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The Best Winter Hiking Shoes: A Buyer’s Guide

If you have no intentions of pausing your hiking adventures this winter, finding the best winter hiking footwear is a must. Winter hiking shoes should keep you dry, provide traction to save you from falling, and preferably, be lightweight. Hiking with bulky boots is not fun.

We’ve selected the best winter footwear for hiking based on how well they hold up against wet snow, their ability to handle multiple terrains, and how versatile they are. Our picks will certainly improve the comfort of your hikes this winter.

Keep reading to see our top picks for winter hiking shoes this season. We’ll also share with you what we consider when buying new winter hiking shoes as well as answer some frequently asked questions by buyers.

Winter Hiking Shoes

Our Top Picks

Best Overall
Columbia Men’s Fairbanks Omni-Heat

Best for Women
Oboz Bridger 7″ Insulated Waterproof Boots

Best for Men
Adidas Men’s Terrex Ax3 Trail Running Shoe

Best for Kids
Littleplum Snow Boots

Best Overall

Columbia Men’s Fairbanks Omni-Heat

Columbia Men's Fairbanks Omni-Heat, Black/Rusty, 11

If you’re looking for a lightweight but durable winter hiking shoe, look no further than Columbia Men’s Fairbanks Omni-Heat Hiking Shoe. The outsole Omni-Grip Rubber material will keep your feet dry on long hikes, and the 200 grams of insulation will keep your feet toasty on cold days.

These winter hiking shoes were designed for multi-terrain traction. Hike on snow, dirt, and gravel in wet or dry conditions while experiencing comfort all day long. The thermal reflective lining reflects and retains body heat while also remaining breathable.

Enjoy the lightweight of an urban-styled shoe and the functionality of a cold-weather boot, all in one!


  • Lightweight midsole for lasting comfort
  • Versatile alternative to classic winter boots
  • Wide size option available


  • Sizing runs small

Best for Women

Oboz Bridger 7″ Insulated Waterproof Boots

The Best Winter Hiking Shoes: A Buyer’s Guide 1

The Oboz Bridger 7″ Insulated Waterproof Boot is the perfect winter hiking shoe because it’s slightly shorter than other Oboz boots, but it possesses all the same features. It works perfectly with snowshoes and other high-intensity winter activities.

With 200 grams of 3M Thinsulate insulation, you don’t have to worry about overheating during high-intensity hikes or being cold while at rest. The boot comes with a molded rubber toe cap and heel kick for fending off water and a thermal wool-topped insole for added support.

The soles are infused with silica to improve grip on icy surfaces, and these shoes have breathable membranes to keep your feet dry.


  • Works well in mud
  • Ideal for people who need more arch support
  • Wide-width sizes available


  • Loses waterproof capabilities after extensive use

Best for Men

Adidas Men’s Terrex Ax3 Trail Running Shoe

adidas Outdoor Men's Terrex Ax3 Hiking Boot, Black/White/Acid Yellow, 10

If you’re looking for a year-round hiking shoe, the Adidas Men’s Terrex Ax3 Trail Running Shoe is the best winter hiking shoe we’ve found for men. This hiking shoe has outstanding waterproof materials, and it has been designed for all terrain types.

The Continental Rubber outsole provides extraordinary grip in all conditions. It has a molded sock liner and a durable, lightweight EVA midsole.


  • Well-made shoe
  • Fantastic traction for winter
  • Lightweight


  • Runs big
  • No added insulation

Best for Kids

Littleplum Snow Boots

Littleplum Boys Snow Boots Winter Waterproof Antiskid Boots Hiking Outdoor Shoes for Kids(Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid) Black Blue Big Kid Size 5.5

Bringing the little ones on your winter hiking trip? Littleplum Snow Boots are the perfect winter hiking shoes for your kids, and they come in so many colors and styles! These winter hiking shoes come with anti-slip rubber soles with ice cleats, making them safe outdoor hiking shoes.

They are durable, tear-resistant, breathable, and easy to clean. The high-quality plush liner keeps your kids’ feet warm. These winter hiking shoes are also lightweight.


  • Easy for kids to put on and off
  • Available in seven toddlers to eight Big Kid sizes
  • Rubber toe guard protects kids from toe scrapes


  • Children with wide feet need a half-size larger
  • General complaints about the sizing chart

Best for Budgets

UPSOLO Winter Trekking Backpacking Snow Boots

UPSOLO Mens Winter Boots Snow Booties Warm Soft Rubber Sole Backpacking Trekking Shoes Outdoor Trekking Casual Walking Lightweight Sneakers(6118 Black 43)

If you don’t have a ton of money to spend on winter hiking shoes, the UPSOLO Men’s Winter Trekking Backpacking Snow Boots are a solid choice. They have a fur liner for insulation and a rubber sole to protect your feet from getting wet.

A high-traction anti-slip rubber outsole provides optimal grip in wet or steep conditions across various terrains. These winter hiking shoes are a great option for all winter outdoor activities, and they won’t break the bank.


  • Fit and look like regular sneakers
  • Warm
  • Lightweight


  • Run small
  • Not the highest quality materials

Winter Hiking Shoes – Buyer’s Considerations


Your winter hiking shoe must have good traction. When selecting a hiking shoe for winter, choose footwear with outsoles designed for winter. The best winter hiking shoes have deep treads that help grip snow and ice.

A winter hiking shoe with good traction will prevent slips and falls on slippery trails, so you can hike confidently without worrying about slipping constantly. Traction also makes it easier to climb up and down hills.

