6 Best Snow Hiking Boots in 2024

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
6 Best Snow Hiking Boots in 2024
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Hiking in the snow is a quite beautiful, calming experience. But as the landscape transformed into a cold and slippery yet still magical wonderland, you need to protect your feet with comfortable footwear with reliable traction and insulation.

After sliding, slipping, and trudging through snowy roads and icy trails, we, a team of wear testers, chose our best picks of the most dependable snow hiking boots based on our real-life experiences and impressions. We stand by our choices as these shoes have kept our feet dry, and comfortable and upright throughout the entire journey.

We’ve done the legwork and reviewed all the shoes very carefully. Check out our top highlights in various categories depending on your style and preferences.

How we test hiking boots

To come up with our fair and objective rankings, we get our hands on 30+ of the best snow hiking boots and examine them right away! Our favourite part is when we do our real-life hikes in our local trails and other challenging locations.

Here are exactly the things we do:

  • We use our own money to procure snow hiking boots from various brands. This keeps our reviews 100% independent.
  • After hiking at least 30 miles on each boot, we evaluate its fit, protective features, stability, durability, insulation, outsole traction, and overall performance across all kinds of trails and terrain. We also check all parameters of the boots, particularly their reliability and comfort level during the most challenging part of the outdoor adventure.
  • We get more data from the tests we perform in our lab. We even slice the shoes into pieces to see everything inside. 

One of the things we investigate is how a shoe reacts to cold weather. We take the midsole hardness and shoe flexibility using our durometer and digital force gauge. Following that, we emulate a chilly condition by sticking the shoe inside our refrigerator for 20 minutes. After that, we measure the said properties again and we compare how much the shoe firms and stiffens up. Through this, we are able to determine if a shoe is great for snowy settings or not. 

Best snow hiking boots overall

What makes it the best?

A winter boot that keeps your toes warm and dry, phenomenal grip and incredibly lightweight? Does such a boot exist? It sure does: after extensive tests both in the lab and the great outdoors, we found the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX is the best overall hiking boots for snowy conditions.

We really put these boots through their paces, standing them in a stream for over a minute to see how much water would come in. No surprises there: the Gore-Tex membrane is 100% effective and our feet didn’t get even slightly damp! The fully gusseted tongue and the mid-height collar both play their part in keeping water, snow, or gravel out of the boot.

Salomon’s iconic Contragrip outsole did a marvelous job at keeping us from slipping, even when we were hiking on snowy hillsides. In the lab, we measured the lugs with a caliper. The 41 lugs measure 5.1 mm, 16% deeper than average, giving a good amount of extra bite when the going gets rough.

For a winter-ready, partially leather boot, this one is surprisingly lightweight. Our scales showed just 13.8 oz (390g) per boot. Given that the average for waterproof boots is a whopping 19.5 oz (553g), we felt like we were skimming over the snow!

Whilst these are great for hiking in snow, they don’t perform so well in the mud because the tightly-spaced lugs struggle to shed mud easily. We don’t recommend them for regular hiking along muddy trails.

Pros

  • The boot of choice for multi-day hikes
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Excellent grip
  • Supportive midsole
  • Detailed ground feel
  • Great ankle support
  • Protective
  • Perfect lacing system

Cons

  • Midsole may be thin for some
  • Very stiff in colder climates
Full review of Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX

Best snow hiking boots for backpacking

What makes it the best?

As adventurers who love winter backpacking, we can’t say no to the Salomon Quest 4 GTX. This waterproof boot has integrated stability features of epic proportions, it’s superbly comfortable, even in cold conditions, and defied our Dremel in our durability tests. All this and more is why we had to choose the Salomon Quest 4 GTX as the best snow hiking boot for backpacking.

Like many Salomon options, the Quest 4 GTX comes with the unbeatable ADV-C 4D Chassis stabilizer. Connecting the laces to a shank in the midsole, it provides us flawless support and stability, especially when we are carrying heavy packs. We put it to the test in the lab by twisting the boot torsionally. It’s an incredibly rigid boot, so we rated it 5/5 for torsional flexibility. On the trail, we feel surefooted and safe from painful twists.

