If you’ve got good snow boots on your feet, you’ll never fear the cold or the ice, whether you’re on a ski holiday or just battling the elements at home.
A good snow boot should be three things – warm, waterproof and grippy. Besides that, there are plenty of styles to choose from, from relaxed suede booties best suited to more casual winter use to tough, insulated hiking-style boots that work well for walking or working outdoors in sub-zero temperatures.
Waterproofing is key if you’re going to be stomping about in snow. Look for boots that are labelled as waterproof, which means they’ll repel snow and rain – boots labelled “snowproof” may only be able to deal with light snowfall.
You need good grip on ice – look for tough, chunky soles made of rubber, with deep lugs (grooves or indentations in the sole) that will help stop you slipping. As with hiking boots, good snow boots often use labelled technology such as Gore-Tex waterproofing, Thinsulate insulation and Vibram or Michelin soles, and these are usually reliable choices.
Warmth is just as important as waterproofing when winter temperatures dip below zero. Snow boots sometimes come with a temperature rating, such as -10C, which indicates the minimum temperatures they will perform well at.
Otherwise, look for boots with built-in insulation such as a thick lining of sheepskin, fleece or felt to trap in warmth. Boots designed for the toughest Arctic conditions often come with removable booties that can be worn alone indoors as slippers, and we found these were the warmest boots on test.
Snow boots should feel comfortable and roomy, with plenty of space for thick socks and no rubbing or tightness, especially at the heel or toes. Take ski socks with you when trying on winter boots, or consider ordering a half-size up.
Soles should feel cushiony, and your boots shouldn’t feel too heavy, but light and springy to move in. Look for boots that lace up tightly at the ankle, to stop snow getting in. Well-made snow boots can often cost upwards of £100, and if you’re working outside or spending a lot of time in the snow it’s worth spending as much as you can afford on good boots that will last, but we’ve included some great options for much less, too.
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Danner women’s Arctic 600 boots: £180.13, Danner
If you can afford to splash out on some excellent winter boots, go for these. They are fully waterproof and lined with cosy Primaloft insulation, but where they really excel is in the amazing grip that the Vibram Arctic grip soles offer on the slickest of icy surfaces. We love the whole package – the handy side zip for pulling the boots on, the snug lace-up fit to keep your socks dry, the tough toe and heel boxes and the beautiful suede look. If you do invest in these, you’ll wear them for many winters to come on ski holidays and winter hiking trips.
Le Chameau LCX lite low boots: £249, Le Chameau
These are a good compromise between a hiking boot and a snow boot. The brand is best known for its wellington boots, but we love these leather ones for their great combination of sturdiness, flexibility and light weight. Top-quality Michelin soles offer good grip on ice, with reassuringly deep lugs. LCX technology makes the leather of the boots both waterproof and breathable, and the narrow lace-up neck keeps snow out. We like the smart, subtle look of these too. Le Chameau offers great quality, but with a price that reflects that.
Keen terradora lace winter boots: £119.99, Keen
We’re a fan of these cheerful cherry-red boots from Keen. A winter version of the brand’s popular terradora hiking boots, these combine rugged soles with cosy quilted insulation that will keep you warm down to -31.7C but still prove breathable on warmer snow days. The boots are fully waterproof and are as comfortable to wear as slippers – these were definitely the comfiest boots we tested out, with a soft fleecy lining inside that is a delight to slip your feet into. The only downside to them is that the ankle opening is rather wide, so the boots need lacing tightly to avoid deep snow leaking in.
Mountain Warehouse Ohio boots: £34.99, Mountain Warehouse
A great quality option for well under £50, these are fuss-free snow boots that tick our warm and waterproof boxes. The soles are chunky but still reasonably lightweight, and we like the faux fur detailing and tough, tight laces. According to the brand, these are only “snowproof” but can deal with light snowfall and rain, and the Thinsulate lining is tested down to -20C for warmth. These are rather stiff boots, though – we would have preferred more flex to the soles, and wouldn’t use these for walking long distances. They are a great budget option for your first ski holiday, or a good second pair of boots.
Jack Wolfskin Auckland Texapore boots: £120, Jack Wolfskin
One of the best looking and most versatile boots on test, these are a soft, cosy moccasin boot with technical snow-how of a winter boot. Thick fleece and faux fur linings trap in warmth and excellent rubber soles with diamond lugs offer good grip on ice and snow. We liked how quick and easy these were to slip on and off – this is a good pair to keep by the door for doing winter chores as well as for wearing in the Alps. The laces are only really for looks but these still have a snug fit. The soft suede could look dirty with regular use, though.
Sorel women’s kinetic boots: £150, Sorel
Trainers meet snow boots with this sporty pair, which have the biggest and bounciest soles we tested. It feels rather like wearing your favourite running shoes. Fully waterproof and with a luxe microfleece lining, these happily bounce over light snow but didn’t have the grippiest soles when worn on icy surfaces. A hefty 100g of insulation keep your toes warm even when it’s baltic outside. A seriously comfortable and springy boot to wear for winter walks in the city and for more casual use in the mountains.
LL Bean duck boots: £140.10, LL Bean
So popular there was a waiting list when they were first sold in Britain, LL Bean’s recognisable duck boots may look delightfully retro, but when it comes to dealing with snow and ice they’re bang up to date. Bean boots are hand made in Maine in the US and are half rubber, to keep you dry when you’re stomping through snow or puddles, and half flexible, full-grain leather which, when matched with cushiony soles, makes the boots comfortable to wear all day. These aren’t the most breathable though, due to their thick rubber construction. Wear these on colder days, or pick the shearling-lined version for really chilly weather. We recommend ordering a size lower than your usual fit.
Moon Boot women’s winter boot: £84.99, Zalando
A classic since the Seventies, Moon Boots are the rather kitsch choice of the skiing flash pack for their slick looks, and you’ll either love or hate their oversized, foot-enveloping silhouette. Available in myriad candy-coloured shades and furry finishes, these are very warm, padded and delightfully comfortable to wear. On test, they proved snowproof enough to ramble around a resort and to wear for an apres session, but unable to put up with deep, heavy snow. A boot to slip on before or after a ski session to make a cosy style statement.
Hanwag abisko GTX boots: £399.95, Hanwag
These are eye-wateringly expensive but they are as high performing as they are pricey, dealing with the coldest temperatures and deepest snow without batting an eyelid. We tested these on a week-long husky trip across Arctic Scandinavia in plentiful snowstorms and our feet didn’t feel cold once. The ice-grip soles live up to their name, giving great grip on slippy surfaces and the thick inner booties are also removable and can be worn as slippers indoors. If you regularly venture outdoors in Arctic conditions or are heading to the mountains to work a season, these hardcore boots are worth the spend, but not as worth it for a week’s ski holiday.
Karrimor casual snow boots: £74.99, Karrimor
Karrimor’s rather confusingly named casual boots are actually pretty technical and well suited to winter adventures, with Weathertite waterproof leather outers, Thinsulate insulation and thick, bouncy outer soles offering decent grip on ice. This is another boot that requires tight lacing to keep snow at bay, but otherwise it fits nicely, with thick, protective toe and heel boxes. They look the part in the mountains too and we think these smart, faux fur-lined boots have leather-like looks that punch above their price point. A great all-rounder for under £100.
The verdict: Women’s snow boots
For general hiking boots under £200, Danner’s Arctic 600 are an excellent choice. If money is no object, you won’t find a better option for serious outdoor use than the Hanwag Abisko boots. On a budget? Karrimor’s casual boots act, and look, the part.
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