing several hiking shoes, we decided on the Hoka Anacapa Low GTX as the best snow hiking shoe with the best cushioning. We put the plush midsole through its paces in winter conditions, and it beat its peers every time. Its aggressive lugs champion traction on snow and ice. This waterproof shoe ticks all the boxes when it comes to comfort in snowy conditions.

Both our hikes and subsequent lab tests confirm that Hoka’s reputation for its luxurious cushioning is well deserved. Of course, there is the notorious protruding heel, which offers deliciously smooth transitions. But these shoes simply pack in a lot of material underfoot. We measured the stack height with a caliper and found the heel to be 2.5 mm higher than average, and the forefoot a mighty 4 mm higher than average! This is to counteract the deliciously plush midsole. Our durometer measured the midsole at 23.3 HA, 24% softer than average! It’s no wonder this shoe displays unbeatable all-day comfort!

It isn’t enough to have a soft midsole at room temperature if it firms up in the cold. That’s where our freezer tests come in. We left the shoe in the freezer for 20 minutes before testing the midsole softness a second time. We measured 27.5 HA, which is still softer than the average of 30.7 HA for hiking shoes at room temperature! We also tested the flexibility in the cold. This shoe only gets 37% stiffer than at room temperature, while most hiking shoes get 49% stiffer! Altogether, this shoe performs admirably in cold weather.

Out on hikes, we tested the Hoka Anacapa Low GTX on mud, gravel, wet grass, snow and ice, and it passed all of our tests with flying colors. We understood why when we brought the shoes into the lab and analyzed the lugs. Measuring 5 mm, these shoes possess sturdy lugs that are 16% deeper than average. We felt completely footsure throughout our hikes.

Our measurements of the toe box made us doubt this shoe’s ability to accommodate wider feet. At the widest part of the toe box, these shoes measure 95.4 mm, 3.6 mm narrower than average. We therefore don’t recommend this shoe to hikers with wide feet.


  • Mind-blowing cushioning
  • Podiatrist-approved sole
  • Excellent grip
  • Top-notch waterproofing
  • Lightweight
  • Out-of-the-box comfort
  • Roomy toebox
  • Well-made
  • Contains recycled materials


  • GTX version only
  • Pricier than average
  • Weird-looking heel
Full review of Hoka Anacapa Low GTX

Snow hiking shoes with the best stability

What makes it the best?

There are a few pointers that we look for in stable snow hiking shoes – lateral stability, grip and waterproofing being the main ones. The Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX feels as stable as a boot with the freedom of movement of a shoe. It combines all the elements above, earning its place as the most stable snow hiking shoe.

With the silhouette of a regular hiking shoe, the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX may not look like it’s up to much, but it actually packs a massive punch in terms of stability. For starters, it has Pro-Moderator technology embedded in the midsole, which stabilises our foot. We twisted the shoe in the lab, and it came up trumps with a 5/5 score for rigidity. A subtle bulge around the forefoot proved itself to be 3.3 mm wider than the average hiking shoe, making for an impeccably stable landing platform. Even on the roughest trails, we felt safe and surefooted.

Whatever the weather, we trust this shoe to keep our feet warm and dry. When we took a closer look at the fabric upper under our microscope, we understood why water has such a hard time getting in. The densely woven fibres and Gore-Tex membrane coupled with a fully gusseted tongue keep the water and snow out of the shoe and our feet dry!

As we would expect, the Continental outsole doesn’t let us down on mud or snow. We measured the lugs to be 4.4 mm, a little over the average 4.3 mm. They offer heaps of traction on soft and loose ground, and the chevron design grips well in both snow and mud.

The multiple overlays of the upper make the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX feel pretty stiff, and we needed a bit of time to break them in. Hikers needing something ready to go straight out of the box may want to research other options.


