Do Hiking Boots Work in Snow?

We may receive commissions when you buy through links on our site.

You might be dreaming of having your first hiking adventure up in the snowy mountains. That can’t be possible with regular boots, though. You need a proper pair of hiking boots that have overall protection against harsh climates.

But do these hiking boots work in the snow? Yes. Hiking boots can work in the snow if they are waterproof enough and there is very light snow. But you are planning to hike in deep snow, you should get a pair of snow hiking boots. Combing your hiking boots with socks and gaiters will keep your feet dry and provide better traction and grip against the snow.

Hiking boots are primarily made from water-repellent materials, and their main target is to provide traction against icy surfaces. They have added features such as toe guards to protect the toes from rocks buried in the snow and hooks for attaching heavy snow gear such as microspikes and gaiters.

If you dream of backpacking in Northern Europe, you will prefer special hiking boots instead of regular hiking boots.


Do Hiking Boots Work in Snow?

Technically, yes and no. The amenities of hiking boots when walking through snow depend on how suitable the climate is and its features.

Some hiking boots have some added accentuations with the perfect materials that make them work for years in the toughest of climates. However, these come with drawbacks, such as the added weight. They will probably be weighing 2 pounds and can only be worn by thick muscular men. And that’s not all.

The water-repellency of hiking boots does not go hand-in-hand with its breathability. This contradiction between waterproof and breathable materials requires you to choose winter hiking boots based on the climate of your destination.

In most cases, hikers go for more high-end boots made from material blends that cover both features. And if they know their way around boots, they meet their demands with the help of tricks rolled up their sleeves. That being said, since you are a beginner, you wouldn’t want to suffer from frostbite because you were too cheap.

Not to disappoint you, there are all-supreme hiking boots that work well in snow, but you will need to learn which exactly are these boots that stand out among the multi-faceted variety and vibrant colors.


Do Hiking Boots Work the Same in All Types of Snow?

The answer is definitely a no. Hiking boots work differently depending on the amount of snow.

Light Snow:

Hiking boots work fine on their own if the weather isn’t anything more than a few inches of snow. Proper winter hiking boots can be opted instead of those heavy boulders if you need to hike up inclines. While microspikes can help with climbing, a waterproof shoe will stop water from snow to seep in.

Deep Snow:

Hiking in areas that are at least a foot deep definitely needs more appropriate hiking boots. They will need a completely waterproof solution and help with warmth, traction, and breathability. The worst thing you need is swollen feet suffering from frostbite and harmful bacteria. Gaiters add more protection in deep snow.


What Are The Key Features in Winter Hiking Boots?


Winter Hiking boots typically demand better insulation than regular hiking boots can protect against negative thermal temperatures. These boots consist of removable linings made from Thinsulate, wool, polypropylene, and Zylex, and other thermal materials. Since most people prefer lightweight hiking boots, ideal boots consist of 400 – 800 grams of insulation and double layer insulation for colder climates.


Although most companies don breathability and waterproofing simultaneously, the materials that provide them mostly clash unless they are made from costly blends. To ensure breathability, boots feature antimicrobial or antibacterial properties or other quick-drying technology that prevents bacterial growth, foot odors, and basic perspiration from the foot.

An ideal shoe consists of one of the following:

  • Split grain leather
  • Gore-Tex
  • Nylon

If wearing boots in winter forces your feet to smell like a dead possum, imagine how they’d be after walking for hours in sub-zero conditions.


By comfort, we just don’t mean that the boots feel like pillows. There’s that, of course. The period of comfort depends on the weather and terrain. Good winter hiking boots have decent insoles with padding and lacing that ensure proper support to the arch and posture. Some companies add pronation control to boots that protect the feet by rolling inward when facing shock.

When a full lacing enables feet to fit in properly, they provide more protection against deep snow.

