View Full Version : Cold Weather/ Snow Boots?

01-03-2010, 11:11 AM
Hey folks, I havent found much on here about this. Im from the CA coast, and am looking for some insulated boots for the snow. Ill usually be carrying a pack between 15-30lbs, and tend to stay out a few days at a time- so I want somthing technically well built for packing. I got the Keen 4 shadows with 400 gram insulation, and its not really enough warmth when I stop, and not much warmer than my Han Wags. I do know about socks, circulation, etc. Im in Salt Lake now with tons more options at the local stores. I was trying to avoid a mountaineering boot because of overkill stiffness and I wont be using cramp ons. I do use snow shoes. Thanks in advance.

01-03-2010, 05:04 PM
http://www.schnees.com/product/2642/made-by-schnees. (http://www.schnees.com/product/2642/made-by-schnees)

I love mine....

Jon S
01-03-2010, 05:13 PM
These have worked for me for various pursuits: pheasants when there is snow on the ground, snowshoeing, snow shoveling, long hikes in dead of winter, etc.
They are pretty cheap, and seem to hold up fairly well.
Find what fits your foot and roll with it.

01-03-2010, 05:54 PM
Another vote for Schnees....

01-03-2010, 06:15 PM
I like my Kenetreks for snow. I got their un-insulated boots, but they're still warm, well-built, waterproof, and have good ankle support. I'd bet the insulated models are just as good, only warmer.

01-03-2010, 06:27 PM
My Kenetreks have never left me with wet feet and are OK if I'm on the move. I move over to my White's Elk Hunters when I know I will be on stand or the temps really drop. The White's have good support and have never treated my feet badly even on long hikes with a pack.

01-03-2010, 06:46 PM
I have never found a boot that keeps me warm when stopped and not overheat when moving. I use the old icefishing trick of carrying a small chunk of closed-cell pad to stand on when stopped. I also carry down booties for camp, they could stand to be upgraded to the kifaru booties but no $$ for that for the foreseeable future :(

Buy boots that fit, that are crampon or binding compatible if needed, but not TOO warm.

01-03-2010, 08:01 PM
Another vote for Schnees. I also had a pair of White's Pacs and they were excellent quality as well, but didn't fit my feet as well as the Schnees.

01-03-2010, 09:28 PM
The ultimate winter footgear for cold, snowy climes is the military issue vapor barrier boot, or mickey mouse boot. So called because of it's white color and bulky appearance. I've stood around at zero F wearing these sans socks and had warm feet (they were too warm for socks). Sportsman's Guide has these sometimes. They were manufactured by a company named Bata. They also made a lighter, black version that would probably be best for most of the lower 48.

John Havard
01-04-2010, 06:53 AM
There is no perfect solution. If you're always going to be in snow then you only have four choices:

1) stick with your Hanwags (properly sealed with Obenaufs) and dry them out each evening (carefully)
2) bunny boots
3) hard shell mountaineering boots with removable (and therefore dryable) liners
4) Sorel (or equivalent) lined boots

If you choose option #1 your boots will get wet mostly from the outside. I can comfortably sit in my Hanwags for hours in pretty darned cold weather, so they are warm enough for anything short of something like a long snowmachine trip or alpine climbing.

Bunny boots are what I used for many years on the North Slope. They absolutely keep your feet warm in the coldest of weather, but your feet are basically in a zip-loc bag. All the moisture from your feet turns them into a swimming pool inside. They don't hold moisture inside so you can pop them off, dry out the inside, put on fresh socks, and you're back on the road again.

Option #3 enables you to do some serious hiking/climbing. The removable liner does not soak up sweat or any snow melt that gets into the boot. Like a bunny boot you can just pop them off, dry out the inside of the shell and the liner, change socks, put them back on and you're back in business. I used to wear hard shell climbing boots with removable liners when sheep hunting. Cross a stream - pop them off, dry them out, change socks, and keep on going. Great ankle support for climbing,side-hilling, and scree descents.

Option #4 (the Sorel-type boot) is the least attractive option based on my experience. The liners (felt or other material) soak up liquid and themselves must be changed out fairly frequently. Plus, like bunny boots, they are useless for any serious climbing. Okay for level-ground walking and standing around but zero ankle and arch support.

Again, no perfect option exists but if you choose 1,2, or 3 and work within their limitations you will be okay.


01-04-2010, 07:01 AM
What temperature ranges are you looking to cover? That makes a big difference.

edit: how does a 15-30 pound pack, a few days at a time, and winter temperatures all go together? do you use a pulk? If so, that makes a difference. Are these boots going to be for snowshoe use only or are you expecting to cover dicey trips during fall and spring with minimal snow cover?

01-04-2010, 09:41 AM
Another vote for Schnee's. My feet haven't gotten wet but if your feet sweat then get an extra set of liners so one can dry all day and you still have a dry one to wear (that system works well for me). Unless the snow gets really deep I haven't needed gaiters cause the Schnee's are tall.

01-05-2010, 02:42 PM
Thanks for the feedback, its been a great help. Im going to research all your advice now.

No pulk, at least not yet. I have 30 inch snow shoes for when they are needed.
I have little to no mountaineering experience, and will not be sheep hunting any time soon, so cramp ons havent been needed yet for what Ive been doing- but that is all just a matter of time I think. Im mostly just getting into the back country for 3 day trips around the sierras (sometimes as far as Utah) with the ZXR, paratipi and stove, etc.

01-05-2010, 04:15 PM
I'd go personally go with good hiking boots, probably with goretex liners, for what you're talking about. Something like Lowa Tibets, for example. Pair those with OR crocodile gaiters and call it a day.