  • Boot-like stability
  • Highly durable and protective
  • Lightweight for what it offers
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Breathable for a GTX shoe
  • Generously cushioned
  • Very secure foothold
  • Top-notch grip with deep lugs


  • Stuffy for summer
  • Can be too stiff (even stiffer in cold)
  • Break-in needed
Full review of Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX

3 things to prioritize in snow hiking shoes

Hiking in snow means you need protection from the cold weather and from the wet weather (snow). Based on all the tests we’ve done out on the trails and in our lab, here are our recommendations on what to look for in snow hiking shoes:

  1. Warmth. The colder the weather, the warmer the shoe should be. Some are even insulated so look for that. If not, look for the less breathable shoes. In our lab, we rate them with ⅕ or ⅖, meaning they are not breezy and the warmth will stay inside. 
  2. Waterproofness. Snow melts and you don’t want your hiking shoes to be completely soaked and to let the water inside. There are many waterproof membranes present on the market with Gore-Tex being the most popular one. 
  3. Grip for snow. The hardness of the rubber, the depth of the lugs and the tread pattern all play a significant role when it comes to traction. For snow, we recommend deep lugs (deeper than 4 mm) and a pattern that does not allow for snow to get stuck. 

We describe every one of these features below.

Moab 2 GTX standing in water

Why you should trust us? Not only do we test all the hiking shoes out on our test hikes, but we also tear them apart in the lab. This allows us to perform dozens of lab tests. One of them is freezing the shoes in our freezer. This allows us to simulate very cold weather conditions and then repeat some of the tests to anticipate how the shoes will behave in such weather. 

However, if the snow is deep and you don’t like wearing gaiters (they also come with a GTX membrane, in case you did not know), consider getting snow hiking boots instead. With their mid or high cut, they are more likely to keep your feet warm and dry. 

Look for warmth in your snow hiking shoes

Here, we suggest looking at the breathability of the shoe. Hiking shoes can be insulated, and insulation makes them even less breathable, and, therefore, warmer

Non-waterproof vs waterproof hiking shoe on the breathability test

In our lab, we test for breathability by pumping the smoke inside the hiking shoe. We pay attention to where the smoke comes out and at which pace. This way, we’re able to rate the breathability of the shoe on a 1-5 scale, 1 being the least breathable. 

Because snow hiking shoes also ask for waterproofness, this bad breathability rating is almost a given because waterproof hiking shoes never get flying colors for breathability. 

We also check these uppers under the microscope and it's easy to see why non-waterproof materials breathe better. They don't only lack the lamination but are also looser in structure and might even have ventilation holes. 

Non waterproof vs waterproof upper under the microscope

(Up) Non-waterproof uppers under the microscope, (down) waterproof uppers under the microscope

How to recognize waterproof materials 

All waterproof hiking shoes have a waterproof membrane laminated to the upper material.

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX Drop

Lamination of GTX material visible once the shoe is cut in half

The shoe name itself can tell you whether the shoe is waterproof. It usually contains the words Waterproof, WP, or GTX for Gore-Tex. Other membranes are also available and that depends on what the brand has chosen to work with. Some brands develop their own waterproof membranes. 

Hiking footwear waterproof materials

Different waterproof membranes and materials present in hiking footwear

GTX membrane logo on hiking footweark

Gore-Tex logo found on the upper of hiking footwear

Gusseted tongue keeps the snow out 

Having a waterproof upper is great because it can keep the snow out. But, when hiking in deeper snow, one that covers the eyelets, it is possible for the snow to sneak in. Having a gusseted tongue comes to the rescue. 

Gusset on the hoka anacapa low

Fully gusseted tongue on Hoka Anacapa Low GTX

A gusseted tongue is a tongue that is attached to both sides of the shoe, just below the eyelets. Many hiking shoes have gusseted tongues, but it does not hurt to check this. In all of our reviews, we always take note of what kind of tongue gusset we found. 

Here’s what different gussets look like in running shoes to get a clear picture. 

Different gusset types in running shoes

(1) fully gusseted tongue, (2) semi-gusseted tongue, (3) non-gusseted, free 

Look for lugs that bite through the snow

In hiking, shallower lugs usually mean more versatility and nothing too demanding, while deeper lugs mean your shoes are ready to tackle challenging terrain. For snow, we advise getting hiking shoes with lugs that are at least 4 mm deep

Measuring the lug depth on hiking footwear

Measuring the depth of the lugs with a digital caliper in RunRepeat shoe lab

The hardness of the outsole also plays a role in traction. Softer rubber is usually stickier, while harder rubber is more durable and offers more protection.

Softness of the outsole and lug depth measurements

(Left) using a shore C durometer to measure the hardness of the outsole; (right) Measuring the thickness of the lugs with a digital caliper

How durable are snow hiking shoes?