Boot Traction:

You can probably understand that the size and width of lugs of boots determine their traction. These rubber lugs are vital to stop the feet from falling and slipping on snow or ice. Companies frequently sell their boots with either interchangeable outsoles or create ones with a mixture of rubber and carbon so that the shoes can sustain longer. However, there are fallbacks, boots with removable outsoles are comparatively expensive, and ones made from carbon blends tend to stick to icy surfaces.


Snow, in other words, is frozen water. This water is most likely to seep in through the tongue or the edges of the lugs. That is why some winter boots are equipped with gusseted tongues for blocking water, cuffs, or gaiters that keep feet in and wet snow out. Even if the boots have zero water-repellant features, applying any waterproof spray coating can waterproof your boots in 24 hours.


After adding all the weight from insulation and waterproofing, if there’s one thing you need, then that is being able to walk 3 feet into the snow wearing these winter hiking boots. Sex may also play a factor here as some women prefer lightweight winter boots even if the other properties are sub-par.


Anatomy of Hiking Boots That Work in Snow:

Since the technology behind hiking boots is growing like Jack’s beanstalk, numerous accessories come with winter hiking boots as well as up-to-date construction used in these boots.

1. The sole:

This is the essence of the boots. The sole is flexible for starters, grips the feet from the frozen ground, and absorbs shock such as stones and rocks. Where that best outsole is Vibrams, other factors such as the depth of the lugs attached to the sole.

Some added features include heel panels, heel loops, heel counters, heel brakes, and welts.

2. Midsole:

Feel that cushion inside when you tug in your feet? It’s thick and firm just the way you like it. This midsole layer contributes to the padding that absorbs all shock when you are stepping on snowy boulders.

3. Insole:

The thicker the insoles, the better they work as insulators keeping the heat tucked in. Since hiking boots that work in snow tend to be heavy, a shank is attached between the outsole and insole to relieve some load off the feet and calves.

 4. Upper:

This is the entire surface above the sole. It safeguards your feet from blisters, resists water, and protects the ankles when turning. Soft or leather uppers provide flexibility to insert woolen or thick socks.

5. Inner:

This the inner part of the shoe. Hiking boots that work in the snow often have padded inners and also waterproof membranes to wick moisture.

6. Tongue:

Probably the weirdest name in the anatomy. It stays under the laces and wraps your feet snugly according to how you like it. Heavily padded tongues provide extra warmth, and tongue tabs are just fun.

7. Lacing:

Laces with proper lacing hooks allow the feet to be tightly wrapped and ready for winter.

8. Toe Guard:

Although it sounds funny, toe guards play a unique role in protecting your toes when ascending or descending roughly through steep surfaces. Some hiking boots feature rubber toe caps that increase the durability of the shoes.

9. Microspikes:

As you can assume from the name, these are spikes attached to your hiking boots to walk on icy surfaces or areas deep in snow.

10. Gaiters:

These are protection from the ankle to the knee that should be worn even if they come separate but work against insects and harsh weather. Some hiking boots come with gaiter rings that help the attachment of the gaiters to the shoes.

More boots such as mesh panels, cut lengths, collars will not be elaborated as they have no direct benefit when hiking through snow.



Thanks to the nerds behind the labs, hiking boots that work in snow possess sturdiness, warmth, and lightweight, but it often comes with a price tag. Take the Salomon, for example. The store sells one of the best hiking boots prepped for climbers ready for conquests.

The boots dominate insulation with Aerogel technology by Nasa. These shoes are equipped to maintain thermal energy at temperatures as low as -40F. Apart from the structure of the boots, including the roomy toe box and brutal toe kick, the shoes are compatible with extra features such as microspikes and gaiters. To top it all off, they’re comfortable.

Since you’ve read this far, you’re probably thinking of going hiking in snow or are just dubious whether Santa Claus wears snow hiking boots. To answer that, yes, he does own hiking boots that work in the snow. If your thought is the former, you should choose the right hiking boots based on your needs and the environment you are about to enter.

To answer your question, given any circumstances, yes, an ideal pair of hiking boots works damn well in snow.

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment