Wearing the correct footwear according to the conditions on a hike is important. But how do you know which boot will work better in particular situations than others? There are many things to consider when choosing a boot, and one of these is whether or not hiking boots are good for snow.
Hiking boots are good for snow, but only to a certain extent. It all depends on the overall conditions and how much snow you are hiking through. Hiking boots are often not warm enough for the coldest of conditions, and in which case it’s best to opt for dedicated snow boots.
Below, we will not only explore how and why hiking boots can be good for snow, but we’ll also give you some suggestions on the best hiking boots to own if you plan on hiking in snow. Read on to learn everything you’ll need to know when considering wearing hiking boots in wintry conditions.
Can You Wear Hiking Boots In The Snow?
You can wear hiking boots in the snow, but it all depends on the depth of the snow. It gets to a certain point where it’s not advisable to wear normal hiking boots, and it’s often more from a comfort perspective rather than a safety issue, as hiking boots may not be warm enough or waterproof.
Light Snow Is Not A Problem
When there’s light snow, what we really mean is when the snow is just covering the ground or is perhaps an inch or two thick. At those sorts of levels, your normal hiking boots will suffice. This is due to their general waterproofing and decent insulation. It means they will have no problem in keeping your feet warm and dry as you trek through the snow.
Remember Hiking Boots Are All-Terrain
It’s also worth remembering that hiking boots are generally regarded as being all-terrain boots. The traction on the sole of hiking boots will usually be more than enough to give you ample grip on snow.
All you need to do is to look behind you as you hike through the snow. There, you will notice the marks left in the snow by your boots. Just see how deep your tracks are in the snow to get an understanding of the grip you get from your boots. The deeper and more pronounced your tracks are, the better the grip.
When Problems Might Occur
There are times where you may run into problems wearing hiking boots in the snow. The main problem is the depth of the snow. While walking through deeper snow for a short period of time shouldn’t be a problem, such as walking through a snow drift, longer hikes are harder.
One major problem is the design of the top of hiking boots. They are slightly more open to the elements, and that means deep snow has the potential for getting inside. That alone will be cold and uncomfortable. Most hiking boots are not designed to cope with extremely low temperatures. Add in the fact they are breathable, and you start to see how your feet could feel the cold.
So, you can wear hiking boots in snow, but once it starts to come up over your toes, or if the temperature will be very low, it’s not a good idea. At that point, you need to think about snow boots if you plan on hiking a long trail in these tough conditions.
Snow Boots vs Hiking Boots
When the snow is too deep for normal hiking boots, you may need to consider wearing snow boots if you still want to go on your hike. Snow boots are specifically designed for walking in snow. There are several key differences, along with some similarities, between the two footwear options.
You will find snow boots are made with a cuff at the top of the boot. This effectively closes around your ankle, and it makes it harder for any snow to make its way inside the boot. This tends to be missing with hiking boots, and it’s a major difference between the two for warmth and protection from the snow.
The level of insulation is different as well. In snow boots, the insulation is thicker and usually of higher quality than that of hiking boots. That means snow boots are often tested in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Hiking boots are not designed with such conditions in mind. But thicker insulation means snow boots are not as breathable as hiking boots, so keep that in mind too.
The soles of snow boots tend to be thicker and heavier than hiking boots. Also, most are manufactured from rubber, which offers greater protection from the cold working its way through. The traction on a snow boot is also usually different, because hiking boots are designed to cope with a range of terrain, while snow boots have one purpose in mind – to give you grip in snow.
Different snow boots come with the ability to add on several attachments. This can include gaiters, snowshoes, micro-spikes, and crampons. Hiking boots do not generally come with those additional features. Sure, you can wear gaiters with hiking boots, but snow boots often make a better job of ensuring gaiters stay in place.
What To Look For In Hiking Boots For Snow
Choosing the right hiking boots is not an easy thing to do, and it’s not just because of the variety of options on the market. Each boot will have its own design and ratings on insulation and weatherproofing. Next, we will discuss what to look for in a pair of hiking boots you plan to wear in the snow.
Only buy hiking boots that come above the ankle if you think you will frequently hike in snowy conditions. Anything below the ankle makes no sense, as it increases the chances of snow getting into the actual boot and ruining your hike with wet feet. A higher boot ankle will also provide extra support to prevent injuries.
Make sure the traction on the sole is as good as you can afford. Something that incorporates a material such as a Vibram sole, for example, could be the ideal solution. Keep in mind that when you walk on snow, you cannot see the surface beneath. For that very reason you need to know your hiking boots have the traction to cope with pretty much anything thrown at them, especially ice.
Avoid any hiking boots where there is little or no insulation. That means the boots are largely designed for summer hiking, so they are far from the ideal solution when it comes to hiking in any type of wintry conditions with snow and cold temperatures.
