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Winter creates an opportunity to experiment with layers and unique fashion pieces. Though the cold weather can be brutal during this time of the year without the proper attire, the season also invites us to get creative with our wardrobe. Many people lean toward aesthetic footwear around this time, but high-heeled boots tend to lack the fabrics and materials to keep your toes humid- and frostbite-free.
Just like winter clothing and gear, winter footwear should have a combination of comfort, style, support and insulation — all of which can withstand snow and slippery surfaces. But before you go shopping for your perfect pair of kicks before the season is over, there are some crucial things you should keep in mind.
Shop TODAY asked a group of experts for tips on finding the best winter boots to keep your feet warm. We also rounded up some stellar kicks currently on the market based on their recommendations. From waterproof shoes to shearling-lined footwear, there is a slew of modern styles suitable for every occasion.
How to shop for women's winter boots
The first thing to consider when buying a pair of winter-approved boots is the material. According to footwear designer Damion Le Cappelain, start by searching for boots made with Gore-Tex. "This is a tried and tested material that makes the boots both waterproof and breathable," he said. Shoes made with this durable material have to meet rigorous waterproof performance standards and tests to ensure they can withstand extreme temperatures and precipitation.
Winter boots should also be comfortable instead of constricting. According to sixth generation master shoemaker Marcell Mrsan, "When you expect to wear footwear in extreme cold, the last thing you need is tight footwear which restricts blood flow. Blood flowing is what will keep your foot warm."
Mrsan also advised trying your boots with socks as they "can take away a mentionable amount of girth from the inside". Before committing to a purchase, try wearing your desired boots with thermal socks to gauge the amount of room your feet will need.
While leather boots look fashionable and seem ideal for the winter, their maintenance can be difficult. Instead, footwear designer Carla Lopez recommends finding a pair that's made with "waterproof synthetic leather for people who like the look of leather but don’t like the upkeep to make it waterproof."
How to choose the right pair of women's snow boots
Consider these key features when sleet and snow try to get in the way of your fashion choices:
- Rubber boots: According to Lopez, "Rubber boots with non-skid soles will keep you safe from slipping in inclement weather."
- Comfort: With most synthetic materials like polyester, boots are unable to take the foot shape. Mrsan suggested trying the boots on several times before leaving the house. "Badly fitting footwear is only going to lose the counter stiffener shape [between the shoe's lining and upper]."
- Waterproof: During extremely cold weather, Lopez advised choosing boots with non-wicking properties on the upper materials.
Winter boots for everyday wear
Add some edge to your winter outfit with these iconic boots from Dr. Martens. Choose from a matte or patented finish, depending on your style choice.The best thing about these boots, though, is that they are a timeless staple and go well with almost anything you wear.
This pair of Sperrys will keep you dry all season. The Saltwater combines waterproof features and soft sherpa for everyday comfort. This boot also has a reliable reputation for being "extra cozy" and very warm.
The MTE line comes in many different designs and colors to keep you ready for any weather condition. This pair of boots feature a vulcanized rubber sole, 200 grams of insulation and seam-sealed construction for wet seasons.
"These are excellent boots for the snow — [they] have all the functionality you need, plus [they] are very comfortable and look great," said Le Cappelain.
Missing your high heels? This waterproof wedge will elevate your winter wardrobe and add elegance to your overall look. The Joan of Arctic style has a molded rubber sole offering a good grip and full-grain leather and boucle. In general, this all-day wear will keep you warm and in vogue.
If your activities are mostly around town, you can get away with a classic Danner boot. This pair is made with waterproof Gore-Tex liners, leather uppers and durable Vibram midsoles and outsoles for maximum support.
Embrace a little bit of edginess with these classic Dr. Martens boots. The Chelsea boot style is a great option for busy urbanites looking for a practical boot. According to a reviewer, "The slip-in style was what I really wanted and they are super easy [to get] on and off."
For those extra cold days, stay stylish with these waterproof leather boots from Overland. The brand specializes in leather goods with modern designs while focusing on warmth. These boots in particular will keep your feet cozy up to -13°F, thanks to their soft shearling sheepskin shaft and wool lining. Plus, your winter footwear will get an upgrade with this versatile coffee cream color.