Warmth and Insulation

The amount of warmth and insulation you need in your winter hiking shoe will vary based on the climate of where you’re hiking. Winter hiking shoes come with different types of insulation materials.

Some brands use their proprietary types of insulation, like Columbia’s Omni Heat. Popular names of insulation used across footwear brands include Thinsulate and Primaloft. The most important detail to take note of is the insulation’s weight.

Insulation weight is measured in grams and is usually mentioned on the footwear’s listing. You can refer to the below chart when determining how much insulation your winter footwear should have:

Insulation WeightTemperature Rating (Fahrenheit)Uses
100 grams40 to 50 degreesShort periods outside on chilly evenings or in urban winters
200 grams30 to 40 degreesLightweight option for early winter hikes
400 grams15 to 30 degreesLonger hikes and winter backpacking in snowy weather with mild moisture
600 grams-5 to 10 degreesExtreme weather conditions, best for winter backpacking and camping
800 grams-20 to -10 degreesExtreme cold, mountaineering, long periods of camping in extreme weather conditions

Our recommended winter hiking shoes usually fall into the 200-gram category. These shoes are warm but lightweight and not too bulky.

Waterproof Materials

Hiking shoes can either be water-resistant or waterproof. Waterproof shoes should have an IP (Ingress Protection) rating of six or greater.

Finding out the shoe’s IP rating is the most reliable way to decide if the footwear is waterproof or water-resistant (as opposed to going by a store’s marketing tactics). However, IP ratings are rarely listed in online shoe listings.

These materials stand out in waterproof footwear: rubber, neoprene, vinyl, and polyurethane. Water-resistant footwear tends to be made from leather, suede, or nylon since they are naturally resistant to water, but only to a certain point.


You can often expect your winter hiking shoes to be a half-size or full-size larger than your other shoes.

There are a few reasons you might need to buy a size up: 1) shoes tend to swell on long hikes; 2) you don’t want your toes touching the end of your shoes on steep descents, which can cause a toe injury; and 3) hikers tend to dress in layers in the winter, and thicker socks take up more shoe space.

One way to figure out your shoe size is to have a Brannock device at home. However, this only allows you to estimate your shoe size. Companies today have their own size guides, so looking at the shoe company’s in-house sizing guide is the best idea.

Combination measuring device - US sizes…

The easiest way to determine if a winter hiking shoe fits is to try it on. Fortunately, Amazon offers a try-before-you-buy option for most shoes. Most online retailers have a certain number-of-day satisfaction guarantee on shoes, so you can return them for a full refund if they don’t fit.

When you first get the shoe, before you even put it on, try the insole test. You do this by removing the insole and standing directly on it.

For the best fit, you want a half-inch gap between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the shoe—around a finger’s width. In addition, the insole should match the contours of your feet.

If the winter hiking shoe passes the insole test, slip it back, put the shoe on, then loosen all the laces and slide your foot forward until the longest toe touches the tip of the shoe. If the shoe fits, your friend should be able to fit exactly one finger behind your heel.

Men’s vs. Women’s Shoes

There is around a 1.5-size difference between shoes labeled for men and women. A men’s size 7 is equivalent to a women’s size 8.5. Therefore, if you’re a woman buying men’s shoes, you should go down 1.5 sizes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Winter Hiking Shoes

Are winter hiking shoes and winter hiking boots the same thing?

Retailers often list winter hiking shoes as winter hiking boots. A winter hiking shoe is considered lighter weight footwear than boots. They tend to be less bulky and more versatile than boots and offer hikers a balance between warmth, comfort, and support.

Can I wear winter hiking shoes in the summer?

You technically can wear your winter hiking shoes all year round, however, there are a few things you might want to consider before actually doing so:

  1. Overheating is possible: Winter hiking shoes tend to be insulted to provide the warmth hikers need in the winter, which can lead to a very hot, sweaty foot in the summertime
  2. Breathability: Summer hiking shoes are designed to be more breathable than winter hiking shoes, so wearing winter hiking shoes in the summer can lead to discomfort and fungal infections
  3. Weight: Winter hiking shoes are heavier than summer hiking shoes
  4. Traction: Winter hiking shoes have heavy treads designed for snow and ice, which do not perform as well on dry summer trails
  5. Durability: Exposure to hot and dry summer conditions will cause your winter hiking shoes to deteriorate quicker

Do you wear socks with winter hiking shoes?

The extra insulation in winter hiking shoes alone is not enough to protect your feet from moisture and discomfort. Socks help manage the water your feet are exposed to and add an extra layer of insulation. Your feet will be much more comfortable with socks than without.

Choose a moisture-wicking sock—socks made from polyester, nylon, and other synthetic materials are best at keeping your feet dry and comfortable. Wool socks are also a popular choice for winter hiking since wool naturally provides insulation when damp.

It’s also a clever idea to carry an extra pair of socks (or two), just in case your feet get wet.

Do you need special winter hiking shoes for snowshoeing?

You don’t necessarily need a special pair of winter hiking shoes or boots for snowshoeing, but your footwear should be insulated and waterproofed with good traction. If you’re shopping for the best shoes for snowshoeing, check out our list of the five best boots for snowshoeing.

Wrapping up the Best Winter Hiking Shoes

The right winter hiking shoe can extend your hikes and take you to new places. You’ll go far in the Columbia Men’s Fairbanks Omni-Heat, though all of these winter hiking shoes will take you where you want to go (and keep you dry).Looking for more winter tips? Check out our Winter Camping section.