When the snow starts falling in the mountains, you need a good pair of boots. Whether it’s for getting out to the car in the morning, working outdoors, or bouncing around mountain towns, your pair of boots is one of the most important parts of your winter wardrobe.
A solid pair of boots will keep your feet warm and dry, provide traction on snow and ice, and, in some cases, protect your feet from impact (which is great if you have to kick ice off of things once nighttime temperatures get below zero). We’ve updated our list with four new awesome boots that you should check out this winter. Here are our new picks for 2016! (Scroll down to see the seven we picked in 2015).
Dachstein Preber MC DDS ($202)
The Preber MC DDS is a hiker’s hiking boot. But the mid-height cut and lugged Vibram outsole make this a very versatile piece of footwear, equally at home on a backcountry trek and shoveling snow in the driveway. The waterproof lining keeps your feet dry and warm, and the Cordura mesh and suede upper gives you flex without sacrificing ankle support. The anatomical tongue prevents creasing, which reduces hot spots and rubbing. And fewer blisters means happier feet.
Alpina Lhotse ($349)
Alpina might be known for their ski boots, but their outdoor boots live up to the name. The Lhotse is listed as a backpacking boot, and it’s a great option for anyone putting in a lot of miles any time of year. A Vibram outsole, extremely solid construction, and leather on the outer and the lining make this a boot that you’ll never want to take off (which is good, because if you’re in Colorado in the winter, you might not have a choice). The addition of Sympatex to the lining increases the water-resistance and comfort, which is a nice touch in an already fantastic boot.
Let’s get this out of the way right away: this is a crazy expensive boot. But for a full-leather, 9″ work boot that’s lined with genuine shearling, it’ll be worth every penny. This is a boot that will protect your foot from whatever work-related hazards you might face without compromising warmth. With Chippewa’s reputation for rock-solid boots, this is a piece of footwear you’re going to have for a very long time. And because it’s hand-crafted in the USA, you can be proud to wear it every day!
Keen 59 Chelsea ($140)
The previous three boots are pretty serious, and they look like they mean business. The Keen 59 Chelsea is more understated; its low cut and elastic panel plant it squarely in the casual section. But a full-grain leather upper and lightweight midsole mean you’ll be warm, dry, and comfortable in nasty weather. It might not stand up to jumping in slush puddles, but it’ll keep the average person warm and dry without breaking the bank.
Our Picks from 2015
The boots below were our picks for best mountain boots in 2015. They’re still fantastic choices in 2016, though, so you can be confident that any of these will meet your needs, whatever they are!
These 100% full-grain leather boots are made for one purpose: toughness. The slip-resistant sole will give you solid footing in slippery conditions, whether they’re caused by ice, oil, or even acid (seriously—Blue Tongue says these are acid slip-resistant), and the puncture-proof sole will stop nasty pieces of metal from embedding themselves in the bottom of your foot. The composite toe cap won’t set off metal detectors, and it’s OSHA, ASTM, and ANSI certified for protection.
A completely waterproof lining also provides some wind resistance, keeping your toes from going numb on long nights in the cold, and the anatomic sole gives you the arch support you need if you’re going to be on your feet for a long time. If you have specific inserts that you like, the removable foot bed will let you get the custom fit you’re used to. This is a serious boot for serious conditions, and you can’t beat the price for this level of protection.
Bogs Turf Stomper ($140)
Intended for landscapers, the Turf Stomper will protect your feet from the wide variety of chemicals that are used in the business. The chemical-resistant upper is supplemented with a 100% waterproof outer, keeping your feet totally isolated from nasty weather, as well as a 25mm midfoot shank for puncture and impact protection. The lack of a toe cap might drop this down on some boot shoppers’ lists, but it’s still quite protective.
Bogs uses some very cool technology to keep you comfortable; the entire boot is vegan-friendly, and Bogs’ Neo-Tech liner keeps your foot insulated and dry with wicking technology—if you’re sweating, a waterproof outer isn’t going to help you, but Neo-Tech will. Earth-friendly DuraFresh will keep your boots from stinking up the house, too. And to top if off, Bogs contributes 2% of its profits to outdoor education to help kids get out into nature.