Sporting a mighty stack height of 38 mm, there is a ton of cushioning below the heel. We found it especially welcome while hiking with heavy loads. At room temperature our durometer declares the midsole to have an almost average softness of 27 HA, blending support with comfort. What really blew us away was the way the midsole performed in the cold. After 20 minutes in the freezer, we tested the midsole with the durometer again. It had only stiffened to 32.9 HA. It feels and performs almost the same in cold weather as on warmer days, so we didn’t have to adapt ourselves to the change.

This impeccably waterproof and ultra-durable boot keeps us protected from whatever the outside world can throw at us. The Gore-Tex membrane and fully gusseted tongue stopped snow, rain and stream water from getting in, keeping our feet warm and dry all day. Rocks are no match for the sturdy multi-layered upper, which came away from a 12-second duel with our Dremel practically unscathed. If it were allowed, we’d award it 10/5 for durability!

A boot that packs in so much can be expected to weigh over the odds. The Salomon Quest 4 GTX weighed a hefty 23.4 oz (663g) on our scales, 24% heavier than our other waterproof hiking boots. Hikers looking for a lighter boot for more moderate hikes can look into the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX instead. 

Pros

  • Exceptional durability
  • Top-notch waterproofing
  • Excellent impact protection
  • Highly secure ankle support
  • Fantastic stability
  • Comfortable in-boot feel
  • Effective grip on various terrain
  • Fits as expected

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • Gets very stiff in cold
Full review of Salomon Quest 4 GTX

Best insulated snow hiking boots

What makes it the best?

There is no need to set aside our hiking boots to wait out the cold winter months when we have the Columbia Bugaboot III to hand. With a cozy 200g insulation, this boot keeps our feet toasty in sub-zero temperatures. It is superbly supportive and grippy in icy conditions, not to mention boasting a high-performing midsole that works as it should in the cold. It’s no wonder, then, that we chose the Columbia Bugaboot III as our best insulated snow hiking boot!

Well-packed with 200g of insulation both around and below our foot, the Bugaboot III remains cozy in temperatures down to 30°F (-1°C). The 7 inch (17.8 cm) collar stops snow and cold air from getting in, as well as the warmth from our feet out. We pumped smoke into the boot to test for breathability, and not surprisingly it scored the least breathable rating of 1/5. This is definitely a snug winter boot!

The high collar not only keeps deep powder snow out of the boot, but also supports our ankles.  The fully gusseted tongue provides a comfy cushion against the laces, and the heel counter is rigid enough to keep our heels snugly in the boot. In our manual tests, the heel counter scored 4/5, where 5 is the stiffest. Altogether, it’s almost impossible to injure ourselves by rolling an ankle in these boots.

The traction didn’t let us down in slushy, snowy conditions. We measured the lugs to be 5.7 mm, 1.2 mm deeper than average. In addition, our durometer tests of the outsole showed 85.5 HC, slightly softer than the average 87.5 HC. It gives us an advantage in cold weather, as the softer outsole grips better to slippery surfaces. Altogether, we felt confident striding out in the snow.

The Bugaboot III has midsole material in bucketloads! Its impressive heel stack height of 46.9 mm offers an extra centimeter of insulation from the frozen ground compared to the average hiking boot. But what we love most about the midsole is how it performed in our winter durometer tests. After 20 minutes in the freezer, the midsole was only 21.5% firmer than at room temperature, meaning this boot’s cushy and supportive characteristics remain intact, even on the coldest day.

The Columbia Bugaboot III looks hefty, and our lab scales confirmed our suspicions. At 26 oz (737g), it is 34% heavier than the average for winter hiking boots. As such, we don’t recommend it to hikers looking for a lightweight winter option.

Pros

  • Jaw-dropping comfort
  • Remarkable insulation
  • Watertight upper
  • Excellent durability
  • Plenty of cushioning
  • High level of support
  • Reliable grip
  • Affordable for its kind

Cons

  • Restrictive toebox
  • Heavier than average
Full review of Columbia Bugaboot III

Best lightweight snow hiking boots

What makes it the best?

