The best snow boots are not just designed to keep the feet warm like winter boots but they are also geared for walking through snow and to be used in wet conditions, something that winter boots are not designed to handle. Typically completely waterproof, snow boots carry a higher degree of insulation compared to winter boots. They are equipped with snow gaiters, rubber soles and extended boot heights. When in the market for this kind of footwear, take note of the following aspects in your purchase.
Construction and Materials
Extending at least above the hem of the wearer’s pants, snow boots are intended to keep snow from getting inside them and therefore should come up above the ankles.
You will want the uppers of the boots to be of nylon or leather, preferably with taped or sealed seams for more protection from moisture. Other good materials for the uppers include suede, quilted nylon and textile.
The footbed, which includes the insoles and midsoles, can be lined with soft fabrics such as faux sheepskin. This specific layer between the outsole and insole needs to have decent padding in order to ensure reliable cushioning and most importantly, shock absorption. Some better models are outfitted to deliver better arch support via a molded footbed. Both the midsoles and insoles are typically built with a compression foam of ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA), a lightweight material.
Other snow boots are designed with a cuff, fleece collar or drawstring closure at the top so cold and snow are effectively kept out.
Compared to walking or hiking boots, snow boots have a more flexible, softer sole that offers better ice traction. The soles are characterized by deep treads for efficient stability and grip on the slippery surface of the ice. You want completely waterproof material on the soles, such as rubber that provides both cold and wet shielding aside from enabling effortless cleaning of the snow boots by simply hosing down or rinsing off.
Rubber on the outsoles provides a lightweight, waterproof and durable material.
Plenty of snow boots manufacturers employ temperature ratings to enable consumers to pick the right type of footwear suitable for the activity or destination. You will want a temperature-rated pair that has undergone lab testing to ensure reliable performance.
With a temperature-rated pair of snow boots, you have footwear that can withstand minimum temperature conditions to keep the feet warm and comfy. To illustrate, a pair rated at minus 30 degrees (-30°) can keep the feet warm at up to -30° temperatures. The temperature rating serves as guidance only, since there are other factors that can pretty much affect how comfortable and warm the user will feel when trudging in the snow. These include exposure time, health levels, the proper socks, physical activity, perspiration and weather conditions.
Insulation and Coatings
A critical element of a pair of snow boots is the degree of insulation. While some styles carry wool or other synthetic blends to achieve this, other models are outfitted with Thinsulate material, a lighter and thinner system suitable for active recreation because of how it doesn’t allow the boot fit to come loose. Look for snow boots with thinsulate levels between 400 and 800 grams for high activity levels. For walking in frigid temperatures, go for footwear with 1,000 to 2,000 grams of thinsulate levels, best for low activity applications.
You can select snowproof pairs equipped with waterproof coating that makes the upper resilient to external moisture, easily repelling splashes and light snow fall. Of course, do not expect this type of snow boots to be fully waterproof as they are only built to keep the feet warm.
A waterproof snowboot combines a waterproof membrane with a water resistant upper. A waterproof membrane enables escape of perspiration while effectively preventing the leak-through of water and snow. This can be in the form of a bootie or a waterproof lining that delivers excellent waterproof protection for boots fully submerged in deep snow.
When literally trying on snow boots for size, one must have on the liners and winter socks they intend to use with the footwear. A good place to start is trying on a regular shoe size. However, it is to be noted that thicker socks may entail choosing a slightly larger size pair of snow boots.
You want a snug fit minus the discomfort. You should be able to wiggle your toes without the digits touching the inside front of the footwear. Your heels should have little to no shifting inside. You should be able to squat, walk, jog or rock back and forth without any pinching, cramping or chafing on your ankles and feet.