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Are you wearing the right boots for snow and ice? A podiatrist shares tips for shopping

These shoes will help keep your feet firmly planted when the weather outside is frightful.
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Winter is officially here, which means snow, ice and other treacherous conditions that are likely to have you slipping and sliding — especially if you don't have the right shoes on. Contrary to popular belief, it takes more than just a rubber outsole for shoes to actually be snow- and ice-friendly.

To help guide your search for proper shoes for slippery conditions, Shop TODAY spoke to Maryland-based podiatrist Dr. Priya Parthasarathy for tips to keep in mind when shoe shopping, along with a few recommendations for snow trekking and hiking to get you started on the right foot.

How to choose shoes for walking on snow and ice | Podiatrist picks | Shoes for snow trekking | Meet the expert

How to choose shoes for walking on snow and ice

Parthasarathy started off with a few key features to search for when shopping for shoes to walk in slippery conditions. "A textured sole is important for traction, especially during inclement weather. And it’s also really important to look at the stitching to make sure it’s tight if you’re looking for a waterproof boot," she advised. If you're specifically looking for ankle boots, she also recommended choosing a pair with walls that sit slightly above ankle height for additional stability.

When searching for a proper winter boot, Parthasarathy recommended keeping two general guidelines in mind:

  1. Make sure you cannot bend the shoe itself in half. The toe box can have some flexibility, but you shouldn't be able to fold the shoe like a sandwich.
  2. Make sure the back of the heel is firm. You don't want a heel that's too soft or squishy because it won't provide adequate support. "All of these things will prevent slipping and falling," she told us.

Parthasarathy noted that while most winter boots are made with a sturdy bottom, these are good tips to keep in mind if you're looking for a more fashion-focused shoe for colder weather. Other features she said to look out for are lace-up styles to provide additional stability; a removable insole if you require a more supportive shoe insert; and shorter, chunkier heels in lieu of taller, narrower ones. "A slight heel is also better because it elevates the foot out of the snow itself," she explained.

Best shoes for walking on snow and ice, according to a podiatrist

JBU by Jambu Ella Tall Duck Boots

Recommended as a more affordable option, Parthasarathy likes these tall duck boots. These water-resistant boots have a memory foam footbed to ensure comfort and stand just over 11 inches tall.

Timberland Courmayeur Valley Chelsea Boot

Parthasarathy regarded these Timberland boots as a little more fashionable. The brand describes these Chelsea boots as being "as comfy as a pair of yoga pants." Aside from being made with premium leather upper, they feature cushioned and odor-blocking OrthoLite footbeds for long-lasting comfort.

Sorel Tofino II Boot

Parthasarathy says these Sorel boots are one of her favorites. "[These] are intense 'I’m going hiking or I’m going to be out in really cold weather' boots, but they’re cute," she said.

Ugg Adirondack III Tall Boot

"Another, more classic winter boot is the Ugg Adirondack III Tall Boot," she told us. These waterproof leather and suede boots feature a removable insole and wool lining at the top.

Vionic Kaylee Ankle Boot

Parthasarathy led this recommendation with an advisory that, while these boots may not be the most ideal shoe for inclement weather because of the heel height, they are an option you can take into consideration for a night out. "They have a rubber sole and they’re weather-resistant, which is hard to find," she said.

Best shoes for snow trekking, according to shoppers

Cliffs by White Mountain Pathfield Boots

These ankle boots have a sweater trim at the top, a cushioned insole and a lug outsole for traction. Aside from coming in seven different colors, one Kohl's reviewer said they didn't require "breaking in" because they were immediately comfortable.

Dream Pairs Mid-Calf Winter Snow Boots

The rubber outsole on these snow boots features a tread design that will provide the traction Parthasarathy recommends having in a boot to be worn in slippery conditions. They come in six different colors and the brand recommends ordering a half size larger if you usually wear wide width shoes. One Amazon reviewer loved them so much, they bought two pairs!

Columbia Ice Maiden II Snow Boot

For more intense snow and ice, you'll want a boot that will keep as much of your leg insulated as possible. It has a textured sole for traction like Parthasarathy recommended and, according to the brand, can keep your feet feeling warm and comfortable in temperatures as low as -25°F. Plus, it's a bestseller on Amazon and has almost 25,000 verified five-star ratings.

Storm by Cougar Creek Snow Boot

Shop TODAY associate editor Fran Sales says these "heavy-duty" Cougar snow boots are "perfect for super snowy days." Aside from being designed to withstand chilly temperatures down to -11°F with features like a sherpa pile lining and Thermolite insulation, its duck boot style and waterproof upper can handle any slushy puddles you may come across.

Ryka Highlight Cold Weather Boots

Sales is also more than comfortable striding in these water-repellant sports boots from Ryka. Features like TreadTech lug soles and Cosmo Retain insulation for increased heat retention keeps her feeling secure and toasty, though she notes that those with wide feet may have to look elsewhere due to the snug interior and lack of zippers.

Keen Revel IV Polar Boot

"Perfect for winter walkers," according to one verified reviewer based in Central Minnesota, these Keen snow boots were literally made to take on anything winter throws your way. They were tested at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute's WinterLab, which is renowned for their rigorous research on how snowy, icy conditions affect overall mobility. Fortunately enough, the pair's grippy Polar Traction outsole passed their tests with flying colors, according to the brand, even when challenged with steep inclines.

Kamik Abigail Rain Boot

Shopping for slip-on boots can be difficult when you have wide calves, but one Zappos reviewer says these boots with a circumference of just under 14.5 inches fit around their "calfzillas" perfectly. "I always had to buy short winter boots because they never, ever fit around my calves. These boots do and I am so happy," they raved.

L.L. Bean Rangely Pac Boot

While it's important to have a winter boot that'll keep you from slipping, there's nothing worse than having cold feet on the inside. When temperatures are at their lowest, it'll take more than warm socks to keep your little piggies from feeling like they're freezing off. That's when you'll want to look for fleece-lined boots like this one. According to the brand, they have a waterproof upper and waterproof membrane to keep your feet dry.

Sorel Evie Sport Lace Boot

These lace-up wedges from Sorel have a bit more of a trendy flair to them while still having the rubber footbed needed to walk in slippery conditions. "They are so comfortable, I don’t even feel like I’m wearing a wedge," one Zappos reviewer enthused.

Sorel Caribou Boots

These boots from Sorel have everything you need in a quality boot for walking in snow and ice. They feature seam-sealed waterproof leather, a removable and washable (nothing is worse than when the material inside gets all gross and doesn't come out) felt inner boot with a Sherpa snow cuff and a rubber outsole with "never-slip" traction. It even comes in three colors. What more could you ask for?!

Madden Girl Kamora Platform Chelsea Boot

Okay...hear us out. These, like the Vionic Kaylee Ankle Boots, are probably not the most ideal for walking in snow and ice. However, they have the wider, chunky heel that Parthasarathy mentioned, plus the sole has a tread design to create traction. They're an option to take into consideration if you want an edgier, fashionable style.

Meet the expert

Dr. Priya Parthasarathy is a board-certified podiatrist in Silver Spring, MD. She is a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association and also serves on the board of directors for the American Board of Podiatric Medicine.