After testing in the lab and out on hikes, The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX had us in raptures! An incredibly lightweight boot, it retains its flexibility in the cold, and is spectacularly waterproof - it even has an extra trick up its sleeve regarding the latter. All this led us to believe without a doubt that the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX is the best lightweight snow hiking boot.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, there is nothing clunky or heavy about the Ultra Raptor II! It feels light and agile on our feet, and the scales confirmed our suspicions! This boot weighs 14.6 oz (415g), which is 19% less than average! We walked further and faster on our hikes, and still had energy to burn at the end of it!

Both at room temperature and on our chilly hikes, this is a flexible boot when compared to the average. We bent it to 90° with a force gauge, which registered 32.4N at room temperature, 18% more flexible than average. But we also wanted to know how it performs in winter conditions, so we left it in the freezer for 20 minutes before testing it again. Of course, it stiffened up, but only to 40.2N. Since most hiking boots register 53.8N in the cold, the Ultra Raptor II clearly crushes the competition in cold conditions!

We tested the waterproofing of these boots by standing in 5-inch puddles, and they didn’t let a drop of water in. The Gore-Tex membrane and gusseted tongue work together to keep the water out (and heat in on cold days!). An elastic gaiter-like tongue around the collar adds to the appeal, helping to keep snow, water and debris out of the boot. This little gem should be a given on all waterproof hiking boots, as far as we are concerned!

This is not a boot for hikers with wide feet. Our average-width feet were already bordering on pinched. When we checked in the lab, we found the forefoot to be 106 mm, 6.9 mm narrower than average, and the heel an even more surprising 8.3 mm narrower than average. We advise wide-footed hikers to look into other options.

Pros

  • Unbelievably lightweight
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Doesn't let debris and falling rain/snow inside
  • Exceptionally robust and durable
  • Phenomenal grip on technical terrain
  • Not so stiff and firm in low temperature
  • Great impact protection
  • Highly supportive collar
  • Ample flexibility

Cons

  • Tight fit
  • Narrow platform
Full review of La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX

Best snow boots for urban hiking

What makes it the best?

We took snow hiking boots to our city adventures and cut them open in the lab in search of the best urban hiking pair — the roads led us to Fairbanks Omni-Heat Boot. This pair proves winter boots don’t always have to feel bulky and stiff. It's like we only have sneakers on but with more comfort and warmth for all-day wear.

We’re mindblown with Fairbanks’ unmatched lightness. At 15.5 oz (439g), it significantly sheds off grams vs. the average hiking boot (18.4 oz/521g). This is due to the lower-than-average stack, which makes room for more flex. And flexible it is! Fairbanks required the least force of 16.6N to bend to 90° of all the boots tested in our lab. That’s 58.5% lower than average! 

Our feet feel cozy at home even with freezing temperatures. The upper is made of tightly woven Cordura fabric to keep snow and cold air out. The reflective Omni-Tech interior lining packs the boot with 200 grams of insulation, giving us a toasty experience by trapping body heat inside.

Underfoot, the 3.0-mm lugs keep us steady through snow and slush on level ground. The lug depth is more than enough for urban hikes. Yet we don’t recommend it for serious hiking because it lacks traction for more technical and uneven terrains.

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Keeps you warm in cold weather
  • Effective waterproofing
  • Amazingly comfortable
  • Zero break-in period
  • Soft cushioning
  • Exceptionally flexible
  • Hard-wearing outsole
  • Reasonably priced
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • Not for serious hiking
  • Not so sturdy Cordura
Full review of Columbia Fairbanks Omni-Heat Boot

Snow hiking boots with the best support

What makes it the best?

Our wilderness explorations are guaranteed safe thanks to the Asolo Fugitive GTX. Its protective nature and rigid build shelter us from all unwanted elements on multi-terrain hikes — water, wind, sharp debris, slips, and awkward trips. Crowning Fugitive GTX as our most supportive snow hiking boot is a no-brainer.

The Gore-Tex membrane’s defense against water and snow is unquestionable. We crossed river streams and slush with dry and toasty feet. It has a fully gusseted tongue and a high collar to ensure debris stays out and heat stays in. The boot even includes a toe bumper and suede layers for extra protection.

The midsole highlights support by putting together a firm cushion and a rigid platform. Our durometer confirms the foam is 34.0% denser than average, while the boot bends to a force 97.2% greater than average. Both elements enhance surefooted strides on uneven ground.

