Winter is upon us, gentlemen. It’s time to hole up inside for the next few months and hide out in our pajamas with a good book, a glass of whiskey, and a fire crackling in the hearth. However, winter is also a time to get out there and enjoy nature in its rawest purity. When snow blankets the mountain peaks, icy winds howl through the trees, and darkness settles in early, a man can still brave the outdoors for hours on end provided he has the right gear — and great winter gear starts with the boots on your feet.
Whether you’re headed for a high alpine summit in the depths of winter or you just have to shovel the damn driveway so you’re not late for work, with a pair of the best snow boots for men strapped onto your feet, you’ll be surefooted, warm, and maybe even stylish, depending on the pair you pick.
The Best Men’s Snow Boots
If you’re headed out for a trek that will see you trudging through miles of snow and ice, you need a pair of boots that will offer you warmth, ensure your feet stay dry, and provide plenty of support and traction. That’s why I recommend a pair of boots that were first and foremost designed for hiking, but that just happen to be waterproof, warm, and have a good high rise that keeps out snow even when the drifts have piled up. The Columbia Sportswear Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat boot has an aggressive tread pattern perfect for kicking steps in a snowbound couloir or for keeping you upright on a patch of ice. The boot is rated to keep feet warm in temperatures down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit and is waterproof enough to keep you dry even if you hang out in standing water, much like John Cleese in that classic Monty Python sketch. Too obscure? Anyway, great winter hiking boots, sir.
At a glance, the Wolverine Brek Durashocks Steel-Toe EH Work Boots don’t look like they should be waterproof. Then again, they don’t look much like work boots, either, but rather like the boots you slip on with a pair of jeans after the work day is over. These fetching full-grain leather upper boots are very much waterproof and perfect for moderate winter conditions, such as those you’ll find in the city, and are very much work boots, complete with thick cushioning under the heel and a toe box reinforced with steel for your protection. There’s a removable cushioned footbed that offers extra support and enough traction underfoot to keep you stable.
The first time I pulled on a pair of Kamik boots, I was incredulous. How could they have cost well under $100 yet still feel so comfortable? Surely my feet would be cold and wet within a few minutes of time spent in the several inches of snow that had fallen, right? But no. My Kamiks kept my feet dry and warm and held up well during repeated uses, and all that for about $80. The Kamik NationPlus winter boots have an extra high rise that keeps even deeper snow away from your feet and a layer of 3M Thinsulate insulation for added warmth without adding bulk. They might not be the height of style, but your non-hypothermic feet won’t care.
For Extreme Conditions
If you’re planning a trek across Antartica in June or a climb up Annapurna in December, consider getting yourself a pair of The North Face’s Verto S6K Glacier Gore-Tex Boots. Yes, they cost nearly $500, but they were also designed for genuine adventuring in some of the most adverse conditions on earth. Crampon compatible, fully waterproof, and extra warm thanks to a healthy 400g dose of PrimaLoft insulation, these boots are more boot than most men need, but just the boots the alpine explorer should have on his feet.
For the Boa Lacing System
If you’re not familiar with the Boa lacing system, consider this a PSA. Boa laces use a single dial to tighten or loosen a piece of footwear’s laces, ensuring an even, secure lacing that can be completed with a single hand even while you’re wearing gloves. The Korkers Polar Vortex Winter Boots have a Boa M2 system that cinches them tight with just a few twists and loosens in a second when the central disc is popped forward. And what’s perhaps an even more unique feature is the OnniTrax 3.0 Interchangeable Sole System, which allows the boots to use two different tread patterns depending on the conditions at hand. Or at foot, that is.