Look for hiking boots with an insulation of around 200g. Snow boots tend to have about 400g of insulation, so that mean there’s something of a difference between the two. Of course, hiking boots will be unable to cope with those extremely low temperatures, but insulation of around 200g should help you out.
You should also look for hiking boots with fantastic waterproofing if you plan on hiking in winter. It’s best to find boots with full-leather uppers. That will offer you the greatest protection, but you will need to care for the leather and apply an extra waterproofing agent.
Fabric outer layers will not be the best solution. The same applies to boots that are intended to keep your feet cool. They come with greater breathability, which is bad in winter because you don’t want the cold air and snow to have the opportunity to get into the boot.
Crampons Or Accessories?
While most hiking boots don’t come with the option of adding crampons, that’s not always the case. Study the sole to see if there is a notch on the midsole where the strap for gaiters can be held in place. That’s the ideal solution, and it means you can wear them and get that extra coverage over the top of your boots.
These are the main areas to focus on when choosing hiking boots for snowy conditions. They are all key and will make a difference when it comes to your selection. Better boots will be more expensive, but the extra value will help keep your feet warm and dry throughout your hike.
The 5 Best Hiking Boots For Snow
1. Sorel Out N About Plus Conquest
This boot is regarded as one of the best hiking boots for snow for women on the market, and it’s easy to see why. The first thing you’ll is the microfleece lining, so your feet will have no problem staying warm and comfortable in all but the worst conditions.
They also have a rubber sole, which is more in line with snow boots, but this pair is still light enough to be worn when hiking on different terrain. In addition, the sole of this boot has a herringbone pattern, which can give you more confidence when it comes to getting traction on the snow.
The waterproofing on these boots is exceptional, and they come with a seam-free construction. That means it’s tough for any moisture to get inside, and your feet should stay completely dry. The waterproofing alone on these boots makes them a great contender for winter hiking.
Overall, these hiking boots are versatile enough to be worn hiking most trails while still being good enough to cope with light snow. Be aware that they tend to fit true to size, so if you plan on wearing thicker socks, then go up at least half a size, or the fit may feel tight.
2. Merrell Thermo Kiruna Hiking Boots
These Merrell Thermo Kiruna hiking boots are exceptional when it comes to both grip and insulation. With these boots, you should have no reason to worry about losing your footing on light snow, as they have great tread. The lining is a super soft fleece, so the boots will keep your feet warm enough. They also have a heat-reflective insole to keep heat trapped inside.
The waterproofing is exceptional in these boots, but it’s the grip and insulation that marks them out as being some of the best hiking boots around. Whether it’s on snow or rocks, these hiking boots provide comfort, stability, and warmth for any winter hike you may undertake.
3. Manfen Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boots
What stands out with these Manfen hiking boots is the fact they are rugged but manage to achieve this without being too heavy. They are a testament that hiking boots designed for tougher conditions do not always have to feel like a heavy weight on your feet.
These boots have 200g of insulation, so that means they will be warm even in low temperatures. Also, their waterproofing is excellent, so trekking through mud, water, or snow will not pose a problem. You’ll be able to hike with confidence your feet will stay warm and dry.
These boots provide substantial ankle support. This is due to them being slightly higher than your normal hiking boot, which means they can cope with slightly more snow than your usual boot. The extra protection will also give you better ankle support and stability on uneven terrain.
4. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot
Columbia is a well-known name in the hiking boot industry, and this Newton Ridge Plus boot is another exceptional item to add to their list of options. Columbia has added extra cushioningin this pair, so feeling comfortable in them while hiking should not be a problem.
The best part is they come with their Omni-GRIP technology. That means this boot has absolutely no issues in giving you traction, even in snow. You will feel far more confident about hiking when wearing these boots, and you will believe you can tackle any terrain with ease.
Add in the fact they are seamless, which means less moisture getting in, along with still maintaining a sense of breathability, and it makes these boots an easy choice. There’s no doubt these boots will keep your feet warm and dry,even if you encounter snow during your hike.
5. L.L. Bean Alpine Hiking Boots
Finally, these L.L. Bean Alpine hiking bootsare highly functional. They look a little different than normal hiking boots, though. In fact, some argue they look more like sneakers than hiking boots, but they can still cope with some pretty tough conditions. They are exceptionally lightweight and come with a VertiGrip outsole, so you will get substantial grip even in slippery or uneven conditions.
Their insulation is par for the course, but it’s amazing how they are able to incorporate so much insulation into such a light boot. They are around ankle height, so don’t expect to wear them in deep snow. However, they can certainly cope with a light snow covering without any problems.
You can wear hiking boots in snow and most options will provide you with adequate traction, even taking the difficult underfoot conditions into consideration. However, you should know ahead of time whether you will need to cope with deep snow or low temperatures to find the best boot for you.