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Winter footwear preferences?

Alan Gage

Super Moderator
Staff member
Jun 12, 2014
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NW Iowa
Just curious what everyone prefers for winter footwear (please list the conditions and activities you use them in as well).

I've personally moved away from all sorts of footwear with water proof/resistant linings and use plain leather. I use my Redwing work boots with steel toe for all my winter walks and they're good down to -10 below (F) with regular cotton socks. Below -10 they begin to get a bit cool but with thicker socks -15 isn't a problem as long as I'm moving and I've done -20 without issue.

Every once in a while I look for an insulated boot but they all seem to have a waterproof liner or rubber upper. I used to wear boots like this and invariably my feet would sweat and then, once my foot was wet, they had a tendency to get cold. Sometimes very cold. Maybe it's time for mukluks but I worry they might be too warm?

LL Bean hunting boots if it isn’t too cold.

Irish Setter Pac boots with wool liners if it’s below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and I’m out for a couple hours or if I’m sedentary.

Both worn with thin synthetic liner socks and wool socks.

I wear my regular hiking boots as much as possible. The usual winter weather comes with slush or mud in our latitudes. I found neoprene lined knee high rubber boots to be a good fit for those conditions. If it gets really cold I wear a pair of pac boots with felt liners.
Ankle high Barbours until im wading in knee deep snow then pac boots. The Barbours have a much better fit than Duratuff’s; better support, firmer sole etc. However, up here this type of shoe/boot is my daily wear, winter/summer doesn’t matter.
The pac boots are LaCross from the early 80’s, un stoppable and warm but clunkier and a bit heavy.

So far this year we’ve had 70 inches and it’s plenty early yet, giving me plenty of opportunity’s to plow it, shovel it, sweep it etc.
When the snow is dry, and expected to stay that way, I typically wear my Steger mukluks. When the snow turns sloppy, I pull out an old pair of Sorels that I keep for general shoveling and other chores around the house. My mukluks are great when snowshoeing and for general walking around as well.

If I'm really "hiking" (i.e., little snow but still cold) I have a pair of Keen winter hiking boots that are supposed to be good down to - 20 F. I've only had them out in single digit temperatures but my feet were toasty warm. I also use these boots sometimes when I'm out on my Hok skis.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

On the water, the NRS Paddle Wetshoe is my usual choice for winter.

Down here in SC it really doesn't get cold enough for insulated boots very often, so I'm usually in leather hiking boots. I do use a heavier sock in the winter than I do during the rest of the year.
Winter sailing and paddling I often wear Timberlands. When I was young I had a prized pair of Herman Survivors. They were double leather, probably American made. They did a lot of hard cold miles.
I just wear the standard green rubber boots with the insulated liners. Good to -40 if you keep moving. If I'm going to be out overnight ice fishing I bring another set of liners, always drying one set out while wearing the other. I bought my wife a fancy pair of Baffin boots last Christmas, supposed to be good to -Pluto or something. She swears by them, says they are the best boots she has ever had, but I can't justify spending 350 loonies on boots for myself.
Kamik water poof insulated boots for stationary fun.
Merrill hiking boots for my daily 3 mile walk, but Redwing 10" insulated boots if we get a snowfall that will over-top my Merrill's.
10" Bean's for the sloppy stuff.
Teva sandals with wool socks when possible - my diabetic feet love sandals the best.
My preference would probably be a pair of warm, fuzzy slippers and I never leave the house

But, as that's not possible (and I'd probably die of boredom any way), I'm usually in leather, steel-toed Carolinas w/ wool socks. If I'm out all day with little movement (ie: hunting), I'll swap the steel toes for a pair of thinsulate Rockys (again w/ wool socks).

I've found that maintaining core temp is far more important than insulating the extremities which is good as I find it difficult to do much wearing gloves.
For those using rubber/water proof boots are you getting sweaty feet? Mem said he carries an extra pair of socks so I'm guessing so. I'm assuming the boots have enough insulation to keep feet warm despite being damp inside?

I ordered a set of Steger Mukluks yesterday. They had a scratch/dent pair in my size at a discount. I'm curious to see how they do in varying conditions of cold and snow. But with the freakishly warm 'winter' we're having so far maybe I won't get a chance to find out. I'm certainly not complaining though.

Yes, there is no way around that but the feet stay warm because of the insulation. I guess in slushy/muddy conditions you have to pick your poison.

Yes, I can certainly see it being a better option in heavy slush and mud. We generally don't have extended periods of deep and wet snow or deep mud so my regular leather boots will usually keep out the wet for my regular 3-4 mile outings in those conditions.

Usually when I'm walking in snow the temps are fairly cold so there's no need for waterproof boots.

My insulated boots don't cause me any condensation/dampness issues. The uninsulated ones I wore canoeing until recently are on the shelf due to condensation. Damp wool socks in those boots is a source of frustration due to the inevitable heart attack I will suffer getting them off. Certainly I can throw my back out. Unless wet footing, I'm in the waist high breathable wader set now. No more over topping boots and the insulation in the bootie is just right. Switch to dry suit in October, bur could easily be comfortable in the waist highs much later.
Winter pac-boots are the standard. Felt liners for real cold. I have a pair with thinsulate that actually work fine for hiking in snow. For active hiking insulated hunting boots around 12 inches high with gaiters.
I wear gaiters over my leather hiking boots in the snow. Without them, the snow has a way of blowing up your pant legs, melting on your socks, and getting wicked into the boots - that spells misery. I have a pair of Swiss Army surplus gaiters that I like.
I have a pair of Sorel pac boots. They have held up well thru the years, Snow Seal helps keep the leather soft. Heavy, but
they used to keep me in the tree stand longer than anything else.
For 40 years I have used the same two sets of boots in New England winters: LaCrosse fully rubber insulated boots, and L.L.Bean insulated boots with leather uppers.

I've used the LaCrosse rubber boots more often than the Beans because they are warmer, especially with more insulation throughout the uppers, and are better in slush and wet snow and puddles. Plus, their gusseted tops open wider to stuff in pants. I've even used them for winter whitewater canoeing a few times for their warmth, laced over my dry suit booties.

Any dampness with both sets of boots is minor and it's rarely been a cold dampness. This can be adjusted for by different thickness wool socks, exchanged if necessary. If you use a vapor barrier sock over your regular sock, the inner sock will get damp but the inside of the boot (and an outer sock) won't.

For fluffy powder snow, which we don't get much in the northeast, waterproofness probably isn't as much of an issue for footwear.