This boot takes traction seriously, and the patterned outsole works its magic on all types of terrain. Whether on frozen paths, loose ground, or rocky terrains, we're blown away by its grippy bite.

Outsole durability is a let-down as it started peeling away only after a few test hikes. Though the boot is designed to be resoled when needed, it should still last several months.

Pros

  • Superb adhesion and traction
  • Great impact dampening
  • Worth the price
  • Waterproof
  • Reliably supportive
  • Feels light on the foot
  • Zero break-in
  • Balance preserver

Cons

  • Outsole started peeling off
  • Not-so-cushy footbed
Full review of Asolo Fugitive GTX

Nothing ruins a winter hike quite like getting wet and cold feet. It can turn a great day out into a miserable experience in just a few moments. Even if you live in a part of the world where it doesn’t snow too much in winter, it’s still worthwhile to consider buying a pair of the best snow hiking boots possible.

And if you do live in a very cold region, these should definitely be part of your setup. Let’s take a look at why they’ll become one of your favourite pieces of kit.

What is a snow hiking boot? 

Snow hiking boots are specially designed footwear that provide extra protection from the snow and cold while hiking in winter.

Why should you consider buying a snow hiking boot?

Snow hiking boots are made specifically for the cold, so when the mercury drops, these boots perform in a number of ways, mainly:

  • Warmth
  • Waterproofing
  • Traction
  • Protection
  • Durability
  • Versatility

Salomon Quest 4 GTX lab test

Warmth - stay warmer for longer

Snow hiking boots are designed with various levels of insulation to keep your feet warm in cold temperatures, which is key for hiking in wintery and icy conditions. Much more info on this is below.

Waterproofing - dry feet are warmer than wet ones

Boots made for winter are often waterproof or water-resistant, which is important for keeping your feet dry and comfortable during hikes in wet or snowy conditions. We’ll also discuss this in more detail below.

Traction - find grip on icy trails

Get better traction on slippery or uneven terrain than regular hiking boots or shoes with snow hiking boots, thanks to their specialised soles and tread patterns.

Protection - keep debris out

Winter hiking boots offer extra protection for your feet and ankles, with features like higher ankle support, thicker soles, and reinforced toe caps. Higher cuffs are also great at keeping snow out.

Durability - made for tough conditions

Withstand harsh weather conditions and rough terrain in a pair of boots designed for the colder month, making them more durable than regular hiking boots or shoes.

Versatility - can be used throughout winter

You can easily use your snow hiking boots for other outdoor winter activities, like snowshoeing or winter camping.

Salomon-X-Ultra-4-Mid-GTX 1.jpg

What types of insulation are out there?

Not all insulated snow boots are created equal. Some are designed to be a lightweight option in chilly climates and others are made to keep you warm in the most extreme situations. Different materials provide different levels of warmth, breathability, and moisture management, so it's important to find the best one for you.

Synthetic insulators

Synthetic insulators are incredibly popular and are made from polymers and can be very lightweight yet breathable. It is often used in the form of hollow fibres that trap heat, keeping your feet warm even in below-freezing temperatures. Some synthetic fibres are high-end and perform extremely well, while other budget options can be a good choice in slightly warmer winters.

Primaloft

Primaloft is a synthetic fibre that is designed to be highly water resistant and breathable. It is lightweight and can provide excellent insulation even in damp conditions, something that most natural fibres struggle to do.

Thinsulate

Thinsulate is a synthetic insulation that uses microscopic fibres to trap heat and keep your feet warm. It is lightweight, breathable, and can be used in both wet and dry conditions. 

Down insulation

Down is the lightest, most compressible type of insulation available for snow hiking boots. It's a natural material made from small feathers and offers superior warmth retention and breathability compared to other materials. 

Merino wool

Merino wool is known for its softness, moisture wicking properties, and warmth retention capabilities. You're unlikely to find boots that use it as the main insulator, but instead, it's often used as an inner lining in winter hiking boots to keep your feet warm and dry.

Columbia Bugaboot III Drop

Example of a 200g insulation boot (Columbia Bugaboot III)

What are the benefits of insulation? 

So is all this thinking around insulation worth the effort? Even if you spend most of your time running about town during winter rather than on the trails, you should still give plenty of consideration to insulation.

