A great pair of women’s winter boots can make all the difference to your comfort during the coldest months of the year. At a bare minimum, you need them to lock in body heat and keep your feet warm. But if you live in a tricky climate that brings plenty of wet weather, you need them to remain dry while you go about your daily routine.
The right pair of boots does all of that — and so much more. Sure, some are more functional than they are fashionable, but it’s entirely possible to find styles that resonate with you on a more sartorial level. So what’s the best way to select a pair that meets all of your needs? Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you browse the many options.
If you aren’t quite the budding winter athlete with visions of gold medals in her eyes, do you really need a pair of heavy-duty boots? Well, yes, especially if you tend to spend a good portion of the season outdoors and live in an area where snowfall is common. Why take a chance of being unprepared? At a bare minimum, you’ll need a pair of sturdy boots that you can pair with your winter accessories and ever reliable coat. These styles are great for playing outside with the kids, going on hikes, and generally putting your footwear through the wringer throughout the season.
More casual boot styles are also available, and these are more for keeping you warm than supporting you in the snow. Yet if there’s a chance you’ll be at all in the vicinity of the powder, you’ll be more than glad that you thought to snag a pair that at least features all of the hallmarks of quality snow boots — think rugged soles and flexible materials to start.
What’s inside your winter boots matters just as much as the quality of the exterior. Warmth is key no matter how light or heavy the snow — it’s still cold, after all — but you have a few options available to you. Pay attention to the amount of insulation the product contains to get a fair idea of its “fluff” factor. That fill level determines just how much body heat the shoes will lock in, so you can be certain you’ll stay comfortable on even the chilliest days. It’s the same principle that applies to down coats. A boot with 400-gram Thermolite® insulation, for example, is warmer than one that contains 200 grams. One isn’t superior to the other; your needs simply depend on your environment.
The advantage of synthetic fill materials is that they naturally resist water, so even if they get a little bit damp, you aren’t likely to feel that unpleasant chill tickle your toes. They also compress, so you don’t have to worry about your boots appearing overstuffed when you walk around. The average winter boot with quality insulation is sleek and stylish, not heavy, and not difficult to wear.
Sometimes the height of the boot’s shaft comes down to aesthetic preferences. But during winter, it’s ultimately far more important to think about staying warm. As it turns out, many taller boots offer the added advantage of a distinctively fashionable appeal. Boot height does matter, however, when taking into account what you’re wearing with them. Leggings, for example, look right at home with a taller boot.
If you plan to wear protective gaiters to prevent the elements from working their way into your boots, height matters a little bit less. You may just have your eye on a low-profile pair, in which case some lightweight gaiters can come in very handy. And you can also get away with a lower boot if you’re wearing snow pants, which typically fall over the boot’s shaft and provide optimal comfort in cold weather.
If you’re looking for something to wear during a winter hike or while running around with the family in the snow, then your focus should be on comfort over everything else. Some winter boots are more comfortable to wear while you’re walking the short distance from the train station to your office, or when you’re meeting up with friends for dinner after work. If there’s any snow on the ground, then you definitely want a pair of appropriate boots to wear with your knit dress.
What sets them apart? It’s all in the details. More hardy winter boots have thick and sturdy shells designed to keep you comfortable as you trudge through the snow. But if you’re skirting the snow and merely walking near it or through a light dusting, you don’t need something quite so substantial. A pair of low-profile duck boots or a cute bootie accented by faux fur adds a dash of style to your winter wardrobe while keeping you toasty at the same time.
Boot shopping can be tricky, but it’s all about focusing on the key features: sturdy traction, a great fit, and enough coverage to keep you warm when it matters the most. Once you’ve found something that meets your specific needs, you can easily get through the season in style and comfort.