Have the cold days of winter set in where you are? These are the times that try men’s feet. To deal with them, get some top-rated winter boots to fend off frigid temperatures, snow, ice, rain, and slush. Five of the best men’s boots for winter are reviewed below, along with good places to get them.
As this is written, Oklahoma saw a record low of minus 31 degrees last week. People in Chicago are inundated by snow — to the extent that Rahm Emanuel, candidate for mayor, thought it would be helpful to issue a statement suggesting that those who are going outdoors should “keep your extremities covered,” and “…wear hats, gloves, winter boots, and warm socks.” Gee, thanks, Rahm. (I liked columnist Gail Collins’s response best: “People, if someone was preparing to walk off into 2 feet of snow without socks and boots, do you think an e-mail from Rahm Emanuel would make that person think twice? Let’s see a show of hands.”)
Easterners are literally buried in snow, with accumulated drifts topping 20 feet. Drifting snow is causing Iowans’ furnaces to suddenly quit. And Europe was brought to a standstill by widespread snow and freezing temperatures in late December. Sweden experienced some of its coldest winter weather since the 1800s. This is frostbite weather.
Heck, it can kill you.
If you live in any of those places, you know by now how well your feet have been faring in the snow and cold — maybe you’re a commuter walking to the bus or train, maybe you have to work outdoors, maybe you’ve had to dig your car out a few times, or at least shovel snow off your driveway. Or maybe you feel like going ice fishing. Is your footgear up to it? Or are you still trying to make do with jogging shoes?
Well, you know what the Swedes say: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”
That’s where the best winter boots come in. There’s nothing fun about experiencing cold, wet feet (not to mention risking hypothermia as you’re tottering down the street with the temperature 8 degrees below zero and a 60 mph wind). So I’m here to tell you about some of the best-reviewed winter footwear for men. These are boots with a track record of keeping feet warm, dry, and comfortable in the worst conditions — cold, wet, and snow. For the sake of your toes, take advantage of the technological advancements in mens footwear for this winter season.
The boots reviewed here will get you through a variety of winter conditions for years to come. They’ll keep you comfy when you want to have a snowball fight with your kids. Or go snowshoeing around the lake.
I’m orienting this review of top-rated winter boots to those models appropriate to help you get around and be comfortable in the snow and cold in both the city and country. In other words, these boots aren’t intended to enable you to go out and tackle the most extreme winter mountaineering challenges or trek to the South Pole. For that, you’d need more specialized footwear. But the following boots will protect your feet and allow you to handle a wide range of challenging winter weather, and they won’t make you look dorky doing it. In other words, these boots won’t just handle the cold, they’re also stylin’.
Outside stated: “After a week slogging through wet snow and mud with a fully loaded pack in New York’s High Peaks, one tester was sold. ‘Impressive grip — and way more supportive than they look.'” Backpacker summarized these boots by saying: “Shockingly light, impressively warm, fabulously supportive — need we say more?”
One of the advancements the Patagonia Das Boot possesses is heat-reflective foil sandwiched between two layers of polyester — and, according to testers, it works. The boots also have PrimaLoft Eco insulation and a Polartec 200 lining, so there’s a lot keeping your feet warm. These boots are also waterproof. Patagonia’s Air Cushion Plus adds shock absorption, and a Vibram Trail outsole with Icetrek rubber keeps your footing secure. These are an ideal go-anywhere, do-anything winter boot. And they look pretty cool, too.
Performance and looks — that makes the Patagonia Das Boot one of the best men’s winter boots you can buy. You can get them for under $200 from Altrec. You can also find them at Massey’s Professional Outfitters.
By the way, there are a number of reliable places to get boots on the Web — all of the retailers I recommend in this post have a large inventory of boots and good customer service. When available, check the customer reviews, make your selection (order two different sizes and return one pair if you need to), and you’ll also often get free shipping from these dealers.
In Outside’s recent Winter Gear Guide, the Columbia Bugatrek Omni-Heat boots were designated a “Killer Value.”
Like the Patagonia Das Boot and the Sorel Alpha Pac (see below), they have a metallic lining to reflect heat back to your foot. The aluminum lining reportedly enhances warmth by about 20 percent. While they’re suitable for winter activities like hiking and snowshoeing — nimble and flexible — they won’t degrade your street cred if you wear them around town.
Columbia claims a comfort rating for these boots of minus 25 degrees. They have a removable, contoured EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) footbed that adds cushioning, support, and includes built-in AgION odor control (so your boots won’t gross out the cute girl you met while snowshoeing and invited to inspect your snow cave for an evening). Like most Columbia products, everything in this boot is thoughtfully designed and well-constructed using the latest materials. Yet they’re no more expensive than a good pair of running shoes. That’s why they’re a “Killer Value.” Get ’em while they’re, uh, hot at: Sierra Trading Post and Campmor. (By the way, if you’re going to be slogging through a lot of deep snow, gaiters would a helpful addition to these boots.)
You really can’t have a list of the best men’s winter boots without including something from Sorel. Those experienced in dealing with the worst winter has to offer generally swear by Sorel and often have a favorite model.
This year, the testers at Outside selected the Sorel Alpha Pac as their model of choice. This is a winter boot made without compromise, intended to keep your feet warm and happy at 60 below zero. Yet the boots aren’t too heavy and, with their built-in gaiter, enable you to comfortably pursue a variety of outdoor activities, from ice fishing to shoveling snow to spectating at World Cup ski races to snowmobiling to tramping through your back 40 feeding cattle.