In our shoe lab, we do 3 durability tests. First, we press a dremel against the upper to see how durable the toebox is. This is very important in hiking shoes where toe bumpers are of great value - they keep our toes injury-free when encountering debris and all sorts of obstacles on the trails. 

Toebox durability test done in RunRepeat lab 

Based on the damage done by the dremel, we rate the durability on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the most durable. 

Heel padding durability test done in RunRepeat lab

The second durability test we do follows the same methodology: press the dremel but, this time, on the inside of the heel counter, and rate it on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being the least durable. 

Outsole durability test done in RunRepeat lab

Last but not least, we test the durability of the outsole. In this case, we’re able to precisely measure the dent made by the dremel, and we do it with a tire tread depth gauge. The deeper the dent (more millimeters), the less durable the outsole is. 

Different dents on outsoles in hiking shoes

Different dent depths made with a dremel on the hiking shoe lugs 

Shoes getting firmer and stiffer in cold weather is a no-go

Some shoes feel great at room temperature, they can be comfortable, maybe even soft. But, what if such midsole firms up 70% when it’s snowing? Would you still consider it for hiking in cold weather?

Anacapa Low in a freezer in RunRepeat lab

Freezing a hiking shoe for further testing

To anticipate how the hiking shoes feel in cold weather, we put them in a freezer. 

Before and after the freezer, we check the softness of the midsole and the flexibility of the shoe. 

The change in softness and flexibility tells us how the shoe will perform in cold weather. Because of this, we recommend getting shoes with the smallest change in those measurements because such shoes will feel more similar to how they feel at room temperature. 

Socks and gaiters for snow hiking

To level up on the protection, we suggest using the gaiters, ideally the waterproof ones. They will prevent the snow from getting inside your hiking shoes, and they are usually easier to wash than the shoes, socks and pants together. 

Socks in a goretex hiking shoe

For very cold weather, merino wool socks have shown to be great. They wick away the moisture (if you happen to sweat), keep the feet warm, and don’t get stinky. There are thicker socks available for harsher weather conditions. 

How to find a perfect fit in snow hiking shoes

If this is your first time buying hiking shoes, here are our guidelines on how to avoid common mistakes: 

  1. Go hiking-shoe shopping in the afternoon or in the evening. Our feet are a bit swollen then, which is the same thing that happens on the hikes and best to try the shoes in such condition. 
  2. Take the hiking socks and orthotics with you and use them in the shoes you’re trying out. 
  3. Put the shoes on, lace them up, and try to sense the hotspots and pressure points. Hikers prefer having 1 thumb width at the front/back. It’s easier to test this by pushing the foot to the front of the shoe and then sticking a thumb behind your heel inside the shoe. 
  4. Test the shoes on the ramp, go up and down. Look for a comfortable lockdown. There should be no heel slipping or sliding to the sides

Keep in mind that some hiking shoes need to be broken in. Don’t go on a long hike immediately.

Perfect fit in hiking shoes

Understanding insulation in snow hiking footwear

Insulation sets snow hiking shoes apart from regular hiking shoes. Therefore, insulation is one of the most important components of snow hiking shoes. Ironically, insulation in hiking shoes can be somewhat convoluted to understand.

Shoe insulation specs do not refer to the total weight of insulation inside the shoe. Instead, insulation ratings refer to the thickness of the insulation used inside the shoe.

Let us explain more. A shoe with an advertised 600g of insulation does not weigh an additional 600 grams because of the insulation on the inside. That would be a lot!

Instead, the 600g insulation rating tells you that the insulation weighs 600 grams per square meter. Grams per square meter is the standardized unit of measurement for hiking shoe insulation.

Weight (Grams/ Square Meter)

Recommended Temperature Range


Recommended Uses

100 grams

40 to 50 degrees F

3- season

  • Urban winters
  • Chilly evenings

200 grams

30 to 40 degrees F


  • Playing outside in the snow
  • Winter hikes

400 grams 

14 to 30 degrees F


  • Snowy and wet weather
  • Long exposure to cold

600 grams

-5 to 10 degrees F


  • Very cold weather
  • Winter backpacking 

800 grams

-20 to -10 degrees F


  • Long exposure to extremely cold weather
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto
Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and run all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyzes every detail of the shoes that you might buy.