Snow Boots Vs Hiking Boots

A good pair of hiking boots is an easy purchase for many hikers, and when picking yours, you need to know if they’ll keep your feet safe on rough terrain and warm in colder temperatures.

There are countless hiking boots that have good features and are suited to many. However, many of them are suited to summer hikes, while others are suited to hikes in the winter. For full-on winter use, you can find snow boots good options as winter boots. Now, you may want to know, are hiking boots suitable for winter weather and snow travel?

There is more to it than keeping your feet warm and dry when you wear insulated boots in the winter. In our guide, you can learn the answers to, are hiking boots good for snow and deep snow. By the end, you’ll see what you need to tackle winter terrain and how to pick and make waterproof boots for hiking in snowy weather. (Read Wearing Hiking Boots Casually Guide)

snow boots

Are Winter Hiking Boots & Snow Boots The Same?

Snow boots and hiking boots are distinctive from one another. Let’s talk about the boots one at a time.

1. Snow Boots

Snowshoes are outdoor gear explicitly made for walking on snow. Besides that, you can also traverse thick mud with them.

They are well-insulated and waterproof. Rubber soles prevent water from getting inside the boots on the bottom. This section is simple to clean, and the boot extends up to the calf for upper protection.

Snow boots include a tight cuff to stop snow and icy air from entering your feet from any angle. Most snow boots are made of leather and nylon to stay warm on a winter hike.

snow boots down

Downsides Of Snow Boots

The difference between hiking boots and snow boots is snow boots enclose your feet. Therefore, wearing these boots in the summer, your feet will sweat and can lead to rashes, blisters, or skin irritation.

The boots’ weight is another drawback, and while they keep your feet warm, wearing them over extended periods can be painful.

When wearing snow hiking shoes, walking great distances is impossible. They lack good traction and comfortable ankle support; thus, you are prone to slippage and harm.

2. Hiking Boots

When you wear hiking boots, you’ll find they offer good traction, so you can easily travel a great distance on tough terrain while wearing them.

A decent pair can be used for walking or as light mountaineering boots. Therefore, select hiking boots based on your interests. They are lightweight to wear and are easier to wear for a more extended period. (Find the Best Knee Sleeve For Hiking)

Downsides Of Hiking Boots

There is no high ankle collar support to stop water and snow from entering your hiking boots, and snow boots are the clear winner here.

They are not entirely waterproof and need up cold, wet, and uncomfortable if you trudge through deep snow or mud.

snow boots for hiking

Can You Hike In Snow Boots

Winter hiking boots differ slightly from everyday hiking boots. Mountaineering and insulated hiking boots are among the different winter hiking boots you’ll find.

Here’s a rundown of the fundamental characteristics of winter hiking boots.

1. Being Waterproof

Waterproof winter boots help prevent frostnip and frostbite from invading your feet. Frostbite causes the upper layer of skin on your feet to freeze. Frostnip may numb the skin of your feet. Both conditions require medical attention and several days to heal.

2. Insulation

Individuals’ tolerance to cold weather varies. Age, metabolism, health, and others are considerations. Insulation prevents cold feet, and winter hiking boots provide 40 to 800 grams of insulation compared to regular hiking boots.

3. Sturdy

The winter hiking boots are robust at the ankle. In addition, rubber soles on these boots provide a good grip for longer hikes.

How To Choose A Snow Boot For Hiking

Supporters of snow boots for hiking argue that more excellent traction helps you move up slippery slopes easier and provides superior insulation.

Here’s more on picking the right boots:


It’s also vital to buy snow boots with insoles or inserts because many winter boots are inflexible, and their thin insoles are uncomfortable. Insoles provide much-needed cushioning for your feet when hiking.


In winter, wet feet are bad. In addition, winter temperatures will cause wet feet to freeze; in extreme cases, you can suffer frostnip or frostbite. Frostbite induces numbness by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, where the top layer of skin and some tissues freeze.

Water repellent differs from waterproofing. A water-repellent substance loses its capacity to resist water quickly as it is used. Fully waterproof means are impervious to water. It may also not breathe. Gore-Tex is waterproof and breathable. (Find the Best Backpacking Backpacks)


Most winter boots allow ordinary or neoprene socks, but not both. Invest in neoprene socks if you’ll be hiking through snow and standing in water.

They’re great for snow travel because they’re composed of 100% waterproof material, so no moisture can get to your feet, even if your boot is soaked. They offer good padding so they won’t cause blisters and insulate your feet.


