How to Find the Best Winter Boots

Whether you are backpacking in Upper Michigan or hiking in the Rockies, a main concern in the winter cold is keeping your feet warm.

At times, finding winter boots can be a challenge if for nothing else than the fact that there are so many on the market. But regardless of what kind you purchase, there are important features to consider before you buy.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when looking for a new pair of winter boots.


Don't count on your shoe size as an absolute guide to the boot size you need. Different brands of boots are sized differently and a size 10 may seem tight in one brand but too big in another. For this reason, base your selection on what feels and fits right, not on what the size tag says.

A representative from Columbia Sportswear agreed with me and offered these tips when looking for cold weather boots:

"It is better to go a bit bigger than smaller," she said. "If you are someone who wears a larger might want to size up 1/2 size. A little more room is better than too small."

Also, remember to accommodate all the pressure points in the foot. Some people have a higher arch or wider foot, so take a walk with them on in the store to make sure the boot feels comfortable.

Temperature Ratings

Most boots on the market are rated by "grams" of insulation and the best brands assign a temperature rating to their boots. But what is warm to one person can be ice cold to another, so the first thought is not  how warm the boot is, but how warm do you need a boot to be.

Another consideration is the kind of activity are you going to be doing. A lot of standing will require a much warmer boot than walking or snowshoeing.

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