The removable felt liners have a heat-reflective layer to reinforce the insulating properties of the boot’s EVA midsole and frost plug. The Pac-style design allows for good maneuverability, easier on-off (and can be worn with thicker socks), and lighter weight if you’re packing them. Outside’s testers commented that the Alpha Pac boots had slightly less ankle support than some of Sorel’s more traditional models. However, a tester for Backpacker magazine stated, after a 7-mile hike through snow and mud on a stormy day in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains: “Support is adequate for carrying 30 pounds or pulling a heavy sled. The sole’s deep, W-shaped ridges held well on steep terrain, and the rubber upper kept my feet bone dry. They weren’t even clammy, thanks to a felt liner that draws moisture from the foot and channels it up and out the top.” When it comes to winter footgear, Sorel is hard to beat. Get the Sorel Alpha Pac Boots at Peter Glenn Ski & Sports and Moosejaw. Don’t wait; inventory is selling out.
Update, January, 2014: Right now, click here to shop for boots at 20% off at PlanetShoes. Limited time.
For boots that were originally made popular by the surfing community — both in Australia and the USA — it’s almost ironic that Ugg now makes some of the best winter boots you can buy. While their sheepskin boots have always kept your feet warm, the Ugg Butte winter boots add an extra dimension of waterproofness and windproofness, courtesy of leather uppers that incorporate eVent fabric (which vents moisture from inside the boot, keeping your feet dry).
These are some of the more stylish winter boots you can find (and that is ironic, because the Australian word “ugg” derives from “ugly,” which is how sheepskin boots were originally described). Aside from surfers, Ugg boots have yet to catch on unequivocally with the male population in the United States. I’m not sure why that is — maybe it’s because they’ve become popular with women.
The bottom line is these boots work well and look good. Guys in Australia are well aware of this. So don’t let some irrational prejudice against Uggs keep you from trying them. Ugg boots would not have been embraced by the outdoor crowd if they didn’t work.
This top-rated Ugg Butte winter boot features full-grain leather uppers, a removable sheepskin liner, antique nickel and brass eyelets, and a Vibram outsole designed especially for Ugg Australia. The outsole utilizes a TC1 wet/snow rubber compound and a repeating lug pattern that maximizes surface contact and provides flexibility at the foot’s natural flex points (meaning you can move comfortably and securely in them). You can find the Ugg Butte winter boot at Zappos in three color choices — and check the customer reviews; they tend to be glowing. Just like your feet will be when wearing these boots in the rain, snow, wind, and slush. You can wear them cuffed (7-inches high in that configuration) or not (9 inches high without a cuff). You can also find them at Shoes.com (with free shipping) and Campmor.
See the opinion of a New Yorker on these boots in the following video (yeah, he mispronounces the name, but otherwise knows what he’s talking about). BTW, “Butte” is pronounced like the first syllable of “beauty”. Order them through one of the links above (the stores I recommend have better customer service).
The final pair of boots I want to recommend are Merrell’s Whiteout 8 Waterproof Boots. I have found every pair of Merrell footwear I’ve ever owned to be of high quality and good design. The Whiteout 8 Waterproof Boots have proven themselves to the extent that they are included on Outside’s 2010 Life List of Gear they “can’t live without.”
Customers tend to rave about these boots; this model has been around long enough that you can see a definite positive trend in how owners tend to rate them. The Whiteout 8 Waterproof Boots are built for serious winter activity (they even have a snowshoe strap ridge). Like some of the other cold-weather boots reviewed here, they have a heat-reflective insole that contains a silver film to direct heat back to your foot. In conjunction with a synthetic fur lining, 400 grams of Merrell Opti-Warm insulation, and a padded collar, it allows these boots to be comfort-rated to 40 degrees below zero.
Waterproofing and snowproofing features include a full grain leather upper, a TPU waterproof half shell, and a breathable waterproof membrane. The Merrell Whiteout sole provides enhanced traction on ice.
Reviewers and customers state that these boots tend to be comfortable right out of the box. All in all, they are some serious winter tools for your feet. For such a hell of a functional boot, they aren’t bad-looking either. You can find Merrell Whiteout 8 Waterproof Boots at: Zappos, Sierra Trading Post, and Peter Glenn Ski & Sports (though inventory is going fast).
And hey — if you’d like a little inspiration when it comes to wearing and appreciating modern winter footwear (something that will make you glad to have some) read the following short story: To Build a Fire. It’s by Jack London and it’s a classic.
A note on how to shop for shoes and boots online
The best online shoe companies realize that it can be a bit of a challenge to shop for shoes via their websites since you can’t try the shoes on before you buy. That’s why the best companies have liberal return policies and free shipping. They understand that you might have to try a couple pairs before you find the perfect fit. The companies that prioritize customer service also include detailed sizing info so you can make an informed decision when you order. So take advantage of those capabilities from companies such as Zappos, Shoes.com, PlanetShoes, Shoe Metro, and the others mentioned here.
If you’re still feeling somewhat hesitant about it, you can take an alternative approach: go to a local store and try on the boots in which you’re interested (if you can even find them in stock in your size). If they fit, make a note of the size. Then come to this post and use the included links to order that model and size online, where you can often get a better price than you can at the store (especially when there’s free shipping and you don’t have to pay sales tax). If you feel guilty about that, well, you don’t have to do it — or you could buy a different product at that store but still get your winter boots online. Remember, the manufacturer still benefits, and it’s good to support those companies that make the best gear.
Enjoy safe and warm slogging through the rest of winter!
If you have found something interesting or useful here on Best Stuff for Men, please consider making a donation so we can continue to benefit others, too. Thanks!