Because your feet naturally sweat a lot while you walk, making them damp, breathability is crucial. If your boot breathes, moisture can leave and keep your feet dry.

Boot Construction

On uneven, challenging terrain, whether packed, loose, or sloppy snow, winter hiking boots, and mountaineering boots are heavier, tougher, and offer the most versatility.

Winter hiking boots are made to offer sturdy ankle support, and traction features sticky rubber soles. Snow boots usually don’t have additional ankle support and are more flexible, so you’ll notice a difference between a street snow boot and a hiking boot.

Proper Fit

The hiking boots that fit your feet the best are the ones that are best overall. Boots should fit snugly and allow your toes to move, not your heel.

Feet ache and get cold if you wear boots too tight, as they restrict blood flow and create painful pressure points. As you trek, your feet will swell, allowing space for your feet and your thick wool socks. Think about the socks you’ll wear, so take your favorite winter hiking sock to the store.

Avoid purchasing a boot that will be too warm on your hike, so if you are in the great outdoors on a mildly warm winter day in the Rocky Mountains, boots that deal with sub-zero temperatures are excessive.

Can I Use Hiking Boots In Winter

The best hiking boots typically hold up well against packed snow. Unless there’s a deep coating of snow, hiking boots offer superior traction than winter shoes. Most are made of water-repellent material, so a winter hiking boot will keep you dry for brief periods outside in wet conditions.

For places with light, fluffy snow, it is easy to winterize your regular hiking boot instead of buying a pair of winter hiking boots good for snow. Even if your pair is waterproof (Gore-Tex), regular versions of hiking boots VS snow boots don’t block snow from penetrating up top or between the seams.

Here are a few winter hiking boot additions that can take your hiking shoes to the next level.

Gaiters: These garments are available in various lengths, from the top of the ankle to just below the knee.

The top of most hiking boots can be fastened with the help of a gaiter ring. In other seasons, they also serve a dual role: shielding your boots from muck and keeping pesky insects like ticks and mosquitoes out.

Crampons: Crampons are necessary for mountaineering or more challenging winter hiking and backpacking. A significant feature to look for in your more extreme winter hiking or mountaineering boots is compatible boots for crampon attachment.

Microspikes can also be worn on flat ground for traction on ice and packed-down snow surfaces. Most winter boots and hiking shoes can be easily attached to these.

How To Waterproof Hiking Boots

Particularly synthetic boots absorb water. Even if there is very little snow, give your boots a waterproof coat, as once your thick wool socks get wet, you won’t be comfortable.

Applying durable water repellent (DWR) coating is like waterproofing your tent. Besides keeping you dry, it safeguards the quality of the material in your shoes. (Read Snowboarding Goofy Vs Regular)

You can always change your regular shoes to make them snow-ready if you don’t need to spend money on proper winter boots. Different materials will need various waterproofing techniques, but the general procedure is similar:

  1. See if your winter shoes are made of Gore-Tex, full-grain leather, nubuck leather, or synthetic material.
  2. Check to see if your boots need to be waterproofed immediately or if they already have a base layer of protection; some may only need a little spray, while others need waxing.
  3. Use a brush to remove any mud and dirt.
  4. Before washing boots with mild detergent, remove the laces. If required, soak.
  5. Use water to rinse.
  6. towel off.
  7. Put waterproofing on.
  1. Leather boots: The waterproofing solution works best when the boots are still damp. Full-grain leather is best suited for wax since it will settle into pores and leave a smooth surface.
  2. Nubuck leather: This suede-like material requires much more care because of its brushed appearance. Make sure the material is damp enough to absorb the waterproofing, but avoid soaking it in water as this can damage the fabric. It is advisable to use spray-on waterproofing explicitly designed for nubuck that coats the individual fibers.
  3. Synthetic Materials: Since there isn’t much natural waterproofing, you’ll need a surface finish that deters water, so check for a DWR-coated treatment.

Recommended Hiking Boots For Winter

If you want to step up from your regular hiking boots, here are some premium boots for cold weather.

NASA created the Salomon Toundra Pro CSWP for space travel, for -40°F temperatures, so these boots in the snow will keep you dry and warm.

The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Gore-Tex boots have traction made by Vibram and come with a Gore-Tex membrane that is breathable and waterproof.

Baffin makes great quality winter boots. A great winter hiking boot should have plenty of ankle support and all the other qualities. You can find many types available for men and women to combat the toughest winter hikes.

The Bridger Insulated boasts a supportive fit, 200g of 3M Thinsulate insulation, a sturdy and durable winterized rubber sole, and compatibility with snowshoes.

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