Since I'm a ski guy, I use uninsulated mountaineering boots to drive my skis and carry a pair of the nylon upper Sorels in my pulk for around camp. These MEC offerings look even better: http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=84552444261 9877&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302734361&bmUID=1262733118429 (thanks flatbow)

If you get below 15 degree daytime temps, your strategy will probably need to change. Personally, I'd go with plastic shelled mountaineering boots in that case.

Bemidji Dan
01-07-2010, 12:49 PM
I highly recommend Steger Mukluks. Living in northern Minnesota, I have lots of cold weather experience, and nothing has kept my feet warmer or more comfortable than Mukluks, plus they work extremely well in most snowshoe bindings. Mukluks have no stiffness, as it isn't a rand-soled boot, so if you climb steep slopes or cross other terrain that requires a stiff sole, they wouldn't work. One other consideration for Mukluks is the temperatures you'll be traveling through, as Mukluks don't work when the temp climbs above 32 degrees.

01-08-2010, 10:40 AM
Mukluks are great for the very cold dry, conditions we encounter during mid-winter in places such as Minnesota and Manitoba. If you are going to be encountering warmer, possibly slushy conditions, I'd suggest a hunting boot that is lined with goretex (or eVent). A hunting boot, along with an overboot insulation system (such as one by icebreaker or NEOS) for when you stop moving will be a quite versatile combination.

I would also recommend that you wear 2 pairs of wool socks. I am not a fan of thinsulate insulation in my hunting boots for 3 reasons. First is that it makes it harder to get a good fitting boot. Second is that it breathes poorly in cold conditions, making your feet wet & cold. Thirdly, you can't remove this insulation for more rapid drying like you can with pac boots or mukluks. It is better to get the insulation you need from your wool (or polypro) liner socks and your medium-heavy weight wool outer socks. This sock combination along with uninsulated hunting boots should be able to keep your feet warm while walking in temps nearing 0F (your mileage may vary) Don't foget the insulated overboots for when stationary.

For conditions colder than this, it would be tough to beat a well set up pair of mukluks. My mukluk set up is as follows;

Empire Canvas True North boot shells

Canadian Forces issue wool duffle liners (made by Raber of Winnipeg)

Canadian Forces issue nylon mesh insoles (at the very bottom of boot)

Wool felt insoles (on top of the nylon mesh insoles, beneath the duffle liners)

The CF issue duffle liners are double layer (one sewn into the other) so they can be pulled away from each other for rapid drying. An extra set of thesed liners should be brought along for multiday camping.

01-08-2010, 12:47 PM
I highly recommend Steger Mukluks. Living in northern Minnesota, I have lots of cold weather experience, and nothing has kept my feet warmer or more comfortable than Mukluks, plus they work extremely well in most snowshoe bindings. Mukluks have no stiffness, as it isn't a rand-soled boot, so if you climb steep slopes or cross other terrain that requires a stiff sole, they wouldn't work. One other consideration for Mukluks is the temperatures you'll be traveling through, as Mukluks don't work when the temp climbs above 32 degrees.

The problem I see with mukluks is, what if they get soaked? When you have to cover lots of miles on foot, it is only natural to try to find easy places to walk. In cold/frozen country this is often a frozen stream bed. I've stepped through the ice along the edge of a frozen stream in Alaska in FEB at night when it was minus 20 F. Sometimes springs still flow under the ice. With mickey mouse boots, you just pour the water out, wipe out the inside of the boot, and keep walking.

01-08-2010, 07:22 PM
+1 on mukluks if they work for your application. I have a pair of Stegers. Besides being warm you don't need gaiters because you can tuck your pants inside them and tie them tight. They are also very lightweight and packable. I also treated mine with sno-seal so this keeps the water out. One other thing we do for ice-fishing is bring a pair of Tingleys rubber over boots with and if there is slush or water just slip them on over your mukluks. Also Stegers is making a waterproof version now.

+1 on the Schnee's. I had a pair of Guide boots but they chewed up my left ankle. I could never get them broke in. Someday I may get a pair of the Hunter II 16" unless they quit making them in the states.

I picked up a pair of Kenetrek Mountain Extremes uninsulated this summer and love em'. I wore them all fall and only got one hot spot on my big toe but I think it was from my sock. I also have a pair of NEOS overshoes that I'm going to test out. My dog musher buddy wore them over his tennis shoes last year in the Alaskan Ididarod(did I spell that right?) and said his feet never got cold. I think my Kenetrek's with the NEOS will be a good combo. I'll pack the mukluks for around camp.

01-08-2010, 08:49 PM
I too, have had trouble with Schnee's rubbing my ankles raw where the rubber meets the leather top. I have tried multiple different sock combination's without success in fixing the problem. It really is a shame because otherwise they would be an awesome boot.

01-09-2010, 05:50 AM

Yeah, it sucks. They are great boots. I tried everything to including duct tape on my skin but it still rubbrd it raw. Someday I'm going to get the 16" hunter II's.

01-16-2010, 12:08 AM
+1 for Schnees.

As others have said, they aren't mountaineering boots, so they don't have the support needed for crampons.

They are offered in a variety of heights, but I can't imagine hiking with leather laced around my calves. 10" used with gaiters would be fine.

I do OK with snowshoes. So far, I haven't done a multi-day trip, just overnights.

For some reason, the Schnees seem to fit better than other pac-type boots. I've tried LL Beans and Sorels, too, and I like the Schnees.

(They will rebuild them when the bottoms wear out, and that's a nice plus.)

01-17-2010, 11:10 AM
The trouble I find with winter footwear is...I don't require any insulation for traveling, but need it for stopping.

I've mulled over the Neos overshoes, but have yet to try them as they don't build the model I want yet.


I'd like their lightest uninsulated model the Villager, with the sole/traction and the snow collar from the Navigator 5.