Choosing The Best Winter Work Boots
Cold weather can wreak havoc on your body, especially your feet. Wearing warm socks is only part of the equation, as the thickest wool is useless if you’re sporting flimsy boots in the dead of winter.
Boots geared for colder climates fall under the specialty umbrella, and we uncovered hundreds of options in our search for the best winter work boots. After careful consideration, we narrowed the field down to a handful of boots that will keep your feet warm, safe, and comfortable in even the harshest conditions.
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Considerations before buying winter work boots
Leather work boots have been protecting the feet of workers for decades, and humans have been using fur and other types of material to keep their feet warm since ancient times.
Insulation is just as important today as it was in the time of our ancestors, and today a material called Thinsulate is the most popular option around. You may have heard of it…
Thinsulate is used in everything from jackets and gloves and offers an amazing heat-to-space ratio given its density. The thin fibers can be stuffed into the lining of work boots and provide heat even on the coldest of days. How much heat you get, depends on how much filling is present inside the boot.
Insulation Gram Rating
The Insulation Gram Rating is the amount of insulation inside of a boot, and it’s on a scale that runs from 100 to 1000.
Thinner boots will cost less and are generally rated at between 100 – 200 grams while 400 grams is the number you want to shoot for if you work in colder climates. They will keep your feet toasty, and considered above average.
Boots in the 600 gram range would be the next step up, but anything beyond that should only be considered for extreme conditions and not “normal” use.
Slip Resistance and Grip
There are two things you will encounter each winter in most climates – ice and snow. Both can be difficult to deal with whether you’re trying to make a trip to the store or simply walk across the driveway. Unless you’re snowed in for the day and get to skip work, you have to consider the grip on your boots.
The best winter work boots will have enough tread to get some bite in powdery snow, but there’s only so much you can do against ice. When things start to melt, having a slip-resistant sole is ideal for obvious reasons.
Different types of flooring deal with cold differently so think about the environment you’ll work in when considering the boot tread.
Work boots need to be tough, but there’s more to a solid boot than a leather exterior. That’s a good place to start, but far from the only area of interest.
If you work in snow, you need waterproof boots – it’s as simple as that. For cold, dry climates it is not a huge concern, and you can use waterproofing agents, but go waterproof if you deal with snow. Removable footbeds or ones anti-bacterial properties are options to keep an eye out for as well.
This area is all about stability which can come from below and above. Lace-up boots provide support across the top of your feet as you can cinch things down whereas pull-on boots are looser by nature. Padded collars also provide a little support around the ankles compared to boots with skinny tops.
Steel shanks will add plenty of support as well while fiberglass and composite shanks offer a strong, but lightweight solution underneath your feet.
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Top Choice: Timberland PRO Boondock Insulated Industrial Work Boots
Timberland takes the top spot in our list of the best winter work boots, but these are no ordinary Timberlands. These boots are from the company’s PRO lineup, and the Boondock boots are guaranteed to keep your feet warm on those cold winter days.
Insulation and Construction
The design tells you everything you need to know about this boot – it’s tough. Made from leather and rubber, the Boondock is rugged boot with a unique style that sports a composite toe. While not steel, it’s tougher than a regular toe and gives the boot a heavy-duty feel.
These boots come with a 400 grams of insulation which is more than enough for most folks working outdoors. That said, you can get variants of this boot with up to 1000 grams of insulation if you plan on working in Siberia or Antarctica.
In a nutshell, these boots are built like a tank and extremely warm.
Support and Grip
Having toasty toes won’t do you any good if you’re flat on your back in the snow. Thankfully, that will not be an issue with the Timberland PRO Boondock boots.
The company describes their lugs as “aggressive,” and we’ll have to agree as the tread will provide plenty of grip on all types of terrain. They have a TPU outsole geared towards cold weather and a thermal plastic urethane sole.
You’ll get plenty of support inside and out with the Boondocks, and the thick collar up top adds an extra layer of support (and warmth) for your ankles.
