The best winter boots allow you to put your best foot forward — literally and fashion-wise. Selecting a new pair of winter boots is an undertaking that depends on many factors: durability, heel height, weather resistance, and personal style.
“There are many varieties, whether you’re looking for function or fashion,” says celebrity stylist Amanda Sanders, who has eyes on current trends while predicting a sustainable turn. “Right now we are looking at very high platforms or very rugged lug soles.”
Details like shimmering texture or sporty aesthetic can help make certain boots bolder than others—though there’s nothing wrong with a staple set. For Yellowstone costume designer Johnetta Boone, selecting your new winter boots is a formulaic endeavor. “A good pair of winter boots has to have tread and a bit of a stack along with hugging the foot,” says Boone. It’s important to look for a pair of boots with a finish designed to prevent the cold from seeping through. Fashion meets function, indeed.
To make your boot shopping experience smoother, we’ve tested out some of the best-selling winter boots and had professional stylists weigh in with their favorite fashionable picks. Below are seven of the best winter boots of the year for both fashion and function.
The cushy footbeds were comfortable from the moment we put them on with no break-in time necessary.
These boots are lined with Heatseeker insulation to keep feet warm without overheating and are coated with waterproof rubber to keep feet dry.
They are a mid-range price compared to the rest of the boots we’ve tested but feature super high-quality materials that looked good-as-new after testing.
Surface Control™ outsoles provide great traction on icy or slippery surfaces.
The Shellista IV Mid WP Boots were comfortable from the moment we put them on. The wide toe box is spacious enough for us to fit even thick sock-clad feet inside. Perhaps most importantly of all, we never experienced pain or blistering — the Shellista IVs didn’t even need to be broken in to cradle our feet comfortably with every step. They’re lined with Heatseeker Eco Pro insulation that keeps feet warm without overheating. The exterior is coated with a waterproof rubber shell to keep you dry through any condition.
The boots are a little heavy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing — the weight gives us an extra sense of security about maintaining traction on icy surfaces. After all of our testing, the boots still looked as good as new, proving the sole and lining materials were as high-quality as we thought they were.
Over ice, snow, mud, and wet grass, these boots made us feel sturdy and secure. They feel so high quality that we almost couldn’t believe that they’re less expensive than most other top-of-the-line boots we’ve tried.
Category: Snow boots | Interior: Molded OrthoLite sock liner, Heatseeker Eco Pro 85% postconsumer recycled polyester | Shaft Height: 7 inches
Best Overall, Runner-Up
The classic Ugg fleece lining makes these some of the most comfortable pairs of winter boots we’ve ever tried, whether worn with ankle socks, thick socks, or no socks at all.
They work great in any weather condition, thanks to a waterproof membrane, waterproof leather, and a water-repellent coat on the tongue.
From running errands to long walks in the park, we found the Ugg Adirondack III Boots to be incomparably comfortable, even without socks. They have a wide toe box that allows you to layer thick socks under them if you desire. The inside is coated in the classic cozy Ugg fleece, and we experienced no break-in pain at all. Unlike classic Ugg slipper boots, the Adirondack is winter-ready with a flexible rubber outsole and waterproof construction.
We noticed that some reviewers reported that these boots run half a size small, and after trying out a pair of the boots in a half size larger than our usual sizing, we agreed. Another thing to keep in mind is that the fuzzy fleece interior is not the most breathable lining, so if your feet tend to overheat and get sweaty, you may want to try a more breathable pair of boots. If your feet tend to get cold, these uber-comfortable boots are a great choice.
Category: Snow boots | Interior: 200g insulation | Shaft Height: 15.5 inches
Best Cowboy Boot
These stylish boots are a great choice for anyone looking for a pair of high-quality cowboy boots.
The outer leather is water-resistant, which means you don’t have to worry as much about wearing these outdoors.