Waterproof winter boots
Wear these Kamik boots for your next brunch meetup. The molded EVA footbed offers cushioning, while the synthetic rubber shell can survive any puddle. In addition, these boots have HEAT-MX™ sustainable thermal insulation that will keep your toes warm even when the temperature drops below zero.
When you need extra cushion, these Cobb Hill boots will get the job done. The classic design matches all your winter essentials, while the waterproof upper keeps the moist away. These versatile boots are next level when you need to go from work to happy hour and still walk the extra mile.
Decide your next step and adventure with these comfortable rain boots from Bernardo. The rubber sole will provide confidence in your stride, while the shearling insole gives you warmth during extra chilly days.
When it comes to extreme weather, these Ugg sheepskin boots will keep you safe at every step. The Adirondack style is constructed with 100 percent leather and a synthetic sole for reliable winter wear. Plus, as one reviewer raved, "These boots keep my feet warm and dry and withstand the harsh elements. Good arch support, too!"
Don't want to compromise style during harsh conditions? These boots are the way to go. The wool lining and premium sheepskin will keep your feet toasty. Also, this style features a traction sole and a short heel so you can wear your maxi coat with confidence.
Lightweight winter boots
Thick socks and winter boots can easily add weight and bulk to your feet. However, these Sorel boots will revolutionize the way you stride during winter. This pair combines a fluffy texture to help you survive winter's worst and a waterproof suede upper. With the lightweight fit of a sneaker with 100 grams of insulation, these boots are made to enjoy après-ski or survive a trip to the market during a stormy day.
Defy the elements in style with this waterproof leather boot from Sorel. This is an everyday style to take you around the city without worrying about slushy sidewalks. The boot offers a trendy design and all-day comfort while providing plenty of traction to take on any snow mound.
You can wear these boots daily or during your next hiking expedition. Its light weight takes off the extra heft on your feet while the Gore-Tex construction prepares you for any terrain — rain or shine. One reviewer confirmed, "These boots are comfortable and have plenty of cushioning, [all] while being extremely lightweight!"
Lopez recommends these Sorel boots for their durability and comfort. Aside from their sporty style, these boots feature 200 grams insulation and are lined in warm microfleece. Also, these boots have an EVA footbed for heavy walkers.
Winter boots with extra insulation
Columbia boots are stylish and warm for better or worse. This particular pair offers 200 grams insulation, an Omni-Grip™ non-marking traction rubber outsole, a faux fur collar and all the waterproof materials you need to keep your feet dry through winter.
Your winter plans will not go on standby thanks to these Hunter boots. The Commando style is a reliable pair when rain and snow pop up thanks to their 100 percent waterproof structure. These shoes will keep your feet warm in temperatures as low as -8°F.
For all-weather performance, step into this classic L.L. Bean design. These boots will match your rustic aesthetic during winter. Every step will feel like you are walking inside a log cabin, thanks to the shearling lamb fur inside.
These hiker-inspired boots have all the features a winter boot needs: an EVA footbed, thermal insulation, a synthetic rubber outsole, seam-sealed waterproof suede and overall comfort.
Winter boots for hiking
When planning a snowy hike, Gore-Tex technology is key. These Timberland boots are great for the outdoors, especially when you need to climb heavy rocks. According to a reviewer, "The Timberland design indeed offers timeless comfort and reliability."
Hikes require the ability to move around with ease. This Merrell boot has a Kinetic Fit BASE insole for maximum flexibility. Like any high-quality winter boot, this is waterproof, insulated and has a protective rubber rand and toe cap.
Outdoor adventurers will be thrilled to take advantage of these Columbia boots. Manufactured specially for snow sports, these boots offer exceptional traction in wet and dry conditions. They will deliver warmth while keeping your feet dry during strenuous activities.
You'll never have to worry about chilly ankles when you're wearing these Keen boots. This iconic hiking boot is waterproof tested, so you can feel a whole new sense of confidence when crossing a shallow river. Plus, as one reviewer noted, the boot has great "quality, comfort, design and overall figment is perfect. My feet and toes are so happy."
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