Here's why:

  • Keeps feet warm in snowy conditions 
  • Prevents heat from escaping from the footbed 
  • Provides additional cushioning for comfort 

Keeps feet warm in snowy conditions 

Insulation is designed to trap air and create an insulating barrier between the cold outside and the warm environment inside your boots. This layer of insulation helps keep your feet warm by reflecting heat back towards you, whilst trapping any warmth generated from an activity like walking or running.

Prevents heat from escaping from the footbed 

The insulation also acts as an additional layer between the snowy environment and your feet, trapping heat generated from hiking and preventing it from escaping. This is very important in very cold conditions.

Provides additional cushioning for comfort 

Lastly, insulation offers an additional layer of cushioning to protect and support your feet. This is especially important when you’re on the trails for extended periods of time and need extra comfort and support. The added cushioning will reduce fatigue and help keep your feet comfortable all day long.

Waterproof hiking boots for snow

Waterproof hiking boots are designed to be completely waterproof, meaning they will keep your feet dry even in standing water or deep snow. Water-resistant hiking boots on the other hand provide a level of protection from moisture and mud but will not be able to withstand being submerged in water and snow for a prolonged period of time.

Columbia Bugaboot III waterproof 3

The benefits of wearing waterproof hiking boots in winter 

As well as doing what they say they’ll do, waterproof hiking boots also have a few other advantages that you mightn’t consider right away.

They protect from water and moisture 

The most obvious benefit of wearing waterproof hiking boots is that they provide protection from snow and moisture. The combination of materials used in their construction helps to keep your feet dry even in the wettest of environments. This can help to prevent discomfort and coldness while out on the trail.

Difference in permeability between a waterproof and non-waterproof hiking boot

They're built for slippery conditions

The best snow hiking boots often have an aggressive tread pattern that helps to provide extra grip on slippery surfaces. This is especially helpful when trekking over wet rocks or muddy terrain as it will give you the extra stability you need to keep your footing secure. Waterproof hiking boots are all about keeping you safe, happy, and moving out on the trails.

Salomon Quest 4 GTX outsole

They support your feet

Another great benefit of waterproof hiking boots is that they often come with some premium features. Many have extra cushioning and support for added comfort on longer hikes. Layers of foam and well-built midsoles help to absorb shocks from the terrain, providing much-needed support for your feet over long distances and rugged trails.

Understanding the waterproof rating system

The waterproof rating system evaluates how well a material can resist water penetration. It’s often used to assess the effectiveness of waterproofing materials in outdoor gear, including hiking equipment like jackets, tents, and most importantly for us, hiking boots. The waterproof rating is usually measured in millimetres (mm).

How the waterproof rating is measured

The waterproof rating of a material refers to how much water it can endure before leaking. A rating of 10,000 mm means the material can withstand a 10,000 mm tall column of water. The higher the rating, the better the material's water-resistant properties. Hikers need to be aware of this when selecting appropriate gear depending on the weather conditions.

What waterproof rating is the best?

The different levels of waterproof rating refer to the amount of water pressure a material can withstand before it starts to leak. Generally, waterproof ratings can be classified as low, medium, or high.

Waterproof Rating

Water Pressure Resistance

Best Suited for Weather Conditions

Low (3,000-5,000 mm)

Light rain, drizzle, or mist

Dry conditions with rare rainfall

Medium (5,000-10,000 mm)

Moderate rain or light snowfall

Moderate to heavy rain or light snowfall

High (Above 10,000 mm)

Heavy rain, snowfall, or river crossings

Wet or snowy weather conditions

Do I always need the highest waterproof rating possible?

Hikers need to know waterproof ratings in order to choose gear that suits the weather. In wet or snowy weather, it's important to have gear with a high waterproof rating to keep things dry and warm. If a hiker plans to hike in heavy rain or snow, they should wear boots with a high waterproof rating. However, if they are hiking in dry or hot conditions, a lower waterproof rating should be fine.

Plan for changing weather on longer hikes

When choosing waterproof gear, keep in mind the type of hiking you plan to do. In areas with lots of snowfall, it's best to play it safe and choose gear with a higher waterproof rating. If the hiking trip is going to last for an extended period of time, gear with a higher waterproof rating may be necessary due to the risk of being out in changing weather.

Author
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 analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.