If you’re going to take a tip around traditional cowboy boots, Boone is the ultimate candidate. So when she says that the pair you need for the season is from Tecova (in Sky Blue, specifically), you nod and add to cart.
Cowboy boots pair well with jeans, Boone says. With a water-resistant leather upper in a denim-inspired hue, these are the perfect cowboy boots for the free-spirited set. Plus, they’re classic and comfortable in addition to fun — all at a moderate price. Pair with a flowy dress or take a note from Boone and tuck in some light-wash skinnies.
Category: Cowboy boots | Interior: Leather sole | Shaft Height: 14 inches
Best Chelsea Boot
Another stylist pick, another eye-catching (and comfy!) lug sole. The Chelsea gets a clunky (but not too bulky) update, made all the more wearable for its waterproofing. Step confidently into stormy weather, whether you choose to couple them with jeans, trousers, or tights.
“As I get older I value comfort more than anything,” says celebrity fashion stylist Emily Gray. “Thankfully more and more brands are doing better with making stylish yet practical and functional styles.” While the coordinated elastic gores make for an extra comfortable silhouette, these boots run a touch narrow, so opt out if your feet are on the wider side.
Category: Chelsea boots | Interior: Synthetic lining | Shaft Height: 6.5 inches
Best Platform Chelsea Boot
The chunky platform style gives you extra height that feels more comfortable and stable to walk in than traditional heels.
The sock-like knit uppers are easy to pull on and feel comfortable against the ankle.
A favorite of influencers and so a mainstay in our Instagram feeds, Steve Madden’s Hayle Platform Chelsea is clunky, on purpose. “This just elevates your look and gives you that street cool, effortless look that every girl loves,” says Gray of the boot, which combined a lung sole with a flared platform heel for extra, well, extra.
While these play particularly well with shorts and skirts, coupling the sock-inspired inset with skinny or straight-leg jeans may prove difficult. Add these to your wardrobe as an additional ankle boot — not your everyday go-to.
Category: Snow boots | Interior: Sheepskin lining | Shaft Height: 7 inches
Best Combat Boot
The classic leather design looks great with skirts, jeans, or trousers for a variety of occasions, from the office to a night out.
Lug sole provides 1 ⅔ inches of lift that feels more comfortable to walk in than traditional heels.
Water-resistant suede uppers make these boots feel very high-quality.
“A classic leather or suede ankle boot can be worn with mini skirts and tights, kick-flare crops or straight-leg denim, or a wide-leg trouser, to the office or a girls’ night out,” says Gray. Factor in Moonie’s water resistance, and you have an easy combat boot primed for literally any outfit or occasion.
A lugg sole, exposed stitching, and metal lace grommets add just the right amount of street appeal, while the suede upper and coordinated laces ensure the boot stays versatile enough for daily (or nightly) wear.
Category: Combat boots | Interior: Leather lining | Shaft Height: 6 inches
Best Hiking Boot
These lightweight boots are made with waterproof nubuck leather uppers and Vibram outsoles, so they can handle snow and ice with ease.
They’re designed with comfort in mind with a supportive lace-up ankle and padding on the Achilles.
When your outdoor expeditions bring you face to face with ice and snow, you’ll want a pair of boots that can handle slippery, cold conditions with ease. The Hoka Ancapa 2s are lightweight and waterproof, which makes them a great choice for hikes through the snow. They’re made with waterproof nubuck leather uppers and a waterproof gore-tex lining to provide your feet with the ultimate protection against the elements. A grippy Vibram outsole helps prevent slipping on icy surfaces.
These boots were made for hiking — or the extreme sport that is comfort. “Hokas are my go-to when I’m on my feet for 12+ hours,” says Boone. Reviewers say the Ancapa 2 boots offer comfortable support for arches and ankles.
“Hiking boots are joining the world of exaggerated shapes and playful colors and the new rubberized shoe,” continues Boone. “Comfort meets style.” Pair with jeans for a standard styling move or a dress for an extra dose of funk.