Ahnu Tamarack ($170)
Most hard-working boots tend to look like . . . well, like hard-working boots. Which isn’t always a great style choice. But Ahnu packs a surprising amount of style into their waterproof, breathable Tamarack, which they describe as a “winter hiker/après ski boot.” A shock dispersal plate in the forefoot protects your feet from rocks under the snow, and a rubber toe protector keeps your digits from getting beat up without adding the weight of a metal toe cap.
These boots are big on comfort, too: with 200g of Thinsulate insulation and a faux shearling lining, your feet will always be happy when you pull on the Tamarack. Big lugs and Numentum foot-guide technology will keep you upright in the snow with added traction and a stable foot path. If you don’t need enough protection to work on a frozen construction site, the Tamarack will see you through the rest of the winter.
AKU Superalp GTX ($360)
When a boot has “GTX” in its name, you know it means business. The Superalp is a no-nonsense winter hiker, and will easily handle just about any winter hike you decide to take on. This boot was built from the ground up for great winter hiking: lightweight construction without compromising on protection, stretch zones in the upper for added ankle mobility, and the inclusion of Gore-Tex for waterproof breathability all lend themselves to really long treks.
The suede upper and non-slip fit, along with a custom footbed with just enough cushion combine to make a boot that you won’t be dreading to put on when you get up for your next long day in the mountains. You pay a premium for all of these features, but if you need lightweight support, comfort, and protection, it’s tough to beat the Superalp.
Even if you have the grippiest sole on your boot, ice is going to cause problems. Unless you have 16 steel studs protruding from the bottom of your boot biting into the ice like chained tires, that is. The PRO BUGrip combines ice-gripping studs with an aluminum toe cap and a composite Alu-sheet in the midsole to keep your feet totally protected from the elements, whether they’re trying to smash your toes or freeze your feet from the ground up.
Waterproof and lined with Thinsulate, this boot will keep your feet warm and dry while you’re running around on the ice, and reflects heat back to your foot to keep the chill away. The steel studs mean they’re winter-only, but if the snow and ice are hitting the sidewalks, they can’t be beat.
Oliberte Tompa ($220)
Want a boot that will keep you warm and dry, but also make the world a better place? Buy a Tompa. With the world’s first Fair Trade certified shoe factory based in Ethiopia and a commitment to workers’ rights in Africa, Oliberte is making a difference in the lives of people who live in some tough places, and they’re knocking out awesome boots while they do it.
A premium leather upper, goat leather lining, and vegetable-tanned leather midsole combine with a crepe rubber sole and combat boot styling for an absolutely one-of-a-kind look. It doesn’t give you the waterproof breathability of Gore-Tex or the protection of a composite toe or midfoot plate, but if you just need boots to get around town without having your feet get soaked in the process—and you want to look good doing it—a pair of Tompas will serve you just fine.
Vans SK-8 Hi MTE ($80)
Sometimes you need a work boot—and sometimes you just need something to keep you from falling on your ass on the way to the bar. If you’re looking for the latter, and you want something that’ll be stylish and comfortable, Vans’ new Mountain Edition line has you covered. The SK-8 Hi has classic Vans skate styling, but also packs a Scotchgard-treated upper, grippy lugs, a heat retention layer, and warm linings. They’re not for trekking through deep snow, but for the majority of your days, you’ll stay warm and dry in style.
The SK-8 Hi comes in a variety of cool color schemes, so you can pick the ones that work best for you (my personal favorite is the glazed ginger, pictured above). Vans has released a bunch of different Mountain Edition shoes this year, so check out the collection to see what other options are out there.
Your Favorite Boots
Now it’s time for you to weigh in—what are your favorite boots? What are you wearing this winter to get you through the snow and ice? Do you have different pairs for different purposes? Or do you have a go-to all-around pair? Share your favorites below!