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How to Choose a Pair of Snow Boots

For anyone new to the field of snow boots, you may be surprised at the variety of snow boots on offer and the range of technicalities they display, so we have written this handy guide to help you choose the best pair for you.

Any avid skier or snowboarder knows that the slopes require sturdy and protective footwear and there’s only one boot for it: snow boots. One thing we know for sure is that you do not want to be wearing your trainers in the snow. Are you asking for frostbite?

Different to ski boots, snow boots are essentially a winter sport and leisure footwear that are designed to keep your feet warm and protected from the harsh conditions of snow and ice, not forgetting the winter joys of rain and sleet, too. To help find the right fit for your feet, familiarise yourself with how they work in their waterproofing, grip and comfort.

Are Snow Boots Different to Winter Boots?

To answer the most common question first, snow boots are very different from winter boots.

How so? Well, for one, they are specifically designed to be used and worn in the snow, unlike winter boots which are generally just warmer and more gripping than trainers or normal shoes.

Snow boots offer waterproof or water-resistant protection while also providing ankle support and excellent grip to save you from an embarrassing fall on the ice. Winter boots are more lightweight and versatile than snow boots and are often considered to be more stylish, however, they will not provide sufficient protection in the snow.

Water Repellence

Rain, snow, sleet, hail, frost; there is nothing about these conditions that snow boots can’t handle. Providing an additional barrier from wetness, all snow boots repel water to a certain extent, being categorised as either water-resistant or waterproof.

All snow boots will offer a basic level of moisture protection and repel light snowfall. The soles of the boots will also normally consist of a waterproof material like PVC.

Waterproof snow boots – also known as watertight – are built on a combination of a water-resistant upper construction and a waterproof membrane. The waterproof membrane allows moisture and perspiration to escape but prevents water and snow from seeping through. The waterproof lining is necessary and covers a large area above the soles, which is what makes them so snowproof. The taller the cuff, the more protection you have!

Warmth and Ankle Support

Lined with a woollen blend, faux fur and more, Trespass snow boots are made to retain heat and keep your feet warm in potentially freezing temperatures. Insulated layers, padding and additional laces also provide excellent ankle support unmatched by regular winter boots.

This will protect you from twisted ankles and leg or foot injuries when tackling tougher terrain, although it does make them bulkier and a tad heavier as a result.

How Should Snow Boots Fit?

Despite their heavy-duty nature, snow boots are like any other shoe and should have no substitute for comfort. The fit will be apparent to you shortly after you try them on and the golden rules of thumb apply: snug but never too tight, flexible but not floppy.

Make sure to break your snow boots in first, simply by wearing them for an hour or two around the house a few times before venturing outside.

How Are Snow Boots Made?

Snow boots are designed in separate sections that all serve unique and particular purposes to provide the best combination overall.

Upper Construction

The upper part of the boot begins with sealed seams, which primarily provide a barrier against moisture.

This important part of the boot is normally strengthened with a polyutherane fibre that also acts as padding to cushion your ankles and/or shins, and to block snow from seeping into the boot. The fabric composition usually consists of textile, leather, nylon, suede or a combination of these water-resistant materials.

Sole Construction

The sole is the primary building block of the snow boot. Thick and rugged is the desired sole, and rubber is almost always the best choice for its durability, lightweight consistency and waterproofness. RPT and PVC frequently make up the outsole.

Unlike walking or hiking boots, snow boots tend to have a sole that causes more traction on the ice through its softer, more flexible construction. The shape and depth of the grooves on the sole are designed to withstand varying levels of terrain roughness.

Midsole Construction

Generally speaking, midsole construction contains the bulk of the technical and supportive features of snow boots. It is widely accepted that the more expensive a pair of snow boots, the better the sophistication of its midsole.

Supportive shanks are a popular addition to the midsole, designed in order to safeguard the vertical bearing of your shins. The midsole is also the part where you get to consider the appearance of the boot.

Is the colour good for you? Do you like the material? Is it thickly cushioned? Is there fur? Are they lace-up or pull-on boots? Is there an adjustable strap? Is the style appealing to your own personal winter aesthetic? All important questions to consider!

With so many options available, you’ll be able to find a midsole that satisfies your needs and expectations for performance and style.

Inner Construction

The inner construction of the boot is mostly hidden but it’s what you should be paying most attention to.

The lining is central to insulation and thermal control, so essentially your choice is what will keep you from getting frostbite. Just kidding… But seriously! Fleece, microfleece, faux fur, short fur, textile and waterproof membrane are the main materials used for snow boot lining.

Synthetic furs are insulators that also boost the snowboot’s breathability, making way for moisture to escape from your foot and thus avoiding chafing and overheating.

Snow boots usually feature faux fur or wool trimmings as the final touch to the inner lining, in order to provide more comfort as opposed to technical insulation. Anti-bacterial lining is also becoming a more common feature as this prevents any nastiness building up inside, keeping you fresh all day long for the slopes and après-ski activities, or just the pub after work!

Check out our skiing advice section for more buying guides for all your kit pieces for the upcoming snowsports season.