Category: Hiking boots | Interior: Gore-tex waterproof membrane | Shaft Height: Not listed
Things to Consider Before Buying Winter Boots
The perfect winter boot is ready to survive the elements in style. From traction to weatherproofing, functionality is what separates these seasonal shoes from the proverbial pack. Consider how and where you’re planning on wearing your boots before you pick out a pair — will you be wearing them for long walks outside? Or are you looking for a pair of stylish boots to wear to the office?
That said, function should never offer an excuse to skimp on fashion. Gray anticipates an uptick in fun sartorial details like snakeskin, sequins, and striking colors in the coming months — don’t be afraid to stand out against the season’s stark backdrop. But it’s still important to consider the weather conditions that you might encounter in your fashionable new kicks. If your commute to the office might include walking across an icy sidewalk, consider picking a pair of boots with a grippy outsole, like the Sam Edelman Laguna Waterproof Lug Sole Chelsea Boot, which has a lug sole that helps prevent slipping.
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing your new winter boots is the level of traction that the shoe’s outsole (the bottom part of the boot that comes into contact with the ground when you walk) provides. Some boots, like our top pick from The North Face, have extra grippy outsoles that give you superior traction on slippery or icy surfaces. Thicker outsoles can also add a little extra weight to your boots, but the Hoka Anacapa 2 Mid GTX is a great combination of a lightweight boot with plenty of traction.
How We Tested Winter Boots
To find the best winter boots for both function and style, we spoke to style experts about boot trends to find the most fashionable pairs and also tested some winter boots out in the real world.
- Comfort: We began our test by wearing the boots around the house for at least one hour while walking around and sitting down to see whether the boots needed time to be broken in. We took note of how comfortable each pair of boots felt initially and after the hour of break-in time before we took the boots out into the elements. Each pair of winter boots was worn for at least two outings and for up to two hours on each outing.
- Traction: We made sure to wear the boots in a variety of conditions and on multiple surfaces to gauge how much traction the outsoles provided. We wore the boots while hiking and while walking on slippery surfaces like snow or ice-covered sidewalks.
- Water Resistance: To test how water-resistant each pair of winter boots was, we stuffed one of each boot with paper towels. We then poured about one cup of water over the entire outer surface of the boot, letting the water soak in for about five minutes. We examined how well the outside of the boot was able to repel water and whether or not the water seeped through the external fabric to wet the paper towels inside.
Frequently Asked Questions
Of all the boots we tested, the best winter boots we found to handle winter conditions are The North Face Shellista IV Mid WP Boots because of their grippy outsole that provides great traction on slippery surfaces and a waterproof rubber coating that keeps the feet dry through any wet conditions.
The price of winter boots can vary widely and depends on factors like function, material, and brand. If you’re looking for a fashionable pair of boots to wear in the winter but function is less important, then you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $250, depending on the brand and materials used (real leather is often more expensive). If you’re looking for a more technical pair of boots to handle snowy conditions, then they generally cost at least $150, thanks to the need for solid rubber outsoles and warm linings to keep feet warm and protected from the elements.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
Calin Van Paris is a writer and editor who covers the latest style and beauty trends. For this story, Calin spoke to celebrity stylists and costume designers about the latest trends in fashionable winter boots. Cai Cramer, a shopping writer at PEOPLE, also contributed to this story with insights from the PEOPLE Tested lab’s real-world tests of the best winter boots to handle the elements. Cai has a passion for the outdoors and added technical insights about what to look for in a pair of snow boots based on traction, warmth, waterproofing, and value.
Meet Our Experts
- Amanda Sanders is a fashion consultant and personal stylist based in NYC and is the lead stylist for New York Image Consultant.
- Johnetta Boone is a costume designer from Washington, D.C. who has worked on shows like Yellowstone and movies such as The Princess Switch.
- Emily Gray is a celebrity fashion stylist.
What Is People Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
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