Goodyear Welt construction is definitely a perk with these boots, and you can say the same about the company’s anti-fatigue tech that’s built into the boot. Your feet will stay fresh regardless of the weather or the terrain.
We also like the anti-bacterial lining covering the insole. Warmer boots can make your feet sweat, so having something to fight odor and bacteria is always going to be a bonus in our eyes.
From a technical standpoint, there are no drawbacks with this particular boot. It will outlast the competition when treated with proper care, and to say it’s warm would be an understatement. The PRO Boondock’s are a very solid winter work boot.
On the other hand, this boot is not what anyone would consider svelte unless you are a monster of a man. We hesitate to call them “clunky,” but they are larger than other styles and not necessarily budget-friendly.
The best of the rest
KEEN Utility Sheridan Insulated Work Boot
KEEN is known for making quality footwear, and you may be familiar with the brand if you spent time on the trails during the summer. Well, they also make boots for colder weather like the Sheridan which has 600 grams of insulation.
These boots could be the warmest on our list, and they are also one of the tallest. At 8-inches, they provide plenty of coverage and warm with a double padded collar at the top. The boot is constructed from two types of leather and has a comp toe like our top choice.
KEEN wants to ensure your feet stay dry as well, so the Sheridan Insulated Work Boots are also waterproof from top to bottom. Your feet will still be able to breathe thanks to a special membrane which lets air out while keeping heat in.
Other features to note with this boot include locking metal lace hooks, a polyurethane shank, and asymmetrical composite toes. The boot also meets or exceeds both the ASTM F2412-11, F2413-11 1/75 C/75 EH and ASTM F1677-96 Mark II standards.
If you want to ensure your feet stay warm, you can’t go wrong with these boots.
They are just as tough as our top choice but warmer and slightly more expensive depending on your size. Larger feet do require more leather after all. The boots may be a little too warm for some but are your best alternative when working in freezing temperatures outdoors.
Chippewa Waterproof Insulated Work Boot
In the market for a taller boot that’s made in the U.S.A? If so, Chippewa’s 29416 Work Boot is well worth a look due to its rugged exterior and thick Vibram outsole.
This is another tall work boot that’s built to keep your feet dry and warm on the dampest of days. It’s completely waterproof with an 8” shaft, and even the insoles are resistant to the elements thanks to a CHIP-A-TEX waterproof bootie.
Want support? This boot has plenty with a triple ribbed steel shank. They feature Goodyear Welt construction, and the outsole is just as tough. Your feet will appreciate the thick Vibram covering the bottom of these boots, and slipping won’t be a problem.
The 29416 boots from Chippewa are perfect if you want a boot packed with high-tech features and lots of support. They are assembled in the U.S.A. and have more kinds of exotic materials built-in than other boots in this class.
Unfortunately, those features come at a cost as this is the most expensive winter boot to make the cut. While far from cheap, it’s worth it if you need an excellent cold weather boot.
EVER BOOTS Tank Insulated Work Boots
At first glance, the EVER BOOTS Tank looks like an ordinary, but solid work boot. It has Goodyear Welt construction and a 7” shaft with a wide padded collar around the top. Want a removable insole? It has one of those as well.
These boots also have speed hooks and a pull loop in the back to go along with a thick rubber outsole. All standard features you would expect to find on work boots built for winter or other seasons.
Wondering what makes these work boots unique?
That would be the price as you can pick up 4 or 5 pairs of these for the price of the Chippewa 29416 work boots. They are affordable and well-made; just don’t expect top-tier quality from the Tanks.
They may not have as much insulation as our top choice or be as rugged as other boots, but the price point automatically makes these affordable beauties an option.
These boots have a 3-month guarantee against defects and come in two colors with Dark Brown or Tan. They also run a 1/2 larger than Timberland or CATERPILLAR boots, something to definitely keep in mind.
It doesn’t matter if you are working in Alaska or upstate New York in December, keeping your feet warm and comfortable is important when you’re on the job.
That means finding the best winter work boots should be a high priority, and something we hope is easier now that you know what to look for. Remember our sizing tips, and consider the weather year round if you live or work in an area that receives all four seasons.